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!

Eid Mubarak!

The Muslim celebration of Eid fell on the 12th September this year. As part of our curriculum, Westgate aims to introduce children to other cultures to promote open-mindedness. Lead by Sadia from the Ladybirds room, we’ve spent the last week celebrating!

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The Ladybirds made some delicious biscuits, which were decorated under Sadia’s watchful eye!

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After seeing Sadia’s intricately decorated hands, Caterpillars room created their own beautiful henna patterns!

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The Butterflies celebrated Eid in true Butterflies style, and took their celebrations into the forest as they explored texture and patterns through mud henna!

 

Our Forest from a Child’s Eye View

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The forest area that extends our garden is easily overlooked. At best we see a rugged patch of land, filled with a tumble of tyres and the (more than) occasional stinging nettle. At worst, it’s a weed-ridden mess that exists solely for the inevitable scraped knees, insect bites and rashes.

But to our children, it’s so much more. Westgate forest is land for exploring: it’s a pirate’s ship; a Michelin (mud) kitchen; a place for digging up treasure and awakening bears. Our forest is a site where children can let their imaginations – and themselves – go wild!

On our most recent trip into the woods, Butterflies children were given control of the camera to document their adventure. The pictures speak for themselves!

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Hunting for snails.
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Making apple pie!
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Digging for treasure (and maybe the odd weed)!
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Taking it easy on the swing.
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Searching for conkers!

Thanks to our 3-5 year olds for their fantastic photos and magical imaginations!