Weekly round-up

Monday

As some of the children attended the Remembrance Day parade yesterday, we continued our work on this theme today. The children talked about what it meant, and made poppies from paper plates to display outside the nursery. The children also enjoyed playing with a small-world set up that saw them excavating numbers out of bark using a variety of toy vehicles - diggers, dump trucks, excavators and bulldozers.

Tuesday

The children were learning about gravity today, running cars down long bamboo pipes. This is an activity that children never tire of, and one that is easily replicated at home using cardboard tubes. We set up a table where children could explore play dough, using a wide variety of tools and cutters, and another area where the children were threading and sewing through cardboard pictures. Both activities are great ways to work on the children's fine motor skills. There was also great excitement today when the children helped to decorate the Christmas tree that is part of our Santa's Grotto role-play area!

Wednesday

Our small world set-up today was of a fire station, which really fired the children's imagination (if you'll excuse the terrible pun!). The children had noisy fun with the musical instruments, experimenting with the different sounds they could make - loud, quiet, fast, slow, deep and high. We also talked more about the Nativity story and practised our songs. We hope the children are singing them to you at home! 

Thursday

Following on from yesterday's discussion of the Nativity story, the children had fun creating a Nativity scene today - they painted and made the main elements, and we talked about the people and animals that were important to the story. Elsewhere, the children were developing their problem-solving skills by creating marble runs, and getting creative with play dough to make little snowmen.

Friday

Even though it's getting cold, we still encourage the children to play outside. Today, they were out enjoying some winter sunshine, playing with the water tray and investigating whether items floated or sank. Other children had fun inside playing a CBeebies computer game, which not only develops their IT skills but also helps them to learn turn-taking. Our craft activity was making rain clouds - these were painted and decorated with cotton wool, and the rain drops were sprinkled with glitter. Let's hope this is the only rain we see for a while!

Cookie cutter bird feeder

Autumn is drawing to a close and, to quote 'Game of Thrones': WINTER IS COMING. This is a difficult time for our garden birds as food becomes more scarce, so this week's try-at-home craft is a DIY birdfeeder. Hang it up outside and see the birds come flocking!

For this you will need:

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  • Bird seed (ideally a wild bird variety)
  • 2 sachets of unflavoured gelatine
  • Boiling water
  • Large cookie cutters
  • Drinking straws, cut into 5cm lengths
  • Large bowl
  • Spoon
  • Baking sheet
  • Baking parchment
  • String or ribbon
  1. Dissolve the gelatine in boiling water (adult supervision will be required here!) and add 2 cups of bird seed.
  2. Stir for 2-3 minutes to allow the bird seed to soak up the gelatine mixture. Don't worry if all the gelatine isn't absorbed.
  3. Line your baking sheet with baking parchment.
  4. Place your cookie cutters on the lined baking sheet and carefully fill them with the seed mix. This is great for working on those fine motor skills! Over-fill them slightly, as you want the seeds to be nice and tight inside the cookie cutters.
  5. Cover the filled cookie cutters with another sheet of parchment paper and press the seeds down firmly.
  6. Gently push a straw segment into each shape to create a hole for the string you're going to be adding later.
  7. Allow the bird seed shapes to dry for 3-4 hours (turn them over halfway through the drying time).
  8. Gently push them out of the cookie cutters, then allow them to dry completely overnight.
  9. Remove the straw segments, add a loop of string or ribbon and hang your bird feeder outside.
  10. Watch the birds come to visit for a tasty, seedy treat!

Weekly round-up

Monday

Many of the children went to a firework display over the weekend, so this week we are basing many of our activities around this experience. Today, we had a small world setup where toy figures were watching a firework display (shown on one of the nursery's iPads) - this led to plenty of discussions with the children, as they shared their experiences and feelings about the firework displays they had seen. We have also started our Christmas craft activities this week (we LOVE Christmas at St Mary's Nursery!) but we can't tell you too much about those as the children want to surprise you with their festive creations...!

