Thursday, 26 May 2016


Poor old Humpty Dumpty has a fall and gets quite hurt. I wonder how that makes him feel? 
Maybe this nursery rhyme is a good opportunity to allow children some time to consider others and how they might feel in situations. To view the world through someone else's eyes.

There are differences between Empathy and Perspective taking. A child might see that Humpty Dumpty is sad and might want to help him feel happy again. But it is different to understanding why he is sad or hurting and then considering how that might feel to him as an individual.
It is quite a complex concept for children to understand. 

It has been researched for some time and many studies show that children do not really start to show this level of cognitive development until around the age of 6 years. It is also true that some people never learn this skill. It is not something that just happens. This is why the experiences and conversations we have with children around feelings and the feelings of others, are so important. 

Although children do not start to show this level of understanding until around the age of 6, it is a lengthy process that does not really complete until around the age of 15. This is why guidance is needed and children need to be helped to "walk in someone else's shoes" at times. To see beyond their own needs and feelings.

With this in mind and the many pre-school aged squabbles that I seem to refereeing, I am always on the look out for new ways to help little ones consider the feelings of others around them and to understand that our actions can harm or help others.

This activity was offered at a local play center and was linked to the afternoon nursery rhyme session. I thought it was a lovely idea and a simple way to introduce the concept of "other peoples feelings".


  • An egg shape cut in to several pieces. Match the shapes and number of pieces with your individual children;s abilities to match puzzles back together.
  • Plasters (boxes are often found in the local pound shops and you can also get themed plasters as well.)
  • Glue
  • A4 piece of coloured paper.
  • Crayons or pens
  Help the child to rebuild Humpty Dumpty. (The egg shape). Above are two examples. One was a 3 year olds work. She wanted the pieces to join. The second was that of a 20 month old. The learning for him was more about sticking the pieces on to the paper.

As you help your children or support them in their activity ask them a few open questions. Use their own experiences and feelings as a spring board to explore the feelings of Humpty Dumpty. 

  • Have you ever fallen over and hurt yourself?
  • How did you feel? 
  • Did you cry?
Offer the plasters to the children and ask them if they would like to try and fix Humpty Dumpty. 

  • Did you put a plaster on your graze?
  • Did anyone do anything to make you feel better? (magic cream, a cuddle, kissed it better)
Once you have explored the children's memories of having had a fall, explore how they think Humpty might be feeling.

  • Poor Humpty. I wonder how he must have felt when he fell off the wall.
  • What do you think he wants us to do to help him?
  • Can you think of things we could do to help him feel better?
  • I wonder how he feels now that we have fixed him.
Don't forget to draw a face on Humpty. Maybe you could think about expressions and drawing a face that shows how he feels.

This is just a starting point for a far more complex component of cognitive development but it does start to offer the children a different way of thinking.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional 

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


And so I hear it.... day after day. Endlessly through my years and it never changes. In fact it just seems to be the norm now. That really scares me.

"Our children need to toughen up and deal with bullies. They will meet them as they get older and they have to be able to cope when they do."
"Children need to learn to compete in a competitive world. They will get left behind and we need to test and push them to raise education standards and expectations."
"The world is a cruel and busy place. They need to fit in to that!"

These are the phrases that make me want to cry. That run through my head at night and make me so angry. I read an article a couple of weeks ago drawing attention to the fact that we as humans seem to believe people who burn the candle at both ends and live with exhaustion, are to somehow we revered. What amazing people they are. How do they do it? I wish I had the strength, energy, skills to do that.


These are not people who should be role models and we should not feel in some way inferior to them. These are people that are not looking after themselves and we should be encouraging them to slow down. This generation of children will become these people if we do not make a change now!

Just because young minds are malleable and easy to teach is not a reason to hot-house and test our toddlers and early years children. Yes young children are designed to have a thirst for knowledge and have an amazing ability to learn at an incredible rate. Nature designed them this way for a reason, and it was NOT so they could be put in school style settings aged 2 and crammed full of spellings and fractions! It is a vital survival tool. They need this ability to learn the foundations for life. Physical movement, social interactions and meaningful connections with other humans. The ability to quickly learn how to be heard and work out skills for themselves. This is why children play. This is why all mammals are seen to play when they are young. Learning the vital skills that they will need to be successful. You miss this out or cut the process short and you are heading for disaster. Denying this process effects the development of higher brain development and then you have children who are forever playing catch up or struggle due to conditions like Retained Primitive Reflexes.

So how about we stop saying that pressure and pushing is the way forward? I propose we start to push for a generation of children who are nurtured and given the time and space to play and learn in a home environment. To teach children the importance of our own mental well being. Making time for relaxation, learning to be present and mindful and not rushing forward to meet the next goalpost.

This will mean that the powers above need to recognise the importance of parenting and not push every parent back in to work. Most families I meet want to raise their children till school age. They want to give them the love and care that they deserve. However they feel pushed to go back to work and despite laws saying that employers need to be flexible, most mums end up doing more hours than they would like in order to keep their job.

I am not naive. I realise that there are families that struggle to parent. That maybe have not had that care themselves as a child and do not know how to raise a child with affection and stability. This is where the money needs to be focused. This is where experienced parents could offer support if they were not pushed back in to full time work. More support and care as a community. More togetherness.

