December 2022

How is it December already!! Time really flies when you are having fun.

We started the month celebrating St Andrews day, we took part in some Scottish dancing and had a special visit from 2 of our parents playing some Scottish sounds using flutes. The children tried haggis, and neeps and tattys and decorated Scottish flags.

On December the 1st a very special visitor appeared in the setting, inside a balloon. He said he was sent from the North Pole and using a suggestion from one of the children we named him Alan the elf. He was a mischievous little elf and played lots of tricks on us.. including drawing over the ladies photos, ziplining across the snack area, riding on the back of incy our spider, and invading the Christmas stay and play sessions with his friends.

We’ve enjoyed lots of Christmas/winter themed activities this month. A snowball throwing target game, present wrapping station, card making, snowy small world play, gingerbread play dough, marble painting, dressing up, pine cone decorating, cosy Christmas stories, ice colour mixing, Christmas music and movement, just to name a few.

The children wrote letters to Santa, the older children went for a walk with some ladies to the post box to post their letters and the younger children posted theirs in our very special post box sent from the North Pole.

The Christmas stay and play sessions were a huge success, it was great to welcome our families in to join in some Christmas activities with the children and for a snowy surprise at the end.

The staff and committee at St Helens would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

We look forward to welcoming you back on Wednesday 4th January.

November 2022

We return for the second half of the autumn term, we hope you all had a nice break.

Our first celebration of the term was bonfire night. The children shared their stories of fireworks while we watched some firework videos on YouTube. We then experimented with being a firework and whizzing into the air before making a big bang. We made our own firework pictures, made firework patterns in glitter and threaded pipe cleaners through colanders to make shooting rockets.

We celebrated remembrance day, with poppy printing, soldier marching with drums and a sand tray, set up with soldiers, tanks and a story called “where the poppies now grow”.

Children in need this year was great fun with lots of spotty activities, it was lovely to see all the children in their spotty clothes. Thankyou for taking part in our “choose a square” game.

Following on from our book of the term “dear zoo” the children decorated boxes and recited the story opening the different boxes to see which animals were in which.

This term we’re reading “the colour monster”. This book is based on emotions, in support of this we’ve set out some activities to encourage the children’s emotional knowledge. This will help the children in learning how to name their feelings and giving them the language to express their needs.

Another week another celebration!! This week St Andrews Day. The children made flags and had a go at Scottish dancing. Next week we will have a very special visit from one of our parents, who is coming in to play the bagpipes for us.

December is always an exciting month with lots of activities and events in the run up to Christmas. We look forward to welcoming some of you to our stay and play sessions, and to take part in our exciting Christmas raffle! Watch out on our Facebook for a special visitor coming in the next few days…. Sent to us from the “North pole!!!”

October 2022

🎃 Happy Halloween 🎃

First of all we hope you had a lovely half term break. Here’s some things we’ve been doing throughout October.

The fact we have such a big garden and large windows brings some great learning opportunities, the leaves have been changing and turning into some really interesting colours. In celebration of harvest, we added some real vegetables (carrots, potatoes, and pumpkins) to our indoor and outdoor role play kitchens. The children practised balancing by carrying the veg on plates, and maths by counting the potatoes.

The children took park in an activity using tweezers to pick up conkers and place them in cups, this required precision, patience and coordination. Practising our fine motor skills. We also read the helpful hedgehog which is a lovely book focusing on autumn and how to be kind.

Helping the children with learning names of their peers, building relationships and confidence amongst their friends, we introduced a ball rolling game. Rolling the ball to our friends by calling their names.

We looked at our bodies, drew around them and stuck on hair and facial features. We spoke about the differences between us and our friends. Also the children helped to make a tree, and measured each other, noticing who was tallest and shortest and who was the same.

This month we celebrated Halloween with some Halloween themed activities. Including, scooping, balancing, creating, rolling, dancing, building, mixing, pouring, filling, painting, sticking, counting and most importantly of all enjoying!!!

What a brilliant month full of learning fun. We look forward to what November will bring….

September 2022

After a busy first 2 weeks at St Helens, we’ve settled back into our daily routine. Enjoying the last of the warmer dry weather we’ve been outside as much as possible.

We noticed a nest in the tree, with a mummy pigeon carefully warming her eggs. A few days later 2 little heads were seen poking out of the nest. The children left bird feed on the ground for the birds. It was interesting to see how quickly the baby birds grew and finally were strong enough to leave the nest. What a fantastic experience for our boys and girls.

Following on from our book of the term “dear zoo”, we’ve been looking at big and small animals, matching the babies to their mummy or daddy, talking about the story and the differences in the animals. On a particularly warm day we took the yoga mats outside and practised some animal poses before a mindfulness activity exploring the natural world using our senses.

