Thursday, 4 December 2014

There are no distant places any longer: the world is small and the world is one. - Wendell Willj

Brilliant boats were in the Brambles port (classroom) this week. A ferry boat in the role play to a motor boat in the water tray.  Over on the art table there was making boats to designing waves. Learning how you can be a passenger on a train as well as a boat to linking words from the pirates week such as captain and sailors.  A jolly good time was had by all!

Over on the starboard bound side of the classroom, children were able to use various art and crafts activities across the week were completed.  Painting, sticking, colouring, making and playdough models.


Description of the boat activity


Description of the books

EYFS Links
The role play and small world area both inside the classroom and out in the garden area have been utilised fully this week.  As each child explores one of these areas on their own they happily engage with the resources that they are interested in and some even recall past experiences. As the child is playing another child may join them at the table/in the boat and for a while and play alongside each other.  As a children develops, both children begin to playing together, cooperatively, extending and elaborating play ideas.

Play is how children learn and is a vital part of child development.  All children play, but do so in different ways and at different ages.  Play occurs in stages that reflect where the child is currently at, this can depending on the child's social experiences, developmentally where they are at and emotionally ready to engage in different types of play.  Each stage of play gives a rough estimation of when this occurs, however as every child is unique, a child may reach a stage before or after others in their age group as they will develop at different rates.


Infants engage in what’s called “onlooker” or “observant” play up to about 12 months of age. They prefer to sit on your lap and watch other children at play, rather than engage in the play themselves. Infants are fascinated by those around them, and learn who they can rely on to feed, entertain and soothe them by observing.


Around the age of 12 months, children begin focusing on learning about and engaging in the world through their senses. Solitary play, which occurs when a child plays alone even when around other children, allows children to explore the world by touching, tasting and grabbing at toys, people and objects. Children discover relationships between their bodies and the environment and learn about cause and effect through solitary play.


Around the age of 2 to 3 years, children become more aware of the people in their world, and move from solitary play to parallel play.  As they play independently with toys, they start to see themselves as part of a social group, yet still remain egocentric in their thinking. Children at this stage enjoy playing next to other children with the same game or activity, but they may not interact or play together. For example, two toddlers may play with building blocks at the same time, but they typically don't talk about what they're doing or build a project together. Instead they work on building their own structure separate from each other.


Three-year-olds develop more interest in their peers and have more skills to interact successfully with other than they did at 2 years of age. At this point, most children will engage in associative play. While children at this stage may not work together at the same game, they like to watch and imitate those around them. For example, two children at this stage may use the same clothes to play dress up, and they may discuss what they’re doing, but they don’t play together to create a single game or imaginative narrative. One may mention that she is going to wear the pink dress, but her words are more of a monologue than a dialogue.


As children turn four and five, they begin to form friendships as they enter the stage of cooperative play. At this stage children finally begin talking and working together during play. For example, the two towers that toddlers build independently during parallel play become a single tower during cooperative play. The dress up acted out independently during associative play becomes a dramatic play story acted out together. Children at this stage of development learn to compromise and will seek help from adults to resolve conflicts. They are able to play elaborate games with rules, and can enjoy organized sports or board games.
All the passengers have now disembarked the ferry's and ocean liners and now ready for the next part of their journey.  They are going to need their passports, tickets and luggage as they go 'Up, Up, Up' sailing with the clouds with Miss Sallie next week.

Friday, 21 November 2014

While no one railroad can completely duplicate another line, two or more may compete at particular points - John Moody

Big trains, small trains, old trains and new have been rattling and whistling through brambles - choo, choo, choo! Terrific Trains by Tony Miton and Ant Parker  The children have had to work cooperatively this week to share the trains and design the tracks for them to go on, so lots of great negotiating skills have been taking place.

Miss Clare and Leo the Leopard's group have been making lots of different types of train on the art table: sponge print trains with card print tracks, geometric trains, fingerprint colour mixing trains, cutting around Thomas the Tank Engine and junk model (using last weeks building bricks) trains. During caret time for singing the children were up an active as they sang, 'Face, funnel, wheels and dome' and 'Two little engines resting in a shed.'

