COVID- 19 – Activity Sharing – At home with 3 yr olds

During this crisis we need each others ideas and dialogue to help us keep our little ones happy and fulfilled!

I am an early years atelierista at Pumpkin Patch Nurseries (Brighton, Hove and Worthing) and will continue to post daily activities of what I am getting up to with my 3 year old. Its a time for sharing ideas and dialogue, it’s amazing how many wonderful things people are offering for kids and parents during this time.



2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 1 cup water (if too dry add water, if too wet add flour)

Add paint or food colour to make colours


Tools for exploration – anything you have in the kitchen cupboard (see images for ideas)- pizza cutter was a favourite today. Watch children with sharp tools but I would suggest teaching them and showing them risk taking tools.

Woody pens are AMAZING!!! they draw and wipe off everything!!


‘Biscuits for daddy working upstairs’ Frank

Keep the play dough in the fridge and it lasts up to 4 weeks!


Hunting, Collections, ‘Bundles’ and more…….

We had an adventure in our local cemetery park today to look for fairies and fairy houses in trees (inspired by our dear friend Ruby).


We took a collection box and a book about birds for us to look at over snack.

‘Do the fairies only wake up at night time?’ Frank


letters and phonics covered on grave stones and later we used sticks to make letters we remember.


We used pipe cleaners and string to connect and play with attaching parts of our collection together – a lovely thing to do in the garden and followed on from the morning.(scissors, glue, string, pipe cleaners and sellotape)


Our finished ‘bundles’ ready to send to all of our wonderful grandmas, great grandmas and grandpas so far away from us right now.

A day well spent in outdoor isolation – much needed when the sun is shining!!


All sorts!!!

Check out Cosmic yoga its great as it tells stories with moves to accompany it!! its great for little ones as some of the PE stuff (which is great) is a bit old for Frank.


Spiderman is our favourite so far!


Its always a lovely activity to write letters and allow your Childs voice and their marks to lead the letter. Then make sure you make it real and post those letters, we even posted one to ourselves for the excitement of receiving it!

A morning of:


loose parts using coloured threads again. Simply making lines and connections was fun but small country shapes started occurring and Frank asked to look at a map so we referred to a world map online to look at the shapes and trued to recreate them.

‘SNACKTIVITY‘ its a great way to get your child focussed by giving them the means to make their own snack.

We used our cars to explore colour and mixing and track marks on large paper with paints and toy cars.

an afternoon of :


Band Practice – we lay out all of his instruments in an inviting way- and clear everything else- we used words to describe the sounds the instruments made and talked about which sounds matched each other. Andy and the band could be a good provocation for your child if you have a few of them and can let them create roles for each other.



Abi Horn Is one of our amazing atelieristas at Pumpkin Patch and has kindly put together a wonderful and accessible way to play with shadows- this is very much in line with her on going project at our Hove setting with the kindergarten children.

Shadow Play 

Please click on the link as it will make a really fun day for both you and your little ones.

Thank you Abi!


Stories and shows


A Story Scribing morning- We used a story dice game and finger puppets to inspire Franks stories. His story was amazing and he made his own puppets for new characters. We filmed it and loved sharing it with family and friends.



Pizza Dough Making – MESSY  but really fun!


Obstacles and Mud Kitchen play

We are so lucky to have garden! Things I have loved doing today:

  • bring ladder to climb and jump on
  • create obstacles together
  • choose and set out an array of activities – books, music, drawing material, gardening tools –
  • Mud kitchen – collecting herbs and ingredients from around the garden together.


I have found watching Numberblocks and Alphablocks on CBBies has been a nice bit of down time for Frank (and me) and provokes our play using number and letter cards.



Frank is very interested in getting trapped, tied up, put in jail (????). He has been asking me to tie him up and then enjoying freeing himself and doing the same for me, sometimes ‘pre patrol’ are involved but the whole rescue thing is BIG!

TRAPPING- used string, his fave toys, tape and pens on paper to explore trapping them and making narratives around this activity. He then enjoyed freeing them with scissors.


Large scale REAL CONSTRUCTION- Thank you Karla for leaving an old carpenters table outside her house for us to collect. It has been a great provocation to get us excited about doing some REAL building work. Unfortunately we don’t have enough wood, bricks etc. in our garden but if you do or can get it easily, its a great way to work with children and teach them how to work with real tools and materials.

We will continue this with real toys and more materials. You can also make cement recipes with the children and play with how to attach and connect materials together.


Thanks for our sunflowers seeds that was a great way to spend a bit of time, we discussed what might happen to the seeds. We looked at other plants and talked how they grew and what they needed.

Lego Play – This is a map of the ‘baddy’ playground

‘this is the ice’, ‘we need to make a bridge for the pond’, ‘I’ll make a path now’- Frank

Frank uses lego to make scenarios and stories, which is great and by adding paper and pens to create a space for these stories to come alive is a great way to develop these stories and allow more space for the stories content to develop.