The children have been practising balance and coordination, this will support them in carrying out daily routines, for example, carrying food on a plate, pouring drinks, getting themselves dressed.

We celebrated recycle week with some junk modelling and lots of conversation around the environment in which we live and why we need to take care of it. The water tray (the ocean) became polluted with lots of rubbish, the children helped to remove it using fishing nets, saving the living creatures from harmful objects.

Lots of messy play this last 2 weeks, gloop, mud, chalking, and a bubble wrap activity that involved lots of paint and colour!!

In October we will be looking forward to the changing season, watching the leaves in our garden turn and feeling the cooler weather when we go outside. We will have some autumn activities set up, ready to explore new experiences. Look out for our scavenger hunt fundraiser coming up in October, and St Helens will be taking park in the scarecrow trail set up through costessey.

Welcome back sept 22

Wow!! What a brilliant 2 weeks we’ve had, welcoming back our lovely families AND meeting some new faces that have joined the preschool. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know you all and welcome to the preschool blog.

As you can see from the pictures, we’ve provided the children with some familiar activities, ones we know they love and enjoy and follow their interests. This helps the children to feel comfortable and happy while settling back into the daily routine.

There’s been a couple of small changes as we continue to lift restrictions within the setting. We have invited parents inside at drop off and collection times, it’s a great way for our families to feel included and welcomed by staff. You can see what your children have been up to, and they can show you where they like to play, encouraging positive conversations about preschool.

We’ve returned to our self serving snack. The children are able to choose their own snack and, with adult support, can now serve themselves (after washing their hands of course). This promotes independence, teaching the children how to listen to their needs, making choices, following instructions, fine motor skills, tipping, pouring, drinking from a cup, and later we will include spreading, and using a knife and fork.

We’ve re-introduced our morning sensory circuit, this helps the children to feel grounded and ready to start their day. It’s a great way to burn off some energy and excitement, before bringing our bodies back down to earth with some mindfulness and relaxation .

This is an exciting term for preschool, with lots of celebrations coming up. Keep your eyes on our Facebook page, request to join our private group if you haven’t already, and don’t forget to check out parent portal. Remember you can add your own photos or observations, which we can look through with the children while they are at preschool. If you have any questions please see your key person or a member of staff, we’re always happy to help ☺️

July 2022

July!!! It’s been hot… it’s been fun… and it’s been full of new experiences!!

Here’s what we’ve been doing this term….

Finally we’ve able to welcome some lovely guests into setting, a group of residents from a local care home came to visit, bringing lots of smiles and laughter for us and the residents. We had a special visit from some musical guests just in time for “world music day”. They showed us some different instruments and styles of music and dancing from all over the world.

Our caterpillars built their cocoons and emerged as the most beautiful butterflies which we set free into the garden.

The older children have been learning about their new schools, some have welcomed their new teachers into the setting and been to visit their new classrooms. It’s a very exciting time but can also be quite scary for our little people… we try to support them as much as possible in their independence, and emotional well-being in preparation for this transition. We will miss them very much but are so excited for them to take the next step in their educational journey.

We celebrated “onam” festival with some colourful pictures and jewels. We shared a story, learning all about the festival and why it’s celebrated.

The weather has been super duper hot this last week and what better way to cool down than some water play, ice play, jelly baff and mindfulness!!! Paddling in the tuff trays was a real treat, some children deciding to cool off even more by laying and sitting in the water. They really enjoyed making footprints over the ground, before watching them quickly dry up in the sun, and not forgetting splashing the ladies (which was much appreciated in the hot weather😉).

The time has come to finish off our preschool year with a big Thankyou to all our children, parents and families. Your continued support and kind words make our job all the more worth while.

We wish you all an amazing summer… good luck to our little people moving on to new schools, we look forward to welcoming some of you back in September, and also some new families too.

HAPPY SUMMER EVERYONE!!!

June 2022

Just a little update on some of the great activities and wonderful new things we’ve experienced over the last few weeks.

You will see some pictures from “jubilee” week. We were so excited to celebrate the queens jubilee, we explained to the children what it meant, they made their own crowns, built castles in the garden, enjoyed a royal afternoon tea snack, practised pouring fruit tea using tea pots and cups, added some maths by counting jewels and role played using the wooden castle and characters.

As we begin to prepare our boys and girls for the next stage in their learning journey “moving on to big school”, we will have many activities set out to support them through this time. Over the last 2 weeks we’ve been looking at our new schools logos and marble painting using the corresponding colours and logos. Over the next few weeks we’re looking forward to meeting some new teachers.

The last week we have welcomed some “caterpillars” . The children will be able to watch them grow, while learning about living things. Once they have emerged from their cocoons we will set them free. How exciting!!!

