World Down Syndrome Day and Odd sock week 18th – 22nd March!
World Down Syndrome day is on Thursday 21st March so we will be holding an odd sock week from the 18th – 22nd March, all children are encouraged to wear odd socks throughout the week to help raise awareness of Down Syndrome.
Saturday 23rd March – Come for a walk in beautiful Victoria Country Park and help us raise money for the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association! 10am – 11.30/12pm approximately – refreshments provided.
We are reviving our very popular and successful sponsored walk to raise money for Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association. This is a local charity that is very dear to our hearts and we hope that you will join us in supporting them. We will be walking/scooting/cycling a 1 mile circuit in Victoria Country Park on the morning of the 23rd March. If you would like to attend please let the office know. We have sponsorship forms available or you or your friends and family can donate via our Virgin Giving page. Go to www.virginmoneygiving.com and search for The Mulberry Bush Day Nurseries and we should pop up! All donation go directly to Portsmouth DSA and will be very grateful received.
Mother’s Day Events
Mother’s day falls on the 31st March this year. We will be holding events for Raspberries and Elderberries on the following days. We will not be holding an event for the Blueberries or Strawberries. This is because historically we have found that the very young children find this unsettling at best and distressing at worst, they will all be able to make beautiful cards to give to mummies/grannies to celebrate with you at home.
Raspberries: Tuesday 26th march 2pm – 3pm
Elderberries: Wednesday 3rd April 10am – 11am
This month the children have loved being outdoors, especially during the unexpected flash of summer at the end of the month. To encourage out door play we created a range of activities in the garden throughout February including a fabulous prehistoric scene! We made a dinosaur activity using wooden logs and sand which the children particularly enjoyed. They liked moving the dinosaurs through the sand making impressive dinosaur sounds. The children have also had great fun using the wooden trikes to move around the garden improving their balancing skills and coordination. We created a treasure hunt activity where the children were able to explore the sand with their hands and other tools to find hidden objects wrapped in foil. This was particularly appealing to the older children who quickly got the idea of the hunt and uncovering their sparkly treasures!
The Blueberries and Strawberries have been having fun with our Muddy Pig activity this month. Using our farm animal toys they squelched through the muddy pool and splashed through the water to clean off! They enjoyed transporting the water between the different containers by scooping and pouring. They also had a lot of fun making animal noises while they played.
Painting with textured rollers and blocks
The babies have enjoyed using the building blocks within their play. We extended their learning by adding different coloured paints to dip the blocks into and different textured rollers for them to create marks on the paper with. We demonstrated to the children how to create the marks and they copied moving the blocks around the paper, some of the children also explored and created marks on the floor with the blocks in the paint. They loved seeing how many different marks they could make and how the different tools and textures effected the end result. Messy, but great fun!
Fine motor skills development
The children in Raspberries have been having a great time taking part in pasta threading activities. The aim of these is to build fine motor skills and focus on hand-eye coordination. Developing these skills is vital in preparing the children for all sorts of life skills, from tying their shoe laces to learning to write. We also found that there were a lot of extra benefits from these activities, particularly for those children who struggle to concentrate for longer periods of time. These children gained a great sense of achievement when they were able to thread the tube shaped penne pasta onto the spaghetti successfully. This meant children were showing more interest in the activity and were able to build on their concentration skills. Alongside this we made some playdough which is another activity our children always really enjoy, the playdough acted as a base for the long strands of spaghetti to stick in which made it slightly easier for the children to thread the pasta shapes onto the spaghetti. Although some of our children enjoyed the challenge of holding the spaghetti in one hand and trying to thread the pasta shapes with the other.
Celebrating Chinese New Year!
The Raspberries have great enthusiasm for learning about new cultures. At the Mulberry Bush we feel that it is important for the children to have perspective and understanding of the different cultures around them and across the world. They all enjoyed celebrating Chinese New Year and learning about the different traditions in China culture. We focused a lot on Chinese food and Chinese gifts as we knew this would be tangible for the toddlers. We experimented with food by cooking spaghetti and adding some bright red colouring as in Chinese culture the colour red is associated with energy, happiness and good luck. We then provided different types of chop sticks and Chinese utensils for the children to experiment with. Alongside this activity we displayed some pictures of families in China and Chinese food to give the children a better understanding of the culture and the traditions of the country. We also had a lovely Chinese meal cooked by Carol which the children ate using children’s chopsticks. These are like tweezers (attached at the top) so much easier to use than loose chopsticks. They are also great for developing fine motor skills for children. The Raspberries enjoyed watching videos about Chinese culture and Chinese dancing and even decided to make their own Chinese dress up costumes with our material box. We made some gold coins and some red envelopes for the children which we learnt is a traditional way of offering good luck to family, friends and loved ones.