The telephones were out in the communication area this week and were used in the train station role play area as well as around the classroom.  Children used the phones and imagined talking to someone on the other end as they played independently.  Together they used the phones to talk to each other and recreate past experiences as well as make it part of their current play.

Each child at Brambles has a 'Best Book' where all their best pieces of work and photos of their year are displayed.  As the Best Books are the children's, they also get to anecdote them with their keyworker.  The children and keyworker really enjoy this 1:1 time together looking at past work, describing how they made it or what they drew.  They also really like to reminisce as they look at each photograph and talk about what they were doing.  Keyworkers particularly enjoy this activity as the children come out with some great quotes that they are able to write into the child's book.  The Best Book is completed at  the end of the year and  given to the child to share with their family at the Leaver Assembly.  Over the years there have been some wonderful comments from families about the best books, especially as it has the children's comments and memories in their words - a great keepsake of their time at pre-school.

EYFS Links
Speech, language and communication skills are vital for all children. Without these skills they will not reach their full potential. Children at 3 to 4 years will usually be actively learning language and asking many questions. Children develop skills at different rates, but by 4 years usually children will:
  • Listen to longer stories and answer questions about a storybook they have just read.
  • Understand and often use colour, number and time related words, for example, 'red' car, 'three' fingers and 'yesterday / tomorrow'.
  • Be able to answer questions about ‘why’ something has happened.
  • Use longer sentences and link sentences together.
  • Describe events that have already happened e.g. 'we went park.'
  • Enjoy make-believe play.
  • Start to like simple jokes.
  • Ask many questions using words like ‘what’ ‘where’ and ‘why’.
  • Still make mistakes with tense such as say 'runned' for ‘ran’ and 'swimmed' for ‘swam’.
  • Have difficulties with a small number of sounds – for example r, w, l, f, th, sh, ch and dz.
  • Start to be able to plan games with others.
The Best Book and Telephone activity supports Communication and Language development.  This week staff were particularly looking at:
  • Beginning to use more complex sentences to link thoughts (e.g. using and, because etc)
  • Can retell a past event in correct order (e.g. went down slide, hurt finger)
  • Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences.

The train has taken us all the way to the port to see what Miss Joan has in store for us next week.  Sailboat, sailboat in the sea, won't you come and carry me.  Through the oceans, through the bay, to any place that's far away!

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality. - Walt Disney

Diggers are good at dig, dig, digging. , scooping up the earth and lifting and tipping, They make huge holes with their dig, dig, digging; they can work all day!  Dig, dig, digging by Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe.   The children have certainly been busy on their building site role play area donning their hard hats, reflective jackets and clip boards ready to design, plan and build with the rubber and cardboard bricks.  They have also constructed in the small world site with the small crane, transporter, road roller and bulldozers with wooden bricks and rice.

Over on the art site the children used some of the small construction vehicles and painted the tyres to make texture pictures, used tissue paper to decorate the construction hats and exploring assorted textures through cutting texture 'bricks' to make a wall,

Also on the construction site was pens, pencils, crayons and paint pens to colour in the song of the week, Peter Hammers.  The children had lots of fun trying to sing this song, do the actions and colour at the same time - they were much more successful during song time!

EYFS Links
Many children enjoy having a go at arts and crafts activities, such as making collages, painting, drawing, making models or sticking and gluing things. Art and craft is a good way for children to interact and socialise with their peers, through fun activities. Some craft activities are likely to be designed so that children can have a go, on an individual basis and have a go at things themselves. Group craft experiences are beneficial too, where everyone contributes to a project.

The latter approach is great for building up social interaction with children and for them to learn about team work, sharing and cooperation. It’s also a wonderful achievement for them to be involved in a group project and they’re likely to feel very pleased with their contribution, however small or large.

With pre-schoolers in particular, taking part in art and craft activities can have significant benefits. For example, holding a pencil, crayon or paintbrush in their hands can help with fine-tuning motor skills. It improves their coordination and strength and will have long-lasting benefits, such as helping their ability to write and use a pen as they get older.