Look how well our vegetable patch is growing!! It’s amazing what can be achieved if we all work together at taking care of things. The strawberries are almost ripe enough to try… we’re looking forward to trying those!!

Bugs have been a firm favourite this last month!! We’ve been reading “super worm” and enjoying activities based on the book. We do love a bug hunt and how lucky we are to have such an amazing garden for it!!

Dont forget to book an appointment to see you key person for parents evening which is happening this week! The first face to face parents evening we’ve had in a while and it feel great to be able to welcome everyone inside again!!

Only a few weeks until the summer holidays!! We have so many fun learning opportunities planned… it’s going to be AMAZING!!!

Summer term part 1

Happy June!!!

What an amazing half term we’ve had at St Helens. Some great weather has seen us retreat to the garden for lots of our activities and learning which of course brings new opportunities and experiences for our little people.

The children have planted some vegetables and flowers in our vegetable patch, this year we’re growing strawberries, sprouts, potatoes, lettuce, peas and sunflowers. They have been taking great care of them by helping to water them, it’s exciting to watch them grow.

Did you see our duck eggs? For 28 days the boys and girls watched and waited patiently, checking the incubator each day to make sure it was the correct temperature and humidity for the eggs to grow. And finally 2 of the eggs hatched into beautiful ducklings which we named Helen (of course) and George. This was such an exciting opportunity, fitting in perfectly with our theme of growth and life cycles.

We’ve recently introduced a “sensory circuit” each morning. This consists of 3 songs. 1st an energetic song, 2nd a listening, action song, and 3rd a calm, relaxing song. Sensory Circuits are a short daily sensory motor skills programme that helps to set children up for a day. It enables children to reach the level of alertness needed to concentrate and to focus during the day.

This half term our children have enjoyed lots of activities based around bugs, life cycles, the natural world, our bodies, growth and changes over time.

Over the last week we celebrated our lovely queens jubilee. We had a very special afternoon tea snack, party songs, water play with fruit tea, we made crowns, flags and watched a video telling us all about the Queen and her jubilee.

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Helen and George, as much as we wanted to keep them, our preschool just isn’t a suitable home for ducks 😔 How ever, we are happy to tell you they have a lovely new home on a farm with a pond and some animal friends.

End of spring term

So quickly the end of term comes around and what a great opportunity to look at some of the awesome things we’ve done this term.

The children have been exploring their fine and gross motor skills with lots of activities and experiences. They loved using the streamers in the garden especially on a windy day!! Some children made a washing machine and tumble dryer from cardboard boxes, adding clothes and a washing line. How clever are they using pegs for the first time!!

We’ve taken full advantage of the spring weather… being outside as much as possible enjoying the sunshine!! The children have shown a huge interest in the new film encanto… we’ve added some activities based around this, firstly turning our wooden house into the beautiful “casa de Madrigal” and trying out our strength in the obstacle course in the garden.

We celebrated pancake day with pancakes for snack, and a fun messy activity exploring how pancakes are made.

We introduced St. Helens farm shop to the garden with real vegetables and then planted our own. Once the cress had grown enough we tasted it at snack time.

How exciting was the visit from the dentist!! We learned how to care for our teeth and gums properly and got to meet the monkey who was very cheeky.

The children turned into scientists this term with some experiments based around colour mixing and some children got to make a rain cloud.

We loved throwing the powder paint over the wet ground in the garden and watching as the colours mixed together.

We ended the term with a very exciting visit from a chicken and her chicks. The children got to have a little hold. This tides in well with our theme of growth and life cycles.

We wish you all a happy Easter… enjoy your holidays!!

Ofsted Inspection Report 2022

Letter to our parents from our Committee.

We are writing to share the outcome of our latest Ofsted inspection held in February 2022. The inspection was graded 💫Good💫 across all areas. The Pre-School Committee are so immensely proud of the St Helen’s team for their continued hard work – a ‘Good’ grading is not earnt just on the day, it is earned tirelessly, every day, by building a strong foundation and offering the high-quality provision that we are so proud to offer your children.

The inspector was happy to point out that the grading was only one recommendation away from 🌟Outstanding🌟 which we think you will agree is a great reflection of our Pre-School – especially during a term which has been plagued with Covid and all the challenges that has presented. This was our first inspection under the more rigorous Ofsted framework, so it highlights the immense progress we have made over the past 6 years.

We would like to bring your attention to a few of the highlights from the report, but we feel every one of the ‘What does the early years setting do well’ should be highlighted!

✓ Children are happy, confident and secure in their environment. They develop strong bonds with their key persons, who are very attentive to their needs. Children are encouraged to be independent.

