Monday, 15 December 2014

The Christmas diary

So I've really neglected my blog over the last few months. I think there have been quite a few reasons for this. Firstly I have been desperately swotting up on my maths skills for a TLR interview (I got it, all heil!) which seemed to take forever to prepare for but was over in a few minutes. Secondly there have been random training sessions here, there and everywhere in my school and outside which just seems to suck the life out of me for a few days. Some of these have been linked to a little girl in my class who has started this year with Autism.  She is a lovely little girl but it takes a lot of energy to help her and even more to make sure she has what she needs.  And of course the biggie - all change!  We've lost one of our rooms to the 2 year old nursery which wasn't such a shock at the beginning but I'm starting to feel it now.
For two years we had the same staff, the same setting and were able to build on the success which preceded us to really get our teeth into some first class learning. However this year has been new people, new setting (split inside and very restricted use to outside) and also a change to the way we approach teaching (we abandoned topics for a while but still haven't quite resuscitated them yet).  

Its no-ones fault but it does feel like starting over at the beginning again for me and with the added pressure of a TLR, taking part in a year long training program in my school as well as helping new staff settle is making me less creative and more exhausted!  This week is all about re-coop for me, saying good bye to the nativity and the stress of Christmas and actually having fun with my children and injecting some of that creativity back into my teaching. I'm updating this post every day with different indoor and outdoor activities which I've set up (with support from my glamorous assistants). Many of these ideas are extensions of previous activities whilst others are additions from examples I have seen on pinterest. I credit where I can but don't forget to check out both the facebook page and the pinterest board for more ideas and other peoples wonderful ideas I am sharing.



This morning was all about peppermint snow (aka salt!). We tried strawberry salt last year as well as lavender salt (thanks to pinterest for that one) but I wanted a smell of Christmas.  So we mixed some peppermint flavouring and some green food colouring into the salt and left to dry.
We also used spoons and containers (we are focussing on using small tools and filling).


Outdoors we looked I set up two trays in the hope of making up 'reindeer' food.  Reindeer food is something else I used to make when I was a little nipper with my mam on christmas eve. Sadly our children don't fully understand what reindeers are or why they would love food. This is something we can build on this week:) 

However what they did like was using their spoons to fill the containers. Some spoons were too big to use in the yoghurt pots which allowed us to use much more mathematic language ("this spoon is too big, can you find a smaller one?")



Tuesday is nativity day! You know that rush when you open the doors at 8:45 and the children need to be in the hall by 9? Yeah.. that! But actually it all went smoothly and they really did do such a wonderful time. This year we did the 'wriggly nativity' and considering there were 10 songs to learn the whole of foundation stage just did such a fabulous job! 

Because of this we had a much shorter day today but it was nice to have the first one out of the way at the beginning of the day so that when we got back we could really blow off steam!

Today's black tray was 'Christmas rice.' Now I really wish I had some pine cones left - there seems to be  fairy somewhere stealing these! But I went on a stealth mission to the hall and snipped some needles from the big tree and mixed these with our rice. I also added some sprigs to the rice (Which we coloured red and green with paint). The pine sprigs didn't really have that smell I was hoping for. I wish I could say that for the terrible christmas tree smoked salmon I had for brekkie, poo-ey! Off topic but still there is a limit to what can be done with a christmas tree!

We are still focusing on filling and emptying but this time we used some tighter lipped containers so they had to think more about the size and shape of their spoons as well as negotiate this space. We used tongs to develop that pincer grips but we want to think more about this in the new year and have a lot more tongs (especially big BBQ ones!).


So today was a bit of a repeat of yesterday as we're still using our small space at the front of our setting which the builders continue to dig to Australia in the rear.

We had our gold and silver pasta out with elastic again and made garlands for the christmas tree. I had some very interesting conversations about what is the 'best pattern.' One little boy told me it wasn't right to use gold too close to silver so we had to find a way of ensuring they don't touch - hard!

Repeated patterns and colours were the aim of these but also because they looked nice on our (old) outdoor tree,

We also had a spare ten minutes to nip over to the school with our decorations which we've been making for the last few weeks. These are very simple and are better for smaller hands who are less skilled with ribbon/tassles. These slip onto the branches of the tree and stay there nicely. Our big hall tree WILL look amazing before we break up. 

We're aiming for a visit to the park tomorrow - I just hope the weather holds out!



Today was the first day which we were able to get properly messy (no rehearsals or performances today!).  So out came the candy cane gloop.  Gloop (cornflour and water) when left separates so the water rests on top. When candy canes are left on the water is able to interact with the colourings and there is a 'bleeding' effect.  I crushed some candy canes and scattered these around too.

The children did have a lovely time with this - its cheap and very effective and smells lovely:)

Outdoors today we decided to go for a walk to the local park. I AM EXHAUSTED! The morning walk was fun and we gathered a lot of natural leaves and twigs but the afternoon walk was more tiresome.

We are so lucky that our local park has so many holly bushes and fir trees - perfect for making christmas wreaths!  (Hopefully we can have a go at this tomorrow).



I won't sadden you with my story of outdoors. Suffice it to say I left the wetsuits outside and it rained... and of course our outdoors is so grim at the moment that it destroyed my Christmas cheer:/


Well! You know when you go looking for shaving foam and you have none.. Well that was today. I planned on making snow dough (cornflour and shaving foam - see scrambled egg dough for the same recipe but different colour). but instead I settled for a simple small world set up. Its rare we get small world into the Nursery at the moment. Our student has set up a wonderful pirate themed sand area but beyond that its just animals and cars.  Well today we had a make shift small world tray set up (the north pole) with Santa and Rudolph:) 

It worked well and I got to test something else I had seen on pinterest.  You freeze a tray of blue (or plain I guess) coloured water in a metal tray and set a bowl inside which is weighed down. When the water is frozen you remove the bowl and then fill this cavity with water. Viola! Arctic scene.  Only mine was a test so I will have a better go in the deepest darkest of winters when I can freeze the whole water tray outside:) 

A follow up activity we did today was to talk about the different leaves and berries which we found in the park on our Christmas walk.  I cut out a doughnut shape and laid double sided tape on it.

We worked together to cut and stick the different leaves onto it, making sure to talk about the feel of each item and also any smells!  They look very effective in the entrance way and I think it was a simple way to display what we had found with parents (hopefully give them some ideas!)

Tomorrow is all about Christmas parties;)

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