Acorn Home Learning Ideas – Lockdown January 2021

Topic: Cold weather/Winter & animals that live in Polar regions

Week beginning 18th January


This week we will be enjoying the story of the Enormous Turnip.

Spend time listening to the version of the story with Mrs Alford and enjoy the ‘sing-song’ repetitive nature of the parts – ‘they pulled and they pulled and they pulled, but the turnip would not budge.’ This will help your child to get used to the story language.

Listen to a similar version of the Enormous Turnip by clicking on this link. Listening to this over and over during the course of the week will support your child further. Following the picture map will allow them to see what part is coming next in the story.

Eating warming food, including hot chocolate with marshmallows or winter soup is one way of keeping warm when it is cold outside. Explore making hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows or follow a simple soup recipe to follow the instructions of how to make it. Talk about the ingredients you  are using (chocolate powder, milk, cream, carrots, onions), the words to describe the methods you use (stir, peel, mix, boil) and also discuss the aspects of safety they must consider in using the tools or making the item.

Talking time: Gather together as many different vegetables that you have at home. Can your child name them? Have they any experience of the vegetable before? Have they eaten it? Do they like? Would they like to ask any questions about it?

Allow your child to speak freely to share their thoughts about each vegetable. Encourage them to compare different vegetables, stating what might be similar or different. Encourage them to speak in full sentences and to connect thoughts and extend what they say by using ‘because’ and ‘and’. For example “I know this is a carrot because I know they are orange and look like fingers.” 

Song of the Week is: Pat a cake (click for song sheet)

Week beginning 11th January


Alternative – no cook and no cream of tartar play dough recipe This recipe can be made with your child – allow them to get messy and enjoy the making as much as the playing.


  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cold water (pour in slowly as much as is required, keep checking so it doesn’t get too sticky)
  • 2 drops liquid food colouring


  1. Combine plain flour and salt.
  2. Add water, food colouring and oil. Mix until ingredients are combined.
    No cook playdough
  3. Knead well.
    No cook playdough
  4. If consistency is too wet add a little plain flour.
Winter-home-learning-challenge-sheet for you to explore some other activities with your child around winter.


Continue to build on your child’s counting skills through playing the ‘Underwater Counting‘ game. Similar to the Gingerbread game, this game can be selected at 1-5 firstly, then 1-10 if your child is confident.




Explore the Get Epic website via the link sent to all parents email addresses – currently only 3 families have access this website – I would love it if all children had accessed the books on this site by the end of today :-).

I have assigned your child many books and a few videos which are most appropriate for you and your child to enjoy. I have selected videos and songs which link to our focus on penguins and will allow your child to explore and find out more about them. I have also assigned books about colours, animals, counting and opposites (to name a few). Many of these are very simple and repetitive text, but are the most effective for developing young children’s vocabulary by reading them over and over again, until the child feels secure in the use of the words for themselves.


Try some transient art with your child – this is an art activity which involves any loose items that you have to hand:

  • in summer, using colourful petals, shells, coloured buttons, but as winter approaches, staff will change these to different-coloured leaves, conkers, pinecones, acorns and twigs to reflect the changing seasons.
  • at home resources – consider buttons, ribbons, hair bobbles, dry pasta, dried peas/lentils, beads, glass beads, plastic shapes

To encourage your child in making some art with these resources, place out a plain bed sheet as a blank canvas for them to create their art on. You could provide a circle of paper with some lines drawn on it to guide them in placing the items along the lines, in the segments etc – considering using patterns of items etc.


Enjoy a different story about penguins. I have used the website ‘Get Epic’ to assign the story, The Chilly Penguin, to your child. I am not sure how this works as it is new to me, but please respond to the Get Epic email you receive and see if you can enjoy the story together at home. I would appreciate any feedback on how successful (or not) this is – please feel free to email me directly about it. 🙂

Discuss with your child the different ways that the penguins in the story tries to get warm (scarf, fire, ice skating, a hug) – can they remember them? Enjoy some role-play with your child encouraging them to pretend to be chilly trying to get warm – can they get props to help them in their play? E.g. get a scarf, make a pretend fire with cushions piled high or pretending to ice skate by sliding on a slippy surface in the house. Can your child suggest any other ways that The Chilly Penguin could try? What do we do to warm ourselves up?