Taking part in art and craft activities is likely to be enjoyable for children and could help boost their confidence in their own abilities.

Art and craft comes under all seven areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage:
  • Personal, social and emotional development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding of the world
  • Expressive arts and design
Children In Need
Children who were in on Friday this week were all heroes as they all came dressed as super heroes in return for a donation to Children In Need and raised a fantastic £50!  Miss Sallie made some Pudsey Bear biscuits to share at snack time too.

The building is built, the ticket office is finished, the tunnels are completed and tracks are laid.  The passengers, will soon be on their way to climb aboard with Miss Clare and see what's coming to the role play another day.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

“Teaching in the Internet age means we must teach tomorrow’s skills today.” – Jennifer Fleming

Busy hands typing on keyboards, busy fingers touching buttons, swiping screens and pressing buttons plus lots of new ways of finding out new information has been occurring in pre-school this week. Books have been read, listened to on CD along with the book and watched on the smart board to demonstrate how different types of technology can help us to do the same job, just in different ways. Objects with pulleys, knobs and levers were also explored and played with this week and the children's favourite apart from the table football was the Downfall game.

The children have been seen laying on their tummies on the floor playing with various types of technology, helping each other to turn the device on or to press the correct button to the question. They have taken turns independently using the sand timers without support as they were all so eager to have a go at various electrical games.


With their keyworkers, the children were encouraged to retrieve information from the internet using a specially designed booklet.  Each child had their own booklet and were asked to choose from one of the topics.  Then they used the keyboard to type that word onto the search engine.  The mouse was then used to click on images so that they could choose a picture from their topic that they could print and stick into their booklet.  They also had to look for a fact on that topic too.  This activity was really well received by the children and it was a wonderful opportunity for the children to share their skills and pre-existing knowledge with their keyworker and have that special 1:1 time.  The staff also found it interesting how many children touched the monitor or screen like they would an iPad or tablet and how many children knew lots of the technical devises and their uses.

The rhyme of the week was quite a funny one this week by Kenn Nesbitt and the children really enjoyed joining in with the rhyming words and afterwards talking about all the different devices, why they think all the devices stopped working and what would they talk about if that happened to them - there were some funny responses!

Parent Partnership
What a fantastic response there has been already to the Flat Stanley wider community learning topic! Two have already been on their travels; one here in England who travelled down the road to an indoor play place, a bit further to visit a zoo and then all the way up to Liverpool to visit the football stadium and watch the football match.  

The other Flat Stanley went on holiday with the child her coloured it in and her family to Cyprus!  It looked liked that FS had a busy week exploring lots of new sounds, smells and sights!

The owners of these FS's had lots of fun sharing the photos with their friends at carpet time.  Others spoke excitability about where their's had been sent too -  "My cousins house!", "Mummy's friend in Australia" and "Do-die" (Dubai)!  Staff are looking forward to seeing all the fun and exciting places FS has travelled too over this pre-school year!

EYFS Links
Technology is part of Understanding the World area of learning.  Technology covers not only electronic devices but pulley's, knobs and leavers.  When planning for specific activities staff spent time ensuring that the activities had an educational purpose, encouraged collaboration, intergration with other areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and were age appropriate.

Whilst computers, iPads, tablets etc, have a very important role to play in technology so does lots of other information and communication technology (ICT); traffic lights, bar code scanners, calculators, street lights etc. Children need to be offered the opportunity to be able to explore these artefacts all be it a real iPod, an old and no longer working telephone or a cardboard box made to look like a camera.

Parents and staff provide vital support in helping children to make sense of ICT of their world by providing technology for the children to explore, joining in with their play by scaffolding new language and skills required to use and understand the technology plus sit back and observe the children to see how they are making sense of ICT and identify their learning needs.

