Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Arrrh is for Rainy - Pirate fun

Since it has been pouring down with rain here today I thought I'd share an easy idea that will keep small people amused for literally hours.  We were busy out and about all day today despite the rain, so the pics are from a couple of weeks ago.  I've added in rough timings, ideas for how to go about each activity and also an idea of how the skills they are promoting would be expressed in other early years platforms such as magazines aimed at pre-schoolers, but I'd love to hear any ideas for adding to this activity that you already do at home or out of doors.

You will need:
- things to make a treasure map - we used coloured paper, pens, glue sticks and lots and lots of glitter
- treasure - we used Ollie's treasure box - an old box that a candle came in covered in glitter and filled with tumbled crystals, but you could wrap baking foil around a cardboard circle to make big coins, or use anything at all you fancy
- pirate books - Toby had a noisy pirates book from Lidls and Ollie had 'the skeleton pirate' by David Lucas from the library.
- head scarfs, or any other piratey paraphernalia you happen to have
- any other bits that will add to the fun, for example you might have pirate themed paper plates left over from a party

Part 1: Making the treasure map
Time: Up to 30 mins depending on how many maps you make, how elaborate you make them and the attention span of your children
Skills: Creating (deciding what to put where), Fine motor skills (using scissors, or tearing paper to make islands, using glue stick, manipulating pen to draw on the islands), Literacy (you may want to add labels - we just put an X to mark the spots where there was treasure buried)
How to: You can make a map however you want to, but Toby drew his map and Ollie cut out paper islands to stick to his map and then drew on them.  Both boys added glitter.

Part 2: Making/assembling treasure
Time: varies depending on what you have to hand and if you are making from scratch
Skills: Creating

Part 3: Making and eating pirate snacks/lunch
Time: Up to 30 mins
Skills: Creating, Feeling good (healthy eating)
How to: 'Pirate Fish' - normal peanut butter on granary sandwiches cut into the shape of a fish.  The boys helped to spread the peanut butter and I did the cutting, but if you have fish shaped cookie cutters they could do the whole thing themselves.  'Pirate gold' - carrot sticks, baby corn-on-the-cob etc.. 'Seaweed' - raw fine beans, cucumber, lettuce... you get the idea.  We also drank some 'grog' (cooled strawberry tea with a half teaspoon of agave syrup stirred in)

Part 4: Reading pirate books together
Time: Up to 30 minutes, but probably less - it's to give some ideas to inform imaginative play but also to give their food a chance to go down before they start charging around
Skills: Literacy (obviously), Feeling good (reading together is one of the easiest ways for a parent or carer to show the child they have their undivided attention)
How to: choose books suitable to their age range to read together, encouraging them to pick out details on the pages, or letters and words as they're ready

Part 5: The treasure hunt
Time: hours and hours and hours, long after you have lost the energy to go on
Skills: Physical (get active and charge around the house), Feeling good (this is a shared activity so again they have your whole attention and a 100% success rate)
How to: The following are my boys rules: Put the treasure box down the back of the sofa.  Lead mummy on a chase using the map over chairs, under the table, into the play tent round and round and round, then end up at the sofa to 'dig up' the treasure.  Repeat, making sure to place the treasure in the same place again.

Part 6:  After you can't take any more fun, have a cup of coffee and take a picture of yourself looking suitably silly, then catch up on all the things you didn't do because you were taking time out to make sure that as often as you can those little folk have your undivided attention.  The screams of laughter from the boys lets me know it's worthwhile, and the two days following of Ollie taking his treasure map to nursery shows me that for at least a couple of days afterwards it made a big impression on him.