Sand Dough Recipe!

Sensory Activity Objective:

What a great way to let the children mix, kneed and explore this special sand dough and at the same time develop their language and fine motor skills in a very creative way!
Engage in a conversation that supports this activity i.e.
What textures do you feel? Is it soft, hard…? 
What happens to the flour when we add water?
Where can we find sand in Dubai?
What can you do with wet sand, and dry sand?

Activity Words: Soft, hard, gritting, rough, squeeze, roll, pull, cut, mold, create…

Items required:

  • Clean play sand – 4 cups

  • Flour – 3 cups

  • Water – 1 cup

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

Equipment required:

  • Glass mixing bowl

  • Wooden spoon

  • Rolling pin


  1. Combine the flour, salt, water and oil in a mixing bowl.

  2. Knead with your hands until the mixture forms a ball.

  3. If the mixture is too dry, gradually add water until it reaches a nice dough consistency and if the mixture is too watery, gradually add more flour.

  4. Let the child’s “creation” dry on a tray.

Change, one small step at a time

February has just burst through the door! The thought that we are well into the second month of 2016 creates a response of nodding heads and tut-tuts about how quickly time seems to fly. And yet it seems as if it were only yesterday that January arrived in a shower of confetti-shaded hopes, wishes and resolutions for the new year ahead. For many of us, this is the time of the year that we look at the year gone by and assess what we could have done better or achieved more with ourselves, our children or our family. And so during the beginning of the year, we often create grandiose resolutions during which, with steely resolve, we promise ourselves that we are going to do more or change more. By February all those plans have faltered, as we protest at how difficult it has been. Actually, those plans were more than likely to fail because we are trying to change too much, too quickly without enough resources or without enough time.  Perhaps, instinctively, we know that they are going to fail and so we give up before we have even started.

The “One percent Principle” goes a long way in explaining why resolutions or long-term plans often fail. It basically suggests that we often avoid setting major goals because achieving them seems so overwhelming. Sometimes changes we are trying to establish may be too great. Interestingly, the theory continues to support that small, often subtle changes create a momentum that increasingly brings about much larger change. I would say that when it comes to our children this idea makes a lot of sense.

Very often we, working in early years children’s nurseries in Dubai, hear parents saying that they are going to start disciplining their children more, spend more time with them, establish better eating habits or help them achieve better grades. The plans come from a good place but are often too general, broad or too drastic. With children, we cannot start changing established habits all at once. It creates too much insecurity as children do not know what to expect. Yet, if we change small things incrementally and consistently, we stand a better chance of succeeding which in turn will bring about confidence in ourselves and our abilities as parents. If dad arrives at home half an hour earlier to read a story to his child he has basically started and achieved in measure the change planned. Scheduling family dinners together over the weekend and at least once during the week creates the basis for a habit that impacts language, communication and cognitive skills. Half an hour less on the I-pad will mean half an hour more time playing and developing physical skills. Speaking to our children and others using “and “instead of “but” will reinforce that respect and love are not conditional. Small, positive changes that we apply with consistency can have the potential to create a lasting effect.

The “W” sitting position in young children.

Lying, rolling, sitting-up, crawling; infants go through a host of developmental stages before they develop the coordination, muscle tone and strength to finally walk. Each motor stage milestone emerges once the previous is matured and mastered.

Over the years, we have seen children with various levels of coordination, gait, posture and balance. It is not uncommon to see children sitting in the “W” position: when a child sits with their knees bent and tucked under them in a ‘W” configuration. However, from a physiological and developmental perspective, it is something that we should be aware of.


Children often prefer to sit in this way because it creates a wider support basis and greater stability of the hips and torso. This helps seated children balance better when playing, reaching out or moving. So what is the problem, then? Actually the issue with “W sitting” is that it decreases the need for “trunk control”; the ability children have to shift their weight and ultimately impairs “trunk rotation”. Trunk rotation is vital for stretching movements when reaching to grasp or catch objects with one or both hands, for actions that require balance such as skipping, as well as midline crossing crossing arms from one side to another. Midline crossing is necessary for developing hand preference/dominance necessary for advanced level skills such as handwriting and reading.

