Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday is one of the nicest national days to celebrate with EYFS children. Thought to have originated with the Ancient Greeks, the day remains a time to show love, gratitude and appreciation for everything our mothers do for us. In the UK and Ireland, Mothering Sunday has been celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent since the 16th Century. This year, Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland takes place on Sunday 27.03.22.
It should be noted and explained to the children that Mother’s Day falls on different days around the world. For example, in the USA, Mother’s Day will be held on Sunday 08.05.22.
Still, the concept remains the same. The day was originally meant to honour the Virgin Mary by attending church. After WWII, American and Canadian people largely dropped the religious aspect but used the day to pay their respects and express gratitude for their own mothers.
In this blog, we’ve compiled a couple of ways to help EYFS children celebrate Mother’s Day.
It’s important to remember that some children do not live with their mothers and handle Mother’s Day activities sensitively. You can encourage them to create cards and presents for their grandparents or primary caregivers. Likewise, if a child has two mothers or two fathers, you can let the child decide how to mark Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in their own way.
Food Glorious Food
As Mothering Sunday took place midway during Lent it was also seen as a welcome break from fasting. Indulgent food could be consumed as it was a special occasion this gave birth to the name of ‘Refreshment Sunday’.
A particular kind of cake, Simnel cake, was traditionally freshly baked and consumed on the day. This is a fruit cake topped with marzipan and jam. You can make Simnel cake with the children, but you’ll need to allow two hours for the bake. You’ll also need to soak the sultanas, currants, and mixed peel in orange and lemon juice overnight. If you do bake it together, you can cut slices for the children to try at lunch and take home to their parents. Alternatively, you can purchase Simnel cake for the children to try
Freshly baked bread is also a traditional Mother’s Day gift. There are plenty of simple bread recipes online to bake with children, and you can ensure the bread has no additives. The kneading, rolling, and measuring of ingredients are all skills to help the children’s development. If you can time your bread making right, the children can give their mothers (or whoever picks them up) the gift of fresh bread on their last day in the nursery or school before Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day cards are the perfect opportunity for individual artistic expression in the EYFS. Have a chat about what the children love about their mothers (or primary caregivers) and encourage them to include those ideas in their cards. This is also a language exercise with the children putting their feelings into their own words. Help the younger children to write their names and encourage those with more advanced literacy skills to write a few words.
Another tradition of Mother’s Day is the giving of handmade gifts. Here are a few ideas for simple crafts you can make with the children to take home.
Handprint Tote Bags
Tote bags are eco-friendly, inexpensive and can be personalized quickly and easily. Buy a blank tote bag for each child in the group (plus a few spares just in case). Then ask the children to choose as design – give them some options such as ‘flower’, ‘butterfly’. ‘unicorn’ etc that can be created around a handprint. This is a messy play activity that’s also immersive, artistic and requires individual expression. The children can decorate the design however they like by adding embellishments or introducing a second colour.
Papier-Mache Plant Pot
Another ‘blank canvas’ idea is making Papier-Mache plant pots. Get a stack of cheap plastic plant pots (or better still recycle them) and show the children how to build up the layers of paper and glue to create a solid base. The pots can then be painted in any colour and decoration can be added in the form of stickers, painting, glitter, sequins, scrap fabric or pompoms – the sky’s the limit.
Clay Vases & Pots
Moulding clay into little pots or vases is another hands-on activity that will help the children’s fine motor skills. Use air-dry clay and make the items early in the week, leaving time for decorating on Friday or as close to Mother’s Day as possible.
Last but not least, a picture frame is another personal gift that gives children lots of freedom of expression. You can use the thick card from an old cardboard box or even lolly sticks to create the base. Provide a variety of embellishments then let the children glue and stick dried pasta, beads, buttons, fabric scraps, dried flower petals or anything else they want to add to their frames.
If you have a printer, you can even take and print out a special photo of each child to go in their frames. Otherwise, you could ask the parents to supply one and ruin the surprise or send the frame home with a drawing rather than a photograph in it.
Hopefully, you have developed an open two-way partnership with the parents or primary caregivers of each child in your care. However, if you are struggling to open a meaningful dialogue or engage with each other, our CACHE-endorsed ‘Partnership with Parents’ short course may help help. You will learn how to better work with those in the home setting and reflect on the overall learning.
These gifts are all useful and personal and will hopefully bring a little bit of joy to the children’s mothers and primary caregivers.
At the same time, they are all designed to help the children in your care fulfill their EYFS directives. Happy Mother’s Day!