Saturday, 4 April 2015

'The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery' - Mark Van Doren

There have been meteorologists, inventors, entomologists, horticulturists and environmentalists at Brambles this second half of the spring term!  The role play area was changed weekly to keep up with all the different areas of discovery over the past five weeks!

It started off with Miss Emma and her group of meteorologists who turned the role play area into an outside area and each day the weather and seasons changed. Monday it was autumn with sun, showers, umbrellas, hedgehogs and squirrels followed on Tuesday that had turned into winter with snow and warm clothes to put on.  Wednesday saw the season change to spring with the sun shining, rainy showers and flowers with gardening implements and seeds to plant.  By Thursday is was summer complete with sunshine, deckchairs, sunglasses and sun cream!

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The second week, Miss Michelle stayed outside in the 'wooded area' complete with grass, tree bark and a variety of insects (plastic) complete with magnifying glasses, and check lists to enable the entomologists amongst the children!  Miss Michelle's group also had a fun snack that week or 'dirt and worms' (chocolate Angel Delight, crushed Oreo biscuits and a gummy worm) and some of the children were really unsure about eating them!

Miss Clare turned the role play area into a workshop with a tool box and various objects to 'fix', 'mend' and 'invent' alongside the old fashioned typewriter to type up the invoices and ideas for those children who wished to become inventors. On the small world table was a collection of loose parts where the children were left to their own devices to invent, create and discover.  The children really enjoyed this table and came up with some fantastic creations!

'A bee and beehouse' (red bottle top and mini pegs for the beehive) & a face using assorted parts

The 'potting shed' was the next theme for the role play for the budding horticulturists complete with pots, seeds (black eyed peas), compost (coffee flavoured playdough), flowers (fake) and watering can as well as seed packets to design their own plant or vegetable with Miss Sallie.  Miss Sallie's group also took a walk down to the local garden centre to choose some seeds and bulbs to plant back at Brambles later on that week.



The fifth and final week saw Miss Joan and her team of environmentalists learn how to look after the environment by recycling in the 'Brambles recycling centre' (role play area) and composting the uneaten food from snack times in the outdoor compost bin.

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EYFS Links
Planning these types of real life experiences are important in early years.  It encourages active learning through real life situations through investigation and play.  Brambles staff have an important role during these types of play and experiences. Each member of staff ensures interactions in developing, supporting and monitoring each child's development through scaffolding and supporting each child's learning.
  • Teacher scaffolding to support learning:
    • facilitating e.g. modelling strategies
    • collaborating as a learning partner e.g.negotiating learning experiences
    • making learning explicit e.g.verbalising thinking aloud
    • building connections e.g.linking prior knowledge to new knowledge
    • extending children's thinking to develop deeper understanding e.g. questioning
These are the types of scaffolding that Brambles staff provide to move children towards their Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky).

"Early childhood can be a time of delight, discovery and wonder. Central to the EYFS is an uncompromising view of the child as capable of co-constructing knowledge and understanding."

"Using a social constructivist approach, early childhood educators make decisions about co-constructing learning based on the recognition that:
  • learning takes place in authentic and real-world situations
  • learning involves initiation, negotiation and mediation
  • content and skill development is understood within the framework of the child’s prior knowledge
  • learning is assessed formatively, with the child actively involved in the process educators facilitate and encourage multiple perspectives and representations of realities and futures."

"Learning which engages and challenges children’s thinking using real-life and imaginary situations." 

Opportunities for learning are presented via:

  • spontaneous play
  • planned, purposeful play
  • investigating and exploring
  • events and life experiences
  • focused learning and teaching
"..supported when necessary through sensitive intervention to support or extend learning. All areas of the curriculum can be enriched and developed through play."

Play is especially important in early childhood education. It provides opportunities for children to
  • express and test themselves and their ideas,
  • make decisions, 
  • solve problems, 
  • explore, 
  • negotiate,
  • learn to regulate their own behaviour and that of others

"Early learning needs to be rich, contextualised, developmentally appropriate and connected to young people's worlds and their community experiences."

  • the importance of building on the child's prior learning experiences, 
  • knowledge and 
  • skills 
  • in close partnership with families. 
  • The role of hands on learning experiences through play is central for children to develop an understanding of themselves as learners and of the world in which they live.

    The Spring term has come to an end and the children were all looking forward to some family time over the Easter / Spring break.  Over the two weeks at home, the children and their families were encouraged to see if they can find and bring back to Brambles their spring treasures to share with staff and their friends. 
      Something fuzzy
    Something straight
    Something smooth
    Something rough
    A chewed leaf
    A beautiful rock
    A piece of man made litter
    Something round
    Something that makes a noise
    Something you think is beautiful

The summer term starts back with a fun packed week of  'Celebrate good times, come on let's celebrate!' followed by five weeks of 'Near, far, where ever you are' where the children will be looking into our local and wider communities.