Habitually sitting in the “W” position may also impact the way muscles of the hips and legs develop (shortening and tightening); often leading to children who are pigeon-toed or walk on their toes.

As educators, it is important to take note of children who prefer to sit in this potion as it may be the tell-tale sign of other underlying issues; children with hyper-mobility of the joints and sensory processing disorder. It may also indicate the retention of developmental reflexes such as the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) - a transitional reflex which helps children move on from the stage of lying on the floor to crawling or the tonic labyrinthine reflex related to balance, muscle tone and proprioception. Reflexes such as these which remain unintegrated may manifest in later childhood as poor posture, poor muscle tone, difficulty in sitting still, challenges with reading and writing, poor hand/eye coordination, focusing on a task and vision disorders.

Naturally, it is easier to correct the “W” sitting position before it becomes habitual. Together, parents and school should be aware of it and encourage children to sit in alternate positions: side sitting, long sitting or cross-legged sitting.

The role of nursery should be so much more than just a play area to socialise. Good nurseries in Dubai will have teachers with an experienced and sensitive eye who will be able to pick up and communicate physical nuances that need to be addressed consistently so that nursery and the home environment can create a strong support network. For more information regarding unintegrated reflexes please refer to Kinesiology Dubai's Website or alternatively contact the office.

Easy Clay Ornaments!

Looking for a recipe to make ornaments for the holidays?
We found the best one and you only need everyday kitchen ingredients to do it!

What you will need!

  •  2 cups baking soda
  •  1 cup cornstarch
  •  1.1/4 cup water
  •  Cookie cutters/stamps
  •  Straw for the holes
  •  Ribbons for hanging ornaments

What to do

  • Mix the baking soda and cornstarch in a pan. Add the water and mix. Place on stove (medium heat) and bring to a boil stirring constantly throughout.
  • In few minutes, the watery mixture will thicken and suddenly become almost like mashed potatoes. Straight away remove from the heat and place mixture onto a cookie sheet in one lump. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to cool.
  • Once it is cool enough to work with, lightly dust the surface with cornstarch and roll it out into a snake roll. Divide it into smaller chunks. It will have the smooth consistency of fondant.
  • Stamp it with stamps (with or without ink) and then cut it with the cookie cutter, finishing it off with a hole using the straw.
  • Leave it to air dry overnight.

Ice Cube Painting

Discussion: What happens to the ice when we paint with it? What happens to the water when put in the freezer? How does the ice feel? 

Activity words: wet, melting, cold, freezing, very cold, frozen, hard….
Remember to make the activity fun, and encourage the children in their creativity.

Preparations: Each teacher must make her own ice cubes.    

  1. Fill a jug (1 liter) with water and add half a bottle of food colouring or paint. You may want to do more than one colour.
  2. Fill the ice cube trays and place in the freezer overnight. You may want to add popsicle sticks.            


  1. Place a piece of paper in front of each child and then give them each an ice cube.
  2. They will see how cold it is to hold and then the excitement of what they can create as the ice-cube melts on their pieces of paper.
  3. Encourage the children to move the ice cube around their piece of paper, creating patterns and shapes.
  4. Allow to dry!

Kids Island Nursery and Cocoon Nursery have a new look!

Kids Island and Cocoon Nursery are exited to announce our new website!

With the new year passed and the holidays over we have started the new term with a big announcement! From our new logo and website to our incredible new facade the nursery has worked incredibly hard to bring you a fresh new look.

Thats not the only thing we have done. Just like every new year we get so exited ordering new toys, supplies and brainstorming new fun and inspiring projects to get the creative juices flowing.

This year more than ever we are pushing our Proactively-Eco initiative to recycle even more, reduce waste and encourage healthy living.


We cant wait to hear what you think!

4 minute play dough recipe

If your having trouble finding activities during the summer in Dubai and it is simply too hot to play outside play dough is the perfect thing. Play dough is a fun creative activity for children and a great way to train little muscles in their hands to develop dexterity, build strength and refine fine motor skills! Encouraging your child to use both hands to roll, shape and even pound play dough can improve their bilateral hand coordination!

