Thursday, 19 December 2013


Today we visited the local Christmas Tree shop. This place really gets you in the Christmas mood! Even more so if you happen have some snow on the ground, which sadly this year we have not had.
The children loved walking around the barn looking at all the different shaped and sized trees. Some had pine cones on, some were bigger than me and others were as small as the children.
We sniffed them and enjoyed the small of the ine trees and the Christmas feeling it gives us.

Once inside the shop, there was so much to see. Little "X" really liked the snow globes and we turned a few over to watch the snow flakes fall on the figures inside. He told me we had to be careful with them so that they didn't brake!

We found the lighting area and they children talked about them. Using words like "Shiny, twinkly, bright"

We found little winter villages with windows lit up and cute scenes inside. Little "X" found a window with Father Christmas inside. He was making toys at a bench. Little "R" wanted to see as well so I held her up and she told me that "Father Christmas was making toys for the good children and that he will come and see her when she is asleep!"

There were lots of baskets with interesting bits to explore. We talked about being very careful with the items so that nothing gets broken and they were very good at carefully lifting something of interest and then replacing it. Showing lots of care and respect.

Little "R" showed me some "Red berries". There were big ones and little ones! We counted some of them!

All three of the children found the sledges very interesting! Little "L" told me we needed the snow to come so that we could sit on it! There were several different types to look at!

There talked about what they new about sledges and using them on snow. They talked about the colours and sizes of them.

Once we had had a good look around and bought some Christmas decorations for the Christmas cake we enjoyed a nice hot chocolate and a kit kat! A special Christmas treat!

This trip was offered as a fun Christmas outing to look at the trees and decorations. To talk about the aspects of Christmas, some of the traditions and to encourage language and a sensory exploration of everything Christmassy!

This was such a lovely Pre-Christmas trip and it was really enjoyed by all. The language that it encouraged was wonderful to hear. Descriptive words, the sharing of Christmas ideas and experiences between the children. 
The children were engaged in the experience a enjoyed exploring and finding out about Christmas and how it is celebrated. They were excited to see and small all of the trees in the barn and made links to the ones growing outside in the fields, that had not yet grown big enough to be harvested.
They thought critically, sharing their ideas about Christmas and the stories that they had been told by their families. Talking about Father Christmas and his elves.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Understanding the World 
  • Mathematics

Saturday, 14 December 2013


This week, Shelley, HQ at Little Signers Club and Lead Practitioner for the Early Language Development Programme (Dept of Ed / ICAN) looks at key facts surrounding communication development. 

Little Signers Club uniquely focuses on how signing compliments communication development, enhances responsive interactions between small children and carers as well as increase spoken ability, impacting on self esteem and confidence. 

Communication – Some Key Facts

More than 1 million children have long-term, persistent Speech, Language and Communication Needs.

Evidence shows that children’s understanding and use of vocabulary at 2 years old is very strongly associated with their performance on entering school. In some areas of the UK more than 50% of children start school without the communication skills they need.  Early intervention is the most effective way to improve this outcome but something as simple and as effective as using signing as a communication bridge is often overlooked.

  •       40,000 children started school in 2010 unable to communicate properly. (Libby Hill)
  •         Supportive early intervention is highly effective, helping improve a child’s communication potential. 
  •          Research shows that using gesture with babies leads to better parent/child interactions and bonding, interest in language acquisition and more complex speech at an earlier age.    
  •    Children are kinaesthetic learners; by seeing words signed in conjunction with speech, language and memory skills are enhanced and reinforced.
  •      Over 70% of communication is non verbal - consisting of gesture, intonation, body language and facial expression.
  •    Gesture is one of the building blocks of language (I CAN)
  •      Without the right help, children with communication difficulties are unlikely to reach their academic potential as they are unable to access the curriculum. They become isolated and frustrated, risking poor behaviour, mental health issues and offending. (I CAN)

Should you be worried?

All babies should be offered a hearing screen shortly after birth to pick up any possible abnormalities with their hearing.  However, sometimes hearing issues such as glue ear are not apparent until later on in a child’s development.

