Money, money, money!

Lets talk money!

Do you ever feel like a walking wallet to your children?  You only have to step into a shopping centre with a toddler and before you have even stepped foot inside an actual shop, they are pleading with you to spend money on the car/train/plane/boat etc that moves ever so slightly and makes some horrendous noise for all of 2 minutes, while you stare at the space in your purse where the money used to be!  I’m actually a totally mean mummy and let my girls sit on said rides, but always tell them I don’t have the coins for it, especially as most of them now cost £2!! 

But as my eldest daughter is now 4, she asks further questions about money and says things like “we could just go and get some money mummy”.  Or as we have discussed that people go to work to get money, she says “After you have gone to work can I get that toy?”. 

I don’t believe that their are particular set ages to begin talking about topics with your children, as I think every child is different and you should base it on when they begin to be interested in certain topics.  But I am curious of what age everyone tends to start to talk about money with their children and begins to teach them financial responsibility.

Teaching children financial responsibility

One way many parents choose to do this is to give children pocket money, or an allowance of a set amount per week.  Personally I never had this growing up and it is not really something I plan to do for my girls, but I do plan to give my children responsibility of money from time to time.

I have started giving my eldest daughter some money every now and then, to put in her own purse in her own little bag.  This means she has an idea of what I mean when I say “I don’t have money for that”.  If she has £1 in her purse and wants a Kinder egg and buys it, then the money is gone and she can’t then put it in the ride etc.  So she can make her own decisions and learn through the experience.  She is always so proud when she has her own coins in her purse and I like the fact she is learning a sense of responsibility at such a young age (4years).img_9977

However, I did once take her into a shop with her £1 in her purse and she found a lovely thing, but in the total chaos that is negotiating a queue, till, purse, pushchair and walking child, I totally forgot to let her pay for it and whipped out my contactless card! Total fail as she then points out she needs to pay while we begin to walk away.  Luckily a quick whisper and pleading glance at the shop assistant and she managed to take the coin and then discreetly hand it back to me, without my daughter realising (thank you kind shop lady!).  Maybe I need to learn a few lessons in financial responsibility!

I have really enjoyed talking with my daughter about, what money is, why we have money, where we get money from, where we keep money and what things need money. 


Money activities to do with pre-schoolers:

  • Looking at coins – coin rubbing:

A while ago I did a money activity with both my daughters (1yr and 4yrs) where we looked closely at coins.  It is one of those activities that once you start it, you realise just how much there is to talk about.  We used metallic pencils to make Coin rubbings of all the different coins and stuck chocolate money wrappers onto the picture too.  While doing it we talked about the sizes, shapes, colours, numbers, writing and pictures on the coins.  It is a great ‘Spot the differences’ activity and also great for number recognition.

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  • Playing with purses, wallets and bags:

Playing with a Clippy purse is great for fine motor skills, as opening and closing them is actually quite tricky for little fingers (see our top 20 fine motor skill activities here).  And the same goes for velcro, press stud or zip wallets and bags, opening and closing these fastenings is all good fine motor practice and also great for teaching independence and helping children learn to dress themselves too.

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  • Playing shops / cafes:

My girls love playing with their till, shopping basket and toy food.  It is also a great opportunity to practise counting, especially if you make your shop a Pound Shop!  My eldest really enjoys lining up her toys in a queue at the till and taking their orders for food in a cafe too.  We use this activity to practice word recognition, reading and writing too as she reads and copies shopping lists and cafe menus.

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Twin Mummy and Daddy
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Fine Motor Skills – Pre-Writing Skills

One of the things parents are often keen to tick off in the developmental checklist for their babies, is when they develop the ‘pincer grip’ and can pick up individual little things like cheerios, peas etc with ease and can then start to manipulate objects with their fingers.

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We love cheerios!

This is the first step in the development of your child’s FINE MOTOR SKILLS.

Why are parents so concerned about pincer grip?  Well in addition to picking up individual cheerios, the pincer grip helps the child develop the tripod grip (combined use of the index, thumb and middle finger, leaving the fourth and the little finger tucked into the palm stabilising the other fingers but not used in grip) required to hold a pencil and manipulate it with maximum efficiency.

