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.

22/11/21-03/12/21

It’s been 2 fantastic weeks since our last blog… get ready it’s a big one!!!

The week started off sunny and dry, we took full advantage and went on a squirrel hunt around the garden. The children love watching the squirrels from our big windows, sadly we didn’t find any in the garden, maybe they heard us coming.

Leading on from and extending the children’s love of cars and car ramps, we added a little paint. The wheels made some great patterns and marks over the paper.

We drew and spoke about our families, noticing how we are all very different and so are our families.

The children are learning how to look after our environment and have been using small compost and recycling bins at snack and lunch times, then adding to the large compost bin in the garden.

One wet and windy afternoon we got out the large parachute inside and played some games, moving it up and down, fast and slow. Then we climbed underneath.

Brrrrr the weather seemed to get very wintery this week. The children were so excited to find ice in the garden. We brought it inside for a closer inspection. We talked a lot about seasons, weather, what is ice and what happens when it melts.

The children took part a science experiment this week adding alkaseltzer to bottles of water, oil and food colouring. It was so exciting waiting to see what would happen. The children were so engaged in this activity, predicting what would happen then cheering when the bubbles reached the top.

We also made mug cakes last week, following instructions and predicting what would happen to the cakes in the microwave. They were very delicious!!

The children celebrated Hanukkah, listening to a story about the reasons why we celebrate it and we decorated menorahs by cutting out and adding candles.

Next week we will begin our Christmas activities, Including Christmas cards, calendars, letters to Santa, Christmas singing and dancing. We were also very happy to welcome “ Betty Elf” to preschool. Although he has been getting up to lots of mischief already!!!

15/11-19/11

Road safety and children in need week.

We learned lots this week about how to stay safe on and around the road. In the garden we set up a role play, with a zebra crossing and traffic lights. The children used the ride in cars to act out being safe around the road.

We made the most of a lovely autumn day by exploring the outer garden area on a nature walk. We found some interesting autumn treasure, then added it to playdough, creating new textures and the opportunity to develop our describing words.

It was a special spotty week, as we celebrated children in need. It was great to see your sparkly and spotty outfits. We had tons of spotty activities, working together in pairs the children went on a spot hunt, looking for spots in the environment and marking off on the sheets when they found them. Using fine motor skills and pipettes we dripped spots over the tissue paper, it was great fun to see the spots spread over the paper creating a tie-dye effect.

The water in the water tray had turned yellow this week, and smelled like lemons, we used the fishing nets to scoop up Pudseys spots. Following the theme of children in needs “strictly come dancing” we watched a YouTube video of ballroom dancing and copied, joining up with our friends to dance around the room.

Well done to the biscuit competition winner!! Enjoy your box of biscuits!!

In small groups, the children have been learning about their bodies. They had the opportunity to look at some X-rays of bones, then created their own body pictures, using white string to represent the bones.

Testimonials

Both of my daughters have attended St Helen’s pre-school. My eldest is now in primary school and my youngest joined in March 2021. I really cannot fault the care that St Helen’s provides. From the moment we arrive at the door we are always greeted with a warm welcome and a smile. It’s been a strange couple of years with lots of changes throughout the pandemic but I know the staff and management have done everything possible to keep the children safe and with as much routine and structure as possible. I get regular updates either in person at pick up time and using the online portal. The setting is always clean and there’s a great range or toys, crafts, and learning materials. It has everything that my daughter needs and wants to make her day enjoyable and she always comes home happy. It really is a fantastic pre-school and I’m very grateful for the care and support they’ve given both of my daughters.

Sarah. February 2022

I wanted to email you to give some feedback/compliment on how impressed I have been with the support that Alfred has had settling in to pre school over the past few weeks. I have always thought St Helens is a lovely environment for the little ones but I have been very impressed with how sensitive and thoughtful Kate has been with Alfred – yesterday in particular she was fantastic with him and had made a story sack which I thought was incredibly thoughtful. Please pass on my compliments I’m very happy and reassured to know Alfred is in such good hands!!

Zoe February 2022

A few comments from our recent parent questionnaire, July 2021.

The preschool overall is amazing and VERY child-centered, they provide support and activities to help and encourage the children to be engaged and part of the preschool community. As parents, we are extremely grateful for the provision you have given our daughter – the support and nurturing has gone above and beyond our expectations and we will always look back on her pre-school days fondly. THANKYOU!

