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Most of our 60 children took part in sports day today. We had a fabulous morning, the sun shone and lots of parents and grandparents came to cheer the children on. We had our own Acorn Olympics, with hurdles, cycling, horse racing, relay and 100 metre dash! The teachers, siblings, mums, dads and grandparents all took part too. The children were amazing and so happy and proud of themselves when they ran in their races, every child was a winner!
We had a lovely morning at nursery today, it was our termly Saturday 'Families Drop-in'. Twenty of our families came along to toast marshmallows, play with sand, water, the mud kitchens, potion/perfume making, lots of nature activities in Forest School, bug hunting and lots of chatting [?] . It's great for our working parents to come along and get to know other families better and the children love their mummies and daddies coming to play, it's really special for them. It was lovely for us, the staff team, to see so many older ex-nursery siblings too! We're all very excited about our next summer event, Sports Day, which is next week. Always a favourite day for the children and parents.
Come rain or shine, the children love Forest School! Over the last few weeks the children have enjoyed climbing trees, putting tents, hammocks and tarps up, creating dens, discovering new growth and making potions galore! They've learnt about fire safety and how to light a fire with a flint & steel. They've also explored the different natural dyes found in leaves and flowers using a technique called Hapa Zome. They placed a selection of flowers and leaves on one half of a folded piece of fabric, folded the other half on top and then began to use a hammer on top. It was hard work but soon the natural dye began to show through. They turned their fabric pieces into flags and were very proud of their hard work.
We spent a fun couple of weeks learning all about Queen Elizabeth and her Platinum Jubilee, the children made crowns, flags, necklaces, decorated biscuits, told helicopter stories, and drew pictures of the queen. We also sent a card to the Queen sending congratulations on her Platinum Jubilee, we haven't had a reply yet though! The excitement of the Jubilee celebrations culminated today with a fabulous 'street party'. We had a party lunch, then all of our 60+ children played the excellent games that our awesome staff team had made for them. The children were all given a souvenir Jubilee medal as a keepsake of this special occasion! Have a wonderful half-term holiday and enjoy your long Bank Holiday weekend.
Both of our groups have been on bug hunts over the last few weeks, they've enjoyed making Bug Hotels, making playdough/clay minibeast prints, doing tally graphs of how many different types of minibeasts they've found and painting pictures of minibeasts. Just as importantly they've been learning why minibeasts are crucial for our gardens, that they recycle dead plants and leaves back into the soil and they pollinate flowers and crops and how they are part of our food chain! Kids love bug hunting and we're always careful to release them back to the habitat we found them.
The children have enjoyed using tools to saw and hammer to make fabulous constructions during Forest School.
There's something really special about woodwork, it's so different from other activities. The smell and feel of wood, using real tools, working with a natural material, the sounds of hammering and sawing, using your imagination and problem solving, all combine to captivate young children’s interest. It provides a truly unique experience.
We've returned for the summer term looking at new growth. Catkins, our younger children, have been planting seed potatoes. While our preschoolers, after their planting, have enjoyed having their mud kitchen enhanced with the activity tray full of vegetables to 'cook'. All the children will be planting and growing more vegetables throughout the term. As well as planting, we were all excited to see frogspawn brought into the classrooms, some have already hatched into tadpoles! It's a wonderful life cycle to watch, and it's free of course!
We've been enjoying the start of spring's lovely weather and are spending even more time outside! The children have been observing and painting beautiful daffodil pictures, they created a very popular flower shop and they've planted seeds. We've also been celebrating Easter. The children have enjoyed egg and spoon races, Easter egg hunts, lots of fun with Easter maths. They've made chocolate Easter nests, Easter crowns and lots more besides. We're looking forward to more exciting spring activities after the Easter holidays, especially watching the life cycles of frogs and butterflies.
The team at Acorn Nursery wish you all a very happy Easter.
The sun was shining for our Mother's Day celebrations this week. The children welcomed their mummies (or Daddies or Grannies) and proudly gave them their gifts, cards and cake. The children enjoyed singing the special songs they had learnt for the occasion. We hope Mummies everywhere enjoy a, well deserved, special day on Sunday.
We're all delighted to be introducing Yoga and Mindfulness at nursery. Introducing Yoga to young children at an early age, through fun activities, is a great way to boost healthy living, and helps them to become calmer and better able to concentrate and focus. Yoga also helps kids to: learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way. manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement. It'll also Increase their confidence and positive self-image, and it's great fun!
