We say it at least once a year, but 2017 really IS the year we are going to get Westgate growing! We are always looking for ways to improve our setting, and one thing that has been highlighted is supporting our children’s eating. For this reason, we have been working hard to devise a plan to help our children become interested in food; from exploring home grown fruit from our forest apple trees (and hopefully some vegetables next year!); to food-based sensory play; and, of course, a little bit of cooking!
The Butterflies recently made quiche for tea! The children developed their fine and gross motor movements by rolling and cutting the pastry and chopping and mixing in the fillings. We examined the pastry before and after baking to find similarities and differences following the baking process; this enhanced our Understanding of the World. Finally the children’s self-confidence was developed when they proudly shared their quiche with all of the children in the setting – what an accomplishment!
As part of our daily practice at Westgate, we ask our children to reflect on their favourite moments of the day. Not only does this support communication (having the confidence to share own thoughts), recall and listening skills, it also encourages our children to be reflective, thoughtful learners.
Here are a few snippets of Westgate children’s favourite things this week:
‘When my brother cuddles me.’
‘Growing and planting flowers and vegetables and dates.’
‘When my brother kisses me.’
‘Picking leaves from a tree.’
‘Playing with Lucas next door’
‘All the holidays!’
‘Summer and Beth!!’ (our nursery practitioners are fantastic!)
When I’m playing in the block room, please don’t say I’m “just playing”
for you see, I’m learning while I play, about balance and shapes.
Who knows? I may be an architect some day.
When I am getting dressed up, setting the table, caring for the babies.
Don’t get the idea I’m “just playing”. For you see, I’m, learning as I play.
I may be a mother or a father someday.
When you see me up to my elbows in paint or standing at an easel, or moulding
and shaping clay, please don’t let me hear you say “He is just playing”
For you see, I’m learning as I play, I’m expressing myself and being creative.
I may be an artist or an inventor someday.
When you see me sitting in a chair “reading” to an imaginary audience.
Please do not laugh and think I’m “just playing”.
For you see, I’m learning as I play.
I may be a teacher someday.
When you see me combing bushes for frogs, or packing my pockets with choice things I find, don’t pass it off as “just playing”. For you see, I’m learning as I play.
I may be a scientist someday.
When you see me engrossed in a puzzle or some “plaything” at school.
Please don’t feel the time is wasted in “play”. For you see, I’m learning as I play.
I’m learning to solve problems and concentrate.
I may be in business someday.
When you see me cooking or tasting foods, please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is
“just playing”. I’m learning to follow directions and see differences.
I may be a chef someday.
When you see me learning to skip, hop, run and move my body, please don’t say I’m “just
playing”. For you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning how my body works.
I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.
When you ask me what I’ve done as school today, and I say, “I just played”
Please don’t misunderstand me. For you see, I’m learning as I play.
I’m learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. I’m preparing for tomorrow.
Today, I am a child and my work is play.
We have so much fun in the garden in ALL weathers! At Westgate we believe that children should experience new sensations as often as possible, so we love taking them out to explore the garden in rain, sun and – if we are ever lucky enough to see any – snow!
This ‘summer’ has taught us the importance of having appropriate clothing available at all times. PLEASE can we remind all parents to provide a named pair of wellies, weather appropriate clothing (including hats, gloves and coats) and a spare change of clothes for their child. Our children adore playing in wild weather, and as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothing!
At Westgate we believe introducing our children to different cultures is a key aspect of promoting tolerance and our Core Values. There’s no better way of doing this than joining in with cultural celebrations, so on May 5th our children had a crash course in all things Mexico! As always, we strive to ensure our activities reflect the EYFS curriculum. While every room base tweaked the activities to ensure they were age appropriate, all of our children – from babies to our nearly-school leavers – got stuck in with our Mexican theme!
To promote Personal, Social and Emotional development our oldest children had a circle time focused on Mexico, and the Cinco de Mayo Celebration (well, sort of… you try explaining a battle for independence to four-year-olds!). We also looked at Mexico in our atlas.
The children all learned a new song for Cinco de Mayo – as we call it, The Mexican friend song! The babies enjoyed it’s familiar tune, and the older children found the unfamiliar language part bemusing, and part exciting!
