Connecting Camels and Mother’s Day

On Monday one of our little ones was lining up the weights in size and weight order.

2017-03-20 13.41.09 - Copy

We got out the connecting camels to add to his interest. Other children joined him.


Lining them up

2017-03-20 13.41.29 - Copy

Putting the camels into colour groups

2017-03-20 13.43.26 - Copy

Repeating patterns

2017-03-20 13.43.33 - Copy

Buried treasure, under all the chains

2017-03-20 13.45.51 - Copy

Making circles. adding a smaller one.

Lining up.

2017-03-21 15.00.31 - Copy

A few of our activities on one day.

On Wednesday we took our older children to Sutton Lower school for our usual half termly visit. The children loved having a ride in the cars and then avoiding the puddles as we made our way to school. Once at school we had a brief play in the class before the sun came out and we were able to play outside in the sand, doing some digging for gold in the dirt and then fishing for feet! We had a lovely play in the field exploring the lovely wooden pirate ship and climbing frame. Then we met the parents and carers in the front car park.

Thank you so much to Sutton for having us, we’re already looking forward to our visit next term.

The children really enjoyed working on their gifts for their Mummy’s. The artwork on the cups will fade over time if put in the dishwasher.

2017-03-24 12.29.22 - Copy2017-03-24 12.29.31 - Copy2017-03-24 15.47.51 HDR - Copy




Bubbly water play and drums

Last week has been lots of fun, carrying on with the week before’s interests- lots of water and splashing. We added bubbly water to the tuff spots, pots, teapots, bowls, sponges, syringes and spoons.

All these activities of squeezing the sponge and using the syringes to fill the pots, will help the muscles the children need to write- grow, form and work at becoming stronger. The pouring and measuring of water will enhance the children’s mathematical skills by allowing them to work out how much they need to fill the pot up, how heavy the pots is and that it gets lighter as the water is poured into  bowl. They develop and idea of whether the small pot will hold the same as the large pot. They are doing such fantastic learning but as far as they are concerned they are having lots of fun and playing.

We got our beautiful drums out this week, another interest followed. The children had helped themselves to the beaters from the instrument drawer and try out the noises on the tables, chairs and tuff spots in the room. We had 4 drums between 18 children. The drums were spaced between the children, those that did not have a drum, clapped their hands. They all listened well and practised doing loud, slow, fast and quiet by rubbing their hand over the drum. To ensure all the children had a go with the drum, we said ‘stop’ and used the sign for stop, then the children had to pass their drum to the next person.

Our activities this week were:-

2017-03-07 10.52.12

The children tried to build a tower as tall as them using the Duplo. They worked hard together, whilst one held the tower the others would find the bricks they needed. Then they would swap over. It was a real joint effort and only fell apart when the tower got too tall to be added to. That didn’t put them off they tried again, giving the tower a bigger base to see if that would make it more stable.

I wonder what fun and learning will happen this week.



The Curiosity Approach at Woodentops

26239552_10215124845933945_9196900314467569373_nWe started our Curiosity Approach in January 2018 with a close look at our environment, looking at what we provide for the children’s learning inside and outside. As our Ofsted inspection in 2016 recommended that we needed to review the provision of learning experiences outside, we decided to concentrate on looking at improving what we had done already and adding to it.

The Curiosity Approach-what is it and why are we following it?

We started off in 2015 with ‘Planning in the moment’ following the child’s ideas and interests. By interests we do not mean the popular culture of the day such as Peppa Pig or Thomas the Tank Engine but what the child is really interested in. For example how they are learning and with what. What type of schema is the child using in their play to explore the world around them? A schema is a repetitive pattern that the child uses in their play- throwing (trajectory) a toy or lying on the floor watching as the wheels of the car go round (rotational); covering toys or themselves- making dens under the table (enclosing); are they building (construction)- using many different forms of equipment- wooden bricks, tubes, cars- yes cars-did you know you can balance cars on tops of each other? Children know how to do that- the learning that happens- the what if I do this? Will it work? How can I make it better? Will it do what I want it to or will I have to adapt it as I go along?

