Tuesday, 24 November 2020

The importance of Positive Language in the Early Years | Guest Post

 Why is positive language so important in the early years and how can you adjust your own language to be more positive?  Create a more positive behaviour management system and learn how to rephrase your responses to some common scenarios...

Today, I have Lucy from @home_ed_at_the_weekend writing a guest post for us all about the importance of positive language in the Early Years. You can find more information about Lucy and how to contact her at the end of this post...


positive-language-in-the-early-years

Positive language plays an important role in the Early Years – both at home and within a childcare setting. Avoiding the use of negative or authoritarian language is an excellent tool for positive behaviour management. It also allows children to feel equal; part of a two-way, respectful relationship with their care givers - as opposed to being under the control of certain adults. 
Rather than always dealing with negative behaviour and picking up the broken pieces, using positive language allows us to prevent some negative behaviour and thus prevent the pieces becoming broken in the first place – at least some of the time, anyway. This is because it empowers children to believe in themselves & their choices and it fosters independence and self-confidence...

Monday, 16 November 2020

11 Different ways to use your yoga mat

Whether you’re a yoga devotee, a part-time ‘sometimes’ partaker or you simply bought a yoga mat once with the intention of breathing better, but you’ve done nothing but sigh at the sight of it…fear not! I have just the info you need to re-imagine your yoga mat, fall back in love with it, or even make you want to purchase more!
 
11 Different ways to use your yoga mat

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

If you follow me on social media you will know that I have recently fallen in love with a form of exercise called Gyrotonic. Although different, its not TOO dissimilar to the underlying principles of yoga and pilates and certainly benefits the body in the same way. When living in London, I used to do yoga and pilates every single day at home – in between my nursery practitioner job and my Nanny job. Working with small people (or even just having small people!) can really take its toll on your body. Every lunchtime I’d go back to my Balham flat, unroll my yoga mat and (usually) stick on my Darcy Bussell DVD and make way for a few stretches and poses before heading off to start round 2 of my day. Fast forward a few years, and add in a couple of children and I’m lucky to find a ‘lego free’ area of floor space to pop down my yoga mat! However, you know how much I love to re-use every day items and incorporate them into play as well, so here are a few ideas for you of different ways to use your yoga mat… some for the kids, some for the adults….

Sunday, 15 November 2020

10 Questions to ask when choosing a Primary School

Are you currently looking around Primary Schools for next September ready for your child to start in Reception class, or, Foundation stage 2? Are you wondering what questions you should ask when choosing a new school? What things you should be looking for when looking around a new school or classroom?

 I found it really hard to approach this task with my 'parent hat' on, rather than my 'Teacher hat'. As many of you will know, I am a Primary School Teacher who specialised in the Early Years (EYFS) and I am extremely passionate about active, free-flow, play based learning. 



10 questions to ask when choosing a primary school

I have compiled a list of questions to ask when trying to choose a primary school below, some of which I asked when looking around the schools...some that I wish I had asked! Anyway, here is the benefit of my hindsight, carefully set out for you to use when researching schools for yourself... and once you've chosen, you can pop back and read my post all about school readiness and how to help our children prepare for Reception class. 

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Can wall art encourage creativity?

When we think about stimulating and encouraging creativity - most of us tap into various senses to help us find the right headspace and atmosphere to ‘create’. Depending on your primary sensory preference this could be a type of music, the right lighting, a warm open fire, or something visually stimulating such as fine art or framed prints.
 
wall art print of some sandstone rock caves and sunshine

AD: Disclosure: This is a collaborative post
There is no doubt that having all of these elements working in harmony can help to create the perfect environment to BE creative, although certain conditions are temporary or require additional effort, having a permanent fixture such as a poster or wall art which will always be available to ‘tap into’ is an easy way to encourage creativity on a daily basis.

The key is in finding the right kind of wall art to stimulate your own personal creativity...

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Creating a work space with the BenQ WiT e-Reading Lamp | Review

Having recently turned our spare bedroom into a home office, something we chose to do due to covid working restrictions and also with the launch of my shop ChildLedPlay.co.uk, one of the biggest issues was finding appropriate lighting solutions. I needed something that would allow for computer and screen work during the day and evening, alongside close up painting and craft work with true colour lighting.
 
benq wit e reading lamp review

AD: This post includes gifted items

I was recently asked if I would like to try out the BenQ WiT e-Reading Lamp, giving an honest review, which seemed like the perfect solution...