Play dough can be a great outlet for emotional stress and a wild imagination so simply refrain from distracting them and just let them play freely.

Not many nurseries are willing to share their secrete recipes but we simply couldn't keep this one to ourselves. We at Kids Island and Cocoon Nursery believe in "sharing is caring!" so here is our recipe for play dough we actually use. 


  • 2 cups of plain flour (all purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar (powder)
  • 1.5 cups of boiling water (add more slowly if needed)
  • Food colouring (optional)
  • Few drops of glycerine (optional - adds more shine)

Recipe method:

  • Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the boiling water
  • Add the food colouring and glycerine (both optional)
  • Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky combined dough

Allow it to cool down then take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone.  This is the most important part of the process, so keep at it until it’s the perfect consistency. If it remains a little sticky then add a touch more flour until just right.

Store it in a tupperware box and place it in the fridge to make it last longer.

Hope you enjoy it!


It's not harmful if you eat it but if your child does eat too much it could cause a stomach ache. Refrain from eating it and please keep it away from animals.


Cleaning products and toxicity

I couldn’t help but laugh the other day as I was watching a commercial about a cleaning liquid. A beautiful young mummy, perfectly dressed and coiffed enthusiastically cleans her kitchen. With a mop in her hand, and a bottle of neon green, improved-formula anti-bacterial detergent in the other, she glides her mop on the kitchen floor. A glistening streak of germ free-cleanliness instantly appears transforming her dull kitchen into a wonderland of cascading blooms and rays of sunshine. Her floor is radiant; her smile is radiant and her little ones, observing gleefully, radiate health and good nature. She is a domestic goddess, crowned by her good choice in detergents. She is the champion of her family’s well-being and happiness through her floral-scented wisdom. She is the mother that we all strive to be…We’ve all seen the commercials, time and time again. Yet, what are they really telling us?

The messages are clear: chemical detergents are our allies in keeping our families healthy and successful. We can elevate our status from average mother to wonderful mother by how clean and sterile our homes are. Supermarket shelves are packed with hundreds of bottles of detergents that promise us health. Why then are we seeing an “allergy and autoimmune epidemic” in developed societies? If our homes are so clean, why are we getting so sick? Think of it: by cleaning and sanitising our homes through chemicals we are effectively creating sterile environments where good microbes which stimulate our immune systems are eradicated while also loading our indoor environment with toxic fumes and residues. This is where our children live, eat, sleep and play…every day. We are effectively achieving the opposite of what we set out to do.

The other day, I was reading about the “Hygiene Hypothesis” which in measure explains that the increase in asthma and autoimmune diseases may be due to sterile home environments that do not offer enough diversity in germs needed to stimulate and educate developing immune systems. Studies within certain farming communities in the Unites States reveal some startling results. Living very traditional ways of life, they shun the comforts and products of developed societies. They are daily exposed to animals and live a very natural life that is close to the land. Interestingly, they have dramatically lower incidents of asthma and autoimmune diseases within their communities.

As a nursery in Dubai with so many children present we have to make sure that the environment is clean but not sterile. Kid’s Island and Cocoon nursery are eco-friendly where the importance of cleanliness is obvious. Clean environments, whether school or home, should not mean sterile chemical zones but ones where the environment, children, parents and staff members are respected. The use of ENJO microfibers, “Baby Air” air purifiers, pure soap and essential oils have been our mainstay for years now and part of our core values and ethos. Come see us in the office for more ideas of chemical-free cleaning.

Does starting Nursery mean that children will constantly fall sick?

With an eyebrow raised in worry comes the question I always wait for: “Will my child get sick when she starts nursery?” It is one of the things we get asked by mums who are starting nursery and one of those questions that they know the answer to but still ask anyway. The answer I always give is: “Yes. Generally children who start nursery for the first time will get sick; it is unavoidable and part of strengthening their developing immune systems”. As nonchalant as I try to be, mummies are always particularly worried especially after the dramatic and woeful stories of weeks of illness they hear from their friends and acquaintances. Yet, as unavoidable as this is, the nursery can make a difference. I can hear you ask how?

