Ok I have been terrible at updating my blog. It has been a very busy year at school with lots of changes going on.
Anyway, enough of the excuses. I am combining two things I enjoy here- baking and Early Years. In Keighley we are very lucky to have Mike Armstrong, top baker at Sainsburys. He comes into schools and does workshops with children, demonstrating various baking techniques. We recently had a parent and child workshop led by Mike and this inspired us to bake with the children in class. The photo above shows the children’s wonderful loaves of bread. I have to say they are better than any bread loaves I have made at home. Bread is such a good way to get children baking. It is very hands on and the children learn about how the dough changes throughout the process. My children really enjoyed kneeding the bread, building up strength in their arms which will help in other areas of development!
The recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/10121/bread-in-four-easy-steps
Now it has been a long time since my last blog post. I have been really busy passing my NQT year and setting up for my second year in Reception. I have to say, this year is even better!
I do have a snow day today so I thought I really should do a quick update. I have updated my links to include my favourite Early Years Expert, Alistair Bryce-Clegg. His blog is definitely worth a visit, I have found so many creative ideas on there and I bought his book too.
I have also made some changes to my classroom this year. After reading this book I went for a deconstructed role play area and have not looked back. I now have a challenge area which is great for those times when you have just found that you need to address something such as number formation. I can quickly put something in the challenge area to develop this and the children enjoy using it. I will write more about this when I have some photos. I also have a woodwork area now. This was introduced just last week with the help of my partner in crime (Mrs Taylor). We are both very excited about this area as we are hoping it will develop the children’s ability to take and manage risks safely. More to follow…
Time to go and dig my car out!
I haven’t done a blog post for ages because firstly, I have been so very busy and secondly, I have not really had anything great to blog about. However, in the final week of the last half-term, I went on an amazing course at Early Excellence in Huddersfield. Now if you work in Early Years I’m sure you will have heard of this place and I hope you have been there. It’s a lovely place for courses specialising in Early Years and they have rooms set out with provision areas for inspiration, a shop full of lovely resources (but are rather pricey) and a yummy café. The course I attended was all about developing learning through a child initiated approach.
The course was led by Anna Ephgrave, an EYFS leader and Ruth Moore, Early Years Manager at Enfield’s School Improvement Service. It was based on the way Anna runs her Early Years unit without any forward planning or focus activities. The adults are free to interact with the children in their play and move their learning on appropriately. This spontaneous way of working sounded great and was exactly what we were taught at university but you rarely see it in practice. At university they were always going on about how children learn best when they are doing something they are interested in, young children are curious, children should be learning independently, ‘hands on’ learning… and the list goes on. Yet when we step into an average Early Years classroom we have children coming to sit on the carpet for a 10 minute input on something most of the class might be interested in and then we follow this up with a small group activity and we try to get through as many groups as possible before lunch time.
Anna and Ruth showed how things can be different; you can follow children’s interests and still get results. I feel awful interrupting a child’s play to ask them to come and do a focus activity with me and I hear this voice at the back of my head saying ‘why are you stopping them from learning independently? You could play with them and scaffold their learning’. I don’t always have the time to play and scaffold because I’m doing focus activities or observing. This course definitely gave some food for thought and I would like to aim to adapt my practice to follow children’s interests and spend more time playing and interacting. I got a copy of Anna’s book on this course which I would thoroughly recommend if you would like to follow children’s interests.
Published originally on http://nqtbloggers.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/made-it-over-the-first-hurdle/
Reflecting on this first half-term is something I haven’t really found time for yet so here goes…
Well it has been a challenging and enjoyable start to my career. The building work caused a few problems but I’m now getting used to that. Last week I had a box in the middle of my carpet to catch dripping water but I do now have an interactive whiteboard! There have been a few behaviour issues with a very small number of children in our cohort and so we very swiftly put things into place to manage this. The children are great though and I love how at the age of 4 they are so interested in learning. I was working with a child last week who said “this is fun” whilst writing. They only wrote 2 words but they thought it was great. What happens to this enthusiasm as they get older? That is a topic for another time perhaps.
Planning is starting to become slightly less time consuming and so that means I must be getting better at it. I do need to work on my work-life balance. I stay at work until 5.15pm which is as long as I can stay and still have a million things to do. I get home and I really don’t have the energy to do anything for me like start Zumba!