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Play-Based Learning Gifts for 3 year olds

Are you looking for gifts suitable for a 3 year old, which also have an element of 'learning through play'? Within this post, I will be showing you some of my top choices for play-based learning gifts for three year olds, and explaining which areas of development they help to cover...

play based learning gifts for 3 year olds

NB: Some of these items were gifted items for us to review honestly for the purpose of this post. Some items we bought ourselves and others are from my own shop ChildLedPlay.co.uk. This post may contain affiliate links. Any gifted or affiliate items will be highlighted with an asterisk next to them. 

It can sometimes be tricky to see the learning potential with certain toys and resources, or, to know which areas of learning you should be focusing on at this stage. This blog post will guide you through some gift options and explain the learning opportunities available...

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Technology Ideas for the Early Years

When we think about what ICT and technology looks like for young children, it can be easy to assume that the focus is placed firmly on screen technology such as computers, ipads, tablets and other screens, but this isn't the case at all...

 

Technology for children, particularly in the Early Years, involves objects which work in different ways, for different purposes...Equipment which involves 'technology' to achieve an outcome or an effect. Mechanical toys with simple mechanisms, which allow children to investigate those "what will happen if..?" ideas...and of course, child-safe resources for children to act out scenarios within their play which may mimic real life technology used by adults.

Within this post I am going to suggest some ideas for technology for young children which can help to enhance learning through play  by offering exciting resources. I will also be adding a list of technology ideas to my Amazon Associate storefront (affiliate) for you to browse through. 

Friday, 7 August 2020

Embedding children's interests in all aspects of learning

Have you ever wondered what it means to follow the children's interests? It's a phrase you will likely hear a lot if you work within Early Years or have EYFS aged children. Best practise is for practitioners and educators to tailor the learning experiences to the individual child or children, so that engagement is high, learning is enjoyable and lessons are likely to be remembered and retained.

 following childrens interests - gift from fairy

This idea of making learning appealing to an individual by incorporating something that they have a fascination with, into the learning opportunity doesn't just have to stop with Early Years. Many teachers have had huge amounts of success in teaching maths and literacy by following certain interests (such as football) in order to engage students and maximise the chances of them retaining the skills they have learnt. 

Today I have Sam and Immy from Sam Goldsworthy Childminding, explaining the process of embedding children's interests into all aspects of learning - with a run through of how they set this up within their setting, and progressed over time...

Friday, 24 July 2020

School readiness – preparing your child for Reception Class

School readiness…its something you’ll probably hear quite a lot if you have a child who is preparing to start Reception Class in September, but what does it actually mean??
school readiness - preparing your child for reception class

How can we, as parents, make sure that we are helping and not hindering when preparing our 4 year olds for big school?

Most of my Teaching career was spent teaching Reception, and so this is something I thought long and hard about when passing on information to Parents. What would I hope, as their Teacher, they could do already? What sort of things would I discuss in the Parents meetings for new starters? Where would my expectations be bearing in mind I don’t yet know the children or what level they are at?

Its not what you might expect….

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Phonics Explained: A Parent's guide to understanding Phonics

What is phonics? What does digraph mean? Why do we need phonics? How does it work? Why is phonics important? ... Today I have the Queen of Phonics - Alice from Raising Red Heads - here to explain it all! 

 Phonics Explained  A Parent's guide to understanding Phonics

Alice is an EYFS Teacher and Educational Learning Content Creator with a passion for phonics and an unbelievable ability to make phonics visually stimulating, fun and exciting. In this blog post she explains in more detail, exactly what 'phonics' means and why it is so important...

Sunday, 12 July 2020

How to add Culture and Diversity to your home and learning environment

 How can we make sure that  we are including or adding culture and diversity into our everyday learning environments? 
It is so important that we give children the tools, exposure and understanding of differences and similarities, between themselves and others, from an early age. We want to create an environment where certain differences are viewed by children as usual, every day life. Where all children can readily access resources that are made with diversity in mind, so that children grow to learn that we are all different, and we are all the same.


child drawing people with black skin and white skin

Today, I have Lauren, an Early Childhood Educator with a wealth of training and experience within culture and diversity, explaining a little about how we can add culture and diversity into our learning environments both at home and in a setting...

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Using The Curiosity Approach at home

The Curiosity Approach is a modern day approach to early childhood development and play. It incorporates philosophies from Reggio, Montessori, Steiner and Te Wariki to create a thoughtful approach that uses children’s innate curiosity to inspire their play and learning.
 
Using the curiosity approach at home - pink flower soup in a mud kitchen

Today, I have Alexandria from The Curiosity Corner explaining how she incorporates the Curiosity Approach at home, and how you can easily do the same....