Photography Walks- we went on a letter and number hunt. I have been observing franks interest in findings letters in the environment so we set out on a mission.

‘look its H for Henry and F fro frank’ – missing Henry


Frank then made Rubbings using pastels (can use chalks) and paper on the ‘messages’ we found. He wasn’t as interested in this as I was but I think slightly older children will be.


Messy exploration! – anything you are about to throw away consider if it might be a good thing to play with before you bin it.

In this case I was making a coffee and Frank seemed keen to smell the old coffee ‘It smells like the tyre shop’ (it really did) but he created a ‘bish bosh bash’ coffee shop. It was a good 30 mins of exploring and learning!

Tea Making the next day- testing all the herbal teas and practicing pouring with a tea pot.

Dens/forts – A reoccurring game of den/fort making that as it takes shape seems to inspire and become anything from a cinema to submarine.


This all bedding from the entire house hold (dads doing)!

It became a cinema and awe even had tea in it.

Today on a smaller scale we created a changeable vehicle den. We packed a bag for a camper van mission but decided to look at our atlas and this took us around the world in a plan and submarine. We used the iPad to search for scenery films as we went on journeys! It was pretty cool I have to say like our own VR. I am a big believer of using technology with kids as we can’t leave them behind!


Potion Making outdoors- find any containers and tools to cut herbs and plants for mixing and investigating in the garden. We smashed our pestel and morsal (basher) but had fun smashing directly onto the wooden bench. It created discussion around properties of materials. We had conversations about the different textures and smells of the ingredients.

We then created a label for our potion. Frank made drawings of the ingredients and asked me to put the words on.


A bit late but LOVE the RAINBOW tribute to all our wonderful NHS and care workers out there fighting on the front line!! – Your amazing x It was great to try and spot them on our daily walk to the special park. If you haven’t done it already get on that.


Witches potions

Frank and I collected different food, spice, nuts, grains etc. from the cupboards- him choosing and getting it all ready was a hit. I introduced a few tools and equipment on paper and gave him. large bowl to make his potion with. We had a lot of fun smelling and tasting as we went.


Cutting – Nature is always a fun thing to get inside

They love scissors and mastering the skill of cutting.  We ended up sorting all the different parts of flowers it was really interesting to see the different parts to a flower.


Nadya is one of Pumpkin Patch’s amazing atelieristas and will be sharing short films for the children following their paper project she has been working on with the children for the last 6 months.


Rainbow 3D paper play

Water Sprayer – best walk accompanyment

The enjoyment of having his own sprayer- he used it for mark making on concrete floors and walls – discovering he could make things ‘darker’. He watered plants in the cemetery but particularly enjoyed chasing me for a good half hour with it! He certainly got his exercise.

Big Bad Wolf – role play and material testing

We have been playing ‘big bad wolf’ and it has been great finding straw, wood and bricks to make it more real. I’m obviously the wolf and Frank has been asking me to test if I can blow down the bricks, wood and straw- we are also testing this theory in small scale while making towers.

Camp Fires- great for strength activity


This is a reoccurring theme that seems to come up at nursery with this age group. Collecting sticks and making a campfire (large pile) is a great way to work as a team on something. We then role played tent beds and eating marshmallows. If you have the means turn it into a real fire (supervised obviously).


Fruit Experiments – into smoothies!

Frank used a sharp knife – I taught him how to hold it and supervised carefully. We opened up each of the fruits and discussed the properties of the fruits- the patterns, pips, shapes, textures. To help with this we used my iPhones zoom function (if you have a kids microscope they’re much better). Plus you get to eat it afterwards! It was fun discussing what might happen when we switch the blender on, what colour we think it will turn and why before we did it.

zoomed in images to help us look closely at the fruits.

‘its sparkly’ ‘look there are pear shape pips’ – Frank



We have been discussing germs and the reasons behind such sudden changes. This morning Frank said ‘but I can make a rainbow germ and that won’t hurt anybody’ We then looked at his body book and the germ images in it, and rainbows to help Frank work out what he wanted to make. He created these lovely graphical drawings of rainbow germs ‘they give you a cuddle and don’t kill you but if you touch the middle you will get echzma’.

Puppets acting out stories 

We have been developing and working on stories but also thinking about stories we have on our bookshelf. It is a great way for children to learn to act out as they are interpreting actions or scenarios. You can use puppets if you have any or think about making puppets with bits and bobs. It also gives an incentive to make more stories. Grandma story time at tea time is helping with this too!

RAINBOW MUD– there is a rainbow theme on going at the moment!- rainbow mud was an expression Frank used and I wanted to know more about it.

First Frank made the colours of his rainbow with watercolours and different pots of water, we then used sugar as our mud but flour or anything to watch colours mix would work, then slowly we watched his rainbow mud take shape. It turns to pouring quite quickly but watching the colours change each other is so exciting.