So much happening when we as adults stand back, giving them time and space to formulate their ideas, plans and creativity. The adults at woodentops- the teachers- as that’s what we are, are there to support, guide and facilitate their learning. Ofsted’s definitions of teaching is:-

 ‘Teaching should not be taken to imply a ‘top down’ or formal way of working. It is a broad term which covers the many different ways in which adults help young children learn. It includes their interactions with children during planned and child-initiated play and activities: communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging, questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges. It takes account of the equipment they provide and the attention to the physical environment as well as the structure and routines of the day that establish expectations.

Early years inspection handbook, Ofsted, June 2015;

Our planning is based on what our environment can offer. So there may not be ‘toys’ as such at woodentops instead there is a variety of equipment which will give children many differing experiences such smells, textures, sounds, visual cues and a way to adapt their play. We try to provide equipment (Authentic materials) that is natural, calming and with no specific intention so the children can explore it, use it in their play how they want to, with us as adults, encouraging, supporting and providing a narrative of their play. The children really enjoy us writing their stories down and making it into a book for them using their pictures and then acting the story out to their friends. The delight they have when they tell their friends their story- so awe inspiring.

So the Curiosity Approach is where we provide an environment for the children that gives them ‘Curiosity, Awe and Wonder’, enabling the children to continue to explore the magical world around them, allowing them to be adventurous without the fear of getting it wrong, discovering and experimenting as they play and learn.

Play is the child’s job and work and we as adults should not devalue the importance of play.

The beginning of the Summer term 2017

Last week we got out the red rice and had a great time doing lots of shapes in the rice with our hands and fingers. We talked about the shapes of letters and circles. We sounded out our names phonetically.

One of little ones, helped herself to the animals off the self select unit and the bricks. She poured out the bricks onto the carpet and then made a surround for her animals in the tuff spot.

Cooking last Thursday was a fruit pie that the children saw in the one of their reading books. They decided that it looked fab and wanted to have that as their cooking. Every child that wanted to made a fruit pie- 20 of them.

We planted sunflower seeds and sent them home, the stay and players also planted them as well and proudly took them home with their mummies. We also planted our potatoes in very deep pots.

Later in the week we all planted 2 pea seeds in a clear pot with kitchen roll. The children will now be able to see their seed sprout a root and some leaves as long as they get a little water and some sunlight.

2017-04-27 12.26.36

This is woodentops pea seed. It’s being kept on the windowsill in the football club and we are watching it closely for roots and leaves to develop.

RSPB Trip on 29th March

Today we took our older preschoolers to the RSPB, for some fun in the woods.

2017-03-29 13.58.41

We were amazed at how big this tree was. Whilst we were looking at the tree we could hear a woodpecker hammering away at another tree.

2017-03-29 14.01.27 HDR

We made our way down to the den area.

2017-03-29 13.59.13

We found a great area to do some den building and added to the den already built. The children worked together, talking about what stick or branch would fit into which hole.

2017-03-29 14.01.19-1

This huge fallen tree was great for climbing and balancing on. The children found a hidey hole and a tunnel under the tree and used the area to act out their game and role play. One child got a stick and drew lots of shapes- circles and squares and then tried to write her name in the pathway.

We walked back to the lodge to have some snack and wait for the parents. Whilst we waited the children made up a story. Each of the children joined in and liked adding their piece of the story. Once upon a time, there was a lion in the jungle who met a big black elephant. They found a beach and around the beach was a moat. In the moat there was a shark and a dolphin. In the middle of the moat was a man who decided to go fishing with the lion and the elephant. they did some diving and found some treasure of toys and some chocolate coins. Another shark came along and pulled the plug!!! They lost all the water until it rained so that all the fishes that lived in the sea could live. The end.



Gloop and all this mess

So Monday morning we all  ‘made playdoh’. The children worked together to measure the ingredients and mix them taking it in turns. They discussed what colour they would like and added it in. Michelle took the sloppy mixture away to then bring back lovely warm playdoh. Each child marvelled at how warm it felt and different it was from when it was in the pot- a gloopy mess.