Saturday, 23 May 2020

EYFS Writing | Success Criteria grid for Self Evaluation

Help children to be more independent when self-checking and evaluating their writing, by offering an EYFS success criteria grid with visual prompts of sentence writing steps. Children can mark their own work before asking a friend to peer review...

EYFS success criteria grid for writing with self evaluation and peer review

This blog post includes a video demonstration and a free print to download (including a cursive option) so that you can use this sentence writing success criteria grid within your setting, or at home with your child for home-learning. I introduced this to my own Reception class towards the end of the year in the Summer term, and have done the same for my own Reception aged child at home...

Monday, 11 May 2020

Dinosaur Island Play Tray | Tuff Spot Ideas

Does your child have a special interest in Dinosaurs? Perhaps you are learning about a dinosaur topic or how dinosaurs have become extinct and would like to create a tuff tray play tray to enhance your learning environment and allow for open ended play and exploration? 

In this post I have a large dinosaur island tuff tray with lots of loose parts, and an alternative smaller scale play tray with dinosaurs past and also dinosaurs present with a special fossil hunting activity!!

Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity

The beauty of loose parts is that children can move and explore all of the objects to create their own scenes, ideas and narratives. Nothing is permanent, so nothing gets ‘ruined’, nothing has to be ‘put back how you found it’ and nothing is ‘wrong’. When there are no limits set on play, children have the chance to take ownership without fear of failure, or, fear of creating too much mess to clean up. Your set up doesn’t have to be perfect (it won’t stay as it is for long anyway), it just needs to be inspiring, interesting, exciting and provoke a sense of wonder - inviting children to come and have a look, a touch and eventually a full on play!

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Coffee Beans Sensory Play Tray | Tuff Tray ideas

A sensory tuff tray exploring coffee beans using a manual coffee grinder, old coffee machine, cafetiere and some information on how we extended the coffee beans activity once they had all been ground up!

coffee beans sensory play tray with coffee grinder - tuff tray ideas


A few weeks prior to this coffee beans sensory play tray activity, I had picked up a manual coffee grinder in a charity shop and ‘left it’ in the playroom for the children to discover and try to figure out what it was and what it could do... The children loves exploring and experimenting, and here is what we got up to when we finally got round to using it for real!

Monday, 4 May 2020

Solid Wood Floors and Cast Iron Gates - A Look Back

Finding myself stuck within the four walls of my home for the last few months, I've been thinking about what really makes a house a home? What will my children remember the most about their time here? 
My dreams have been filled with images and memories of my own childhood home. The solid wood floor, and the feel of its grain beneath your feet. The cast iron gates I'd open for school each morning - and the way I tested my own strength by my ability to push them open with one or two hands. 


Chestnut Lodge, Boughton Pumping station with green iron gates
AD: This is a collaborative post  

So many of my memories were focused around the more natural resources around the house. The rough feel of the red brick, turned green by moss on the outside. The musty smell of the cellar with its concrete steps and the way we used to 'polish' the hardwood floor in the boardroom by spraying our socks with a can of Pledge and skating around the room to 'don't you want me baby?' by The Human League...

Sunday, 3 May 2020

How to make mini glitter alphabet letters using UV Resin

A quick post and video demonstrating how to make mini glitter alphabet letters using UV Resin, for loose parts and letter matching.

 gold glitter mini alphabet letters made from UV resin on a mirror tray

These letters are much smaller than some of large resin letters that you see - and so rather than epoxy resin which requires mixing and pouring, I have made these mini glitter resin letters using UV resin with a thin nozzle attachment. If you would like to find out how to make these resin alphabet loose parts, have a watch of the video below...

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Top Tips for managing Play with different aged children

I decided to write this post after one of my Instagram followers asked me if I had any advice on managing play with children of different ages and different personalities. Like me, she has a 2 year old and a 5 year old and is finding that whilst the older child interacts positively with the play invitations she sets up, her 2 year old often throws objects at walls, bangs them together etc and sets off down a path of destruction. ( I should note here that this family also have a new baby and the older child is usually at school, but under the currently isolation policy they are now all at home together).

  toddler and older sibling playing side by side with activities in seperate trays

It's a common scenario, and I remember my eldest being very similar at aged 2 when his baby sister arrived and we were stuck at home in the summer holidays. The preschool/nursery routine is out of the window, the 1:1 time with the main carer is suddenly a thing of the past and the world of the toddler is suddenly very different and a little bit unsettling. Add in a need to be very active and burn off a lot of energy and it can be a real struggle to fulfill their needs. Many children will resort to destructive, aggressive or frustrating behaviour in order to gain what little attention they can, and also to manage their own feelings and emotions. 