The EYFS identifies the following for children to achieve between 30-50 months:
Knows how to operate simple equipment
Shows an interest in technological toys with knobs or pulleys, or real objects
Shows skill in making toys work by pressing parts of lifting flaps to achieve effects such as sound, movement or new images 
Knows that information can be retrieved from computers

and the following for 40-60+ months:

Completes a simple program on a computer
Interacts with age-appropriate computer software

Scaffolding is going up, plans are being drawn, reflective and safety equipment has been delivered - I think next week Miss Emma is going to have a busy busy week with lots of dig dig digging!

Friday, 31 October 2014

I am smart and I am strong and I can do anything!

There have been lots of busy bodies this week at pre-school.  Fingers in the playdough finger gym and in the green exploring tray to whole bodies stretching in the Brambles Yoga Studio.  Outside busy bodies have been used to scoot on the scooters, pedal on the trikes and climb on the climbing frame.


All staff this week planned various activities that support Physical Development both fine and gross motor skills.  Miss Sallie planned an activity using the leaves from out in the garden alongside the Leaves Poem by Elsie N. Brady.  This activity supports a child's gross motor skills by using the whole arm and body to re-trace the vertical lines where the leaves are going to fall to the floor or have fell to the floor.


The children used their fine motor skills to colour in their own Flat Stanley picture before cutting it out. Some children find scissors easy to use and can cut with little or no assistance, others use scissors that are designed to be used with an adult and cut together to support the cutting action and grip of the scissors while other children are at the spring loaded scissors which supports the stage they are at with using scissors. 

The children learn about their wider community throughout their year at Brambles.  The topic is introduced with a story of Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. In the story, Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning to find a notice-board had dropped on him in the night, leaving him happy and healthy, but is only half an inch thick.  It's a little unusual, but he finds he can fly like a kite and can even be sent on holiday through the post! Once the children have coloured and cut out their Flat Stanley's, staff laminate each one and a letter that explains the story and ask if their Flat Stanley could go on it's travels as far as possible.  Over the years Brambles have had some fantastic photos, diaries, letters with postcards and memorabilia that has been returned to pre-school to share with the children so they can see lots of different communities and places.  One past Brambles family continue to take their Flat Stanley on their travels and continue to share photos of his travels with pre-school! Brambles staff are looking forward to seeing how far this years Flat Stanley's will travel!

EYFS Links
Physical development involves the muscles in the whole body.  There are two groups of motor skills; Gross and Fine.  Gross motor skills are the large muscles and fine motor skills control the precision of the muscle movements. 

Gross Motor Skills - Sitting, standing, walking, running, and balancing.  Also throwing, riding a bike, scooting, lift objects etc. It is really important that these muscles are used and developed to build muscle tone and strength.  These muscles in turn support a child's fine motor skills.

Fine Motor Skills - Writing, drawing, grasping objects, tearing, cutting, controlling a computer mouse and picking up a small objects with the index finger and thumb (pincher grip).  

Significance - To enable a child to pick up a small object, it requires awareness and planning from the central nervous system to muscles.  Muscles require strength, coordination and sensation to synchronize the muscles and movements. 

Home links - Physical development can easily be enjoyed at home through many activities that are probably already been carried out:
  • Running around the garden or skipping to pre-school, jumping in puddles, slithering across the floor, rolling on the bed, crawling under and over objects at the park etc
  • Climbing up the stairs one foot on each step and coming down the stairs two feet each step carrying a small object
  • Balance on one foot whilst waiting in a queue
  • Catching a large ball
  • Draws big lines and circles with chalk or water on a paintbrush on the wall or floor
  • Tearing, snipping and cutting with fingers and scissors
  • Picking up corn kernels, uncooked rice, uncooked small pasta etc with pincer grip
  • 'Writing' a shopping list with a crayon, pencil, pen on paper
Health and self-care - Physical Development also includes health and self-care in the EYFS.  These statements include:

  • Observes effects on their body
  • Tell a grown up they are hungry , tired, or want to rest or play
  • Attends to their own toileting needs
  • Is usually dry and clean during the day
  • Wash and dry own hands
  • Dresses with help
  • Eats a variety of foods
  • Puts objects such as cutlary or scissors away safely
  • Can manage some risks independently i.e. jumping off an object 

Next week is half term.  The children have their Autumn Treasure Bags to fill with their families and staff will be busy planning for a shared week: Understanding the world - Technology. Gadgets and technology will be explored along with pulleys, flaps, leavers and more!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Don't be afraid to use BIG words with little kids.....if they can say Tyrannosaurus Rex..... they can say anything!

