By Hilary White

Metal is a fascinating substance for young children to explore. The shiny gold, silver, bronze and copper colours attract the eye – and metal and metallic objects can be a feast for all the other senses too.

What sound does metal make when it is struck? Does it have a smell? What happens if it is put in a hot or cold place? Using ‘metal’ as a theme gives young children lots of opportunity for hands-on, free-flow exploration of their environment – and the sensory learning and discovery that goes with it.


To accompany the activities below, we have put together a selection of metals-themed resources. We have metals-themed word and image cards cards that can be used to label items in a display, or as part of a pairs or matching game. There’s also a record sheet on which children can draw the metal, wooden and plastic items they have sorted. And last but not least, there’s a brilliant activity for messy play – follow the instructions on the sheet to make some homemade brass polish that the children can use to polish up tarnished brass items (under supervision, of course.)

Hilary White has also provided us with detailed planning notes to support the activities. They include ‘Development Matters’ pointers, Effective Practice suggestions and ideas for what to look out for when you’re observing the children. These notes really are an invaluable resource.

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