Thursday, 30 July 2015

Sing a song of sixpence

While working on supply I've come to notice that many of us have become stuck in a rut with our song times - singing the same songs over and over (Twinkle Twinkle being a prime culprit!)

This leaves me wondering WHY? There are so many wonderful songs out there, many of the traditional ones and classics have been forgotten! I spoke to my cousin and very good friend Emma who is a fantastically talented and passionate music teacher and she reminded me of some of the wonderful songs that we were taught as children. 
Following this I have decided to made a list of some of my favourites!

Before I begin, here are a few tips for an enjoyable and engaging song time:

  1. This is important - you DO NOT have to be a fantastic singer to lead or take part in song time with the children. All you need is enthusiasm!
  2. Some children wont want to join in, but don't worry, even just through listening they are hearing rhyming words, intonation and patterns.
  3. Add instruments. For the children who don't enjoy singing, they can still be engaged through shaking, beating or blowing.
  4. Explore rhythm, pitch and speed. How funny to sing a familiar tune extra fast and high, or super slow and in a low voice.
  5. Get moving. I don't know about you but when I'm enjoying my music I can't help but bob along and have a little boogy. It's the same for the children plus the fact that they are big balls of energy. Don't fight a losing battle by trying to keep them still; find some space and explore  musical movement.

Song time inspiration:

Click to view (Videos from YouTube - I can't take any credit)

There are so many more and if I was to list them I'd be here all day!
Remember that singing and music has a huge variety of benefits for children including confidence and stress relief as well as literacy and numeracy development. It can be an important part of the children's day and routine, but if you're bored, they will be too.

If there are any songs that you really enjoy, share with your children or loved as a child yourself - please comment or tweet to me at @EarlyYearsIdeas

Have fun!

Bonus - Rod, Jane and Freddy song about nursery rhymes (I used to love them when I was little!)

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

DIY Sensory Tree

Here's a nice little addition to your sensory area/ activities - a sensory tree with scents that you can change or refresh easily and as needed.

What you'll need:

    *A twig/ small branch - it needs to have some off shoots to hang the scent pouches from (think mini tree!)*

    *Some permeable material, bags or pouches to hold your smelly items. I used these cute little organza bags.* 

    *A pot or jar to hold your tree.*

    *An interesting variety of different smells (some ideas below).*

    **Tissue paper, glitter, sequins, felt tip pens, ribbons and anything else you like to decorate.*

    What to do:
    1. Go for a walk, enjoy the great outdoors and find a suitable stick
    2. Make sure it's nice and dry and then decorate if desired. You could paint it, wrap it with coloured yarn, glue tissue paper onto it... whatever the little ones want!
    3. More decorating! Now it's time to make your pot or jar looks beautiful! Felt pens were used here but they have a habit of rubbing off onto everything around. I've heard that hairspray can help it set, but it's probably easier to paint the jar or collage onto it!
    4. Fill your pot or jar with soil/ tissue paper/ bubble wrap or anything that will hold the stick fairly firmly
    5. Find some interesting smelling items, you could use: fresh herbs, fresh fruit (citrus ones work really well), tea bags, smelly soaps, cotton wool soaked in coffee/ perfume etc and fill the bags 

     6. Hang the bags onto the tree and you're done! Allow the children to explore the different smells and maybe help them to think of and add their own.

    Have an awesome summer everyone!

    Sunday, 5 July 2015

    Being supply

    Oh I am terrible... it's been so long since I've posted! 

    Well, since I have finished at college for the summer and don't start at university until September; in the mean time I have signed up with a childcare agency to earn some pennies and keep me busy! This means that I am called on to cover in nurseries etc on an as and when needed basis.

    So far I have covered in a few different nurseries around my own area and further afield. I just love being nosey at other people's set ups and it's great to spend time interacting with the children without the pressures of being a 'proper' full time member of staff.

    I have worked in some beautiful purpose built nurseries, one of which had an absolutely amazing outdoor area! I have also been into some charming old buildings and wondered at how the space has been made into stimulating and enticing areas for the children.

    Here are a few things that I would like to let staff know about when I (or others) come in as supply:

     Please introduce yourselves (and the children if possible) and don't be offended if I don't remember your name. If your name is Sarah and I worked with a Sara and Sally yesterday... it gets a bit confusing!

     Don't assume that I am less qualified than you just because I am supply. I actually have lots of experience and am highly qualified! I know what I'm doing. 

    Having said this, don't feel like you need to leave me to my own devices,

     Feel free to give me jobs/ activities to do (Please do!) I do use my initiative and instigate activities as much as possible, but I don't want to step on any toes and would much rather work in line with your planning. I like to feel useful and I love being involved in the play and learning that's going on. That's why I'm here!

     It's really important to show me the basics (fire exits etc). I might only be here for one day but today could just be the day that I need to know.

    I had not realised how much I was missing working with children until I got back into the nurseries. 
    For example, I made a wonderful connection with a little boy who was quite new while working last week. I was told by other staff that he rarely laughs and barely ever speaks English, and when he does it is very limited words. However as I spent time playing with the boy, I found him smiling and laughing, and later while drawing he was confidently repeating my English words and using some of his own to speak to me! 
    I felt so privileged to be able to make this boy feel comfortable with me. 

    I'm looking forward to exploring more settings and meeting more new people in the weeks to come. I will update again soon (I promise!)

    Picture from

    P.S. In other news - I am now an official co-host of #childcarehour which is a twitter chat that takes part on Tuesday nights between 8:30 and 9:30. It is made up of a group of childcare and early years professionals as well as parents. Everyone is welcome! We speak about all kinds of different topics and have a friendly chat. If anyone is a twitter user I would encourage you to come along and join us!