Outstanding, I couldn’t be happier. Gemma in particular has had a really positive impact on both my girls and each and every one of your ladies goes above and beyond to keep the children safe, happy and feel comfortable.

Amazing, just amazing! We have been to a variety of settings over the years (two nurseries) and I can say 100% my child has been supported far better than in any setting we have used.

I honestly couldn’t fault the preschool at all, it is an amazing place for the children to develop and grow with wonderful supporting staff. Any issues or changes are dealt with quickly and clearly which over the last year with COVID has been very much needed and appreciated.

Just keep up the great work you are doing! The child-centered approach deployed at St Helen’s is unique and provides such a nurturing environment that is tailored to each and every child. You really provide an amazing environment for our young explorers which enables them not only to grow, but flourish into confident children that are as ready as they possibly could be for school.

08/11-12/11/2021

Jumping into a new week with an army themed obstacle course, using resources from our outdoor construction area and the garden to create a challenging trail to follow. Over, under, through, around, jump, balance, turn, hop, run, crawl, we learned lots of new ways to move around, and how to have confidence and to trust our bodies when trying something new.

The children learned about Remembrance Sunday, why we celebrate, and remember the soldiers with lots of activities, stories and role play. Tanks and soldiers in the sand, and tipping and pouring rice, creating our own poppies in the tray with the different coloured rice. We watched a YouTube video showing soldiers in parade, then copied them, practising our good marching and standing tall to the rhythm of the drum. We made our own poppies, using recycled bottles and coloured in poppy pictures. We also had a poppy inspired snack where we had a go at tasting some new things – strawberries, blackberries and blueberries.

To help us build relationships with our friends and learn to turn take, in big groups, we worked together to roll the marble through the paint using a tuff tray. We had to carefully tip the tray to get the marble moving. By using our good listening skills, we created a beautiful picture with lots of colours mixed together.

We’re noticing some changes in the garden, the leaves have turned brown, orange and yellow and have fallen to the ground. It must mean the seasons are changing. We had great fun exploring the joys of autumn, throwing leaves in the air and getting muddy. There’s adventure everywhere.

🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁🍂

01/11/21-05/11/21

Hello, and happy weekend to you all.

Here’s what we’ve been up to recently….

We started bonfire week off with a bang…. Literally!! With some fantastic firework activities, using paint in shaving foam to flick around and create colourful pictures. Using brushes in sand to make our own pretty patterns. Some amazing firework dancing, starting tiny and small and listening for the firework explosions on the iPad, then jumping up and down to represent the bangs of the fireworks. Adding in the streamers to make patterns of different fireworks in the air. These were great for creating a Catherine wheel effect.

The children were so engaged and interested in learning all about Diwali and really enjoyed some new activities. Starting with decorating hands with pretty jewels and colours, also turning CDs into beautiful lights. We heard the story of Diwali and had great fun learning Diwali dancing, (although slightly more energetic than the ladies anticipated, phew!) We had a go at drawing some Rangoli (beautiful art work) patterns on the floor using stencils and chalks and creating diya (oil lamp made from clay) and firework pictures. We’ve learned lots of new language this week and had some great opportunities to ask questions and learn about the world.

11/10/21-22/10/21

What a fun, spooky 2 weeks at St Helen’s, filled with learning, exploring, play, discovering and trying out new experiences and adventures, textures, tastes, dancing, yoga and just having the best time ever!

As you can see from the pictures, we’ve been as busy as ever. So many great activities to explore. Bathing babies, learning how to care for others, hoop jumping, working on those gross motor skills, woodwork, using our great concentration and creative minds, learning how things work with the remote control cars, following into Halloween week and celebrating all things autumn.

The children loved opening the pumpkins, exploring the insides, feeling, smelling, scooping and pouring. We added slime for extra texture to investigate.

The children were so clever cutting out and organising the different sized pumpkins into size order. Being sure to use the scissors safely and carefully.

Using our creative imaginations, we decorated pumpkins using, stickers, paint, glitter and pens. How amazing are they!

We tried very hard not to wake the BIG mummy spider, by carefully collecting her baby spiders out of the web using the scoop tongs. The children were so patient waiting for a turn and they were really engaged in this activity, throughout the day they kept asking for the “mummy spider game”.

We finished the week with a spooky bear hunt yoga, you can find the link to this on our Facebook page.

