Those of you who have already come across my blog will know that I certainly don't think this means in-your-face-sit-at-a-table-and-learn-by-repeating, until all the joy has been stripped out of an activity! It just means making learning opportunities constantly available in the toys and activities I make for my daughter - aka 'lovely girl'. You can see what I mean if you take a look at my rainbow pom-poms which are a great aid to have conversations about colors while we're dancing around like idiots, log fractions (as featured right here! ) so that we can all get familiar with the language of maths without it being a big deal - even back in the day when lovely girl started asking about foods it only took a moment to pop up a poster of her meals and common foods which we point at every now and then!
So as her imagination has blossomed recently, leading to all sorts of imaginative play, I began to think. Then made a magical forest play mat for her: always with one eye on that extra learning I can sprinkle in. This time it's all about Seasons.
Forest play mat complete with animals
Imaginative play is already working that lovely little brain of hers and by adding cute little seasonal areas around the mat we get to discuss what the animals would be doing in each area, Mr Squirrel would be collecting and hiding acorns in the autumn ready to get him through winter; here hedgehogs would be hibernating, Owls would be fluffing up and hunting at night. What flowers would be growing or dying away, what the trees would look like, what we would be doing: Easter egg hunts or decorating Christmas trees.
Animals from the forest playmat
Critically for me these things don't have to cost the earth. In-fact free, up-cycled or foraged materials are often the best. The mat, for example, is made by needle felting: which is cheap and really simple to pick up. All the material for this one came from a leftovers bag (£9) (which is still over 80% full having made all sorts of things) and the needles cost me (£3). I just worked onto a chopped up old wool coat I had in my remnants box, but you could always nip to a charity shop/thrift store and pick up something wool or fleece to use for next to nothing!
Examples of recent MakieDo projects - from left to right: lavender tummy dolly, felt house with opening roof and door, felt booties and solar system mobile