I survived my first observation and whilst it wasn’t a disaster there were some silly things that I could have avoided. I’m putting it down to the first observation nerves. I know exactly what I need to do to improve so next time should be much better.
Talking to parents can be very daunting when you have to tell them something they may not like to hear. In reception you speak to parents regularly so this happened to me quite early on in the term. I now feel more confident about parents consultation day having had so much contact with parents already.
The October holiday will be a chance to catch up on those endless jobs that never seem to get done! I am also going to do some decorating so it’s not all work! I do hope everyone else gets some time for things other than work too 🙂
Unlike many, I did not have the entire summer holidays to set up my classroom due to delays in building work. I had half a day to set up my classroom. Yes it was scary but I was also very lucky to have been given a new classroom and lots of new furniture to play around with.
My school is expanding to a 2-form entry and my classroom is part of the new reception unit. Our unit is two rooms with a connecting door so that we can facilitate a free flow environment. It’s great to be part of something new and I feel it’s a great opportunity to create an environment that works for the children and excites them. This doesn’t come overnight and is something that will be developed and changed as time goes on. I wanted to share with you some of my favourite pieces of furniture that arrived during my first week.
This is our book tent. It is a lovely enclosed space where the children can go to read and enjoy stories. I have a particular soft spot for it because my colleague and I spent one Saturday assembling it! The children needed some reminding at first that it was a quiet reading area and not a tunnel to run through and after a week we are starting to see this. The books go on the shelving on the outside, maximising the space inside.
This is another great piece of furniture, as you can see, from TTS. We are using it as a small world area at the moment and have put some dinosaurs in as a temporary measure. Once we have some more interests emerging from the children it will change. We have hung some ribbons from the holes in the top which look great and add another dimension to the area. It can also be used as an investigative area as it is a plastic tray so you could put messy things in like cornflour, foam and jelly. Under the tray there are some storage boxes which make resources easily accessible.
There are some other lovely areas in our unit and I will blog about those once we have developed them. It’s still early days but I can’t wait to get properly up and running. The children are staying for their first full day on Monday so we are still settling them in. The next big mission is to set up our outdoor area (that’s new too) whilst finishing the inside! There are not enough hours in the day!
I’ve just had a disappointing experience with KFC and think it’s only fair to warn others about what to expect from them. Ok so I know it’s not 5 star dining but I am still paying for a level of service and I expected slightly more than what I got. After a long motorway journey, I arrived back in my hometown at 9.30pm and had not eaten dinner so KFC seemed like a reasonable option.
Firstly I was let down by the fact that they did not have any chicken gravy which is something I was looking forward to. Secondly I got my food after going through the drive through and there was no ‘dipping sauce’ as described on the menu. So I went inside to ask for some and was told that they don’t normally give it unless you ask for it because it gets wasted! Why would you ask for it if you expect to get it with your meal? Surely it would make sense to just ask you if would like it?
Finally, I had a sip of my drink after eating and it had already gone flat!
Next time I consider KFC I will think again. That’s enough moaning now I think – I promise that my next blog post will be more positive and useful!
I thought it would be useful to breifly outline what the transition looks like for my new reception children at our school. It would be great to get some responses to hear what others do to!
As our school have a nursery, for those children moving up it is slightly easier for them as they know the school already. During the summer term we cover the nursery teacher for the odd morning so that the children get used to us. For the other children at other settings we visit them in their setting and offer home visits too. Unfortunately I missed out on the visits to other settings as I wasn’t appointed at that stage! The parents are invited to an evening meeting and are given a welcome pack and a presentation with all the information about school. We also do 2 ‘stay and play’ seesions both lasting an hour. The first one is with parents and the second is without parents (we had a few crying at this one!). That’s it for now until the children arrive in September. It seems like a long time between now and September but I’m sure it’s going to fly by for me. At a Local Area Partnership meeting last night I picked up a few good tips for transition. One was to send postcards to the children at the end of the summer. I thought this was a good idea so that they don’t forget who you are!
I’ve found this transition process really useful as an NQT as I feel really involved straight away because it’s such a big thing in reception. I’m already getting to know the staff too as I’ve been in school so much. Bring on September!