We hope you have a lovely half term. When we return we will be celebrating bonfire night and Diwali. Our planning board is in the reception area as you come into the building. If you have any ideas or input towards any topic plans we have for the next term we would love to hear, please speak to a member of staff.

27/09/21-08/10/21

We’ve had a great 2 weeks at St Helen’s, learning more independence, developing new skills and welcoming more new boys and girls.

The children are doing a great job developing their independence skills. Some children showing care and kindness, helping to guide and support the younger children.

We explored some printing in the garden using dinosaurs in paint to create new and different marks on the paper.

Did you know Gemma is trained in Lego therapy? This term in brick club we are learning to do tricky towers, build a cube and sammy snake by only using just six bricks. The children are doing great at concentrating, listening and implementing instructions in their creations.

Our play dough was accompanied by the ginger bread man story, we read the story then the children had a go at creating their own gingerbread man, using rollers and shape cutters then selecting their decorations.

We celebrated the harvest festival last week, first by using paper cut into shapes to make a scarecrow.

Did you see our harvest box when you came in to preschool? It was full of autumnal things, vegetables, books about autumn and harvest, lots of great conversation starters to encourage language and help build the children’s knowledge on understanding the world.

We used some of the vegetables to paint with making prints and exploring the different patterns we could create. We also looked at some cooked vegetables, using our senses to smell and touch.

The vegetables made their way into the garden, where the children transported them to and from the “farm” with wheelbarrows.

At the end of the week we played a rolling game, first rolling some vegetables across the paint. The children worked amazing in a team, tipping the tray to make the vegetables move. Then rolling between each other while sat in a circle.

13/09 – 24/09

A special 2 week blog for you this week… it’s been such a busy time settling back into routines.

The first week we had lots of fun role playing in the garden, the children built a campfire and we cooked marshmallows and sausages over it.

After school club have been making their own sandwiches and learning to use a cheese grater.

We’ve been doing some shape recognition, with big planks of wood, and creating smaller shapes using lollipop sticks.

We love to explore playdough using different instruments to roll, cut, squeeze and shape. Adding smells and textures to enhance our senses.

When the weather was bad we danced away to some Zumbini songs. Joining in with the actions and singing.

Some children went on a nature hunt, looking for bugs and pretty flowers around the garden. Can you spot incey watching from the projector??

Last week was recycle week. We celebrated this by using recycling to create our own masterpieces. Glueing and sticking, cutting and painting. Using our imaginations to create whatever we wanted. There were houses, cars, diggers, aeroplanes, towers, even a robot!! At lunch we talked about the things we can recycle from our lunchboxes and when we finished we placed them in the recycling bin.

In the garden the children used the wheelbarrows and pickup trucks to transport and organise the recycling into boxes.

06/09/2021

Hello!!! And welcome back to St Helen’s preschool!

Over the summer, we made a few changes to our setting, as you can see from the pictures the rooms are almost back to how they were before covid, with a few tweaks here and there as we are always reviewing and reflecting our practice, based on how the children move around and use the environment. The relaxation of certain covid-19 rules has allowed us to create a more free-flow setting where the children are free to make their own choices as to where they would like to play.

It’s been great to welcome you all inside the setting, we hope you have enjoyed looking around and seeing all the things we’ve learned over the year. Some parents have never been inside so it feels really nice to be able to show you all around and share with you what wonderful learners your children are.

Our snack routine has had a revamp, the children are now free to self select their snack, giving them the opportunity to make choices and practice their independence, with pouring, scooping, spreading and making decisions. They are picking up the routine very quickly, after snack they then wash up their plates and cups, which has gone down very well, some children even insisting on washing up for their friends!

In the vegetable patch we’ve grown enough potatoes to feed a small village, please feel free to help yourselves when you come in to preschool; we’re very good at sharing 😉. But do let us know how they tasted!

The children have enjoyed the garden a lot this week, getting out to feel the warm sunshine while it lasts. Lots of water play to cool us down and of course, the trim trail is still a strong favourite.

The books we are reading this term are ‘dear zoo’ and ‘little rabbit foo foo’, and the songs we’re learning are “twinkle twinkle, old MacDonald, if you’re happy and you know it and head shoulders knees and toes”.

We’re welcoming some new boys and girls over the next few weeks, so hello to you all and welcome.