Tuesday

We have started gearing up for our Nativity play (which is on Monday 18th December - head over to the diary page for more information), and the children have started learning their Christmas songs. Expect to hear them a lot over the coming weeks! We will be sending the words to the songs home so that you can practise with your child. Elsewhere in the nursery, we have been exploring the concepts of night and day to tie in with our activities based around Bonfire Night.

Wednesday

Christmas crafting is continuing apace, apologies if your children are a bit glittery by home time! Today, the children also began making their Christmas lists to send to Santa - they were cutting out pictures from catalogues to stick to their lists, and the scissor control was helping to promote their fine motor skills. The children have also been enjoying some water play today, as well as problem-solving with the wooden puzzles.

Thursday

We built a small-world "Jurassic Park" set up today, a child-initiated activity which proved very popular. The children were also working on more top-secret festive crafts to surprise you with at Christmas, which were great for developing the children's pincer grip, scissor control and fine motor skills. We have started learning about the Nativity story, to prepare the ground for our Nativity play.

Friday

As it is Remembrance Sunday this weekend, today the children painted poppies and explored different ways of applying paint to the paper. We discussed Remembrance Sunday and the reasons why it is important to commemorate it. The children gave some very thoughtful comments in our discussion. Elsewhere in the nursery, we made roads out of tape on the floor for the children to drive toy vehicles along. The roads were in different shapes (triangle, square, rectangle) to promote the children's use of mathematical language. And, ramping up the Christmas spirit even further, Santa's grotto made an appearance at nursery today! Next week we will be using this in various role-play and crafting activities. 

Coffee filter poppies

It's Remembrance Sunday this weekend, and we are commemorating that in our try-at-home craft. So this week we will be showing you how to make COFFEE FILTER POPPIES.

For this you will need:

  • Paper coffee filters (2 per poppy)
  • Red paint
  • Paint brush
  • Black button
  • Green button (optional)
  • Glue
  • Hairdryer
paper poppy.jpg
  1. Paint your coffee filters, completely covering one side with red paint.
  2. Dry the filters with a hairdryer. Cup the filter in your hand (painted side up!) so it doesn't fly away and blast it with the hairdryer until it is fully dry.
  3. Get your child to crumple the dry filters into little balls, then gently smooth them out a little so they're still a bit wrinkly. Children will love this part! It's also a great exercise to strengthen their hand muscles and develop their fine motor skills.
  4. Layer two painted filters loosely together. Pinch the centre of the filters together at the back, giving them a little twist to bind them together.
  5. Glue a black button onto the front of each poppy, and top with a smaller green button if you have one.
  6. Let the glue dry, then fluff your poppies up a bit.

Childcare funding

From the feedback we are receiving from some of our parents and carers, it seems that the new 30 hours free childcare initiative is proving to be quite confusing, particularly the application process. As such, we thought we would provide a quick guide to how to apply for this funding.

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What is 30 hours free childcare?

Working parents of 3 and 4 year olds in England may be entitled to up to 30 hours of free childcare, for 38 weeks of the year (or fewer hours over more weeks). This is an additional 15 hours of free childcare on top of the 15 hours universal entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds in England. You can check whether you are eligible by visiting www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

How do I apply?

You can apply for 30 hours up to 16 weeks before your child turns three. We recommend that you apply as soon as you are able to - don't leave it until the last minute. To ensure you get a code for the term after your child turns three, you must have applied by the end of the previous term. Those of you wishing to claim 30 hours free childcare in January are strongly advised to apply before 30th November to make sure you get your code in time for next term.

Applications for the 30 hours free funding is via the Childcare Choices website. You, and your partner if you have one, will need your:

  • National Insurance number(s)
  • Details of one of the following: your UK passport, tax credits, P60 or a recent payslip

How can I use my 30 hours free childcare?

Your free childcare entitlement can be split between multiple providers. However, you are not allowed to use more than two sites in one day. You do not need to use all the 30 hours per week - you can take up any amount of childcare up to a maximum of 30 hours per week over 38 weeks. 

