Tuesday, 17 November 2015


Early communication skills are important for young babies and children. They are born with an inbuilt desire to connect to others and part of this is their ability to mimic facial expressions. Babies as young as 6 weeks have shown the ability to copy the expressions that their parents have made to them. 
My favourite is sticking my tongue out and watching them copy back to me. I have always done it and never really known why until I started to learn about child development in the 90's. I guess it is hardwired in to us adults as well!

Other fun things to try include making your eyes wide or opening and shutting your mouth. Very often the baby or toddler will make the same face back to you.

This isn't just play. It is early language and communication skills. Babies are primed for social interaction and have a preference for zoning in on faces. They respond to you when you look at them and make eye contact, but if you look away they will go quiet and  look somewhere else. They can pick up on your expression and many tests have shown that they respond better to someone that smiles rather than a neutral facial expression. 

This early form of non verbal communication is all part of the important development for successful language and social skills. This sounds like a perfect excuse to sit and play with baby for as long as possible!

Saturday, 14 November 2015


I have always found ICT to be a tricky area to cover with my little ones. I am not a lover of using  apps and tablets with young children. I have been trying to find ways to include ICT in my setting in as many areas of play as I can. 

I bought this cool diggers book from The Works a couple of months ago and it has been a big hit. It folds out in to a track and the children can wind up the 2 vehicles that come with it and then let them go so that they follow the grooves in the board. It is quite fiddly to hold the trucks and turn the little knob on the side. I showed the children how to do this a few times and before long they were trying to do it for themselves. They did quite well! They managed to get enough wind in to them so that they would move along the board a little way. 

•Operates mechanical toys, e.g. turns the knob on a wind-up toy or pulls back on a friction car. (EYFS Understanding the world-technology  22-36 months)
•Shows skill in making toys work by pressing parts or lifting flaps to achieve effects such as sound, movements or new images. (EYFS Understanding the world-technology  30-50 months)

It was lovely to see them taking turns and playing with the same toy together. They liked to watch each time the truck was placed on the board, to see how far it went.

Another big hit has been the Vtec Kidizoom cameras. These are used daily and I often have to change batteries! The children like to see the pictures that they have taken and I often link the camera up to the laptop so that everyone can see the pictures and we can talk about what we are sharing together. Some of the children have worked out how to add funny hats and glasses to the pictures with the special effects setting.

Another ICT resource that I am happy to have invested in is the TAG reading system. The pen makes the story books interactive. There is no screen so I feel much happier about the young children using it and it is great to show that written words have meaning. Great to share with friends as well!

So ICT does not have to be tablets and phone apps! All of the items shown here, I found cheaply on eBay and at carboot sales/ Facebook sale pages. It doesn't have to be expensive and there are so many other items that you could get that cover this area of learning that can be incorperated in to every day play.

  • Radio control cars 
  • Toddler toys with flaps and lights that flash when a button is pressed
  • Jack in the box
  • Tape and CD players
  • Karaoke machines 
  • Stop watches
  • Battery operated toy tills, microwaves and other homecorner items
  • Walkie talkies
  • Boggle Flash game
  • Cot mobiles
  • Electric keyboards and drum pads

Monday, 19 October 2015


Today I put on a short, not very scary, children's Halloween film...... You would think I had put on a Horror movie!


I bought these very cute knitted Halloween toys a few years ago and I love them even more with each year we use them.

This year I set them up as small world invitation to play. They were added to the tree house which is used daily in my setting. 

The Witch seemed to spend most of the day making potions at the top of the tree house!

Little "E" was drawn to the "Red man". He is our little devil but she calls him red man. He tried to help the Witch with her potions today and also had a sleep in the bed!

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Communication and language
  • Expressive Art and Design


This week the playroom had a makeover! Halloween has arrived a week early!

The homecorner was redecorated with some cobwebs and spiders! I also hung some spooks up and added cauldrons. I removed all the dolls and dressing up that usually lives in there and added a small box of Halloween dress up.

This simple counting and numeral matching activity is a hit every year. Cheap and easy to make.

Loving the Pumpkin witch!

