Thursday, 9 October 2014

Duplo Building

'E' pulled out the Duplo blocks today, they have been out for a while but there hadn't been much interest in them until today. After she had tried to force them together a couple of times and announced "I can't do it!" We spoke about how they fit together, I showed her how the lumps need to fit inside the hollow side of another piece. They need to line up square and click together, then she got it and started making some short towers.

A couple of days later the blocks came out again, 'E' has mostly remembered how they go together, I had to remind her just a couple of times to turn one of them over. She announced she wanted to make a really tall tower!
I showed her how to put the bigger pieces at the bottom so it balances better, we made a tower so tall 'E' could hardly reach the top!!

Characteristics of Effective Learning
'E' tried to have a go at first but being a bit tricky she needed a demonstration on how they fit together. After she had learnt how to do it she came up with ideas of what she wanted to do

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Nature Painting

We started the morning talking a walk around the park to collect leaves, sticks and any other natural objects we could find

Throwing some leaves around and watch them flutter to the floor

Picking some good leaves for painting

Beautiful autumn skys

Lets get painting! We demonstrated how to paint one side of a leave and then turn it over to stamp the image on the paper. 'E' picked this up very quickly and made a few good prints!

Mixing some colours together to make autumnal combinations.
'E' also had a go with some sticks, dipping them in the paint and making marks on the paper.

'M' and little 'E' explored the paint and objects with interest. 'M' made some circular prints with acorn caps and 'E' rolled a conker around on the paper leaving painted tracks

Great exploration and she wasn't worried about the mess either!

Characteristics of Effective Learning
'E' joined us after we had done our collecting and just joined in with the painting. She usually enjoys painting greatly but today she wasn't all that interested in the activity and after one quick picture she wanted to go off and play. She understood direction of what we were doing (leave printing) and was able to replicate our demonstration quickly. She extended what had been demonstrated by picking up a stick and dipping it into the paint too.

'M' and Little 'E' explored the paint and objects with interest. Trying different movements with objects and the marks they leave. Little 'E' spent some time running her fingers through the paint, feeling the texture of the paint mixed with some bits of bark.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Small World Play

With me today is little ‘X’. He has been with me for a couple of months now and I am fascinated by his *usually* gentle nature and amazing imagination! While the younger girls were having their morning naps 'X' invited me to play with him; "Perhaps you can come play Dinosaurs?" How can you say no to that?!

He began by pulling out the rocks and stacking them up behind the tray and then placing the dinosaurs behind them telling me "They like rocks to hide behind". He then decided the dinosaurs were in danger from the volcano so started throwing the rocks to knock it over.
"Now that girl dinosaur is saved because it hit it off"

"Now they are tired" he tells me laying them each down "This is his bed, this is his bed"
"And that's the end of the story"

He then changed his mind and continued the story with "The next they are eating plants. T-Rex's don't eat plants"
I asked him "oh what do they eat?"
"They eat meat. Not the Diplodocus, that one eats plants"

'X' then moved on to play with another toy for a short while before coming back and picking up a dinosaur again.
"Is this a T-Rex" he asks me holding up a red dinosaur
I replied (rather sheepishly as dinosaurs is not something I am all that knowledgeable on!) "It could be"
X "It has 3 claws; not a T-Rex"
Me "Oh, how many claws does a T-Rex have then?"
X "two, like that one"  Pointing to a smaller figure

He then resumed his small world play. All the smaller dinosaurs had been placed onto a blue Stickle Brick board earlier in the play. As 'X' was moving them off the blue board he told me "When they were in the water they were very sad because they were hungry but mummy and daddy didn't give them any food because they had been naughty. That's what happens when they are naughty, they get no food and they get their TV broken."

At this point I felt 'Xs' attention and interest was dropping in this play so I asked him if he wanted to have some Play-Doh for a little bit before the girls woke up and we had lunch. He asked if he could bring the dinosaurs too, "Of course! The dinosaurs definitely need to come explore the Play-Doh with us!"

We began by rolling out some Play-Doh and looking at the different foot prints the dinosaurs made
 'X' decided to see "How many can fit on there together" as he placed them around fitting in as many as he could
 This one is eating some of the Play-Doh "He is getting his head right in there Heather!!"
 With some of the smaller ones he then started pushing the whole body in sideways telling me "This Stegosaurus has spikes down it's back"

At this point I got up to start putting lunches together for the hungry girls who would surely be waking up soon! As I was pottering around I heard 'X' begin singing to his toys "Oh dinosaurs, my little dinosaurs"

In this short period we can see 'X' is developing or has secured a number of the Early Years Outcome points:
- Focusing attention - still listen or do, but can shift own attention
- Shows understanding of prepositions such as 'under', 'on top' or 'behind'
- Initiates conversations, attends to and takes account of what others say
- Explains own knowledge and understanding, and asks appropriate questions of others
- Suggests how the story might end
- Uses positional language
- Sings to self and makes up simple songs

