Snapshot from week ending 17th May

TEACHING AND LEARNING SUMMARY THIS WEEK

just a glimpse behind the red doors…

Response to planned activites

Maps – The Rainbow group have become experts on Google maps. As well as finding our addresses and journeys and routes to nursery, using different map views (we liked the ‘tops of houses’) we also looked at journeys to the special places parents sent in, some as far away as Sydney Opera House. We drew maps of favourite stories with journeys. Children noted the different journey times depending on transport mode. (5 days to cycle to Rose’s favourite place in Portugal!) We know a topic has inspired some ‘real learning’ when we overhear children drawing their own maps later in the day. Understanding the World, Maths

Capacity – Colouring the water in water tray was not just to entice children to explore; it made water more visible inside the transparent containers we provided, enhancing the capacity learning. Intense focus and team efforts to fill up the 2.5 and then 5 litres tubs we provided. Wherever the children were in their learning, they took a step forward this week, for some it was about using the words ‘full’ and ’empty’ , ‘half full’ – whilst for others it was about making a hypothesis and testing it ” I think this will overflow if we pour it in, because this one’s wider’ Maths

Bug Hotel – This has been the scene of many questions and much exploration. Sunshine group found acentipede, learnt the word, and all children learnt why the need to turn logs back over, once they have finished exploring. We also added some water on dry days for the moisture loving insects and bugs. Understanding the World

Sound Walks – Photos of children outside the nursery with eyes scrunched tight show children on a ‘sound walk’. They were encouraged to listen really hard to sounds around them, some came up with even ‘electric car’ – no-one could miss the loud drilling. This kind of intense listening is a great pre-reading exercise, as well as being lots of fun. Literacy

Spontaneous Teaching and Learning

If you want it – imagine it! – This week in the sunshine room, some children requested the train track. A clever teacher, rather than simply providing it, suggested that there wasn’t room for train track too, but asked the children to think about what else in the room they could use. Children then worked together to use our magnetic construction to create a whole system of tracks and trains. We love our train track, but its absence inspired impressive problem solving and creativity. Expressive Arts, Maths

Forest School First Aid Kit – Children noticed this and asked teachers to explain what each item was for.

Taking some time away – Teachers supported 2 children who were struggling to get on, to ‘take a break’ from each other for a while, and suggested that everyone needed this from time to time, even if they are good friends PSE

Plus: Discussions about teeth brushing, using and counting bark chips for payment, discussions about different languages, looking after each other in doctor’s surgery, finding body parts in non-fiction boos, bouncing balls, doing circuits in our new expanded physical space, Sparkles music and movement, Yoga… and much more

10.5.24 Responses to planned Activities 

The bark– There’s nothing like a ‘real job’ for some ‘real learning’. A HUGE bag of bark arrived on Tuesday morning. Children helped at every stage – to transport the bark from the bag into the garden. So much experience of, and conversation about, capacity in context, as well as physical challenge. Finally, afternoon children were involved in the planning of how to move the remnants of the bark to the front garden. Photos show high levels of engagement, but they can’t quite capture the high level problem solving that went on too. PSE, Maths, Physical 

Japanese children’s day – Our Thursday children visited our local cafe ‘Mother Canteen’, where Chris showed us some fun traditions, including hanging up Carp decorations, shared some scary myths (Carp are considered to turn into water dragons!) Children got active rolling and sprinkling ‘Dangos’- an amazing Japanese children’s sweet. Talk about the ingredients, rice flour, textures, trying new foods – we couldn’t have packed in more! Understanding the World, PSE, Communication and Language

Painting on what?? – We have plenty of ideas to get children mark making. Painting on bubble wrap was an enticing new experience, texture and pattern. It was a 2 year old who began using paper on the painted wrap to create paper prints – staff seized on this inspiration and we all explored this new way to make patterns. Expressive Arts, PSE 

Capacity/Flat Whites and Ristrettos – Some learning around ‘full’ and ‘empty’ ‘half full’ and even ‘quarter full’ as well as names of different coffees. Children served each other playdough cups, and teachers some coffees – but teachers were very fussy ‘No, I ordered an espresso – that cup is too full’ . Children also needed to add initials/names to cups so some literacy learning too. Maths, Literacy

Plus: Using ipad and printer to capture our constructions, building towers with foam bricks, SParkles dance, Yoga

A sample of our Spontaneous Teaching and Learning Moments

But we don’t have a purple… Children painting in the garden asked for colours that weren’t available. A Teacher worked with them to mix the paint colours, using the original colours Expressive Arts

Playdough Sharing – This week teachers worked with children to discuss how to make the playdough table fair, encouraging children to share and notice others. It’s exciting when children copy this behaviour and begin to do it spontaneously! PSE

Who can play? – Children taught each other – first a group of girls announced that ‘only girls can play on our castle’ . When a boy keen to play arrived, he altered this, ‘only boys and girls can play on this castle’ – which was accepted by all. PSE

And lots of discussions about numbers.. inspired perhaps by the sunshine children who have been gripped by excitement about counting at the moment! And PIB staff are experts at capitalising on this.

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Snapshot from week ending 19th April

A reminder for new parents – we usually divide this into 2 sections: the first gives examples of how children responded to our planned activities, whilst the second shows more ‘spontaneous’ teaching and learning moments, unplanned but very often just as impactful. Spontaneous teaching and learning moments have the advantage of always starting with the passions and interests of the children in that moment – which leads to real ‘deep level learning’

Responses to planned activities

Subtraction Stories in Rainbow group – Our older children in rainbow group enjoyed some individual focussed work, creating their own ‘ number stories’. The one rule was that some of the items or characters they chose had to disappear somehow. Children were very creative with them, and typed their own number stories using the children’s keyboard. The stories are attached. Maths, Literacy, UNderstanding the World

Forest School swans –  The older Rainbow group went to see the swans who are on the nest, and waiting for the eggs to hatch. We love this time of year! Next week we will take our duck identification guide so we can all learn the names of the ducks on the Heath. Communication and Language, Understanding the World 

Garden play –  The new garden set up has kept children engaged and involved – great excitement when the sand arrived on Tuesday. You will have seen that sand provides so many learning opportunities, developing physical skills, filling and emptying; it also has important sensory calming effect on our children when they come in in the morning.  Physical, Understanding the Word.

Drilling and Hammering – in the rainbow room began enthusiastically this week – next week we will return to this, but provide wood and harder materials – we have learnt how to use the hand drill and tare ready for more of a challenge! Physical, Understanding the World

Spontaneous Teaching and Learning Moments

Role play in the garden  Role play helps children process what they see around them, and develops imagination, language and social skills. Younger children were busy ‘cooking’ for teachers in the garden’s mud kitchen – teachers responded by adding extra resources to make a full garden home corner and extend this play. Expressive Arts, Communication and Language 

Animal make believe –  A mixed age group of children returned to a mime game, they pretended to be an animal and the others had to guess which animal they were showing with their body. The teacher supported the turn taking and helped all children to take their turn.  Expressive Arts, PSE, Communication and Language. 

Making masks –  The children had enjoyed a story of ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’. They found instructions to make a lamb mask – the teacher supported the gathering of resources and helped the children to make themselves a mask! Expressive Arts, Physical 

Climbing up – A younger child was nervous to climb the step ladder to the changing mat – they teacher encouraged them, saying ‘ I have faith in you’ The child then repeated the sentence and the teacher explained the meaning Communication and Language, Physical


TEACHING AND LEARNING SNAPSHOT 25.3.24  

Responses to planned activities: 

3D Modelling – planned & spontaneous – Rainbow children needed no encouragement to bring their ideas to our 3D modelling activities. Teachers ( with parents help!) provided the environment and resources, a variety of large 3D boxes, and children spent the week on a variety of collaborative projects – Monday- a robot – whilst Wednesday- a house, complete with swimming pool and lifeguard tower. Children came, worked for a while to add their part left, and then others joined to expand the project. Teacher was there to facilitate – supporting children where needed, for exampe joining materials . We will return to this next term so more boxes needed.  So many skills being developed, listening to others, imagination, joining together materials 

 What do we use this for? Children in the sunshine room experimented with resources from the mark making trolley, teachers demonstrated the use of paint dabbers and glue sticks – opening up a world of creative possibilities for our younger children. Physical, Expressive Arts. 

