Sunday, 28 February 2016

Favourite Tales

For the next couple of weeks or longer we will be using some favourite, traditional tales as the basis of our theme. The children are really interested in how plants grow and where they live, so I have chosen books that reflect some of this. We will in theory be looking at maps and making some as well as some gardening activities.

We'll be starting tomorrow with The Three Billy Goats Gruff and I've put together a story box to go with it. 

Pandas and Ice

We have been looking at China again this week, including pandas, The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden Palace. Also how we would get to China from our home, as they asked if we could drive to China now to see everything.

We sat and watched this short program on pandas, the children thought it was funny, when it said the bears were doing some exercises, as they said bears can't go to the gym but I explained that every time we go for walk, run, play on the climbing frame or do some dancing we are exercising. They also enjoyed looking at and learning about pandas using this book, Giant Pandas.

I put together a small sensory tray with some of our pandas, using rice as they had asked the other night for some rice play but it was just as I was about to serve dinner.

They enjoyed playing with the pandas but then

some dinosaurs came and played and made the rice tray their home

and the pandas created a new home, so everyone was happy.

L is very interested in where different countries are, so I  used these wonderful cards, they are not free but I can see me using them again and again over the years, whether it's for history, geography or Chinese New Year, so worth it for us. The set includes picture cards with labels, picture cards with facts and colouring in pages.

I also brought out some of our flags for the children to match up and then see if they could remember were the country was. They are all countries we have looked at before, that the children have visited or have friends and or family that live their.

We've had some frosty mornings followed by some lovely sunny days here, the children were intrigued with the frost patterns on the back porch window.

Then they found some ice in the garden, they were fascinated with it, the spent time running their fingers over it and seeing how it felt.

They managed to pick up some pieces, it wasn't easy as it was very slippery, they realised that they could see through it a bit like a window.

They discovered it breaks very easily.

We were chatting about why their fingers were getting wet when they touched the ice, that the ice is melting and I said that if they put some ice in the sun in would melt quicker than in the shade. So they gave it a go and spent the time running backwards and forwards between the ice in the sun and the ice in the shade to see what was happening.

We bought a couple of seed kits from Asda, one was a bucket of sunflowers and the other sweetpeas. L had remembered what seeds need to grow, sun, water and soil. They set about filling their buckets with some soil, using the scissors well to cut the soil bag,

pouring the soil into the bucket

adding some water

and then planting the seeds.

We have enjoyed the sunshine spending many a morning this week in the garden as well as going to the woods for some lovely walks, the children are busy spotting all the new plants growing and listening to the Robins sing.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

China and Chinese New Year

Over the last few weeks we have been looking at China and the celebrations around Chinese New Year. So here are some of the things we have made and looked at.

We started looking at Chinese New year by reading Firecrackers and Lanterns which is a nice introduction to the festivities. Then we watched this lion dance and dragon dance and they where amazed by what these lion dancers could do, lots of chatter about balancing and strength, I explained that they would of had lots and lots of practise to do this. They have asked me to make them a lion dancer costume, glad they think my skill are up to that but I am not so sure! Instead they made there own dragon mask and then using a mixture of silk and chiffon squares made up their own costume, followed by lots of giggles as they danced around the house trying to keep everything on.

We enjoyed the Dragon Dance book, beautifully illustrated and lift the flaps too, which my children love. Having read, watched and danced various dragon dances I asked if they wanted to paint some dragons, which was a yes. We looked at the colours that were used for the dragons and the children found the paints to match, these were their dragons

and dragon footprints.

We've had some nice walks and have already spotted some trees with blossom appearing, so thought it would be lovely to look at various Chinese blossom paintings and for them to create their own. They used a mixture of paint and tissue paper, they loved trying to make different shades of pink and brown by adding white to the paint.