We had lots of fun dressing-up for a couple of days for World Book Day. The children were encouraged to bring in their favourite books for storytime and they enjoyed sharing the books with their friends. Reading and sharing stories can help your child get to know sounds and words and it's one of the best ways for them to hear language. It can spark their imagination and stimulate curiosity and it helps them learn the difference between 'real' and 'make-believe'. There's nothing nicer than cuddling up with your child reading them a story.
We had lots of fun on Tuesday this week, the children enjoyed lots of 'Pancake' activities. Our younger children, after listening to the story 'Mr Wolf's Pancakes', thought it was a great idea to work together to make pancakes. They weighed out flour & milk, broke the eggs in and whisked it all up, then they watched their teacher cook the pancakes and they really enjoyed eating them! Our older children acted out 'The Runaway Pancake' story, they made a great attempt to toss their pancakes, they had pancake races and at snack time they used fruit to decorate a pancake face.
It was a lovely way to help us learn about this special day.
Learning about the environment and recycling in Early Years doesn't just help children get to grips with the natural world, it also builds a foundation of respect and care as they grow older. They can be encouraged to look after their own environment and the wider world. ‘Rubbish’ is an interesting notion to explore, and many of our children are fascinated by our recycling station and have quickly learnt which is the correct bin to put their own rubbish in. Finding eco-friendly ways to manage the rubbish we produce is an important part of sustainable living. It's important young children learn the concept of 'landfill' and what it means to us all!
We had fun last week celebrating Chinese New Year. With so many exciting activities, it's a great way to involve younger children and helps develop several areas of our curriculum: fine and gross motor skills, socialisation skills, maths, expressive art and of course understanding the world. Celebrating Chinese New Year provides the children with an opportunity to explore another culture and to be proud of their own community.
Our 2 year olds and young 3 year olds enjoyed a 'Listening Walk' around the school grounds this week. These quiet walks encourage children to focus on listening, which is an important early years skill. Listening to other people speaking enables children to develop vocabulary, comprehension and language skills. These important communication skills are the building bricks of literacy and learning.
Our preschool children have had lots of fun playing with ice this week. They've painted it, used coloured ice to paint pictures with, they've bashed it, cut it, made ice worlds using small world animals and people. Sensory play like this gives children opportunities to turn-take and share. These opportunities also help children to work out problems, experiment and find solutions, and encourages imagination and creative play. At home you can freeze water in yoghurt pots with small animals/people/treasure inside for your child to dig out, or freeze washable kids paint in ice cube trays with a lolly stick to hold it and paint ice pictures. The list of ice activities is endless and best of all it's free!
After a 3 week Christmas break our returning 2, 3 & 4 year olds are all happy to be back at nursery. They've loved seeing their friends, joining in Planet Soccer, hall time for PE and Music & Movement, French Club with Pierre Puppet, putting up tents and hammocks in Forest School, celebrating the Xmas birthdays and lots of new activities inside and out. It's lovely to see the children becoming more independent when changing shoes to wellies and vice versa and zipping their own coats up. Let's hope for a mild January so we can continue to spend as much time outside as possible.
Happy New Year to you all.
We ended our busy autumn term with a wonderful Christmas party. We had party games, party food, Christmas songs and, of course, Father Christmas visited us! The weather was mild, so we were able
to enjoy seeing Santa in our fabulous outdoor grotto.
It's been a challenging term, and year, for us all as Covid continues to impact our lives. I'd like to thank our truly awesome children who are a joy to be with and teach. Thanks also to the parents for all their continued help and support, especially for supporting our strict Covid policies which help keep us all safe. Extra special thanks to The Acorn Nursery School's amazing staff team, who all work so hard to make this early years experience the very best it can be for the children in our care.
We'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy 2022.
The whole nursery took part in our Nativity performance, as normal this year. It was wonderful to be back in stunning St Nicolas Church again, after our outside Nativity last year because of Covid! Covid sadly did force us to make some changes this year too, restricted numbers, all parents wearing masks, no singing from the congregation, no school choir and no coffee morning afterwards. We were very fortunate that Alexandra and Tim, Henry's mummy & daddy, stood in for our choir and what a treat it was for all of us, such beautiful singers. We had the normal small hiccups too, a couple of shepherds got lost en route to Bethlehem and a King was poorly. It was still a marvellous performance, our awesome 2, 3 and 4 year olds made us all proud and had fun doing so.
