Thursday, 30 January 2014


With Valentines Day only a couple of weeks away, I thought I would share some of the activities that I have done with the children in my setting over the past few years. Each one has been a big hit and continues to be every time i bring them out. Many of the resources were bought from £1 shops or from on line art shops like Baker Ross and Yellow moon.

I will link each activity to the Prime and Specific Areas of the EYFS.

First there is a colour sorting activity using 3 different colour plastic heart beads. 
  • Great for mathematical development. Grouping, sorting and noticing similarities. 
  • Physical Development- Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination all being worked with this one.

Tray activities are fun and tend to minimise mess. White foam heart shapes with sparkly heart stickers to decorate.

  • Physical Development- The sticker backs need pealing off and this takes a steady hand and concentration. Focus and perseverance! 

This chalkboard was a bargain from a £1 shop! The chalks I already had. Place on a tray and it is a themed way to encourage mark making!

  • Physical development- fine motor skills.

Mix up a simple playdough recipe and add brown food colouring. Save old chocolate boxes and sweetie wrappers and make your own Valentines chocolates or even set up a sweet shop!

  • Physical development used in moulding and kneading the dough. 
  • Fine motor skills in the rolling out and cutting of the shapes. Wrapping up sweeties is fiddly work!
  •  Mathematical concepts are supported when you make the dough together and work from a recipe.
  •  Life skills with cooking the dough and learning about the risks of using a hot stove.

These are some of the other tray activities I offer.  Again most of this came from the £1 shop.

  1. Heart shaped window gels. Little ones stick them to my windows and peal them back off again!
  2. "Un-lock my heart" activity. Offer a range of padlocks and keys so they can practice unlocking them.
  3. Paper hearts and stickers, a glue stick, pencils and paper to get creative with!
  4. Pegging Pegs around the edge of a heart shaped box!

  • All of these things work on fine motor skills!

Make Valentines cards for family or friends and then walk to the post box to post them!

  • Understanding the world as you talk about the postal service and how the card gets from the post box to the recipient! 
  • Personal, social and emotional learning as you talk about how people might feel when they receive their card.
  •  Communication and Language as you introduce new words such as "love, care, feelings, happiness and joy"

Using a heart shaped ice cube tray and a pipette to transfer red water!

  • Physical Development- Fine motor skills being worked and those important pre writing muscles as well! A steady hand and calm approach! 

More Playdough fun! Bright pink or red dough and some Valentines cookie cutters make for a fun dough session!

  • Physical Development- Kneading and shaping the dough, using cutters and making marks with tools.

Create a Sensory box! Pink dry rice, scented candles, love teddies, heart shaped tins, silk stem roses and anything else you can think of to add.

  • Physical development- manipulating the items, opening the tins, pouring and transferring the rice. 
  • Mathematical - Grouping and sorting the items, counting how many of each thing, looking and differing sizes and noticing similarities.

Placing silk hearts in to the heart ice cube tray.

  • Physical development- This takes a steady hand
  • Mathematical- Shapes and measures, correct positioning so that they fit in, only the right size will fit, trial and error.

Set up a posting station and card making area. Have fun painting a box to look like a post box and lay out blank cards and envelopes and lots of bits to make cards for them to then post.

  • Physical Development- Posting and mark making.
  • Personal, social and emotional development- Talking about who will receive your card, what will you write in it?
  • Mathematical -Posting the cards in to the postbox.
  • Literacy- Writing or mark making in the cards.
  • Understanding the world- Talking about postmen and woman and how the cards get delivered.

Baby Art!! Let the very little ones enjoy the sensory experience of cold paint on their hands as they swirl it over the paper! Once dry you can use this to make heart shapes for a card or draw a picture over the top like the one above. You could get an older sibling to draw over the painting to make a combined piece of Artwork for the parents!

  • Expressive Art and design- exploring the colours, feelings, textures, and creating their own work!

Make gifts for family and friends!

  • Personal, Social and Emotional development- giving to others and making people happy. Feeling good about sharing gifts.

Cooking heart shaped biscuits and then letting the children decorate them as they wish!

  • Physical Development- working the mixture, rolling it out and using cutters.
  • Mathematical- Following a recipe and weighing ingredients.
  • Understanding the world- Using a cooker and other kitchen equipment, risk assessment, learning about the dangers and how to minimise them when using hot ovens and sharp knives.
  • Expressive Art and design- decorating the biscuits in  their own way, making them unique to them and using a variety of different decorations.

Here is my Medium term plan for the Valentines week which you may also find helpful!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


I thought I would share some of the activities that we have planned for next week with you all. I have linked them to the areas of learning so that you can see how we are covering all areas during the week.