Well, it is true that nursery children fall sick during their nursery years, but a nursery environment with a solid cleaning routine and a robust Infection Control Policy will minimise children’s absences due to illness. With so many children present, hygiene is vital. Here at the nursery, for example, we have 3 levels of cleanliness: every classroom is fitted with the “Baby Air” air purifier which helps to minimise mould and bacterial particles. Classrooms are cleaned 3 times daily with special attention given to toys, surfaces and floors. More intense cleaning is done on Saturdays, when mats and toys are washed, sanitised and left in the sun. Floors are scrubbed and surfaces are cleaned and sanitised with eco-friendly, non-toxic products. Our wonderful ladies around the nursery have a very comprehensive cleaning routine which they enthusiastically adhere to. Additionally, our AC’s are cleaned and biologically sanitised by Saniservice.

Parallel to this, the nursery has a strict Infection Control Policy which has been drawn to protect the health and safety of everyone who circulates within its walls. Ultimately, the cleanliness routine, the use of non-toxic cleaning products and a carefully implemented Infection Control policy will benefit the children of the nursery by minimising repeated infections. In this way, children’s absences due to illness are reduced.

Kid’s Island and Cocoon nursery are eco-conscience nurseries where the importance of cleanliness is obvious. Clean environments, whether school or home, should not mean sterile chemical zones but ones where the environment, children, parents and staff members are respected. The use of ENJO microfibers, pure soap, bio-sanitiser and essential oils has been our mainstay for years now and part of our values and ethos. Come see us in the office for more ideas of chemical-free cleaning.

Developing Important Motor Skills

Teachers at Kids Island Nursery and Cocoon Nursery in Dubai, have noticed some preschoolers having difficulties using their fingers and hands to do basic activities such as tie their shoes, zip their school bags or open lunch boxes, in recent years.

One of the main reasons identified by teachers is that preschoolers are spending more and more time in front of the television, tablets, mobiles or computers, instead of using their fingers to play and make things. It is important for preschoolers to develop their motor skills involving the movement of the fingers and hands with strength and dexterity, this is crucial in the early childhood years.

Fine motor skills are important and children need to develop them in order to do everyday activities such as pouring themselves some milk, buttoning their clothes, tying shoelaces or write and draw.

Some of the methods used by teachers at nurseries in Dubai to help young children develop fine motor skills in the classroom are as follows:

  • Play-Doh, Clay and Salt dough – Malleable materials such as clay or play-doh gives children the opportunity to use their hands and make models. They should be encouraged to squeeze, pound, roll and cut out shapes using cookies cutters. This activity can also be encouraged at home by using salt dough, where children can model the material and use paint to decorate it too.
  • Actions – Teach children nursery rhymes and songs that include actions with their fingers and hands such as itsy bitsy spider and the wheels on the bus. These activities encourage children's motor, language and cognitive skills.
  • Jigsaws and puzzles – Provide children with a variety of simple jigsaw and puzzles with large knobs, small knobs, large knobless pieces, small knobless pieces, large pieces and small pieces, table puzzles and floor puzzles, in order to encourage fine motor development.
  • Drawing and colouring – Drawing and colouring are great activities to encourage a preschoolers fine motor skills. Most curriculums in Early Years Education in Dubai, lets children explore Art by letting them tear tissue, painting with different size brushes, pasting an array of collage materials and paper folding.
  • Self-help skills – Teachers should include activities that help children practice basic self-care skills such as tying, buttoning, snapping and zipping. Encourage children to attempt to dress themselves for outdoor play, gym time, nap time and any other time.
  • Blocks – Children can be encouraged to use their fine motor skills with blocks, where they actively use their skills to build a tower with blocks, construct a structure with Lego® or Duplo® blocks.
  • Games – Encourage children to make bead stringing, placing pegs in boards, parquetry blocks as well as board games such as Chutes & Ladders and Lotto which enhances and develops their motor skills.

Having enough opportunities for children to develop their motor skills in a classroom environment is a priority.