18th February 2019
As I write this, spring is beginning to put in an appearance with some snowdrops and crocuses flowering in the nursery garden. It’s so nice to see the sun – here’s hoping that winter is over!
This term, spring will be evident in the nursery classroom too, through stories, songs, arts and crafts and role play, before we move on to our Easter celebrations in late March/April.
We have already had a busy start to our term. We have celebrated the birthday of the Scottish national poet, Robert Burns, closely followed by Chinese New Year, when many parent/carers took the chance of coming along to our Stay and Play session. We are about to start our International Festival when we invite any interested parents/carers from countries other than Scotland to come and show us a little of their culture – either by reading a story in their own language, by making something for snack, or showing us some artefacts from their home country. Please speak to a member of staff if you would like to take part. We feel very privileged to have families from so many different cultures in our nursery – it’s a great way for children and staff to learn about the world.
The photographer made her annual visit to take class photos on Wednesday 6th February. Photos will be available to buy shortly. Individual and family photos will be taken later in the year.
All preschool children should now be registered for school. Staff will have checked this with you. If you are unsure whether your child will be ready to move on to school in August, please discuss your concerns with a member of staff. Applications for deferral must be completed by March 31st.
Big Cook, Little Cook
After the February break, Lynda will be running some parent/child cooking sessions on Wednesday mornings in Room 3. If you are interested in attending a future group, please speak to Lynda.
Pick up Time
Can I ask you to please remember that nursery finishes for children at 2.30pm. All children should be collected by then. Late pick-ups eat into staff preparation/meeting time and cause distress for the child involved. Obviously, we understand that, on occasion, delays are unavoidable – if you are running late, please phone the nursery so that we can explain the delay to your child.
Staff have noticed that an increasing number of children are arriving at nursery eating cakes/sweets as they have not had any breakfast. We know how difficult it can be to persuade children to eat in the morning, especially if you are in a hurry, but we do operate a healthy eating policy and would ask that you do not bring cakes or sweets into nursery. If you feel your child could be hungry, please speak to a member of staff and we will gladly provide some toast or cereal.
Parent/carer consultations for our younger children – those not in their preschool year – will be held during the week beginning Monday 25th March. Your child’s key worker will speak to you to arrange an appointment.
We are running out of tissues in the classrooms – could I ask you to hand in a box of tissues, particularly if you didn’t give us one at the start of this session? Hopefully that will keep us going for the rest of this year.
The Learning Update this month is about Block Play. You will all have seen the blocks area in the classrooms, but I will bet you didn’t understand what an important area of learning block play is, and how many areas of the curriculum it addresses! I hope you find the update interesting.
Some holiday dates
|Easter holidays||Last day of term||Friday 5th April|
|Children return||Tuesday 23rd April|
|May Day holiday||Nursery closed||Monday, 6th May|
|Inservice (staff only)||Tuesday 7th May|
|Children return||Wednesday 8th May|
|Victoria Day holiday||Nursery closed||Monday 20th May|
|End of term||Friday 28th June (11.40am)|
Can I remind you as always to close the nursery gate, even when the children are inside the nursery? We do not want any of our children to escape.
Block Play in Early Years
Block play is one of the universals of early years – every nursery classroom has a blocks area. Blocks tend to consist of two kinds – unit blocks (solid hardwood blocks of different shapes which fit together in precise mathematical relationships) and large hollow blocks which are big enough to make life-sized structures.
Block play dates from the work of the pioneering thinker Friedrich Froebel (1782 – 1852) who was the founder of Kindergarten Education – he was one of the first to believe in the value of play in children’s intellectual and emotional development. Among the physical objects he used to educate his young pupils (he called them his “Gifts”) were small blocks which could be formed into a cube.
In the early twentieth century, Froebel’s philosophy was adopted by an American educationalist, Caroline Pratt, who has been credited with developing the wooden blocks we have today.
Block play is unique – nothing else offers the children such opportunities for open-ended, symbolic and deep play experiences. It is accessible to all, regardless of age or ability, language skills, or gender. Blocks can be used on their own or combined with other materials, by an individual child exploring ways to design and construct a model, or by a group of children engaged in dramatic social play.
Stages of Block Play
Children’s play with blocks changes over time as their understanding and experience deepens. Knowledge of these stages allows staff to support children’s learning and provide what they need in order to take their next step.
Stages of block play include:
- Carrying – children explore the blocks using their senses, carry them from place to place and heap them up on the floor
- Stacking – Blocks are placed in horizontal or vertical rows.
- Bridging – Blocks are used to bridge the space between other blocks
- Enclosing – Blocks are used to enclose space. Children need to have an understanding of which direction to turn the blocks to enable this to happen.
- Patterning – Blocks are placed in patterns or symmetrically when building. Structures are not named
- Complex Structures – children use blocks to express their creativity, incorporating towers, rows, bridges, enclosures and patterns. Buildings may be named during or after the process
- Dramatic Play with Complex structures – Children plan what they are going to build. Often building resembles actual structures and is used for dramatic play.
Block Play and the Curriculum
Children are learning across the whole curriculum when they engage in block play
- Maths and numeracy – developing a sense of size, shape, pattern, matching, sorting, counting and measurement
- Literacy – having conversations, sharing ideas, turn-taking, developing fine motor skills and mark making, exploring events and characters in stories
- Health and wellbeing – sharing, cooperating, negotiating, assessing risk, self-regulating, developing gross motor skills
- Technologies – exploring ways to design and construct models
- Sciences – solving problems, experiencing gravity
- Social studies – showing consideration for others, making choices
- Expressive Arts – creating images and objects using a variety of materials, using drama to explore real and imaginary situations.
It is important to value the children’s own play with blocks, but sometimes a suggestion or a bit of support from an adult can help children’s learning – not least when it’s time to tidy the blocks away at the end of the session!