Stickers!

Here at Aston childcare the children all love stickers. They get immense satisfaction from peeling the backs off and sticking them down in their chosen spot.

At one time, I questioned whether they were slightly limited in what they can teach children but, after reflecting, I found that they are great for Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language skills and Physical Development (Fine motor skills). They also help children learn and talk about all manner of subjects (Understanding the World) so I think they do have their place when varied with other activities.

I always try and have a good stock of them. I find they are particularly useful say, at transition times, when we are waiting for parents to pick up at the end of the day when it’s not so suitable to have messy paints or arts and crafts out. I also have a range of reward stickers that the children always love to receive with positive comments such as “lovely listener”, “great helper” and ones to reward self care and healthy eating such as “I ate all my food” and “I used the toilet”.

Some of our favourites have been from the Usborne sticker books and some fab re-usable Melissa and Doug ones. We’ve covered all manner of subjects – sea creatures, wild animals, domestic animals, minibeasts, airports, trucks and transport, children of the world, letters, numbers and shapes  to name but a few!

Areas of learning covered: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Communication and Language, Maths, Literacy and  Understanding the world

Focus on…Phonics

Here at Aston Childcare, with my son and mindee turning 3, my mind has turned to phonics and how I can support them in their learning. We have this lights and sounds phonics toy and I also have this I’m ready for phonics – Say the sound book both from the Early Learning Centre.

The book is a fun, bright book that helps children from the age of 3 upwards focus on the initial letter sounds at the beginning of simple words. It contains all 26 letters of the alphabet and words beginning with that letter. It claims to have been developed in conjunction with a literacy consultant and phonics expert and says it’s ideal for introducing phonics to your child.

Meanwhile the lights and sounds phonics ‘desk’ is an Interactive game unit teaching phonics, spelling and counting and colours has 8 different games to play. It claims to help with early reading and builds communication skills and is good for learning to sort and match.

I am also in the process of creating a ‘Letters and Sounds’ file with further activities we can enjoy.

Finally, there are lots of fun phonics songs on YouTube that are fun to watch too, here’s just some –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq3yfQnllfQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BELlZKpi1Zs

What a hoot!

The children have been enjoying the lovely ‘Owl Babies’ by Author Martin Waddell recently. Owl babies is a lovely tale of three baby owls who wake up one morning to find that their mother has gone. They sit on a branch and wait wondering when their mother will return. It’s a charming, reassuring book for any child who has ever worried about Mummy leaving them alone and the beautiful illustration seems to really capture their imagination.

To extend their interest in Owls, we have made some fab Owls in our Arts and Crafts sessions and enjoyed sticking with some cute Owl stickers. We’ve read more Owl related books including “Wow! said the Owl”. I still have some lovely Owl drawings an older ex mindee did which I just love.

Sensory garden

When we said goodbye to our chickens earlier this year I was determined to use the space for something the children could still all enjoy and benefit from. In their place we now have two raised beds, one for growing fruit and vegetables, and one which I am creating a sensory garden in.

I have made a start on this by planting the last of my sunflower seeds that I have used in previous years, I hope the bright colour and eye-catching flowers will be popular with this years mindees.

Along the front of the bed I have planted some mint taken from a cutting elsehwhere in the garden and also some basil and some rosemary which hopefully the children will enjoy using their sense of smell to enjoy.

Next up, I would like to plant something called ‘Lambs ears’. I loved this plant as a child, it has incredibly soft leaves which I hope the children will enjoy with their sense of touch.

I also plan to plant some lavender that we like to use our playdough for a more sensory experience.

I am pleased to report that the sunflowers have started to grow already and I will keep you posted as to how it all progresses.

Cooking with kids: Chocolate Cornflake Cakes

This morning we enjoyed a cooking session and made these easy Chocolate Cornflake Cakes.

“Hand up who likes Cornflakes?” I asked them – their hands shot up in the air, “Hands up who likes Chocolate?” – Again, both hands shot up in the air!

The children (Aged 35 months) lined the cake tin with cases, helped me weigh out the cornflakes, broke up the chocolate into pieces, helped stir the cornflakes, golden syrup and butter on the hob and finally helped combine the mixture with the cornflakes and spoon out in to the individual cake cases.

We had to wait 5 minutes for the mixture to cool down before transferring to the cake cases so to make this wait more fun we turned the 5 minute sand timer over and I told them to watch until all the sand had passed through before we could move on to the next part. This proved a fantastic visual aid that really helped them to wait patiently for the required length of time.

They had great fun and really enjoyed the whole process.

