Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside……
As I write this week’s Week Ahead, I am sat in a hotel room overlooking the bay of Poole on the South coast of England. Having spent a weekend in London, I’m here to visit Early Years’ settings and talk to teams who have been judged as outstanding (Ofsted) in their practice. I’ve seen some amazing practice, much of which reinforces what we do at Bilingual. All the settings have taken what they need from the frameworks, philosophies and theories of Early Years’ education and formed their own identity. They all have distinctive styles of delivery and are unique in their methods and approaches. However, there are similarities between them all, with the child being firmly at the heart of practice. These visits not only afford me a chance to be a magpie and steal innovative ideas, but they also reinforce that our practice matches that of settings at a much more mature stage in their evolution.
It is wonderful being back in my home country as I had an imaginary list in my head of all the things I wanted to experience during my whistle-stop stay. I lived in the UK for a considerable chunk of my life (without giving away my age) and have lived abroad for the last seven years of it. The things that I considered made me ‘British’ have been diluted somewhat and I now consider myself to be ‘International’. My reference point is now Shanghai; my sights and experiences therefore are compared to those of the city in which I now reside.
I find that I prefer to drink green tea; real green tea, not the dried powder that comes in a bag (I now bring my own when I travel). I used to drink ‘builder’s tea’ as dark as possible, but no more. Given a choice, I would prefer to eat baozi for breakfast and I’m missing Asian greens and noodles. The full-English breakfast no more appeals to my digestive system. As I walked through the beautifully architectured streets of London, I compared my views to those of the Bund. Similar in many ways, however London is missing the shikumen of the French Concession and the busy plane tree-lined streets. Over the weekend, I met friends in Hyde Park and found myself comparing it to the parks of Shanghai; again, many similarities, but the people didn’t wear the flower headdresses often seen adorning the heads of Century and People’s park dwellers. London is filled with businessmen and women, wearing beautifully tailored suits and formal workwear. There are, however, no cute puppies wearing hoodies and boots. I suppose there is a level of greater conservatism that I see in the UK, perhaps less of a relaxed attitude to life. I consider which style of living I prefer and realise that home is truly where the heart is. At present, for me, my home is Shanghai and I’m missing my home.
Learning through Fun and Play during the Summer Holiday by William Green
With the summer holiday right around the corner, a common question that we hear most frequently from parents is what can they do to ensure that children make the best of their break time and maintain or exceed their current level of progress in preparation for the next academic year. First and foremost, we’d like emphasise that play and freedom to explore are essential in enhancing children’s social, emotional and educational progress. This is true here at the setting and it will be equally true during the summer holiday when children are at home or on vacation with you. Nonetheless, the question of how to go about promoting learning during the holiday is well warranted and certainly one that we have given considerable thought to. Without exception, the teachers wholeheartedly recommend activities which promote group interaction as well as allow for individual self-reflection during the summer holiday.
Here is a list of activities that can help your child learn effectively during the summer holiday.
- Indoor Activities
There are a variety of indoor activities that children can engage in this summer to help them prepare for the upcoming term. Indoors is a wonderful place to be during the summer, particularly when it’s extremely hot or humid outside. We’ll focus on board games in this section as parents may not have considered using board games before and, as we will show below, board games can be used to review and reinforce previously learned concepts.
Board games for toddlers are excellent because they teach children how to follow rules to games, how to engage in turn taking as well as how to compete in a positive way at an appropriate pace and level. More importantly, there are a few board games that have been designed specifically for children in Early Years. It should be noted that most board games have small pieces and adult supervision is usually required when children play them. Here are a few board games that we recommend:
Think fun Roll and Play Board Game
In this game, children and parents get to share a huge, soft die which they roll. When the die lands on a certain colour, whoever threw the die must do the actions on the card. Each colour card corresponds to a different learning theme. For example, red cards are action cards (e.g. do a dance). Yellow cards are emotion cards (e.g. make a sleepy face). Purple cards are about body parts (e.g. rub your tummy). Green cards are about animal sounds (e.g. roar like a tiger). The orange cards are for counting (e.g. clap your hands ten times) and the blue cards are about colours (e.g. Find something red!). This game can be played individually or in groups between adults and children or even amongst a group of children. This board game should be on everyone’s list as one can review many of the concepts learned at school as well as develop children’s abilities to apply what they’ve learned.
Hungry Hippos is a game where children and adults can practise feeding marbles to hippos. This game is suitable for 2-4 year olds. The game starts when a person touches the hippo with a hand or finger. As each person playing can have a hippo, the play in the game is parallel in nature thus the game is good for teaching children the concept of competition at a very basic level. Parents can also use the game for practising concepts such as “hungry” and “full,” colours, as well as reviewing parts of the body.
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Hide and Seek Activity Board – Farm
This game contains a magnetic puzzle board with hinged doors that open and close. Children open the doors to find removable magnets which can be placed in other doors. This is an excellent board game improve children’s memory as well as fine motor skills as parents change the location of objects in the barn and then ask children to find them. This board game is made of wood meaning that it is very sturdily made and should last for a long time.