As the lights were switched on at pre-school and the morning mist began to clear, lots of shapes were were beginning to appear - what's that noise? Did you hear?  There was swishing tails, huge claw-prints and a beak, there was definitely the sound of a roar and there was a certain shriek! 

The children have been very busy this week dressing up and becoming dinosaurs, or putting on the safari hats and wearing their binoculars to explore the dinosaur enclosure in the role play area inside to find which animals at meat - a carnivore and which animals didn't - a herbivore. Outside the dinosaurs continued to be spotted with children using masks and roaring around the garden and more safari hats and paintbrushes were used in the sand to uncover dinosaur bones by the Brambles palaeontologists!  

(Small world dinosaur picture to be added)

These dinosaur Playmobil toys were acquired from a school's catalogue though they can also be purchased from Toys R Us

During story time the children were teaching some of the names of the dinosaurs to the staff as they shared the two stories of the week: I'm sure I saw a dinosaur by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds.  Dinosaur Bones by Bob Barner.

Whilst enjoying all the fact finding fun about dinosaurs the children were very busy exploring shapes this week.  Over on the maths table there has been lots of designing taking place and many of the children have been very creative and made their own dinosaurs with the shapes.  Other shape activities have supported the children in naming a variety of shapes and making pictures using shapes.

These three activities were previously purchased from Early Learning Centre

Outside the children were encouraged to identify shapes in the environment and once they got going they didn't stop - there were shapes everywhere! The musical saucepans were circles, the bike and scooter cupboard door is many rectangles, the crane set in the construction area is made up of lots of circles and the large outdoor dice are squares.  For some children they were able to extend their existing knowledge by staff sharing 3D names with them such as pyramids and cubes.


EYFS Links
Shapes are all around us.  When you look outside you are noticing the rectangular bins, the square slabs on the patio and the triangle of a roof.  Children are able to categorise what they see and need support in identifying these shapes both environmental shapes such as the circle plate and the rectangle door bell but also those in their toy box such as magnetic letters or wooden bricks.

By learning shapes your child will also develop other skills they need such as mathematics and science as well as language and early reading.  If you child can distinguish between a blue circle and a red square the skills they have learnt to do that are the same skills to recognise between a letter and a number later on.

Whilst playing with shapes your child is learning to sort and classify into similarities and differences in shape (as well as colour), make comparisons and sizing into big and small. These are the foundations of maths and for life long skills such as sorting washing or finding a book in a library.

Exploring shapes with everyday items or with purposely designed shape toys, your child is using the observation of same and different; don't be afraid to use these words with your child as they will become part of their mathematical language. This concept provides your child with a basic process to use observing, comparing and discussing everything they see and encounter.

Providing your child with the opportunity to explore shape through finding other objects around the house that are circular like the plate or rectangular like the place mat is a cost free way of exploring shape together.  Encourage your child to experiment with drawing lines and shapes by providing lots of paper (or back of wall paper samples) with pencils, markers and crayons.

Going on a shape hunt with a cardboard (from a cereal box) cut out shape to hold is another way of discovering shapes without having to pay out for specifically designed toys.  You could take a pencil and keep a tally on the shape of how many you see. Whilst outside provide your child with a pot of water and some old paintbrushes to experiment with drawing lines and shapes on the floor and watch how it disappears! 

Drawing lines and shapes is the first step to writing letters.  If they are enjoying using pens, chalk and paintbrushes why not look how the initial letter of their name is made? They may notice that O for Ollie is like a circle or a I for Izzy is like a rectangle.

Eco Autumn Treasure Bags
Staff have been busy this week making these lovely little bags made from one sheet of newspaper. Brambles children will be encouraged to go for a autumn treasure hunt with their families during the half term break and collect as much 'Autumn Treasure' as they can fit into their bag to then bring back to pre-school. Upon their return, the children's bags will be explored and the children encouraged to identify, sort, count and look at the colour and shapes of all the different 'treasures' as well as seeing if children can make pictures with their findings for transitional art.