How often do I need to reconfirm my eligibility?

You will need to reconfirm that you are eligible for 30 hours free childcare every three months, using your childcare service account. It is easy to do - if your details have not changed, then you just tick a box to confirm this. You will be reminded to do this 4 weeks before the reconfirmation deadline. 

If you miss the reconfirmation deadline, you will receive a message telling you that your eligibility has lapsed. You should then log into your childcare account and reconfirm. If you reconfirm and are no longer eligible, or do not reconfirm, you may be able to continue your 30 hours childcare place for a short period, known as the grace period.

If you are still unsure about your eligibility for this scheme, or if you wish to book a 30 hours free childcare place at St Mary's Nursery, then please email Paula Sansbury on paula@stmarysnursery.org.uk for further assistance.

 

Weekly round-up

Monday

There was another lovely sensory set-up for the children to enjoy today, this time exploring different landscapes and animals. Fun little details included a river with real sand and water (down which the pirate ship was sailing) and a farmyard where toy pigs wallowed in "mud" (actually coffee grounds mixed with cold water). The detail in this set-up provided many different make-believe opportunities for the children. At story time, the children enjoyed an enactment of 'Room on the Broom' in our story theatre, with stick puppets of all the characters used to bring the story to life.

Tuesday

Do you remember the pumpkin exploration activity the children enjoyed in the last week of Term 1? Well, the seeds they scooped out of the pumpkin have been germinating over the half term holiday, and today the children had great fun potting them up in soil. Are you planning on planting out your child's seedling? If so, choose a sunny, sheltered spot and give it plenty of water. If your child is showing an interest in what makes the pumpkin grow and wants to learn more, here is a useful short animation that explains the process.

Wednesday

This week, our role play area has been transformed into a post office. However, our practitioners soon realised that the children have had little experience of being in the post office so today they spent time scaffolding how the children could use the area in their imaginative play. The next time you are going to the post office, why not involve your child in the process? Show how you address a letter and affix a stamp, explain what you're doing when you fill out a form, let them post letters for you. This connection with the adult world is a great stimulus for your child's imagination, and through their play they "practise" being a grown-up.

Thursday

We're all getting excited about Bonfire Night at nursery, so today was all about FIREWORKS! Outside in the garden, the children enjoyed doing firework splatter painting (messy, but so much fun). The pictures they created were really impressive too, and they were all very proud of their results. Inside the nursery, we got glittery making firework play dough - the children chose different coloured glitters to mix into black play dough, which created the effect of fireworks exploding in the night's sky. Later, the children extended the play by adding pipe cleaners to the play dough to mimic rockets shooting up into the sky.

Friday

The children were being scientists today at nursery, as together we made exploding firework potions. The children mixed together bicarbonate of soda, glitter and food colouring, then carefully poured vinegar on top. They were delighted to see the chemical reaction of the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar create an eruption of coloured, glittery foam! This is an experiment that can easily be replicated at home, and it never fails to delight. The children found the eruptions fascinating, and wanted to learn more about volcanoes. Our practitioners used the interactive whiteboard to bring up images and facts about volcanoes in order to answer the children's questions - a great example of child-initiated learning.

Fireworks in a jar

We thought we would introduce a bit of kitchen science in our "try it at home" series. I'm sure your little scientist is already getting excited about Bonfire Night, so this week's activity ties in with that and we will be showing you how to make FIREWORKS IN A JAR.

For this you will need:

  • A clean jar (the larger the better)
  • A bowl
  • Warm water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Food colouring (3-4 different colours)
  • A fork
jar fireworks.jpg
  1. Fill your jar three-quarters of the way full with warm water.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil with four drops each of the different food colourings.
  3. Use the fork to gently mix the oil and food colouring together.
  4. Gently pour the oil mixture into the jar.
  5. Watch what happens - the food colouring will slowly sink out of the oil and into the water. When this happens, it will expand and mix with the other colours, creating "fireworks".