If the parents of any children attending my setting would like to send in anything of interest, such as Chinese books, food to taste, pictures or clothing, then we would be very grateful and will enjoying sharing them and looking at them.

I look forward to sharing this fun packed week with the children and learning lots of new things together.

Monday, 20 January 2014


After noting Little "X"s strong interest in movement, I thought it would be interesting to set up some different activities to allow him to explore this interest. We were given some large cardboard tubes so I set these up near the car basket and watched to see how he would use them.

To start with he picked them up and looked through them, rolling one end around the floor. Before long he found a blue lorry and set about posting it in to one of the holes. He had fun watching it come out the other end. The next thing he put in a tube was a rocket ship. This did not have wheels and got stuck half way down. He ran round to the front and tried to see if it was coming out. After a few seconds he ran back to the top and tilted the tube up higher until the rocket slid out the bottom.

This action was repeated over and over. Sometimes the cars got stuck, some were too big to go in the tube. Some shot out the bottom and zoomed across the floor while others just slid out the bottom and stopped.

He shared his thoughts on why some moved fast, why some got stuck. making observations and trying to solve any problems as they happened.

  • Why did that car get stuck?
  • Why will this one not fit in the end of the tube?
  • Which one will go faster if I put 2 cars down 2 tubes?
  • What happens if I put 2 cars down 1 tube?

Early years Outcomes-
  Communication and Language (Understanding)
  • 30-50 months- Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.

Understanding the world (The World)
  • 30- 50 months- Talks about why things happen and how things work. 

To provide an opportunity to further extend Little "X"s interest in movement and to support his trajectory schema. 

During this activity, Little "X" was fully engaged and interested in his play. Exploring how things moved through the tubes. Using his knowledge of movement to lift the tubes to a higher angle when they got stuck so that he could watch them fall out the bottom. He wanted to take part in this and was self motivated, willing to have a go and thinking critically to solve issues that arose. Making observations about how some cars moved through the tubes faster than others and why this might happen.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Understanding the world


Many of the children in my setting have shown an interest in sequencing toys and toys that descend in size. Often toy animals are set up in family groups and size order. The parents and the babies. Usually the children label the daddy animal as the tallest, the mummy as the next in line and then the little one is the baby!

They have also enjoyed nesting dolls. Slotting each one inside the other until they are all inside one doll. They also like to take them apart and line them up in size order. The Early years outcomes show that this is an expected developmental stage for children of 3 years.

Early years outcomes:- Mathematics (shape, space and measures)

  • 30- 50 months - Shows an interest in shape and space by playing with shapes or making arrangements with objects
I bought this puzzle at the weekend and introduced it to the children this morning. As a new toy it was immediately a hit and both little "X" and little "L" were keen to try it out. 
Little "X" in particular finds this sort of activity interesting. I actually bought him stacking Robots for Christmas as he shows so much enjoyment in them. 

He started to take the first row apart and place them on the table. I grouped them together to start with and asked him to find the tallest piece.  He looked at them and selected the correct one. He also looked carefully at the other pieces on the board and used that as a visual guide for arranging these pieces back on the board.

I then asked him to find the next biggest piece. He had no trouble with this and then told me he was going to get the small one. We did the same with the outer pieces starting with the tallest and working our way down in size.

Before long he could take all the pieces off the board and then rearrange them in size order as they had been before. He used the size language whilst doing this. He has a clear understanding of big and small and that there are sizes in between that can be placed in descending order form big to small.

This is a concept that he has a secure understanding of and can use in many different areas of his play and life. I have seen him use this process when looking at the food on his plate or organising his cars. Little "X" is 37 months and the Early years outcomes do not expect this until they are a little older. 

Early years outcomes:- Mathematics (shape, space and measures)

  • 40- 60 months - Orders two or three items by length or height. 

I offered these toys as a way to assess the concept of size that each child has developed. I wanted to see what knowledge they have for sorting items in to size order. This activity was also designed to encourage size language such as "Big, bigger, biggest, and "Small, smaller, smallest"

Both little "X" and Little "L" were keen to try out this new toy!. Little "X" showed great skill and understanding in organising his blocks by size. He could see if he had made a mistake and self corrected most of the time. seeing the mistake in his sorting. He kept trying until he had it positioned correctly. He showed clear pleasure and pride in his achievements and wanted to share the finished task with his friends. He used knowledge that he had attained from similar toys to apply to this one. This process worked well for him.

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


Today I brought out the shape puzzles. I wanted to see where each child was in their knowledge of shapes and which ones they could recognise. Through sitting with the children and enjoying a puzzle I was able to ask them what each shape was called and make a note of which they recognised.