Ho Ho Ho Christmas has arrived at Acorn, much to the children's delight! We've had a busy couple of weeks doing all things Chrismassy, decorating inside and out, making lots of lovely Christmas crafts, Christmas Treasure hunts, learning new Christmas action songs and children's carols. We've made Grottos for Santa, and the children have taken turns dressing up as Santa, elves, fairies. They've wrapped up presents for the Grotto and taken money from the 'visitors'! We've also entered an Acorn Christmas Tree in St Nicolas Church Cranleigh Tree Festival. Our Christmas Tree decorations are all made out of paper and card that was destined for recycling bin. Do pop along to St Nicolas Church this weekend and vote for our tree (number 11 in the children's section) called Tree-Cycle!
We had a fun and busy couple of days last week, raising money for Children in Need. We dressed-up in spots or yellow clothes, pedalled for Pudsey, made medals, Pudsey biscuits and Pudsey masks. We also talked about why we were raising money and learnt about some of the incredible causes the money supports! It's a great learning experience for young children to do things for charity and it's really important for them to realise how their charitable actions, no matter how small, can make a real difference. By nurturing empathy for others at this young age, hopefully it'll make them better at giving in the future.
For many people Diwali is an important festival and, at Acorn, we embraced this special occasion. Diwali is one of the largest festivals celebrated as part of the Hindu religion. Teaching Early
Years children and allowing them to experience other religions and cultures is important to creating a diverse and understanding community. With understanding comes acceptance and it is important to
create this understanding as early as possible by allowing children from all cultures and religions to share their experiences and what is important to them and their families. By celebrating Diwali
and any other important festivals which arise throughout the year it enables children to feel valued, supported and respected. It also allows them to see that they all have differences and that this
is okay because everyone has parts of them that make them special and unique.
To celebrate Diwali the children made lovely Rangoli patterns, using coloured rice and sand, they also used leaves to make large floor patterns in Forest School. They dressed up in traditional Hindu clothing and enjoyed many stories. They enjoyed making and eating simple Indian snacks. They made clay tea light holders and enjoyed a mini festival of light.
Our 'Catkins' group (2-3 year olds) have all settled in beautifully and are busy getting to know each other. They're learning friendship skills which include sharing, taking turns, cooperating, listening and eventually they'll be sorting out disagreements! They're now laughing with each other and having fun together. It's a joy for us, and for you of course, to witness these lovely stages of friendship.
Our new cohort of preschoolers are all loving their time in Forest School. Forest school promotes all aspects of children's development and can add new benefits that learning in a classroom doesn't offer. It also allows children to be physically active throughout the duration of the session, enjoying the fresh air and the new experiences the outdoors can offer. Little bodies and minds need fresh air and exercise all year round, getting outside and exposed to sunlight helps their bodies to make vitamin D, even in the gloomy days of winter.
It's never too early to teach children how to cook, and ours loved making apple and blackberry crumbles this week. As well as being great fun, there's so much learning to be had such as basic maths concepts, new vocabulary such as weighing, scales, ingredients, rubbing-in and one word that was said most frequently - delicious! Cooking uses all of a child's senses and they learn so well by touching, tasting, smelling and listening. Not forgetting sight, when they looked for apples and blackberries in the school grounds.
Promoting Oral Health is now part of our Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. It's been included because good oral health habits need to be formed from the earliest age. Tooth decay is largely preventable, but it’s still a serious problem among young children. We'll be linking good oral health with things we already promote, like self-care, healthy eating and physical development. It was World Smile Day last Friday so we had lots of stories and fun activities involving teeth and smiles! The children enjoyed practising correct brushing by brushing our giant teeth and dolls teeth. This will be ongoing at Acorn, with visits from a Hygienist and, hopefully, a Dentist too.
Which child, boy or girl, doesn't love seeing diggers, all of our children at Acorn Nursery certainly do! It's been really exciting for our first couple of weeks into term, we've all been fascinated by the demolition of one of the school's old buildings and watching the huge digger make easy work of the demolition. Little ones love big trucks like diggers because those trucks seem larger than life, they are real machines that do the work of superheroes. Diggers, bulldozers and cranes stimulate children's imaginations and they love to picture themselves controlling something as big and powerful. Trucks like these are big, their colours are bold, and they make awesome loud noises and, in a child's mind, they shout out “Important work in progress,” and they love seeing amazing work like this happening in the grown-up world. Things that we adults take for granted, in the background of everyday life, are still new and exciting to kids. As well as triggering imaginative and cooperative play with other children, building structures of their own, with blocks or brick or stones, increases their spatial and mathematical problem solving skills. What's not to love?
