Blog

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.

24/05/21

This week the children have explored different textures. We heard some great language around the “feel” of different materials.

Using sand and shaving foam as cement, they built some amazing towers and walls. Making sure to keep safe with their hard hats and hi-vis vests, this allowed us to engage in lots of conversation about danger and using tools safely. Leading on to some real building in our woodwork area.

We explored shapes in our environment, first in our rooms and then moving onto the garden. We used a book full of images of our garden to locate the object and recognise the shapes.

The children made sure our flowers and vegetables had lots of water to keep them hydrated over half term.

“Look at us with our huge box”. The endless possibilities playing with a large empty box. We love providing the freedom for our children to use their imagination and really enjoy listening to them as they role play. And who doesn’t love hiding in a huge box?

17/05/21

This weeks blog was written by the children…..

We did painting standing up. It was this stuff you could see through, cling film yes that’s it. I enjoy that. I painted a beautiful picture. (SF & JG aged 4)

We did decorating in the garden. I looked at the plants, I gave them water to help them grow. Do you know what else they need to grow? Soil, and sun. That will make those plants grow really tall won’t it? (GD aged 3)

I played that crocodile thing (xylophone) with my new friend next to me. We sang songs, we were doing very well. My favourite song is baa baa black sheep. My favourite is Ana and Elsa (SF & JG aged 4)

I liked bathing babies and playing on the tyres. (NP aged 4)

We were helping all the dinosaurs, they were stuck in the tray. We untangled them and used scissors to cut them free. (MW & LG aged 4)

People wanted to be police officers and it’s what we have over there. (MW aged 4)

We used the light to look at them bone pictures, and we finded out which body part it was. (MR aged 3)

10/05/21

We do love a Monday at preschool. We started our week with some new activities, keeping with our theme of life cycles, this week is all about frogs in yellow room. The tuff tray set out for exploring the life cycle of a frog, green playdough with added googly eyes and green Pom poms. We’ve been singing 5 little speckled frogs, with the children taking turns to be the frogs, “jumping into the pool, where it was nice and cool….”

Speaking of cool…. have you seen the video posted on our private Facebook page of the crackling jelly baff… it was a sensory explosion, feeling the cold jelly in the water while listening to the crackles at the same time. The children chose to add fish and and other sea creatures.

Orange room had a bug exploration tray, with rice for tipping and pouring and numbered butterflies. Orange room planted some seeds this week, these should be coming home soon to plant and watch grow. After a messy afternoon playing with the orange soapy flakes, the children even turned orange!! They couldn’t get enough of the sludgy, soapy mixture and really enjoyed pouring it, scooping it and splashing it.

Using lots and lots of recycling, we made some fantastic creations. The children decided what they wanted to make, chose their boxes/tubs and chose whether to use gloopy glue, cellotape or stick glue to fix it together. The ladies were blown away with the children’s creations.

This week orange room had lots of poorly patients, needing urgent care from the doctors and nurses. The office was extremely busy, with the “office lady” trying desperately to get through to the nurses who “never answered their phones”. There was a long queue in the waiting area, but peace was restored when the doctor finally arrived with the special medicine. All patients made a full recovery, even Paula who managed to break a few bones!

03/05/21

Happy May Day.

We started the week with a bank holiday due to May Day. When we returned on Tuesday we celebrated with some maypole dancing, using ribbon and hoops. We learned about the maypole and watched videos of other children dancing around it. We created fire pictures using rollers and paint.

The caterpillars have finally emerged from their cocoons as beautiful butterflies. We created our own butterflies with paint, folding the paper in half to create a symmetrical effect, and using the coloured dabbers to count dots onto the wings.

On Friday we released our butterflies into the garden. They were quite reluctant and didn’t seem to want to leave us. One child said they needed more energy, another said they were just warming up their wings. It was so special to see them fly off into the garden.

Using stamps and paint we created some shape pictures. Looking at the different shapes of the stamps and then comparing to shapes around our rooms.

26/04/21

Some very exciting news… our caterpillars have made their cocoons, the children have been watching very closely, checking back in every day for any movement or change. We are learning about growth, changes over time and what things we need for our bodies to grow.

In the garden we’ve been planting seeds. Adding the soil into small pots and pushing the seeds down into the soil before watering them. We learned that flowers need sun, water and soil to grow. We also had a tray of soil outside to explore, digging, filling and emptying. Practising control over the spades, being careful not to spill. Some of the children made “mud” castles, using the soil, remembering and talking about times when they have been to the beach and made sand castles.