Little "X" recognised the circle, triangle, star and oval.  He gave me an answer when he held up the heart but it was not a word I recognised. I made a note of the sound and after having looked it up online, it sounded a lot like the word "Corazon" which is Spanish for Heart. Little "X" speaks Spanish with his family as a first language so this is very likely to be the case. I told him it was a heart and he repeated the word back to me.

He found this one quite tricky!

Little "L" was also keen to show me how well she knows her shapes and started to name each one as she added them to the board. She can recognise a circle, square, diamond, triangle, heart and star. We need to work on the Oval and rectangle.

I offered these toys as a way to assess the shapes that each child recognises and which ones we need to spend some more time learning. I will make notes in each child's profile and then offer play that helps to support the learning of the shapes that they are less familiar with.

Both little "X" and Little "L" were keen to play with this puzzle. They have both moved on to 24 piece puzzles and I am sure will soon be working on more challenging ones, so this was not a puzzle that they would normally be drawn to. They were happy to play with what they know and were very keen to come and name the shapes, I think they found returning to something less tricky, reassuring and fun. When asked what shape they were holding, they thought carefully and gave me an answer. Even when they didn't know it, they still tried to make a guess. They were happy to share their knowledge of shapes and showed pleasure in naming them correctly. 

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

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


I have noticed recently that little X has ben showing some unwanted behaviour in the form of throwing and pushing. These are very normal behaviours in young children as they start to make their desires more known and find ways to control the world around them. This does not seem to be the case with little X though. This does not appear to be about power or control in any way.
He is a very caring and effectionate child who enjoys being with others and joining in.  I decided to observe him closely and see if there was a trigger or pattern to this behaviour. I very quickly noticed that he had a strong trajectory schema and many of the actions were due to his desire to set things in motion, push things, make them move, watch them roll along a surface or fly through the air.
He did not intend to hurt or upset others but sometimes it would happen as a result of his explorations.

Every day that he attends my setting, he asks for the cars and garage.  He does not play with this in an imaginative, small world way. He sits by the car basket and one car at a time, rolls each one down the ramp until the basket is empty and the cars are all at the other end of the ramp. We then re fill the basket and the process starts again.

Another fun game that X loves is running up and down the hall calling for friends to follow. The only purpose of this game seems to be to move from one end of the hall to the other, over and over again.

Balls, cushions, teddies, sponges and all manor of toys are often thrown across the room or at people. Not because he is misbehaving,  but because he is so excited and stimulated by the item moving through the air. If he aims it at a person then he hopes it will be returned and the experience can be extended.

After observing this, it really challenged my initial thoughts on what was going on. I started to think about how I could provide for his interest and give him safe opportunities to explore this concept of movement and motion.


Use his interest in movement to introduce new language. I will talk to him about what he is doing. Throwing, aiming, pushing , launching, spraying, rolling etc...

Offer challenging yet safe activities to explore motion and movement.  Set up ramps for the cars. Use different objects on the ramps.  Do they all role down? Chose different items that might challenge his expectations. Use his interests to explore new concepts.

Ask questions that encourage his exploration. For example....
● why does the round one role?
● why doesn't the square one roll?
● what will happen to the water if you make the hose pipe point up higher?
● How else can we make this move?

Read books about and watch video clips of movement. Sports is a good topic for looking at types of movement,
as well as vehicles.

Offer activities like .....
● tubes to role things down
● make and throw paper planes
● blow bubbles
● swinging on swings and going down slides
● running races
● jumping on trampolines
● riding bikes, cars and scooters
● ball games
● knocking down towers of blocks
● water play with running water and pouring equipment.

By offering these types of experiences I will be supporting him in his exploration and nurturung his interests.  This will enable him focus his play in a more appropriate way and draw others in to share his experience rather than excluding him from the group, which some of his actions have recently  resulted in when ithers have become frustrated with him.


Personal,  social and emotional development
Physical development
Language and communication
Understanding the world

Monday, 13 January 2014


Today little R took her interest in writing to the next stage. She often asks me to write her name so that she can go over it herself. Today though she started to write letters with no help at all. She also recognised some of the letters she wrote.

She can write R, t, x, o b and a backwards a.

Some of these letters are relevent to her name or the names of her friends. Some of them are just easy to write.

She was so proud of her self and worked hard to correctly form the letters.  If she got stuck then she would look at me for help. I did not interfere until she asked for support and then I tried very hard to guide her while not taking over or doing it for her.

In the EYFS Early years outcomes, under  literacy,  writing,  it states a child should should

● Give meaning to marks they make as they draw, writ e and paint.
● Links sounds to letters, naming and sounding the letter of the alphabet.
● Uses some clearly identifiable letters to communicate meaning, representing some sounds correctly and in sequence.

