Inspiring ideas for developing skills for school in pre-schoolers

Hi: I’m Karen - mum of two and a primary school teacher, specialising in Early Years.  I have taught and led Early Years for over ten years and have supported local schools through my role as an Early Years moderator.

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Early Years is something I care deeply about and I love finding creative and inspiring ways to motivate children to learn new skills, through open-ended resources that incorporate craft, sensory, natural and everyday objects and messy play! There are so many fun ways to engage children and I am passionate about finding new activities to support the learning and development  of my class and my own children at home through play.

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I am Mummy to Immy, who is four, and Seb, who is two, and I really enjoy setting up `invitations to play` for them at home. Friends often say, they love bringing their children round as it is like a pre-school, with all the fun things to do.  Immy has just started school and I was regularly being asked by my “Mummy friends” how they could support their children’s learning and for ideas and activities that they could do with their own children in preparation for starting school. This is how ‘Skills 4 School’ cards came about.  

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I wanted to use my own teaching experience to create an interactive product that that would be easy to resource, not onerous to set up and, most importantly, the children would view as fun and would happily engage in them as the emphasis would be on play! Having an art specialism and a passion for anything creative means this is something I love to do and so this perfectly links together my two main roles in life.

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I designed a set of cards so that they could be used in any order and linked by colour, through the ‘Early Years’ curriculum areas. This means particular skills - for example, a maths focus - can be picked dependent on the individual child’s needs that day or week.

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It was also important for me that any carer/family member would to be able to access them and my own mum loves that there is `mini instructions` for her when I leave an activity set up for her to use on my work day.! They do not take a long time and can be squeezed into a short space of time between park trips, play dates and the endless household chores we all have! Once children are familiar with some of the activities, the resources can be left set up to encourage independent play which will also give them opportunity to consolidate the skills learnt and might even give you time for a hot cup of tea!

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My Instagram and Facebook page are updated regularly showing ‘Skills 4 School’ cards in action, plus lot of other play ideas for home!

If you’d like to order a set of cards, please email me at

These cards are brilliant! Super easy to use and a really fun way to help prepare your child for school. I am not creative at all, so it’s really helped me as I would never have been able to think of these ideas on my own. Thanks so much
— Sasha Nutell
Karen’s Skills4School cards are absolutely marvellous! Not only have they given us so many ideas about how we can prepare our eldest daughter Poppy for starting school this autumn, they’ve also provided plenty of rainy (and sunny!) day activities that the whole family can enjoy. My 1-year old loves taking part in the fun too, as do I. They are a real gem of a resource. Thank you Karen!
— Emma Barrington
Olivia loves her cards. We read through them and plan new activities. Amazing ideas! Thank you Karen
— Chloe Burton