The children then practiced their fine motor skills by decorating Sugar Skulls: our Ladybirds and Caterpillars practiced cutting and sticking, while our Butterflies experimented with cotton buds and paint to make dotty patterns. Some of the biggest children further developed their physical and literacy skills by tracing over a selection of Mexican phrases, too!
What would a fiesta be without food? The children embraced Mexican flavours by making their own tortilla chips and salsa, which were shared at biscuit time; followed by the Caterpillar’s cinnamon brownies for teatime pudding. Delicious!
Of course, to finish our fiesta the children took part in our garden disco. We are so lucky to have such creative, confident children at Westgate – their ‘moves’ were fantastic!
As part of our Healthy Eating Pledge, Westgate is committed to providing nutritional meals to your little ones. We’re constantly looking at ways to encourage children to try new foods – particularly those tricky fruit and vegetables! With that in mind, one rainy afternoon we set about making the fruitiest flapjack we could create, in partnership with the children.
After rummaging around our kitchen cupboards we unearthed a mountain of dried and fresh fruits, which were shared with the children. The children then chose their favourite fruits – raisins and apples, in this case – before examining the more unfamiliar options. To enhance the sensory element of the activity, our children were invited to look at, smell and taste these fruits, before collaboratively deciding that they’d also like to add dates to the mixture. The children also decided to add just 3tsps of honey to sweeten the flapjacks (we had been learning about dentists earlier that week!), before pouring in some dessicated coconut.
The result? A very crumbly, fruity flapjack that was shared around the nursery for biscuit time. The unanimous verdict from even our fussiest eaters is best described as ‘clean bowls’ – nearly all of the children asked for second helpings!
Fruity flapjacks – a fun, easy, and most importantly, tasty way of adding more fruit to our children’s diet!
Westgate’s Fruity Flapjacks
(As is the nature of cooking with children, these measurements are quite vague – just add whatever you have and hope for the best!)
2 cups Porridge Oats
80g-ish Baking Spread, melted
3 heaped tsps Honey (change to Golden Syrup for babies!)
1 handful dessicated coconut
1 handful Raisins and Dates (or any other dried fruits you have in your cupboards)
1 apple, chopped into bite sized chunks (our toddlers and preschoolers love to chop fruit with butter knives!)
Line a tin with greaseproof paper and pre-heat the oven to about 180C.
Pour the oats into a large mixing bowl, then add the melted butter and honey/syrup. Stir until combined – you’re looking for a chunky mixture (if it’s too sloppy, just add more oats!). Add the dried fruit, coconut and apple, and mix again. Pour the mixture into the pre-lined tray and bake for ABOUT 20-40 minutes (depending on your oven!), or until the oats have turned golden. Leave to cool.
Serve the flapjack with a cup of milk for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or try crumbling a small piece over some yogurt and fruit for a tasty pudding for your child!
Tomorrow sees the launch of our Book Exchange, and we are so excited!
For anyone who has managed to escape the posters, facebook updates, or mentions at handover, Westgate Nursery is proud to announce our latest Literacy initiative: the Book Exchange. This is a chance for parents to help their children foster a love of reading simply by reading themselves! We have a selection of GROWN UP books ready for you to peruse; simply choose one and exchange it for your child’s book token, or one of your own pre-loved reading materials. Then when you get home, try to make sure your children see YOU reading – not to your child, but to yourself.
Parents really are the best role models. YOU are your child’s biggest hero! If your child sees you enjoying something, they are more likely to enjoy it too (which explains why children want to eat from Mummy and Daddy’s plates instead of their own!). With this in mind, if you make a point of showing your child that you are choosing to read, your child will probably try to copy you! So we will take this opportunity to urge you to read – even just for five minutes! – in front of your child.
Our Book Exchange might be exclusively for grown ups, but don’t fear that the children will be missing out! To go alongside our Book Exchange, Westgate will be running a book week for children too! Over the week, our children will be encouraged to discuss their favourite stories; role play our most beloved books and even dress up as book characters for World Book Day. To get them in the mood for reading, Friday saw us creating book-themed decorations all over the nursery – our oldest children recreated their favourite book covers, and our under-2’s practised turning pages and showing interest in print by making book bunting!