Monday, 25 July 2011

More Summer fun....

Today was our last day of the first week and the weather was glorious...more like summer weather should be - no rain and lots of work going on outside.  Building as a solitary activity.....using a variety of resources.

Mixing powder paint with water...

...and then freezing it to create a painting resource...

...different shapes to discuss...

...and explore as we create...
then watch the effect of the sun on the shapes...

to create a colour mixing experience !!!!

Baking buns....means weighing, measuring, counting and checking what we do
Counting the bun cases to ensure we have enough for everyone
We need 4 ounces of flour - but this says 5....
Oh! someone is leaning on the scales!
That's better!

And when the buns are ready - it's picnic time outside!!

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Great Outdoors with Mick Conway

We are fortunate to be involved in a Woodland Schools Project which has been ongoing in our school for almost 6 years now.  Mick was the instigator of the project when he first contacted me in his role as educator at Roe Valley Country Park in Limavady.

This is Mick, an experienced teacher and outdoor educator who visits many schools in the area to inspire children and educate them about the Great Outdoors. He visits our nursery school each year in the Autumn when he brings a variety of animals along - including a squirrrel, fox, badger, hare, hedgehog and otter. Mick explains clearly and simply about the animals, where they live, how they survive and what they eat. Most of the children listen attentively as he talks and respond accurately to his questions.   Then he introduces role play where some of the children dramatise specific animals - a mouse being pursued by an owl and later a hedgehog curling up in a ball. 
Mick chooses a child to be a little mouse
We then follow up by bringing each of our four classes on visits to the special area at Roe Valley country park which has been set aside for the project. 
Our aim is to 

Give ownership of the woods to the children and the wider community

Provide the children with an area in which they can explore, play and learn in a positive, fun way.

Give children opportunities to make choices, take risks and develop life-long skills

Provide a place for developing an understanding and appreciation of their environment and fostering in them the desire to care for it.

Our parent volunteers are invaluable as without their help the visits would be impossible.  We try to visit the park twice each term although sometimes this is impossible due to frosty, icy roads that are not gritted.   As with all activities in the nursery school, risk assessment and the safety of the children are paramount!

The main focus of the visits is to promote the children's wellbeing, develop their ability to take risks, their sense of adventure and their awareness of the countryside around us. Not only do we observe their response to the journey etc but we encourage the quieter and more reluctant children to participate in activities like searching for minibeasts, climbing trees, playing in mud, picking leaves etc.

Each year the classes return to the forest for a Teddybear's picnic which is a really excellent way to bring the school year to a close.  Our parents have the opportunity to come along and learn with their children about the woods, the animals and see exactly how the children have gained an understanding and knowledge about the cycle of life in the woods.


We are currently offering a summer scheme to the nursery school children and to the Year 1 children from Killowen and St John's Primary Schools.  Our focus is developing language and maths skills and of course promoting emotional well-being!!

 The fortnight is organised by Kerry, Grace and Margaret who plan a wide range of exciting activities for the children where they will have fun and learn through play based activities.  Of course, as with all good planning - each day is flexible and the direction of the planning may change based on the interests and needs of the children.
On arrival the first activity is choosing a coat peg and creating a personal plaque that will identify where each child will hang their belongings during the week. 

There is variation in the resources the children choose and their approach to the task

Children can choose to spend time outdoors or indoors and staff are available to encourage support and extend children's learning.  Outdoor activities are popular.

Gaining a sense of balance - alone....and with friends

There has been lots of excitement recently in the area because Darren Clarke won the Golf Open championship.  In nursery this week there was lots of conversation about golf and  how to play it.  Knowledge varied greatly while one or two could talk about the Open, using relevant vocabulary ..there were other children whose knowledge was very limited.  Kerry brought in an iron for the children to use and who knows....we may have a future champion in our midst!!!!

 We also used our golf balls to paint! 
Using a builder's tray, some paint and a variety of balls of different shapes, sizes and textures we created artworks... it was a great opportunity to discuss colours, colour mixing and simply enjoy the activity with our friends!

Our nursery school was successful in gaining the Ecoschools Green Flag for the first time in June.
We love being outdoors and one of our great passions is growing vegetables and fruit in our garden.  When we returned for the Summer scheme many children were curious to see how the potatoes, tomatoes and broad beans had grown.  The beans were ready to harvest.  Margaret and some children picked some of the pods, talked about their shape, then opened them and looked closely at the contents.  The beans were then cooked and shared.  Almost everyone loved them and there were none left at the end of the session!!

"this one looks like a smiley face" says Emily

At story time - there was only one story that we could choose - a - touchy feely version of Jack and the Beanstalk

Plants that are grown in our garden also feature in our indoor activities as we chop herbs in the kitchen.

Language and discussion is continuous during the session.  Craft activities offer children many opportunities to talk to each other and to the adults as they plan what to do, decide how to carry out these plans and finish their activities.

Making a butterfly - using tissue paper and a dolly peg, decorating it with glitter and pompoms and then displaying the finished product on a backing that has been created using flyswats and blue, green and yellow paint.

Using twigs and grey clay to create many legs do they have?

Working with sandpaper to remove a smiley face that has been drawn on the piece of wood...
And of course it wouldn't be fun if we had to keep ourselves clean....just look at the surprise on her face when Rhiannon realises she is covered in blue paint!!