Gong hei fat choy!

This week we have been celebrating Chinese New Year. The children learned how to wish each other great happiness and prosperity in Cantonese, the traditional greeting at Chinese New Year (“Gong hei fat choy!”). During circle time we read a book about the Chinese New Year and learned about the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The children were delighted to discover that they were Horses, Goats and Monkeys! We supported this learning with a small world play area that included puppets of the different Zodiac signs. The children also had a go at traditional Chinese dancing, tried prawn crackers during snack time, and used their senses of touch and smell to explore cooked and uncooked noodles.

Later in the week, we introduced a focus on oral health, with the children taking turns brushing our huge model teeth and playing a game where they had to identify the high-sugar foods. The children also enjoyed a painting activity where they created their own steam train designs, and had fun playing with water beads in our sensory area.

Our phonics focus this week was the “a” sound, and the children brought in some great examples of things beginning with “a” - we had an apple, an ambulance, an anteater, and Andy from CBeebies! A toy version, not the real guy, sadly… Next week’s sound is “s”, so please do ask your child to find something to bring in to share with the class.

Mmmmm, snow!

This week saw the start of phonics teaching at the nursery. After morning and afternoon registration, we learned how to say, recognise and write the ‘m’ sound. We asked children to bring in objects that began with the ‘m’ sound, and we were delighted when children brought in a mmmermaid and a mmmonkey. Our phonics focus next week is the ‘a’ sound, so please do encourage your child to bring in something beginning with ‘a’ - an apple, maybe? An anteater? An ambulance? The more objects we get, the richer the learning experience!

It probably didn’t escape your notice that we had a little bit of snow this week (ha ha!). Naturally, the children were delighted and wanted to go out and play in it as much as possible. This helped them to develop their independence and resilience, as they were putting on their own coats, scarves, gloves and hats. However, when it got a little too cold and icy outside, we brought some snow inside for them to play with. This developed into a lovely small-world area, with some children driving toy trucks through the snow, and others bringing toy animals into the snow and building shelters for them. We also did some science experiments using ice. Some children filled different sized containers with water and left them outside - we discussed what might happen to the water overnight, and the children were fascinated to see how the water had frozen into ice by the next day. We also set up an ice excavation experiment, where children needed to find different ways to melt the ice in order to free the animals that were trapped inside it.

Maths week

As the title suggests, this week we were focusing on all things mathematical. We played many different maths games with the children, including the very popular “Ladybird Game” which really stretched the children’s abilities as it required them to roll a die, count the number of spots and add the corresponding number of spots to the ladybird. This may sound easy to you, but it’s a real challenge when you’re 3! Another board game using counting is Snakes and Ladders, and the children enjoyed playing our GIANT version at nursery. The focus on numbers continued at circle time, when the children were asked to collect a specific number of objects to show the rest of the class. The children also worked on their number formation, using worksheets to trace the numbers 0-9; explored numbers using Numicon; and used the computer to play counting games.

It wasn’t all numbers, however! We decided to remind the children of our nursery Golden Rules during registration time, as these need regular reinforcement if they are to become ingrained. We also had a lovely session on Thursday with Tatty Bumpkin yoga, gently blowing feathers as part of the story “The Clever, Kindly Feather”. This is a lovely activity to try at home with your child, especially if they are over-excited! When your child concentrates on blowing the feather they will become more aware of their breath, as the activity encourages them to take slower, deeper breaths. As your child takes slower breaths, their heart rate will also slow and their blood pressure will lower slightly, which helps them to calm down and relax.

Welcome and welcome back!

As well as welcoming back our lovely children (who had lots to tell us about their Christmas holidays), we said hello to some new starters this week. And continuing the “Welcome” theme, some of our children have new siblings! Welcome to the world, tiny ones! We used circle time this week to read books about welcoming a new baby and how to be a great big brother or sister. We also talked about different kinds of families. The children were very keen to share their experiences with the rest of the class. All the staff at St Mary’s would also like to say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to all the families who have welcomed their new members!

Our new weekly yoga class started on Thursday, and it was a big hit with the children. The teacher told a story and encouraged the children to move their bodies in different ways to match the action. They showed amazing focus throughout the session - even the teacher commented on it! The class ended with a wind-down, where the children lay down with a little duck on their tummies (this helped them to concentrate on their breathing) and listened peacefully while the teacher re-told the story they’d just recreated with their bodies. Afterwards, the children were asked to choose their favourite activity during the session, which enabled them to reflect upon what they’d just done. We’re so thrilled that we are able to bring this fantastic session to the nursery - the aim is to change the day it runs on a termly basis so as many children as possible can benefit from it.

Trimming the tree

Our Christmas preparations are really gearing up at nursery. This week, the children had a wonderful time decorating the nursery Christmas tree - they showed great cooperation and turn-taking skills, and the tree looks fabulous. We have made a Christmas post box, for children to send Christmas cards to their friends. The children also helped to make paper chains, to make the nursery look even more festive. The children also continued with their Christmas crafting - some of which will be a surprise for their parents and carers, so I can’t reveal details here! - including making snowmen out of cardboard tubes and cotton wool.

The week wasn’t wholly Christmas-themed, however. We also focused on investigating number, using our Numicon resources, and the children showed great cooperative working at the construction table. Here they built a wide range of things with the magnetic shapes and the mobilo, using their imaginations to create towers, buildings and vehicles.

Healthy eating, maths and LAVA!

