Month: March 2016

Spring has sprung!

With the daffodils out in full bloom, the birds tweeting away, the blossom staring to show on the trees and the weather being kind to us we had a lovely play session in the garden this afternoon.

The children loved checking on the chickens, playing with the sand and water table (it all got very messy!) and picking daisies and buttercups.

Sensory play

Baby sensory classes are big business. As a home based childcarer I aim to provide lots of different things to stimulate all 5 of babies and toddlers senses (hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste) outside of expensive classes.

Babies love to put things in their mouths and I don’t discourage this as this is how they learn. All my toys are regularly inspected for cleanliness and safety.

I am to provide resources that offer a range of different textures, types, colours and shapes which will provide a lot of sensory stimulation for all the children.

These are just some of the sensory activities and resources I provide here at Aston Childcare (the safety and ages of each child is always considered before using any of the items listed) –

  • Playdough – adding things such as glitter or lavender
  • finger painting
  • Small bean bags
  • Treasure baskets – filled with metal items, wood items, plastic items, ribbons
  • Touch and Feel sensory books
  • Cooking and baking sessions to explore taste and smell.
  • Outside basket – filled with fir cones, interesting leaves, twigs etc
  • Scarves
  • Arts and crafts items such as pom poms and wool.
  • Paper and cardboard sensory bag with different types of card eg shiny, ridged, coloured
  • bubble wrap
  • Bubbles
  • Mirrors
  • Rice
  • Spaghetti
  • sand and water tray
  • Mud play
  • gloop (flour and water)
  • sensitive shaving foam
  • Musical instruments
  • Smooth stones in the garden
  • Shells in a bag
  • Wooden blocks and large wooden dice
  • Sensory play mat
  • Plastic little people or animals



Messy Mondays: Coloured spaghetti

Today we had some sensory fun with some coloured spaghetti. We added some pink and green food colouring to cooked spaghetti and popped it in our messy tray and then my mindee got stuck in feeling the contents of the tray.

“It’s sticky”, “It’s wet” “it’s yummy” and “it’s like wiggly worms” he said.

He loved squeezing it in his hands, wrapping it around his hands and fingers and holding it up high and letting it drop again.

This was a very simple, open-ended, sensory activity which appeals to children because of the bright colours and the satisfying texture.

Let’s talk about…

…poo! Yes, sorry….!

This website is great and deals with issues about poo problems which are very common in children and even more so in toddlers and pre-schoolers

And, with potty training on the horizon for my own son (21 months old)  my current reading material is all about toileting and this website is a great tool –







I have been busy recently educating myself on Schemas.

Schemas are patterns of repeated behaviour that children display through playing. They allow children to explore and express developing ideas and thoughts through their play and exploration.

My son (aged 21 months) is currently displaying clear signs of an enveloping/enclosing schema, he loves to fill bags with things he has found and loves getting into boxes.

The CBBC website has a great piece which explains all about schemas  –

Planting sunflowers

I can’t believe it’s nearly a year since we grew our first sunflowers last year!

I had kept the leftover seeds carefully from last year and, after last year’s success, couldn’t wait to plant them again this year with a new mindee. My 4 year old mindee loved planting the seeds and covering them over with the soil.

Although cold outside today, the sun was out which made the whole experience very enjoyable!

Areas of Learning covered: Physical Development, Understanding The World, Maths, Communication & Language

A closer look at…ICT


A recent article in the telegraph said that “Children today are part of a digital generation that has grown up in a world surrounded by technology and the internet, and they are using mobile phones, tablets, e-readers and computers on a daily basis,”

It went on to say “The temptation for many parents is to view technology as ruining the ‘essence of childhood’ and added “Research by web security firm AVG claims that more small children can play a computer game or use a smartphone application than ride a bike, tie their own shoelaces or swim unaided”.

However, Technology in the early years is not about using a tablet, computer or mobile phone all day but can be explored in a number of ways.

Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) says that for babies from birth-20 months “The beginnings of understanding technology lie in babies exploring and making sense of objects and how they behave”

It suggests that –

A child aged 16-20 months

  • Anticipates repeated sounds, sights and actions, e.g. when an adult demonstrates an action toy several times.
  • Shows interest in toys with buttons, flaps and simple mechanisms and beginning to learn to operate them.

A child of 22-36 months child –

  • Seeks to acquire basic skills in turning on and operating some ICT equipment.
  • Operates mechanical toys, e.g. turns the knob on a wind-up toy or pulls back on a friction car.

A child 30-50 months

  • Knows how to operate simple equipment, e.g. turns on CD player and uses remote control.
  • Shows an interest in technological toys with knobs or pulleys, or real objects such as cameras or mobile phones.
  • Shows skill in making toys work by pressing parts or lifting flaps to achieve effects such as sound, movements or new images.
  • Knows that information can be retrieved from computers

A child 40-60 months+

  • Completes a simple program on a computer.
  • Uses ICT hardware to interact with age-appropriate computer software.

Here at Aston Childcare these are just some of the ICT resources I have available to children –

  • Push the button books
  • Lift the flap books
  • Books with shutters and rotating parts
  • Friction cars
  • Remote controls
  • Remote control cars/tractors
  • Camera
  • Car keys
  • Laptop
  • Push button toys (such as Happyland)
  • Light dimmer switch
  • Kitchen tools such as egg whisk, electric mixer
  • In the community: pelican crossings, using shop self-service checkouts

On my wishlist is a karaoke machine, an electric keyboard, a wind up torch and some pulleys!


Be Sugar Smart!

This is a great website to familiarise yourself with how much sugar is lurking in your children’s food –

Here at Aston Childcare we steer clear of fizzy drinks, juice and sugary squash and have recently taken dried fruit off the menu because of the sugar it contains and damage it does to our teeth.

I am always reviewing the food I provide to ensure we are healthy and Sugar Smart!

Natural Resources

As we know, children learn through play; by doing, by interacting with others and by asking questions. The tactile experience children have handling natural materials makes learning fun and exciting.

In addition to our nature walks and activities outdoors I like to ensure the children have the opportunity to explore natural resources.

Here are just some of the natural resources made available to children here at Aston Childcare –

  • Shells
  • Twigs
  • Mud
  • Leaves
  • Pebbles
  • Pine cones
  • Conkers
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Heuristic treasure basket for babies with items such as wicker balls and a loofah
  • Straw
  • Bark

The ages of children are considered carefully in choosing items that are safe for them to explore.