✓ Staff know how to support children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). The special educational needs coordinator (SENCo) works closely with parents and other professionals to identify, plan and coordinate support for them. Staff make effective use of funding to provide high levels of care and help children achieve their goals.

✓ Children explore the rich learning environment. They play with purpose in the woodwork area. Children learn how to take risks and how to use equipment safely, such as screws and hammers. This supports their fine and gross motor skills and helps them to gain more self-confidence.

✓ Staff make regular assessments of what children know and can do. Gaps in children’s learning are quickly identified and appropriate support is put in place. Staff offer encouragement and praise to engage children and give them a sense of achievement.

✓ Staff have built strong partnerships with parents. Parents speak highly of them and feel informed about what their child is learning. They report that staff communicate well and have provided good support for their children in order to get them prepared for their next stage of education.

✓ The manager leads her team with enthusiasm and is passionate about providing a supportive setting for children and their families. She has made good use of training from the local authority and engages in fundraising initiatives with the Inspection report: St. Helens Pre-School 24 February 2022 2 local community. The manager reflects on the quality of the provision and makes positive changes to improve outcomes for all. She has a high focus on providing a setting that is at the heart of the community.

✓ Children have a good understanding of healthy eating and hygiene. They confidently wash their hands, and staff discuss with them why this is important. Children are provided with opportunities to try new and exciting foods. They discuss what food is good for them and the importance of a balanced diet.

✓ Staff pay particular attention to supporting children’s personal, social and emotional development. The pre-school has used funding effectively to send staff on training, to extend their knowledge and support the children further. As a result, children leave the pre-school being more able to self-regulate their emotions and develop skills they need for the next stage of their education.

✓ Staff provide children with a broad range of activities that reflect their interests. Staff are aware that children have different developmental needs and adapt activities for this. They provide a language-rich environment, which includes introducing new words and stories, particularly to children who are learning to speak English as an additional language.

This report clearly sums up the hard work of all stakeholdersof St Helen’s Pre-School; from the staff and manager, the committee, the parents/carers and their children. We want to say a massive thank you to you all for your hard work and continued support.

Yours,

The St Helen’s Pre-School Committee.

https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/16/2548280

January/February 2022

Greetings from a very busy preschool.

What a great few weeks it’s been with so many exciting things happening and as always lots of learning!!

As you May have seen from our Facebook post we had lots of fun celebrating Chinese New Year with some interesting activities based around Chinese customs and traditions. There was Chinese dancing, Chinese food, writing Chinese letters, making money envelopes, and dragon dancing with rhythmic drumming for the beat.

As always the children are loving their messy play with some fun, slimy activities this month. Gloop, slime and shaving foam, perfect for mark making and learning new describing words.

For Valentine’s Day we learned all about love, who we love, who loves us and how it makes us feel. We enjoyed some mindfulness, a couple of the children enjoyed the quiet music and glitter jar a little too much and almost fell asleep. It felt good to have a little relaxation time.

As part of an ongoing theme, the children have been exploring their fine motor skills with some activities to encourage this. Threading cotton reels, then moving on to thread Cheerios onto spaghetti, using pencils to follow a pattern, tracing shapes, threading to make a tartan pattern, and one day when there was lots of crusts left over from snack we used our fine motor skills to break the crusts into tiny pieces and fed the birds in the garden.

This half term we’re excited to receive a visit from the dentist and to learn all about oral hygiene. We’re learning about families and how everyone’s family is different.

Welcome back 2022!!!

Hello and welcome back after the Christmas and new year break!!

It’s been a very busy time at St Helens, with everyone returning after the break with lots of stories to tell.

The weather has turned and winter is definitely upon us. We took full advantage of this, by wrapping up warm and heading into the garden to explore the ice and feel the cold air on our skin.

Frost and ice makes for a great talking point, the children enjoyed finding the ice, breaking it and checking out the pretty patterns under the microscopes. We learned what makes ice, and what happens to it when the sun comes out , or when it meets our warm skin. As we walked over the grass we listened to the crunch of the frosty leaves under our feet, and learned how to take extra care over the concrete incase it was slippery.

Inside we used syringes to squirt water over ice cubes, exploring how to make it melt and thinking of different ways to free the toys.

Some children joined in with a workout session, getting those muscles working and keeping warm by stretching and moving around in different ways.

Snack this term is focused on trying new things, new flavours and textures. This week we particularly enjoyed the different flavoured rice cakes and lemon yoghurt.

We had a visit from some workmen who had come to clear the drains and guttering in the playground. It was very interesting watching them from the window as the Jets cleared all the leaves and mud away.

A different way of drawing, by putting paper on the floor. We’ve stencilled shapes, using different types of crayons and pens. And mostly just enjoyed laying on our tummies to colour.

We look forward to another exciting and adventurous term at St Helens and can’t wait share it with you.