We started our term early, last week, with a hugely successful 'Stay & Play' session, for our September and January new starters. The new children played happily alongside each other, it was also a great opportunity for staff and parents to get to know each other too. Now half way through our second week, our new 2 year olds are settling in and having fun, our young 3 year olds have all returned happily, enjoying being the eldest in their class and loving their newly transformed playground. Our preschoolers have returned happy and confident, thoroughly enjoying seeing all their friends again and are excited about all the new activities we have for them. It's also warm and sunny, which is a bonus for us as we spend so much time outdoors, what a great start to the new school year!
We've had a makeover in our Little Playground during the summer break, the transformation is amazing. Thanks so much to "Mighty Matt" Blackmore and his team of labourers, James, Tom & Colin for laying the fake grass, we all love it! The new look is complete with a fresh coat of paint to some of the wooden equipment, what a difference it's made! The staff team are all looking forward to the start of term next week, we're certainly going to be busy, welcoming 54 children to Acorn.
Gardening, as well as being great fun develops new skills including: Responsibility– from caring for plants. Understanding– as they learn about cause and effect (for example, plants die without water, weeds compete with plants) Self-confidence – from achieving their goals and enjoying the food they have grown. Our children have planted flowers, fruit and vegetables during their time at Acorn and our preschool children now understand that all plants need light, water and time to grow.
This child led activity started off by some of our younger children wanting to make potions, which they happily did! It ended up as a lovely science experiment! The children learnt that plants absorb water from the ground up through their roots. The water travels up the stem and into the petals of the flower. Although our flowers didn’t have roots anymore, they were still able to pull water up from the glass into the stem and up through the flower to the petals. Such a fun activity.
Having just put all our tiny frogs in the school pond, with perfect timing, our chrysalis have started to hatch! Learning about life cycles is a great way to develop children's Understanding of the World. It's an important milestone for children, helping them to learn how to better respect and care for living things around them. The children in both groups have really enjoyed feeding both the tadpoles & frogs, and picking flowers to drop nectar on for the butterflies to drink. They've loved the first hand experiences of life cycles, with our planting, our frogs and now our butterflies.
More Forest School Fun! Playing and learning outside improves children’s physical and emotional wellbeing and the Forest School experience has been shown to be hugely beneficial for all children. Rather than using classroom resources and equipment, children can use natural materials found in woodland areas and enjoy activities such as collecting sticks and leaves, tying knots, making dens, handling tools, using twigs to write in the mud, climbing trees, jumping across stones, logs, building fires and much more. It's not surprising children love it.
We made full use of the windy weather last week, some of the children thought it was great weather to fly kites, so that's exactly what we did! They cut, stuck, coloured and taped twine, then ran and ran and ran with kites of every shape and size. What fun they had! Child-initiated play like this supports children's creative and imaginative learning and developmental skills. This also enables them to learn first hand experiences, allowing them to choose how to use their resources.
Forest School Fun Building Dens! Creating dens gives children the opportunity to think outside of the box and problem solve in order to create amazing structures. Children will also develop communication and language skills as they work as a team to create their den. It promotes physical movement and exercise as children work, collecting their materials, carrying, stretching and reaching to build and then engaging in active role play. Den making is still one of our favourite activities, inside or out, the children love it. Easy to do at home too and it's free!
Like most children, Early Years are fascinated by insects. So we decided to build another bug hotel in our nursery garden for the children to investigate them further. We all know that insects need somewhere safe to live and bug hotels provide a sheltered and safe environment for the bugs to live in. It was a great project for our preschoolers to be involved in and learn more about their natural environment and to care about living creatures. They learnt new vocabulary, worked cooperatively with their friends and teachers, and provided great ideas about what materials to use and why! It's important that children are exposed to activities like these, as children learn best through firsthand experiences. Bug Hotels are easy and fun to build at home too, they can be as big or small as you like and are free! Provide a magnifying glass, a clipboard, a pencil and images of insects to extend your child's learning.
Several of the children went to the seaside over the Easter break and staff helped them to create a 'seaside' in the activity tray, which all our younger children enjoyed. If a child is interested, they will learn more effectively, confidence and self-esteem are raised if a child's interests are followed, and they motivated to interact, and to interact for longer. Our experienced staff understand the benefits of In the Moment Planning such as this.
