Thursday, 30 August 2012


Today was another day of exploring all these natural items. Little "L" had her first day back with me after 3 weeks and it was lovely to see her. We sat together on the playroom floor and she started to explore the items I had layed out. I tried not to say too much or impose my ideas. The idea of this form of play is that they explore in their own way and we observe. It can give you some wonderful insights in to how areas of the child's learning is developing. What Schema's they might be following and their learning styles.

Children are naturally inquisitiveness and as they move from being babies to toddlers, they stop being content with just holding and sucking the items and want to find out what can be done with these things. Can we make them make a sound? Can we stack them and then knock them down? Can we fill them up and empty them again? Once a child has found a satisfying reaction to their play with an item or items, they will repeat this action over and over again, testing the result will still be the same. This improves many areas of a child's development. It will strengthen their hand eye co-ordination, cognitive development, boost their self esteem and improve their fine motor skills.

For a true session of Heuristic play I would have found a different room to do this in with no distractions. Some of our toys did pop up in our session due to our location in the playroom. Next time I think I will do this in the living room and close off the door to the playroom. Most Heuristic play sessions last about an hour and I lay the items out on the floor without actually setting it up. This is very different to the "Invitations to play" that you might set up at other times. It is important to have many objects and lots of each one so that children do not feel the need to "protect" or "hoard" the items. Children of this age find sharing very difficult and although we are teaching them every day to share, many are not developmentally ready for that just yet.

The adult does not interfere in the child's explorations but just sits back to observe and be on hand for emotional support and security.

Little "L" loved her session today.

She started off by hanging curtain rings over the branches on our tree bowl.

 She then moved on to popping a wooden Tortoise in to a shell and balancing him!

She tried to pop the curtain rings in to a goblet but they didn't fit. She tried one ring after another and each one was discarded in to a bowl when she realised it would not fit. But she did find a wooden bell rattle that fitted just perfectly in to her goblet which gave her a lot of satisfaction!

She found a box with a lid and added a metal bracelet to it before replacing the lid!

Just before our session came to an end she climbed on my lap with a set of 3 tins. These were all varying sizes. She un-stacked them from one in side the other and then tried to match them with the correct lids. turning each one and then putting it down and selecting another to try.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


We have several baskets on our playroom shelves that have many natural items in. These are always being explored and used. The objects get added to other play items and imaginations are sparked. Pine cones become trees, curtain rings become bangles and shells become boats!

I recently found out the meaning of Heuristic play from another childminder, who wrote on her facebook page......

 " The word 'heuristic' comes from the Greek 'Eureka' meaning discovery,
 and so the purpose of Heuristic Play is to find out and discover 
by trial and error. "                    

I have always liked the idea of the children in my care exploring the textures and weights of these natural items. The taste and smells of some of them too. It is something that is very much lacking in modern plastic toys. I remember a training course I attended some time ago, that stated the importance of exposing children to as many textures, tastes and sensory experiences as possible. All these experiences build neural pathways in the young child's developing brain. The more these pathways are used the more they are reinforced. They become a well trodden path between and image, smell, sound etc, and the word associated with it. These help children to remember and learn, to make sense of the world around them. When a baby see's it's mothers face and hears the word Mummy, it knows firmly that the face they see is that of their mummy!

A child who experiences the properties of natural items will make more neural pathways than a child who is just exposed to soft, shinny plastic! Natural items have a wide variety of textures, weights, tastes, smells and shapes. It is a much richer experience than a cold plastic toy with flashing lights and loud artificial, electronic sounds.

This week, our Heuristic resources have been explored a lot! They have been mixed with our wooden animals, trees and people. Discovering through trial and error has been apparent throughout. Things have been lined up in a way, so as to accommodate other items, objects have been balanced, they have fallen and then been re-balanced, items have been placed inside other items, will they fit? should we choose another pot to put this in? how many of these can I get in to the bowl? The possibilities and learning opportunities are endless!



This weekend was quite a relaxed one for us. Productive as well though!

The boys and I worked on a little project in the garden on Saturday. We have been meaning to do this for years and it hasn't happened. The patch of pebbles between the patio slabs and the raised bed were meant to be cemented in, but we just poured them in and said we would do it soon.... 2 years later and the pebbles are covered in mud, the chicken likes to dig them out on a daily basis and the dog cocks his leg each day. So we decided to get the job done. At least then the chicken would not be able to dig them up and I could pour boiling water and disinfectant over the pebbles when the dog wees on them, like I do the rest of the patio.

Brendan helped me to mix the cement!

I dug out all the old stones and mud. I then washed them off with hot soapy water and left them to dry, ready  to be pushed in to the cement!

 Kenzie and Brendan helped to push the pebbles in to the cement and even found some glass gems to push in. Sadly we didn't quite have enough cement so I have not quite finished the job. We still have a section to finish this weekend.

