Wednesday, 30 April 2014

NATURE ART!


LEARNING INTENTIONS AND IDEAS FOR EXPANDING LEARNING:

  • To offer the children space and resources to create their own outdoor art using natural items.
  • To encourage the children to take interest in our environment and living more in touch with the land.
I would like to offer this as a regular activity throughout the year. As the seasons change, the natural materials available to us will change as well. The art created will be influenced by the seasons and It will help the children to notice changes, growth, decay and the natural cycle of the world we live in.
I very much look forward to the rich colours of Autumn and what might be created!

    CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE LEARNING:
    Little "R" was very interested in arranging the stones she had gathered, in to interesting spirals and small piles. Stacked one on top of the other from largest to smallest. She was motivated by her own interest in stacking and arranging the pebbles.  She used her own ideas for how she wanted the art to look and showed real pride and pleasure in her finished piece. She asked me to leave it for everyone to see and it stayed there for a good week. All the other children respected her desire to save it and told her that it looked lovely! No one moved the pebbles until after the weekend. I thought this was a lovely gesture by the other children.

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

    Tuesday, 29 April 2014

    TADPOLE UPDATE!

    We transferred all the tadpoles to the new nature pond that we built as they were starting to die in the tank. They are doing much better since we set them free in the pond. Heathers Tadpoles were growing much quicker than ours and she had some frogs that needed a new home. We offered to home some of them at ours and so her and little "E" came over to release them!

    Our Nature pond is very small and behind a fenced off area to keep the nature and the children safe. We did let little "E" come in to the area to release the tadpoles though and she was very pleased to see them swimming in their new home.



    Lots of them made their way to a rock and climbed out.



    We have not seen the frogs since they were released but I am sure they are doing well and have found somewhere damp to live.
    Our tadpoles are now getting much fatter and eating more. They have also cleared the pond of algae in just a couple of weeks. We have been feeding them fish food which they seem to like and have borrowed some green pebbles from my parents pond for them to clean!

    Sunday, 27 April 2014

    MUD PIE/ OUTDOOR KITCHENS....... GREAT FOR ALL AGES.

    Our outdoor kitchen area has always been a popular place and finds children of all ages gathered around it at any time of the year and in any weather! 
    I have noticed that these have suddenly become very popular in childcare settings and there seems to be mixed views on them. I can be a tad OCD about the mud thing so I tend to offer different items, the fun and learning is just as fulfilling. I also call mine an outdoor kitchen so as not to give the idea that only mud can be used here. We recently spent some time using a friends outdoor kitchen and this one did include mud! We also added lots of other cool stuff as well.


    Shaving foam became cream for topping cakes and mixing in to hot chocolate!



    This activity was enjoyed by all the children in both settings. 1 year olds through to 12 year olds! How many toys and activities have an age range that broad?



    We added dried pasta, rice and all sorts of dried foods. There were conkers, pine cones, twigs and leaves as well.




    Some of the muddy, squelchy, gooey stuff was enjoyed fully with bare feet, so we set up a bowl of warm bubbly water to wash it all off again at the end!


    So make it your own! Keep it clean or bring in the mud! Do what you feel happy with but it really is a great resource. Have fun!

     Some things to consider though, just from experience.......

    • Cordon off an area. Define it in some way to contain the mess to one area. 
    • Have a bucket of bubbly water and a towel near the house so that children can clean off before coming in and pop a box for muddy shoes by the door.
    • Having this on a paved area works well as it is easy to hose down after play.
    • Once play is over, give the children a big bowl of soapy water and sponges and ask them to wash up the dishes! This becomes another fabby activity in itself! REMOVE THE MUD FIRST though or you will have an even bigger, muddy mess!

    Today's play meets the following Prime and Specific areas for the EYFS.
    • Physical Development
    • Personal, Social and Emotional
    • Communication and Language
    • Mathematics
    • Expressive Art and Design
    • Understanding the world



    Wednesday, 23 April 2014

    ST GEORGES DAY FUN 2014

    This years St Georges Day was celebrated in the honoured tradition that seems to have grown in our setting. Dressing up as Knights and Dragons! I had to invest in new Dragon and Knights costumes last year as everyone is getting older now. Even my two boy,s at 8 and 12, love the dressing up and chasing each other around the garden on St Georges Day! 


    Heather and her little ones came over during the week to enjoy some of the activities we had set up.


    Little "E" (X's little sister) has started attending Heathers childminding setting. Unfortunately I could not take on another little one. Not even under continuity of care, but thankfully Heather was able to help and she has settled in really well. She has just started to walk and is finding the new hight and mobility she has, a great deal of fun and very useful for exploring!



    We also set up some small world play areas and observed how the children chose to use them. Despite trying very hard to be gender neutral and not make stereotypes, there did appear to be a very set difference in the way the boys approached this, to how the girls did. The boys all made the Dragons fight each other, while the girls seemed more keen on putting the people in to the fenced village and keeping them safe from the Dragons outside. I find it very interesting to see how many children still swing towards gender stereotypes despite our very best efforts to make everything accessible and neutral to all.