We've had a super first week back, the weather has been perfect for an outside nursery such as ours. The children were so happy to see their friends and teachers again and the young two year olds that have joined us for the summer term, have settled beautifully. Whether it's been a teacher led activity or the child's own imagination or curiosity leading the play, they've had such a lot of fun. There's only one way to learn at this young age and that's through play, which underpins learning and all aspects of children's development.
We used the children's interest in building 'crate towers' to introduce height measurement language, such as tall, taller, tallest. The children counted how many crates they needed to reach their height, their teacher's height and then how many more crates were needed if they stood on a chair! It was a lovely and valuable 'teachable moment', recognised quickly by our experienced staff.
We've all been delighted to see so many spring flowers growing, on our walks around the school grounds. In particular the great many daffodils we have. We've been looking closely at the daffodils, examining the petals and leaves under a microscope, looking at similarities and differences between them. It's really exciting to see the daffodils that we planted ourselves last year and in previous years. Gardening is always a much loved activity at Acorn. Springtime is a wonderful season for the children to witness new growth and new life first hand.
We were delighted to welcome some young 2 year olds to our Squirrels Bubble today. All 3 settled really quickly, outside with their mums initially, then were happy to go inside without mum after a very short time. They've had a lovely time playing alongside new friends. Social interaction helps young children to start to develop their sense of self, and also they start to learn what others expect from them. Putting them into a nursery environment helps your child to develop important skills such as sharing, turn taking, setting boundaries, and problem solving and of course they have lots of fun.
We are huge lovers of outside play and learning. We have spent many happy hours watching the kids splosh about with water, build with wet sand, mud and snow, dig in the dirt, plant flowers, hunt for minibeasts and get creative with natural materials. Mud kitchens especially, the children's favourite thing, are exciting, messy, creative areas to play. Children experience sensory, emotional and imaginative play as well as developing maths, science and speaking skills. Outside is definitely the best place for messy and sensory play because the clear up is minimal and the key resources are right on hand!
We all know the utter joy of reading stories to children, and the more you read to your children the more knowledge they absorb, the more vocabulary they learn, the better they concentrate and their level of emotional intelligence grows. It also fast-tracks their own development of reading. We have a wide and wonderful range of story books at Acorn, both in the classrooms and outside. We have informative books on topics such as different animals, places, occupations, or objects etc. We have different books to help teach children about important life skills such as sharing, being kind, and about diversity. We encourage a love of books at nursery and are rewarded when children pick up and enjoy books wherever they are.
Welcome back to our spring term, and our third lockdown! We are open to ALL children, not just keyworker's children. We are still spending lots of time outside, where we know it's safer. The children are wrapped up snug and warm and are still loving our outdoor learning environment & Forest School. They really enjoyed the Ice Hunt this week, ice painting is great fun too and try putting salt on ice and watch it melt. We hope more of our Acorn & Catkin families will return very soon, we're missing you!
As we approach the end of autumn, some of our young 2 and 3 year olds in Catkins group, chose to help us sweep up the never ending carpet of leaves in our playgrounds. As well as being great fun, sweeping helps develop coordination, concentration and gross motor skills. We had lots of fun with the leaves we swept up, and after we'd jumped around in them, we made potions and soups in the mud kitchen. Leaf play can be an excellent source of movement and activity that stimulates the sensory system. We've had so much fun with leaf play this term, in this electronic world we live in, it's so beneficial to play outdoors. The fresh air and physical activity from jumping around and kicking leaves is such a lovely outdoor activity for children, and of course it's free!
Woodwork encompasses all aspects of learning and development, supporting maths, scientific investigation, physical coordination, language, and vocabulary. Initially, our children are taught how to use the tools safely and given the opportunity to try techniques in appropriate ways, this week the children were practicing hammering wood together. Learning progresses at each child’s individual pace and they will quickly be able to bang in nail after nail with confidence and delight. Once they have mastered the basic skills, they can move into open-ended exploration, making unique creations. The smell and texture of wood, the sounds of hammering and sawing; the use of strength and coordination, the feel of real tools, the opportunity to work with natural materials, all go together to captivate young children. Woodwork is active learning at its best!
We had lots of fun at Planet Soccer this week. Playing with balls improves kids' motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and timing, which are important parts of the developmental progression of early years. The skills they learn by playing with balls will also be important once they graduate to collaborative and competitive play. Getting kids excited about sports and being active at an early age is vital to prepare them for a healthy life. It teaches them to enjoy the physical activity that will help them maintain a healthy weight and good physical health, as well as helping them develop better bone and muscle structure. Our preschoolers love Soccer, they also love being in the 'big school' hall and they love Coach Harry!