3 children got out the bricks and worked together to make their models. They supported each other as they tried to make their buildings balance and all giggled lots when they fell down. They were joined by 2 more children and split off into 2 groups doing their own buildings.

Later on in the week we got out the treasure boxes. The children adore this activity as there are lots of things that wouldn’t normally be played with. Karen talks to them about what they are handling, how it feels, whether it light or heavy, is it bumpy or smooth? These little boxes stimulate lots of talk and thinking about what the ‘surprises’ are and what they are used for, plus how the children can make stories around them.


Dancing on a Monday morning is so much fun with Jodie. The children are so eager to see her when she comes in, this week we had requests for some of the dances- the circus one is such a hit as one minute we’re all pretending to be silly clowns, then we’re acting like very big strong men lifting very heavy weights then we move onto the tightrope, trying to balance and not fall off the thin rope. All I can say it’s so much fun.

We found the chains and S hooks, and spent some time working together to measure the chains against each other. We found some very long chains and one very short chain. The S hooks were useful in hanging all the chains from them.

Gloop play- The children added the dry cornflour to the very messy paint tray, added some water bit by bit and then mixed with their hands. They ended up with gloop in their hair, on faces, all over their clothes and lots on the floor. Did you know Gloop goes a long way if you clap your hands? The staff took the tray outside and added more water to it. The children dressed themselves in waterproofs and wellies before going outside and having a very big splash in our new puddle. They go very wet and they loved it.

On Wednesday afternoon we took the older preschool children to Potton Lower School for our half termly visit. The children loved exploring outside, finding ‘drinking chocolate’ in the water, pouring it out and ‘sharing’ it between themselves. A few of them had lots of fun riding on the bikes and scooters, taking turns with the reception class children. They met with old friends and played on the fireman’s pole, seeing who could go down it. Inside we played with the duplo and then had a go at cleaning the giant teeth with a huge toothbrush- that stimulated lots of questions and thoughts.



All in all, another fun week at Woodentops.

Disco dancing and writing shopping lists

This week started off at Woodentops with a ‘drive’ to Tescos. Before leaving, the children thought of what they needed to buy; so each made a list, using the stubby crayons and making the paper into list shapes by cutting them up.

They sat on the sofa with the wooden steering wheel, made sure everyone was buckled in and then drove down to Tescos. Once at Tescos each child unbuckled their seat belt, got a shopping basket and with their list went round ‘Tescos’ picking the stuff they needed off the shelf. Filling their baskets very full before climbing back into the car ready for the journey back to Woodentops. Back at Woodentops they showed the members of staff what they had bought and then wanted to go back to the shops again.

The next day this was extended more, this time the children walked to the shops, and took things off the shelf (along the corridor), paid at the till (table in the corridor) and then brought all the groceries back to Woodentops.



On Wednesday when it was so beautiful outside, the children discovered our sequin cushion covers sparkled even more. They found that the sunlight made them sparkle on to the ceiling and then had a fantastic time dancing to their music in the ‘disco’.

On Thursday we did mini bootcamp inside with Simon which was a novelty- we had Storm Doris to thank for that as it was way too windy outside. The children were able to run around inside, something that is never done, not when we have a roomful of toys, equipment and children. So today the floor was cleared with the help of the children and they had a good giggle with Simon.

In the afternoon, some of us went outside to collect the fallen twigs out of the trees. We wanted to make stickmen with them. It was very fun seeing the wind swirl the leaves round in a funnel. Back inside we shared what we had found and then made stickmen, fishing rods and wands to name a few. We also found some moss and all noticed it was very soft and springy.

On Friday we had the ‘Stay and Players’ into play.

We added the sticks to the playdoh and this is what they made.

We went outside, the weather was gorgeous and the children used the leaves, sand, stones and shells to do lots of cooking in our pots and pans. Some children set up an obstacle course with the bread baskets, milk crates and the wood planks. There was lots of conversations going on- sharing ideas, working together and planning out how they were going to set everything up. Then turn taking as each child had a go on the obstacle course. The children helped tidy away all the toys before going in and having a story.

I have to say we’ve had a lovely first week back after the half term.