Ask your child to draw a picture of their favourite idea of how to get warm. This can be a picture of The Chilly Penguin or themselves getting warm. You could also encourage your child to write a list of the items they might need or label the picture with ‘writing’ to explain the picture.

Use the play dough that you made this week to enjoy joining in with a dough gym video.


Use any recycled materials you may have at home to create 5 little penguins – toilet rolls can be coloured or painted, fill a bottle with cotton wool or wrap in paper or a box can be decorated. Encourage your child to look carefully at the colours of a penguin and see if they can use the appropriate colours.


Watch the ‘Spy in the Huddle‘ video which shows a penguin laying an egg and keeping it off the ice by holding it on its feet. Look at how the penguins waddle to move around. Encourage your child to move in different ways – waddle like a penguin, place a small toy on their feet to carry like an egg. To develop this game, you can also explore how other animals move -snake (slide on tummy), giraffe (stretch tall), crocodile (on all fours), crab (sideways) etc.

Listen to the story of the week ‘5 Little Penguins’ and encourage your child to touch and count the penguins on each page.


This week we turn our attention to penguins, through the wonderful counting story ‘5 Little Penguins’. Enjoy the story with your child and encourage them to count and say the counting numbers as we read the story.

This story introduces the children to numbers counting backwards from 5 to 1. Other songs which encourage and develop this skills are: 5 Little Speckled Frogs, 5/10 in a bed, 5 Little Ducks, 10 Green bottles etc. Singing songs which count down, saying the numbers in a backwards is a great way to begin your child’s journey off in counting down. Other ways you can encourage them is when waiting to do something, count down 3, 2, 1 before they go. Eventually this can be extended to counting down from 5. Children love this as a game, pretending to be a rocket, and being able to ‘take off’ when we get down to ‘Blast off’ which comes after 1.

Make home-made playdough

Make play dough with your child. This is simple to do and my favourite recipe is:

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (vegetable, corn, sunflower or even baby oil  – this smells good!)
  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • Food colouring or flavouring (to make it smell good) as desired


  1. Off the heat, mix all the dry ingredients in a pan and add the liquid (including food colouring and any essence), stirring until it is a smooth paste (no lumps of flour).
  2. Heat over a low heat in the saucepan. Stir this mixture constantly as it is heating, so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. You will notice parts of the mixture nearest the heat becoming more solid and other parts remaining paste, keep stirring and mixing to allow all parts to gain the heat from the bottom of the pan. It will gradually become very stiff and hard to stir, but keep going until it begins to come away easily from the sides.
  3. Tip the ‘dough’ out onto flour on the work surface. Be careful – DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD TOUCH IT AS IT WILL BE VERY HOT. Allow it to cool slightly, and continue to mix my folding and working the dough with your hands – to get rid of any sticky bits.

If it is too sticky, you may not have stirred it for long enough – may need to return it to the pan. If is is just a little sticky, sprinkle flour onto it and work it in until the dough is smooth and does not stick to your hands.

Store this dough in an airtight container (margarine tip, chinese takeaway container or plastic food pot) – this will allow you to use it over and over again. It should last (if put into the airtight container every time when finished) for a good few weeks.

Easily washes out of cloths, carpets and anything else as it is water based. To clean the pan, just add water and leave it to soak – the dough will come away easily after soaking for some time.

(Although there are many ways of making play dough, which don’t use cream of tartar – this can now be hard to find in the shops.)

Play with play dough

Use the playdough to engage your child in developing their fine motor skills. Roll, pinch, squeeze, push and poke are all good activities to gain finger strength. You can also encourage your child to make a number of rolled ‘sausages’ or rolled ‘balls’ for a given amount that you ask for. Making complicated 3D animals is a little too difficult for 3 year olds at this stage, however, you could show them how to make a simple ‘Penguin’ shape and then use them to say the 5 Little Penguin story, letting your child take a penguin away from the group each time.