The highlight of this week was our Healthy Eating open morning and we were pleased that so many parents made it along. We kicked off with a presentation about what a healthy packed lunch should look like, and tackled the thorny subject of fussy eaters. Then the children and their parents rolled up their sleeves to try some cooking activities - they made pitta pizza pockets (to be eaten later) and yummy fruit skewers (which were devoured more or less instantly!). We talked about all the ways that your child can help you in the kitchen: scrubbing vegetables, sprinkling seasoning, cracking eggs, even cutting softer foods with a plastic knife. The children also enjoyed an activity where they had to stick pictures of different foods onto a plate to create a healthy meal. It was great to see how many children understood what foods were the healthy choices, even if they admitted that they preferred hot dogs and chips!

We continued our focus on maths skills this week, using the water beads (without shaving foam this time!) to fill up different containers in order to explore concepts of bigger/smaller and higher/lower. Outside in the garden, we worked on our gross motor skills with a balancing game using the river stones. The children decided that the ground was made of lava, and falling off the stones would mean they would burn their feet. After a few tumbles into the lava, the ground then turned to ice so anyone who touched it froze solid. All the children enthusiastically joined in this game, which meant that it also tested their turn-taking skills!

Your child should have brought home their costume for the Nativity this week. When we gave these out, we talked about the different roles and told the story of the Nativity. We will be revisiting the Nativity story regularly over the coming weeks - why not ask your child to explain it to you in their own words?

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Christmas is very definitely coming at the nursery! Our Christmas tree display (created from the children’s hand and footprints) is up on the wall and looking very festive indeed, and we continued to practise our Christmas songs. Some of the children even felt confident enough to sing a song on their own in front of the whole class (and a few decided to change some of the words for comic effect!). Some of our activities were Christmas-themed too - we worked on our motor skills by making candy cane decorations out of pipe cleaners and had sensory fun playing with a Christmas tree and water beads.

It wasn’t all festive fun, however. We had a maths focus this week, so the children were very busy using their mathematical skills on a variety of measuring, counting and estimating games. If you want to help your child develop their maths skills at home, this article has some great ideas for games you can play together.

People who help us

The children had a very exciting visit this week from two Police Community Support Officers, who came to the nursery in their police car! The officers talked to the children about the role of the police and explained to the children that it was safe to approach a police officer in an emergency or if they were lost. They had brought a range of police hats with them, and the children enjoyed getting to try them on. The children were then delighted to be able to climb inside the police car, and to see the flashing lights and hear the siren. Later, we talked about other people in the community that help us - the children were able to think of lots of different occupations that help people, such as doctors, nurses, fire fighters and teachers.

Preparations for our nursery Nativity began in earnest this week, with the children visiting St Mary’s Church to practise their songs. You may have noticed them singing them at home too! We also began work on our Christmas display, which is a Christmas tree made from the children’s hand prints, and have started making our TOP SECRET Christmas crafts that the children will present to you at the end of term. Shhhh!

Do try this at home!

Sometimes it can be hard to think of new things to do with your children. To help you get out of the park/playdough/iPad rut, we will be posting regular suggestions of activities that you can do with your child at home.

This week, we’re heading into the kitchen for an easy baking activity.

Hedgehog rolls

This is a fun and easy introduction to breadmaking, with an autumnal twist. Children will love making (and eating!) these cute mini hedgehog rolls.

hedgehog rolls.png

Ingredients

500g pack brown bread mix

25g butter

Plain flour (for dusting)

Raisins

Flaked almonds (optional)


Makes 6 rolls. Recipe taken from BBC Good Food.


Method

  1. Make the bread mix with the butter, following the pack instructions. Leave the dough to rest for 5 minutes, then knead for 5 minutes.

  2. Cut the dough into six pieces. Dust the surface with a little flour and shape each piece into a ball by rolling it between your hands. Make it hedgehog shaped by pulling one side out a little and squeezing it into a snout.

  3. Put the hedgehogs onto a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Leave to rise for 1 hour.

  4. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Using kitchen scissors, carefully snip into the dough to make the spikes on the back of the hedgehogs. Press raisins in for the eyes and push a flaked almond into the end of the nose (or use another raisin if you are avoiding nuts).

  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until the rolls are risen and golden. The rolls will keep for up to two days in an airtight container.


If you try this activity with your child, please do show us pictures. Maybe your child could even bring one of their rolls in as part of their packed lunch!



Fireworks, Diwali and poppies

It has been a very busy (and colourful!) week at Nursery, with the children celebrating Diwali, Bonfire Night and Remembrance Day.

On Monday, the children made Diwali candle holders out of egg boxes - they chose which colours they wanted to use on their egg box, and sprinkled glitter inside to represent the light of the candle. There was more fun with colours on Tuesday, when the children enjoyed making firework explosions with Skittles! This is a great experiment to replicate at home - place your Skittles around the edge of a paper plate, carefully add water and watch the colours dissolve and diffuse into a rainbow explosion. We also had fun making messy firework paintings using spray bottles and forks to spatter the paint over the paper. If you want to try this at home then we recommend going outside!

On Sunday it is the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, so this week we talked to the children about the significance of this day. The children painted their own poppies and decorated poppy biscuits as well. It can be hard to know what to say to your child about Remembrance Day, but if you want to talk with them about it then CBeebies have produced a lovely animation called ‘Poppies’ which can help your child understand why the poppy is a sign of hope and remembrance.