Cardboard Cuts! – ‘its a cut an scratch’ Frank

Cardboard and colour is a really great way to let your kids execrate and make a beautiful mess at the same time. I find that cardboard is so great for a short amount of time because within no time kids just want to destroy it and its the adults trying to keep it in tact. So give them pens, water, scissors and paint and let them bash it up!


Nature Museums – a great mission and good to set rules you both make before you go out.

Take a box, and some cutting tools for your daily walk. We agreed that we only wanted to  collect 1 of each thing for our museum. We had fun finding the bits of nature but it was really interesting to observe how Frank wanted to organise and curate his collection and we discussed his decisions. We used a magnifying glass to look closely at shapes, patterns and colours we could see. We were going to make labels but then we mashed it all up in one bowl instead.


Nature Mobiles

Frank noticed the ‘cave baby’ mobile and asked if we could make one. We immediately went on a walk to find the components. We used the image in the book to make a plan on paper and then with my help tying knots we attached the parts and have it hung up. Children’s story books are such great provocations for activities and incentives.


Tasting and smelling  – opening all spices independently while interacting about the experiences.


This is such a great learning opportunity for children they learn to express and discuss their senses. This interest led us on to a tasting activity that we came across in franks body book.

sour, bitter, salty, sweet and savoury

This was a great way to introduce new words around taste and we had fun explaining what those tastes were. Frank used drawing to represent the tastes, for sour he did lots of dots.

Mirrors and Reflective Materials

I happen to have a disco ball and as the sun is so glorious at the moment it is catching and reflecting every morning. For obvious reasons it fascinates Frank, it is great to let children experience and explore these phenomena’s without an outcome, and its fun to collect their theories to why this happens. He loves chasing the lights and controlling the reflections for me to chase.



Pumps and Machines 

This bike pump has been a great for tinkering and testing. Frank and I have been looking at the number dials and the impact of the pump on other objects. It has been a science play. We have been testing the pumps power with pom poms.





If you have any large scale maps they are a really great way to initiate play. Frank has loved using his lego and puppets to create narratives in places. He is also asking lots of questions about the map markings and locations. This leads to lovely stories and conversations. We are planning to make a map of the ‘special park’ that we visit each day.


Tracing or Baking Paper

If you don’t have tracing paper then baking paper is really good for mark making as you can use it over the top of images for children to recreate lines easily. I do not advocate perfect pictures but I think young children enjoy something when they are good at it and drawing is a really hard skill to grasp. Lots of children seem put off by observational drawing so tracing images they are interested in can help this. We have been doing maps and the body book.



Lolly stick and pencil loose parts

rather than drawing with the pencils I invited Frank to use them as his medium to illustrate pictures with. ‘Its a sun and a rocket’ We then used lolly sticks and small easels I had knocking about and it was really interesting to observe him using 3 dimensional objects to express ideas. ‘These are best friends’ he said as he put the easels in a circle touching each other.



The life of a Dandelion

If you haven’t noticed already dandelions are everywhere at the moment and we have been blowing the seeded ones, looking at the closed ones and comparing them to the open ones. We collected lots of them to take back to our atelier. I offered frank the palette of the dandelions with greens and yellows of different mediums such as paint, pens, pencils. This can been a good way to help them with observational mark making.



We picked up a free map (cleaned it of course) and it has been really interesting taking maps out on our daily walks and Frank and I are talking about mapping out our local park.


Teaching his class of teddies

It is a reoccurring game, particularly when I am exhausted! Frank will be the teacher and sing, read stories and teach them letters and drawing. He rewards them with stickers and becomes quite scary tbh.

Spices and herb play dough 

To continue with Franks interest in tastes and smells we used the spices he has been smelling and tasting in playdough, we then baked these and there actually edible (not nice) but edible. It was a great way to focus on the smells and talk about them in more depth through play.


Insect Observational drawing 

It is worth carefully keeping hold of those spiders/insects you might find at home before you put them outside. Lighting them up and adding a magnifying glass allows you to study and discuss the animal and its appearance, jobs etc. We also used them for some observational drawing

‘Look how many black eyes it has’ Frank


Water Play 


Blue Bells – Hunt them down!


Pasta Making 

Stick Painting


Sand – Treasure Hunting and hiding


Tree Climbing






Whats Inside????

Sending our diamonds to our friends and family with pictures


Finger Puppet Story Films – character building 


Large Scale Drawing 

Mark Making with loose parts – sea side 

Nature Colour Bashing 

Shadow Drawing 


Reflection and Symmetry with Mirror Play


Room Set Up – Environment 


Counting out small parts- Maths


Marbel Runs 


Observing and discussing snails


Creating Story Board Drawing Spaces 


Museum Collections- Labels



Make Up as Medium 


Phonics Reading Walks


Rainbow Flower Collection – slide show

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Special Park- re opened! budda and dragon photographed by Frank- we’ve missed you

Superhero Exercise 



Chalk Drawing – 


Nature Paint Brushes


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