Month: October 2016

Halloween happenings

I currently only look after children aged 2 ½ and under so Halloween doesn’t yet mean anything to them but we have been putting a little Halloween twist on some of our recent activities nevertheless. From messy play the youngest can be involved in, to stories we can all enjoy together, to puzzles for the older ones – we’ve all been involved.

  • Messy play: Messy spaghetti and playdough in blood red and black, the colour of darkness and green monster slime (gloop)
  • Books: Halloween sliding windows book, great for developing fine motor skills, learning new words and numbers and Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau
  • Puzzles: Scary spider puzzle – Puzzles are huge here! We have far too many but love them all!

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

Happy Halloween everyone!  Mwahahaha!

Children’s Book week

Today marks the start of the BookTrusts Children’s Book Week (31 October to 4 November). BookTrust is the largest reading charity in the UK who aim to inspire children everywhere to love reading.

Here at Aston childcare we love our books and have a wide range to choose from (far too many to mention!)  Baby friendly board books are available at floor level at babies’ height in the playroom and we have a lovely, cosy book corner in the lounge.

I was so sad to see the recent closure of the mobile library here in Aston which stopped at the end of my road every fortnight.

As an early years professional, I am committed to reading with the children as I know their parents are.

Extending play

As childminders it is not only our responsibility to provide the children with a wide range of attractive resources and activities to enjoy but to also spot opportunities to extend their play where we can.

Water play is a favourite activity here. I provide a range of resources to extend children’s play – numerous jugs of different sizes, measuring cylinders, sieves, funnels and water wheels all help children explore water further. Buckets of water and dolls for washing dolls is another great way of developing  personal social and emotional development skills.

Playdough is another firm favourite here which is out most days. To extend children’s play in this area I provide a number of tools, number and letter cutters to help with numeracy and literacy and dough extruders to further develop fine motor skills. The introduction of loose parts such as bottle tops and straws also helps extend play.

The other area of play I have recently identified that could be extended is our much favoured duplo. Again, this is out most days. With some of the children now learning their numbers I realised that the enjoyment they have in making towers and tall structures could be combined with some measuring activities so plan to introduce tape measures, rulers, number lines and string alongside the duplo.


Messy Play: Potato printing

This afternoon the children enjoyed one of those classic childhood activities – potato printing. It’s fun, creative, not to mention messy!

I had some potatoes that were past their best in my cupboard and was keen to put them to good use! Unfortunately my carving skills weren’t up to much but they did the job!

The children loved picking up the potatoes and squishing them into the paint and then stamping them down on to the card.

I recently did some training on ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning:  Creating and Thinking Critically’ which reminded me that the focus on the pieces of work my mindees provide shouldn’t be on them looking perfect for parents because it can interrupt a child’s thought process. With this in mind, I sat back and let them do their own thing avoiding the need to step in to help them create the “perfect print”.

Once they had covered their pieces of card there were chants of “more, more!” which I took to mean that they were actively involved and enjoying what they were doing (Characteristics of Effective Learning)

My son soon decided to stick his whole hand in the paint and do hand print painting instead(!) which we had done a couple of weeks previously.

Areas of learning covered: Communication & Language, Physical Development, Expressive Arts and Design, Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Literacy and Maths.

Characteristics of Effective Learning: Active Learning: Being involved and concentrating, Enjoying achieving what they set out to do

World Maths Day

Saturday gone was World Maths Day (No! I didn’t know either!)…

It’s prompted me (now I know!) to reflect on what mathematical activities we have been up to here at Aston Childcare recently.

Well, we have been doing lots of number recognition…One of my mindees (aged 2 years 5 months) and my own son (2 years 4 months) are just starting to enjoy looking at and naming numbers. I try and take every opportunity to count and point out numbers. Their current favourite is shouting out the numbers we see on our duplo number train! To continue their interest in numbers we recently did a simple number collage that they enjoyed. Other ways we get to see and look at numbers here at Aston Childcare are –

  • Shape sorter clock
  • Clock faces
  • Books with numbers such as “five little ducks”
  • Watching Numtums on CBeebies
  • Playing with our toy till
  • Playing with our jumbo calculator
  • Making numbers out of playdough with the number cutters
  • Number stickers in our arts and crafts sessions

Development matters states that children between the ages of 22-36 months will –


Aside from numbers, other mathematical resources we have been enjoying lately here at Aston Childcare have been our new “Go Wheelies”! which are a great way of developing the use of positional language.

The children were loving the large foam blocks in the garden over the summer months.

The numbered ducks and measuring cylinders in our water play area are popular as are the number and shape magnets and talking numbered remote control inside.


People and communities

Here at Aston Childcare we are privileged to have such a lovely village setting. It has to be said though that there is not much diversity on our doorstep. It is therefore important that the children know about the wider world and their community. “Understanding the world: People and communities” makes up one of the 7 components of the EYFS areas of learning.

We are a small group here so we first learn about one another. I feel it is important that the children realise that they are unique and accept and embrace their own differences in a smaller setting before we get out into the wider community. To do this, we –

  • We learn eachothers names.
  • We talk about our families, our likes and our dislikes.
  • We appreciate that everyone is a valuable contributor within the group
  • The babies and younger ones see older children for instance on school runs
  • We talk about our feelings and what makes us special
  • We look at books which represent children’s diverse backgrounds
  • We play with items that show positive images of all children with diverse physical characteristics
  • We play with toys and resources that avoid negative stereotypes

In a wider context we –

  • Look at people who help us in the community- through puzzles, posters, dressing up.
  • We explore different occupations
  • Get out and about in the community ourselves – shops, garden centres, village attractions, soft play, parks, school runs.
  • Explore different religious festivals such as Diwali