Month: November 2016


The children love stickers here at Aston Childcare which are great for developing fine motor skills (Physical Development) and earlier this week our sticker theme was Minibeasts which got us talking about spiders, butterflies, beetles, bees, caterpillars, centipedes……

To extend this activity and their learning we then went off and completed our lovely Minibeast puzzles.

Whilst Winter’s not the best time of year for a bug hunt  (late spring, summer and early autumn are the best times) it did make me reflect on what other activities we do over the course of the year to learn about and explore Minibeasts –

  • The children learn about Minibeasts in books such as children’s classics Incy Wincy Spider and The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Our set of Animal index books help with bug identification
  • We made a wormery in the garden to help us observe worms which was great fun.
  • We have jumbo tweezers, magnifying glass and a magnifying bug box to look at our lovely critters!
  • The children have made some fab bug hotels
  • The children enjoy creating minibeasts during our Arts and crafts sessions such as spiders out of pipe cleaners!
  • The children enjoy painting minibeasts
  • Snail shells form part of our current nature tray
  • The children enjoy completing minibeast puzzles
  • The children learn about the Life cycle of various minibeasts with our Life cycle puzzles and Life cycle ink stamps
  • Visits to local attractions to see flowers are ideal for spotting minibeasts such as bees and butterflies
  • Visits to our local park and wooded areas are the ideal place to explore – finding minibeasts anywhere with trees and shrubs or in long grass or turning over logs and stones.

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


Here at Aston Childcare, painting is a very popular activity and one that we enjoy regularly. I know some childminders shy away from it due to the inevitable mess it can make but not so here!

To keep it fun and interesting, we enjoy doing lots of different types of painting including – printing (such as potato printing), Large scale painting, Finger printing, Hand print painting, water painting and mess free paint bags.

The opportunities for developing children’s learning are endless which is why I like to ensure painting is accessible to children throughout the week.

Here are just some of the reasons why painting is so important –

  • Painting helps develop children’s creative development and stimulates their brain.
  • It allows children to freely express themselves and develop their creativity. Young children can use their bodies to move around exploring as they go.
  • Painting can provide children with vast amounts of learning, this may be developing their fine pincer grip or learning about colour mixing. Large-scale painting is great for developing social skills.
  • Painting is a tactile sensory experience.
  • Children will often show their feelings through their marks.

As with any activity it is our role as childminders to scaffold the children’s learning and help them reach their full potential.

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


With the mercury falling to below -5c last night we were excited to find huge sheets of ice in our sand and water table today. The last time I explored ice was with a 4 year old mindee but this time it was a mindee and my son who are 30 and 29 months old respectively, and it was lovely to watch them explore something for the first time. They started to lift out the sheets with their hands before deciding to fish the remainder out with the fishing net.

They filled up a bucket before transporting it to a wheelbarrow and then mixing in some soil. I’m not sure of their thought process but they were completely emerged in their little game!

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

Characteristic of Effective Learning:  Playing & Exploring: Finding out and exploring, Active Learning: Being involved and concentrating, Creating and thinking critically: Having their own ideas, Choosing ways to do things

Nursery Rhyme Week

Today marks the start of World Nursery Rhyme Week (7-11 November).

Here at Aston Childcare we love reading nursery rhymes.  One of our all time favourites is  Incy Wincy Spider which is evident from its well worn spine!  We also have a lovely copy of Row Row Row Your Boat complete with sound button. We also have a fantastic book and CD by Roger Priddy which has 22 nursery rhymes  – Hey Diddle Diddle, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Mary Quite Contrary, Hickory Dickory Dock, Little Jack Horner, The Queen of Hearts, Little Bo Beep, Little Miss Muffet, This Little Piggy, Rock-A-Bye-Baby, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, Old Mother Hubbard, Pat a Cake, Yankee Doodle, Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Sing a Song of Sixpence, Pussy Cat, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Three Little Kittens, There was an Old Woman and finally, Goosey Goosey Gander.


