Preschool Graduation

As the end of the summer term approaches nurseries and preschools alike start saying goodbye to their oldest children as they begin their journey to “big” school. The four years or so they have spent with you are coming to a close and it’s hard to let go. More and more early years settings are offering graduation ceremonies for their leavers in order to celebrate their achievements and give them a memorable send off. In the US, a preschool graduation are an established, sizeable industry and it seems the UK has caught the bug!

Many of our customers take part in celebrating the accomplishments of their preschool children with graduations so to help we’ve put together a few of our favourite ideas for an exciting, fun-filled and sometimes teary occasion.

Preschool Graduation Ideas

Songs & Poems

This is a chance for children to show off what they’ve been learning whilst in preschool. Take inspiration from nursery rhymes you already know but change a few words here and there. You could let the children right their own poems or each choose a word they want to incorporate in to the poem or song you write. Remember to practice so that the children can show off their perfect singing voices during the ceremony!

Top tip: Search for graduation poems online for inspiration. Make slight changes to the words so it’s unique to your nursery or preschool. Mention the trips you’ve had or any extra activities you do, like Spanish or yoga classes.

Photos & Videos

Videos and photo slideshows are a perfect way to start and end your graduation ceremony. Some nurseries show photos of their children from when they were babies to where they are now. It’s a perfect trip down memory lane and sums up how far the children have come from when they first started.

Top tip: Give your children a go with the camera or GoPro so you get their point of view of their time in nursery and preschool. Get the projector out or put the SmartBoard on and show everyone the combined clips with some fun music. This is enjoyable for staff, parents and the children as well!

Outfits

According to an article by the BBC “tens of thousands of outfits are being sold every year in Europe, the Middle East and Far East. They usually retail at up to about £20 and are available in dozens of colours”. A simple google search will direct you to companies who either sell or rent mini graduation robes and mortar boards. Alternatives include Amazon and even eBay where you can find cheaper options which can match your nursery or preschool colours.

Top tip: Make graduation gowns out of large pieces of cheap material. Fold a rectangular piece in half and cut a hole in the middle where the crease sits. Then partially sew up each side leaving room for little arms to slip through. These can be used again and again after a quick wash and iron. Make individual graduation caps out of thick card and allow children to take them home with them as a parting gift.

Parents

You have been as much a part of your children’s lives as you have been a part of their parent’s journey. Make sure you get parents involved in some way as the connection you have with families is sure to cause a few tears from Mums and Dads who no doubt will show their appreciation for what you have done for them.

Top tip: Have plenty of tissues at the ready! Add a poem to accompany the box: “We’re nearing the end of our nursery years, please take a tissue to dry your tears.”

More Preschool Graduation Ideas & References

Check out these sites for references and more preschool graduation ideas to make your children’s day special!

Forest School

What is Forest School?

Forest School, is an outdoor education delivery model in which individuals spend time in natural spaces to learn different skills. It has been defined in Liz O’Brien and Richard Murray’s research as “an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment”.

Following success in the US, Sweden and Denmark, it has become extremely popular in the UK since the 90s. Many schools and other settings have established long term programmes with accredited training courses. Others have been solely setup as dedicated forest schools. The philosophy of Forest School embraces children’s natural curiosity, inspired imagination and promoted learning.

Formed in 2012 as “the professional body and UK wide voice for Forest School”, the Forest School Association (FSA) promote best practice, cohesion and “quality Forest School for all”. As a result, hey have helped over 10,000 educationalists undertake training to provide Forest School within their establishments. This includes nurseries, preschools and primary schools. This community is key as the demand for provision is rising and the quality of outdoor learning is growing.

Impact in the Early Years

Forest School promotes all aspects of children’s early years development. Forest School may have added benefits that learning indoors doesn’t provide. It endorses children’s physical well being by getting them more active and enjoying the fresh air. Similarly it gives children a greater wealth of experiences the outdoors can offer, thus instilling a healthier lifestyle.

Dr Janine Coates of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and Dr Helena Pimlott-Wilson of the Department of Geography at Loughborough conducted preliminary research in 2017 within primary schools, including one early years foundation class (4-5 years). Their findings show that there is a clear impact of Forest School. Encouraging children to work with others in more challenging outdoor activities improves their social relationships. Secondly, this way of learning within early years appears to provide children with hands-on skills and an appreciation for the outdoors. Certainly a stark contrast to the ever-growing digital age where children are thought to spend less time in their outdoor environment.

Getting children outdoors is a great way of taking children and learning out of the classroom. In addition, it adds something a little different to the day-to-day schedule. Likewise, it gives children greater understanding and experience whilst helping all areas of their development in a different, stimulating way.

How can LearningBook help?