Thursday, 16 April 2020

How to make Fairy Butterfly Wings with Pressed Flowers

My little girl absolutely loves to put on a pair of wings and dress up a fairy or a butterfly, but the wings we have which are made from the same material as nylon stockings have ripped in places and shed glitter like there's no tomorrow! I decided to make a custom pair of wings at home, using home pressed flowers (in the microwave!) and contact paper - which give more of a natural, iridescent 'flutter', look incredibly delicate and so beautiful and personalised....
 

transparent fairy butterfly wings made with tacky back plastic and pressed flowers

The best thing is that the lead up to making these links into some special experiences - you can forage in your garden for leaves, flowers and petals...or whilst out on your walk. We included some tête-à-tête daffodils that the children picked for me whilst I was poorly in quarantine to cheer me up and make me feel better, some tulips we had before lockdown and some cherry blossom flowers collected from a daily walk (also my favourite tree!). This activity is perfect for learning and teaching symmetry, discussing differences and changes, noticing patterns and details, following instructions and role play....

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Are Virtual Nannies and Virtual Tutors the way forward for parents AND professionals?

Right now we are in the middle of a pandemic. Schools are closed, parents are working from home and the balance of the scales between educational curriculum, child-care and work are tipping furiously back and forth, leaving many feeling like they are attempting to be a jack of all trades, yet master of none.
 

peppa pig showing on a screen as a virtual nanny babysitter

Disclosure: Paid partnership post

Parents are holding their hands up in a ‘me too’ movement, admitting to tapping into the babysitting powers of Peppa Pig whilst they try to steal a precious half hour to undertake a conference call or draft an email. Phrases such as “in a moment” are thrown towards our children and our work, as we try to ‘do it all’ – where doing it all really just means doing the basics...

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Twinning with Positive Clothing from Peonies & Peace

Peonies & Peace is the positive clothing shop from the wellbeing and sustainability blog: The Less - Refined mind. Specialising in organic, ethical apparel for babies, kids and adults - if you're looking for a positive message with a gender neutral design, then this is the place to look...

twinning with positive clothing from peonies & peace
AD: Some of the items pictured were gifted for the purpose of this post. I have previously purchased items from this shop by choice. 
The 4th 'baby' of Kate, author and owner of the blog/shop and mum to two girls - it has never felt as easy to support a small business as it does when you know the business is supporting the values you believe in: Positivity. Liberalism. Feminism. Sustainability. Responsible clothing. Caring for the planet. Striving for Peace...( and if you want to chuck a few peonies in there, then why not)...

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Easy home-made pretend role-play food from every day items

Want to know how to make some quick and easy home made, pretend role-play food from every day household items? 

pretend role play food using sponges, felt, spaghetti and pompoms

This post will show you how to make some fake Battenberg cake, pretend sponge cakes, fake ice cream, pretend spaghetti and meatballs, chips, crumpets and more....

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

How to make Needle Felted Number Hearts for Loose Parts

Needle felted loose parts are a lovely tactile resource for children to use within their play. These rainbow felted hearts with numbers 1-10 are great when used alongside numicon and other natural resources and loose parts on a play tray - adding in another sensory element with different textures and weights. They are SO easy to make, simultaneously calming and stress busting as you focus on producing something achievable with a repetitive stabbing movement to get rid of any internal angst!

needle felt rainbow hearts with numbers to ten on a wooden tuff tray with numicon and loose parts

This blog post will give you some step by step images and instructions for how to make your own needle felted hearts, as well as an accompanying video to demonstrate and a list of resources you will need in order to make your own felt hearts with numbers...

Friday, 13 March 2020

60+ Play Ideas for when you're stuck at home

Whether you're stuck at home due to a rainy day, feeling under the weather yourself or having to self-isolate due to a global pandemic (Corona Virus COVID-19 I'm looking at you!), you'll probably find that cabin fever sets in pretty quickly without some quick and easy play activities to keep your little ones entertained!

play ideas for when you're stuck at home


Most of these play at home, indoor activities are super simple to set up, and utilise resources that you will likely have at home anyway. Just in case you don't, I'll include some relevant links to order online for home delivery. (Some of these links may be affiliate links, which means I may earn a small amount of commission on qualifying purchases, but it wont cost you any more to buy them).