So what are fine motor skills?

Motor skills are movements and actions of the muscles, these are categorised into two groups: gross motor skills (movement and co-ordination of arms, legs and other large body parts) and fine motor skills (smaller movements such as hands, fingers and toes).  One important point to note is that before children can gain full control over their fine motor skills in their hands they need to work on the muscles in their shoulders and back (upper body strength), so movements like making big circles with pom poms, scarves and ribbons and twirling are really good for this.

  • In order to write comfortably and hold a pencil well, children need to develop muscle control in their hands.
  • Developing hand arches – There are 3 arches in the hand, one is rigid but the others are flexible.  These need developing and strengthening so children have the stability and mobility required for writing, gripping and lifting.

What you quickly realise when your children start to write is that fine motor skills are REALLY important and I recently realised that I had become a bit complacent over my eldest daughter’s fine motor skills; she is only 4 and her independent writing and use of scissors are both really good and she has great control, so I thought everything was fine.  But then I realised just how poor her pencil grip was and although she has great control when writing, she is obviously only writing small amounts at the moment and when she is older and writing for long periods of time, if I don’t help her to improve her pen grip and build up those muscles, then her hands are going to be really sore and she will struggle with writing.

At the same time, I am not going to be there constantly rearranging her fingers and standing over her when she is writing, that will just make her uncomfortable and turn what she currently sees as a fun activity into a task!  So if I’m not going to do this, how can I help her? – through Fine motor skills activities and play.

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Pick a clothes peg up and you can easily get the correct grip on the peg, squeeze and open it, hand the peg to your child however and they may struggle.  When starting to do fine motor skill activities with your children you quickly realise just how often you use these movements/muscles everyday yourself and how important they are.  Just think how often you use one of these spray bottles! –

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Here are our top 20 favourite Fine Motor Activities:

Top 5 for hand arch strength:

  • Using tweezers to pick things up and sort objects (see image)
  • Using clothes pegs to attach things together
  • Using small hole punches to make patterns in coloured paper (see image)
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Spraying things with trigger action bottles, such as diluted paint (see image above)

Top 5 for control and hand-eye coordination:

  • Threading beads onto pipe cleaners
  • Putting cheerios onto spaghetti/ pipe cleaners/ kebab sticks (see image)
  • Putting paperclips onto toilet rolls or other objects
  • Poking straws/pipe cleaners into a colander (see image)
  • Weaving material or laces

Other favourites:

  • Painting with cotton buds (see image)
  • Playing with Play doh
  • Playing with stickers (see image)
  • Making pasta necklaces
  • Using squirters/pipettes/droppers
  • Practising doing up zips and buttons
  • Playing with spinning tops (see image)
  • Playing with clippy purses and bags
  • Popping bubble wrap (see image)
  • Sensory play writing with fingers in shaving foam

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Twin Mummy and Daddy

Making your own SNOW – Fine motor – Messy play – Science – Cornflour and Water

After our little flurry of Snow the other day, I thought I would do a fine-motor and messy play activity with my girls, so I thought the perfect activity would be playing with Cornflour and Water to make our own SNOW!

img_9272Depending on how much water you add, cornflour takes on a number of different consistencies and properties, so it is perfect for sensory messy play as well as developing fine motor skills and even teaching Science, so that is a lot of skill sets ticked with just one activity!

Before getting to the fluffy, snow stage (a sort of powdery material which is mouldable to small extent, a bit like sand) we had fun exploring the other properties of the magical mixture of Cornflour&Water which like snow appears to melt and looks liquid, but then (unlike snow) becomes solid again!

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When you have the consistency correct (just keep adding water a little at a time, or more cornflour if you get carried away) you create a NON-NEWTONIAN FLUID:

– The large Cornflour particles are suspended in the water, they are floating around so it creates a sort of SLIME liquid!  This is because the particles are packed close together but they are still able to move around.  When you leave the mixture to sit on the tray or just sit in your hands it appears to melt because the particles have time to move past each other.  However, when you pick some up from the tray, or try to make a ball, the sudden pressure forces the water to flow quickly away, but the cornflour particles don’t have enough time to move out of the way, so they stay temporarily packed like a solid.

