DIY Dolly Mei Tai

I saw this on Pinterest and fell in love!

Source: via Vicky on Pinterest

So, I decided to have a go myself. I 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.

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!

Wise Words For My Girls

(With the help of Pinterest!)

On love...

On Friendships...

On faith and religion...

On work...

Source: via Vicky on Pinterest

On you...


And always remember...

Highlights and Hopes #nurture1213

I've finally joined Twitter and I'm still a novice, finding my way slowly. Along the way I've found some fabulous inspiration for my business and just life in general. Anyway, here's my first ever 'hash tag' contribution- my highlights from 2012 and my hopes, dreams and resolutions for 2013.

Highlights from 2012

1. Making the life-changing decision to give up my beloved teaching career and start my own childcare and tutoring business  I doubted myself and worried that I wouldn't be a success or enjoy it, but I am feeling really happy and content with the decisions I have made.

2. Achieving a grade of 'Outstanding' in every single area at my Ofsted inspection in May. 

3. Being a Mum in The Spotlight! 

4. Being there for my beautiful little daughters. Working from home means I get to be with them all of the time and take my eldest to pre-school, see her nativity play etc.

5. Learning new skills. When I was a teacher, I thought that was all I could ever be as I didn't know anything else. Starting my own little business has made me realise there's plenty more I can do. I've completed my first online tax self assessment (which is massive for me since I have no finance experience whatsoever!) I've learnt a great deal about practical ICT skills, putting together my website and my blog and making changes to them (I have even edited HTML code and set up a password protected page for all of my documentation. I am officially a geek!)

6. Making new friends. My whole life takes place in a 3 mile radius of the house so community links and a good network has been paramount to my continuing sanity. Cheadle Mums' Social has been a success too- bringing local mums together for chat and the odd wine at the pub.

7. Re-discovering old friends. Those lovely people who you've known forever and may not have seen so much, but it's always the same- you take up where you left off and there's no awkwardness or ulterior motives.

8. My fabulous husband who loves me and puts up with me and my over analysis. He has supported every single decision I have made this year.

9. Reading for pleasure. When I was at school, I felt like I never had time to read actual books for enjoyment; I was always reading something for my job. 

10. Knocking the wall down in our front room and re-designing the whole look of the downstairs of the house. It may seem small, but opening up the space has made me feel happier and it has had a positive effect on our own children and those I look after.

11. The I-pad. My wonderful husband bought me one for Christmas. I'm not teaching in school any longer, but so excited by the potential learning opportunities for all children and the many inspirational teachers blogging about it.

12. Twitter. I wish I'd done it sooner. I'm using Twitter in a professional capacity, I'm not here to find out or tell people what I had for tea- I'm here to learn!

Hopes for 2013

1. To sort my wardrobe out! I'm 36 and I feel like a frump. I'm the skinniest I've been since my early 20's, which isn't bad after having 2 kids and I really should be making more of myself!

2. More exploring. Even if it's on the cheap. Now that we're out of the new baby phase of our lives we need to get out and about and do a few more weekends away. Hopefully we'll get the tent out and go camping...

3. And perhaps hire a camper van for a weekend and make it to Deer Shed Festival.

4. Get back on the bike. My mountain bike is gathering dust in the garage and really needs an airing or two. Hoping to get a little tag along for the girls and do some family bike rides.

5. To blog more. I started this blog as a family journal and feel that I've neglected it over the last year whilst starting up my business.

6. To run a successful Childminder Support Group. My colleague and I are starting on the 7th Jan. Wish us luck and as little bureaucracy as possible!

7. To find out about joining the Network. I miss being a Performance Manager!

8. To cook and bake more, especially with the kids. I'm taking inspiration from my lovely friend at Kiddy Cook.

9. Keep on reading and challenge myself to read genres and books that are out of my comfort zone.

10. Continue to develop professionally. Even though I am no longer at school, keep up with latest pedagogy and feel professionally fulfilled.

11. Make the most of 'Me Time'- NOT cleaning the house, but actually doing something for myself!

12. For my girls to continue to develop and grow into curious, assertive, creative little people. I hope to be a good mummy and provide you with opportunities and time... lots of time.

13. To just be more content with things I cannot change. I have learnt a lot about people and myself this year. I am stronger than I thought I was. Some people are weaker than I thought they were. People rarely change.

Planning my life with Pinterest

I just love Pinterest! I have redecorated my living room based on lots of lovely ideas from my pin boards and  regularly find inspiration for pre-school activities and my tutoring sessions.

Follow me here!

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.

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