Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Tooth-Brushing Time! *Challenge Accepted!*

Oops - what's this? Another post before I continue my list of outdoor ideas? Shocking!

Today I had a little brainwave which I thought I would share with you! At my nursery, we sit the Pre School children down after their high tea and have 'tooth-brushing time.' 
Now this can be a challenging time for us (especially on the days that we have larger groups of children) and the children can struggle to sit for this time, let alone actually brush their teeth! 

I know my children well, and I recognised that today, our usual tooth-brush time story was not going to work! The children were full of fun and tall tales and if I had tried to read a book, they would all be offering thoughts and ideas - spraying toothpaste (and not to mention spit) everywhere! 

And so - I decided to make up a little game; very simple and to be very honest - it doesn't really teach the children anything fantastic BUT it helped to add an element of fun to a time which otherwise could have turned into something negative!

Here's how to play:

The Tooth-Brush Time Game  

  1. Allow the children to choose a song. This could be a nursery rhyme, a pop song or a song from a movie - anything that will keep their interest. (Try to avoid any songs that are too long or too short - 2 minutes being the ideal because that is the recommended amount of time for brushing teeth.) - My children chose the Gummy Bear song which I had never heard of before! They were excited to add this silly song into their routine.
  2. From here on, the game is similar to 'musical bumps/ statues'. The rules are: When the music plays they brush their teeth. When the music stops they must hold their brush up in the air.
  3. Continue to start and stop the music until the 2 minutes has passed. Simple!

Because this was the first time that I had tried this game with my children, they were happy just to take part in the game - I did not need to have 'Winners' or give any kind of rewards but these elements could be added.

Of course, Tooth Brushing can be extended into learning in many ways:

  • Why not try making a mind map with the children to find out what they already know? They will probably surprise you! 
  • Laminate pictures of the children smiling (or just showing their teeth) - use whiteboard markers to colour in their pearly whites and provide toothbrushes for the children to 'clean their teeth'.
  • Collage pictures of foods which are good for your teeth or not so good.
  • Set up a role play Dentist
  • Painting using toothbrushes

Don't forget: National Smile Month is 19th May to 19th June 2014.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Fire Safety Fun

I know I know, this is supposed to be another instalment of my Outdoor Learning Ideas - and I am in the process of writing it (I promise) but I'm finding it a bit of a chore now and I don't want to become stale - so I thought I would write about some learning that I was particularly happy with!

My nursery recently took part in the NDNA's 'Healthy Body Happy Me' week, where the children were able to access a huge range of activities that were linked to a healthy lifestyle. As part of these activities, the children were able to take part in many outdoor experiences: one of which included toasting marshmallows over a camp fire!
This was a very popular activity with the children who immediately took it into their free play and began building their own pretend camp fires out of sticks, leaves and anything else that they could get their hands on! 

Now in my nursery, we have covered the usual 'people who help us' angle of learning about fire and fire-fighters so we decided that, in keeping with the children's interests, and to allow us link in with the curriculum for excellence, we would have a fire safety week!

Some of the my favourite activities included:

  • Building a fantastic fire engine that the children can climb in and out of.
  • Creating our own small world 'burning town' out of cardboard boxes and fire coloured tissue paper - complete with paper characters and a Fireman Sam to rescue them.
  • Mark making and practising writing related words such as 'emergency' and '999'.
  • Going on a hunt around the nursery to discover our smoke detectors.
  • Continuing this learning at home as we took a picture or noted down where our smoke detectors can be found.
  • Many discussions about how to keep ourselves and others safe in an emergency.
  • Reading many fire-fighter stories.
  • Painting a life sized Fire fighter and discussing his uniform, why he wears it and what materials it may be made from.

Now, all of this adult lead learning is great, but it's impossible to know how much of it is sinking in and being processed. That is, until you observe their free play, which is exactly what I did...

The children were outside in the garden. They had worked hard to build a den and furnished it with tables, chairs and a tea set. The girls set about having their tea party while one boy was busy sweeping the floor ("I'm the cleaning man"), and another boy used a toy hammer to 'fix' each side of the den. 
Suddenly one of the children started making a horrible screaching sound! I wondered what on earth was going on and was about to intervene (thank goodness I didn't) when I heard another child call "That's the smoke alarm! Everyone go outside!"
Each child hurried out of their den and stood outside. One little girl held her hand to her ear and said "999! Fireman come fast, there's a fire!" and I heard a voice from the other side of the decking (another boy who was involved in the game) call "I'll be there soon!"
The children waited patiently until the boy who was previously the 'cleaning man' decided to go inside. The children all called "No, no! It's on fire!" but the boy said confidently "It's ok, I've got my special jacket on! I can put away the fire." He then proceeded to use his broom as if it were a hose and waved it around the den. He was joined by the other little boy from across the decking (who was also pretending to be a fireman), and had brought a bucket full of leaves which he told us was the water.
When the boys had finished they said to their friends "It's all done now" and everyone went back inside and continued to play.

What fantastic evidence that they children know and understand what to do in the event of a fire! They also show that they understand the role of the fire fighter and how a fire fighter can help to put out the fire.
They used the new language that we had introduced (i.e. smoke alarm) and not only that but there was also wonderful imaginative skills, resourcefulness and interactions between children!

This observation reminded me that the children are never JUST playing! They are always deepening their understanding, exploring new situations, practising new skills and working out what comes next. 
How lucky we are to be a part of this process!