- Builds up vocabulary that reflects the breadth of their experiences
- Introduces a story line or narrative into their play
- Beginning to be aware of the way stories are structured
- Builds stories around toys

Characteristics of effective learning:

X shows a clear engagement in his play. Showing interest in his Dinosaurs, drawing others in to his play and initiating activities. He is motivated by his own interest, maintaining a high level of focus and interest on his chosen activity. He is playing creatively with his Dinosaurs and then moves on to trying out ideas with the playdough. Thinking critically about how they might all fit on to the dough, making predictions as to how many might fit and changing strategy as needed.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Potions Potions Potions!!

I have been doing a bit of cover for Pip recently, her boys have been sick or shes had a day off. It's a great benefit of living just down the road is that we can offer this additional cover for all our families!! All the kids know both me and Pip so well, it means parents aren't so 'boxed in' if one of us needs a day off!

The new messy play kitchen has been going down so well since it was introduced a few weeks ago and with all these older ones in the house the younger ones have had a major input of imagination!

Lots of different ingredients to be found in the kitchen and all around the garden

Some Army Men added to the mix?!

Great conversations going on all around, talking about what to add, what the potion is for, what it looks or smells like. The leadership skills shown by the older ones was lovely to see. Lots of taking turns and listening to each others opinions!

'W' in particular I noticed was absorbed into this play. Listening and taking his lead from the older children. He followed requests if he was asked to go get some more mud or another scoop of water or pull leaves from the hedge for "ingredients" Since this day (08-05-2014) 'W' has been transferring and expanding his play:

12-05-2014 Practicing what he has learnt in a different environment where different ingredients are available

16-05-2014 Back at home expanding his knowledge and passing it on to younger children, making 'Hot Chocolate' and "Potions that will turn you into a dog!" This time it was 'W' directing the play and asking the younger children to go get him ingredients!

05-06-2014 As I had more after schoolers join, the kitchen play evolved into more role play, making dinner for baby and although he was reluctant to play the role of 'mum' 'W' was often the one in the kitchen making tea or stirring stew for dinner.

Characteristics of Effective Learning
'W' began this journey by watching older children and then just having a go at it himself. He has experimented with different ingredients such as mud, grass and herbs, vegetables, tea bags and anything else often coming to ask me if I have any ingredients he could use. This experimental play rapidly became more thought out and took a place in his imaginative world. He thought creatively how he could use the kitchen area, although in their play he took the role of a child not 'mum or dad' he did a lot of cooking in the kitchen area.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

More of Baby 'M's Moving!!

Since my last post about Baby 'M's movement here she has made some fantastic progress!!!

I find it fascinating the change in attitude babies have, as soon as they realise they are beginning to move the sheer determination to get themselves around is incredible and so developments are fast!!

Here are my most recent observation of 'M'

29-04-14 'M's crawling is coming along. She can now manage about 4 paces before she falls to the floor. Then will then commando crawl, wriggle, sit up and shuffle to get herself about! However the most impressive thing today was she managed to pull herself up!! Just for a moment before bumping back to the floor.

06-05-14 'M' is crawling!! She is still a bit wobbly at times; we have had a couple of bumps today as she stumbled. Her bum sometimes drops down towards the floor, (almost a Yoga move!) she has a little rest then is up and off again. Occasionally she changes to more of a crab crawl; using the foot of one leg, and the knee of the other leg but it gets her around great!! She has been continuing to attempt pulling herself up on furniture, not always successfully but the interest is there!

07-05-14 'M' attempted climbing up some steps today! It took a couple of attempts but she got up there. I did have to catch her as she went to sit up and would have toppled straight back off the step!

13-05-14 'M' is puling herself up everywhere! Using furniture or me! She is not able to stay standing for long, bumping back down to the ground. Her crawling is getting faster too, often choosing the use the more crab like crawling technique rather than on her hands and knees

All this development in such a short space of time, well done little 'M'!!

Characteristics of Effective Learning
'M' has shown much determination and perseverance in her developing movement. She has kept on trying after receiving little bumps and bruises or even getting stuck, determined to keep going to get what she wants! How she is choosing to crawl in a more 'crab like' fashion is not the most common approach but she has decided it works for her.

Next Steps
- Offer toys on a variety of levels encouraging 'M' to pull herself up and reach.
- Strategically place objects around the home to encourage a bit of cruising!
- Hold 'M's hands to 'walk' her along. Help to build more leg muscle for those first steps.
- Encourage her to climb up small steps and explore different levels
- Visit a soft play center where 'M' can climb and explore with freedom but with less risk of injury

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Busy Bank Holiday's!!

