Children enjoyed a camp fire during the cold weather this week. Groups of children prepared either the newspaper, the kindling or the ignition fuel. Their understanding of safety and respect was further developed and children really responded positively, with some children showing previous knowledge about keeping safe. We then used the flint to ignite the fire, once it was underway children helped to prepare the cacao and milk to make hot chocolate. Some children recognised that the cacao powder was not dissolving and one child suggested we heat the milk up. Once the fire was alight and hot, the saucepan was put in position and camp fire songs were sung together. Some children suggested Christmas songs! Once the cacao had dissolved in the warm milk, children shared and enjoyed their hot drink. As the flames died down, a group sat closer to the fire bowls and stretched out their cold fingers to feel the warmth on their skin.
Fires provide a rich source of language and the multi-sensory aspects of fire engage all children. Our group of Danish pedagogues were very impressed we build fires with our young children here in Bethnal Green.
The Rachel Keeling Nursery garden really is the jewel in our crown and we recognise its importance as a learning space all year round. Children are involved in the care of the flora and fauna in our garden. Whether it is harvesting fruit and vegetables, sweeping the autumn leaves, weeding the vegetable patch or fishing unidentified objects from our pond!!
As the autumn term progresses there is less to harvest but plenty to tidy and think about. Children are always interested in the birds who visit our garden and staff have worked hard to support and develop understanding about how to care for, respect and identify our birds.
Children use information books and chart to look at the wide array of birds in the UK. They use binoculars and their sharp eyes to spot the birds and then look to match them to the charts. Pigeons, tits, blackbirds, magpies and seagulls are regularly spotted. Occasionally we have seen jays and robins as well as thrushes and wagtails.
Children have been involved in problem solving how to fill the bird feeders, using step ladders and crates to reach them. It has also taken some time and lots of self-control to remember to not scream and run towards the birds when they do land to feed!
Birds of Bethnal Green, come gather in our garden!
I'm going to let the wonderful photographs below speak for themselves. Thank you to the families, staff and children who came and shared their information books, story books, leaflets and books they made in school. Many of our children see themselves as readers and writers and every day we try to ensure our provision and teaching makes meaningful reading and writing high on the agenda. At Rachel Keeling we encourage reading of magazines, leaflets, brochures, signs and posters as well as wonderful story books and non-fiction books.
A recent survey by Nielsen Books found that only half of pre-school children in the UK are being read to daily. Research has shown the impact on cognitive development and language acquisition of being read to (even for older children).
So tonight, at the end of your busy day, try to make time to sit and share a book with your child.
We were so lucky that last week the mounted Metropolitan Police made time in their busy schedule to stop off at Rachel Keeling. Regal Blue and Scrumpy Jack were the names of the beautiful, strong horses who graced us with their presence.
The rain poured but the children still wanted to come outside and meet our visitors.
The horses enjoyed some carrots before we said goodbye so they could go and keep the streets of Bethnal Green safe.
Afterwards the children shared their thoughts about the horses:
"The horses got white and black. They eat some apples and some vegetables." Jannatul
"I was playing and they clippety clop, clippety clopped into the garden!" Vito
"I didn't see a horse before here. They eat some grass I think." Kamilah
"They eat carrots. Becky gave them carrots." Nabeelah.
Our children often come to school and share their ideas and experiences with their Rachel Keeling family. Earlier this week many children came to school talking about Halloween things they had seen in the shops and streets and "trick or treat".
We talked to children and listened to what children knew and thought about Halloween. Some children commented "I don't celebrate Halloween", others said "I saw spooky masks in the shop" and "We cut a pumpkin".
Our shoppers of the week went on a pumpkin hunt and managed to find a medium sized one which they handled, speculated what was inside and scooped out the seeds (to toast and share) and then finally carved the pumpkin for our entrance lobby.
Spicy pumpkin playdough was made with a group of children to explore and take home. Children added lots of all-spice and cinnamon to the mixture as well as an orange food colourant. All our senses were heightened with the beautiful aromas travelling around the nursery.
Provision also included spooky stories with some playful language and complex, ambitiously, descriptive language to extend children's vocabulary. Children created potions and spells, drawing and writing phonetically plausible words.
Some children came to school on Wednesday in spooky costumes too!
We have noticed whilst children are becoming confident to have a go at writing, drawing skills need developing. So some wonderful spider web drawing sessions with an adult gave children confidence and skills in developing their drawings.
In the garden, various critters were created natural resources and the glue gun and the highlight was Isabel's Thriller dance with some children!
It was certainly a week of more treats than tricks.