Health and self-care
Role play is always a favourite in the Raspberry room. It is integral to our daily play. Many of our children’s role play is inspired by something they have observed other people doing, often parents or practitioners at nursery. They then repeat the scenario in their own way, re interpreting the events or ideas in order to explore them. This month our children have shown a lot of interest in baby role play, they have been enjoying changing our babies nappies using white roll, gloves, aprons, wipes and nappies. They have also occasionally been sitting the baby dolls on the potty and saying ‘go wee wee now’. This is a routine that our children observe us doing daily. All role play activities are very beneficial and it is something we encourage our children to engage in. It is an important part of child development as it helps to develop imagination, confidence, communication and physical development. This particular activity is great for promoting potty training and encouraging our children who are not yet potty training to show more interest in doing so. To follow on from this activity we set up a baby washing station where we learnt and talked about health and self-care.
This month we have learnt lots about the world! We have learned about things happening around us and different celebrations. First we learnt about Chinese New Year. Then we all became hairdressers and makeup artists then traveled to space! It has been a very eventful month!
Chinese New Year
This year we went BIG on Chinese New Year!! We have one little boy in our group who is particularly interested in this event as Chinese culture is part of his home life. Ever since his parents got married at the end of last year and had Chinese lion dance as part of their wedding reception he has been obsessed with the dance!! He has a Chinese lion costume of his own which he was very proud to bring into preschool and to perform the dance himself. He also brought in some drums and symbols and showed us how to tap out a rhythm to the dance. His performance was excellent, exciting and inspirational for the other children (pls see the video on our Facebook page). His enthusiasm was contagious and helped the other children to grasp the thrill of the lion dance and the excitement of Chinese New Year in a way that pictures and videos never could. It is also wonderful for the children to understand that their contemporary and friend has an additional culture in his life, it makes the concept of other cultures so much more tangible and real for them.
We followed this interest and enthusiasm and have all had a go at dancing and tapping out a rhythm to the lion dance!
We have researched our Chinese horoscopes on the internet and learned that all the children are born in the years of the goat or horse. We learnt lots about the year of the pig, which we are now in, and the story behind how and why the animals represent each year. The Pig is the 12th and final animal because he was late to the party!
We made puppet Chinese dragons and lucky red envelops with money in as we learnt this is a gift that is traditionally given to children during Chinese New Year and that red is considered a lucky colour.
We looked at the different foods that are eaten during this festival and how streets in China are decorated as part of the celebrations. We created pretend food role play activities and the children and practiced their skills with chop sticks, this was great as we used them for our Chinese lunch on Tuesday
We also made our own vegetable spring rolls to take home and share with our family.
Another area of interest this month was hairdressers (again!) and make up artist the children have recently enjoyed face painting ‘make up’ on the adults and brushing/doing their hair for made up weddings. In order to allow the children to fully explore this area of role play we turned part of the preschool room into a salon! We added phones, keyboards, pens and paper to book in appointments, which was a great way to enhance the children’s language and understanding of different forms of communication. We also added real objects into their play salon including mannequin heads, hair rollers, towels, hairbrushes etc. which enriched their role play. The children were keen to talk about their own experiences at the hairdressers. We used paint pens to add make up to faces and painted finger nails, bringing mark making into our role play too. We talked to the children about other elements of a hair salon: taking appointments, writing down names and phone numbers, charging clients, focusing on using numbers, counting and language relating to money and cost. These were all excellent ways to enhance the children’s language and understanding of the world.
At the end of the month the children’s interest led us into space, so that is where we went! We have recently introduced a new set of books about space into our small world and construction area and this clearly captured the children’s imaginations and interest. It was excellent to see that some of the children, especially the boys, who do not always show an interest in books, has been inspired by these and wanted us to read to them and investigate further. They asked many questions about space and planets and came up with a list of questions they would like answers too. We used the books and the internet to answer these questions and, of course, this led to many more questions!
Alongside this we put out a range of adult led and child led activities this included space playdoh, making planets, looking at information books, role play in the garden and singing space songs.
The children have loved learning lots of new facts about the solar system and astronauts. We have learnt about the rocky planets, the gas planets, the biggest planet, how they spin, the lack of gravity in space and much more. Parents have got involved too sending in space books with there little ones and supporting their interests in space at home. Thank you!
This has been a great week for playing and learning and all of us, adults included, have had a great time and learned lots along the way!