We've also looked at some fact books on China, finding where we live on the map, where China is and some of the other countries we know. We compared their flag with our own looking at the shapes and colours. Then out came some of our dressing up clothes, I have a few traditional Chinese costumes, that they enjoyed trying on. They have looked at and tried to copy some Chinese writing and I printed of the Chinese numbers, M especially enjoyed trying to pronounce them and learn one to ten in Chinese by heart. We added them to our display. M has come up with a variety of facts to do with China - the worlds first paper money was invented there, the Chinese year is based on the lunar cycle and apparently 1 in every 3 socks we own are made in China, Mandarin is the official language. The two main rivers are the Yellow river and the Yangtze River (which is the longest river in Asia)

The Magic Paintbrush is set to become another firm favourite with the children, they love the rhyming and the different emotions expressed throughout the book and I have thoroughly enjoyed the telling of it. We also read The Great Race which tells the story of how the animals where chosen for the Chinese zodiac, they have then enjoyed there own races up and down the garden.

Other things we could of done is to look at the natural habitats of China, animals that are specific to China like the panda, looked at the all the animals from the Chinese zodiac, cooked and tried lots of different Chinese foods.

Now of topic completely, before Christmas L and I cut up a box and made a doll house, which she enjoyed painting. It has been used as a dolls house, bunk beds for the Barbie dolls, a double cot for the baby dolls and has been attached to the pushchair to create extra seats. Love the versatility of a cardboard box!

The blocks and arches have been played with lots, they have made lots of little houses and they go and visit each other for tea etc

EYFS links :-

Personal social and emotional development - Making relationships, Self confidence and self                                                                                          awareness,

Physical development -  Moving and handling, Health and self-care

Communication and language - listening and attention, Understanding, Speaking

Literacy - Reading, Writing

Maths - Numbers, Shape, space and measure

Understanding the world - People and communities, The World, Technology

Expressive arts and design - Exploring and using media and materials, Being imaginative.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Woodland Walks and Story Telling

I love to try and get outside everyday with the children, sometimes in our garden, up to the allotment, walks around the woods or just a short walk around the block. I like to get the children looking at the world around them, pointing out the seasonal changes, how their shadows change depending on where they stand, seeing the different cobwebs, looking at the tracks the pushchair makes after it has gone through a puddle, listening to the different sounds they hear.

The children have started to notice that the blossom is beginning to come out on some of the trees.

I always love to see the seed case on the honesty plants, love the way the sun is coming through the trees.

I got the children to stand in the sun, shaded from the wind by the trees and asked them to close their eyes and see what they could feel, after a short pause they answered "we can feel warm" I explained that was the sun. They then moved to the shadows and then back into the sun noticing the changes they felt, getting colder or warmer.

We have been spotting all the ivy covered trees and holly bushes and comparing the differences between them, shiny, smooth, spiky etc.

The hedgerow slowly waking up with some beautiful white flowers.

We have spent time exploring the moss on trees and stumps

 and spotted a small clump of snow drops.

 Our woods have a lovely shallow stream running through them, shallow enough that the children can paddle in it but you can also see the water moving in places.

Our woodland walks are great way to get some exercise, practise some climbing, to explore the natural world around us and to watch for the changes. We have also started story telling as we walk. The other week the children were asking if the big bad wolf lived in our woods, after reassuring them that he didn't. We set about telling the story of the three little pigs, they nearly know this of by heart, so they join in with a lot of it. We have on other walks told the story of little Red Riding Hood but in our version the wolf hides Grandma in the cupboard now, as they didn't like the version where Grandma was eaten, a good time to talk about not talking to strangers and the importance of listening to what their Mums, Dads etc say. We also make up stories as we go, the children becoming characters in the story which they really seem to enjoy. They don't have to be long or fancy stories just about things the children can see or could imagine doing.

EYFS links :-

Personal social and emotional development - Making relationships,

Physical development -  Moving and handling

Communication and language - Listening and attention, Understanding, Speaking

Understanding the world - The World