January Newsletter 2019

Dates for your diary:

Thursday 7th March – World Book Day. If your child would like to take part please send them to nursery dressed as a character from their favourite book. The team are already planning their outfits!

4th – 10th March – Ready, Steady, Listen! To coincide with World Book Day Usborne books is running events with schools, nurseries and other organisations to promoting story telling and listening for pleasure both at home and at school/nursery. We will be taking part in sponsored reading events to raise money for our own library of books in the nursery.  The more we raise the more Usborne Books will give us to further supplement our books.

Raise £120 or more you get 10% extra in free books of our choice

Raise £250 or more you get 30% extra in free books of our choice

Raise £600 or more you get 60% extra in free books of our choice

We will be announcing details near to the time.

World Down Syndrome Day. 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 – Sponsored Walk!

We will also be 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 a circuit in Victoria Country Park on the morning of the 23rd March. Refreshments will be available. More details to follow!

Mother’s Day Events

Mother’s day falls on the 31st March – we will confirm event details for each age group nearer to the time.


Blueberries and Strawberries

The babies have been distracted from the drab January weather with all sorts of exciting activities both indoors and out.
Water play was particularly popular. The Strawberries team built a beautiful underwater world activity. They coloured the water in the water tray green and added glitter, water weed toys and a selection of sharks and other water dwelling creatures. The children were encouraged to practice their knowledge of colours and also enjoyed pouring the water in and out of the animals mouths. The Blueberries added ducks and coloured blocks to their water which caused a lot of excitement and quacking noises!

The babies do love to post things, anything they can! So we like to give them plenty of opportunity to practice this skill. It helps them to gain awareness of size and shape of objects and also to develop their fine motor skills. Georgie and Ebony created a fantastic activity this month using pompoms and a variety of different cardboard tubes. Some tubes were attached to the mirror and others left loose. They particularly liked using the largest pompoms and watching them appear at the other end of the tube!

Outside in the garden the Strawberries enjoyed painting with the stampers and ink pads. The children were fascinated by pressing their stamps onto the ink pad and then stamping them onto their paper. They learned about the marks they could make on and with the materials at hand. Some of the children particularly liked putting their fingers onto the ink pad and creating fingerprint marks on their paper. In doing so they also learned about the texture of the ink and the paper.


The Raspberries children have particularly enjoyed garden time this month. We love outdoor play for a host of reasons. We encourage the children to explore the whole of their available environment as each child will gain something different from each space. It is also, of course, vital to get out into the fresh air whenever possible so we have been wrapping up warm and enjoying all outdoor activities. The children have especially enjoyed playing in the sand kitchen with lots of different construction play and role play. They have loved digging and filling our different sized buckets, pots and pans and on one day spent a full 40 minutes in this area ‘building a wall’! We provided spades, small shovels, high vis jackets and builders hats for them to full fill their role play idea of building a wall, this encouraged them to go on to build other things. Construction is always a big hit with the Raspberries and this garden activity led them onto more construction play inside.

The Raspberries are very proud to have won the Christmas decoration competition and we have enjoyed spending our winnings on new content for the room. We decided to focus on the things our children enjoy the most and invest in items to help extend their experience and fun! As we have already identified construction is one of the Raspberries favourite activities. It is also a type of play that we can use to access many areas of learning from counting, to colours and the development of fine motor skills and gross motor skills. We also find that it is an excellent activity to encourage children to cooperate and work together to complete a task. So we decided to purchase some new building blocks of different shapes sizes and colours, they have perspex panels with a variety of materials and objects inside them. The children have instantly taken a liking to these and have already built a large range of different structures. One of the children decided to build a ‘town’. We asked all the children who might live in the town and they decided that Santa and his elves might live their with the reindeer!