We used the potion bottles as props for role play. These were made a few years ago in an activity and have been stored and used every year since. The lids of the bottles were hot glue gunned on to prevent spillages!

I also filled a bag with hair gel and orange water beads. I thought googly eyes would be a good addition as well. This kept the children occupied for ages.Mainly they tried to squash the water beads but it is harder than it looks. They always seem to get away!


Today we tried out a bit of Pumpkin design that all ages could join in with. It is so simple and just requires some "Mr Potato head" accessories and something to make some holes with.

Add holes to the pumpkin in different places and then add a few face pieces to it to model what could be done.

Before long there will be a all sorts of funny faces and strange creations! You could always follow this up with a look at some of Picasso's paintings!

Today the pre schoolers and school age children explored this activity. Tomorrow the babies get to try it out. Can;t wait to see what they do with it all.

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

Thursday, 1 October 2015


I set up an Autumn discovery tray with the leaves and conkers that we collected on our nature walk the other day. I made sure that I collected some unopened conkers so that children who were not with us on the walk could experience the joy of opening the pods and finding conkers!
"B" was one of those children and she was really interested in opening them up and seeing how many conkers she could find in a pod and also how big or small they might be!

We talked about the Spiky outer shell, the soft white lining of the shell and the shiny hard conkers inside!
"B" collected her conkers in to a wooden bowl and then brought them to me so we could count them. She finds it hard to count to 10 and we are trying to find opportunities to count in all areas of play.

She told me that Wombat needed some for his dinner.  I said I was not sure if wombats like to eat conkers and would she like me to read her a story about Wombats?
Bothe "B" and "M" thought this was great and so I read them "The diary of a wombat". They each held a wombat teddy while they listened.

After the story, "M" decided that wombats prefer carrots!

    • Count items of interest with "B" daily.
    • Look at internet videos of real wombats in the wild.


    Playing and exploring – engagement Finding out and exploring, Playing with what they know, Being willing to ‘have a go’
    Active learning – motivation Being involved and concentrating
    Creating and thinking critically – thinking Having their own ideas, Making links, Choosing ways to do things

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

    Monday, 28 September 2015


    We took a little walk down to the Outdoor Learning Centre today. The weather was really nice and just begging us to come out and play!

    There are so many blackberry bushes at the entrance so we picked some for our snack as we walked in.

    We spent a bit of time in the mud kitchen area. The pots often have rain water in them now so the children are keen to make some mixtures before doing anything else.

    The site has quite a lot of tyres now which are just AWESOME for playing with. We built them up in to a castle and each of the children had a go at climbing to the highest point!

    Little "E" got inside a tyre tower and it made us think of the Jack in the box song. We sang it and i pretended to push her back inside ready for her to jump up again!

    "Jack in the box jumps up like this,
    he shakes his arms as he waggles his head.
    I gently press him down again,
    saying Jack in the box, you most go to bed!"

    Little "J" showed super strength moving and arranging the tyers how he wanted them.

    He loves to sit and watch car wheels roll as he pushes them along the floor. This was the same experience for him on a much larger scale!

    Little "B" shows no fear and tackled any part of the tower! Nothing was going to hold her back!

    There were some great examples of working together and helping each other. "B" was finding it tricky getting her feet in the right places to climb in to the look out tower, so "E" talked her through it. Pointing to gaps and saying "put your foot there" and then helping by taking her hand and helping her up!

      • Make small world castles at home with construction toys.
      • Read a story about a castle.
      • Spend more time at TOLC using the tyres and encouraging a narrative/ imaginative play.


      Playing and exploring – engagement Finding out and exploring, Playing with what they know, Being willing to ‘have a go
      Active learning – motivation Being involved and concentrating, Keeping trying, Enjoying achieving what they set out to do
      Creating and thinking critically – thinking Having their own ideas, Making links, Choosing ways to do things

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

      Thursday, 24 September 2015


      We made a lovely crumble this morning with all of the fruit we foraged this week. I peeled the apples and the children used the chopping tool to cut them and core them.

      It was a lovely crumble and they were really keen on having some for pudding.

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


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