March Madness

On the 1st March, we had Sally and Den visit us to help plant some apple 🍏 🍎 trees in huge pots donated by Deepdale trees Ltd.

Working how big a hole we needed to dig to be able to put the roots in comfortably. Den was really helpful at suggesting ideas to the children and we used lots of mathematical language.

Magic root growing sprinkles. The children took it in turns to sprinkle the powder on saying the magic words.

The apple trees all secure, just got to wait for the buds to start growing. We’re hoping to plant them in Potton Apple 🍏 🍎 orchard in November.

To celebrate world book week, we started visiting the library 📚 on a Tuesday morning with a few of our older children.

Laura read us a few lovely stories.

A lady made out of play doh.

Fire engine play.

I like how the children work together to build their cars and trucks and every time they look different but they are more intricate with the children using ideas from all the differing experiences.

Tower building with the instruments.

A very intricate town built by 2 children. They added a ‘laptop’ later made out of bricks.

Story making time. The children used these props to make a story up. Kathryn wrote down their story and then they acted them out at story time.

We woke the snails 🐌 up from their sleep. They needed a bit of warm water and some heat from the heat mat to wake them up.

you could hear the operculum cracking as Sparkle started to come out.

Coming out to say hello to the children. Every day a child is responsible for feeding and ‘squirting’ the snails with water. The children get very excited to be a helper.

Den building with a difference. Everything was put in the den today. Lots of working together, sharing ideas and listening to each other.

A very smiley face made with masking tape. We have discovered masking tape is sooooo easy to tear and it’s also great for developing these pre writing muscles.

Rather fantastic cutting through quite tough card and in a straight line.

Tea party anyone?

Woodentops take on rocket building.

Various laptops and our own work station with 3 laptops. The children supported each other by describing what they were doing and why.

Celebrating Red Nose Day with painted on noses and wearing our pyjamas which was very exciting as far as the children were concerned.

We had red Nose cakes and flapjacks.

We really like constructing and building at Woodentops. I think we may have many engineers in the making.

Bonfire 🔥 We had a discussion about what would burn and what would melt- ‘well plastic of course Jackie’.

Adding a new dimension to building, using many boxes to see if we could reach the ceiling. We were so close with help of one of our little ones older sibling.

Fantastic drawing from 2 of our 4 year olds.

Some beautiful pictures made for special people to celebrate Mothering Sunday.

These poor dinosaurs were feeling really poorly so they were wrapped up in bandages and left to ‘rest’.

A rather huge screen for his laptop. The wooden brick is his ‘mouse’.

Mother’s Day treats made by our lovely children.

This was fascinating watching this little one draw his grandparents, parents, an uncle and his 2 cousins before adding himself on the bottom of the page with ‘huge’ muscles.

Mother’s Day morning where our special ladies joined us and had some breakfast rolls and drinks. They had yummy iced biscuits made by their children and a bag full of goodies for Sunday.

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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; www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-inspection-handbook-from-september-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.

 

 

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:-

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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.