The science part

Food colouring dissolves in water, but not in oil. The oil is less dense than the water, so it will float to the top when poured into the jar. The droplets of food colouring will start to sink, because they are heavier than the oil. Once the droplet of food colouring sink into the water, they begin to dissolve - which looks like a tiny explosion!

Term 2 Newsletter

Well, the clocks have gone back and we're on the countdown to Christmas! We hope you all had a lovely week off, and managed to enjoy a bit of autumn sunshine.  We're all very excited about what we have planned over the next seven weeks - click on the image to the right to read our newsletter and find out what's happening in Term 2.

Weekly round-up

Monday

Hallowe'en week at the nursery kicked off with an invasion of pumpkins! There were pumpkin costumes (which looked very fetching), and the children were able to explore the real thing - they used spoons and forks to dig into the flesh and scoop out the slippery seeds. They also used our magnifying bug jars to examine the different textures of the pumpkin more closely.

Tuesday

There were more fantastic costumes from staff and children today (including a visit from ET!). In keeping with our spooky theme, the children were playing with sensory slime bags filled with creepy crawlies and googly eyes. These are simple to make - mix water, cornflower and paint, then pour the mixture into a plastic sandwich bag and seal securely. The children love squishing them between their hands, and there's no mess to clean up afterwards! Elsewhere in the nursery, the children had another fantastic small world set-up, with toy animals in a landscape of grass, plants, bark and water. 

Wednesday

We are celebrating Diwali all this week - in an activity inspired by henna-decorated hands, the children have been drawing around their own hands and decorating them with glitter, sequins and stickers. We also learned more about the festival of Diwali at story time. Outside, it was time for more gruesome messy play, as the children enjoyed the sensation of cooked spaghetti "worms" slithering through their fingers.

Thursday

We made the most of the mild weather today, with a water-play activity outside. Playing with water is a great way for the children to develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination through actions like pouring, squirting, stirring and squeezing. It increases the children's ability to concentrate on one activity when presented as a tranquil and repetitive activity (scooping, pouring and running their hands through the water). Gentle water play also allows them to unwind, order their thoughts and relax.

Friday

We had a music and movement day at nursery, with the children enjoying a game of sleeping lions as well as a good old fashioned boogie. The week's Hallowe'en theme continued with the children making play dough monsters (there were some truly terrifying creations!) and watching a 'Room on the Broom' puppet show. We've had a lot of fun this week at nursery, and we hope your children have enjoyed all the spooky activities. Have a fantastic half term holiday and we'll see you soon!

Diwali lights

This week at nursery we have been learning about Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. At this time of year, Hindu families celebrate this festival with lavish firework displays and by filling their homes with little oil lamps - this signifies the illumination of heart and mind, and the casting out of darkness. To extend your child's learning about this festival, why not try this week's craft: GLITTER DIWALI LIGHTS.

diwali craft.png

For this you will need:

  • A clean glass jam jar with lid
  • White glue
  • Glitter
  • Paintbrush
  • Contact paper (one-sided sticky paper)

Now I know what you're thinking: glitter?! Are they crazy? But to make these lights we're putting the glitter inside the jars, so hopefully it won't go absolutely everywhere...!

  1. Wash and dry your glass jar so they're good and clean inside.
  2. Cut a shape out of contact paper - a heart, star, flower, up to you! - and stick it inside the jar. 
  3. With a paintbrush, brush a coat of glue all over the inside of the jar.
  4. Pour the glitter into the jar. Be generous, as you want to be able to completely cover the inside of the jar.
  5. Screw the lid back on the jar, then shake, shake, shake it until the glitter covers the whole of the inside.
  6. Remove the lid, give it a rinse and then stick it in the recycling! Any excess glitter can be tipped back into the glitter pot for future craft projects.
  7. Carefully remove the contact paper shape from the inside of the jar.
  8. Let the glue dry for a couple of hours.
  9. When the glue is dry, pop a tea light inside and enjoy your Diwali light! If you don't want to use a naked flame, or if you're not sure whether your glitter is inflammable, then there are some great battery operated tea lights available.
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