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Cheap Carpets and Wipeable Walls - Preparing for life with kids

Are you currently looking to redesign your home, rethink your interiors or switch up your flooring? If so, then the first question I have for you is this: Do you have children, or plan on having children at some point in the near future? 
 If so, then I implore you - put away the expensive shopping list, ignore the calls of a luxury walkway and go and grab yourself a cheap carpet and some wipeable wall paint. I promise you will thank me for this later. 

cheap carpets - baby and dog on carpet
AD: Paid partnership

There is nothing that screams 'unprepared!' quite like the chic and fashionable parents-to-be whose houses are adorned with mirrored tables, crystal vases, velvet furnishings and a fluffy, cream carpet that you dare not even breathe on. They haven't yet experienced sticky fingers. They don't know how a stream of wiped snot can make fibres clump together. Let's forgive them for believing that they won't mind Hinching the shiny surfaces every.single. minute....but the fact of the matter is, raisins get mashed into carpets and end up looking like something much, much worse. Save the luxury one for when they've left home and for the love of sanity - buy a cheap carpet for now.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Mud Kitchen | Ideas & Accessories for Outdoor Play | EYFS

Would you like to understand more about what a mud kitchen is? What the benefits are of having a mud kitchen in your outdoor area? How can you you effectively use a mud kitchen and plan for activities? Where can you buy a mud kitchen and accessories and what are the learning outcomes? 



This post aims to give some useful ideas and inspiration for using your mud kitchen effectively for outdoor play...


 mud kitchen with pump action sink, large outdoor blackboard and pet bowl mini mud kitchen


For young children to really benefit from outdoor play, the outdoor area should be an extension of the indoor area - not a simply a separate place for 'limited' playtime, a reward for hard work or somewhere to simply 'have a run around'. I have talked before about this separation of indoor and outdoor play, and the negative consequences that this can have in my post about the importance of learning through play outside which can be found here. One of the key pieces of equipment for an outdoor learning space, which will tie into lots of different areas of learning is to have a mud kitchen. Whether you are looking to encourage role play, speaking and listening, relationship building, mathematical concepts or simply to create a space where children can learn and explore and play with what they know - a mud kitchen provides endless possibilities...

Friday, 24 January 2020

Valentine's Day Tuff Tray | Sensory Play | Playdough Recipe

Whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not, this sensory tuff tray is sure to provoke some language and discussions around love and kindness whilst offering lots of learning opportunities in a very child-led and open ended exploration...

Valentine's Day sensory rose playdough tuff tray activity

This sensory play opportunity actually starts before the tuff tray activity, in making the Valentine's Day playdough together with your child/children! This post explains and demonstrates how to make this together, and then moves on to the resources and the learning opportunities this provides....

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Ikea Flisat Table | Skadis Pegboard | Desk Hack

Are you looking for some inspiration for the Ikea Flisat desk? Perhaps you would like to use this for smaller Tuff Tray activities, or maybe, you would like to combine the table with the Ikea Skadis pegboard, but are unsure of how to do this and which resources you need?
This post will tell you everything you need to know about the Ikea Flisat table / Skadis Pegboard desk hack...

Ikea flisat table skadis pegboard desk hack

(NB: Some of the links in this article are amazon affiliate links - it wont cost you anymore, but I may make commission on qualifying purchases.)

We have this Flisat table and Skadis pegboard in our Child-Led playroom at home, set up specifically for independent learning through play. This hack does not involve fastening the table to the wall and so this can be moved around the room easily...

Friday, 3 January 2020

Dietbon Diet Plan | Ready made meals for a busy lifestyle?

Sponsored PR sample

DietBon are a French company specialising in diet plan ready made meals, which are 100% natural, delivered straight to your door- tailored to your needs. The name, translated literally, means ‘good diet', and so we arranged for a weeks worth of meals to be sent to my husband to try out. He has a busy working life as a Leeds based Lawyer, which involved lots of travel, early mornings, late nights and office desk dinner dates! Ease of use and speedy preparation were key here, as well as a tasty meal of course!
 

DietBon diet plan main meal pasta and beef dish


First of all, DietBon make sure that their diet plan regime is right for you by scheduling in a call with one of their dieticians. Thomas had a call with an English speaking dietician based in France, who talked him through how the plan works and realistic expectations for the 7 day review plan. She explained that the diet plan is particularly popular amongst  Lawyers for its ease of use within a busy working lifestyle as the plan is made to be as simple as possible.  Weight loss expectations are roughly 3-4kg a month, depending on what his usual intake was like and how much exercise he does.



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