LearningBook allows customers to create and complete observations of children’s activities even if the safeguarding-aware tablets are offline and not connected to WiFi. For instance, it means settings who have poor internet connection and attend take part in outdoor sessions will still be able to record children’s development. Find out more features that can support your outdoor learning, here.

National Numeracy Day

Today, 15th May 2019, is National Numeracy Day. You may have noticed the topic trending on twitter and other social media platforms, as well as the campaign being supported and promoted by the likes of the DfE, Virgin, BBC, Rachel Riley, Martin Lewis and countless other big names and individuals. National Numeracy Day is run by the UK charity, National Numeracy. So what’s it all about and how can you improve your EYFS Numeracy activities in your early years settings?

So what’s it for?

Attitudes towards numbers is widely regarded as being negative for a very long time. National Numeracy wants to help make people feel confident and recognise the value and presence of numbers in everyday life.

Why is LearningBook in support of National Numeracy Day?

As a provider to the educations sector we think numbers are important, they help our staff and peers in the day-to-day functioning of LearningBook and within schools, preschools and nurseries. We use numbers and the skills gained through mathematics to help us solve problems and support our customers every day. As well as encouraging adults to improve their number skills we think it’s only right we should also start encouraging a love for numbers and mathematics at the very start of life – in the early years.

EYFS Numeracy

As you know Mathematics one of the specific areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), and acts as a key foundation for when children move from EYFS on to KS1. By establishing a positive relationship with numeracy early we feel that his may go some way to helping this National Numeracy’s cause.

Here’s a few simple, fun and exciting activities for you try in your early years setting (some are focused and some can be worked in throughout the day during other activities) in order for you to progress your children through their EYFS numeracy skills:

1) Number Rhymes

Resources: Your voices!

Activity: Sing lots of songs that include numbers and amounts during play time and pack away time, or maybe even when you’re waiting for breakfast, lunch or tea to be served. For example, “Ten Green Bottles”. You could use props and act out the different songs, remember to ask children “How many bottles are left?” or “Can everyone count the bottles on the wall?”

2) Dice Rolling

Resources: Big dice

Activity: You can use dice for just about anything and to encourage child’s behaviours. For example, children can roll a dice and the number that appear can be how many toys they can take out of the box. Or it can be the number of children on table 1, etc. Ask the children “What number do you see on the dice?”, or ask “How many toys can you take out of the box?”

3) Books

Resources: Books with counting element, e.g. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle.

Activity: During story time ask children to count certain aspect of the book. For The Very Hungry caterpillar ask the children to count the number of pears, or “How many pears has the caterpillar eaten?”. You could even ask the children, “ Which caterpillars are big and which are small?”

4) Straw Sucking

Resources: One straw per child, a ong piece of colourful card, paper/card pieces with numbers 1-10.

Activity: Scatter the pieces of paper/card that have the numbers on them on the floor or table. Use the colourful piece of card as the number line. Ask the child to use their straw to suck up the numbers tin order or say certain numbers you want them to move. This will help them recognise names of numbers, as well as being able to order them consequtively.

5) Role Play

Resources: Children’s imagination!

Activity: This activity can include any role play area of your room, e.g., a farm shop, or it can be when children are role playing in general.  Children can act as shoppers and shop keepers and count out the number of carrots and other fruit and veg on their stall. They can also add the amount of money to buy the different food. Encourage the children to ask each other “How many carrots would you like?” or “How many apples do you have?”.

Why not try looking on sites like Pinterest, Twinkl and Early Years Resources for more EYFS Numeracy and Mathematics activities?

Getting early years active

Try our top 3 Early Years exercise activities in your setting

1. Playing catch

Children of all ages love to catch, roll and throw a ball. Make sure you have a variety of balls available in your setting; these can be soft, small or larger balls, like a football. From rolling a ball for babies to throwing a ball though a hoop for pre-schoolers, this is a perfect way to exercise and a really social activity too.

2. Building with blocks

Babies and ‘pre-walkers’ can use various sized blocks to help with grasping and improve their fine motor skills. As they get a little older they can start making smaller towers, build a den or a bridge with soft blocks that can be used during roleplay.

3. Counting games

Counting is a great activity to promote exercise and incorporate into children’s daily routines. For example, counting their steps to different destinations or counting the number of carrots on their plate at lunch time. Children can also throw a number of bean bags at a cone or in a hoop; a fun activity to use at sports day and play with parents!

Discover more way to promote Early Years exercise activities in your setting and at home for all ages with our free eGuide, here.

Why not incorporate exercise and healthy eating in your day? Our healthy eating blog is a perfect way to not only encourage early years children to exercise and build those little muscles, but to also learn about the food their eating.

