Month: February 2016

In the news: Tooth decay in children

I blogged about this last year and it’s back in the news –

Here at Aston Childcare children are given water to drink rather than sugary drinks and I have taken dried fruit off the menu as it is high in sugar and can stick to teeth.

It’s important our children are brushing twice a day too.


Water play

Water is one of the basic raw materials for purposeful play. Like sand, clay, and blocks, children can use water without being constrained by the one, right way to use it.

Water play promotes problem-solving and thinking skills and is particularly well suited to the development of concepts in mathematics and science. Its good for  developing language, and promoting social skills.

Children find  water intriguing. It seems to draw children to explore its structure and properties.

“Water play is developmentally appropriate regardless of the child’s physical condition, age, language, gender, culture, or exceptionality” (Bredeikamp 1987).

Earlier this week I set out a tray of water with various sized and shaped measuring jugs, different sized funnels, a variety of measuring spoons and a sieve.

I let my mindee play with it and stood back and observed –

So…what did we learn…?

We were able to explore some mathematical concepts –

  • Empty/full/many/few
  • Before/after
  • Thick/thin, more/less
  • Same/different
  • Heavy/light/shallow
  • Deep/greater/less than

We used physical skills as small muscles got a workout as water was poured from container to container, they fitted funnels to containers and sponges were wrung dry.

We learnt new words such as “funnel” and “sieve” and “flow”.

And finally, we learnt some science as playing with water naturally leads children to ask questions such as “What does it do?” Their curiosity leads to experimentation and they learnt about the properties of liquid.

I plan to change the objects I provide with the water tray regularly so we can explore all manner of things, next on my list to explore and try are medicine droppers and squeeze bottles.


Signs of Spring

Today we made the most of the sunshine this week by getting out in the garden to re-energise ourselves after lunch!

Although it’s still a month to go before its officially Spring, it felt distinctly Spring like with the sun out, the lawn freshly mown and the daffodils in full bloom!

From 13 months old to 4 years old my mindees all had fun running about, playing with the sand and water tray and stepping over the stepping stones in the garden.

Happy Valentines Day 

This week my mindees have been enjoying some Valentines Day related arts and crafts. Using tissue paper cut into different shapes we created heart shaped collages, lots of gluing and sticking was great for developing fine motor skills. We learnt new words such as “collage”. We learnt that Valentine’s Day, or St Valentine’s Day, is celebrated every year on 14 February and explained that it’s the day when people show their affection for another person or people by sending cards, flowers or chocolates with messages of love.  We also enjoyed some playdough and some mark making and sensory rice play too.

Areas of Learning covered: Expressive Arts and Design, Understanding the World, Communication & Language, Mathematics, Physical Development and Personal, Social and Emotional Development.


Focus on…Literacy

The last area of learning and development I wanted to focus on here at Aston Childcare is Literacy.

Literacy covers both reading and writing. The EYFS 2014 states that “Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest”.

Here at Aston Childcare we love our books and we are lucky to have a fortnightly mobile library that stops at the top of our road in the village.

Here are just some of the resources and activities we have to encourage both reading and writing –


  • Alphabet abacus
  • Variety of books (including fabric books, touch and feel books, board books, lift the flap, slide and find, sound effect and pop up books)
  • Alphabet flash cards with letters and words
  • Single Decorative cardboard letters A-Z
  • Magnetic board and letters
  • Books such as Oxford First Dictionary and Oxford First Thesaurus.
  • Role play items such as a tea set that have words like “tea” and “sugar” on them.
  • Happyland characters and buildings encourage literacy. Buildings say “Post office”, School, “police station”, “Fire station” and “Doctors surgery”. The doctor’s surgery displays the days of the week and surgery opening hours. Street furniture such as a Telephone Box and road crossing signs say things such as “POLICE- Road Closed”. Community figures such as a lollipop lady has a sign that reads “STOP children”, Emergency vehicles are labelled “POLICE” , “Ambulance” and “Fire” and other vehicles say “School” , “Taxi” or “Post Office” on them.
  • I rotate informational posters in the playroom that display numbers, letters, the human body and maps to provide a print rich environment for the children and a source of information for children to learn.
  • In the garden further print takes the form of plant label markers, magnetic easel boards displaying messages eg “Happy birthday” to mark a child’s birthday.
  • Mark making resources – small pencils, clipboards (both mini and large for inside and outside)



  • Children enjoy reading books and being read to. Older children enjoy reading to younger ones.
  • Play Hangman
  • Children enjoy making names with the decorative letters
  • Making words with letter magnets on the magnetic easel.
  • Visits to the mobile library that visits the village.
  • Writing in sand
  • Water painting
  • Finger painting
  • Using chalks on blackboard
  • Looking at print in the environment ie road signs, shop signs and house names and numbers
  • nature walks with worksheets
  • Labeling plants

Further to this I have some magna doodles and etch-a-sketches on my wish list and lots more books!



Chinese New Year

Happy New Year! Chinese New Year that is!

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac.  This year is the year of the monkey.

My 4 year old mindee was already enjoying lots of activities at pre-school to celebrate the Chinese New Year, they wore red for the day, they had a Chinese visitor, enjoyed Chinese food, made a large dragon as a class and lanterns too.

I decided that pre-school had this one sewn up(!) so I opted for a very simple activity of drawing monkeys to mark the year of the monkey instead! They impressively chose to draw their monkeys on blossom trees. Blossom trees are much prized in both China and Japan and linked closely with spring festivals. Chinese New Year, for example, celebrates blossom in all its forms. They completed their pictures with some bananas…

Colour themed baby treasure basket

This week I put together a colour themed sensory tray for my 1 year old mindee. I went with the colour blue and collected various bits and pieces from around the playroom trying to get different shapes and textures for her to explore.

The final basket included –

  • 1 plastic blue stacking ring
  • 1 plastic stacking cup
  • 1 wooden tea cup
  • 1 wooden prism
  • 1 wooden rectangular piece with a hole
  • 1 sensory ball
  • 1 sensory cube
  • 1 long soft jersey scarf
  • 1 small wooden car
  • 1 square piece of duplo


I sat back and watched her explore on her own, without any interference or direction of play. It’s lovely to sit beside them while they play and just observe how they explore the materials and what they make of them.

She enjoyed the motor element of the basket as much as the contents, simply taking each thing out one by one and putting them back in again! Then she began touching, rolling and banging the pieces together and generally discovering what they can do.

It’s fun to create these resources and I always find they love engaging with them so much more than shop bought toys.