So lets brake the cycle before we damage our children and create a new trend of stress fueled normality. Lets bring back family and community support. Lets correct our children when unkind words are spoken. Lets correct ourselves when we use unkind words to our young. It doesn't have to be the norm to be unkind. Show them the importance of self reflection and down time. Mistakes are ok and we can make them right again.

These are the REAL foundations for children's learning and success!! The real skills we need to teach the business men and woman of the future. More importantly the skills we need to teach so that this generation and future generations can succeed at being good parents!

Lets brake the cycle now and save our children's childhoods...... and ultimately their futures.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


Duplo has been this weeks favourite and it is being used in all sorts of interesting ways. This activity was something I planned and set up for St Patrick's Day. It was to encourage the children to try and build a Rainbow. However today more bricks were added and the focus of learning was changed. All because one child had other ideas! The best type of learning!!

She seemed to understand that to make a tall tower you needed a strong base. She used the bigger bricks to start with and then selected the small bricks to build the tower taller. She had some concept of balance by making sure that the bricks were center.

Even when the odd larger brick was included, she still made sure it was centered before building again. This knowledge has come from past construction play. I have seen her balance wooden blocks and not center them first We have talked about why the blocks might have fallen over when she added another one on the edge of a tower. She is using skills that she has developed through play to make this tower work!

Once complete, she asked me how big the tower was. I suggested that we find something to measure it with and she chose to use a number line. She is not yet able to recognise numbers beyond those that have meaning to her. Such as 3 for her age. But she used phrases such as...
"It's really really big!"
"It's as taller as this bit Pippa" while pointing to the top of the number line.

She then put the number line on top of her tower and laughed as she told me that it would be "REALLY REALLY REALLY BIG!!!" if she had more bricks.
"Bigger than me!"

  • Provide measuring equipment near the Duplo box. Tape measures, rulers, number line, string, 
  • Use other construction materials to revisit this activity.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Mathematics
  • Expressive Art and Design

Monday, 4 April 2016


"J" is quite a gentle lad who finds it tricky to mix with others. He often seems overwhelmed by people and noise. The Duplo seems to have brought him out of  himself a bit though and he is happy for others to come and join him. 
Today he set up a little train station/yard thing..... I'm not totally sure to be honest!

The girls had decided to build a house with some of the Duplo and sat right next to him as he worked. They walked over to the box to get the pieces they needed and he chatted to them about what he was building.

He even started to include his industrial area in to their farm/house area. It was all very amicable and he offered to give them cars and helicopters to transport their animals.

I noticed that he tested the weight limit of each crane as well. Picking up different vehicles with a crane and seeing if it held or pulled the crane off the roof. He spent quite some time working on this.

  • Use Duplo play as a way to bring "J" together with his peers.
  • Expand on the crane investigation by suggesting we build a stronger tower and seeing if the crane can then hold more weight.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional
  • Physical Development
  • Mathematics 
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Art and Design

Monday, 7 March 2016


I am currently working with children who have just turned 3 years of age. Although most of them can count to 10, I wanted to focus on counting items individually and number recognition to 5.

With St Patrick's Day just around the corner I thought I would create some themed activities to encourage this. I have started with a simple number line. I added a numeral to each space and also Shamrocks in the same pattern as we see on dice.

 This reinforces children's understanding of

  •  Cardinality - That this represents how many of something there is. 
  •  Subitising - Instantly recognising the quantity without having to count.

By placing an item on each space, the children can count the items. I added 5 of each item for the purpose of this activity. The children can see that although each group of items looks different, there is in fact the same number of each. 

  • Conservation of number - Knowing that the quantity is the same however the items are arranged and grouped.

  • Place different items on the number line and add them together. Use the counting on method so that children can see that they do not need to start at 1 each time.
  • Use 2 different items on the number line to look at number bonds to 5.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Communication and Language
  • Mathematics 

Sunday, 6 March 2016


The play room has been set up ready to explore! I will be adding activities and experiences to the environment for the children over the next 2 weeks.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016


I am always trying to find ways to include little ones in sensory play. We often go with a big tray on the floor but this often ends ij the focus being more about throwing the contents around rather than really exploring the sensory side of things. 
Don't get me wrong. Throwing things around is a learning experience in  itself but I am trying to find a way to redirect the focus a little. 
I have gone with scaling things down a little. Adding some items to the high chair and seeing what happens.

"J" was the first to try this new approach and he seemed to settle in to it much quicker than the times we have used a large tray. He used his fingers to make lines in the lentils and then drew my attention to them.

With less to overwhelm him, he seemed to find it easier to focus in on the different items on the tray. Picking each one up and feeling its texture and shape. Sometimes putting items to his mouth. He was very interested in the little traffic cone. looking at it from different angles. Picking up lentils between his thumb and fingers and dropping them in to the upturned cone end.

"J" turned the trucks over and spun the wheels. He realised that the cement mixer could be filled with lentils and emptied out again. He also noticed that pushing them through the lentils left a clear trail behind and then repeated this several times. Just checking out his new discovery!

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Understanding the World
  • Expressive Art and Design


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