Beans and Peas – Children were encouraged to check on their beans and peas in a bag. Most of them had sprouted roots and some had roots and shoots. Also an opportunity to notice the difference between their peas. We all grow at different rates, and so too do our plants! A good start made at learning about growth – a return to this next term  Understanding the World. 

Banana Cake –  A parent brought in some browning bananas so teachers and children from both groups worked together on Weds afternoon, mashing bananas, weighing out, sieving  and using the electric whisk to blend together the different ingredients.  Lots of skills developed Understanding the World, Maths 

Phonics – Learning letter sounds is always fun at PIB – this week we inserted the sound of the week ‘g’ into our good morning song, we changed the children’s names to begin with ‘g’ (where they didn’t already) and we even learnt to read the word ‘egg’ with our two sounds of the week. Literacy

Spontaneous teaching and learning 

Sharing – Such an  important part of our teaching – Our teachers explain and supporting  children to gradually control their impulses  PSE

Sturdy Structures – Teachers in the sunshine room let the children make their structures, but where they fell quickly, teachers suggested different techniques to create something stronger.  Physical, Maths. 
Ocean animals – A child requested an ‘Orca’ today – which prompted the teacher to fetch the ocean animal box. Other children joined and together they went through the animals in the box, creating an area of ‘ ice blocks’ where we put the cold water animals like penguins and walruses, and a warmer water area with animals like the Manta Ray, and the turtles.Understanding the World. 

TEACHING AND LEARNING SNAPSHOT 1.3.24  

Responses to planned activities: 

Making Tea – In the sunshine room children have been busy pouring and filling teacups for their gronw ups and for each other – so many skills – social, communication, language and physical. 

Who sank the Boat – In rainbow room, we decided to postpone our look at ‘Mr Archimedes Bath’, and start with another book in the series, looking at science through stories ‘ Who sank the Boat?’ Children had brilliant ideas for whether it really was the mouse who sank the boat, and when the ‘real’ ox appeared, fed up from being in a capsized boat, there was some great creative problem solving from the group – the Rainbow children are getting really good at listening to each other an mastering the tricky skill of listening and talking in a group. PSE, Language,

Marbling – The aproned up children with gloves have been taught a new way to make patterned – making prints using marbling ink. This was demanding, lots of instruction following and some patience – but children were fascinated with the results, and also enjoyed exploring how the paints mixed (and didn’t mix) together Expressive Arts, ,Understanding the World 

Spontaneous learning 

Puzzles –  are infectiously popular with our rainbow group. It’s not just the puzzles that are tricky, doing them cooperatively is also a challenge but, with a little adult help, we are getting pretty good! Maths, Understanding the World

What can be our Boat? We like to think it was our focus on ‘Who sank the boat’, that meant children brought boats into their independent imaginary play. A discussion with a teacher about the best material for boats, led to hard work dragging out floor mats, which initially became 3 separate boats and then merged to form 1 large boat. Boats needed filling with cargo, and then decisions about where/who and how many drivers needed a little adult support, but once decided led to some engaging adventures ‘at sea’. Expressive Arts, Personal Social Emotional, 

What’s happening next?  We talk alot to our sunshine children about ‘what’s happening now, and what will happen next’. For many children this helps them remain calm and involve, as well as being important early maths and sequencing skills. As children get older, we might involve our child height clock in these conversations ‘ when the orange and green hand touch the 12 then it will be time for lunch’  Maths, PSE 

Fruits –  A discussion with children using our fruit counters, led to some talk about different fruits, the differences between, our favourite, and colours too. Communication and Language, Understanding the World 

Removal Van  – Spotting a removal van at Forest school led to discussions about all the things we might need to bring with us if we move house Understanding the World 

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Week ending 23rd February

Responses to planned activities: 

Year of the Dragon – Rainbow children’s attention was captured by the footage of the ‘Chinese dragon dance’ – both the visual and the accompanying rhythmic drumming and percussions. They then embraced the joint project of creating their own ‘dragon’ which they. Photos show children taking the project, from painting using traditional colours of red and yellow, to gluing and then tying ribbons onto the body. Children brought this to life, drumming, playing percussion instruments, making the dragon dance and even doing the videoing themselves to record the achievement. Physical, Expressive Arts, Understanding the World, 

Lunar New Year Story –  Also captured the children’s attention – we told and retold this and ordered the animals several times during the week.  Literacy, Maths

Noodles and Chopsticks – A Lunar New Year treat – a big pot of noodles with one rule – you have to use ‘chopsticks’ (also children’s tweezers) to help yourself. See the photos for the determination and fine motor skills this worked! Understanding the World, Physical

Water channels –  Before rain kept us indoors, at the beginning of the week Sunshine children got exploring the water channels staff had provided in the garden, adding their own ideas for containers to catch the water and wondering together about ‘what would happen next’. Science in action.. Understanding the World 

Making Music (and counting to 3) in sunshine room –  Using the keyboard was a hit in the sunshine room. Staff explained to children that the music area worked better with less children, so 3 children was to be the maximum. Lots of counting as well as exploring the sounds children could produce with the keyboard. Expressive Arts, Maths. 

Spontaneous teaching and learning

Mud, mud and more mud (and measuring!) – Both groups managed to get out to forest school, and even though Thursday’s group got a drenching on return, it was worth it for a wonderful time measuring, splashing, and then more splashing in the puddles. Is there a better way to learn about comparing depth? This has given us some ideas for a look into ‘water displacement’ hands on activities next week…Maths, Physical,

Lego  has been a popular afternoon request, prompting lots of conversation and planning as children build, taking suggestions from adults, and wondering how to create what is in their heads. Understanding the World, Physical

Gymnastic skills –  Children discussed their skills on the climbing frame, keen to show them to a teacher. This then transferred to floor gymnastics, with children using mats to demonstrate roly polys, to teachers and to each other. Physical, 

Lunch time learning  – Before lunch time, setting up the lunch table proved a great way to teach about shapes ‘you take that long side of the rectangle, and Rafi can take the short side – next we’ll move one of the trapezium tables’  Once sat down discussions moved to  ‘ what is a treat’ and which foods can be eaten regularly.  Understanding the World, Physical, Maths 

Plus: Yoga and Sparkles external teacher sessions, baking, snack preparation and much more


INITIAL PLANNING IDEAS 5.2.24

Language Learner Focus: 10 green bottles. Sunshine:  Incy Wincy Spider + Makaton 

Rising 4 Focus: Sound discrimination games (+ s and t initial sounds) 

Pre-reading and writing – This week our rising 4 focus will be sound discrimination games – playing sound lotto – identifying hidden instruments and other sounds; lots of activities to encourage children to listen carefully. These skills are essential for children to begin to hear the sounds in words…can you find something beginning with ‘ssss’  And yes.. These skills will all be needed for children to begin reading and writing. 