21/06 – 02/07

STOP THE PRESS!! The amazing children of St Helen’s preschool have grown “strawberries” yes you heard it here first! (We mustn’t forget the lettuce, peas, carrots also) How exciting for the children to discover their first red and ripe little strawberries hanging waiting to be picked. And of course we sat down to have a taste once they had been washed and cut. They were so yummy!

Another 2 week blog post this week as we’ve been busy getting our leavers ready for the next part in their journeys. It’s a very exciting but scary time for everyone, with a lot of questions about new schools, new friends, new teachers, new experiences.

We set up a role play school, with desks, lots of opportunities for conversation and questions being sure to include the younger children in this, who are also just as intrigued to look at pictures of ‘big schools’ and engage in conversation with their peers. Some items of uniform, showing the school logos and book bags.

The children have been exploring mark making, whether this is through painting, drawing with pens, felt tips taped to cars, brushed in sand, chalking in the garden, any kind of mark making we love to see the children’s imaginations come alive as they draw.

We went on a bug hunt in the garden, looking under the logs and using the magnifying glasses to view the bugs in closer detail.

Shoutout to the wet weather, it gave us the opportunity to use our umbrellas and we loved seeing our reflections in the puddles. On the days when it was just too wet, we stayed indoors and danced. A really fun zumbini session, with musical instruments, followed by a little mindfulness to help us rest after the Zumbini.

The children used their brilliant imaginations and creativity to construct a train in the garden, with no adult help. We all climbed aboard for the trip to ‘Africa’. Indoors we flew to the park on an aeroplane, went on a very large shopping trip and had a special visit from Mrs wiggle and Mrs waggle 😆

07/06 – 18/06

A special double blog this week, as we’ve been extra busy enjoying the lovely warmer weather and engaging in some fun activities.

We celebrated World Ocean Day and World Environment Day this week with activities focused on the ocean and how to help our environment. Using jelly baff, we scooped out the rubbish and put it into the recycling bin, all the while engaging in lots of conversation around the ocean, who lives in it and why we need to protect it and look after it. The children expressed their views on how the sea creatures may feel if someone threw rubbish into the sea. They said the fish would be sad, some creatures may get hurt and that it was very bad to put rubbish there.

Our vegetable patch has really enjoyed the warmer weather and has had a big growth spurt. For snack this week, we tried carrots and lettuce that we picked from our patch. They were crunchy and yummy. We spotted some white strawberries and are very excited to try these once they turn red.

We constructed some amazing creations using old boxes saved from the recycling.

As it’s been really warm, we enjoyed a ‘beach sensory activity’, feeling the sand and water between our toes was lovely and cooling. It also gave some of the older children the opportunity to practise putting shoes and socks on, ready for big school. The younger children had a good go at this too, some needed a little help from their friends, and it was heartwarming to see the children so eager to help each other.

Inside we had a beach tuff tray, set out to explore and feel. Pouring and tipping, scooping, touching, looking at shapes, sizes, same and different and describing the finer details of the ocean related items.

Have you seen our Father’s Day pictures in the windows? We painted our hands and said what we love most about our daddy’s or mummy’s.

We set up a supermarket, the children taking turns to be shop keepers or customers. Exploring with pretend money, focusing on numbers, counting and acting out role play based on their own experiences.

After watering the flowers in the garden, some children noticed a puddle left behind. One of the children’s decided to do some chalking in the puddle and enjoyed watching it spread across the concrete. A few more children joined in, discovering that the colours of the chalk actually mixed together when they got wet. The children were amazed at this and spent most of the afternoon mixing colours and watching them dry in the sun.

Indoors the children used makeup brushes, sponges and paint brushes to explore different mark making. They decided to mix the colours together and really enjoyed getting messy with the paint, watching as the colours changed.

We’ve introduced some feelings and emotions books to the rooms, as we begin to enter transitions for the older children, it helps them to be able to express their feelings, as exciting as it is, it also can be a scary time for them. We read “the colour monster” book, and using coloured pens and a large drawing of the colour monster, we spoke about our feelings, what makes us happy, sad etc and where do we feel those feelings. The children were really engaged in this activity, here’s some things they said… “I feel happiness in my mouth when I smile. I feel sad in my eyes. I feel anger in my feet it makes them stomp. I feel love in my heart and my tummy.

On rainy days we do yoga and mindfulness, the rain helps us to feel relaxed. It’s very calming listening to it on the conservatory roof.