Sunday, 29 June 2014

The trick to consistency

The one thing that has the biggest impact, in either direction, on the way a child behaves and a room runs is consistency. It is also the trickiest thing to get right. All staff need to be on the same proverbial page when it comes to behavioural expectations, ground rules and the running of the routine.

In the toddler room that I am currently in, it takes only one person to spend more time cuddling a child that really just needs support to become involved in an activity, to turn an otherwise independent toddler in to a cuddle monster who will not leave that member of staffs side for an entire day. This results in them not really engaging in anything all day.

Simple things like this can so easily be avoided by following these basic steps

1. As a team discuss your behavioural expectations and your feelings towards them. Many times it is because a member of staff feels uncomfortable about a certain expectation that they will not promote it.

2. Be sure to inform any new or temp staff of the basic ground rules of the room. Such as play room toys and messy room toys stay in their respective rooms.

3. Set out steps for positively addressing challenging behaviour which are appropriate for the age of those children.

4. Ensure that all staff have a good understanding and working knowledge of the routine. Most importantly transitions. If any child has to wait too long during a transition, during which they have nothing to do but wait, behavioural problems will quickly arise.

5. At the end of the day you do not need to agree completely with expectations and ground rules set out by team/room leaders. What is important is that if you feel strongly that they are inappropriate that you discuss this with your team. Once this has been discussed and the expectations have been agreed by the team it is vital for all team members to follow them. Even if they do not completely agree with them.

For example I have asked staff to ensure that they model correct behaviour at the lunch table to children, ensuring that they are sitting on their chairs correctly and are using talking voices and so on. Some members of staff feel that this ruins the children's fun. As a more experienced practitioner I know that teaching children good table manners is not only important for social reasons but also safety reasons. My staff may not agree with me but they understand why I request them to do this so they do it.

I say that this is one of the trickiest things to get right because many day cares/ nursery and so on, tend to have a higher staff turn over/ staff movement. This does unbalance consistency at first. Also most of the people working in this industry tend to be in their late teens. A time during which, challenging authority is actually a biological need in some. This is why is it vital to ensure that everyone has a chance to talk about their feelings about expectations, ground rules and positive behavioural management.

How does consistency or the lack of it effect your team?


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Cloud dough the baby way!

This mixture is actually a combination of two sensory mixtures, sand dough and bubble dough. 

For the sand dough we mixed
 vegetable oil
we also added some gold glitter which made it look truly amazing! 

The bubble dough was made using 
 washing up liquid. 

By looking at the ingredients I'm sure you can tell that it's not best for young babies who are tasting everything. In our baby room the children age from 10 months to almost 2 years and they all used this material safely. One child had a quick lick and decided it wasn't what she thought it was! 

(Also you will notice that there are no measurements, I tend to just mix together adding things until I am happy with it, I know it's not very teacher like, but recipes never actually work for me. )

We added wooden bowls and spoons and off they went!

Scooping and transferring was their main interest and quiet a few enjoyed picking up handfuls and sprinkling it into the bowls. 

I just love the way that it looks! It truly glistens. Many of the babies loved to squash the balls that the adults made. 

This was out for well over an hour and there was always someone busy at the table. Perfect for older babies and young toddlers, there is just so much that can be done with it!

Have fun

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Sensory jungle fun

A few days ago I walked into the toddlers room at 7:50am. I saw some animals looking rather forlorn and lonely on a large expanse of blue carpet. I handed the nearest trainee a pair of scissors and set them out to go and gather some natural treasures to make our animals more at home. 

When the children started arriving at 8am they rushed straight over to the carpet jungle and started to explore the materials. 

Hiding the animals under the leaves was a very popular games. Lots of positional language!

The textures and smells were so much fun to explore! We had prickly leaves, smooth leaves, smelly leaves and leaves we could wave. It's wonderful what amazing play experiences you can find just sitting in your garden! 

What kind of landscape will you create?

Have fun

Sunday, 1 June 2014

10 Child led colour explorations

The discovery of colour mixing is such an exciting thing! These 10 activities or invitations to play, provide children with an opportunity to explore it for themselves.

2. Experimenting with coloured water from Happy Hooligans
3. The bubble wrap squish from fait avec le coeur 
4. Handprint color mixing in preschool from Teach Preschool 
5. Colour mixing activity for kids from Frogs, snails and puppy dog tails
6. An artistic experience of nature from fait avec le coeur 
7. Fizzing color mixing activity from blog me mum
8. Painting with frozen paint from fait avec le coeur 
9. Jack explored colours from An everyday story 
10. The wonder of creating new colours from fait avec le coeur

Have fun!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Simply fine motor

There are so many great play dough activities out there that really support fine motor development. Our favorite one has to be using natural objects and pipe cleaners! The play dough was made using the regular cream of tartar recipe with a dash of vanilla essence and a generous sprinkle of green glitter. 

Pushing pipe cleaners into play dough is such a fantastic way to strengthen little fingers and develop hand eye coordination.  

We lined up the wooden cuts and counted them....

Quiet of few of them simple enjoyed moving the different materials between the bowls. It was such a simple activity that the children took to so many different places. There is nothing quiet like the open endness of play dough. 

Have fun

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Developing tripod grip independently

Q-tip or cotton bud painting is such a simple and fantastic way to encourage children to use a tripod grip! The size and thinness of the stick means that it is actually impossible to paint with it if you don't hold it in a tripod or pincer grip.

I decided to use higher sided paint pots filled up 1/4 of the way with paint. This meant that the children really had to put the q-tip all the way down into the paint and pull it all the way out. Perfect for hand eye coordination development. 


The toddlers made lines, dots, circles and painty blobs! As you can see they all used wonderful tripod grips! Hooray for activities that support children's learning without any adult interference at all!! 


Have fun!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Toddler Math: Circles

When I set up our new toddler room I had a hard time thinking of things to put in their math unit trays. We have number tiles, empty boxes, threading and different pairs of socks. I really wanted something that would enable them to support the concept of a particular shape that was very flexible in it's use. I decided that the easiest shape to find objects in was a circle and off I went on a circle hunt.

I found a large amount of small wooden circles we had recently cut ourselves. I also found a very big stash of milk bottle lids which were perfect. I also raided our wooden heuristic play set and found some lovely wooden coasters. Finally I found some plastic rings which fit together. I honestly do not know what their actually purpose is, I just know that they were perfect for my circle set! I also added in a few corks as well.

I love all the the weird and wacky things that the children can do with this simple set of circles. They enjoy building towers, sorting the circle by type and creating faces. They are also a favorite transporting item! 


They also introduce the concept of size and hand eye coordination. It's hard work trying to figure out which circle will fit inside another one! 

What shape set would you make? 

Have fun!