Caring for Babies – Lots of new baby siblings arrived or imminent so sunshine group staff will be in the role play area encouraging conversation about caring for babies. PSE 

Owl Babies –  Will be the focus story in sunshine group -a great one for reenacting and retelling.The theme of ‘Where’s my mummy?’ is very relatable too.  PSE, Literacy 

Sounds of the Gruffalo – The Gruffalo will be our focus story, for telling, and reenacting as well as using percussion instruments to choose the best sound for different animal characters and their movements. Expressive Arts, Literacy 

Setting ‘the rules’  We will work with children in rainbow to set the ‘rules’ for playing in the garage mechanic area we made last week. We will remind them of some of the problems they faced last week and talk about what might make it fair, and keep it fun. PSE, Communication and Language 

Plus: Ball games in hall and garden, Looking for spiders and spider webs in garden, Play dough making stilts 

The PIB Approach to planning

INITIAL PLANNING IDEAS 8.1.24

OUR PLANNING – HOW IT WORKS : The start of the year seems a good time to remind parents how planning works at Puss In Boots, particularly for those parents who missed the ‘ how we plan’ session run in the Autumn Term. 

3 STEPS TO PIB PLANNING

  1. Start from Where the Children Are : A basic but crucial recipe for success in education at any age.  Before jumping in with elaborate plans and seemingly exciting activities, our teachers spend time observing children’s play and talk, joining in where appropriate (but standing back is valuable too!) This in order to know where children’s current passions lie, and to understand their developmental stage. The most successful activities last January 2023, may fall flat in January 2024 as each cohort is unique. That’s why at PIB we never use fixed long term plans, we have to start with the children in front of us. 
  1. And now to inspire, to educate… Once we know the children, we are equipped to draw on the enormous experience of our team, (much of which is recorded for reference in the document ‘The Puss In Boots Journeys through exciting activities and opportunities’  or  The PIB curriculum in Ofsted speak). We choose a variety of experiences that we judge as most likely to inspire and challenge our current group of children. Getting this just right, it’s immensely rewarding for staff as well as children.
  1. And to tweak… This is a continuous cycle, we offer the activities and experiences, whether that is independent access to resources like balancing beam, or a new type of drawing equipment, or whether it is adult teaching skills, perhaps learning how to search for the weather forecast in Australia on a children’s forecast site. We then evaluate  the children’s responses and plan the teaching accordingly. Sometimes that is how we respond ‘in the moment’ (young children are largely in the moment so they often need the next step then and there) and  sometimes it is something we will prepare to offer within the next few days. 

And that’s why when we finish the previous week, we will gather ideas to offer the children the following week (this also happens on daily basis but we don’t think you want daily reports!)  We provide a summary of weekly planning ideas for you, including our focus language learner (songs or poems) and a literacy or maths focus for our older children. We jot ideas down in our planning grid, to make sure we know when to get things ready, and offers targeted at individuals or groups are offered at the right session. 

And that’s also why  the snapshot of the week’s teaching and learning moments comes at the end of the week. That’s when we know how children have responded to what we have offered, and it’s also when we can share spontaneous teaching moments that were not planned for but are often equally as valuable; perhaps a discussion children start in the morning, or discovering a new way to create prints in play dough, that teachers admire and encourage others to try too.

So.. what’s on the planning this week 8.1.24  then? 

Language learner focus songs: Frere Jacques ( rainbow) 5 Currant buns (sunshine) 

Rising 4 focus: ‘S’ sound.. Initial sound for some, building words for others. 

 We want to start with our continuous provision – a variety of construction, painting, drawing, collage, puzzles, gross motor skills, and support children to settle back into the routine, and play together in a group. 

Charity project  with our older children we’d like to introduce the idea of an age appropriate fundraising project working with Kentish Town Farm. We will keep you posted on that one! 

Mark Making  as a tool for expressing ourselves, in small groups. Adults set an open question or a challenge and children are encouraged to draw their responses. 

Plus: reintroducing the activities that are part of our weekly routine, baking, playdough making, snack preparation, music and yoga sessions, group physical games, gross motor activities, forest school, story creating, wood work,role play,… 

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22.12.23

Responses to Planned activities:

It may be nearly Christmas and Christmas sing-a-along week, but still lots of activity at PIB! 

Christmas deliveries  –  Children enjoyed experimenting with various methods of toy delivery this week – initially wrapping, boxing and adding to wagons and trolleys, and later in the week, bringing the bikes in and attaching boxes with string to the back of bikes- then loading them up. Great discussions around what was and wasn’t suitable for this method, heavy loads would break cardboard boxes so children needed to find lighter loads only. Also adult input as children worked with teachers to address the presents. Also lots of practice at turn taking with the 2 bikes – this isn’t always easy! PSE, Literacy, Maths, Understanding the World 

Construction teams – in the sunshine room, children worked together with staff on fantastic team projects. So much maths in action, building higher and higher, ‘is this as tall as Dasha, and can we make it as tall as Vena?’  

Christingle – traditional Christmas craft and a tricky activity for the older children ,the components donated for us by the Methodist church. Following instructions,  taking only 4 sticks, and adding only 2 sweets to each one. Looking at the placement of the sticks ensuring 2 opposite each other. Once we had a few, we lit the candles together and watched the flames. And then enjoyed blowing them out. Maths, Physical, Understanding the World

Spontaneous teaching and learning activities:

New toys –  PIB has bought some new doll equipment, a high chair, cot and buggy. As this came flat packed, we involved the children in the process, explaining how the instructions can help us.. Literacy in context! 

Kentish Town Farm – letter treasure hunt –  As it was too windy to go to the Heath, we visited the farm for our forest school trip. We were excited to find a ‘Supertato’ letter hunt, which all our children could participate in, some children were excited simply to find the posters, and others were keen to spot the letter on each poster. We needed a little help to put together the letters to make a word. Literacy 

Puzzles –  Puzzles are often available as part of our continuous provision, many children enjoy the challenge as soon as they come in, something to complete and finish, before they move to the next challenge. I write a great deal about ‘ spatial awareness’. Puzzles help to develop this, and spatial awareness is really crucial early maths skill. Maths, Physical

11.12.23

Responses to Planned activities:

Christmas learning –  This week we shared the Christmas story with the children in various ways. Using the small world nativity figures, encouraging the children to act this out, and using various story book versions. More of this next week. Children and staff have also loved looking at the photos you have sent in of your different celebrations and decorations at home. There’s nothing like a photo of something familiar to prompt language and conversations with our youngest children!   Literacy, Communication and language

Christmas role play –  Children enjoyed playing ‘Christmas morning’ role play, with our bed and Christmas tree in the role play area. This involved wrapping, boxing up presents and hiding them under the tree, then waking up the sleeper to surprise them with the unwrapping. Lots of great communication and turn taking.Expressive Arts. PSE

Tyres –  Bringing the tyres inside at the beginning of the week inspired some great physical development. Children love stacking them to climb inside, they are heavy and so necessitate working together. It’s so good for children to work safely, but at their physical limits, pushing, lifting etc, this is why so many children are drawn to this kind of activity. Children also enjoyed rolling them around the nursery – Spatial awareness and coordination needed.   Physical

2D shapes –  You will spot geometric  shapes involved in various activities this week – prompting not only discussions about shapes, but practical experience for the children with these shapes, sticking them, stacking them and filling them. The tyres mentioned above are of course also perfect for gaining lots of experience of the properties of perfect circles!   Maths

Spontaneous teaching and learning moments:

Jumping Off ( and 2D shapes) – Photos show a game children had set up,  piling up 4 chairs and jumping off (Our maximum for safety is 4 chairs so some maths learning too!) .  One of our skilled teachers used this to feed in our week’s maths focus; suggesting their jump aimed for a different shape picture on the carpet, “Can you land on the hexagon?” “ What about the rectangle this time?” Maths 

Masking Tape teaching – Stemming from our planned role play activity, children initially got in a tangle with the masking tape for wrapping presents. Over the course of the week, teachers showed them good techniques, to snip pieces and manage the tape. Definite improvement seen! Physical 

Slides and Leaves – Children in the sunshine group spent a glorious morning piling up leaves onto the slide and then sliding down into them. Adults had started a game, but children built  on an idea of an adult. PSE 

Hide and Seek – How many more children left to find?” Lots of games with rainbow children during the week, both at forest school and in nursery. “We have found 3, but we were 5, how many are still hiding?”  Maths in a context that is really important for the children. 

