Changes are afoot...!

We have been fundraising hard recently (you may have noticed!) with an aim to developing the outdoor area at the Nursery. We've been very fortunate to be awarded a £3,000 grant by East Sussex County Council, some of which will go towards creating a kitchen garden so the children can grow their own food; we are also going to be installing a climbing frame and slide to expand the physical play opportunities for the children.

You'll see the first of many changes when you return to Nursery on Monday, as this weekend we have installed a new shed and a non-slip decking area in the unused space next to the entrance to the garden. Huge thanks to Joe, Glenn and Sam who worked their socks off to get it done - fortunately, they were working on one of the only sunny, dry days of the holiday! The area now looks really smart, and will be a great space for the children to use. We plan to install a scooter rack, so children can scoot to Nursery if they want to, as well as welly storage so they can play outside in all weathers.

Exciting times are ahead!

We're GOOD!

We are delighted to announce that our Ofsted report has been published, and once again we have been judged as good across the board. Hooray!

You can view the full report here, but here are some of the lovely things that the inspector said about our setting:

"Children are confident and motivated to learn. They have strong and secure relationships with staff who support children to feel safe."

"The quality of teaching is strong and focused on the children's interests. Staff listen to what children say and provide opportunities for them based on their current ideas."

"Staff are enthusiastic about the experiences they provide for children to extend their skills."

"Parents are encouraged and welcomed into the setting to share their interests and hobbies with the children."

"Children are confident and demonstrate positive behaviour. They take turns and listen to each other's ideas."

"All children make good progress from their starting points and are supported to develop the skills needed to prepare them for the next stage in their learning."

Huge thanks to all the staff, who worked so hard on the day of the inspection. You're all superstars!

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Weekly round-up

Monday

We have several dinosaur-crazy children at nursery, so we created a dinosaur land for them to enjoy. It's always amazing hearing them correctly naming all the different dinosaurs - if you can't tell the difference between a Parasaurolophus and a Pachycephalosaurus, then just ask one of our children! Away from the dinosaurs, there was some serious tower-building going on, using Unifix cubes and Duplo. This was an opportunity for the children to use the language of comparison - which is the tallest/largest/smallest/shortest? We also challenged the children to build towers with a specific number of blocks, helping them to practise their counting skills. There was some great imaginative play going on as well today, with some of the children making pretend sweets out of paper and material (using their fine motor skills to cut them out). They looked delicious!

Tuesday

The children had fun today painting Easter chicks with Wendy (and getting very excited about Easter in the process). Other craft activities - all child-initiated - were going on at the same time, including making collages from different materials and making zebra masks. In the morning, some of our children listened to the story of Fay the Frog - this is a story designed to help the development of speech and language, something we are active in supporting in our children. Our circle time focus today was "friendship", and we talked about our golden rules and the importance of British Values in our everyday lives. We rounded off circle time with a rousing rendition of 'If You're Happy And You Know It', with some very enthusiastic actions from the children! 

Wednesday

We were hugely excited to welcome a very special visitor to nursery today - George's Nanny brought in her tortoise to meet the children. A definite highlight of this term, and we'd like to say a big thank you for giving the children the chance to get up close to such a fascinating creature. Some of the children were so inspired that afterwards they wanted to draw tortoises of their own. After the excitement had died down, there was more fun to be had - the children enjoyed some junk modelling, exploring different textures and materials, and modelling with air-drying clay. We also made a "train" for a make-believe trip to the sea-side where we sang songs and went for a pretend swim.

Thursday

The children were practising their pencil control skills today, by tracing over dotted lines. If this is something you think you'd like to try with your child at home, there are some downloadable sheets here. In the book corner, the children were retelling familiar stories in their own words; this lead on to a story theatre performance of 'Room on the Broom' using our puppets and the children wearing masks to portray the dog, cat, frog and bird. In the role-play area, we were enjoying pretending to go shopping, using money and giving correct change from the till.

Friday

It was Katie's birthday today, and Rose kindly brought her in some balloons - thank you Rose! There was definitely a celebratory atmosphere, with the children wanting to play party games. The Easter activities begun in earnest today, with a drop box full of rice dyed yellow, fluffy chicks and coloured eggs to fill. We also had Easter play-doh mats, where the children could make numbers or specific lengths out of the play-doh. The dinosaur world was also back by popular demand (so much dino-love in Nursery!), while other children continued to practise their pencil control by tracing on our print-outs.

Weekly round-up

Monday

What a lot of rain there was today! Even the most gung-ho of our children didn't fancy going outside, so much of today was spent doing indoor activities. The children enjoyed building with Duplo and playing with the Hexi-snaps, trying to recreate patterns; they also had fun with the animal magnets, matching the animal to the correct habitat. Some of our children also decided to create their own story book, using their imaginations to make up a story and drawing pictures to illustrate it.