Bug Trails is a lot like dominoes but much more interesting. Of all the games here, it is probably more suitable for EY3 children or above. In this game, you try to match the colours of the legs of the bugs to pieces that are on the board. There are multiple ways to play the game but the objective is to be the first to use up all the bugs. Children must learn to think strategically as they connect the bugs together.
Other awesome summer indoor activities include:
- Watering and planting plants together.
- Making ice lollies together.
- Having a balloon party.
- Completing DIY activities such as making playdoh.
- Reviewing previously learned concepts
- Drawing or practising phonics.
- Listening to mp3s of your child’s favourite songs and dancing to the beat.
- Making an English corner for practising one’s speaking.
- Reading your child’s favourite stories and having him or her retell the story.
- Using child-safe scissors to practise cutting out shapes.
- Using Duplo / Lego to build structures.
- Going to a museum and learning about animals, dinosaurs or art.
- Setting up an indoor tent.
- Tidying up indoors.
Being outdoors for moderate periods of time during the summer holiday (provided children have ample amounts of sunscreen and have applied some insect repellent) plays a crucial part in developing and extending your child’s natural abilities. For one, being able to view wide, open spaces is good for children’s vision and the development of their depth perception. In addition, the freedom of movement in these spaces can help improve children’s sensory motor skills as well as enhance their hand and eye coordination. We recommend taking trips the countryside where the air quality tends to be salubrious, nature more prevalent and spaces tend to be unimpeded thus allowing children in Early Years to explore. Trips to the beach can also promote water play and children can learn about sea animals and shells and build sand castles as well as play with other children. If you can’t get out of the city, a trip to the park can be just as helpful for breaking with routine and adding some excitement to your child’s summer holiday. Without further ado, here is our list of summer outdoor activities:
- Make ice cream
- Make and play with hula hoops.
- Make art on the lawn using an old sheet.
- Ride bicycles around the park as a family.
- Try a scavenger hunt.
- Use chalk to draw on the ground outside.
- Play with torches after dark.
- Look for several types of bugs in the neighbourhood.
- Keep a garden and water the plants.
- Learn how to throw a Frisbee.
- Play with water balloons.
- Play sports: football or basketball for example.
- Make a DIY sprinkler using a plastic bottle.
- Use a large sheet to make a parachute.
The summer holiday presents a wonderful opportunity for families to spend time together. Through engaging in well-planned indoor and outdoor activities, children learn to collaborate. They also learn how to become integral members within the family. Furthermore, they develop confidence through having hands on experience. These are essential skills that will be particularly useful when our children return to the setting.
Classroom News for week beginning 19th June 2017
Early Years 1 – Wonderful Water
This week, we will learn about the beach. We will talk about what things we can find at the beach such as sand, rocks, shells and beans. We will create our own beach and talk about what things are “hard” and “soft” at the beach. We will also learn about waves and make waves with our hands and feet in the water. We will also have the opportunity to sail boats in octagonal trays and talking about sail boats in detail. We will talk about people who work on board, such as captain and sailors. We will have a role play for being a captain or a sailor.
We are reading: That’s not my duck, Ship shapes, I spy – under the sea
We are singing: Big and small, Row row row your boat, Yellow submarine, Yi tong qu jiao you, Wo you yi tou xiao mao lv, Ai wo ni jiu bao bao wo
Early Years 2 – In the Jungle
“With our love we save the world” – George Harrison
As we enter the last week of our jungle topic we must reflect on the journey we have embarked the children on, and that just as important as introducing these topics, we must ensure that we preserve the environment for their future. Talk to your child about the environment we live in and how we can make it better, for instance turning off light switches when we leave the room, not leaving the water running while we clean our teeth or making sure we dispose of our waste appropriately and reuse as much as possible. Bringing an end to this topic, the children will dig deeper and look for jungle treasure with their handmade jungle maps, using telescopes and work vests to help them on their travels and to search for tropical jungle birds. We will also make a waterfall which the children will decorate for our Jungle Party!
We are reading: 丛林里走啊走, 什么比猎豹的速度更快, 我的后面是谁呢？, 谁在热带雨林里, The Selfish Crocodile – Faustin Charles, Walking Through the Jungle – Julie Lacome, Rumble in the Jungle – Giles Andreae, Monkey Puzzle – Julia Donaldson
We are singing: 两只小象，小小动物出来玩, Walking in the Jungle
Early Years 3 – Exploring Animal Habitats
As part of our final week focusing on animal habitats, the children will have the chance to reflect upon what they have learnt. They will be given the opportunity to tell us about their favourite animals and some of the most interesting facts that they have found out. Each child will be able to tell us in the way that they prefer – whether it may be drawing, painting, speaking, role play or creating something with playdough – it will be their choice. In addition to this, the children will be making masks and other animal accessories which they will be able to wear to our jungle afternoon next Friday.
We are reading: Commotion in the Ocean – Giles Andreae, Rumble in the Jungle – Giles Andreae, 我们一起去捉熊, 小黑鱼, 海底探险
We are singing: 5 Little Fish, The Whales, Walking in the Jungle, 狮子之王, 森林嘭嘭嘭, 鲨鱼一家, 在海里