Mark making and adult led activities

We always try to ensure that our adult led activities provide lots of variety for the children. This month we spent some time focusing on lots of mark making and supporting fine motor skills. We set up a flour tuff spot where the children were given different objects to make marks with such as; paintbrushes, pencils, stencils, letters and of course we encouraged the children to get their hands into the flour and mark make with them! Some children were able to make different shapes and marks and some even managed to copy the letter shapes. Others just enjoyed exploring the texture of the flour on their hands. We spoke about the feel of the flour, some of the children described the flour as ‘fluffy’, ‘cold’ and ‘smooth’. One of the children said that it was ‘as light as a feather’.

Monkey music time!

This month we have introduced our own Monkey Music time. We take part in this activity every day as a large group. Monkey music is a CD and book with lots of different songs and we also have our monkey puppet who acts out all of the actions and songs with the children. The Raspberries really enjoy this activity and are always engaged and excited by it. They copy the actions and use the musical instruments to play along with the songs. Many of the children are now starting to learn the words to the songs and love singing along. Not only is this fantastically good fun but it is great exercise and helps the children to coordinate their movements and follow instruction. Dancing helps the children to develop their gross motor skills, stretching and strengthening their bodies and also encourages them to express themselves through their movements. We often see our more reserved children really open up at Monkey Music time and it is great to see their confidence building.


Continuous provision supporting and extending play

Throughout January we have been focusing on quality continuous provision. In layman’s terms this is providing the children with a large range of materials and opportunities to use their own imaginations and interests to make, build or create in a variety of different ways with minimal adult interaction. Through this experimentation children build confidence and learn through their play. We provide the children with different shaped blocks, a mixture of loose parts in the form of natural materials such as sticks, shells, stones and pine cones as well as objects such as metal nuts and bolts and a variety of mark making materials. We combine this with small world toys (figures of people, animals, cars, trains, houses, hospitals etc). It is constantly surprising and fascinating to see how each child creates different stories and worlds with these objects. One morning two of the girls created their own zoo! Every piece of material had a purpose. They created cages by enclosing a space using large wooden blocks. They used green material for the grass and a basket as a pool for the penguins. They added animals and grouped them into species. They mixed stones and metal items together in a jug as feed for their animals. We were able to quietly observe them discussing different options of where to put things. They listened to each other and compromised adapting their ideas and working together. Only after they had created this extraordinary world did a practitioner get involved asking about their creation and helping them to extend their learning further. We talked to them about the different foods that different animals might eat, a tiger’s diet is very different to that of an elephant!

Amazing imaginations!

We are always encouraging our children to use their amazing imaginations in all their play. This month we have been inspiring them to tell stories of their own and to practice their mark making at the same time. Recently we started an activity by giving them the start of two stories, one started “Once upon a time their lived a princess…..” the other started “Once upon a time there was a dinosaur…..” The children were asked if they would like to add to either of the stories. They could do this by drawing, writing or mark making in whatever way they liked. The children loved getting involved with this. They were proud to express their own ideas and opinions to complete their stories. Some ended up with the dinosaurs eating people (of course!) in others dragons breathed fire and princesses ran away while kings tried to save them. This was a very successful activity because it was inviting for a large range of children. Both those who are confident in their mark making but may be not so in imaginative play and vice versa were engaged. They were all inspired to take part and proud of their outcomes.


Music and movement

The Elderberries love to get physical! They regularly take part in yoga sessions in preschool and this month Little Vicki has been taking them in mini gymnastics sessions! Vicky used to teach children’s gymnastics outside of nursery. The children listened carefully to the instructions and followed them. They stretched their legs, pointed their toes and reached for the stars! They took part in balancing activities on their tip toes, balanced on one leg and jumped and hopped.

Musical instruments have also been a focus for the Elderberries this month and they have used them in many ways. Inspired by the forthcoming Chinese New Year at the beginning of February we looked at the Chinese Lion Dance. We listened to the traditional music that is played for this dance and talked about the rhythms and speed of the music. We then asked the children to chose an instrument and they played them in time with the Lion Dance music.
We also used our musical instruments to illustrate stories. Vikki told a story. She demonstrated the idea of using sound in the story by beating a drum when someone was running down the stairs in her tale. The children quickly grasped the idea and used their instruments or even their bodies to make noises to help enrich the tale.