Tuesday

There was some seriously messy play in the garden today, with the children making "chocolate potions" by mixing paint, sand and water in a bucket. It was a very popular activity, but oh heavens it was messy! Fortunately, our practitioners set up a bubbles in water activity which was equally popular and which had the happy side-effect of washing away most of the mess... Inside, there was some super junk modelling going on, as well as a spirited game of musical bumps.

Wednesday

It actually felt like Spring had finally arrived today, so the children were able to enjoy lots of fun outdoors. We made sandcastles to celebrate the fact that the sun was finally shining, and some of our children decided to wash our playhouse - how helpful! Some of the children were interested in the teabags that they'd put in their Mother's Day cards, so they took some outside and explored the smell and texture of the tea leaves and had a go brewing their own tea (using cold water, of course). Inside, we were making play dough with the children, using resources kindly donated by some of our parents. We also made a start on our new door display, with the children making hand prints and writing their names. We hope you like it!

Thursday

One of our children brought in a treasure chest that he had made at home with his sister for a school project. This really sparked the children's imaginations, and lead to some great treasure hunt games and to more "treasure" being added to the box. Elsewhere in the nursery, there was a game of giant snakes and ladders (great for practising turn-taking) while other children were getting creative with forks, using them to make paintings of spring flowers. They were very proud of their efforts. One of our children decided he wanted to be a police officer today, then arrested Sophie and put her in jail! This resulted in an interesting discussion about the role of the police, and how they are here to help everyone (not just to put baddies in prison).

Friday

The children had fun with ice today, excavating numbers using spoons, knives and warm water. Given the icy weather that was on the way, it seemed appropriate! Other children played a swimming game, where they pretended to have a swimming lesson. Some great attempts at breast stroke and front crawl from them all! Today we also started doing self-portraits with the children - we intend to get all children to do one, and these will be printed on a canvas tote bag for you to purchase as a lovely memento. The aim is to have these on sale at the Summer Fete, so do keep an eye out for them and treat yourself to a St Mary's Nursery Bag for Life!

Weekly round-up

Monday

The children were busy today making their Mother's Day teapot cards (we hope you liked yours!). During Circle Time, we talked more about Mother's Day and thought about all the things that our mothers do for us. It really helped the children to appreciate how special their mothers are, and how important it is to celebrate them for everything they do. We used our popular moon sand to create an Antarctic experience for the children, replicating the snow and bringing in toy animals that might live in cold habitats. Our story for Story Theatre today was 'Handa's Surprise', a classic picture book which our practitioners brought to life with the use of wooden-spoon puppets.

Tuesday

As the weather was being kind to us today, we were able to go into the garden for a bubble exploration today - a very popular activity, as I'm sure you can imagine. Kids love bubbles! Another popular activity today was karaoke. It seems we have quite a few budding popstars in our midst... As well as being a lot of fun, this activity helped the children to develop their turn taking skills, as well as being great for building confidence. Elsewhere, things took a mathematical bent as we enjoyed a bead-threading activity - the children threaded beads onto laces (great for their fine motor skills) then measured and compared their relative lengths and weights.

Wednesday

It was Beep Beep Day at the nursery today (and Thursday and Friday too, so more children could be involved). This is a day that is organised by Brake, the road safety charity, as a way to engage children in road safety basics through fun activities, while raising awareness among parents and the wider community about protecting children on roads. We had a group activity where we quizzed children on their knowledge about how to stay safe on the roads, reinforcing the importance of 'Stop, Look and Listen' and of holding an adult's hand when crossing the road. We had an extended role play where children played pedestrians or car drivers, and they had to cross at traffic lights or pedestrian crossings correctly. Wendy got knocked over by one of the "cars" (oh no!) and we played out the consequences of this - the paramedics were called, and she was taken to hospital. Fortunately, she was very well taken care of and was back on her feet in no time! One of our children was very disappointed to have missed World Book Day because of last week's snow, so we were delighted when she came in today dressed as Hairy Maclary. We read the story to the children and talked about the characters, then put together a dog-themed small world to support the play. 

Thursday

We introduced a new resource today, our alphabet ducks. These proved very popular, and it was hugely encouraging to see how many of our children were able to identify the different letters on the ducks. We encouraged the children to practise writing their letters, and there was some really great pen control on display. Continuing our Beep Beep day activities, we played with cars, coloured in pictures linked to the theme and had a traffic road safety story and songs. At lunchtime, we got the call from Ofsted to say that we were being inspected on Friday so, as you can imagine, we had some pretty stressed-out practitioners in the afternoon!