Create your own Melting Snowballs! – By using Cornflour and Water to make a liquid that is also a solid (a Non-newtonian fluid) you can create ‘magical melting snowballs’.

– Try to make a ball by scooping up the mixture and rolling it in the palms of your hands, the pressure will make it solid and keep it in the shape of a ball, but as soon as you stop rolling it, it will ‘melt’ and trickle back through your fingers.

After we had lots of fun with this, I added more cornflour to get a more fluffy dry material and we added some blue food colouring too.img_9295                                     img_9298 unadjustednonraw_thumb_22f5

Want to have a go yourself?

All you need is Cornflour (I picked up a box at Asda for 75p), some water and a tray (I picked up a tray at Asda for £1), you can also add some food colouring if you like.

Worried about the mess?

Don’t worry, it mostly stays on the tray and any drops that don’t will dry up and can be easily wiped up or hoovered.  It really isn’t as messy as it looks (in terms of cleaning up).

Have a go and make your own Magical Melting Snowballs!

Writing letters to Father Christmas

Christmas obviously isn’t all about presents and toys and some people decide not to ‘do Santa’ at all, but the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” is one that most children will be asked around this time of year, so it is a great opportunity to practice drawing, writing and talking about what children like and don’t like.

Writing a letter to Father Christmas is a great activity for Toddlers and older children alike.  A toddler/younger child does not have to be able to write at all to make their letter, they can just draw pictures of what they would like, so it is a great activity for all agesimg_8514

You can go into the magic, naughty/nice and so on, aspects of Father Christmas as much or as little as you like.  Personally we don’t do the whole naughty/nice ‘Santa is watching you’ thing, we keep it simple, FC will bring them presents because he brings all boys&girls presents at Christmas and they can write him a letter to tell him what they would like.

Last year my eldest daughter was 3 and we did her first letter (see a video of it here) which was mostly pictures with an attempt at writing her name.  But I think my youngest will start earlier as she has her big sister to watch and we will do it all together, so really any age can enjoy this activity.

6m to 2 years

At this age range children can still get involved by making marks on their letter with pens, adding stickers, glueing&sticking and at the older end of this age range conversations about likes and dislikes are really good as well as learning about giving gifts.

2 – 4 years

Children can draw pictures of what they would like, begin to learn to write their name, trace over adults writing (use dots), copy words from a word mat* and dictate to adults/older children what they would like to write.  You can also help children in this age range begin the process of learning to read, by writing simple repetitive sentences out for them (eg. I like dolls.  I like trains.  I like cars.)

4years +

My daughter is now 4 and her writing is really coming along, she loves to write independently and has begun to sound out words too.  Children of this age can really begin learning to write, by copying words from a word mat*, writing their name and starting to learn about sentence structure using simple sentences.

*Creating a Word Mat – a page of common words that relate to the activity, along with some drawings/pictures of the words, is a really useful way to help children learn to read and write.  To create a Word Mat, get an A4 piece of paper and write down common words along with some small drawings if appropriate. See my Christmas Word Mat here –fullsizerender-3

Talking about what children would like and limiting them (we have a 2 under the tree presents from FC rule in our house) to a specific number of gifts are both really good learning opportunities too.  It is good for children to understand that they can only have a certain number of gifts and the reasons behind that and also that they can’t keep changing their minds, once they have written their letter and sent it, that is what they will be getting.

All children seem to love posting things (even posting small toys into places they don’t belong!) so this activity is also a fun way to talk about Postboxes, Postmen, stamps etc too.img_8517

When it comes to actually posting the letter to FC last year I put my parents address on it as my daughter couldn’t read so wasn’t any the wiser and I wanted to keep the letter 😉 but a quick google online will give you various addresses you can post them to which will give a reply letter too.
Such as the Royal mail address:  Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ

Do your children write letters to Santa/Father Christmas?  Let me know in the comments.

Twin Mummy and Daddy