Early Years Play With Eva


Entertaining young children at home can be tricky, and just recently we have had no choice but to stay at home with our little ones! Thinking of new and exciting activities to do every day can be a challenge, and this is why we are delighted to collaborate with Daisy - a local mum of a 3 year old, who is absolutely smashing mum life! Have a read of Daisy's guide below - it's full of helpful tips and ideas, and some super simple ways to entertain your little darlings!

Early Years Play Ideas from a Local Mum

Hi. I’m Daisy and I am a primary school teacher from Warwickshire. I am very passionate about early years and view learning through play as essential for a child’s development. I became a teacher because I wanted to make a positive difference to young children’s lives and ensure their experiences are as memorable and fun as possible to give them the best possible start in life!

I have a 3 year old little girl called Eva and I set up an Instagram page @early_years_play_with_eva during lockdown 1 to help parents with easy and fun play ideas. Most of my activities use recycled materials or items that you already have at home and compliment the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum (EYFS). We are excited to share with you some of our favourite activities that you can do at home!

DIY Play using Recycled Materials

Play doesn’t have to be expensive, sometimes the simplest play is the most effective!

DIY Cardboard Puzzles!

Puzzles teach young children about the concept of a 'whole' and that each piece is a fraction of the bigger picture. Puzzles also help children to develop concentration, fine motor skills, problem solving, language skills and they feel a sense of achievement. I used chalk pens to draw animals on cardboard and then cut them up into quarters to make a puzzle. This activity can easily be differentiated! Older children could draw their own pictures and you can cut them up into smaller pieces to make the activity more challenging!

DIY Puzzle Stacker

A fun and easy activity using cut up toilet rolls!

What you need:

  • Toilet rolls
  • Kitchen roll holder or something similar
  • Paper, crayons, scissors and glue

Ask your child to draw their favourite animals on a piece of paper or for younger children draw a picture yourself. Cut it up and stick onto toilet rolls using a glue stick and see if your child can put it back together on the holder. This activity is great for problem solving and critical thinking.

Emotions Stacker

Exploring emotions and feelings with young children is so important! I used a black chalk-pen to draw different facial features on cut up toilet rolls. I added some emotion stones and a mirror so Eva could recreate the different emotions. Eva created the different faces by stacking them in the right order onto the kitchen roll holder.

Play Hack! Self Serve Paint Station

Who doesn’t love a play hack?! Empty soap dispensers are great for paint! Children are able to use the pump independently without getting too much from each squirt. It also means no more paint brushes put back in the wrong paint pot! Children can create their own palette and mix colours independently!

Nature Play

We love exploring and playing with nature outdoors! The sense of freedom that playing outdoors brings is fantastic for a child’s development.

Ice Tree Decorations

Eva added flowers, leaves and petals to bowls and poured in water containing food colouring. I then added natural string to make the loop, ensuring both ends were properly submerged in the water and left them in the freezer for 4-5 hours. Once frozen I poured warm water underneath the bowl to get them out and Eva explored them using a magnifying glass! We enjoyed hanging them on the trees in our garden and watching them melt

Clay Nature Faces

Eva loved making clay nature faces on the trees in our back garden. We collected a range of natural items including sticks, leaves, shells, grass and stones and talked about which items would be best for different facial features.

Messy Play

Messy play is extremely important for a child's development and offers a textural wonderland for children. It provides children with an exciting tactile and sensory experience that inspires their curiosity and allows them to explore the world around them.

Messy Play using Foam Soap

Exploring with shaving foam or foam soap is the ultimate messy play and sensory experience for children and can easily be cleaned up with a towel! I added some drops of food colouring and Eva made patterns in the foam.

Yoghurt Painting

We love yoghurt painting and as it’s edible it is perfect for babies and young children who like to put everything in their mouth! I added food colouring to natural yoghurt. Eva loved painting using her hands and getting messy!! I used tin foil for Eva to paint on as it’s easy to throw away after and makes the colours stand out. A fun sensory and taste safe experience for little ones to enhance their creativity and sensory development.

Science Experiments

Science experiments enable children to explore using their senses, observe changes, make predictions and fosters a lifelong love of science!

Hidden Colours Experiment

I added a few drops of food colouring to a muffin tray and covered with a spoonful of baking soda. Eva used the squeeze bottle containing white vinegar to uncover and watch the fizzing colours and chemical reactions.

Melted Crayon Art

We loved making these canvas pictures for Eva’s bedroom.

What you need:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Canvas
  • Crayons
  • Hair Dryer


  1. Eva helped to group the crayons into colours.
  2. I used a hot glue gun to stick the crayons to the top of the canvas. You can unwrap or cut them in half but we decided to leave them in the wrapper.
  3. Stand the canvas up and use a hair dryer (pointing downwards) to melt the crayons. (This gets messy so put down an old cloth/newspaper)
  4. Leave to dry!

I decided to paint the letters in Eva’s name on each canvas with black paint and I will hang them in Eva’s bedroom!

Small World Play

Small world play helps children to develop an understanding of the world and builds imagination, language and curiosity skills.

Dinosaur Play

I blended cereal (you can use the bottom of the box bits not to waste any) and placed in a tray along with some shells, log slices, sticks, small dish containing water with blue food colouring, a wooden scoop and dinosaurs. An easy and fun small world and taste safe sensory experience!

The Three Little Pigs

Using props is a great way for children to fully embrace the story and engage in imaginative role play. I added real straw, sticks and mini bricks. Eva was able to explore the different properties of the materials and act out the story!

Self Serve

Self Service Mud Kitchen

Mud kitchens are exciting, messy and creative areas to play. Children experience sensory, emotional and imaginative play as well as developing maths, science and communication skills. This was Eva’s Valentine's themed mud kitchen that I set up for her to explore. Cereal dispensers and squeeze bottles are great for children to use in play as they are able to access resources independently. (mud kitchen from newbyleisure.com)

Self Service Playdough Station

What better way to encourage independence and creativity than a self-service playdough station! Eva loved exploring and mixing the ingredients together. We didn’t measure the ingredients, Eva explored independently and just went for it! No cooking required!

Fine Motor Play

Fine motor skills involve the use of the small muscles that control the hand, fingers, and thumb. Activities like this help to build the foundation for important future skills like writing and self-care. Older children love it too! This activity is so simple and great for those fine motor skills! All you need is some raw spaghetti and a colander.

You can learn so much about your children by playing with them and watching them play! Children learn so much through play and in play - children learn how to learn!

“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe they will become” Brooke Hampton

I hope you have enjoyed these little snippets of what we get up to at home. For more easy and fun play activities please visit us over on our Instagram Page @early_years_play_with_eva and come and say hi!

Thank you Daisy for such a useful guide - there are some fantastic and unique ideas here, and we'll definitely be trying them on our little ones!

Follow Daisy on Instagram for heaps of ideas like this!

If you're looking to go out and about with your little ones, then head to www.coventryrocks.co.uk for some fantastic local outdoor spaces - from parks and walks, to nature reserves and family friendly walks! Find your fun at Coventry Rocks.