Friday

Ofsted came today to inspect the nursery. Eeeeek! Many thanks to all the parents who took the time at the start of the day to give their opinions to the inspector. We were very lucky to have a lovely lady inspecting us, who did her best to put our practitioners at ease. She was fortunate to see the nursery at its very best, as we had some really great activities planned for today. We had a drop box with a road painted on it, for the children to run cars round and show how best to safely cross the road. In the Chinese restaurant themed home corner there were coloured noodles with chopsticks for the children to practise their fine motor skills (also useful if you're ever taking them to Wagamama!), and they were writing their own menus and food orders. There was also playdough scented with Chinese spices for the children to play with. Outside, there was a drop box full of multi-coloured rice for sensory play and we were experimenting with chemical reactions, using vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and food colouring. Most excitingly, in the afternoon one of our lovely volunteer parents, Caroline Patrick, came in to show her cello to the children and to play them some classical music. The children were spellbound! We'd like to say a huge thank you to Caroline for coming in. If any other parents would like to share their skills or interests with the children, please do let us know! We were really pleased with how the Ofsted inspection went, and we received some lovely feedback from the inspector. The report will be coming out in 7-10 days, so now we just have a (slightly) nervous wait until we hear her final judgement. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Ofsted inspection

We have just been informed that an Ofsted inspection will be undertaken at St Mary's Nursery tomorrow (Friday 9th March). The inspectors will wish to gather parent/carer views about the school - this may be in person on the day, or you can complete Ofsted's online survey by registering with Parent View: http://www.parentview.ofsted.gov.uk

Parent View asks for your opinion on 12 aspects of your child's nursery, including the progress made by your child, the quality of teaching, dealing with bullying and poor behaviour. The inspectors will use the online survey responses when inspecting St Mary's Nursery.

Please also take time to read the leaflet for parents/carers by clicking here.

Weekly round-up

Monday

Welcome back! We hope you all had a great week off. The children all looked refreshed and were raring to go for another fun week at nursery. Today's small world learning was about the natural environment, with the children exploring logs, leaves and grass. Their attention to detail was challenged in a Hexi-snaps activity, where they needed to create a shape that corresponded to a pattern on a picture. It really got their brains working after their week off!

Tuesday

The children were learning about oral health today - our practitioners had laminated pictures of teeth, and had coloured in "plaque" which the children had to brush away using real toothbrushes. All the children took great care to get rid of every last bit of plaque - we hope they are as conscientious about brushing when they are at home! We also talked about cavities (hopefully something that none of our children have experienced!) and how they are dealt with. Elsewhere in the nursery, children were getting creative with the stickle-bricks, creating a car wash for the toy cars. We used the iPads to look at different sorts of car washes so the children could decide how they wanted theirs to look.

Wednesday

We were thinking about emotions during circle time today. We read a book based around "emotion faces" and also did a photo puzzle where children had to guess what the emotion was that was being shown. Emotional literacy is a learned skill, and children need guidance if they are to understand the nuances of different emotions. It is also helpful for them to be able to put a name to their own emotions, as it enables them to understand and process these big feelings that they have! We also had fun today with a raucous game of tag outside (which segued into a game of hide-and-seek); other children engaged in a "party" role play, and made pretend party bags out of sandwich bags filled with small pieces of cut up paper and material as the "sweeties".

Thursday

We finally finished off our papier-mâché heart today, with the children showing some excellent colour-mixing skills. The left over paint was used for a free-painting activity, with some lovely pieces of art being produced. There was more messy play elsewhere, as we made moon sand out of cornflour and strawberry conditioner - this is excellent fun to play with, and smells great too! It can be formed and moulded, and has such a great texture that kids find it irresistible. It's super easy to make, so why not try it at home? You can find a how to here.

Friday

Today we made visual timetables to help the children's understanding of what happens over the course of the day. This is another simple idea that can be great to use at home, as young children often struggle with the concept of time. There are some useful resources here if you think this would help your child. We also revisited our activity from October when we planted the pumpkin seeds - we talked about planting the seeds and about how they grew, which led into a discussion about Spring and how the new growth will soon be coming. Although, looking at the weather forecast for next week, I think we may be waiting a little longer for Spring to appear!

We are hiring!

Nursery Assistant (part time)

St Mary's Nursery, Crowborough

We are looking to appoint a passionate and caring part-time Nursery Assistant to join the close-knit team working at our small, friendly day nursery in the heart of the Sussex Weald. We place great emphasis on a child-centred curriculum and developing opportunities for play inside and outside. We have a purpose-built classroom and a secure fenced garden with a covered pergola to facilitate outdoor play in all weathers. St Mary's Nursery was judged as good by Ofsted in February 2015.

The ideal candidate must:

  • Possess a minimum of NVQ level 3 or equivalent in Childcare Education
  • Have an excellent understanding of how young children learn
  • Be committed to high quality early years practice which motivates children's learning and creativity
  • Consistently demonstrate a high regard for inclusion and equality
  • Work effectively with good communication and interpersonal skills

The nursery is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare and safety of children. Pre-employment checks and references will be sought and successful candidates will need to undertake a DBS check.

Salary will be dependent on qualifications and experience. Hours of work will be negotiable.

For an application pack, please email Gemma at stmarysnursery123@gmail.com