Here are just ten reasons why nursery rhymes are so great for children’s learning –

  1. Young children are naturally ‘wired’ for sound and rhythm. Besides providing enjoyment, singing nursery rhymes play an important role in language and literacy development. Toddlers begin to experiment with grammatical ‘rules’ and various rhyming patterns when they sing – skills that will prove useful when learning to read.
  2. Singing nursery rhymes can help children to develop emergent literacy skills. Many are repetitive which can support the development of memory and kickstart the practice of listening and speaking.
  3. Nursery Rhymes provide great practice with one to one word correspondence and early reading. Children tend to memorise rhymes fairly easily so many of them become successful at “reading” them.
  4. Singing nursery rhymes and other songs help children remember basic facts such as the order of letters in the alphabet, partly because songs tap into fundamental systems in our brains that are sensitive to melody and beat.
  5. Singing songs and rhymes are a critical component of ‘literacy disposition’ – the desire to read. Children find singing activities really enjoyable which helps disposition development because ultimately, disposition grows from positive experiences.
  6. Nursery rhymes are portable – they don’t need to be ‘plugged in’! They can be enjoyed at any time and anywhere. Sing them in the playground, at dinner time, bath time and when children are getting ready for bed. Children love rhymes – they cannot resist joining in.
  7. Rhymers are readers. “If a child knows 8 nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are 4 years old, they are usually among the best readers and spellers in their class by the time they are 8”. M. Fox, Reading Magic.
  8. Nursery rhymes are sophisticated literary devices. Think of the alliteration in ‘Goosey, Goosey Gander’ or the onomatopoeia in ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and rhyme in ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’.
  9. Nursery rhymes are a powerful learning source in early literacy. They enable children to become interested in the rhythm and patterns of language.
  10. Nursery rhymes include 3 key elements: repetition, rhythm and rhyme – making them valuable language teaching tools.




Life Cycles

I recently purchased these fab stamps from a company called Insectlore

They have lots of lovely, fun, educational products.


They are such a fab, fun way to teach children about simple Life cycles in nature. At the moment I just have 2.5 year olds and under so they are really just enjoying the act of stamping them and creating fun frog prints but I know they will be great as they get to pre-school age and we can begin to talk about Life Cycles in more depth.

Other ways we explore and look at life cycles here at Aston Childcare are by –

  • Planting seeds and growing flowers
  • Reading books such as Eric Carles ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’
  • and these lovely puzzles showing other life cycles in nature –

As always, the children will learn when it is made fun for them.

Natural resources: Bringing the outside in!

Here at Aston Childcare we love to explore the outdoors and enjoy all nature has to offer.

It’s also nice for the children to have some bits to look at once back inside too.  This is why we have a natural resources tray so that we can bring the outside in!

Our tray changes all the time but it currently has –

  • Pine cones
  • Bark
  • Branch cross sections
  • Natural Driftwood
  • Feathers
  • Branches/twigs
  • Snail shells

Armed with just a magnifying glass and their own curiosity this kind of thing can keep my little ones occupied for ages!

Messy play

Here at Aston Childcare we love a bit of messy play! Of course every day we have sand and water and playdough out but as well as these we enjoy all kinds of other messy, sensory experiences such as –

  • gloop
  • Coloured spaghetti
  • Rainbow rice
  • Cloud dough
  • Shaving foam
  • Sand mousse
  • Making mud pies

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas that I think they might enjoy.

Some children can be reluctant to put their hands in our latest concoction at first whilst others get stuck straight in!

Messy play is recognised as an important part of early education and has many benefits for the children and so it’s important that as childminders we embrace the mess!!

These are just some of the ways in which messy play helps children –

Physical Development  The children get to develop and practice their fine motor skills and eye hand coordination.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development – There is no “right” way for children to do messy play which builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Children can develop concentration, problem-solving and planning skills. Working with others fosters self-respect and respect for others and presents opportunities for making relationships. Messy play can offer an outlet for feelings, experiences and thoughts.

Communication and language – During messy play, children have  many opportunities to speak and listen. They use words and gestures to share resources, explain actions, negotiate plans and take turns. By asking open ended questions we can help encourage their thinking skills.