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HomeTime for Children Under 5

The BookTrust has put together some fun stories and activities to help keep you and your child entertained when you’re at home.

50 things to do before you’re five

50 Things To Do aims to provide inspiration for parents and carers to connect with children through a range of activities, all designed to have a positive impact on learning and health.

Presented and packaged through a mobile app means it is easy to get started and conveniently available whenever the moment arises for a new activity.


Hungry Little Minds provides simple, yet fun activity suggestions for children from newborn to five years. The activities are broken down by age and include short videos to help improve your child’s communication, language and literacy skills.

Learning to Talk

Interacting with young children through play, talking, and reading is a great way to support their cognitive, emotional, and social development. Here are some ideas for each type of interaction:

Creating Treasure Baskets for Your Baby


What is a Treasure Basket?

A low-sided basket or box filled with natural and everyday items which babies can explore by themselves.

When can I use them?

As soon as your baby can sit up, they can enjoy playing with a treasure basket.

What is the benefit for my baby?


They support your baby’s exploration and thinking by giving them the opportunity to explore with all their senses. They can feel, taste, hear, smell, and see a variety of textures, experiment and make choices.  It gives them early experience of sorting and classifying items, supports the development of fine motor skills and helps them to concentrate.

How do I prepare one? 


• A wicker basket is ideal for enhancing the sensory experience but a cardboard box can also be used.  Choose one which has low sides and is stable so that it is easy for your baby to see and reach inside.

 • Fill it to the very top with a large selection of different items.   The number of items will depend on the size of the basket, but it could be as many as 30-40 items.

• Ensure a variety of textures with minimal use of plastic. 

• Ensure all items are large enough not to be a choking hazard. 

• Make sure all items are clean and safe for your baby to explore.

• Add new items often, removing items that don’t appear to engage the babies at this time and adding items you think might attract their attention. 

What types of items can I fill it with?


  • Natural items such as large pebbles, fir cones, feathers, leaves & shells
  • Natural materials such as brushes, sponges, mats, bamboo, wool & wood
  • Metal objects such as spoons, whisks, whistles and bells
  • Wooden objects such as pegs, egg cups, curtain rings, bowls & spoons
  • Paper and card objects such as boxes, rolls, pieces of tin foil & greaseproof paper
  • Other suitable objects such as a leather purse, a shower puff or exfoliating mitt, pieces of fabric, small toy, bean bag, lavender or other herb bags


For safety reasons keep an eye out for any objects that have pieces broken off or have become unsafe and throw them away.  Never use any items that are smaller than those that can fit into a choke tube like the one shown on this link:


How do I use it?


• Place the basket in an area free of other distractions. 

• Sit close to your baby, watching and letting them take the lead. 

• Interact with your baby when they initiate this.  Allow them to make their own choices about what to explore and how to do this. 

• Use the Treasure Basket daily or several times a week, to enhance your baby’s opportunities to explore


For safety reasons never leave your baby alone with a treasure basket, and always supervise their playtime with the basket.

What should I expect?


Items in a Treasure Basket can engage your baby for up to an hour. They can be very discriminating about what items they want to explore so don’t be surprised if they only wish to explore a few of them!  You will quickly learn what types of items grab their attention. 

This will give you useful information on their interests which you can use to plan other experiences for them. 


We hope you enjoy your treasure baskets as much as we do!

Making Play Dough with your Toddler


Young children love making and playing with play dough.  Here are some instructions and ideas on how to enjoy this activity together. 

1. Ingredients


  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 cups boiling water
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • a few drops of fresh lemon juice


To this you can add fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, mint – anything that smells nice and is not an irritant!


Check for any allergies before starting and be careful with the hot water.

2. Method

 Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a metal spoon. As soon as it is cool enough to touch, start kneading until it becomes soft, stretchy, and pliable. Mix in the herbs. 


The dough should look and smell wonderful.



Add some small twigs for pushing into the dough. Introduce pebbles, grass, leaves, pinecone kernels and flower petals for adding a range of textures and colours for added exploration.

What is the benefit for my toddler?


This activity enables your toddler to develop a wide range of skills such as:


  • Maths by measuring, weighing and counting when you are making the dough together
  • Physical motor skills through mixing, pinching, poking, squishing, and rolling the dough
  • Expressive arts and design through sculpture, role play and imaginative play with the dough
  • Literacy through role-play language and learning new vocabulary such as herb names
  • Personal, social and emotional skills as they work independently or with you and stay involved in their play


We hope you enjoy your play dough as much as we do!

Making a Bird Feeder with your Pre-Schooler


Young children love making things with you.  These bird feeders are easy to make and your child will get so much satisfaction from seeing the birds feeding from them.  This is a particularly good activity for the autumn and winter.



 What do I need?

  • An orange
  • String
  • Bird seed


Please check for any allergies and  ensure that no nuts are used



  • Cut the orange in half
  • Scoop out all the fruit and juice with a metal spoon
  • Using a sharp knife, make a small hole in each side of the orange
  • Feed a length of string through the holes to make a hanging loop, tying a knot at each end so that you can pick it up
  • The feeders can get a bit lop sided at this stage so you may need an additional loop or something to rest it on as well!
  • Fill the orange with your bird seed
  • Hang it outside, ideally somewhere where you will be able to keep an eye on it


Please support your child at all times when using a knife to help them use it safely

What is the benefit for my child?


This activity enables your child to develop a wide range of skills such as:


  • Maths by investigating capacity, weighing, measuring, counting and looking at balance
  • Physical motor skills by pinching, squeezing, pushing, tying and pouring
  • Expressive art and design by making the feeder
  • Personal, social and emotional by working together on this project
  • Understanding the world by talking about what birds eat and why there is less food for them in the winter
  • Communication and language by listening to instructions, asking questions and sharing ideas


We hope you enjoy making bird feeders as much as we do!