These are all under age bracket of 40 to 60 months. Little R is 41 months so she is well within expected development range, if not a little ahead of where I would expect her to be.

Characteristics  of effective learning.

Little R was very keen to write letters. She was motivated by her own interests and desire to form recognisable letters. She was engaged, focused and concentrating on achieving her goal. She made links between the marks she made and the letters in the names of her friends,  showing them each letter as she wrote it. Even when she found a letter hard  she kept trying and shared her achievments with others. She was proud of herself and felt good with the praise and recognition she achieved from her hard work.

NEXT STEPS- Over the next few weeks I will offer different mark making opportunities so that little R can practice her new skills. I wil offer some playdough with letter cutters and a pencil so thst she can cut out the letters and then draw over them with the pencil. We will also start to use the sandpaper letters to explore letter shapes in a more  sensory way as well as chalk on the patio outside to make large scale letters.

  Todays play links to the following prime and specific areas of the EYFS......

Personal,  social and emotional development
Physical development

Thursday, 9 January 2014


This week we are looking at our season "winter" as we have been previously. Exploring appropriate clothes for cold weather. Talking about the heavy snow in America and how it is effecting peoples power supply. This will be a good conversation to have with the older children after school as well.

We are also looking at Penguins this week. We will talk about how they live in cold climates in the southern hemisphere, how the dads look after the eggs and carry them on their feet to keep them warm.

We have lots of fun activities planned including making papier mache penguin eggs, footprint penguins, reading stories about animals from cold climates and some fun ice sensory play.


Here are some of the lovely books that the children will be enjoying over the winter period. If parents would like to borrow any then you are very welcome to and I am sure the children would like to share them with you at home.
If the children have any books about winter or cold climate animals, fictional or factual, then we would love them to bring them in and share them with us.

Saturday, 4 January 2014


You will need
•paint. White, black and orange
•pva glue        
•cotton buds
•potatoes cut in half
•Googly eyes
First use the cotton buds to paint snow on the paper and then use the potatos to print snowman bodies and heads on to your picture. Allow the children to explore the paint using their hands and fingers if they like. Little R chose to use her fingers to make snowflakes on her paper. Little X made very tall snowmen using the potato to print one circle on top of another.
Use the cotton bud to add details like buttons, counting them as they paint them. Talk about facial features that they might need. Maybe choose to draw an orange carrot or satsuma nose. Will he have coal eyes or would thet like to add googly eyes. Let the children make them their own. Talk about how the snowmen might feel out in the snow. Will they be warm or cold. Do the children think he will be happier warm or cold. What might happen if he got too warm?

This activity meets these prime and specific areas of the EYFS. ....

•communication and language
•personal social and emotional
•physical development
•understanding the world
•expressive art and design

Technical issues

Hi all. I am currently experiencing some laptop issues and so will be using my phone to add posts.  This means that they will not be in the usual  format and not as pictorial I am afraid. I hope to have my laptop back from the technology Dr very soon. 


Thursday was my first day back at work after the Christmas brake. I had been thinking about continuing our look at animals living in cold climates,  which I started before Christmas and thought it would be fun to set up a sensory tray with ice and some coloured water in.

I played a small storage box in the freezer with water on and added a pirex bowl to it so that there would be a pond indentation in the ice once frozen.  To remove the bowl I simply added a little warm water inside to heat it slightly and it soon came out with ease.  I mixed some blue food colouring to the water and added it to the pond indentation. 
I added some animals that live in cold climates to the tray and also some ice cubes so that the children could build with them. 

Once I presented the activity everyone seemed keen to come and explore it.  I introduced new words like "frozen, chilly and solid". The children used lots of descriptive words like "cold, icey, slippy and hard" during their play and exploration.

Little R told me the penguins were slipping over on the ice because the ice was very slippery.

Little X told me that his hands felt cold after playing in the water and ice. 

Both X and R wanted to warm their hands up on the radiator after playing and had made the connection between sources of heat and how to get warm after playing with cold water.

As the day went on,  the children would return to the tray and talk about the changes to the ice.

Little R told me that it was slushy and had melted.

Little X told me that there was more water and the ice was going now.

I introduced words like "defrosted and defrosting" and asked the children why they thought it was melting.

Little R told me it was because it was warm.

Characteristics of effective learning.
During this activity all of the children appeared motivated and interested.  They all seemed to have some personal knowledge of cold weather and the changes of water in to ice.  This has probably come from past play activities that we have enjoyed as well as noticing the changes in our own environment during winter months.  The children have also seen the change that takes place when we make ice lollies in the summer. They used current knowledge and transferred that to this.

Todays play meets the prime and specific areas of the EYFS......
•physical development
•understanding the world
•communication and language
•expressive art and design


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