This is where you'll find the latest goings-on in the nursery class of Eldene School. The highs, the lows, and the downright oddities of nursery life - it's all here!
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It has been a great year, and a privilege to share this small part of the children lives.
Stories, ice lollies, and good company - what more could you want?
It didn't rain!
After what felt like forever, we were finally able to dig up our potatoes! It was a wonderful sight to see children foraging around in the soil as if for buried treasure, and hearing their delighted squeals when they found something. It was a good harvest. Everyone was able to take a potato home, and the rest we made into cheesy mash for a special snack.
Mazes are another 'old-fashioned' activity with great learning potential. Whether they on paper, on the ground, real or imaginary, they challenge a child's conceptions of direction, orientation and distance, with the nice satisfying punchline of an escape, or of a target reached.
The old ones are the best ones
We had a sudden craze for hopscotch. The children were mad keen for hopping and jumping on the right squares. This is great for their whole-body control, so we encouraged it and had soon developed croc-scotch, dog-scotch and dolphin-scotch.
Pirates of Eldene
...and rowers, and explorers, and fisherfolk, and captains. It often takes only simple resources (like our upturned box boats) to unleash the imaginative potential of nursery children. The role of adults here is to encourage, validate, and extend the ideas, stretching the children's capacity for depth and detail in their play. Also, somebody has to be the shark.
Bubbling with excitement
Blowing bubbles is a tricky skill to master. It takes skill and perseverance. There are triumphs and disasters! And all the while, these physicists are gaining a better understanding of the way the natural world works.
You may just recognise some of the characters behind these costumes! Dressing up and getting into role is a powerful experience for children of this age. As well as developing language skills, it helps them form a sense of their own identity. By temporarily becoming somebody else, they gain a better understanding of who they are and the many possible aspects of their own growing personality.
Making mud pies has surely got to be one of the oldest and most enduring play activities! It's great fun, but the children's minds are doing much more than having fun. Their brains are hard-wired to learn through this play. The repetitive experimentation is cementing important facts about the way the physical world works and is honing the fundamental physical skills to interact with that world. But, boy, is it messy.
We have some new company in nursery! So much to explore and so many fresh relationships - in a very short time, our newbies have begun to make the nursery their home-from-home. We feel privileged to share this phase of their journey.
Does it get any more exciting than having a visit from some firefighters? Mrs Charles arranged for the fire brigade to come and demonstrate their hose for children in Little Owls, Robins and Starlings classes. The children managed the hose well but some of the staff needed cooling off.
Well, it wouldn't be Easter without eggs! Here is an inspiring collection from an up-and-coming group of artists.
As the weather gets warmer, it's lovely to be able to do a bit more with water outside. These long water chutes keep the children busy. They learn how water behaves under the influences of gravity and friction. They also hone the coordination skills of catching and pouring the water. The children can often be seen discussing what they observe and what they want to try next. This kind of communication is the basis of sharing advances in scientific knowledge.
We heard a rumour that trolls live under bridges so we installed a bridge in the nursery and it turns out to be true. And given the amount of trip-trapping on this bridge, it's no surprise the trolls get a headache.
The concept of spin is fundamental and pervades many of the children's play activities. They can spin objects large and small - rings, hoops, tops. Threading fiddly nuts on to bolts is particularly good for their fine motor control. They can also spin themselves around, and that has important lessons for sensory tolerance! (one or two teachers made the mistake of trying to spin like the children do). We also link spin to the sense of circularity in electric circuits, which the children used to operate little motors which themselves make a paper tag spin nice and fast.
Some of the children realised that if they stomp hard enough on the end of the plank, the tub flies into the air. Now, it makes a great coordination challenge - can they catch the flying tub? There have been some crowd-pleasing successes and a few heroic failures!
We have been looking at capital letters and the way in which they can all be formed from a few straight lines and curves. We made the ones below with simple strips of paper.
Break the ice
Like other everyday materials, ice has its own peculiar properties. Feeling it, breaking it, floating it, sliding it around in your hands - all these are part of a young child's exploration of the world around them. There is no shortcut - these casual, early physics experiments have to take place if children are to gain a good understanding of the way the natural world works. Amongst the results are cold hands, but these scientists take it in their stride!
Prepare for take-off!
As part of Engineering Week, we made a space rocket. We did our pre-flight checks, blasted off with a 5-4-3-2-1! and visited various planets, some more hospitable than others, as it turned out.
As part of our topic 'What if...?' and to give the children a chance to unwind and process the intensity of Christmas, we wonder 'What if it was Christmas every day?'. In our Christmas shop, there are bags to be packed, prices to be haggled over, and money to be counted. All in a day's work for a busy nursery citizen.
The children enjoyed decorating our tree themselves. The pictures also show them getting ready to perform in the Christmas Show. The Christmas party was a wonderful, hectic celebration. It is hoped staff will make a full recovery.
In the dark
We made a dark bear's cave with tables and blankets, and provided some torches for the cave explorers. Not sure who should flee in terror - the children, or the bear.
We shone a spotlight and crossed our fingers that the children would sit still long enough for us to draw round their silhouettes. Some are more recognisable than others. Can you see your little shadow?
Twinkle, twinkle, little firework
As part of our work on light and colour (and of course, as a seasonal celebration!) we had our own tiny firework display. No bangers, but plenty of sparkle.
It may look mundane but cleaning up is a highly educational activity! As well as the social convention of helping to keep a shared environment in decent shape, there are complex tools to be mastered. Next time you are sweeping, think of all the muscle control and cognitive skills you bring to the task....
Painting with water can be very satisfying. The children develop fine motor skills as they paint, whether it is our benches, our shed or our planters that are being spruced up. These vehicles were clearly in need of a new coat of paint and some go-faster stripes.
A helping hand
Helping another child does not always occur to a three year old. But once it has, they can begin to see themselves as a helper, as someone who has something to offer, as someone who contributes to their community as well as benefiting from it.
I've got rhythm!
Banging things to explore rhythms is irresistible to many children. We use cheap and durable buckets and pans which give a good range of timbres. At first the organisation of the music is not entirely - shall we say - apparent! But soon, we'll be tapping away harmoniously.
Old hands....with new friends.
This time of year features a whole new social mix. The children who stayed with us from July have a host of fresh acquaintances. New friendships are tried out and the children learn what level of confidence they can give to each new relationship.
Welcome new faces!
Excitement. Bewilderment. Shyness. Tearful partings. This is a tumultuous time of year in nursery. We hope that our new little ones soon see nursery as a place of safety and fun.