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under5s - Fun with Monkeys
Five little Monkey's bouncing on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mummy called the Doctor
And the Doctor said
No more monkey's bouncing on the bed!

This great number rhyme can lead to many Monkey ideas and perhaps even a monkey topic, and the little 'monkeys' that you are caring for can really learn a great deal, here are some of my ideas:

Introduce a puppet

Have fun with a monkey puppet - we made our own !?! 
Yours of course need not be as elaborate, ours joins in all the actions of the monkey song, but a monkey stick puppet works well, perhaps you could make five to bounce on your bed ? 
Or one each for everyone so they can all join in ? Or even a monkey cuddly toy ! 


Sing the song

The song can be sung anywhere - with any number of monkeys' your child chooses, maybe as a prelude to nap or sleep time or maybe as part of the fun of the day. Don't forget to pause at the end and ask how many monkeys are left and count them together, otherwise you miss out on encouraging simple mathematical skills and subtraction.

If you are not happy about singing - although most children I know are not worried about whether you have the right tune or not - then you could sing a long to a CD - the 'Time to sing and sign' has a version with 3 monkeys in it, which say Ouch when they fall from the bed and gives you the opportunity to introduce some simple signs like pain, mummy and telephone, it also include some great bouncing music.

Prop Box and Role Play

Have a go at acting out the rhyme using monkeys or substituting another animal or toy, maybe you have three little teddy's bouncing on your bed and retell the rhyme using props, so that the children can visualise the rhyme, and see what happens. Maybe you could add some bandages so that the injured toys can be mended by the pretend doctor. Then leave the props together so the children can act out the rhyme themselves and develop their own ideas, enabling them to gain more confidence and understanding about the rhyme.

Alternatively perhaps you could put a mattress/duvet on the floor and let the children take it in turns to be a 'monkey' wearing a monkey mask, and having a go at acting out the part of the monkey - using physical skills to jump on the pretend bed - don't forget though to remind them not to jump on their real bed.

Eight Silly Monkeys

This book enables you to read a story about the monkeys, bouncing on the bed, what they get up to and shows clearly what happens when one falls off and you then have seven, and is a lovely version of the above song, with raised monkeys so you can feel them, which will interest even the youngest children who have a tactile interest in books - although there are others to look out for, including 'ten little monkeys.'

Snack Time

Eat bananas at snack time - often perceived as a great food for monkeys but also a great food for us, and a great way to introduce skills of manipulation as the children learn to peel the bananas for themselves and chop them up with knives to add to a fruit salad.

Alternative, Banana snacks include banana lollies - stick a lolly stick in and freeze, banana sandwiches (sliced or mashed), banana bake - wrap them in foil and bake them in the oven, for an unhealthy option add some chocolate, sliced bananas and custard, all of which the children can help prepare.

Extension Ideas

  • Visit the local library and borrow a range of books on Monkeys, fact and fiction so that you can find out more about them.
  • Introduce another number rhyme with monkeys... five little monkeys sitting in a tree, hey Mr Crocodile you can't catch me... and introduce a crocodile to your role play area and sit back and watch... our crocodile was really busy eating all the monkeys! This might be an ideal time to talk about the unsociable behaviour the crocodile has, and how no one wants to be his friend as biting hurts!
  • Dance the 'Funky Monkey' with the Sticky kids. 'Come on everybody do the Funky Monkey with me!' is a great song to clap along to developing rhythmic skills, imitating the movements of a monkey and following instructions by stamping your feet, swinging your arms and more. 
  • Monkey Crafts - there are a variety of monkey crafts available on the Internet, here is a site to give you an idea to start with, including some puppet ideas.
  • Small world animal play, instead of the farm - introduce safari animals, and a zoo to play with. Maybe you could put hide some monkeys in the sand pit, and say they have escaped from the zoo and hunt for them and then leave them their to play! 
  • Visit the Zoo and see Monkeys for yourself - what better way to see their antics and discover more about the wider world, and take some photos to display and talk about.
  • Introduce some fur like fabric to for the babies in your setting to lay on, and some cuddly monkeys to curl up with, so even the youngest under fives can join in too.
Monkey impressions

Can you imitate the sound that Monkeys make and move like a monkey with your arms swinging, perhaps to some jungle sounding music, everyone has a cheeky monkey inside them, so use a monkey theme as an excuse to let your hair down, monkey around with the children and have fun together!

Helen Renouf NNEB
Accredited Childminder

under5s - Fun with Monkeys
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