These are some very quick, simple checks you can do with small children to make sure that they can hear you.
  •   Do they respond when you speak their name? This could be turning their head towards you, smiling, waving a hand in acknowledgement.
  •   Do they have a startle reflex? This could be in response to a loud unexpected noise or clapping of hands and causes a child to ‘jump’ and with younger babies they may also cry.
  • Do they need to look at your face / lip pattern to understand words as you speak them? Many children do this anyway but if you have concerns about the above, this is sometimes another indicator that all may not be as it should be.

Children start making sounds at quite an early age – although not actually words.  The first letter sounds that you generally hear from babies and young toddlers are the sounds p / b / m / t / d / n / k / g followed by the fricatives (i.e. those sounds that have a buzzing or hissing quality – f /s ). Commonly this will sound like mumumum, dadada, gagaga.

Generally language accelerates quite quickly from around 12 months onwards, especially in an environment where children are immersed and surrounded in language and given opportunity to turn take even from infancy.

Children ‘should’ be:
  •          saying several words by 15-18 months of age
  •          pointing to familiar people and some body parts by 18 months
  •          saying 50 or more words by 2 years of age
  •          putting two words together to form a sentence by age 2
  •         following simple directions by age 2

If you have concerns about a child’s communication development, it may be worth talking to a health visitor or consulting with your local Children’s Centre where drop in clinics with Speech and Language Therapists may be available to you.

Is there a reason to communicate?

Before you do though, check that a child has a reason and a need to communicate. What do we mean by this?

There are many reasons why a child might not be developing communication as quickly as we’d like; but one of the biggest reasons in the 21st century is not, as you might think, autism or a specific language impairment or even reluctance, it is because children don’t have the need to. 

We like to make life as easy and comfortable as possible for children and so we provide food, toys and activities they like at times we know they want them and by doing so, pre-empt the need for them to ask for themselves.

When needs are anticipated in this way, a child’s need to make an effort and therefore develop their expressive skills is simply not necessary. Older siblings also like to talk for their younger brothers and sisters, again reducing the need for a child to speak for themselves.This is why turn taking, even with very small children who cannot yet speak, is so important. A smile conveys that an infant wants to join in, a turn of the head and body away, that they don’t wish to be involved. Older babies can make their preferences clear by being allowed to ‘choose’ by pointing to what they would like as you say the words, or use signing (or preferably both!) and eventually will come to know and use the words for themselves.

Children are born innately social beings and every child has a need to communicate – through body language, gesture, intonation, facial expression and emotions from the day that they are born.  Given the right interactions and opportunities, speech is not far behind but in the meantime, these other forms of communication give us the ability to determine likes and dislikes as well as care for small people respectfully.

This week, Little Signers Club has a set of the wonderful ICAN Babbling Babies and Toddler Talk cards to giveaway which are packed full of wonderful activities to do with little ones to encourage speech, language and communication aims.

If you would like to enter, please head over to our Facebook page ( LIKE us and write ‘Babbling Babies’ or ‘Toddler Talk’ on our wall!
  Competition closes 31st Dec 2013 at 12:00 gmt

You can also access lots of useful tips online:

Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Today we have be practising wrapping prezzies! I saved some boxes from the recycling and added paper, scissors, tape dispensers, gift tags, ribbons and sticky bows!

They all had  a great time covering their boxes in paper.

We added sticky gift tags and the children all made marks on them. Talking about who their gift was for. Telling me the name that they were writing on the tag.

The tape dispenser was a bit tricky but everyone gave it a good go. Little "R" was very persistent!

We cut ribbons to fit around our prezzies!

Stuck pretty sticky bows on for the finishing touch!

Little "C" signing Danger to me while using the scissors.

I offered Wrapping paper and all the trimmings to provide a fun activity to help develop their fine motor skills. Many skills can be worked on whilst enjoying this experience. Wrapping and securing the paper around the box, using sticky tape, cutting paper and ribbons, peeling off the backs of the sticky bows. We will work on measurement and estimations while choosing the size of paper and ribbons to use. Mark making will also be practised as the children write on the gift tags.