'I've got a body, a very busy body and it goes everywhere with me.' Next week is all about physical development and all the fun activities of the past five weeks of superheroes, space, pirates, cowboys and dinosaurs have been encouraging lots of gross and fine motor skills.  The Brambles staff have planned lots of fun activities that have consolidated all these physical skills for next week along with looking at what our body needs to help it grow.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Boots, chaps and cowboy hats!

On the Brambles ranch this week there has been some 'strapping' cowboys and 'cute as a cow's ear' cowgirls, who have dressed up and looked 'downright purty.'  They have been lots of these new expressions to learn through one of our stories this week; Bubba The Cowboy Prince - A Fractured Texas Tale by Helen Ketteman.  The children soon recognised the similarities between Bubba and Cinderella and thought the 'fairy godcow' was very amusing!  They also recognised Little Charley Bear from our other story this week who used his imagination to pretend to be a sheriff.


The art table this week has been popular as the children have made cowboy hats to wear by cutting around the edge and for the more confident cutters, the inside of the hat too. The Wanted Posters were also fun to watch the children draw as they had to draw themselves but instead of being wanted for something bad, they were wanted for positives.  Some of their responses were: 'wanted for beautiful singing', 'wanted for counting to 10' and 'wanted for looking like a beautiful cowgirl'. Free paining demonstrated how well the children were able to copy a variety of cowboy themed pictures from cowboys on horses to cactus' and sheriff badges to cowboy boots.  Designs were created  as the children had to make different patterns on their boots, choosing sequins to decorate their sheriff badges, colours were chosen to colour the song and rhyme of the week and some rather fabulous horses were made by using glue, paper and wool!

C is for cowboy
This weeks adult led activities were based on learning the Letter C and the sound c.  The lower case letter practice sheets were taken from Teachers Pet adapted to make a practice sheet and then laminated to they could be reused.  The first activity was to practice writing the letter C with their finger, before moving on to use a wipe clean pen.


String and playdough were also used to explore how to make the letter C using their fine motor skills to manipulate the string and dough.  These fine motor skills are really important to help support the development off writing.


Coloured sand (but salt would work just as well) on a baking tray was the other method used to help practice writing the letter C using a 'pointy finger'.

EYFS Links
Naming and writing the letter C comes under many areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage:
  • Communication and Language
Focusing attention, follow direction, responds to simple instructions, maintains concentration and use vocabulary focused on objects and people that are of importance to them.
  • Physical Development
Holds pencil between  thumb and two fingers, holds pencil near point between first two fingers and thumb with good control, can copy some letters, shows preference for a dominant hand, begins to form recognisable letters and uses a pencil and holds it effectively to form recognisable letters.
  • Literacy
Hears and says the initial sound in words, links sounds to letters, naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet, sometimes / gives meaning to marks as they draw and paint, uses some clearly identifiable letters to communicate meaning and write own name or captions, labels.

Brambles staff purchase their beautiful classroom furniture from Community Play Things who are also generously sponsoring free copies of a beautifully written book.

It’s high time for a hopeful book about childhood. Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that threaten to deny children a healthy happy childhood, courageous parents and educators can turn the tide. Their Name Is Today looks at standardised testing, overstimulation, academic pressure, marketing to children and much more. It calls on everyone who loves children to find creative ways to help them flourish by giving them time to play, access to nature, personal attention and by defending their right to the joy and wonder of childhood.

