Fruity Flapjacks

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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!

 

 

Westgate Nursery’s Book Exchange 2017

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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.

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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!

Come on in and see our decorations for yourself!

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Once Upon a Time…

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While our younger children have been celebrating the New Year by exploring all things food, our oldest children have spent the first months of 2017 learning about fairytales!

Our Preschoolers always love roleplay, so our home corner has been transformed into everything from the three bears’ kitchen to Rapunzel’s tower. The children have adored using the fronds of colourful material to transform into a new role, with the Big Bad Wolf being a particular favourite!

This year we have had a major emphasis on empowering our children with the confidence to tell their own stories. As well as roleplay, our children have been learning simplified Signalong versions of some of our favourite tales and have made many resources, props and story prompts. What’s more our fantastic children have become so confident with these beloved tales that they have been hosting their own puppet shows (with their own handmade puppets!) for all their friends!

Westgate believes that promoting early literacy is one of our key responsibilities in the education of young children. Studies have proven that literate children tend to achieve the most highly in later life, due in part to the their increased vocabulary. Fairytales have the added benefit of exposing children to concepts of morality at an early age, thus giving infants a wide range of second-hand ‘experiences’ to draw upon in their own real life conundrums. With this in mind, 2017 will see Westgate embarking on a mission to promote our children’s literacy… Watch this space!

 

Food, Glorious Food

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Welcome back to a New Year at Westgate Nursery!

After the Christmas break, some of our younger children can struggle settling back in to the Nursery routine. To ease this transition, our practitioners have been planning the most engaging activities – and what could be more exciting than food?

The Ladybirds and Caterpillars have been cooking their little hearts out – our youngest children were so proud to share their home made carrot cake with their older friends in the Preschool room, who also enjoyed the treat! The Caterpillars have explored textures by making homemade pizza and gingerbread men; and have discovered shapes with a variety of vegetable printing!

The most exciting aspect of the topic for most of our children is finally tasting their new creations. Our practitioners have taken advantage of this opportunity to introduce new food tastes, including lemon, raw broccoli and pomegranate. Yum!

 

Exploring food as a topic at nursery provides a number of benefits to early education. By ensuring that the youngest children are exposed to a variety of new foods – through age-appropriate taste tests and baking – our children are more likely to be open to trying new flavours and cuisines.

Here’s hoping we’ll have fewer fussy meal times in the future!

Mince Pies

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It’s nearly Christmas!!!

Forgive us for mentioning the C-word already, but as soon as December hits Westgate gets it’s Christmas on!

Our children are bubbling with excitement as they countdown for the big day, and we are helping them celebrate with an array of traditional (and more unusual!) festive activities.

Christmas can be such a hectic time, and overexcited children can turn a lovely time of year into a stressful one! As such, we thought we’d share a few ideas on our blog to help calm and entertain any energetic little ones!

First up: mince pies!

At Westgate it’s traditional for our Butterflies to bake mince pies to serve at our annual Christmas Concert, but younger children have been known to enjoy the pie making process too!

Of course you can use homemade pastry and mincemeat, but for ease we used ready made! The children loved rolling out the pastry (and making patterns in the flour!) and stamping out shapes. We then counted each spoonful of mincemeat as we practiced spooning using our fine motor skills. The children helped set a timer and waited eagerly for the mince pies to bake – delicious!

Baking is one of our most popular activities at Westgate – our children adore the process of transforming ingredients into ‘real food’, and the educational opportunities it offers are limitless. Weighing ingredients, building muscle as we stir and talking about the sensory elements of each ingredient… we hope you give it a try with your own little ones!

Happy Halloween!

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Things have been getting spooky at Westgate! Our hallways have been decorated with creepy cobwebs; pumpkins are hidden around most rooms and our children have turned in to little monsters – quite literally!

As part of our Halloween-themed learning, our children have been learning about all things scary across every area of the EYFS!

To develop our personal, social and emotional development we’ve been discussing things that scare us and how to overcome these fears. We’ve made pumpkin emotion faces and had some thoughtful circle times about Halloween safety.

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In communication and language our littlest children have been introduced to new words (monster names) and encouraged to make scary sounds with both their voices and musical instruments. Our oldest children have taken this a step further, taking on the role of the teacher to tell their friends some scary stories…. eeek!

We’ve been practicing gross motor skills in the Haunted Forest, with children exploring the Tunnel of Destiny and Mountain of Doom, as well as baking witch food in the mud kitchen! Our fine motor skills have been developed as we made Halloween decorations; made playdough monsters and explored witch-y gloop!

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Our book corners have had a decidedly haunted theme, with well-loved stories such as Room on the Broom and Aaah, Spider! taking centre stage. The Butterflies children particularly enjoyed re-enacting Room on the Broom with their own broomsticks!

We’ve explored shape monsters and counted pumpkin seeds to help our mathematical skills and painted countless interpretations of the night sky, monsters, and pumpkins to develop our Expressive Arts and Design abilities!

All in all, it’s been a jam-packed Halloween! We’ve all learned so much, and have had scarily good fun while doing so!

 

MacMillan Coffee Morning

 

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As part of our Values of Humanity, at Westgate we love introducing our children to the concepts of helping and caring for others in fun and engaging ways. As such, we jumped at the chance to take part in Macmillan’s Coffee Morning to help our children develop empathy – and eat a bit of cake, of course!

Not only did we host our biggest cake sale yet, each room celebrated the morning with cake inspired activities!

In the Ladybirds Room, our babies enjoyed the sensory experience of baking cookies! After lots of floury mess and stolen chocolate chips, our youngest children were so excited to eat their creations that they gobbled them up before any photos could be taken!

Our toddlers in Caterpillars room also loved their own messy experience as they decorated biscuits! All of our toddlers may have become a little sticky, but their masterpieces were definitely worth the sticky fingers!

In Butterflies, our oldest children had a very thoughtful circle time where we thought of ways to help people in need. After many cake themed suggestions (ranging from ‘making a cake’ to ‘giving them the cherry on your cupcake’!), the children decorated their own cupcake pictures before turning their hands to judgement! We all sampled three of the baked goods, then scored them based on their appearance, smell, feel and, of course, taste! The next series of The Great British Bake Off need look no further for their new judges, with comments including ‘the fairy cake is too yellow’ and ‘the cookie isn’t crunchy enough’!

Thank you to all the parents who joined us or contributed to this special day!