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.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

"Within every child lies the courage of a superhero"

The Brambles have put on their masks and capes to become superheroes for the second week at pre-school.  It has been a great week of exploring the new resources that have not yet been out and the new role play area.

We learn through play - what's your super power?
The children have helped to choose what to put in their superhero den with resources around the classroom that included telephones, a dolls house and some dolls to rescue.  There was some great language, 'hello, superhero here',  'I'll save you' and different voices used along with fabulous imaginative skills 'Help, I'm stuck in a big muddy puddle', 'Quick, I'm falling from the window' as they became the hero or the person in need of rescuing. The children really enjoyed the home made capes Miss Emma made for the superheroes from old t-shirts and no sewing!


Invitation to construct 
The construction table was really popular this week.  Construction toys help children to problem solve, connect, understand and be inquisitive.  The construction toys at Brambles are changed for each session to enable children to learn about different materials and ways of constructing.

EYFS Links. Constructive play supports many of the areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Language acquisition is just one area.  Children learn new vocabulary and how to use it in appropriate ways and by using the instruction cards that staff have put together, it also supports early reading skills as they 'read' the instructions . Children who's first language isn't English, benefit from these types of activities too as they are socially interacting, learning new words and having fun through play. Construction supports mathematical language and skills.  They will use and understand words like 'below', 'on top', 'next to' etc.  Children use words that include measure, weight, size and numeracy.  Constructive play also teaches children about shapes, sorting, matching and classification through the various materials and resources that are provided.  Construction allow children to play independently or to play and interact socially with others.  Children apply team work and collaborative skills as well as learning to take turns, risk taking and sharing a common goal.

Instruction cards. The cards have been produced using the actual objects and laminated. On one side of the card it has all the objects you need laid out individually to help the children collect what they need to build the object and on the reverse is a photograph of the finished object.  Some cards have one piece missing on the list but is present on the finished picture.  This is to allow more confident children to notice and identify what's missing or suggest how it could be fixed together themselves. For other children an adult can support the child in looking at the picture to notice that the blue popoid is missing (in this example) to connect the neck. These cards are available for all the construction resources at Brambles.

Story time this week saw the children sharing all the cartoon superheroes they know such as Batman, Spiderman and many more before listening to this weeks stories; Princesses Share and Michael Recycle. Princess Lily soon realises that its more fun to share her toys and be a good friend to play with rather than not sharing and being by herself, whilst Michael is a green-caped crusader, as he rescues his  town and proves that recycling can actually be quite fun!  The children had the courage to stand up in front of their friends at group time when they were asked to talk about who was their REAL superhero. There were some wonderful answers!  'My brother because he plays with me', 'my sister because she brushes my hair ', 'my dad because he helps me get dressed' etc. Staff also had some funny answers and our favourite was 'my mums not a superhero because she just watches TV!'  Together we spoke about other heroes such as nurses, soldiers, teachers, doctors etc and the roles they have.

On Friday Miss Clare's group began to prepare for next weeks activities with a twinkle and a shine, I wonder 'Whatever Next!'

Sunday, 14 September 2014

"We can have lots of good fun that is funny!"

What a wonderful week we have had with our new class!  They have all made Brambles staff so proud this week (and I am sure their parents too) by showing how quickly they have settled and with hardly any tears.  The children are all so lovely and a real pleasure to have at Brambles.

Once the children have said their goodbyes, they come into the classroom and find their registration card and put it in their keyworkers basket before going off to free play.

The furniture is from Community Playthings

They have also explored their classroom and the activities on offer this week.  The resources are changed weekly and staff plan the activities around the interests of the children in their keywork group.  As this is the first week, staff have planned activities that are usually popular with pre-schoolers.  The new wooden garage and wooden vehicles were on the small world table.

In the library area, a choice of pre-school favourite books such as The Gruffalo, Owl Babies, Pepper Pig etc were on offer and the cosy cushion area was well used to snuggle up with the books.

The Communication Friendly Space resources were changed daily and included comics and magazines for under 5's, assorted telephones, TV and movie characters, number rhymes with props and puppets.  This area was used a lot this week and lots of lovely chatting was certainly heard! :0D

The role play area became a home complete with kitchen, dining table and dolls.  It was great to see the children fully emerging themselves into pretend play and playing alongside them listening to them recreating first hand experiences.

The maths area also changes weekly and again as it was the first week, staff put an assortment of mathematical resources that included ones for counting, numerals, patterns, measuring and shapes.

Alongside the computer, the fine motor skills tray was the most popular this week.  An assortment of yellow items for exploring and using their fingers to open, pinch, manipulate and explore either on their own or with a friend.  This activity was sourced from Pinterest

The children have shown their wonderful creative skills as they have written their names and drawn self portraits for their Best Books and had their first day photos taken.

All staff at Brambles have to prepare and plan for their keywork group.  Next week Miss Emma's group wanted to know 'who are super heroes?' So with a 'k-pow' a 'splat' and a 'whoosh' next week will be an exciting cape wearing, mask making and imagination filled fun time.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

New School Year - Sep 14

What a busy few days it has been!  Brambles staff have been preparing for a new school year at pre-school and hosting two open afternoons for the new children.

Children and their families joined staff in visiting the pre-school classroom prior to them starting next week. This is to help support their transition form the summer break and familiarise themselves with both staff and the Brambles environment. The children and their grown ups completed their own copy of  'My First Visit' booklet (a booklet I found on Pinterest and adapted from This helpful and interactive booklet encouraged them to be are able to find where various things are around the pre-school school both inside and out.

Both open afternoons were well attended and it was wonderful to see all the new children and their families.  The afternoon gives staff the opportunity to meet the children in their group and the families in a relaxed, informal and (hopefully) fun way.  At the end of each child's first visit, they were given a bag of popcorn to say 'thanks for popping on' and an apple for the parent to say that 'parents are teachers too'.  The children also took home their booklets so they can go through it with their families at home over the weekend and use as prompts for talking about their day once they have settled.

This year Brambles has 38 children (17 girls and 21 boys) registered and continuing to have 24 children per session.  Each child is allocated a keyworker who is responsible for looking after their groups Learning and Development and best books. Sessions at Brambles are:
9am-11:30am. 9am-12:30pm (includes lunch), 11:30am-12:30pm (includes lunch), 12:30pm-3pm or all day 9am-3pm.

Looking forward to next week and being able to get to know the class of 2015!