Progression in Writing 

My lovely year group partner shared this from Heidi  Song with me yesterday. 

 
We have lots of parents mid year getting anxious about the quality of their children’s writing. 

However much we try to reassure them about the process, and that how all of the lovely things we do in our setting have a huge impact on writing, I’m not convinced that they truly believe their children will get there. 

I try to always back this up by explaining about my youngest, who in reception wouldn’t even pick up a pencil by choice! I probably couldn’t even tell you whether he was left or right handed before he was 6!?!!!?!! 

However because of the rich experiences he received in his EYFS he is now a proficient writer who loves nothing more than sitting down with a pad and pencil and allowing his imagination to flow freely on the page! 

Egg rolling- a tradition 

I have the fondest memories of egg rolling as a child. 

We would always take a BBQ and head up to Grizedale Forest in The Lake District, with a basket of freshly painted eggs and big smiles a plenty. 

I have always wanted to recreate this magic with my own children, and today we did! 

 We started the day with dippy eggs and soldiers (of course!) 

  
The kidlets then decorated their eggs 

    
    
   
Once all the eggs were good to go, we packed the kitchen sink (literally ) and headed north.

Only a few loo and “I’m gonna be sick” stops and we arrive at our woodland retreat. 

It was just as I remember, even down to the sound of the rushing water fall splashing over the mossy rocks! Isn’t it funny how evocative smells and sounds are. I was suddenly transported back to being a pickly 6 year old! 

   
  
There’s something quite special about eating in the great outdoors even if at times we had to flick a few bugs off the colslaw that dropped in for a nibble 

   
 
So everyone is fed and watered, and so we go in search of an “eggcellent” (sorry) rolling hill. 

    
Enroute we find a very lonely wood cutter and a money tree (I’m sure my folks always said money doesn’t grow on trees- well here is the proof that they were wrong!

  

  
And so the rolling competition began, although I use the term rolling very loosely… It was more of lobbing! I pulled the short straw and had to be at the bottom of the hill- I’m sure they hatched a plan and were aiming directly at my head! 

Despite their best efforts I came away egg free, the kids shrieked with laughter, argued about who won and who didn’t, ran around in the fresh air, but best of all made memories that I hope like mine… Will last a lifetime! 

  

Easter Give Away 

How would you like to win a lovely “Tell by touch with clock” 

We have been given this lovely clock by the gorgeous folk over at EYPDIRECT

  

This Colourful and unusual telling the time clock comes with moveable hands and removable number pots with a different textured surface on the reverse.

The Tell by Touch with Clock is also a great early years learning resource for matching colours, patterns and counting.

Size: 240 x 37mm. Age 3+.

    The Tell by Touch with Clock is a perfect early years educational resource to support the EYFS Mathematics development area of learning within your childcare setting, it will help children practice and improve their skills in counting numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems, and to describe shapes, spaces and measures.

The Tell by Touch with Clock also makes a wonderful sensory resource!

  
To be “In it to win it” all you need to do is 

1. Leave a comment at the end of this blog

2. Like and share our Facebook page  Eyfsmatters

3. Follow me on Twitter @eyfsmatters 

4. Leave a comment under the Tell by touch clock picture on Instagram @eyfsmatters 

  

Good Luck xx 
(Winner will need to pay postage) 

Play is just play… It needs no explaining!

I found this awesome quote from Fred Rogers whilst surfing around the net this morning! (Cup of coffee in hand- my favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday morn!)

Too often some practitioners will ask… “But what are they learning- they look like they are just playing!!”

Hands up if you’ve ever experienced this?

I tend to get my ikea fold out soap box out, and explain that although they are “just” passing a ball to each other, two months ago that little 4 year old there used to spend the whole time hurting other children because he/she hadn’t learnt YET how to use their words to convey feeling, that most of their time was spent being changed by a grown up because they hadn’t yet developed an understanding of personal care. That two months ago they wouldn’t have been able to catch the ball yet with two hands, because their hand to eye co-ordination wasn’t developed enough.

I then put away my fold out ikea soap box, and disappear in a puff of smoke to the thick of my learning environment to watch children at play, and extend their learning!!!

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Assessing risk

My little boy had the most fantastic Receotion teacher! He is fab at assessing risks- I know that the experiences he had in his early years have made him who he is today. 