Spring is here, let's give some cheer! Flowers bloom, trees grow, water falls, winds blow. Bees buzz, kids play, say horray! Spring is today! - Author unknown

There has been plenty of cheer in Brambles over the first part of the spring term as the children have been able to use all the outdoor area and made good use of the bird hyde, digging area, communication spaces and playing on the bridge.  The children even got to enjoy a snow day and really made the most of it by exploring the pre-school garden and also the school playground, sledging on the mound and making snowmen in on the field.

The theme for the first half of the term was 'Elbow to Elbow' taken from the Dr. Seuss rhyme. Books are essential in early years. By reading to your child from a baby helps teach your child to use language and communicate both through talking and written word.  Reading skills are important to their success in school and later on in work.  Reading should be fun and imaginative to help them open up all kinds of new worlds for them. Parents play a critical role in supporting their child develop an enjoyment in their ability to read.


EYFS Links

Research has identified five early reading skills that are all essential.  They are:
  • Phonemic awareness—Being able to hear, identify, and play with individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.
  • Phonics—Being able to connect the letters of written language with the sounds of spoken language.
  • Vocabulary—The words kids need to know to communicate effectively.
  • Reading comprehension—Being able to understand and get meaning from what has been read.
  • Fluency (oral reading)—Being able to read text accurately and quickly.
You can make reading part of your everyday lifestyle by:

  • Turning off screen time (TV's, iPads, phones etc)
  • Teach by example - let your child see you reading newspapers, books, magazines, menus etc; your child sees you reading, then your child will learn that you value reading.  You can’t over-estimate the value of modelling.
  • Read together - Reading with your child is a great activity.  It not only teaches your child that reading is important to you, but it also offers a chance to talk about the book, and often other issues will come up.  Books can really open the lines of communication between parent and child.
  • Hit the library - Try finding books that interests your family and child's life, and then read them together. Read a book about going to the dentist prior to your child's dental check up or get some books about the seaside after a trip to the coast.  If your child is obsessed with dinosaurs, as the librarian to recommend a good dinosaur novel for your child. Find out about the free story sessions they offer.
  • Car journeys - listen to an audio book whilst on a long car journey and encourage you child to imagine what it would look like or talk about the feelings of the characters. 
  • Make your own - children love looking at photos of themselves and family members.  Consider making your own story from a day out you had using photos and your child's own drawings and own words or upload them to make a photo book.

    There are many ways to include reading in your child's life, starting in babyhood, and continuing through the teen years.  Focus on literacy activities that your child enjoys, so that reading is a treat, not a chore. 

The idea was to look at traditional stories as well as more contemporary ones and compare them. The children soon discovered that most of the stories rhymed and quickly picked up the repeated refrains! The children looked at traditional stories of 'Little Red Riding Hood', 'Goldilocks', 'Little Red Hen', 'The Three Little Pigs' and '3 Billy Goats Gruff' and used the role play and small world to explore these stories some more. They also identified that you must always tell as grown up where you are going and never go anywhere without them.  They also learnt that it is good to help your friends!

                  Miss Emma's Group                                    Miss Clare's Group

The children helped to choose their favourite more up to date stories.  Miss Emma's group had fun with,  'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen and enjoyed going through the school woods on their own bear hunt and found the bear, not in a cave but at the fire pit with some cakes for snack! Whilst Miss Clare's group chose,  'Gingerbread Baby' by Jan Brett which was a twist on the original tale of the Gingerbread Man.  The children enjoyed cooking their own gingerbread men and baking their own bread like the little red hen.

                  Miss Michelle's Group                                Miss Joan's Group

Miss Michelle's group explored Handa's Suprise by Eileen Browne  and had fun taste testing all the different fruits that various animals steel from her fruit basket and Miss Joan's group looked at the different and unusual animals from  The Grumpalump by Sarah Hayes and enjoyed a visit to Karen's Florist in the village to purchase and blow up their very own balloon to release into the air!

                                          Miss Sallie's Group

'The Gruffalo' by Julia Donaldson was the clear favourite from Miss Sallie's group who had fun in the role play, dressing up and becoming the Gruffalo!  They also had Gruffalo themed snacks al week: roasted fox (carrot sticks), scrambles snake (popcorn), owl ice-cream (ice-cream with a feather) and cornflake cakes (Gruffalo crumble).

Before we knew it the first half of spring term was over and half term was enjoyed.  Over the half term, families were encouraged to take part in Skill! Will! Thrill! For those families who wanted to, they could take a photo of their child having a try at something by themselves e.g. putting on their coat, doing up the zip/buttons, putting on and doing up their shoes etc. The photos were put up and displayed in the children's cloakroom.

‘Unlimited Thinking’ allows children time to think and time to try by themselves and not stepping in or speaking for them. Children need to be motivated to learn and using the approach, ‘Skill! Will! Thrill!’ ensures that they try to do something independently such as putting on their shoes, the process of having a go and the feeling of achievement when they have achieved this. These skills are also really important for school readiness. “Never help a child with a task at which they feel they can succeed”-Maria Montessori (Early Years Pioneer and Theorist)

The weather is warming up and coats are coming off. The children are continuing to pull up their sleeves and bloom themselves in preparing to become scientists over the second part of the spring term.