This activity was a huge hit with everyone. I almost couldn't keep up with their requests for help with paper chopping and working the tape dispenser. Each child became engaged and focused on the activity and enjoying their achievement each time they wrapped a box.
Little "L" found it tricky to wrap the paper around her box. She threw it and shouted "I can't do it". I have noticed this reaction a few times recently when things have become challenging. I sat next to her and talked her through the process using a gentle tone. Together we managed to cover the box and she enjoyed sticking the tape over the paper. Once we had wrapped one box together, she was more open to trying some others on her own.
Little "C" was very keen on this even when he found it hard, he kept trying. He enjoyed cutting the ribbons up even though he didn't want to add them to his present. He became very focused and involved in the process. He was keen to have a go and even spoke and signed to me that we needed to "Stop" so that he could tell me the scissors were "Danger". I was so impressed that he had remembered the signs and that he had shared them in such a way. He was keen to have a go and clearly enjoying achieving what he had set out to do!
Little "R" was very competent at wrapping. Her mum mentioned last week that she often wraps things up at home to give to people. She needed some help with the tape dispenser but soon managed to work that out for herself. She asked for help tying the ribbons that she had cut to size. She talked about the size of paper needed for her box. It was a big box and she had small paper. We decided to swap paper with Little "C" as he had a small box and big paper. Great problem solving and reasoning! She wrote on her gift tags, making some great marks that looked a little like letters and told me it was an "A for Abi!".

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Understanding the World 
  • Mathematics


This week we have enjoyed lots of Christmas fun. We also started to look at the Christmas story and used our wooden Nativity set to act out the story as I told it!

In this picture you can see Angel Gabriel talking to Mary and telling her she is going to have a baby boy and he will be called Jesus.

In this picture she has gone to talk to Joseph and tell him about the baby and that he is the son of God!

They journeyed to Bethlehem!

We had fun knocking on doors and saying "NO ROOM!"
Thankfully a nice Inn keeper had a warm stable they could sleep in.

After baby Jesus was born, Angel Gabriel visited the shepherds on the hill and told them about him.

Once we had finished Little "C" climbed on to the sofa and told me he was going to tell us the story. He opened up the book and re-told some key points he had remembered.
I re- told the story but asked key questions. Allowing the children to finish it off. I deliberately got Baby Jesus's name wrong and they were quick to correct me and laughed each time!
Little "R" had a very strong understanding of the story and told me that king Herod was a "Bad man!"
Little "L" wanted to call the Angel a Princess! She does love Princess's!

 I wanted to introduce the religious story behind Christmas Day. I wanted to draw links between the wise men bringing gifts to Jesus and our own tradition of sharing gifts on Christmas Day.
I will tell the story several times over the next couple of weeks and leave the story book next to the Nativity set so that the children can re-tell and explore the story for themselves.

This was a lovely story session that captured every ones interest. They all had a role to play and this kept them motivated to stay focused. They listened carefully to what I said and then acted it out with their figure. There were lots of chatter about the baby growing in Mary's tummy. Little "R" kept telling the others that it wasn't time for baby Jesus to come out yet! 
Little "C" enjoyed the story but I am not sure he understood it. He is a little younger than the others. For him it was more about enjoying taking par,t but I think with another couple of re-tellings and the option to use the Nativity set, he will become more familiar with its meaning.
Little "L" loved Baby Jesus and later used him as a baby in her small world play. She listened well to the story and followed it well, using her characters to act it out.
Everyone was engaged, involved and concentrating. The older girls sang Christmas songs linked to parts of the story and shared the knowledge they already had about who baby Jesus was. 

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Literacy
  • Understanding the World 

Monday, 9 December 2013


This week the children self selected the puzzles. I bought these lovely wooden puzzles a few weeks back as Little "X" found our other puzzles too easy! He is really in to cars so I bought a transport themed one and to encourage the others to give them a go I bought one with animals on... they are very in to their dogs and Rabbits!

