Learning new skills at the online family support group

Our weekly online family group video sessions have been going really well. The parents and children have enjoyed learning new skills such as how to mosaic and how to make fairies!

Here’s an update on what we’ve been getting up to over the past couple of weeks:

Buntingford Family Group

Learning to make mosaics

We had a lot of ideas and activities to share at the support group during the last week of April.

The families got involved in creating simple mosaic patterns using recycled materials that could be adapted to suit a range of ages and abilities. Our first attempts were to create rainbows, but we encouraged everyone to use their imaginations to make all sorts of patterns.

The children joined in a tower building competition using whatever resources they had available such as books, DVDs, Lego, Megabloks, etc.

Another activity we did was finding a fun way to encourage reluctant writers, or early mark making, using a tray of rice or flour to make patterns and to copy letters or numbers. This is not only educational, but it is also a very tactile, therapeutic play activity (as long as the mess doesn’t travel too far!). The children loved it!

We also talked about taking time to breathe deeply together to help calm stressful thoughts, and how to create simple dens as safe places for children to be on their own when they need some respite from lively siblings. A very useful activity in these unusual times.

To finish, Home-Start Bear helped with singing time and reading ‘The Tiger Who Came To’ storybook.

Developing fine motor skills

The first week of May saw the use of busy fingers and good listening ears.

We looked at the different materials we could use to teach children threading skills with ribbons, laces, buttons, pasta, or cotton reels. As well as teaching good hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, threading also provides the opportunity for colour recognition, counting and making repetitive patterns. Once threaded, these items could be a necklace, a crown, a snake, a caterpillar or whatever a child’s imagination wants it to be!

The children really enjoyed the ‘making fairies’ activity – where they were shown how to make simple fairies using recycled card and cupcake cases. These are great fun to make and can be dangled in the window, hidden in the garden or hung on bushes during a woodland walk.

One of our fantastic volunteers made storytime even more engaging by reading the ‘Peace at Last’ storybook using lots of brilliant sound effects.
At the end of the session, we had time to discuss the highs and lows of the week and to sing some action rhymes before ending with our goodbye song.

Royston Family Group

A bit of rain won’t stop us

Rain very nearly stopped play at the group video session in the last week of April!

Despite taking place in the comfort of our own homes, a thunderstorm interrupted some internet connections and also upset some of the children.
Luckily, we had already managed to complete some fun activities including Bear’s shopping bag, rice play and mosaic making.

One of our lovely volunteers finished off the session by reading the story of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ while the co-ordinator was disconnected.

We’re in the mood for dancing (and stories)

May is National Share a Story Month and we have enjoyed reading some favourite stories at our family support groups.

Our Royston group was treated to an original story this week, which was written by one of our volunteers especially for Home-Start; it is called ‘Libby the Lockdown Cat’. We will be encouraging more families to get involved in making up and sharing stories over the coming weeks.

The craft activity was making fairies to hang on branches on our woodland walks; we also talked about our plans to celebrate the anniversary of VE day.

The second part of our session was dedicated to music, movement and fun. Naomi, from Dance Matters*, kindly taught us some simple dance moves for young and old alike.

We went on a bear hunt, jumped like frogs, flew like birds, and swam like sharks. Everyone joined in with enthusiasm; one mum said, “Family group was brilliant today, the dancing was so much fun; the kids loved it”.

*You can find out more about Naomi and Dance Matters by visiting her website here, or you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


We need your help!

Our weekly video meetings are helping us to continue to engage with our families and children with new, fun and interesting activities that everyone can get involved in.

We have also been able to offer a space for mums to have a chat with a volunteer or coordinator, should they feel the need to talk to someone, using Zoom’s ‘breakout’ room function.

The feedback from our families has been great – these video group sessions mean so much to then in these difficult times. But, we really do need your help if we are to continue to bring these services to them.

Thank you for your support,

The Home-Start Team

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