Learning Vocabulary –  Children and teachers looked up the word ‘boulder’ after a reading of the Gruffalo. Whilst there’s no need to dissect every story book, children are naturally interested in new vocabulary so occasionally using favourite books to learn new words, ensures children are engaged and interested.  Literacy, Communication and Language

Fungi  – Children at Thursdays forest school looked at the new fungi on the climbing logs, using our photo reference card, and books for help. Understanding the World 


4.12.23

Our different celebrations – Children listened to the Channukah story, introducing a bit of history ‘there were no cars in those days so journeys took a lot longer!  We also did some hands on learning around Chanukah traditions  – children were highly engaged with spinning ‘dreidels’ or spinning tops. We have a variety in the nursery that use different methods, and were gifted some light up musical ones this week too. Fantastic for children’s fine motor skills, and encouraging questioning and challenge. We experimented with clay most of the week;  children made their own ‘chanukiah’ or ‘menorah’ which needed some careful counting to 8. (plus 1 for the leader candle). More below on some spontaneous teaching that led from this! Some children also talked about the St Nicholas celebrations they had had at home this week – we’d like to look more at different Christmas celebrations next week. Literacy, Maths, Physical, Understanding the World. 

Painting and sticking – were hugely popular in the sunshine as children experimented with making marks with Christmassy coloured paint, and collage materials. Physical, Expressive Arts. 

Winter’s arrival – Older children busied themselves painting, and cutting out the letters to make up the word ‘Winter’, as well as ordering these correctly to add to the season board. A group enjoyed using scissor skills to make some snowflakes to decorate the board. More work on this next week.. Physical, Understanding the World. 

Woodwork – saw children being introduced to different types of screws and screwdrivers, and’  learning the difference between ‘ clockwise’ and ‘anticlockwise

Spontaneous teaching moments

Clay tablets –  Whilst using clay, some children began making marks in flat pieces. Teachers mentioned that this was what people used for writing messages a long time ago. We began to play with writing each other word messages, and some older children sounded out the words to read what had been written. This was lots of fun and some children tried writing their own letters and words. More ‘secret clay messages’ next week! Literacy, Understanding the World, Physical. 

A different 3 – A child and teacher talking about their 3rd birthday and showing 3 fingers. Some disagreement followed as to whether using the thumb still showed 3. The teacher reinforced that this was still 3 – just a different way to make 3. Maths

Large toyshop puzzle – Some engaged group ‘puzzling’ this week. With a little help from a teacher to encourage sharing, and also to discuss where their favourite toys were on the shelves. Positional language such as ‘ next to’, ‘beside’ ‘ above’ all take some practice for young children. Maths, Physical. 

17.11.23

Responses to Planned activities:

Green Soup and Garlic Bananas:  This week we continued our journey through soups and children made Broccoli soup. The process is always the most important ( although in this case the end product was delicious) We work in small groups and allow plenty of time for discussion, encouraging the children to use their senses to investigate the ingredients. Children smelt the garlic,and made guesses as to what this was. One guessed at bananas – I think we need to do more cooking! Understanding the World, physical

Diwali – sand, light and 10 headed kings: This popular story led to lots of discussion about what ‘our’ demon king might look like, using a search engine to research ‘bows and arrows’,  as well as role play as children captured and rescued each other and teachers from the island of ‘Lanka’. Children had fun with teachers using ‘real’ candle light to light up our dens, both in the classroom and at forest school, and comparing this to other lanterns and lights we have in the nursery, including the safety aspects of real candles. Children got the hang of using glue sticks and sand to create coloured Rangoli patterns. We could have Diwali every week – but lots more festivals of light to come… PSE, PHysical, Understanding the World 

Making Tea for the Tiger: Sunshine children read ‘The Tiger who came to Tea’  story a few times, and requested repeated re-readings. Children role played the story adding our large soft tiger to our role play, and feeding him everything they could find in the home corner. They were highly engaged using tea pots and ‘tea’ to pour cups. This activity also led to lots of teaching about sharing and being aware of others,  as teachers modelled making sure that everyone had teapot or jug and a cup to use. PSE, Physical 

Spontaneous Teaching and Learning moments:

Weather Forecast: One of our older children mentioned the weather forecast this week. We decided to check the forecast before we left for forest school. We have a children’s pictorial forecast app on our touchscreen computer and we looked with the children at the temperature and whether it would rain or not. The teacher pointed out that the forecast was different in different countries, so we also typed in ‘Melbourne’ and looked at the weather forecast there. Typing is a great way of teaching about letters making words, number, and of course different seasons. UW, Maths, Literacy 

Puzzles – are always an important part of our provision, evidence shows that these are great for maths skills. This week we tried a tricky puzzle with older children, and we supported them to ‘twist’ and to try the pieces in several ways. It took a while but we also learnt persistence and team work! Maths, physical

Is 100 too many? Children at PIB needed to learn a new game so to listen to instructions we often ‘turn up our ears, to number 3,4,5..One child suggested we turn them up to 100, so the teacher and group set off counting to 100. When they had got to 70, the group decided that 100 was just too far, and they settled on a smaller number. 

Plus: Makaton sign of the week,obstacle course, building roads, playdough football. Poems, yoga, den building at forest school and more…

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10.11.23

A BELATED THANK YOU – to Ophelia’s mummy who came in a few weeks ago to help us Pumpkin carve and talk to the children about Halloween. They enjoyed a story with her and the glow sticks went down a treat. THANK YOU! 

-Responses to Planned activities:

Fireworks and Me: Older children discussed how fireworks made them feel. We noticed ( as I hoped we might) that children felt differently from one another, some were scared by fireworks whilst some liked them, and some said they were both scared of, and liked fireworks. Articulating and noticing different responses, and accepting them all as valid is such important teaching. PSE, Understanding of the World

Fireworks – words and movements: Older children were shown firework words such as ‘bang’ ‘whoosh’ ‘whizz’ , and acted these out. Over the week some began to identify which word was which. Literacy, Expressive Arts

Firework Art: Photos show children in both groups enjoying learning a variety of firework inspired techniques using paint, marbles, glue, glitter, all developing fine motor and also gross motor as children used large scale tubs as stamps on the floor. Expressive Arts, Physical

‘Cement’ how to: Children in the sunshine room’s messy tray were shown how to use shaving foam to stick the foam blocks together and make higher and more stable towers. Lots of block counting too. Maths, Physical

Hedgehog Dens @ Forest school This week older children read a story ‘ Bear Snores on’ about hibernation, and they responded enthusiastically to the teacher’s challenge to create a den in which hedgehogs could hibernate. There were several stages to this, first creating the structure, and then adding the leaves to keep hedgehogs warm. Children were encouraged to check and recheck their work, to see if it was cosy enough, or there were any games. 

Show and Tell  Sessions were successful this week in the Rainbow room, as children enjoyed sharing toys and books from home that were important to them. We will be teaching children more about how to ask their friends questions, and also encourage them to take turns to listen as well as to talk! Communication and Language 

Spontaneous Teaching and Learning

Science Magazines and useful destruction –  In the stack of Science and Nature magazines we usually keep for cutting, teachers noticed an article on useful destruction including demolition and car crash dummies. Children were captivated by the photos and with some paraphrasing, they learnt along with the teacher, using the description provided. We have now promoted these magazines to a permanent place in the children’s bookshelves as our ‘non-fiction texts’ the photos often inspire wonderful discussions. Literacy, Understanding the World

Witches – Children had been read a story about witches, and then decided to play witches. For this they decided, they  needed to magic wands. A teacher supported this process, giving encouragement and techniques where needed. Expressive Arts, Physical

Glasses – what are they for?  Children asked about the reading glasses belonging to one of the teachers. She explained how they helped her. Children then went to find the sunglasses we keep in the home corner for dressing up, and asked if they also helped her to read, beginning another discussion.Great ‘making links’ from the children, and an opportunity to learn about their world. Communication and Language

Lotto Board Game – keep it challenging A few different children and teachers enjoyed playing lotto board games this week. Teachers compared their experiences and realised that some were playing with trickier rules for the children to follow, from now on we will all add this challenge when we play! (The advantage of being in our teaching team!) 