Check out further information about early years exercising and physical activities:

 

Get children interested in food and healthy eating

Introducing EYFS Healthy Eating and Food Activities

In early years it’s important to encourage children to learn more about food as well as expand their tastes. Embracing healthy living and eating in your early years setting can be lots of fun as well as important for growth and development in the vital early years. Involve everyone – all staff or assistants as well as parents and children. This will give you a pot of new ideas as well as a feeling of teamwork.

Here are a few EYFS healthy eating activties to help encourage children to talk about, try and understand the food they eat.

1.Make bread

Help children of all ages weigh, mix and knead their ingredients. Allow them to see how the dough has risen and doubled in size!

Bonus: This not only helps to grow children’s interest in their food, kneading helps develop their small muscles (PD). In additio, it gived them an opportunity to talk about what the think healthy food means (PSED).

2.Plant seeds

By planting seeds in window boxes or outside you can help children understand where their foods come from and how they grow in different ways. Why not try tomatoes, cress or herbs?

Bonus: Take children to a farm to pick fruit, like strawberries. This will help children see a wider variety and will keep them engaged.

3.Try foods from around the world

Have an around the world or festival theme with lots of pick ‘n’ mix bowls. For example, try mangos (from India) or hummus (from Egypt) etc. This will help children try different foods and expand their tastes.

Bonus: Invite families to join in and bring food from different countries, this will help children see all of their role models together promoting and encouraging healthy eating and new foods.

Discover more way to create EYFS healthy eating activities in your setting, and boose parental paticipation at home with our free eGuide, here.

Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night is a great time to celebrate a tradition in the UK and enjoy a firework and bonfire display in your local area. It is something that is celebrated by all ages and by lots of families at the beginning of November. Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night as it’s also known, is a perfect opportunity to create exciting activities in your early years setting and get children expressing themselves through bright colours and fun activities. It’s also a great time to teach children how to keep themselves safe if they attend an event.

There are lots of activities on the internet but to give you a helping hand we’ve created this blog of our top Bonfire Night EYFS activities to get your children in the mood for Guy Fawkes Night, as well as some helpful tips from firework and bonfire safety websites.

Bonfire Night – EYFS Activities

1. Simple Mark Making

Mark making activities can be adapted for all age groups from babies to preschool.

You can ask children to use different material to make bright fireworks and bonfires. Younger children could use cotton buds or their little finger on chalk boards and copy firework style shapes and patterns. Or children can use their imaginations to make their own shapes and swirls with pencils, felt-tips, glitter pens or paint!

[Physical Development – Moving & Handling; Mathematics – Shape, space and measure; Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials & Being imaginative]

2. Fireworks in a Jar

This activity combines bonfire night, fireworks and science. Fill jars with water and set them out on an activity table. Mix together each food colouring colour with oil and use pipettes or pour the mixtures into the jar and watch the fireworks come to life!

Make sure you don’t miss the step where you mix oil to food colouring as this will make sure most of the colouring floats.

[Understanding the World- The World; Expressive Arts & Design – Exploring and using media & materials, Being imaginative]

3. Painting with Straws

Another great way to create fireworks in your setting is painting with straws!

Gather together some straws, at least one per child, as well as black card or paper and some bright coloured paint. Add some water to the paint so they become a little runnier and drop enough paint on the paper to create a small puddle. Then get your children to take their straw and blow through it to spread the puddle you made.

This may take a little practice, so you could always let the children have a few practice goes on scrap paper or newspaper.

Don’t forget to use lots of different colours to brighten up your night sky! This activity is perfect for toddlers and older children too.

[Physical Development – Moving & Handling; Expressive Arts & Design – Exploring and using media & materials, Being imaginative]

4. Bonfire Night Sky

A great way to get all children involved and celebrate their beautiful artwork is to create a bonfire night sky display board with a fun and messy twist.

Tape together lots of black card or paper, or use individual pieces, and pour the paints into trays and give the children paint brushes. Dip the brush into the paint and flick the paint onto the black paper. This is the messy bit so make sure you put some newspaper or covering down! Flick a range of colours onto the paper to create a bright picture.

You can add painting and other activities you’ve done to the board too!

[Physical Development – Moving & Handling; Expressive Arts & Design – Exploring and using media & materials, Being imaginative]

Safety

Of course Bonfire Night EYFS Activities are a great way for ealry years children to get involved in the festivities. However, wn important part of any firework celebrations, such as bonfire night, is the prevention of accidents. Fireworks and bonfires can be great fun but it is important to remember and pass on safety tips to parents, families and begin teaching children how to stay safe from an early age.

Here are a number of important tips to remember:

  • Make sure you plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable;
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework packaging prior to the evening or use a torch if necessary;
  • Light the fireworks at arm’s length and have others stand well back;
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit even if it fails to go off;
  • Direct fireworks away from spectators;
  • It is recommended that sparklers are not given to children under-5 years of age;
  • Make sure everyone handling sparklers wears gloves;
  • Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler;
  • When using sparklers avoid wearing loose clothing and tie back long hair.