Anand Shukla, Chief Executive, Family and Childcare Trust
Often challenging, occasionally provocative, always stimulating and uplifting, Their Name is Today is a joyous description of childhood, and at its heart, an acclamation of family life.
June O’Sullivan, CEO, London Early Years FoundationArnold’s book is a warm hearted exploration of what it means to be a child in today’s world. I have never met him but we speak the same language. Let’s use our shared language to explain to the public why we want everyone to value childhood.
Professor Barry Carpenter OBE
There is no greater challenge for society than nurturing its children and treasuring childhood. This timely book offers insight and inspiration.
Please click on this link to order your FREE copy Their Name Is Today book

You put your claws in, your feet out, in, out, in, out and scratch them all about you do the dino pokey and you turn around, that's what next weeks all about!  Roar! The dino pokey.  Roar! The dino pokey. Roar! the dino pokey, teeth out, tail stretched, Roar! Roar! Roar!  I wonder what Miss Joan has planned for next week?!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Work like a captain and play like a pirate!

'Shiver me timers' - there has been an abundance of pirate play and 'booty' (treasure) in pre-school this week.  The children have really got into character and become buccaneers to set sail on the seven seas in their boats and pirate ship.  They have had to work hard like captains to hoist the sail and share the outfits and gold coins.  Luckily the 'seadogs' (staff) were not made to 'walk the plank' just the 'scallywag' toy pirates on the wooden pirate ship in the small world tray (phew!)

'Not all treasure is silver and gold'

The treasure for staff has been seeing how much mathematical learning has been going on through the children's play!  Both on the maths island (table) but also during their play, 'I have two pirates' and 'we need 4 coins, 1,2,3,4'

To many adults, the word maths and play have nothing to do with each other.  For others maths was a torture, something we had to do, and something we didn't understand and couldn't do. Play on the other hand was something we loved.  What's more fun playing with your child, knowing that as you play 'shops', sort the washing together or take a walk in the woods you can be teaching your child maths without either of you eve realising?!  

Children have carried out some floating and sinking experiments this week.  Using mathematical language such as 'heavy' and 'light' they had to guess if each object would float or sink before they put it in the water.  Then afterwards they had to say if they were correct or incorrect and asked if they knew why. 

Matching quantity to numerals was also explored as part of our mathematics problems this week.  At Brambles we have some lovely pebbles with numbers on them and asked the children to find items that the children were able to access from around the classroom.

Number songs and rhymes relating to pirates also supported maths as the children stood up to be 5 Pirates subtraction song  and they had to remember the numbers for The day I went to sea pirate song 

EYFS Links. 
'Play is an effective vehicle for fostering Mathematical concepts and developing positive attitudes to mathematics' (Curricular Guidance for Pre-School Education) When we say a child 'knows their numbers' what we often mean is that she can recite the name of the numbers in ascending order.  This is quite useful to be able to do, but it means very little in itself.  Children need to come to know what the number system really means.  They can be helped to do this through play.  One of the first things they have to learn is about conversation - that 3 is always 3 no matter how it is arranged or presented, whether it is the number 3, the letters for three, 3 bricks, 3 buttons on a coat or 3 Billy Goats Gruff.  Before a child can understand numbers for things that can be seen - 3 miles, 3 years old and so on, they need real objects that can be seen and handled with a chance to check the count is right each time.

Young children have many mathematical experiences in their home environment.  For example:

  • they learn about money as they go shopping with you
  • become aware of numbers as they count the stairs
  • notice numbers on doors or wheelie bins
  • start to understand the concept of time as they become familiar with the routine of their day
A child's daily life offers many practical opportunities to learn about number, shape, space, sorting and matching. For instance:
  • setting the table: plate in front of the cup, cutlery at the side of the plate, napkins on the table
  • playing with water in the bath: heavy, light, empty, full, big and little 
  • steering a pram or wheeled vehicle: shape of the wheels, turning left and right, push, pull
  • helping to sort the washing: matching socks, big shirt, small shirt
  • tidying up - putting similar items together, counting the cars/trains as they go in the box, matching lids to containers

'Argh me hearties' what can we see when we look through the telescope?
There is land ahead, a barn oh and horses too!  I wonder what rootin' tootin' things we shall be exploring with Bubba, Little Charley Bear and Miss Sallie?