Plus: Using stencils, magnetic letter games, Sparkles Music and Movement and much more

03.11.23

A BIG THANK YOU to Noemi and Gergely (Abigel’s parents) who came to play the flute for the children here on Thursday afternoon. If you would like to come to share a skill ( you don’t need to be a professional musician!) or simply to come and play for a session, do please let me know. Parents are very welcome.

Spontaneous Learning Moments:

Pumpkin soup On Halloweenconversations turned to pumpkin soup, and children were keen to try making it. The following day ingredients were provided, children measured, chopped and added spices. All children tried the finished product, and many agreed it was delicious. More soup making opportunities in the planning as the weather gets colder! Understanding the World, Physical

Investigating cork One of our cork boards used for hammering was crumbling, and the teacher commenting that the board was made of cork. The child noted that it wasn’t round like the corks they knew. The child and teacher together compared corks we keep in the nursery with the board, to find the similarities in the materials. Understanding the World

Ten minutes to bed time Children and teacher shared this book, which led to a conversation about children’s own bedtime routine, what they did first, and then, and what about just before bed. Maths, CLL

Tidying the leaves – in the garden, led to a conversation about different coloured bins, and what goes where.

Responses to planned activities:

Spell making on Monday in preparation for Halloween was popular. The children chose the ‘ingredients’ for their spell, from a selection of bugs and natural material, and watched as we wrote them down, and counted them. Lots of conversation about names of bugs and quantities, but an important ‘unplanned’ teaching focus was that children were keen to do this together in a group, so teachers supported the children in sharing ideas, listening to each other and compromise. PSE, Maths, Literacy, Expressive Arts

Garden potion making for the sunshine group was popular. Children at this age love to pour ‘everything’ in, but teachers stepped in to extend the activity and opportunities to develop motor skills and control, by giving children smaller jugs to work with. Physical, Communication and Language

Meg and Mog books – We read a series of these this week, children also voted for the one they preferred to hear, bringing in counting to the learning. Weighing – Lots of exploration of weighing scales, although this hasn’t made the photos

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20.10.23

3 Examples of Spontaneous teaching and learning this week (This section goes first this week – the unplanned teaching learning is just as important as PIB…read on to find out why!) 

-A big muddy mess A group of older children are keen on pouring water and sometimes muddy mixtures on the floor and sweeping up. This week when staff tried to clean the garden the next morning, we realised we still had a muddy floor. So we decided to call the children back to discuss the problem the next morning. We pointed out that we could no longer play ‘ sleeping bunnies’ on the floor, with this muddy mess. We suggested that instead, muddy concoctions be made in the large trays, which can be cleaned more easily. Children agreed heartily that this was a good idea (these discussions don’t always catch children’s interests, but it helps you can find a consequence that makes sense for them!). Teachers suggested we needed a ‘sign’ to show all children the new plan. 3 children ran straight back into nursery to select the right large paper to create a sign. This led to lots of literacy teaching as we wrote the sign together, and children contributed.See photos for the finished product.  Literacy, PSE

Tyres – cause and effect   Several afternoon garden times have seen children return to a project which began by rolling small  tyres down the slide. Initially this was a simple cause and effect, ‘what happens when?’ project but this has been extended, as children and teachers work together to use props around the garden to divert the path of the tyre, ‘can we get the tyre to go down the path/ jump over this other tyre’  We are physicists in the making, whilst we also learn how to work together. Lots of social learning as with the mixed age group, teachers model to older children,how to include younger ones in the project, realising that they might need some extra help.  True ‘cross curricular learning! PSE, Understanding the World, 

Text Carries Meaning Last week I wrote about teaching children explicitly, how  text carries meaning. This came up in context when a child asked a teacher to read the Hungry Caterpillar story, whilst the child wanted to keep the butterfly page open. The teacher explained that she couldn’t read the story, as she needed to read the words that were on the other pages. The teacher then pointed at each word as she read.  LIteracy 

Responses to planned activities 

Pattern activities –  Looking at pattern was a focus this week, and pattern came into every area of the nursery. Some children were keen to use pattern fabric to create their own patterned ‘pants’ following our reading of ‘Aliens love underpants’ and ‘Pants’ . Children were keen to draw patterns in sand, make patterns on unifix board. As children identified their favourite pants, teachers modelled ways to describe the patterns. Understanding pattern contributes to mathematical understanding.. See this week’s ‘something for at home’ Mathematical Understanding. 

Farm –  Forest School children went to the farm this week, which gave teachers a chance to talk about the names of animal babies. Terms like ‘ calves, foals, kids’ were new to most children. Teachers explained the differences between roosters and chicken, and the group discussed the cockerels crowing, and threw in a little bit of history,


Just a glimpse into what has gone on this week 13.10.23

The Bear Hunt : Retelling this story, was a big, noisy success for the sunshine group, and when the Rainbow group discovered the ‘deep dark river’ and the ‘ oozy mud’ they too got stuck in. Soon 3 children became the bears who waited for us in their cave. Literacy, Expressive Arts

My letter, my name : The rainbow group had lots of fun with their initial letters and sounds. Children helped select the letters of all the children to put on display and painted their names, having painted their first name, many children requested another and another. Having made name badges, hid the names around the garden for children to find. More of that next week, as it was such a hit, and provokes great learning conversation, ‘Whose name did you find, let’s have a look, it has a ‘t’ at the beginning, it must be, ‘t t t Teya. We also replaced parts of our good morning song with initial sounds of children’s name ‘c’ ‘e’ ‘t’ . Literacy

Magic playdough recipe – We had some plans for playdough activities this week in the rainbow room, but there was so much learning in making the playdough itself, we didn’t get to those. Our aim is that the children become completely independent with this recipe, as it uses easy measurements – cups and tablespoons. It also needs the microwave, which is brought into the classroom, and children are learning to operate the 30 seconds boost, after which they wait for the 3 safety beeps (an opportunity to talk about safety and the danger of ‘hot’ things) . Children then remove their bowl, and stir, and repeat the process 5 or 6 times. Learning as we watch the numerals count down on the microwave, and as we watch the consistency of the mixture change. Maths, Understanding the world, Physical

Spontaneous learning:

How can we share? Teachers were helping some of our younger children who were arguing over using the rope swing in the garden. They asked this question, and watched as a child went to get a crate to sit on, and made his own rules, I can wait here. Sometimes children need us not to solve the problems, but simply to articulate the question or problem for them to solve. Physical, PSE

A Flat tyre: Teachers noted that our beloved wagon had some flat tyres. Children accompanied a teacher to fetch the pump, and set to work pumping up tyres. Lots of real problem solving and close observation and children taught how to check the results. Understanding the World.

Team Tidy Children were divided into 2 teams and challenged to pick up as many balls fort heir containers as possible. Not only was the garden tidy, but also children learnt about number and quantity in context. Maths, physical

Taps: Children noted the red and blue colours on our taps, which led to a longer discussion about different colours in different places, and what they meant. Talking about traffic lights Understanding the World

Plus: Sparkles music and movement, yoga, baking.