Will it slide?
This is a perfect activity for little ones to begin to learn about friction. They can have a lot of fun guessing and testing which items will slide on the ice and which ones will not. Here’s what you need:
  • Baking Sheet (fill with water and freeze over night)
  • Test Items (play penguin, felt piece, rock, milk lid, cotton ball, paper clip, button)
  • ‘Will It Slide?’ Printable (Will It Slide ?)
  • Felt pen/bingo dot marker
1) Fill a baking sheet with water and place it in the freezer over night.
2) Gather all your items. Go through each item and have your child guess which items with slide or not. Use a felt pen/dot marker to choose yes or no on the worksheet. Prop the baking sheet up with a bowl and test the items! Explore which items slide easily and which ones don’t. Can you child have e go at explaining what they think certain items don’t slide so well.

Have fun 🙂


Using smarties, biscuits or chocolate buttons – make your own version of the Gingerbread Game – place out up to 5 items, and ask your child to touch and count each one to say how many there are altogether?

With your child practice drawing some shapes to represent each smartie, biscuit or chocolate button – then touch and count, saying one number for each item. Remind your child that the last number which is spoken, is how many there are in the whole group. Use a number mat, ask your child to have a go at writing the numeral that shows how many.

Enjoy the story – ‘Say hello to the snowy animals’ – can the children choose some of their own cuddly toys to make up their own version of this story, using the same language “Say hello to cow” “Moo, moo, moo” etc.

Enjoy singing The Wheels on the Bus with your child. This is our song of the week.


Look at the animals in the story ‘Say hello to the snowy animals” – can your child say what each is called? Talk with them about what their body is covered with? Fur or feathers? Do they live on the land (ice) or in the water?

Ask them to draw a picture of one of the animals which is their favourite. Can they tell you why they like it? What sound does it make? Does it have fur or feathers? Can they say what the first sound is for the animal they have chosen e.g. p p p puffin?

Support your child with developing their counting skills through playing the gingerbread game through this link. Please choose the heading ‘Counting’ then under ‘How Many’ Select ‘1-5’ We are trying to ensure that children can securely touch and count each button so encourage them to touch each button on the screen. They will firstly for 1- 5 buttons. It is unlikely that all children will recognise the numerals of 1-5 instantly. To help them work out which number is the answer they want in the side column, encourage your child to start at the top each time and count down the line of numerals 1, 2, 3, etc until they get to the number they want.  When your child is fully secure with this (and is beginning to recognise numerals 1-5 instantly), they could try counting 1-10 buttons.

Explore ice with your child. Tip some ice cubes onto a plate or tray. Can they discuss what is happening? Let your child explore melting the ice in different ways. All children love water play – so see if the ice cube floats or sinks, then let you child use a variety of containers, spoons etc to play in the sink or a bowl of water.


Start your exploration of animals from Polar regions by enjoying the story with Mrs Alford – “Say Hello to the Snowy Animals”

This book features a husky, polar bear, puffin, arctic hare, seal, caribou (reindeer), orca whale and a snowy owl saying hello in a land of snow and ice.

Say Hello to the Snowy Animals – story read by Mrs Alford 

As the weather is cold at the moment, take this opportunity to get outdoors for a wintery walk.

Explore what the weather feels like at the moment and how they feel when they go outside  – look for features that tell you it is cold (frozen cobwebs, frost on the ground, clouds of hot breath as you speak etc.) Let them know we are in the season of ‘Winter’ when the weather gets very cold where we live. In some places, they have ice and snow all year round because it is cold enough all the time.

Get ready to go on a wintery walk together. Before going out, discuss and plan what they think they will need to put on to keep themselves warm.

Compare what they put on, to what they notice the animals have in the story, which keep them warm (thick fur, feathers, body fat).

Once you have returned from your walk. Allow your child to enjoy some role play by providing lots of different coats, hats, gloves and scarves – let them pretend that they are getting ready to go on a very snowy expedition. How many hats, scarves etc can they get on? Use this as an opportunity to practice counting of each item with them.


Further related challenges and activities can be found by clicking on this link.