Friday, 26 September 2014

'Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars'

There has been lots of lovely language skills going on this week in the role play and small world areas that has changed to a space theme.  The small world area was on two levels and had an assortment of space rockets, space buggies, astronauts and a mobile of planets above the play area. They children were using propositional language in maths this week so this was extended to the small world by encouraging the children to describe if their rocket/astronaut was 'on top' of the moon, 'underneath', at the 'side', 'behind', 'above' etc.  As for example in the picture; the alien is under the container and the astronaut is next to the spaceship.

Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever
Over in the role play the children re-told our story of the week, 'Whatever Next!' by Jill Murphey. Brambles copy of the book was purchased from: Amazon however it is easily found in local libraries and other book stores.

After reading the story, the children were asked what would they need if they were going to space. There was lots of fantastic suggestions of what it would be like to be an astronaut and what it would be like in space - who knows, some of this years class could potentially go to space! The story was re-read to see how bear used his imagination to go to the moon, then it was over to the children......

The bear firstly decided he would need a rocket if he wanted to go to the moon so found a cardboard box in the cupboard under the stairs.  (Staff had already placed all the items they would need around the classroom.)  The children discussed where they thought they would find a large cardboard box and set off for the big cupboard and came back with a box!

The bear then needed a space helmet.  Bear went into his kitchen and took a colander from the draining board.  The children don't access the staff kitchen but did ask if there was one, but sadly no.  So one of the children remembered that the role play was a kitchen on their first week, so they went off to find the kitchen box of resources and.......ta da!  The next item was much easier to find and there ended up being several pairs so negotiations were had to which pair of wellie boots went in the role play area.  Staff enjoyed listening to the justifications they were making, 'These ones are bigger', 'these ones are sparkly', 'these ones are like the ones in the book'.

Bear is all ready for space but decides he may get hungry, so packs up a picnic and takes his special teddy along for the ride.  The children found the teddy quite quickly but were not sure where to look for a pretend picnic.  Staff brought out the box that has the 'shop' resources in and very quickly found items that matched those in the book.  This lead to a discussion to the foods that the children enjoyed and if they have ever been on a picnic and they relived and shared past experiences with each other as they collected the food and put it in a basket.

It is time for bear to head off to space and with a countdown, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and BLAST OFF - bear takes off up the chimney and up into the night sky. Staff spoke to the children about night time and asked if anyone had ever looked at the stars and a super discussion was had extending their knowledge about why stars are not out whilst at Brambles but are always out at night time when they are at home.  Bear flies past an owl who decides to join bear on his journey to the moon.  The children found our new toy that Miss Clare had brought especially for this week.

EYFS Links
Role play has many links to the Early Years Foundation Stage including Knowledge and Understanding of the World and Literacy. Story retelling is an important part of children's early reading comprehension, vocabulary and encourages the reading process.  Making time to read a story and encouraging children to 'retell' the story in their own words supports their reading skills. By using the pictures to retell the story rather than the words encourages children to look at what else the picture is telling them; which in turn leads to children having better comprehension, making inferences and understanding of story structure.  Rather than asking specific questions such as 'what colour is the boots', by asking open ended questions 'I wonder what he will wear when he goes to the moon' requires children to focus on the bigger picture and to be able to make links with their own knowledge and understanding as well as supporting their confidence as there is no wrong answer.  By using props around the house to support story telling, the story can then be re-told with or without the book and children are then able to extend their thoughts, language, vocabulary and play.

Partnership with parents
It has been super to have the opportunity to speak to so many parents, grandparents and families this week informally at drop off and collection time.   Some parents have asked what type of things can they do at home that supports what Brambles does at pre-school and others have kindly offered their help and support in the classroom or at home behind the scenes. Parents have also returned the 'At home I am......' slips.  These half term learning leaves are a way of families sharing with pre-school all the fun and exciting things that go on at home such as riding their bike, a family celebration, sleeping through the night, not having their arms bands at swimming, tried new foods etc.  All the learning leaves are put on our sharing tree and are displayed in the children's cloakroom for all to see.

Taking the helm and ready to raise the flag for a new week
After a successful space adventure it was time to pack everything away where we found it.  Upon the children's return to the classroom there was a map and an 'x' to mark the spot where next weeks role play will take place with Percy Parrot and Miss Michelle.