@ FOREST SCHOOL – on Thursday we became explorers. We looked for the biggest puddles. Lenka challenged them to walk to the top of the hill to find very biggest puddle. They found a bridge to cross, so were careful to avoid the troll. Children were struck by the rain drops on the grass that they observed looked like crystals, you can see children examining them. they wondered if they could touch them, but teachers reminded them if they touched, they would disappear. ‘What a beautiful field’ the children commented. Today’s children made leaf mandalas, leaf kebabs (using a stick) and challenged themselves to jump off the wall. Also many enjoyed some puddles. Making the leaf pattern gave us a chance to reinforce the rule, ‘if you don’t make it, you don’t break it’

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29.9.23

Responses to planned activities:

Where the Wild Things Are’ – We know children have retained the story of the week when we overhear snippets of the story recited in children’s play, which happened several times this week! Rainbow children first listened in a group, and then later in the week used percussion instruments to represent different characters and parts of the story. Some of the photos show children ‘mid roar’ . More of this next week… Expressive Art

-Planting bulbs – Children were keen to learn how to plant bulbs , how deep they needed to go, how far apart, and that the roots needed to point down. Understanding the World

Discussing Autumn – Children helped us change over the season board. Lots of teaching and learning involved; that Summer had now passed, looking at each letter of the word ‘ Autumn’ , cutting them out carefully, learning that these individual letters make up a word. Hammering the letters into the board also meant using our children’s hammers which was a challenge. Understanding the World, Literacy, physical

Spontaneous Teaching Moments:

Ways to use a tyre – several 2 year olds discovered the large and small tyres in the garden. One child asked a teacher to stack the tyres, they then climbed inside and ‘ hid’. Other children joined the game, which turned into a Jack in the box game, as children popped up at the end of a song sung by the teachers. Later in the week the small tyres were rolled down the slide (first checking for all clear below)Teachers facilitated children joining together in a small group, and enjoying playing together. Also encouraging children to predict where the tyre would end up. Personal Social, Maths, Physical.

Airport non-fiction We change the books in the large room every day, so we get countless requests of ‘ read this to me‘ (which we love) This week a group of children gathered around a nonfiction airport book, shared their own experiences, and learnt some new vocabulary Literacy, Expressive Arts

Playing alongside – Some of our youngest children love to use small world figures of animals, people etc, but are not yet ready to play co-operatively other children, Staff responded to this, by setting up multiple stations around the sunshine room, so children can become comfortable playing in parallel. PSE

22/09/2022 

Just a glimpse into teaching and learning moments from this week…

Responses to planned activities 

Balancing Beam – The balancing beam was popular this week, some of the older children decided to try it backwards, inspiring others to give that a go. Adults are not the only teachers at PIB! Physical

Water Colour Paints –  Teachers have been teaching older (and some younger)  children how to use water colours, adding a good amount of water, washing brushes and learning how to get really vibrant colours. Lots of collaborative painting of cardboard boxes too Communication and Language, Expressive Arts

Where the Wild Things Are:  We read this once, but it inspired many monster pictures and conversation. This goes back on the planning next week, using the wonderful story and illustrations to inspire music making and acting. Expressive Arts, Literacy

Taking Turns –Particularly a feature at the beginning of the year, as teachers support children to wait at the top of the slide for their friend to reach the bottom. Social skills developing all the time at PIB. PSE, Physical 

Spontaneous teaching and learning moments

Missing Troll  – Whilst playing with the Billy Goat Gruff props, children and a teacher discovered that the troll had gone missing. Our skillful staff grabbed this ‘teaching moment’ and wondered if one of the children should be the troll. Enthusiastic sunshine group children then allocated themselves the role of the 3 goats, and the troll, and got on with story re-telling themselves.  Ex. Arts, CLL

Into the Basket – Whilst tidying the garden, children invented the game of aiming balls into the basket. So engaged were they in persisting and improving their aim, that they completed the tidying, tipped out the balls, and repeated the game all over again. More ‘aiming practice’ planned in for next week  Physical
Are teachers people? – Children LOVE maths at PIB, because we teach it in context. This week one child started to count up the ‘people’ in the garden. They did not include the teacher. The teacher argued that teachers were also ‘ people’ so they should do a recount to include her. Not only teaching about ‘ one more’ but also categorising. Maths

First week of the 2023/24 year

It’s been a glorious, watery, creative, sociable 3 day start to term. 

A  reminder that at PIB we value our ‘teaching in the moment’ or spontaneous teaching as much as those activities we pre-plan. When we are available to respond to children’s interests and drive to learn,our teaching can have a powerful impact .  There are literally hundreds of these moments each week, some fleeting, some extended; staff share a few of their significant teaching moments at the end of each day, and I share just a  ‘snapshot’ of these with parents. Here are examples of some of these ‘teaching moments’ this week, linked to areas of learning: 

Watery science – Children at the outside and indoor water trays, experimented with pipettes, a variety of containers that spray, pour and drip, asking themselves ‘ how can I fill, this, what happens if, how does his work?’ Outside at our multilayered water feature children asked – how can we put the water from the bottom back to the top. Today a teacher challenged them to use the sponges. So many lessons about  absorption, capacity, fine motor skills. 

Working as a team at the train tracks offered so many learning opportunities this week. Making plans, finding the right curved or straight pieces to create the track children wanted. Teachers supporting children to cooperate, share ideas, and find shared solutions, is always a challenging yet rewarding part of our job. Personal, Social, Emotional, Mathematics 

Exploring the Mobilo construction kit, teaching each other.  Teachers demonstrated and explained potential uses, and also encouraged those children who are already familiar with it, to share that knowledge with others. Work with one child to replicate the model of another, teaches close observation, spatial awareness. Mathematics, PSE

And children’s responses to our planned offers:

-Family Photos –  Older children started preparing their contributions to our family photo display.  It involves a host of skills, discussion, thinking about our families in relation to others, cutting, glueing and also early literacy as children dictate as we write labels for their family members. Literacy, Physical 

-Dancing – Every day involves dancing, some free moving to music, and some opportunities for children to copy movements and to  learn new ones. Both groups have taken to this with enthusiasm Physical

Stories –  We don’t only read stories at PIB, we tell them with props, and we put ourselves into the stories. Rainbow group needed little encouragement to be the troll, show us how the BIG Billy Goat tripp trapps over the bridge. Expressive Arts, Literacy

-14.07.23 CARGO SHIPS, KINDNESS & HEART TRANSPLANTS…

-CARGO SHIPS – One child returned after the weekend having been on a boat trip. Conversation then turned to boats and ships, children and teachers worked together to find resources to create a cargo ship. Teachers wondered what the cargo ship might be carrying. Understanding the World, Expressive Arts

KINDNESS BOARD – After getting damaged, our kindness board has been repaired which means, as well as praising children who show kindness to their friends, we can now record and remember these actions, and refer to them later. By doing this teachers show how much this is valued and prioritised at PIB (and yes, as children proudly watch teachers record their kind deeds, teachers can’t avoid teaching a whole lot about writing and text at the same time!)  Actions on the board this week include a child who went to look after a friend who was hurt, a child who insisted that everyone, boys and girls,  was welcome in their game, and PSE, Literacy 

-MILLIPEDE – Children were thrilled to spot a millipede in the garden this week. The teacher encouraged them to examine and look closely, and brought their attention to the front legs which weren’t working properly. Lots of interest and fascination. Understanding the World

-HEART TRANSPLANTS – The Doctor’s role play corner, complete with non fiction books and informative posters,  saw lots of engaged children this week, diagnosing a range of health problems.  Having listened to a teacher’s heart, a child decided it had stopped beating entirely. The teacher showed great concern that without her heart pumping blood around the body she wouldn’t be able to stay alive.  Children told her not to worry, that they had a new heart. A quick transplant was carried out and a quick recovery made. Play along a story line, children using, sharing and extending their existing knowledge, with a bit of playful support from a teacher!  Understanding the World