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

Today’s lunch: Tomato Soup

Today’s lunch was Tomato Soup from Annabel Karmel’s ‘Feeding your Baby and Toddler’ recipe book. This recipe uses tinned rather than fresh tomatoes making it much quicker and easier to prepare than previous versions I have made that require skinning fresh tomatoes. It is so difficult to get my son to eat any vegetables so the fact that this contains carrots is great. He absolutely loves tomato soup and to hear him say “More soup Mummy” upon finishing is very satisfying! I served this up with wholemeal bread for my youngest mindee (21 month old) and with garlic bread for my son and other mindee who are both nearly 3.

 

Today’s lunch: Ham and Pea Pasta

Today’s lunch was once again from Annabel Karmel’s ‘quick and easy toddler recipes’ book. It was another pasta dish, this time Ham and Pea Pasta. This is another meal that I can cook fresh and serve in under ten minutes!

Here at Aston Childcare I serve up a lot of pasta based dishes at lunchtime. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. The body breaks them down to release glucose, thereby providing itself with energy. There are two main types of carbohydrates: slow burning and fast burning.

Pasta is an example of a slow burning carbohydrate and peas a slow burning vegetable.

Slow burning carbs are digested and absorbed — burned — more slowly than carbs with a high glycemic index. Eating slow-burning carbs also keeps hunger away and helps with blood sugar control.

Weekend Family time: Shotover Country Park

Yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday) I was keen for us to get out in the fresh air as a family and I was also hoping to spot some bluebells so after lunch we headed off to Shotover Country Park in Oxford for a family walk.

We last went here over New Year when the weather was considerably colder but yesterday we were lucky enough to enjoy a lovely walk in the sunshine and managed to miss the rain. My sons walking has come on considerably since then too so it was lovely that he was able to make it around on his own this time.

There is lots of parking and an information board when you arrive and free leaflets to help you with your chosen walk. We chose the red trail and armed with our map and directions we set off.

My son loved spotting the red triangles on the bridleway posts.  The views are stunning and the woodland and trees are beautiful. We walked through some lovely bluebells, spotted lots of lovely birds, met some lovely dogs, saw runners, children playing and making dens, saw couples out walking and families picknicking. It is such a lovely place to go, walking is good for the heart and the soul and I highly recommend it!

Taken from the councils website –

https://www.oxford.gov.uk/directory_record/907/shotover_country_park

Shotover Country Park offers everyone a chance to enjoy a place of beauty and history right on the edge of Oxford. Covering 117 hectares on the southern slopes of Shotover Hill there are spectacular views from the top across south Oxfordshire.

The park is an intimate mosaic of hidden valleys, varied landscapes and diverse habitats; a haven for wildlife and an ideal setting for peaceful enjoyment of the countryside.

Because Shotover is a nationally important wildlife site, most of the Country Park is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 

Shotover is open to everyone to enjoy throughout the year free of charge and is ideal for a summer picnic, leisurely strolls, a walk with the dog, jogging, riding or orienteering. Are you making the most of the countryside on your doorstep?

Discover how much Shotover Country Park has to offer! 

Colour recognition

Here at Aston Childcare both my son (34 months old) and one of my mindees (35 months old) are really enjoying learning their colours.

There are lots of chances throughout the day to talk about colours   – “Please can you pass me the red one?”, “I want the pink cup” “What colour bib would you like, the pink one or the blue one?” “Which colour pen would you like?” “What colour paper would you like, yellow or green?”  etc.

My mindee was quick to learn most colours. Until recently my son was only reliably recognising the colour purple but just this last week he is saying and correctly identifying many more.

We have some fantastic resources that aid colour recognition – Melissa and Dougs sort and snap game is currently very popular.  They spent weeks enjoying some fab colour matching puzzles by Orchard Toys.  We have lots of books that focus on colours such as “Wow said the owl” and a more simple “colours” book. These colour sorting number bugs are currently proving popular with mindees of all ages. We also make use of some  laminated colour sorting cards which the mindees enjoy placing corresponding coloured objects on. I also like to make use of colour themed treasure baskets and colour themed invitations to play.

Finally, whenever we have had fun playing and learning about colours I always reward them with a  “I know my colours sticker” which always go down well!

Park Life

Our village playground is looking a bit worn and sorry for itself but I was pleased to hear that there are plans underway to improve it. I have spent many hours with my mindees up at the park but feel currently that it is not so good for the little ones so I hope that the new and improved children’s play area rectifies that. Colour plans of the new children’s play area have been produced and I hope it’s not too long before we can enjoy the new and improved facilities.

Luckily we have some great playgrounds in neighbouring villages and I regularly make use of 3 of them and 2 larger ones in neighbouring towns.

Whilst I always strive to provide a rich outside play area in my own garden at home I do feel there are some things that are better enjoyed at the park.