Sunday, 27 September 2015

It is better to know how to learn than to know. - Dr Seuss

Wow! Can you believe that the end of the term and the end of the pre-school year has arrived so soon?!  The children have had a fun filled last term with learning all about numbers, celebrating Fathers day, learning about amazing animals and preparing for the Leavers Assembly.

The first week back, the learning was all about how numbers are used in our world.  From numerals to recognise how old we are to numbers on the weighing scales to weigh the toys.  Lots of fun was had using numbers on a calculator as well as guessing how many cubes each toy measured.

One of the first animals we learnt about was a caterpillar and how it becomes a butterfly. Almost all of the children knew that weeks story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and were able to use the story sack to re-tell the story as well as re-tell the process in their own words.

There were also lots of fun related crafts and songs to help the children learn. The Fuzzy Caterpillar and Caterpillar Garden were lots of fun acting out the actions and were such a favourite the children chose them as ones to perform at their Leavers Assembly.  

The actions to the first song can be found here

The second week into the final half term was a very exciting one as the children had their Leavers Trip to West Lodge Rural Centre. They had a wonderful time exploring this amazing farm that Brambles returns year after year as it is such a wonderful and exciting place to learn all about the farm and the animals.  The children got to explore the sculpture trails and walk over to the little stone cottage (witches house) together as a big group and enjoyed a barrel ride with their friends.  Lunch was in the very nice coffee shop and provided by the farm before everyone got into their groups to visit all the petting animals, cuddle corner, feed the lambs and go on a tractor ride.  Before the coach ride home, the children enjoyed a well deserved ice lolly and play on the play park before heading back to pre-school. 

The children were busy in the art area as they made some fantastic cards for the special men in their lives as it was Fathers Day.  Miss Sallie adapted a St.Patrick's Day Rhyme and combined it with a Fathers Day rhyme to create 'I'm as lucky as can be' Fathers day card for her group.  Miss Emma used an idea from Pinterest and used the tool template from here to create her 'Tool Box' card. 

Miss Sallie's group had fish as their 'amazing animal' to explore how to learn about as there were a few children who had a particular interest and one little boy, a real LOVE of fish! Miss Sallie and her group looked at where the fish lived, what baby fish are called and how we could we see fish by looking in various types of books in the library and on the computer.  On the maths table the children looked at a variety of fish up to sharks and whales to compare sizes and took it in turns to talk about pet fish, visits to aquariums and the seaside and what they have seen on TV in the communicaion friendly space.  Each child made and created some fantastic fish themed crafts to put in their best books and to show at the Leavers Assembly along with joining in with the words and actions to 'Let's Go Swimming' song.

As a group they worked together to help make a rock pool and an ocean for the small word toys outside in the pre-school


before creating their very own underwater scene to pretend to be divers and move like fish inside the classroom.


Miss Sallie made some blue 'sea' playdough for the finger gym table and the children had lots of fun making caves for the fish, covering the shells pretending it was sand and using it to investigate and manipulate. 

EYFS Links from The Imagination Tree
Using play dough (or in fact any type of dough) with young children is beneficial in so many ways. Here are some ideas of how fabulous it is, divided into the areas of development that it helps: 

Fine motor development:
The malleable properties of play dough make it fun for investigation and exploration as well as secretly building up strength in all the tiny hand muscles and tendons,  making them ready for pencil and scissor control later on.
Poking in objects and pulling them out of play dough strengthens hand muscles and co-ordination
As part of simple, tactile play it can be squashed, squeezed, rolled, flattened, chopped, cut, scored, raked, punctured, poked and shredded! Each one of these different actions aids fine motor development in a different way, not to mention hand-eye co ordination and general concentration. And as soon as you add another element to it, the list of benefits and creative play possibilities continues to grow! Having a wide range of additional extras to use while playing extends the investigation and play possibilities endlessly. Poking in sticks provides a challenge and a new physical skill. Squeezing through a garlic press leads to wonder and amazement at seeing it change shape, as well as using a gross motor movement to accomplish it. Sticking in spaghetti requires a delicate hand and can lead to threading and stacking pasta shapes or beads over the top.By providing objects from nature with a wide range of textures, colours and shapes, children can have multi-sensory experiences and engage with the world around them in a whole new way.
Imagination and Creativity:
As soon as you introduce open ended play items to add to the mix, play dough becomes the perfect medium for numerous types of imaginative play and can represent so many things in a child’s eyes. A jar of candles and cupcakes cases leads naturally to birthday party role-play, counting out candles and singing! Glass pebbles can lead to sea-side imaginative small world play with story telling about sea creatures and mermaids! It can be chocolates and sweets in a sweet shop, cakes and bread in a bakery, grass and mud in a garden centre, sand or ice cream in a beach scene, soil, pebbles, ice or snow at the zoo/ jungle/ farm/ ocean and so on! The list is as endless as a child’s imagination! List of additional flavours and textures to add to play dough: scents and colours: cocoa powder,ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, fruit juices, food colouring, food flavouring, essential oils,paint textures: rice, cous cous, coriander seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sawdust, sand, pebbles, rock salt, tiny pasta, glitter , glitter glue, sequins

Calming and soothing:
As any adult who has played with dough can tell you, the effects of all that squeezing and pummelling are great for stress relief and can feel extremely therapeutic! Little children can struggle to express their emotions and using dough while talking and singing can really help that process. 

Maths and Literacy development:
In more focused play, play dough can be used as a fantastic way to practise letter and number work. Children can form letters of the alphabet, spell out their own name, make numbers, form 2D and 3D shapes, comparelengths/ thicknesses/ weightscount out rolled balls to match numeral cards, match and sort by colour and SO many more ideas too!

Science and Discovery:
The actual act of making the play dough together with your child can lead to lots of questioning and prediction skills. Here we have some solid materials (flour, salt etc) to which we are going to add some liquids (oil, water.) What do you think will happen? What can we make? The child gets to explore and observe the changing state of materials in a hands-on way, and be filled with wonder as the bowl of unrelated ingredients comes together to form a sticky then smooth and squishy ball of dough! We often take these things for granted, but in the eyes and hands of a child that’s quite some transformation! Following a recipe and instructions, counting out cups, stirring and mixing and just being able to spend time on a collaborative project with an adult are all meaningful and important experiences too!

...and that's it!
It sure has been a fun year of learning to play and playing to learn.  All the Brambles staff would like to thank the wonderful children for a super year and to the families for the kind words in the Leavers book, they will be treasured forever along with all the lovely leavers gifts and cards that were very much gratefully received. All the staff would like to say to the children, We know you know a thing or two, you are all super smart!  We are all very proud of you! and enjoy your new and exciting adventures in reception. 

It is only right to leave this year as the children left their Leavers Assembly with their special goodbye song. "We learned our ABC's and counting 123's, and now we all know these, the Brambles pre-school class.  We learned how to share and we learned how to care, just ask us if you dare, the Brambles Pre-School class.  It seems we've just begun, and now we're almost done, this year's been so much fun!  The Brambles Pre-School Class.

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