 LITTER PICKING at forest school on the Heath – Some real working together, not only to identify what was and wasn’t rubbish, to spot rubbish, but also to work with the litter picker and rubbish bags. A real physical challenge as children persisted to pick up the rubbish and then move it into the bag, as children knew that hands were not to be used. Next week we will return to it, and have some conversations about how long plastic hangs around. Understanding the World, Physical

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-8.07.23 KEW GARDENS TRIP – Our school leavers went to Kew Gardens this week. The trip itself was a great success, children spotted the things we had promised, and more that we hadn’t! Then, like every school trip, the journey, (a train trip) together was also a highlight. Understanding the World

-BALL GAMES – A child in the sunshine group initiated a ball game in the garden The teacher supported the group to work on throwing and catching skills.  Physical 

-SNIPPING and cutting – Giving children reasons to cut was successful this week,Rainbow children were shown how to use scissors to snip to give a minibeast legs, and also to create some blades on our spinning helicopters. There was also free cutting of leaves and twigs from our garden. We suggested the advantages of a one handed grip, and children who were not yet using this, gave it a good try. Physical, 

-GOING TO THE JUNGLE – This week a younger child was enthusiastic to take a staff member ‘to the jungle’. Talking all the time, he pointed out all the different animals he could see, and when their journey together was over, he ‘flew’ her home in his plane and made dinner for her and the baby. Just play? Yes, but within that valuable opportunities to tell a story, take part in back-forth conversations whilst adding to vocabulary. At PIB it is so important that it’s the children ( and not the teachers!) who get practice at speaking and communicating. 

-TRAIN TRACK TEAM WORK – Children chose to get out the track this afternoon. The teacher cleverly made this into a project. Rather than simply getting out the heavy box, she provided them with a wagon, and children went back and forth delivering bits of the track out into the middle of the floor, with others creating the track  Working together, and watching as they added more bits each time, then making decisions about how to use them, Maths, PSE, Communication. 

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-30.6.23 SNAIL COUNTING AND  PUDDLES Going out after the rain, meant we spent considerable time in our front garden on the way to forest school. With our current enthusiasm for minibeasts, it was a perfect time to spot snails in our front garden, and transfer them carefully to under the hedge. Our focus has been on ‘careful counting’ and this was too good an opportunity to miss – high levels of engagement as we counted, and recounted the group of snails, and with children continuously bringing more – we have never needed our maths skills more!  When we finally left there was more bug spotting,  hill climbing for the view, and much puddle jumping.   Maths, Understanding the World

-WHAT CAN A PLAY HOUSE BE? Sometimes we provide resources we expect to inspire some group role play, which is so beneficial for developing imagination, language and storytelling. But often children don’t need our help to join together to get stuck into role play. This week one child decided our garden playhouse would be her ‘ hairdressers’.  A second child offered to be a builder, and with some suggestions from teachers he added things she might need, plug sockets, shelves, using resources from around the garden. He was soon joined by a building team, all keen to help. Teachers supported this at points, and then gave children space to make their own choices and develop social skills. Expressive Arts, Communication and Language, PSE

-SHARON KING CHAI’S WORKSHOP – Lucky children got to take inspiration from Sharon King Chai, our local famous children’s book illustrator. She talked to children about things that had inspired her in her native Australia (children very  interested in Australian bugs she showed us!) , and we tried out her methods of printing with ‘strange’ things. Bubble wrap, onions and celery. She told us how she also uses toothbrushes and blackberries. Now we know some of her secrets!  Expressive Arts, Understanding the World 

-TUBE TRAIN MAPS – When children get stuck in with Unifix cubes, it always develops early maths concepts, but rarely in isolation. Children decided their rods were ‘trains’, which led to a teacher providing our large tube map, and showing children different colours and names of each tube line. Maths, Literacy, Physical

-WHEN WE HURT CHILDREN BY ACCIDENT – Not to forget the crucial teaching moments that are so important. Teaching about how it’s kind to stop, and ask a child how they are, even if we have only hurt them by accident. PSE

+  Cutting skills, clay and other materials, conversations about growing, Sparkles music and movement and much more…

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23.6.23

BUGLIEST BUG SESSION : Rainbow’s trip the Heath Education centre’s Secret Garden was a real adventure for our big children. We learnt various ways to gently capture minibeasts and then return them. We even went pond dipping. We learnt about the number of legs different minibeasts have, and what makes them minibeasts – including answering the question, “Why is a bus not a minibeast?” Understanding the World

CUTTING AND PASTING: Sunshine children loved the collage and cutting and pasting – this took an interesting turn, as children enjoyed sticking pictures of toys they loved onto oval shaped paper which they named their faces. Staff will continue this by providing catalogues with food pictures, in order that children can now select pictures of their favourite food. Lots of learning, Physical skills: cutting, Personal and Social : What do I like, what does my friend like? Communication: Naming foods and toys,

JOINT PROJECT – NEW BUG HOTEL – Sunshine children have started talking about a new bug hotel, and some looked at the bug hotel on the Heath. With the Rainbow children’s enthusiasm for minibeasts – we will continue this as a joint afternoon project next week so both groups can contribute. Stand by for requests for parents.. Understanding the World

MAKING MUSIC – You will spot a variety of music focussed activities this week. Although singing and music is always part of our offer, this focus has been an opportunity to offer our favourite music making and listening activities. We talked to children about how to use percussion instruments, and Glockenspiels correctly. Children made their own microphones, shakers and guitars – some of which made their way to our very popular ‘ stage’. Spot the children performing to their friends. Rainbow children also listened to 5 classical pieces over the course of the week, and showed us their responses by moving and drawing. Expressive Arts

And the Unplanned:

BUILDING HOTELS – The 3D architectural shapes and small bears provoked some real attention to detail and enabled some great conversations about number, as children created ‘buses’ and ‘hotels’ balancing their bears aboard. Maths – Spatial Awareness

TAG – Sunshine staff encouraged the children to keep moving and to practise their running and avoiding objects, with some vigorous games of tag, before it got too hot in the morning. Physical.

PLAYDOUGH & COLOURS – Mixing blue and yellow playdough, led to some impromptu teaching about colour mixing, as teachers asked children to guess the result, and watched what happened.

16.6.23 

‘Ingredients, scissor skills, and recipes’ –

Responding to children’s engagement in our mud kitchens (so popular we have 2), staff offered children some new natural ingredients to add, an ideal way to use cuttings from the garden. Children were immediately attracted to the different leaves and petals. and some named them, ” These are mushrooms” Clever staff spotted an opportunity to develop children’s scissor skills and brought the scissors to the garden, supporting children to make snips and chop leaves. Physical, Expressive Arts

Big Numbers – Children were fascinated by the number counter we projected on the wall, teachers also supported children who were trying to use the hundred square to count up to 100. Often a little confusion around 13 and 14! Maths

Portraits, faces- We continued our focus on artists in the rainbow room led us to looking at Frida Kahlo’s self portraits in frames, as well as reading a short story about her life. Again we encouraged children to look closely at the features of their face and have a go at drawing their own. Photos show how this came to forest school, and children drew faces both on whiteboards, and in the soil. Expressive Arts, Physical

And the unplanned teaching…

The importance of water.. The heat led to lots of conversations about the importance of water, both for our bodies and the plants. Teachers asked older children which part of the plant ‘drunk’ the water. Some children thought it was the leaves, but another remembered that it was the roots, so better to water around the based of the plant, ,than the leaves. Understanding the World

Forces, safety and lengthWater Spray bottles in the garden have kept us cool, but also led to an exploration of forces, cause and effect, and length and safety. Children who sprayed the slide, noted that the slide users travelled faster and further than before. They discussed the need to add another mat to make this safe. Physical, Maths, Understanding the World.

