Month: May 2016

Junk Modelling (non directive play)

Last week on a particularly wet and miserable afternoon, I thought I would get out my junk modelling box full of bits and pieces I have been collecting for a while now.

I started out with the two youngest (23 months and almost 2!). I put the box on the table and let them have a good rummage through the items to see what they made of them all. It was a lovely heuristic play opportunity for them and they both really enjoyed it. They loved exploring the long poster tubes, the kitchen roll tubes and the shorter toilet roll tubes, the corrugated card and all the various sized boxes.

Later on when we had collected the 2 after schoolers we invited them to join in and do some junk modelling. They both jumped at the idea and I was surprised at how something so simple ignited their interest and they both got stuck in to making their creations whilst the younger two buzzed around stealing any spare tubes and unreeling lots of masking tape!

I found this article on junk modelling which explains the benefits of non-directive play such as this:

Child development and junk modelling –

Non directive toys, materials, props, equipment and so on leave space for the child to exercise their creativity and inventiveness. Combining disparate materials, for example toilet rolls and a shoe box to make a robot is problem solving. More to the point, it is divergent problem solving, which is a higher level  thinking skill. We also understand now that play is about process much more than it is about product.The adaptability of junk, and the fact it can be used for different purposes and in different ways, helps support infinite process opportunities. The non-directive nature of junk means what is needed to make a robot one day, may be the exact same thing used to make a space station the next.

Skills that non directive play supports –

Settings that provide junk provide variability, flexibility and adaptability. When children can engage with environments and resources like this in their play they can express their creativity, innovation and cognitive ability. Children can create and solve problems, and as a result generate feelings of motivation and reward. This in turn supports them to develop self confidence, Self concept and identity. With these materials they practice complex skills from fine and gross locomotor skills to higher executive functioning; skills such as sequencing, hypothesis testing, analysis and evaluation.The immersion and ownership of their play is increased and therefore children are more likely to try to resolve problems for themselves.This will help develop intra psychic capability (self reliance)and support the development of a growth mind set (a belief in one’s self as a learner and thinker).Junk modelling, loose parts play or heuristic play all work on the principle that non directive materials support a greater degree of flexible behaviour and as such support innovation and creativity.


Sugary Drinks warning

Liverpool city council have produced a poster aimed at parents to make them aware of the alarming levels of sugar in some of children’s favourite drinks. It’s quite an eye opener! Take a look…

How much sugar do children’s favourite drinks contain?

Sugar lumps per product (one lump = 4g of sugar)

Lucozade (500ml) 15.5

Coca-Cola (500ml) 13.5

Frijj chocolate milkshake (471ml) 12.7

Capri-Sun (330ml) 8.25

Tropicana orange juice (300ml) 7.5

Ribena (288ml) 7.25

Volvic flavoured water (500ml) 5.75


Making marks


Here at Aston Childcare the children love to start making marks from a young age and I like to offer them up lots of opportunities to do so.

Making marks in under 2’s is linked to Physical Development – Moving and Handling- making connections between their movements and the marks they make, and also Expressive Arts and Design– Exploring and using media/materials- sensory exploration, notices and is interested in the effects of making movements which leaves marks.

At this young age mark making is all about sensory, exploration, making connections and noticing effects…

Development matters says –

Physical development: Moving and Handling, 8-20 months old

A unique child: “Holds pen or crayon using a whole hand (palmar) grasp and makes random marks with different strokes”.

Positive relationships, what adults could do “Show babies different ways to make marks in dough or paint by swirling, poking or patting it”.

Expressive Arts and Design, 8-26 months old –

A unique child: Notices and is interested in the effects of making movements which leave marks.

Positive relationships, what adults could do “Encourage babies to make marks and to squeeze and feel media such as paint, gloop (cornflour and water), dough and bubbles”.

Here are some of my mindees (all under the age of 2!) enjoying making marks…

Let’s play…playdough!

Here at Aston Childcare we love our playdough. Playdough can be worked in to any theme –  Halloween, Valentine’s day, Christmas…and can be done with a range of ages from very young to school aged children.

We have a variety of rolling pins that produce different patterns. We have playdough cutters in the form of shapes, letters and numbers. We have cutting wheels, cutting and modelling tools and playdough extruders which all provide hours of fun learning play for the children.

We also enjoy adding things to our playdough from time to time such as glitter or lavender from the garden to give an added sensory element.

Areas of Learning covered: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication & Language, Literacy, Mathematics, Expressive Arts and Design


Encouraging independence

Here at Aston Childcare I aim to promote your child’s independence by providing them with lots of opportunities to do things for themselves. As the saying goes “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings”. Where possible, I try not to do things for children that they can do for themselves. All of these things help children be school ready and have a sense of independence which is great for their confidence.

independence quote

  • I encourage children to put on their own socks, shoes and coats allowing themplenty of time to do things for themselves.! I love this coat flip –
  • I encourage children to drink from open cups (starting with doidy cups for little ones)
  • I provide child-size cutlery so that young children can feed themselves
  • I listen to babies and children and respond to what they are telling me. If a baby turns his head during meal times it means he is full; when a little one says ‘no’ I stop and respect their wishes.
  • I encourage children to open their own wrappers and packaging
  • I encourage children to pour their own drink’s
  • I encourage children to wash and dry their own hands
  • I provide books that support their independence such as potty training which help children learn that toileting is something to be praised and that, even with the odd accident along the way, they can eventually succeed. The story of the hare and the tortoise reminds children that they should keep trying and they will get there in the end, supporting children who find things a bit hard and encouraging them to try again.
  • I encourage children to help with choosing new toys etc. This allows them to see that their thoughts are valued and their contributions are important. I  give children appropriate praise so they know that I value their involvement.
  • I stand back and let children play by themselves anddo not ‘helicopter’ around them. I respect their right to play their own games but am always close by in case I am needed.
  • I support children to make choices – what they want to eat, where they want to play, the type of games they want to be involved in, if they want to opt out etc.
  • I involve children in planning their environment and activities.