Inside we added dinosaurs to the mud and mixed in sand for different textures. Also using the sand to mark make, some children beginning to form letters in the sand using their fingers or brushes, looking at the different shapes and lines they can make.

On Friday the weather was so bad, we couldn’t go outside. Instead, we did some physical music and movement in the multipurpose room. Our bodies got warm and tired very quickly, we felt our hearts, copying the beat by tapping on our knees.

After the fast music, we laid on some yoga mats, turned off the lights and explored our senses. We listened to some calming music, while watching the projector light project stars and waves on the ceiling. The children described what they could hear, “I can hear clouds, I can hear a bird, I can hear heaven, I can hear the seaside and shells.” The ladies used chiffon scarves to gently move over the children’s faces, creating a calm and relaxed experience. A few children took off their socks wanting to feel the scarves on their feet.

Next week, we will finally get to see our caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies. We will be celebrating May Day and enjoying some activities based around this tradition. Let’s hope for some sun, to help our flowers grow.

19/04/21

This week is the second week of the summer term, the children are really enjoying the outdoor area and exploring all the different areas. The vegetable patch is being well looked after, with daily watering and of course the lovely sunshine to help to grow the plants and vegetables.

The caterpillars have grown much bigger. Every day the children ask to see them and to see if they have grown. In small groups we sit and talk about the caterpillars. What they are eating, how they are growing and what will happen next. It’s all very exciting. We are hoping that over the weekend they will make their cocoons.

For snack this week we tried some of the foods from the ‘hungry caterpillar’ story. While reading the story, we ate the different foods (some new) and had lots of conversation around growth and changes over time. Then using empty boxes in the garden as cocoons, we role-played growing from a tiny egg into a caterpillar then a beautiful butterfly.

We celebrated St Georges Day, with flag making, and castle building. Using dragons and knights to listen and learn through play about St George and why some religions celebrate on this day.

12/04-16/04

Hello and welcome back after the Easter holidays.

This week we’ve enjoyed some warmer weather and it’s been a great opportunity to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying and exploring our new garden.

The children have most definitely enjoyed the trim trail, showing off their amazing balancing skills, and using their gross motor skills to climb over the apparatus.

Our new outdoor area has given us the freedom and ability to explore new things, including creating our very own vegetable patch, where we are growing carrots, lettuce, tomatoes and much more. This has been planted by the children, and is watered by them every day. Giving them a sense of pride and allowing them to take notice of the changes over time and growth.

Leading on to our new visitors. Some very tiny caterpillars have come to stay. Every day the children have asked to see them and check how much they have grown. They are so excited to watch and learn about the process of metamorphosis. Once the caterpillars turn into butterflies and are strong enough we will release them into the garden.

You can watch our Facebook page for updates on the caterpillars.

We have been celebrating Easter and the Muslim festival of Ramadan, promoting understanding of differences between us and our friends. We talked about praying in churches and in mosques, shared stories, and played memory games using pictures associated with with each belief system. We made Easter cards and decorated eggs as well as moon and stars.

Easter holidays.

This week is the Easter holidays!!

A perfect time for the St Helen’s team, staff and committee to get to work.

We’ve been creating a fabulous new outdoor area for our children. As well as tidying, cleaning and updating the remaining resources.

We can’t WAIT for you to see the end result… and to explore and create with you.

Here’s a sneak peek….. let’s hope we’ve earned an Easter treat this weekend

🐰🐣🐰🐣🐰 HAPPY EASTER 🐣🐰🐣🐰🐣

15/03 – 26/03

We’ve come to the end of spring term, the weather brightened up and we spent more time out in the garden.

Orange room created a mini village, with real mini characters, allowing the children to role play going to each other’s homes and shops, to create a sense of belonging. Something which they have commented on during the pandemic. This also encouraged the children to recognise logos of familiar places.

We opened a shop in yellow room, using our great maths and role play skills to buy and sell items.

Celebrating St Patrick’s day, the children decorated four leaf clovers, danced to Irish music, we added rainbows, pots of gold and leprechauns to our rooms to enhance to encourage new conversations incorporating Understanding the world.

We enjoyed a lovely mindful afternoon listening to calming music while doing our breathing exercises and watching the glitter jars. Woodwork also helps us to concentrate, and focus our attention.

