Blog

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.

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.