One Page Profiles in the Early Years

I write termly Learning Summaries for all the children in my care. I wasn't happy with them as they seemed very formal and not personalised enough- making sure I jump through the Ofsted hoops to 'measure progress' using the Development Matters. It has its place, but I wanted something that really reflects who the child is right now, what they are interested in and what makes them unique. One Page Profiles are a brilliant way of summarising this information.

DIY Dolly Mei Tai

used scraps of material left over from other projects and set aside a couple of hours. My little Bee loves her dollies and is made up with her new Mei Tai. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest (of course!)

Why Should Young Children Visit Museums?

During the school holidays, we take a step away from our usual routine as things close down for a couple of weeks and we have older children to care for alongside our usual little ones. Emma from Mindus (Didsbury) and myself work together as ‘The Out N About Club’ to plan a programme of trips and activities that are exciting and interesting for the children. Over the last year or so, we have become familiar with our local museums and galleries and found those which appeal to a wide age group and have interactive resources and exhibits for the children. We also have to look at practicalities, for example, whether we can get a double buggy in there, cost and whether they have baby changing facilities and somewhere that we can eat our own packed lunches brought from home. Most places are really accommodating and we have discovered that if we phone ahead to let them know we are coming, we are often able to use their educational rooms for lunch.

Here’s our ‘Out N About Club’ list of favourite trips. (These are all free entry!)
  •  MOSI- massive- we never make it round the whole thing and always lots of events on in the holidays
  • Portland Basin Museum- we love the street and get loads out of role play and making up stories and scenarios here.
  • Manchester Museum- lots to see and do and a fantastic, open picnic area on the top floor.
  • Salford Quays- start by parking in the shopping centre, walk through to the Lowry- brilliant galleries and room with huge tables where children can draw and a little toddler area. Then on to Media City for a peek at the Blue Peter Garden and a run around the rest of the garden areas, including making up some dances on the outdoor stage area! Carry on round, across the bridge to IWMN where there is loads to see, including the films on every hour played over all the walls in the main gallery. We ask to eat in the Green Room which is set aside for school groups and the staff are very accommodating.
  • The Hat Works in Stockport- lots to see, quizzes to do and they have  allowed us to eat lunch in one of the meeting rooms, just off the cafe. Apparently the cafe is closing soon and the area will be used as a picnic area.
  • Salford Art Gallery and Lark Hill Place- a Victorian Street and dressing up! The art gallery is lovely and for a small fee, there are always craft activities in the holidays. We have eaten in their educational room.
  • Ordsall Hall- this is a new one for us and we rang ahead. On arrival, the staff were so helpful, showing us around and again, we arranged to eat our lunch in their school room. If you haven’t been here, this building is beautiful and there are lots of hands on things for the children to do, for example, crushing up the herbs in the Tudor kitchen whilst wearing their Tudor costumes!

We have started to enhance our trips to our favourite local places, for example, we took a little torch and story books to The Hat Works to read together in the Yurt. The children really enjoyed this. We have also started taking out pencils, clipboards and plenty of paper to give little challenges to the older children, for example, a drawing competition- finding the most interesting exhibit to sketch or writing out the alphabet in a list as a treasure hunt, the children have to find something beginning with the letter A, B and so on.

Anyway, our visits got me thinking... why should children visit museums and Galleries

  • Galleries and museums are provocative, informal  learning environments or learning landscape
  • They get to learn about the world and explore new ideas
  • The learning process can begin in the museum from the child’s interaction with an object. This can then lead to learning which spans over a longer period of time. (There’s been lots of role play in our house lately from the older ones which has incorporated lots of concepts picked up from our recent museum visits!)
  • They engage in social interactions
  • They are prompted to ask questions
  • They make connections
  • They are learning through multisensory experiences
  • They build on what they know
  • The architecture of the building can be inviting and exciting- little nooks and crannies, exciting wide open spaces to explore
  •  Interest is sparked and motivation enhanced
  • They develop thinking skills
  • Museums inspire curiosity

“Recent research by MORI shows that parents view museums as the most important places for educating their children after schools and libraries and one of the most trustworthy sources of information, more highly valued overall than books, radio, newspapers and the internet.
• 80% of parents believe that museums are a very important resource for educating
their children.
• 85% of parents believe visits to museums should be part of the National Curriculum
• National museums are responsible for over a million educational sessions per year and
expect to host and inspire 1.72 million this year.
• A quarter of all museum visits are made by children.” (A Manifesto For Museums)

2 A Day for 2 Weeks

I wrote about 5 A day a couple of years ago...

'Books that is, not fruit and veg! This is something we did at my old school in Year 1. Basically you choose 5 books with predictable text and repetitive word patterns for your toddler and read the same 5 books each day for a week or so. The idea is that the child will be able to retell the stories as they have learnt them off by heart. If you type in 5 A Day to Google, you just get a list of sites about healthy eating! After much searching I came across The Imagination Tree a brilliant pre-school blog jam packed full of amazing ideas and themed 5 a Day book lists.'