The children love to sing “we’re going on a bear hunt” and in orange room the children used random items that they pretended were binoculars to look out of the windows for bears. Following on from this, we made our own binoculars. We extended this activity even further by going into the garden using the bug hunt resources to search for living creatures (luckily no bears were found). All the while promoting care and concern for living things and our environment.

Yellow room joined orange room on the grass and we ended the day with some running, crawling, jumping and just enjoying being reunited with our friends.

Happy Easter to all our families. Have a great holidays and we will see you on April 12th.

08/03/21

Hello!!

Another fun week of learning at St Helen’s.

We’ve had lots and lots of mark making this week, in sand, in paint, in soap/foam, and on paper.

Orange room became doctors, and rushed to help their patients, from checking their temperature and heartbeats, to bandaging their sores. The children were such caring doctors.

Yellow room had lots of fun splashing and sploshing in foamy soap suds. Making marks on the sponges, squeezing, filling and emptying and talking about how to wash our hands.

In the garden, we’ve hunted bears, wiggly worms, spiders, dinosaurs and even snakes. We had running races, walking races, backwards races, jumping, hopping, freezing, and carried on from last weeks fantastic balancing.

The children made some beautiful Mother’s Day pictures, we hope you enjoyed seeing them in the windows. And we used the opportunity of Mother’s Day to talk about, and draw our families and who lives in our home.

On the days when we couldn’t go outside, our physical exercise came indoors. With some stepping stone balancing, super duper dancing, ball rolling, and a really fun over and under activity using hula hoops and chairs.

Orange room enjoyed mixing the colours of the rainbow using their hands. Then added shaving foam to create a new texture.

World book day 01/03/2021

Hello March 🐝🌸🍀🦋

We celebrated world book day this week and although we aren’t allowed to dress up in our usual world book day costumes.. we didn’t let that dampen the mood!!

We had tons of amazing activities this week, starting with messy play (soil) and magnifying glasses to find and inspect the insects hidden in the mud.

Building blocks to work on our prepositions.

Water play to predict which objects will sink or float.

A rhyming activity, using pegs to find the rhyming words.

The three little pigs tuff tray, where we could build our own homes for the pigs, using the props to recite and recall the story as we play.

Lots of fantastic physical play in the garden. Using our great balancing skills to stand on one foot, even while holding an object. We also introduced number recognition in outdoor play, by adding number placemats. The children were instructed to move to each number in different ways (hopping, jumping, walking backwards) each time the music stopped.

We decorated a large tiger when he came for tea…. using felttips, scrap paper and crayons.

Some children got to spend some time in the woodwork area, using real nails and hammers. Not forgetting our safety goggles of course.

Orange room read the book “aliens love underpants” and threaded and decorated their own underpants, for developing those fine motor skills and creative thinking, incorporating some shape recognition along the way.

Have you seen our kindness jar?? The children have been receiving hearts for their acts of kindness to others. They can also award hearts to their friends. #bekind

Check out our new story box. “It’s magic” the children said. A new story appears inside each time it is opened. With resources to help tell the story.

Next week we welcome back the children that have been home learning during lockdown. We’re very excited to see you.

Chinese New Year, shrove tuesday. 22/02/2021

The first half of this week, we celebrated shrove Tuesday with some delicious pancakes to try for snack.

We had yellow, lemon scented playdough and used rolling pins to make pancakes that we flipped up into the air and caught in the pan. Adding mathematics into our play by using numbered pancakes to recognise numerals, and practise our counting and sequences.

We really enjoyed looking at the ingredients needed to make pancakes and experimenting by mixing them all together. The children cracked the eggs, squeezed the lemon and whisked the mixture into a big sloppy mess, but oh what fun we had. The best part was watching the children’s critical thinking on how to ‘open’ the egg.

During the second half of the week, we celebrated Chinese New Year, this year being the year of the Ox, with the following activities.

Yummy Chinese food for snack. Noodles, prawn crackers, lychees, oranges and fortune cookies. How clever are we using our fine motor skills to work the chopsticks!!

Dragon dancing in the garden, with drums to create a rhythm for the dragon to march to. Look at the amazing dragon, we all had a turn being inside and moving in different ways, up and down, fast and slow.

Chinese writing. Using black paint to explore and create our own Chinese numbers.

The great race book. We read the book, then some children used the props to tell their own story, and some children had their own race in the garden.

Thanks to the great weather, we’ve enjoyed lots of time outside this week. Taking part in some jumping, colour matching games and having fun with the parachute.