26 May 2017

The great thing about thematic learning is the versatility of the themes. This week at the English Garden Pre-school and Nursery the different groups explored animals as a general theme, but each group incorporated this theme into their play and learning activities in unique ways. Learning about animals is always a joyful experience for young children because the topic is incredibly familiar and grounded in their lived experiences and yet also nearly limitless in the possibilities for imagination and exploration it offers.

In the Baby Daycare the children loved playing with different animal toys.

The Daisies group liked using the small world toys. The plastic figures are perfect for small hands to grab and hold and the children like looking at the bright colours and interesting shapes.

The children in the Buttercups group enjoyed rocking on the hobby horse in the classroom. The hobby horse is very popular, offering a soothing movement that stimulated the child’s vestibular system and improves balance.

The Year 1 class continued to work on key literacy skills this week. The children engaged with the classic and well-loved story of Little Red Riding Hood through several different activities. The Grasshoppers listened to the story read aloud, acted it out, completed sequencing activities to demonstrate comprehension and made some lovely artwork about the story. Spending a long time exploring familiar stories in depth supports children’s language development, encouraging them to talk about the story and really master concepts like the narrative arc and character.

In Dragonflies class the children made lions using long strips of colourful paper to make manes. This arts and crafts activity developed their fine motor skills. The children used scissors to cut the long, thin strips and then stuck them onto the paper with glue. Refining hand skills and using simple tools like pens, scissors and glue helps the children gain independence and confidence in the classroom.

The Poppies love their new set of ponies in the small world corner. The children are learning to play together and are beginning to use dolls and other figures in imaginative play. The large number of ponies encourages them to play together and there are plenty of ponies to share with everyone!

In the Bluebells the children explored mini-beasts in the Nursery garden. These budding scientists gently collected insects and other creatures and observed their behavior. The children were fascinated by the different ways the mini-beasts moved and they were very excited to find so many of them.

The Snowdrops learned the nursery rhyme Bernie Bee and used large bumble bee props to help them remember the rhyme and finger play. Nursery rhymes are a wonderful early literacy activity because learning them supports so many aspects of language and literacy development in young children. Rhyme, alliteration and the cadence of the verses helps children hone in on phonemes, the smallest components of language. Memorizing nursery rhymes helps develop children’s oral language skills and build their vocabularies. A large repertoire of songs and rhymes is a great way for children to begin the active engagement with language that is a first step towards literacy.

The Reception class learned about endangered animals. They made some panda faces using paint and other materials. The children liked building on their knowledge of different animals through story time activities that focused on fiction and non-fiction about animals.

To improve their communication and conflict resolution skills the Year 2 class did some role play activities with puppets. Using the animal puppets encouraged the children to speak loudly and interact without shyness. Puppets offer a wonderful sense of security and even shy and reserved children feel comfortable joining in role play once they are speaking as a puppet or other prop. The role play helped the Beetles class students to address some problematic behavior and find solutions.

The Butterflies made a dog from their hand print. Hand print crafts are fun because they give children the satisfaction of independently creating a recognizable figure. Feeling proud of their final product is an important part of fostering children’s love of art and the artistic process. A good balance of process oriented art projects and craft activities with functional outcomes gives children the freedom to explore materials and processes while also offering them opportunities to make tangible end products.