Book Shop/Library Inspired by the book lending at Puss In Boots and their ow experiences – children and teachers set up their own library, were issued with library cards, and discussed how many weeks they were out on loan for.. Literacy, Maths

Noughts and Crosses – The large paper we taped on the floor with the idea of creating ‘big numbers’ in fact led to the teaching of the game ‘ Noughts and Crosses’ – a tricky one for children but lots of focus and persistence and they learnt the rules of the game. Maths

Plus: Correct handwashing, learning the right word, creating car parking spaces of the right size,

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Many ways to be an artist (9.6.23) Photos show lots of opportunities to draw and paint on offer this week,  Lots of these outside in the garden with sunshine children painting to music. Those children at forest school saw an opportunity to be ‘ artists in the sand’ , drawing pictures on the floor.  Back in the classroom Rainbow children looked at the amazing spotty work of Yayoi Kusama as well as Mark Rothko’s abstract art. See their spot inspired work, covering a flower pot and table top. Expressive Arts, Physical Skills

Different Faces – A focus in both groups this week on ‘our faces’. Children in the sunshine group took photos of each other, and those in both groups have begun looking in the mirror, drawing faces, their own and those of others’. Rainbow group will continue this next week creating their stick puppets.  This not only teaches drawing skills and close observation, but also provokes crucial discussions acknowledging and accepting the similarities and differences between us. PSE, Expressive Arts

Shapes – 2D shapes have been all over the classroom, giving children lots of experience of building rotating,  manipulating shapes, as well as putting two shapes together to make new ones..Maths 

And some spontaneous teaching and learning moments 

‘The path to peace’  A group of children at forest school were attracted by small pieces of stone and concrete chipped off by the side of the main path. The photos show them building a new path, named by one child,  ‘the path to peace’. We asked the children what they knew about peace – they had heard the expression ‘ peace and quiet’ and one knew that it meant ‘no fighting.’ Then we agreed to take a photo of their finished work, in order to encourage them to leave it behind!  Understanding the World, Maths, PSE

Fixing the broken spade –  When our garden scoop broke off, staff took the opportunity to involve the children in fixing this. Using our woodwork equipment, children sawed a new handle to the right length, and used an electric screwdriver to finish the job. So much learning, from the discussions about length to problem solving and fine motor skills. Maths, Understanding the Word 

Shopping List – The house in the garden is very regularly a shop, with children needing to buy many things.  This week a  teacher suggested she scribe a shopping list for them, in order not to forget anything.  Great opportunities to watch writing for a purpose. Literacy 

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Who sank the boat? As predicted, this book and its title question sparked heated debate at several rainbow carpet times. Children had different opinions; we stressed the importance of listening to each other, and in so doing so also taught the children to accept difference of opinion. Some said it was the cow, or maybe the donkey because he’s heavy but others thought it was the mouse (he was the last to get in before the boat tipped) . We challenged the children by asking, But why, if the mouse was so light, did he make the boat tip? Some head scratching, and some children concluded it was all of thanimals. Great critical thinking and learning in the areas of Understanding the World, Personal and Social Emotional, as well as Literacy

Physical Challenge – Changing our climbing frame around, meant that children had a ‘ walk the plank’ instead of a slide for a day this week. This challenged the children in many ways – being in a group meant navigating leaving sufficient space between them, taking turns, as well as the physical challenge of ‘ jumping off’. Some children were more confident that others – and there was a lot of supporting their friends, ‘ You can do it – just jump, watch me, like this. Learning in Personal and Social and Physical

Musical instruments –Both groups enjoyed different types of instruments in the garden this week. Teachers sang with the children, ‘ I am the Music Man’ and encouraged them to accompany with their instruments. Teachers played games to encourage careful listening, copying, as well as ‘ stop’ and ‘go’ games. Teachers taught abut taking care of the instruments and explained why the sand pit was not a good place for a xylophone! Expressive Arts, Communication and Language,

Signs, signs and more signs… Lots of work with the children ( and by the children) on making signs for our Puss In Boots front garden. Children were involved in watching as adults name the individual plants, as well as making more general signs asking people ‘don’t pick’ and naming the contents of each bed. No wonder our children are so interested in text and when we go to Forest school we are asked to read every sign! Literacy, Understanding the World

Stories, Ants and Batteries – just some (of the hundreds) of spontaneous learning moments –

Stories – We change our books every day to inspire new interests and spark conversations which sometimes turn into longer projects. A picture of a crescent moon in a story began a look at different moon shapes, as a child wondered a moon is a ball? Teachers looked with children at a moon chart and named the different moon shapes. Understanding the World

Ants – Warmer weather has brought more minibeasts to the garden. Children spent considerable time watching the ants in the garden, teachers provided magnifying glasses so they could get a closer look, and began discussion about different types of ants, children particularly interested in ‘ fire ants’ – after half term we will provide some ‘bug non-fiction books. .Understanding the World

Batteries – – A very few of our toys need batteries. When our moving dinosaur stopped moving, a discussion continued over a few days, guessing how many batteries might we need, what size they might be, and then checking our guesses (maths in context). Some careful observation skills encouraged as teachers described the need for attention to detail – to make sure they went in the right way. And then of course enjoying the cause and effect toy as we could hear the dinosaur roar again Understanding the World, Maths

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Children’s responses to our planned experiences

  • Plant growth. Another week full of planting: Children from both groups were excited to notice the roots and shoots develop on the beans we planted on paper. The benefit of the 3 day weekend meant that there was some real change observed on Monday. This also gave us the opportunity to talk about the fact that some beans grow faster than others and some just don’t grow at all!  Children have now planted the beans in our fruit and vegetable bed outside.They have also been busy planting petunias for some colours. Rainbow children planted radish seeds to take home, and used a ruler to check these were planted at the right depth.  Understanding the world, Maths 
  • Taking good care of plants -Slugs , Snails and Sunlight. On Thursday Rainbow children collected the snails they spotted from the garden, and we took them safely to the Heath where they could roam freely without nibbling our flowers and plants. Rainbow children also put the sunflowers and vegetable seedlings outside for some sun and rain, but remembering to take them in at the end of the day. Understanding the World
  • Numbers and numerals –  Sunshine group teachers successfully capitalised on some interest in numbers, each day a different number went missing from the garden and sunshine room number line, and children investigated. Maths 
  • Jack and the Beanstalk –  was a hit in the rainbow room, with children listening to 2 different versions and then listening to storytelling with props. We will continue some Jack and the Beanstalk related next week. Literacy
  • Our Names –  Children in Rainbow and Sunshine rooms had lots of opportunities to see their names being written in different contexts. Rainbow room painted their own names, and in some cases chose to paint other children’s names too. (After your own name, the name of your friend is a great ‘hook’ into learning to recognise another set of letters)  We also added new registration names for our Puss in Boots buses, and children watched as we wrote these for them. Literacy, Physical

And just a few (of the hundreds) of spontaneous teaching moments this week: 

  • Rope Swing turn taking –  2 Children negotiating how many swings they could have before passing it to the other child. Some very focussed counting on fingers, before one child said they’d have ‘ that many turns’ showing a huge arms outstretched quantity. Teacher pointed out that if they wanted so many turns, they would then have to wait a long time whilst the other child had that many. Leading to some backtracking! PSE, Maths
  • Different ways to be hurt. This week after some pushing and shoving, a teacher asked a child if they were hurt  – he said he wasn’t but his feelings were hurt. Children and teachers explained that there are different ways to be hurt. PSE
  • Left and Right – Children were discussing looking left and right before they crossed the road. One of the children knew which was left and right and explained this to the others – adults are only one of children’s three teachers, the other two teachers  are the other children and the environment! Maths 

A Talking Shell session was interrupted by a child noticing a crack in the ceiling paint. Teachers wondered with children what could have caused this, children suggested it might have been the spiders and ants, teachers wondering if it might be the damp weather.  Understanding the World, Expressive Arts