Month: August 2016

Focus on: Gross Motor Skills

The Department of Health has recently published an infographic promoting physical activity in under 5s which has prompted me to reflect on how I promote physical activity here at Aston Childcare.


The foundation year’s website states that –

  • Only one in 10 children aged 2-4 are active for 3 hours or more daily.
  • This is a new infographic based on existing CMO guidelines. It will help early years practitioners, health visitors, and doctors to talk with parents about the importance of young children being active. It can also be used as a training resource.
  • The infographic is designed to explain the UK Chief Medical Officers recommendation that children aged under 5 should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes, spread through the day. Every movement counts and includes crawling, walking, jumping, object and messy play.
  • It highlights the benefits being active and the range of activity to achieve this recommendation. Physical activity has been shown to help maintain a healthy weight, improve concentration, health and fitness, improves sleep and builds social skills and confidence.

Here at Aston Childcare I like to give the children plenty of opportunity to develop their gross motor skills in the following ways –

For Babies –

  • I ensure they get plenty of “tummy time”, giving them the opportunity to lift their heads up and use their arm muscles
  • I stand back and let them pull up on furniture
  • I provide walkers to encourage walking
  • I provide ample safe, space for them to crawl and soft floor coverings

For toddlers and older children –

  • I ensure they get plenty of play outside in the garden – running, jumping, throwing beanbags, kicking balls, playing golf, blow and chase bubbles, going on the slide and gardening. Sand and water play means they do lots of digging, scooping, sifting, pouring, building and cleaning up and is a fun way to develop the children’s larger muscles and gross motor skills
  • We visit our local park to use large scale play equipment such as swings, roundabouts, see saw, zip wire, climbing bars etc.
  • We love our village walks, puddle splashing, conker collecting and blackberry picking.
  • We enjoy music and dance and games in the playroom playing things such as What’s the time Mr Wolf and doing the Hokey Cokey.
  • We do lots of cooking and baking giving children the opportunity to develop muscles such as those in their arms by stirring.

So remember…Move more, Sit less, Play together!

No eggs here!

Although we’ve had our chickens over a year now I still haven’t worked out when they lay their eggs! So when we are outside and the children want to collect the eggs I never know if there will be 1, 2 or none!

The other day the children ran over to the chicken coop and lifted the lid excitedly only to find there were no eggs and exclaimed “Oh no!” disappointedly. It reminded me of the book we love to read  “Oh Dear!” by Rod Campbell  where Buster goes to stay with his Grandma and looks all over for the eggs, each time exclaiming “No eggs here! Oh dear!”. Buster does eventually find the eggs in the henhouse. It’s a lift the flap book which always proves popular with little hands!

Areas of Learning: Mathematics, Literacy, Understanding the World and Communication & Language.

Woodland Walks

If you go down to the woods today…

Here at Aston Childcare we love a good walk and nothing beats a lovely woodland walk. I like them best in the autumn months when the crisp leaves beneath our feet make that satisfying crunch noise.

It’s such a simple, free activity but the children love it, they love finding interesting leaves and twigs, pine cones, cracking open horse chesnuts and picking conkers, nature spotting, finding interesting woodland funghi and I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t like to march along with a stick in their hand!

Country Life!

This morning I woke up to straw all over our lawn! At first I wondered what on earth had happened until I realised its harvest time again when the farmers are raking the hay ready for processing into bales afterwards. We collected up the straw and popped it in a wheelbarrow. The children have used straw in their small world play before with farm animals which provides them with  a great sensory element to their play.

We are so lucky to live in the country and it affords us with lots of great real life learning opportunities…

  • It’s blackberry picking time again, no need for special trips to pick your own farms we have them in the wild right here on our doorstep!
  • Our neighouring fields have lambs and sheep in and we see lots of lovely horses, pony’s and cows on our village walks.
  • Tractors and other farm machinery going by provide us with a great opportunity to talk and learn about different vehicles.
  • The open countryside means the children can have great fun rolling down hills and walks through corn fields.
  • We learn about classic countryside sights such as kissing gates and sty’s.
  • We get to help ourselves to locals offering homegrown apples and produce fresh from their gardens.
  • Added to this the country air is good for our lungs and means we all sleep well!

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

Maths activity: Exploring Shapes

Yesterday after lunch we enjoyed doing a shapes collage. This activity was with two 2 year olds.

I recently completed some training in Developing Children’s Emergent Mathematical Skills which spoke about being able to recognise, name and provide a range of opportunities for children from birth to explore and discover 2D and 3D shapes in the context of play.

The Early Years Foundation Stage states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children including the specific area of mathematics
‘Mathematics involves providing children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measures.’ (p8; EYFS 2014)

They both started off doing a collage each before we decided that a collective effort would be more fun. It involved them using fine motor skills (Physical development), taking turns (Personal, social and emotional development) discussing shape names and counting how many pieces we had (maths and Communication and language) and expressive arts and design.

The children were both actively involved and concentrating for a good 30 minutes (Characteristic of effective learning).

I love activities like this, simple yet enjoyable, teaching and learning and a lovely end product to admire!

Areas of Learning covered: Maths, Communication and language, Expressive arts and design, Physical development and Personal, social and emotional development.

Can you spot the shapes we used in our collage? (Square, rectangle, circle, triangle, trapezoid, ellipse, octagon, hexagon…