Little "R" had a really good go at this puzzle. She turned the pieces around and tried to connect them. She does not yet seem to recognise how when two pieces are put together they make a picture.. She sees them as separate pieces and it appears that she only sees them as shapes fitting together. I explained to her that we needed to find pieces that had the same colour on and that we could try and put those ones together.

Little "I" seems to have an understanding of the "Bigger picture". She looks for pieces that look similar to another piece and twists and turns them until they slot together. She names the pieces that she is looking for. Telling me that she is looking for a piece of dog, rabbit or fish.

When she got stuck, Little "X" stepped in to help. In a moment he can see where each piece needs to be and what way up it goes. I have to remind him to step back and let Little "I" continue after after he helps her with a piece she is finding tricky.
"It goes here, look, I do it for you" as he takes it from her hand and puts it in the correct place. Then he takes another piece.
Little "I" steps back and tells me she can't do it and Little "X" continues placing the pieces in for her.

He can see by sight where most pieces fit but every now and then he moves a piece around the board, holding it next to other pieces and turning it around until he sees how it can fit together.

The girls work on the transport puzzle together, They talk about where they think the pieces should go. They point out colours that match and parts of the same vehicle as they work out where each bit fits. Little "R" seems to be understanding the concept of "Bigger picture" a bit better and is enjoying working it out with the help of a friend.

After a while she runs to the playroom and brings in a slot in puzzle. She tells me she is going to do her numbers.

She starts to point to the objects under each number and counts how many of each there are. Then she looks for the number that fits in the hole. Some of them she recognises, others she has to guess at. Unlike the other puzzle, she can by sight, see where each number fits. She can recognise the shape of the hole and match the inset piece.

Little "I" watched with interest and waited patiently for her turn. Then she counted the items using her finger to keep track as she did so. She also recognised some number shapes but others she went by shape rather than number recognition. This is a good toy for joining the counting with the number recognition. It is self corrective. The correct number will only fit in the correct hole so once you have counted the objects you can only put the corresponding number over the top of them.

 Each child found the puzzles engaging and even the children that found it tricky were keen to keep trying. They self selected this activity and that provided them with the motivation to have a go and keep trying. They were all involved and concentrating. 
Little "X" made links with past puzzle experience and this helped him to use the tools he already had to complete the puzzle with ease. He has a clear eye for shape and how things fit together. I will look for some more challenging puzzle for him to try. 
Little "R" is starting to make a link between the pictures on the puzzle pieces and how they link to the whole picture. She is finding out and exploring how to make the picture by adding all the pieces and linking them together.
Little "I" has some knowledge of how to find the right piece to join to another. She looks at the puzzle and tells me what she needs to find. 
All of the children enjoyed achieving what they set out to do and were happy for their friends to help them. Working together and sharing ideas to complete the puzzles.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Mathematics 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

PLANNING: Week beginning Monday 9th December 2013

This weeks planning. Some things have stayed on from last week as we have not yet done them.

 I have included some Christmas tracing activities as Little "L" has started to write over the top of lines and shapes.
 We are including some fun home made snow (cloud dough) sensory play and Christmas sorting and grouping play. The children will be introduced to the nativity story and will be able to re-tell the story using the Nativity set!

The Igloo is staying up as it was such a huge hit!

Monday, 2 December 2013


This is something that I have seen several time on Pinterest over the past week or so. It is similar to regular home made playdough but made with cornflour 

1 cup of cornflour
2 cups of salt
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup of water

Mix the cornflour and 1/2 cup of water together.
In a pan add the salt to the 2/3 cup of water and bring to bubbling point. Add the cornflour and water mix to the pan and stir continuously on a low heat. If the heat is very low then it can take a while to form a dough but my pan was quite hot and the dough formed instantly. Once the water has all been absorbed and the dough has formed, take off the heat to prevent burning.
REMEMBER..... soak your pan at this point!
The dough is quite sticky still at this point so place it on to cling film over a plate to cool. Every now and then kneed the dough to dissipate the heat from inside. This will help it to cool quicker.

This can be stored in clingfilm and kept in the fridge.

What will you make with yours?


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