Making cars

2 children worked together fitting the pieces of wood together to make their car.

They added a steering wheel ‘so we can steer it’ and then a handbrake.

And tested it out for size. They decided to take their baby for a ride.

We had a ‘picnic’ and made a bonfire.

And cooked some eggs on the fire.

They tasted lovely.

We set up an obstacle course, the children working together.

And did some den building

On Monday we cut our flowers and put them in their little vases. The children take great pride in their flowers and look after them throughout the day

Our baby snail seems to be growing. We took a photo of him with a one pence coin.


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.

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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.

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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.

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We made our way down to the den area.

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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.

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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.

Chinese New Year and Construction

We started off the week by extending the children’s fascination with building and construction. Staff got out our ample supply of boxes. The children built towers, arranged the boxes in groups and sat in them sharing the small space- working out how many could fit in the box with all their toys too.

They got out the pens and drew lots on them, then used our tool box full of saws to test out how easy it would be to cut the boxes. Then the children made their own individual cars, with steering wheels included, and took great pleasure in showing their parents on collection what they had done.

We also spent lots of time playing with the rice and chinese table set, filling up and emptying pots, using spoons, scoops and chopsticks. Lots of chat about the different colours of rice and how to use chopsticks.


We made some red envelopes and lots of shiny money, to bring good fortune.2017-02-02-14-18-36

On Friday we decided to make Roosters, to celebrate the animal of the Chinese New Year. The children suggested sticking on lots of feathers and they put on lots of beaks. I love the process they go through as they make their products, each one looks very different and the amount of talking that happens as they plan their design and give each other ideas.

The children get so excited about taking their parents or carers, at pick up time, over the table where their name is and showing them what they have made.

This week ( 23/1/17) at Woodentops

On Monday we discovered the the toy animals and leaves in the tuff spots had all managed to get very frozen. The children worked hard together to free the animals and leaves and we ended up with a lot of ice on the grass.

Afterwards the children did some ‘obstacle course’ making use of the decking boards, crates and stepping logs. They worked really well together, listening to and sharing ideas with each other.

On Tuesday we had Simon come in from Triumph Wellbeing. The children helped tidy away the obstacle course from the day before and move the play equipment to the side ready to do lots of fun running around with Simon.

On Wednesday, we had the birds out from the RSPb, who sang beautifully, and made bird feeders for the Big Bird watch at the weekend. We hope the children managed to do some counting.

On Thursday we made donuts, oh my, they were delicious.

The children worked with Jackie, to mix the ingredients, and then watched from a safe distance whilst Jackie poured the mixture into the pans. They helped check whether the donuts were cooked and were very forward in their advice for Jackie. We made plain ones and then got a bit adventurous and made chocolate donuts- they were just as nice. They sampled the donuts for snack. Later on they iced the donuts with all the edible sparkly bits left over from Christmas.

On Friday we had the stay and players in. A fun morning was had by all. We made bird feeders using pipe cleaners and cheerios. Lots of threading and a little tasting- just to check the cheerios were ok for the birds!