Month: December 2016

Farewell 2016

Well as Aston Childcare closes its doors on 2016 I wanted to share just some of what we enjoyed this month in the lead up to Christmas.

We read lots of Christmas books and learnt lots of new words, we rode around on our hobby horse reindeer(!), we had lots of fun with our Christmas inspired playdough, we explored ice outdoors, we did lots of arts and crafts with lots of sticking and gluing and we learnt about shapes whilst making snowmen and Christmas Trees.

It’s been a fantastic year which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I am so lucky to have such lovely children to look after and blessed with lovely parents who make my job easy and enjoyable.

I hope you all had a lovely year and see you in 2017!

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

Mud Kitchen

Mud, mud glorious mud! Welcome to Aston Childcare’s new addition…our mud kitchen! I was toying with the idea of buying one for a while but couldn’t bear to part with £100 or more when I could see how easily one could be created given some old wood and the right tools. I therefore enlisted (bullied!) my partner in to making us one and we are thrilled with the result.

Made from all old wood we had lying around from various house projects this was free to make bar a couple of cheap washing up bowls.

The children have been loving playing with it and I have already witnessed so many ways that it is helping and enhancing their learning and I can also see many ideas for future learning.

In just a short space of time I have watched them talking, listening, describing and discussing what they are doing (Communication and  Language), filling up, carrying and using watering cans, containers and kitchen utensils (Physical Development), measuring water and other materials (Maths), developing relationships with one another through playing games and role play (Personal, Social and Emotional Development), exploring the properties and textures of moss, mud, sticks and leaves and experiencing and discussing nature (Understanding The World) and using their imagination (Expressive Arts and Design). I now plan to provide a blackboard for mark making and early literacy opportunities too.

In addition I have also witnessed many Characteristics of Effective Learning too including:

  • Playing and exploring: Finding out and exploring
  • Active learning: Being involved and concentrating
  • Creating and thinking critically: Having their own ideas

I have loved watching them be creative, role play, collaborate and communicate with one another and completely happy and contented whilst immersed in play.

As part of my continuous provision I plan to provide further opportunities to extend and develop their learning in every area over time.

Plane Spotting!

This week whilst playing out in the garden in some much welcome sunshine, a large plane flew overhead. We live just 5 miles from the largest RAF air base in the country so have the opportunity to see some huge RAF cargo planes – infrequent enough not to be a nuisance but often enough to be a recognisable sight and source of entertainment.

The children loved craning their necks to see the plane fly overhead or have me pick them up to note how big it is, how fast it is and how high it is.

Such simple pleasures that create such great excitement for the children are what make being a childminder such a privilege.

Areas of Learning covered: Understanding the World, Communication & Language, Mathematics



O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!

This morning with the baby asleep I set out this simple craft activity for my own son and my 2.5 year old mindee. They loved using their fine motor skills to glue and stick the baubles on. We spoke about the shape of the baubles. They discussed which colour baubles they were going to use next and decided where each bauble would go. They were very proud of their designs once finished showing them off to any visitors that came to the door. I think you’ll agree they did a great job!

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

Seasonal Crafts: Snowmen

Sometimes I set up a craft activity for the children that lasts 10 minutes, other times it really captures their interest and lasts an hour. Today was one such time! We set out to make a snowman each but by the end of our session the children had produced a whole snow family!

We discussed the parts of the body – head, body, eyes. We explored circles, we counted how many buttons we had, how many eyes we needed. We chatted throughout and had a lovely time, I was so pleased with how the snowmen turned out and the children loved them!

I stepped back to allow them to complete their snowmen how they liked and so as not to interrupt their thought process, this resulted in some wonderfully fun designs.

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

Characteristics of Effective Learning: Active Learning

Soft Play

Today we headed off to Soft Play. For the first time in a while we weren’t restricted by any time constraints with the baby’s morning and post lunch naps so I took my son and my 2.5 year old mindee off to Soft Play. The last time I went was with a school aged mindee in the school holidays.

To say they loved it is somewhat of an understatement! I loved seeing them run around enjoying themselves (Physical Development), interacting with other children (Communication & Language) and managing their behaviour and feelings over sharing toys with strangers (Personal, Social and Emotional Development). I even observed some mathematical learning (Mathematics) taking place as they had fun fitting large foam shapes in to the corresponding shapes on the wall (circle, hexagon, triangle and square)!

When done occasionally in this way these kind of outings can be real treats and I think this contributed to their excitement.

Love it or hate it Soft Play provides many benefits for children as I witnessed today covering many areas of learning and an excellent chance to observe some Characteristics of Effective Learning.



Coping with crying

When my son was born we had a stressful week long stay in the hospital. I remember pacing the hospital corridors in an attempt to calm him away from the busy, hectic ward I was on. I would walk past this poster every hour or so and stop and remind myself of my child’s crying cues. It really helped me in those early days so much so that when I returned home I pinned a copy up on the inside of a kitchen cupboard door and shared it with my sister when she had her son 6 months later.


The NSPCC have developed a short film ‘Coping with Crying’ which helps to prepare parents for the stress they might feel when their baby cries and help them to cope better.

In the film, parents share their experience of looking after their new baby and provide practical tips. The film also includes advice from experts about crying.