The almost finished job!

But then of course it rained! Typical!

Brendan let Kenzie paint a couple of his Orks for him as well this weekend. It was lovely to see them working together on something and Brendan teaching his little brother something new.

Brendan spent an hour in the Warhammer shop this weekend playing a battle. He didn't win this one but still came out grinning and signed up for a game next weekend! The guys in the shop are so friendly and great with him. I am so pleased he has found a hobby that he enjoys and is a social thing too!

I also did a car boot sale on the Bank holiday Monday. As always it rained lol! But we made £20 and I listed some of the bits on the Facebook "for sale" sights when I got home and made another £30, so not a bad days work! And the loft is slowly looking less cluttered!


First day back to work after a week off and we had so much fun!

I decided to get the shaving foam out. This is a really cheap play option and it keeps the kids entertained for ages. I had children from 2 years to 10 years playing with this today and to be honest I really enjoyed it as well and I am i'm a grown up!  

I have a big tray that I bought from the garden center some years ago. I think it cost about £5 and I use it for all sorts of sensory play. The shaving foam cost 26p a can and I just added some spoons, foam bath letters and numbers, plastic pots from the recycling and a couple of dump trucks.  So when I say cheap..... I mean Uber cheap!

I set up the tray in the kitchen on the floor. The foam is easy to wipe up with a towel, is not sticky and doesn't stain. Placed a couple of hand towels close by and lay everything out for the children to come and explore!

Little "R" was the first to come and check it all out. I squirted some foam in to some pots and handed her the can. She didn't have the finger strength to make the foam come out and after a few attempts handed it back to me. I added more foam to the tray and she chose a pot and spoon from the tray and started to mix the foam!

Little "R" made a foamy letter cake!

Brendan and Kenzie made a Foam mountain and wondered how big they could make it!!

Very soon it became like a lucky dip on the tray. or a guess the object game, as everything became covered in foam and hidden from sight!

Friday, 24 August 2012


We have been enjoying a family week! It is a rare thing that i take time off but we all felt we could do with a week together. We have enjoyed several day trips and we spent Tuesday in Oxford. It is funny that the the things that are on your door step are the ones you visit least. Why is that? We often do the museum but we have never done the Oxford Castle. So we did both on Tuesday!

We started at Pitt Rivers museum. This has so many cool things to see and I have mentioned it in previous posts.

I noticed that this time, that Brendan spent more time reading the information cards, just like he did at the Zoo at the weekend. In the past he has zoomed past things and rushed around the place. Kenzie was also very much the same on past visits but he too was stopping and reading everything to me. He is really making use of his improved reading skills and I can see the pleasure it is bringing him.

Kenzie had one request on this visit. He wanted to find the Dodo. He had lots of questions about why they are extinct and why people would be so mean and hunt it to extinction. I explained that sadly some people feel they have the right to shoot and kill any animal they come across, in the name of "sport".

The boys wondered if we could extract any DNA and recreate a Dodo in a lab and bring it back...... i think they have been watching too much Jurassic park!

After a very long time of exploring old fashioned toys, magical wort cures from olden day witches, dinosaurs and shrunken heads we popped in to town for a spot of lunch before going on to visit the Oxford Castle.

We didn't have long to wait after buying our tickets, so the boys had a run around outside and found some stocks to explore! I did explain to Brendan that this was not designed for his head, but for his hands and feet.  He thought his way was better though..... Kenzie was only too eager to help!

Now he can't move..... Kenzie thought it would be funny to smack his brothers bottom!

We had a wonderful tour guide who played her part fantastically. We learnt how the castle became a prison were told some of the stories of the people held there. I was stunned at how harsh the conditions at the prison were even up until 1996 when it was finally closed.

We got a wonderful view of Oxford from the top of St Georges Tower, after climbing the 101 very steep spiral steps!

Kenzie walked around the tower looking through all the holes!

A highway man was waiting for us on our return but he gave up when he realised we had nothing for him!

We went down to the crypt and were told all about how it was used for storing food as it was so cool down there..... and for storing dead bodies as well.... Ewwwwww!
The boys stood for a photo in the Haunted corner!

The boys then got to check out the cells and had their photos taken, ready to be processed in to the prison.

Brendan had his mug shot taken as well. He put on his most evil face....... I was scared!

The boys got dressed up for the part!

And then they were put to work. They tried out the treed mill. Brendan did 100 steps and I explained that prisoners would have to do about 57,000 steps each day! Kenzies little legs really struggled to make it move. He was too light bless him. He did 10!

After all that walking we were ready for home. The boys really enjoyed their day out and learnt so much.  My day was not quite over though. After all that walking, I still had a Zumba class to attend!


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