I try so hard to allow my kids to make their own judgements, and assess the situation. Whilst out on a  lovely woodland walk this morning we came across a fallen tree stretching over a little stream…

http://youtu.be/Xsm0JseIo4E 
Here is how my little poppet tackled it! I try very hard to never say “Be careful!” Even if my heart is sometimes pumping hard in my chest! 

What do you think? 

I spy with my little eye… 

We had great fun this week making this lovely I spy game…

  
We filled a litre coke bottle full of rice using a funnel… Lots of lovely talk about capacity and measure came from this. 

The children then hunted around the classroom to find items to pop into the bottle. It was fascinating to see how they were guessing whether their item was small enough to fit through the bottle neck, and then testing out the size. Cue lots of talk about size and weight! 

  
We then placed all the items on a sheet and photographed these so we knew what to look for. The children loved adding tiny items such as paper clips, split pins and even a rice crispy (“no one will ever spy these” they shrieked!) 

The items were then popped into the bottle and shaken profusely. Then the game began.

Great for…. 

Sounds 

Phonics 

Making relationships 

Resilience 

Speaking 

Listening 

Shape/space/measure 

Turn taking 

Have fun… I’d love to hear of any games you have made. Please add comments below x 

Excuse the mess… 

Absolutely no explanation needed here except for- I’m so glad I’m not alone! 

Some days I look at the classroom and I think “How the hecky peck are we ever going to get straight?”

But we always do… 

With Creativity comes mess!

  

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…

As today is National poetry day, we embraced poetry, grabbed it with two hands and ran with it! 

My year group colleague is the Literacy co-ordinator at our school and found the most fantastic ideas based around twinkle twinkle little star. 

We began by playing our children this beautiful animation by my good friend Jim! http://youtu.be/ata6QbvRQpc

We then talked about all of the words that rhyme within this song. The kidlets were just fab at hearing the rhyming words. We talked about how a poem is just like this with lots of rhyming words. 

During fruit time we read “How to catch a star” by the utterly fabulous Oliver Jeffers. The children adored the book, it truly is magical! 

 
We had lots of children who “just got it” but others who didn’t quite understand the concept of reflection. We talked together about what activities they would like to do. It was agreed they’d love to create the night sky with twinkly stars. 

We set to to create this. We used inks and pipettes and straws to blow the ink across the paper. 

   
    
   
Once the art work is dry, the children would like to add their own stars. 

It was fantastic to see lots of examples of COEL in fact I am pretty confident that I observed every characteristic at some point during this little activity. The children were wowed with their finished masterpiece and each one was as individual and special as them! 

We then decided to try and make some glitter stars in laminated sheets….

When I say it was a complete and utter disaster I am kidding you not- lets just say I now realise that my scrumptious little lot have a secret love affair with glitter (who doesn’t)and I think I owe our cleaner a big box of chocolates! Ooppsssss

You know you’ve had an interesting day when you find glitter in your bra!!!

Ta ta for now, whilst I shimmer off and say Toodledooooooo!!!

Guest blog- *Every child is a star…give them the chance to sparkle*

I am delighted to introduce Amelia from Kicks Dance.

Now this makes me feel very old… Amelia was in Year 5 or 6 when I first moved down south to continue my teaching career, her gorgeous mum used to be a fab colleague of mine, and I taught Amelia’s youngest sister Florence for a year too! I also need to own up to accidentally banging in their dad’s prize Audi TT one day too!! ooppps (sorry Graham!!)

  
Here Amelia talks about the joy she feels from making children sparkle……

“You make me feel like a fairy”

  

That isn’t something most people hear on a typical working day. This is why I love my job so much. If I can make a 4 year old feel like a fairy every time she steps into my class, then I’m doing my job right.
My mum started ‘Kicks Dance’ nearly 8 years ago. After being a primary school teacher for 20 years, she decided that she would take her passion for performing arts and her love of children and start a dance school. My sisters and I all danced from the age of 3 and are trained in the usual Ballet, Tap and Modern. It didn’t take long for my mum to see the benefits. We stayed fit and healthy, coordinated, had good rhythm, musicality and posture…and these were only the physical benefits. She also noticed how dance helped us become motivated, hard – working, disciplined, driven and confident. Many of our best friends we still have today are from dance. I was a very shy and timid child and suffered from anxiety and childhood depression. My mum would be the first person to tell you that I was not the same child in my dance class. I took part in competitions and danced on the stage at a young age. I felt alive when I was dancing. The child I was at school and at home was not the same child that put on ballet shoes and twirled around the hall. Dance gave me a purpose. It gave me the confidence I needed to realise I could do anything I wanted. If I learnt a really hard new step in my dance class, then I could do anything. It didn’t happen overnight, but dance made me the happy, confident person I am today.

