Learning Blog

In the Early Years Village, nursery and reception children learn through play and high quality experiences - sometimes together

sharing all the space, sometimes in small groups in their own learning spaces.

In this blog, we will keep you up to date with learning and activities.

These are in addition to the continuous provision: construction, imaginative play, sand and

water, play-dough, painting, drawing, music-making

Bramble and Clara

- lessons in life from our chickens-

Stories are an essential part of learning - we can't become effective writer without having stories in our heads. Every picture has a story - what story can you and your child tell together by looking at any one photo on your phone? Share it with us.

This week, we visited our chickens every morning. Bramble, whom we grew from an egg, and Clara, who arrived this week, love us to come. They have learned that our visits will be accompanied by lots of petting, and especially food! They know the meal worms and corn live in the shed, and as soon as they see us going towards it, they are in hot pursuit. When we opened the egg box on Tuesday, it was an amazing sight! They had laid ten eggs over the week. We took turns at picking the eggs, feeling them fresh, counting them...and dropping them "gently" in the colander we had with us. Corina learned a new and unexpected lesson: fresh eggs bounce in a colander. This was very lucky indeed. When we were back in nursery with our fresh eggs, we did some more exploring, involving banging an egg on the edge of a china dish. This time, it didn't bounce. We looked at the fresh egg inside, and learned the names of the clear substance (we talked about why it's called "egg white", as it's not white), and the yellow yoke. Lots of children decided to check what it feels like, and one felt it particularly hard, so the round yoke was no longer round. We put them in water and boiled them, then tried to crack them again - it's a different feeling altogether, so we decided to peel cut and eat them. We found out why the outside of the yoke is called an egg white! Also, they were really delicious. These eggs don't have chicks inside them, because we don't have a cockerel, who would normally put a seed in them. We hope to get some fertile eggs from a farm soon, and we really hope Bramble or Clara become broody, so we can raise a new generation of chickens. Meanwhile, we need to visit them on some afternoons, so that everyone gives them a handful of delicious food.

Learning through experiences: Chinese New Year

February 2018

Scaring the dragon!

As shops and the media are announcing the start of the Chinese New Year this week, we hope that our children will recognize at least some of the images, words and customs described. We celebrated it a little out of sync - a week before its actual start. Hopefully, this will help firm up some of the learning, if they notice the images, or try again flavours during the next two weeks.

Learning in nursery usually happens through immediate experiences, and things we have already seen or known about - this is why in our particular culture, Christmas takes such a large proportion of our attention. The idea of two, three and four year olds attempting to learn such concepts as other countries such as China on the globe - a place so large that it takes a day to fly there by plane, but so small that we can hold its model in our hands and point to different places seems a bit of a paradox. However, now and then this is useful and inspiring, particularly when, as we do this year, there is someone who has been there, and has the immediate experience. When learning about things so distant we open our minds to the different, as well as the familiar - different people have different customs, and they are all fabulous and largely enjoyable. At Christmas we talk about a new baby, presents and Father Christmas and at Chinese New Year we have dragons, lanterns and stir fry. The music is different. We largely made a lot of noise to scare the dragon away - but fun; the food is different, but delicious. We learned the usual skills and facts by preparing vegetables for a stir fry, trying chopsticks to eat with (hard work paid off for some!) but also to develop hand and eye coordination and fine motor skills... We played shops with Chinese money, and did lots of shredding, cutting and serving of noodles in paper, play dough and real items. Listening to the story from a book, but also on a website was an education for the educators - it took a lot of work for the children to move from being mesmerised by the screen, to thinking about the content of the story - a lot more talking about what we watch is needed!

As we go through the year, we will return to some of this knowledge and skills - continue to try new things, to look for places on the globe and to talk about different customs and cultures - this has been great start!

The Indoors Chinese restaurant

To continue the Chinese New Year experience at home, here are some links to the things we watched:

The story of the year names:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/stories/lets-celebrate-chinesenewyearperformance

A dragon dance:

https://vimeo.com/19699733

Enjoy - and don't forget, talking about everything we see, asking interesting questions and finding connections to our own experiences makes a huge difference in the children's learning - and in their sense of self-confidence too.

New experiences: trying Chinese food, cooked by us or the chefs of the Wok Inn!

Writing - the roots of it all

Our whole school focus this term is to help children develop high quality writing.

In nursery, this means working towards:

  • developing strong small hand muscles for fine motor skills
  • telling lots of stories
  • learning how stories are made, and how they can be changed
  • Learning how to hear sounds - first in the environment, then in words in words - whether they are rhymes, first, middle or last sounds in words; hear the difference between loud and quiet
  • using natural materials in play to develop understanding of concepts, vocabulary and fine motor skills

Goldilocks - the song

When Goldilocks went to the house of the bears

What did her blue eyes see?

A bowl that was HUGE,

And a bowl that was small,

And a bowl that was tiny,

And that was all...

She counted them: one, two three.


Change each verse to chair, bed, bear...

Goldilocks song.MOV

Breakfast and Tea time at nursery

Those children who attend nursery from 7.45 and have breakfast, or stay after 3.30 and have tea together, have a very special time together.

At tea time, they help prepare their meals, by peeling and cutting vegetables for Lou, Sharon or Lisa to cook.

Meals include home-made cheesy pasta, jacket potato, home-made soup with freshly baked rolls or pitta bread. There is always an alternative of baked beans or spaghetti hoops on toast for those who haven't yet acquired a taste for different foods.