I am on a bit of a mission at the moment to get my garden sorted!! Having moved house a few times over the last few years I haven't felt like I have really had much chance to really stake a claim to any garden we have had. So I am changing all that this year!!

And when you get really determined it's amazing what can happen!

Starting at the right side, we did have a metal (quite unattractive) run for the bunny when he came outside. It was a few years old and was beginning to warp out of shape and just a bit of a pain really. So with the help from my lovely Sister in Law we picked up this new cage! It has been around the block a few times, in fact we had Popcorn in it a year or so ago, then it went to my Mother in Law for her Guinea Pigs, but before all that my Sister in Law (Pip) had it for Chickens!!! It's been shared around and much loved!

So it's back with us now for Popcorn, it's not a massive space but it is plenty big enough for him during the day. He actually sleeps inside anyway so it's just for fresh air during the day! Once the children go home he will come out and have a run around the garden freely so it's more to keep him from being trodden on than to really keep him contained!!

Then the more important bit; whatever you want to call it, mud pie kitchen, outdoor kitchen, whatever; my new defined messy/creative play area!!! I'm so in love with it already, even though it's not quite done yet.

 My amazing amazing wife made this wooden kitchen unit, made up from old pallets (donated by one of my families). I had been looking at various designs on Facebook, links on Pinterest etc so sort of knew what I wanted. Georgia did a fantastic job of not just putting this one together, but also a second one for Pip over at Worms Eye View!!!
 An old cable reel got for £2 from a reclaimed wood/recycling yard
 The green unit on the wall is actually a draw from our old bed!
The paving slabs were donated by Pip, she had them around her Chicken run in her garden. Unfortunately both chickens passed away last week and so she has been having a clear out and sort of her garden too! Because I am next the the school and we have clay soil, we get all the run off rain water from the playground, it just doesn't go anywhere so the garden gets so boggy!! These paving slabs, just to raise that area up a bit were great. Then when it does get all muddy I can just hose it all down! I am still considering if the whole area needs paving (but that can get slippy), or bark chips, or's not quite right yet
 A chalk board panel on the side of the rabbit run! (another Learning & Development area covered!)
Straw bale was donated by a mum/family at the farm just up the road and lots of logs from the local park. A large willow tree was cut down a few months ago, leaving a huge pile of logs. the pile has been gradually going down as people have been grabbing them!! (and you can just see Popcorn heading off out for an explore round the garden!!)

Lots of other bits for the children to explore, bargain bits found at the car boot today, the blue bucket under the wooden unit has all sorts of jugs, pots, bowls, baking tray, muffin tray, tubes and funnels for water play. There are also a couple of drain pipes in the corner for water/rolling balls/cars etc. There is a pot of mud, stones, conkers, pine cones, natural chalks (found at the woods and collected by the children in the Easter Holidays). The coconut shells I just hung up and thought they could make music, they could be bowls or cups or anything the children can think of!

But I said I wasn't done!! As much as I like the open feel of it, from my experience if you are going to have messy play it's best to set out a visually defined area to contain it!! That is why there are various logs, plant pots and the straw bale set up as they are for now.
However, I do want the area to be more clearly defined. The logs will no doubt be rolled around, plant pots moved and before you know it I have wet mud EVERYWHERE. So, my inspiration came from our trip to an amazing local outdoor learning center we visited during the Easter holidays;
Behind my lovely nephew playing in their (very definitely) muddy area is a beautiful, natural, low level fence. PERFECT!!! So that is my plan to create a simple woven boundary fence, it will be kept relatively low. I just need to find a few stakes and then get weaving!!!

Another bargain find at the car boot today, and just as a bit of fun and an invitation to play. If the children look closely enough, in the flower beds around the garden a war is beginning....


I'm also currently working on a Fairy Garden but I'll keep that for a later post (or when the moss is more settled in and growing!). I'm also already aware that mathematics is really not my strong point. Whether I'm not great at providing opportunities, or actually I'm just not good at recognising it when it is already there, I'm not entirely sure. But I will be doing some research of how I can introduce a bit more maths to this area!

My garden now covers:
Physical Development - Scooping, pouring from various containers. Manipulating small world figures. Climbing/balancing on wooden logs.
Personal, Social & Emotional - Playing with and alongside others. Taking turns with resources and working co-operatively.
Communication & Language - Descriptive role play and small world play. Speaking with peers.
Literacy - Mark making on the chalk board, there are also a number of laminated sheets around the garden for things to look out for!
Mathematics - Scooping and measuring.
Understanding the World - Using natural and man made materials
Expressive Arts & Design - Creative role play and small world play. Using different media and materials in play. Being creative with different/new resources.