I started my childminding business and took on 3 babies and lost my way with the 5 a day. As I look after children who come for one or two days a week only, the 5 a day isn't really possible, so I am adapting it and sharing the same 2 books each day for 2 weeks. That way, it is more manageable and the children I look after will have access to these 2 books more than once. I have been inspired by the article  which says, "A favourite book read over and over again trumps the mini-library of children's books found in some British households. As the saying goes, less is more."

Last week we read 'Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?'  by Bill Martin Jnr and Eric Carle and 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen. We have acted out the Bear Hunt and used puppets. We looked at You Tube videos of the author reading his poem and songs inspired by the story performed by children in schools. We made up our own song based on Brown Bear. 

For the next 2 weeks we are going to read 'Monkey Puzzle' by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler and 'One Mole Digging A Hole' by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt.

Some ideas for these stories:

CPD with Twitter

I resisted Twitter for a long time. I didn't understand it and thought it was just about following celebs and daft 'hash tags'.  I am prone to waffling and couldn't understand how anyone could get their point across in 140 characters. I hadn't realsied that so much of the professional conversation on Twitter revolves around links to brilliant articles elsewhere on the internet. (Pinterest is brilliant for keeping these links in one place as a library to return to when you have plenty of reading time!)  

Follow Me!

A lovely friend of mine who I worked with in school kept telling me about how she uses it for  teaching, finding out about the latest developments and networking with other like-minded professionals. I decided to give it a go and I'm so glad I did. I set about following people in the educational know and I'm purely using it as a fact finding mission- no celebs or tweets about what I had for tea. Continuing Professional Development is something that I loved as a teacher, I was always developing my practice through courses, peer mentoring and coaching  and have missed this immensely since becoming a childminder. Twitter has helped to fill the gap. It's my new 'Digital Staffroom' and I can choose who I listen to! 

It's a brilliant resource and is truly inspirational. I love the idea that people are striving to be better at what they do by voluntarily taking charge of their own professional development. As a professional on Twitter, you can be in touch with colleagues from around the world and can ask questions, share resources, get involved in discussions. I follow a conversation which takes place every Tuesday evening called #EYTalking where professionals contribute to a discussion about Early Years practice- a different aspect each week.

I've learnt so much already and look forward to the opportunities ahead. If you're a teacher or Early Years Practitioner follow these guys- @batttuk (bring a teacher to twitter UK!) and have a good rummage around at who they are following and who follows them. Give yourself a few weeks to just read and figure it out and then you'll be ready to join in!

In the Spotlight

After my disappointing article with a glossy housewifey magazine, I'm feeling much happier with my latest ramblings about life as a mummy and starting my own little business.

Have a quick read here and whilst you're there, have a look around the site that my lovely friend writes for.

Science in a Bag/Squish Bags

Inspired by other bloggers, I decided to have a go at making some sensory 'Squish Bags' otherwise known as 'Science in a Bag'. Please have a look at the lovely links below! 

Basically- get some really thick food bags and put some interesting liquids and objects into them and seal with duct tape! Ours were part of our 'Under the Sea' sensory box- hence the blue colours.

Small Garden, Big Ideas- Update!

Last year I wrote about our tiny postage stamp back garden and how I was planning to transform it from a desolate landscape of pebbles into a great little area for imaginative play for the kids! Well, here are some recent pictures of what we've been up to out there!
Flower Petal Perfume!

Water Bead and Petal Concoctions

Mud Kitchen (mark 1) Fun!

Water beads in the Mud Kitchen- invitation to play

Lots of lovely mud!

We play with play dough in our mud kitchen too.
Dressing up


Painting the bricks with water and large brushes

Ice play

Painting the garden furniture (and washing it off again!)
Looking after each other.




Bird Feeding and Bird Watching
Making tea for the fairies!

And writing a letter to invite them.

Mud kitchen mark 2! Made from re-purposed materials and put together by  my lovely husband.


Our Very Hungry Caterpillars

It all started with the Very Hungry Caterpillar Day on March 20th. I sent off to for a free resource pack  to and recieved  activity sheets, sunflower seeds, a tape measure, a giant sunflower poster, posters, stickers and notes.

I also made a sensory box for the little ones which contains counting bugs (caterpillars, butterflies, eggs etc to represent the life cycle of a butterfly), lacing cards, boxes, finger puppets, books on insects, photos of butterflies and various cards with information about plants and flowers. This box has been added to over the last few weeks as our project has developed. 

We then bought a butterfly garden from  Insect Lore and followed the instructions on how to raise our caterpillars!
Their food is all contained in the cup.

They grew very fat, very quickly!

Once the catterpillars have all moved to the top of the cup and formed chrysalides, you must transfer them to the Butterfly Garden. You get 5 caterpillars, but one of ours died.

After about 2 weeks of watching our chrysalides, the butterflies emerged!

The children named them- Harry, Barry, Ariel and Emily!

You put flowers and leaves in the Butterfly Garden and make your own nectar from sugar and water to feed them.

We kept the butterflies in the Butterfly Garden for about 2 weeks and then waited for a dry day to release them (Butterflies are like fairies- they don't go anywhere in the rain!)
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