Green fingers and good smells

We made the most of the lovely Spring weather this week with lots of outdoor play. Out in the garden we were planting pots of cress - the children listened carefully to instructions when they planted their pots, and understood that the seeds needed light and water in order to grow. We look forward to seeing the seeds sprouting in the weeks to come. The children were also making bird feeders, using lard and seeds - they helped to mix the seeds into the melted lard and spooned it into their pots with care. All the children were excited about hanging their pots up at home to attract the birds. Maybe you could keep a note of what birds you spot at your child’s bird feeder?

Inside, the week’s focus was on our sense of smell. The children were playing with play-dough mixed with different spices, and enjoyed playing a “Smelly Socks” game where they sniffed socks stuffed with different herbs. We also cut fingers of okra in half and encouraged children to smell them, before using the cut ends to make pretty flower prints.

We continued to consolidate the children’s phonics learning with the old classic “I Spy”. The children were able to identify many things beginning with the letters we have learned this term, and they felt very proud of themselves when they got the answer right. Our phonics focus next week is the ‘g’ sound, so why not bring in something to share with the class - a goat? A ghost? A guitar? A gecko? Some gardening gloves?

Finally, don’t forget that it is our Easter Celebration next Friday from 11am to 1pm. We are having an Easter bonnet parade, so that gives you one week to make an amazing Easter-themed hat with your child. We can’t wait to see what you all come up with !

It's a Spring thing!

We brought Spring into our home corner this week, which was set up as a florist’s with real daffodils. The children used scissors to trim the daffodils and put them in water, then used the till to sell them to their “customers”. The children also took part in a still life drawing activity, where they had to look at the daffodil carefully and use pencils or crayons to draw the flower. This helped to develop their observation skills and their pencil grip.

Spring was also being celebrated in our farmyard small world area. The children enjoyed playing with the different tactile elements of this - compost, straw, grass and water - and had fun creating narratives for the various farmyard animals. Later in the week, we changed this area into an ocean small world complete with sand, water and a pirate ship. The children enjoyed making waves by moving their hands back and forth in the water, and they loved making the pirates walk the plank!

There was more sensory play elsewhere in the nursery, with the children having fun playing with slime. We talked about texture as they squeezed, stretched and squashed the slime. On another table, the children were practising mark-making in flour - some made patterns, while the older children attempted to write the letters we have been learning in phonics. Our phonics focus this week was “i” for insect, igloo, inside and iguana. Next week’s sound is “n” so don’t forget to bring in something beginning with “n” to share with the other children!

Flippin' great

What a busy week! Spring has definitely sprung in the nursery, with the children helping to make spring lambs for our display board. Our home corner has been turned into a florist’s shop, and the children were painting pictures of daffodils. We also had great fun celebrating Shrove Tuesday, with the children helping to make pancakes and choosing their own toppings. And no pancakes ended up on the ceiling!

We were delighted to see so many children dressing up to celebrate World Book Day - throughout the week we had no less than THREE Snow Whites, lots of princesses, the White Rabbit, Wonder Woman, an astronaut, a dinosaur, a Gruffalo, Hiccup from ‘How To Train Your Dragon’, a unicorn, the Queen of Hearts and Violet Beauregard from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. The children loved dressing up, and enjoyed exploring new stories with their friends.

We were given some rainbow rice by Nikki Wright (thank you!) which proved a huge hit with the children. They used spoons to move the rice into cups and mixed together the colours; used their fingers to draw and write in the rice; and made ‘rice castles’. It was a great resource, so thank you Nikki for bringing it in!

Our phonics focus this week was the ‘t’ sound. The children once again showed great focus in their phonics sessions, and were eager to find objects beginning with ‘t’ and to attempt writing the letter independently. Some parents have asked about resources to support phonics learning at home - below are some suggestions:

February sunshine

We enjoyed the unseasonably good weather this week with lots of time spent in the nursery garden. The children particularly enjoyed exploring our obstacle course made from various bits of equipment - we experimented with different ways of moving (as well as playing the ever-popular “Lava Game”!). The children also had a great time playing racing games in the garden on the cars, trikes and scooters. They noticed that they went fast down the hill in the garden but more slowly going up.

When winter reasserted itself later in the week, we had fun indoors. There was some tremendous cooperative play with our new train track (kindly donated by Nikki). The children worked together to create a huge railway system which went all round the room and even under the furniture! They showed great turn-taking and sharing skills when they played together on their giant track. And on Friday the children enjoyed a disco with proper disco lights and showed us some fantastic groovy moves.

One of our areas of focus for this week was fine motor skills. The children were encouraged in their mark-making and we practised the correct grip for holding a pencil. At snack time, the children were asked to write their names on a list so we could check who had received their snack, then we encouraged the children to use a knife to spread butter, jam or Marmite on their muffins.

Our phonics sound this week was “d”. We also revised the sounds we have already learned, and the children showed great recall. Our mnemonic for writing “d” is “round the dinosaur’s bottom, up his long neck and down to his feet”. This amused the children greatly, and they enthusiastically joined in with air-writing the letter. If you want to support your child’s phonics learning at home, why not write the letters on post-it notes and stick them up in the kitchen where your child can see them every day? Our sounds so far are m, a, s and d, and next week’s sound is t.

Talking of next week, don’t forget that we are celebrating World Book Day on Thursday. Our staff will be dressing up as characters from their favourite books, and we’d love it if your children could do the same. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t attend on a Thursday, they are welcome to dress up on any day next week.

Lastly, a HUGE thank you to all of you who have donated to our Sensory Area crowd-funder. At the time of writing, we have raised £550 in the space of one week! We still have three weeks to go, so think what we could raise in that time. Please, do spread the word to as many people as you can and if you’ve yet to donate, what are you waiting for? It’s so easy to donate, and every little helps - just click on this link and give what you can: https://spsr.me/5hjH

Below is a gallery of what we are already going to be able to buy thanks to the generosity of our donors. If we raise more money, we can create an even more awesome sensory area for all our children to enjoy.


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?