Check out these websites for more information:

Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents 

Fire Service

BBC Newsround 

Halloween EYFS Activites

Halloween is a great opportunity to celebrate the arrival of Autumn and gives you the opportunity to involve lots of Halloween EYFS activities in your setting throughout the week building up to children trick or treating.

There are lots of activities out there on the internet but to give you a helping hand our team at LearningBook have compiled our favourite Halloween EYFS activities to get your children in the mood for Halloween, whilst also incorporating meaningful areas of the curriculum of course.

1. Halloween Sensory Bin

Instead of the usual Halloween craft, why not try a sensory bin?

This is great sensory activity and keeps children engaged. Simply fill a tub or tray with your favourite materials, this can be water beads (to give that slightly slimey addition) or even black dried beans or dyed rice. Then on top of this include some creepy crawlies and other Halloween themed smaller pieces. To add additional elements to the activity, ask the children to describe what they’re feeling to encourage them to explore their senses.

You can also ask the children to name the different pieced they find from the bin and even group them based on colour or size.

[Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials; Mathematics – Shape, space and measure and Numbers]

2. Monster/Pumpkin Slime

This activity is perfect for encouraging young children and babies to experience new senses; an added bonus is that it’s edible!

Using melted marshmallows, cornflower, water and food colouring (we recommend green, orange, purple and black) to make the slime, ask children to pull and push the slime to work those little muscles.

[Physical Development – Moving and Handling; Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials]

3. Ice Cube Play

This one takes some pre-prep! Fill ice cube trays with water and pop in a spider, bugs or other Halloween themed pieced. Be aware that this activity is suitable for children over two years as the bugs can be very small!

Once the ice cubes are frozen place them on tray or onto the table for the children to play with. As the cubes melt the children can play with the bugs hidden inside.

Encourage the children to talk about what appears once the ice has melted or, if the children are capable, ask them to sort the small pieces in to different types, colours or count them.

[Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials; Mathematics – Shape, space and measure and Numbers; Communication and Language – Speaking]

4. Spooky Stories

A simple but effective activity is reading. There’s plenty of Halloween themed books that you can read to your children or ask them to try and read.

A classic, and no doubt somewhere on your book shelf, is “Room on a Broom” by Julia Donaldson. The story of a witch, a group of animals who help her, good manners, friendship and cooperation is fun to read aloud because of its rhythm and rhyme.

[Literacy – Reading; Communication and Language – Listening, Speaking]

5. Spider Hand Prints

Spider hand prints are great start to begin decorating your room ready for Halloween. It’s quite simple, requires few resources and can be done with children of any age.

Firstly, help paint the children’s hands with the black paint and press onto the paper. Once the handprints have dried cut them out and have the children glue on two googly eyes in the centre. You can use these on display boards or attach them to some string and hang from the ceiling.

[Expressive Arts and Design – Exploring and using media and materials & Begin imaginative]

6. Visit to a Pumpkin Patch

At Halloween nothing can beat visiting a pumpkin patch or going out to buy your pumpkins ready to decorate the setting.

Gather the children together and visit your local farm who you know grow pumpkins and pick some out. This visit will allow the children to experience a day out of the nursery or preschool and gives them some independence in choosing their favourite pumpkin to take away.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a pumpkin patch near by just pop down to your local supermarket to pick out a pumpkin or two!

[Understanding the World – The world & People and communities]

Don’t forget to search for more Halloween EYFS activities on the internet and on social media, including:

Learning through play

Learning through play is a great way to encourage independence and exploration as part of early years learning. Discover our 3 favourite activities.

Though sometimes parents may not see the method to the madness, play is a vital part of early years development. Children are fully involved in play and use their bodies, minds and emotions; they learn to be in control and confident about themselves while interacting with others. Here are a few ideas for stimulating activities which get children exploring and encourage independence.

1. Dressing up

Children love to dress up and to pretend to be other people, animals and superheroes in different settings.

Tip: Section off a role play area with curtains to make it more theatrical, and provide for all the senses with special lighting and sound effects.

2. Building a den

Outdoor environments allow for plenty of different types of play with wide spaces for movement, den building, climbing, running, and messy play.

Tip: Provide a box of den building materials such as old sheets and blankets, bamboo canes and ropes, bendy sticks and pipes.

3. Building blocks

Blocks are an open-ended resource and can take many different forms from empty food packets and boxes, to big wooden crates, and traditional wooden building blocks.

Tip: Add small world, people, animals and vehicles to a collection of different types of blocks to help children create situations and stories.