Month: October 2015

Giving nature a home

The rspb are currently running a lovely campaign called “giving nature a home”.

They say ”Gone are vast swathes of wild flower meadows, miles of hedgerows and hundreds of ponds: there are fewer and fewer places for wildlife to call home. More than 60% of the UK species assessed are declining, so it’s more important than ever that we work together to help them”.

I sent off for my free guide and am happy to say myself and the mindees can tick off some of their 20 suggestions and we are pleased we are doing our bit to give nature a home.

No 2. “Cut back on cutting back” The guide recommends that “Rather than rushing into action with the secateurs as soon as your flowers have died off, leave them to go to seed. Birds, such as goldfinches, will appreciate the extra food, and minibeasts may hibernate in hollow stems over winter. The dry seed heads also add visual interest to otherwise bare winter borders”. So, here at Aston Childcare, we are leaving the sunflowers that we planted back in April that have since died alone.

No 3. “Grow flowering plants” The guide says that they “provide shelter for insects, which in turn provide food for birds and small mammals”. We are growing some tulips and daffodils which we hope to see bloom early next year.

No. 6 “Create little green patches” The guide says “Herbs such as thyme and rosemary make perfect container plants – not only are they brilliant for insects, they taste great too!”. Here at Aston childcare we have grown some rosemary and mint and the mindees have written plant markers.

No. 11 “Make a bug hotel” The guide says “You can make your hotel as large or small as you wish – the only limitation is your imagination. Just remember to provide as many nooks and crannies as you can for minibeasts and other wildlife to shelter in”. One of my mindees has made a great bug hotel and filled it with twigs and fircones and covered it in leaves to appeal to the minibeasts. She wanted to put tissue inside so that the bugs “would be comfy!”.

No. 13 “Bring your garden to life with dead wood” The guide says “At first glance, a pile of dead wood might look just that – dead. But look closer and you’ll see that it’s alive with all kinds of fungi, mosses and lichens. As it decays, it will become a thriving bug hotel for a variety of minibeasts, and frogs, toads and other creatures may shelter in the nooks and crannies. What’s more, a dead wood pile is really easy to create. Just stack a variety of logs and branches in a sheltered spot and wait for the wildlife to move in!” Here at Aston Childcare, our log store is a favourite of birds and we’ve recently spotted many a robin taking up residence there.

No. 19 “Set up a garden restaurant” The guide says “Providing additional food all year round will give the birds in your garden a boost, helping them to get through hard times and to feed their families. Calorie-rich bird cake will help birds to fatten up and survive cold winter weather, while juicy mealworms are particularly appreciated in spring, when busy parents are on the lookout for insects to feed to their growing chicks”. We have left out fat balls for the birds on the bird feeder.

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Happy Halloween!

Here at Aston Childcare, we are celebrating Halloween a week early as not everyone is here next week for half term. We’ve enjoyed decorating paper plate pumpkins and ghosts, Halloween inspired hand-prints and spooky bats. We have also enjoyed reading our Halloween book called “Spooky” with sliding windows which is enjoyed by all ages and kids classic Room on the Broom.

We have coloured the playdough to give us a great ghoulish green and blood red to play with which resulted in some great creations including a dismembered body!

I wasn’t prepared for apple bobbing to be requested so with some quick thinking we created a great cork bobbing game instead using large corks – a great lesson in floating!

To top it off we indulged in some tasty Halloween treats.

Happy Halloween!

Areas of learning covered: Expressive Arts and Design, Literacy, Communication and Language, Understanding the World, Personal Social and Emotional Development and Physical Development. 

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Global Hand Washing Day

Today is Global Handwashing Day! It’s a day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.

The children here at Aston Childcare are great at washing their hands and knowing that the warm water and soap kills germs.  They know to wash their hands thoroughly after going to the toilet, or going near the chickens or any other messy, dirty activities!

We have a poster detailing 8 steps to effective handwashing up on the mirror in the downstairs toilet that  serves as a visual reminder to them.

We’ve enjoyed lots of hand related arts and crafts in honour of global handwashing day!

British Values

Ofsted are now inspecting childminders – and all early years providers – on how well we ‘actively promote’ British values.

The term has got lots of us childminders in a spin!

Admittedly, I didn’t like the term when I first heard it, I was worried that it had some xenophobic undertones, but, on the contrary, it’s about teaching our children how to live together peacefully, each of them a valuable part of our multicultural world.

Here at Aston childcare, respect and consideration underpins everything we do.

Every childminder will have their own take on how they like to promote British Values but this is what we practice here at Aston Childcare –

  • We explore different cultures and celebrate diversity
  • We teach children to be kind, helpful and respectful of others
  • We teach children to be part of their local community
  • We say “please” and “thank you”
  • We celebrate and support cornerstones of British infrastructure – village post office, village shop, police station, village school and teach children to be part of their local community
  • We celebrate the seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter)
  • We eat fresh, seasonal British grown produce
  • We play with resources that reflect our multicultural society
  • We sit and eat at the table with a knife and fork
  • We treat men and women, girls and boys with the same level of respect.
  • We learn about world events and discuss them
  • We learn about and respect other religions
  • We learn about our political leaders and discuss our right to vote and the fact that we live in a democracy
  • We learn about our monarchy and mark noteworthy events ie. The Queens reign
  • We learn about right and wrong
  • We learn to respect the natural world

Heuristic play

I attended a children’s birthday party over the Summer on one of the hottest days of the year.  The parents had laid on a huge bouncy castle, 2 paddling pools, they had ice lollies and choc ices and a very impressive birthday cake.

However, It wasn’t the nice cool paddling pool or the bouncy castle that were the biggest hit with the children, nor the choc ices, ice lollies or birthday cake but a very large cardboard box the Grandfather had knowingly placed in the middle of the lawn! They spent hours crawling through it, chasing one another around it and using it in their role play for all manner of scenarios.

I don’t know why this surprised me particularly, I am fast learning as a new mum that the money I have spent on ball pits, a paddling pool and expensive jumperoo is pretty much wasted!

Watching my son play, it’s clear that the things he really enjoys are everyday objects – a toilet roll tube, a cardboard box, even a clean nappy!  He likes nothing better than clanging the pots and pans and baking trays in the kitchen or playing with my car keys!

This is what is known as “Heuristic play” which describes the activity of babies and children as they play with and explore the properties of ‘objects’. Heuristic play was a term coined by a child psychologist Elinor Goldschmeid in the early 1980’s.

I have developed my own treasure basket and heuristic play trays here at Aston Childcare and give children the opportunity to regularly explore natural objects or everyday household objects. As always, the utmost of care is taken to ensure there are no choking hazards and that all items are age appropriate.