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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!