Wednesday, 16 September 2015

I've Moved!

I've been thinking about it for a while, but now it is time for me to go...

...but not far! I'm moving to Wordpress!

My new address is:

Thank you for all of your support throughout my time on this blog! I do hope that you'll continue to follow and read my posts!

Monday, 3 August 2015

The Great Nursery Bake Off

Monday morning has rolled around again! Still, I can't complain because the sun is shining for me up here in bonnie Scotland and I'm feeling ready and raring for another week! 
I also am due to receive my exam results tomorrow! Very nerve-racking indeed but I cannot wait for everything to be finalised and my place at University to be 100% confirmed!

Anyway! Enough about me! I'm on a roll with blogging recently and figure that I might as well write while I am inspired and motivated!

Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry - Judges from the GBBO (Photo from Google Images)

With the Great British Bake Off about to return to our screens, I thought that this would be a great time to explore the literacy, numeracy and science of baking with our children!

During our regular food technology activities, I observed that the children were very interested in recipes and quantities. Of course, when we are making something specific; it is important to include the correct ingredients and the right amounts, but we began talking about what might happen if we mixed it up a bit - adding more water or using flour instead of sugar. Some brilliant language was being used at this point such as wet, sloppy, dry, crumbly, sweet, sticky...

Following this, we decided to make our own recipe books. I took photos of the ingredients that we had to play with - flour, sugar, oats, food colouring, water etc and printed them off for the children to choose. 

The children selected which of the ingredients that they would like to use, and cut out the pictures for their recipes. This involved decision making, motor skills and hand, eye co-ordination.

I printed some large pages with the words:

"add __________ spoon   of "

We used spoons as our unit of measurement during this activity because we were focusing on counting and simple amounts, you could change this to "grams" if you want the children to use weighing scales and learn these different skills.

With some adult support, the children then decided how much of each ingredient they would like to add into their mixture. They stuck the picture of the ingredient onto the page and had a go at writing the number into the space. This involves counting, logical thinking and curiosity and also writing skills.
N.B. I left a space after the word "spoon" so that an "s" could be added. This created opportunity for a little extra discussion about language.

Once the recipe was completed, the children worked with the adult to follow it, adding the right amounts of each ingredient into a large bowl and mixing it with a wooden spoon. We counted the spoonfuls as they were added and used our motor skills to mix.

Lastly, the mixture was spooned into cake cases and we found a fun cake stand to display the 'cakes'. 
Once all of the children had made their cakes, we looked together at the differences and spoke about what had made them this way; "D had 10 spoons of water so his is so sticky!"

We didn't actually bake our 'cakes' but an extra scientific element of baking is observing the change as the mixture is cooked. You can talk about this during this activity or (if you're really brave) you could heat them a little to see what happens. Remember to always explain to the children about safety in the kitchen!

The children were very excited to show their creations to their parents, though I had to be very clear that these were definitely not edible cakes!

Some more Bake-Off inspired activities

  • Word Wall - display all of the fantastic language that you have been using

  • Create a cake shop/ bakery role play area - include aprons, cake tins, spoons, a till, play money, recipe books etc

  • Get baking! There are tonnes of ideas for simple baking and cooking with children to be found at

  • The circle time baking game - this is all in the imagination, but using a large plastic mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, the children take turns around the circle to add whatever ingredient that they can think off (often leading to hilarity as someone inevitably adds 'worms' or 'mud'). Involve counting as they add the imaginary items and encourage talk of the sights and smells as the wonderful mixture is created! I always pretend to bake the cake and then 'hand out' slices to encourage further talk of the tastes - for example "can you taste the strawberries that you added?"

Have a wonderful week everyone and as they say on the Bake Off: "on your marks, get set, BAKE!"

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!