    We looked at coats of arms and talked about what we would have on our coats of arms if we were to design our own. We thought that adding things we liked would be the best thing. Kenzie drew Pokemon all over his! Some of the children drew Dragons on theirs!



    Happy St Georges Day to all our English readers!


    Monday, 14 April 2014

    FARM SHOP, AFTERNOON TEA AND A PADDLE!

    A spot of afternoon tea at a local farm shop!



    Visiting the animals!


    And then stopping for a play in the stream!



    Enjoying the squishy mud between our toes!


    DAY 9 OF THE EASTER HOLIDAYS 2014


    Today we spent the day at Hill End outdoor education centre in Oxfordshire! It was fantastic and a setting I wish I had space for at home, to recreate! 

    We started at the big sandpit where everyone enjoyed digging in and exploring!


    They had a climbing area designed for the younger children. This gave little "R" a chance to practice her newly developed balancing skills.


    She made it all the way up and over and then down the other side without any help!


    We used the human sundial to tell the time. 11am. Bang on!


     We found the stream and enjoyed some stream walking, splashing and getting our wellies stuck in "Quick mud!"  This caused much giggling from everyone!




    As we explored the wooded areas we came across several dens that had been made. They run bushcraft and Forest Tot sessions here so I guess these have been made during some of these.


    We used some loose parts to make a see-saw!


    They had a great sound garden that was made from recycled items. Old tubing, large plastic barrels, metal frames and shopping trolleys.


    Brendan found a tube that he wanted to get in to. I had visions of him sliding in and getting wedged! Thankfully he didn't go much further!


    Heather's friend came to spend the day with us. It was great as she is a q qualified teacher and it was lovely to have someone else asking open questions and encouraging the children's thinking. Having an extra pair of hands came in really useful as well!


    We spent quite a long time looking in the pond for water boatmen, pond snails and other creatures. We found some pond snails with their own little garden growing on their shells!


    We found a field of sheep with a marshy reed bed in it. Great fun for playing hide and seek in!





    After a good run around we made our way to the wooded area and came across the place where I think they must run their outdoor Forest Tots sessions. There was a half build round house in a clearing with lots of materials near by to make more thatching bales. We had a go at thatching the roof by lifting the bales and adding them to the roof!





    We went inside and made a pretend camp fire!



    Kenzie decided to rub sticks together and try and make a fire. 


    Kenzie also found a well dug in the ground and decided to climb in!


    We also found an oven dug and built up near the round house. I would love to build one of these in my garden.



    Kenzie made a bridge over the well.


    Then tested it's strength by walking across it.


    Brendan build more bales for the round house roof.


    We took it in turns to lay the dried reeds on the frame and then used string to tie them all up.


    Hannah showed "S" how to make bunny ears and tie bows. Working together to tie it all together.



    Kenzie and I worked on the next one. Kenzie became quite frustrated on the bow tying so I think this is something we will have to work on.


    We filled out our check list of fun things to do.


    Little "R" is putting her new found confidence to use and gave tree climbing a go. All by herself. Not only that but she managed to get down all by herself too!




    We found rabbit burrows and "S" and "R" decided to find out if anyone was home.




    One of the things on then check list was rolling down the hill. Kenzie found rolling on his side hard, so he did roly poly's all the way to the bottom.


    Before heading home, we had one more thing to tick off the list. Make mud pies in the outdoor kitchen. So that's what we did. Such a cool area. It is the one place that is used the most in my garden. We do not often use mud though. Usually all sorts of other stuff, but the mud was a huge hit!



    If only I had more room in my setting!!



    LEARNING INTENTIONS AND IDEAS FOR EXPANDING LEARNING:

    • To offer the children space and time to run free and play. To explore different outdoor spaces that are well planned and yet still natural.
    • To encourage the children to take interest in our environment, conservation and living more in touch with the land.
    • To use tools and be aware of safety when out in nature. To risk assess their own play.
    I plan to bring as many of these areas and learning environments in to my setting as possible with the space available. To spend more time in nature and find fun play experiences in the green spaces around us. I will also look to buy more outdoor wear for the children to use and keep in my setting rather than relying on things always being brought in from home.

      CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE LEARNING:
      Little "R" was my only EYFS child attending on this day. She was so happy to be in this outdoor environment. She told me she had had a "great day!"  She was motivated by her own interest in exploring and having freedom to choose where she could go. It was lovely to not be enforcing too many rules on the children and they responded well to this. They stayed together, kept an adult in sight and the older children could safely explore a bit further afield but were sensible and checked in regularly with the adults.
       Little "R" built on her new found confidence to balance and climb. She has shown lots of independence and bravery while balancing over beams, climbing trees and logs, walking through streams and mud and using the climbing frame. She continued to try even when it was tricky and did not get upset or frustrated once. 
      She concentrated on her tasks and wanted to try everything!She explored and got involved in everything that was going on, sharing her ideas, engaging her friends in her play and exploration. Making links with past activities and play experiences and using that past knowledge to help her make choices during today's play. She was so happy and proud of herself every time she achieved something new!

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

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