Mark Making

Mark Making

Something every early years practitioner gets asked, when will my child write? Writing is always such a big topic, particularly on the run up to school. My tip to get children to write; never ask a child to write, asking a child to write can put them off, creates stress and formalizes a naturally developing skill. Our role as educators is to provide engaging and fun play based opportunities which encourage all forms of mark making, at the child’s pace. This way we will create a life long love of writing and we see children thrive. By providing activities which are child led children and practitioners become immersed which creates deeper learning process. Facilitating play, creating environments and asking open ended questions provide rich opportunities which encourage those pre-writing and writing skills. Do not concentrate too early on letter formations or pencil grip, these will come naturally as the child is ready. Instead model holding a pencil and let your child see you write at every opportunity – switch your electronic devices for the paper and pen method. Provide letters in the environment and don’t forget pencil grip is hard on little hands so leave mark making out so children can take a rest and go back to it when they are ready! If your brave enough, try mark making on different surfaces. This week the children have enjoyed large scale drawing inside, and Chris has created (with the help of Jake) and mark making station outside after observing how many children use writing through play! I wonder if there is ever an image that shouts ‘early years’ more than free;y creating in a white princess wedding...

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Red Nose Day

Red Nose Day

In a bid to continue our ‘eco’ ethos at nursery, we decided to ditch the plastic and instead use face paint to create our red noses. The red noses you buy from the shops cost £1.25 each with comic relief only receiving 65p of this! The children loved this activity and the massive bonus was that all the money raised went directly to comic relief. During face painting we continued to talk about the recycling and being kind to the environment. This led to loads of ideas about what we can do to help the planet, including walking instead of using a car, re using food for compost and recycling. Throughout the day we also enjoyed using red play-dough to put red noses on different faces, baking cakes and creating lots of amazing pictures to display. The staff took the opportunity to talk to the children about comic relief and read lovely stories which discussed differences/ comic relief in age appropriate way. What a busy but lovely day in the...

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World Book Day

World Book Day

Each year we celebrate world book day and it is always such a great feel throughout the Den. Children and adults are offered the opportunity to dress up, and we have numerous stations created through the children’s interest and love in books. This year there was a strong fairy tale theme, the pre-school children in particular have loved exploring the Three Little Pigs. They are particularly fond of the wolf who now appears in many of the children’s games. The children re-told the story through role play, sensory play and small world environments which were carefully created by the staff. Pirates is another firm favourite which re-appears each year. The children loved creating obstacle courses outside which resulted in ‘walking the plank’. Later on in the afternoon the children created maps in a quest to find treasure. The children enjoyed an outing into the village to follow their maps and find some buried treasure. The pre-school children have such confidence with stories and in particular this term have enjoyed story scribing. This approach to literacy concentrates on children finding their own story telling voice and creates countless opportunities in literacy. This year the children wanted to write a group story, they then developed this into a show, creating tickets, posters and a stage area to act out their finished story to the rest of the nursery. Huge thanks to all staff, children and parents who made World Book Day such a success....

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Our nativity December 2014

Our nativity December 2014

This year for our nativity play we decided to extend our Reggio knowledge and put all of our faith into the children to write their own play! Each year at Christmas the pre-school perform a play that we have chosen; we have a staff meeting to decide best suited characters, songs and the plot. This year we thought why not let the children decide? In November, whilst eating our lunch I turned to the pre-school to say “what would you like to do for your Christmas play?” Toby H (4:2) said “I know let’s do it on Fizz”, “who is Fizz?” I asked. “He is a very cheeky little elf that never does as he was told” – that was Toby’s part sorted. With our main character in place group times, lunch times and play times were based around the discussion of our Christmas play and to our delight the pre-school just thrived from being able to give ideas and write their own story. “I want to be a cheeky snowman” said George (4:2). “I want to be Father Christmas” said Rylee (3:6) and “we want to be elves too” said Orla (3:6), Zara (3:3) and Olivia (4:2). Our play was official; Fizz, the three elves, a cheeky snowman and Father Christmas. The children each day would add to the story and chose the songs to perform. They really did so well and I must admit it was one of the best plays on record at Simba’s Den. A huge thank you to all children, staff and the local...

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Graduation 2014

Graduation 2014

August is always a sad time for us at Simba’s Den; it’s time to say good bye to our pre-school children as they leave for big school! Each year on the last weekend in August we hold a graduation to say good bye; the full nursery is invited to the village centre for the ceremony (lots of tears from the staff & parents!). We begin the graduation with an opening ceremony which is a dance choreographed by our pre-school ballet children. The children choose the theme and song; this year it was frozen and the song choice was ‘let it go’. The younger children learnt the song and sang during the performance. August was filled with making magic wands, painting final pictures of the steam, creating decorations and practicing for the races. After the opening ceremony the races begin and is always filled with lots of laughter and smiles especially the baby/ toddler race! Then the Mum’s and Dads have a go…. To end we present each preschool child with their folders, achievements and art work! They always beam with pride and it’s such a lovely moment for all. We then celebrate with a traditional village picnic; every parent brings a dish to enjoy and we set up soft play for the children! Well done to our pre-school and farewell to you all! Thank you for making Simba’s so special. Huge thank you to Mat (Ben’s Daddy) for the fantastic...

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The cat sat on the mat – Letters and Sounds Achievement

The cat sat on the mat – Letters and Sounds Achievement

When children reach pre-school age they begin our fun letters and sounds lessons. The children love letters and sounds; staff plan fun lessons with fun games and activities based on early literacy. Children are in two groups, pre-school 1 and pre-school 2. Children are taught by the same practitioner 3 times a week with the aim of introducing literacy in a fun way. We do not follow a structured programme but instead plan on children’s current interests and capabilities; adding new letters, sounds and words into our lesson as the children are ready. It is important that this process is not rushed and introduced gradually. Repetition is the Key to success along with keeping the lessons physical and very fun. Our school leavers all won an achievement award throughout August for ‘the cat sat in the mat’ project which introduced tricky words and sentence formation to our children. It was amazing that our children were ready to learn tricky words and the writing and reading produced was phenomenal. Below is a summary of the topic plan and pictures of the children’s achievements. 1. We began this term with moving onto digraphs (two letter sounds) after the children had learnt all the single letter sounds. Children were observed during the lessons and it was noted that the children were interested in blending sounds and creating words. Children became more interested in ‘printed words’. 2. After several blending and reading activities it was noted that children were getting frustrated with ‘tricky words’. We planned how we could teach tricky words in a simple manner; without it becoming confusing. 3. We spoke about the difference between tricky and phonic words. We referred to tricky words as red words. After a few sessions Toby said “they are red because they are tricky and we must remember them in our heads” 4. We decided to concentrate on a few tricky words – deciding which tricky words to use was going to be hard. On our notes from when children started to blend sounds we had noted that ‘cat’ was the first word children felt comfortable with, from cat then came pat, mat, bat etc. Children had also met these words during rhyming activities so were very comfortable with them. We decided to aim towards the sentence “the cat sat on the mat” knowing that the children would be able to achieve within these activities (self-esteem is very important when learning a new concept). 5. We started by showing flash cards of two words (the & cat). We spoke about the different letters and the sounding out of cat compared to the. We then went on some fun letter hunts; children had to find 1...

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