I started dancing when I was 3 and by the time I started school, I had made friends and taken part in a class that gave me the social skills and discipline that others maybe didn’t have. My first year at school was daunting and scary, but school was always ok on the days I knew I had dance class. Dance made me excited and a happier child. However, there was never enough dance at school when I was younger. When we did do ‘dance’ classes, it was always run by a reluctant teacher, to a cassette tape, where we had to roll along the floor pretending to be a plastic bag (ironically…I had to do that in my degree as well! It isn’t any more thrilling when you are 19!).

  
 

 

“The best dance class I have ever seen! Bringing dance to our school was the best thing we ever did. I have never seen the boys so engaged” (a happy teacher).


Whilst there is always a place for Ballet and dance schools that offer a stricter syllabus, Kicks Dance is more about having fun, getting fit and enjoying dancing. You don’t have to be able to do flips or hold your leg behind your head. You just have to want to dance and have fun with your friends; “‘Kicks sessions are very inclusive, so even those who don’t have natural talent can participate fully” (a happy mummy). Dance often (or used to) make children feel very segregated if they weren’t good enough, or if they couldn’t get that step as quickly as everyone else. That is absolutely not what dance is about. Programmes such as ‘Strictly come dancing’ and ‘Got to dance’ have made children want to learn how to dance and it is the teacher’s responsibility to take that passion and turn it into something worthwhile.

  
At Kicks, we run mainly after-school, weekend & Pre-School classes, but we also teach dance as part of the curriculum in schools, during P.E sessions for Early Years to Year 6. We try to make our classes engaging for both boys and girls (yes…the boys love it too!) and when a class is delivered with passion and enthusiasm (which is very easy to achieve when teaching dance!), the children are hooked from the beginning. Without giving too many of our secrets away (!), our classes always start with some warm up songs, which the children get to know off by heart over the 6 week course…dance teaches children memory and muscle memory. We then do exercises in a circle, routines from the corner, learn a dance in the centre and then play dance based games. It is so lovely to see the excitement on a child’s face when they walk into the hall and see us and realise they don’t have to sit down and do a science lesson…they can be free! The smiles when they work out how to do a step that they have been struggling with, is what makes our jobs worthwhile. Dance teaches children perseverance and patience.

  


They don’t realise that the clapping they are doing in that routine is helping them with their rhythm, which in turn is helping them grasp that really hard step in the other routine. They don’t realise that when asked to “freeze on one leg” their core muscles are engaged and their coordination is improving. Whilst they are stood watching in delight as their friends dance from the corner, they are learning to wait their turn. When they decide to hop on one foot, with their arms circling above their head, all they see is fun. We see creativity, coordination and an improvement in gross motor skills. When the Early Years children come into our after-school classes and get changed for dance, they are continuing what they are learning during the school day – getting dressed without mummy’s help! Learning in disguise…the best type of learning in my opinion!

“He is a much happier boy and Kicks has done that”

At Kicks we don’t make our children do anything they don’t want to do. Our catchphrase is ‘Every child is a star…give yours the chance to sparkle’. We want to help give children the confidence they deserve. We have met so many children who come to our classes as shy, timid little girls and boys who won’t let go of mummy’s leg. Within less than half a term, the change in them is immense; “My daughter always comes home happy after class. Dance class has also helped her gain some much needed confidence”.

If you look at the words I have highlighted, I don’t know how you can argue that dance and the arts isn’t one of the best privileges a child can be given:

Fit. Healthy. Coordinated. Rhythm. Musicality. Posture. Motivated. Hard – working. Disciplined. Driven. Confident. Purpose. Happy. Social. Excited. Memory. Perseverance. Patience. Creativity.

 

Remember, you have the ability to make a child feel like a fairy or a superhero.


*Every child is a star…give them the chance to sparkle*

 

By Amelia Russell
Owner Kicks Dance Horsham & Kicks Dance Crawley