Thursday, 20 December 2012

a taste of Christmas

Christmas for everyone is a busy time of year. For childminders the run up to Christmas is full of glitter, handprints and parties......children's parties that is. 


Running our childminding businesses single-handed (without a committee or management to oversee the business side of things) means we are generally run ragged by the end of term, and if we've managed by some stroke of luck to avoid the seasonal illness that always come just as the festive season is gaining momentum then we count our blessings.

I say 'we', I know I have been lucky (touch wood) because I've just had the sniffles . The children have had heavy colds from ....half term, and I've been busy blowing noses and washing my hands almost non stop since then.


I will sigh a big sigh of relief once the door closes at the end of the day tomorrow, not because I will be glad the children are gone- far from it. I will be relieved that the planning and execution of Christmas went off without a hitch. Not only will the children be taking home all the crafty bits & bobs they have been doing over the past 3 or 4 weeks, but they will have made a present for their parents and have a disk of photo's of all their activities over the past term to share with them.
Every parent has been consulted about their child's progress and a review has been produced which will inform the planning next term. Their Learning Journals/Journey folders are up to date and brimming full of their achievements both great & small.

When I close the door on Friday I will have a few days of not thinking about childminding (well not much) then once the festivities are over the playroom will be getting a deep clean and I will begin planning (loosely) for the next stage of Learning and Development.
The doors open again on the 8th.


Merry Christmas everyone.  

Saturday, 8 December 2012

chaos, craft and camaraderie

Its really nice to meet other childcare practitioners and share practice and ideas. Even when we come from such diverse settings there is a camaraderie and willingness to listen and learn from each other.
I'd never heard of Placing and Arranging before, but while on a course the other day the ladies on my table got chatting during the lunch break and it came up.
Our conversation had moved from subject to subject and then someone mentioned Placing and Arranging. I found out that it is literally placing and arranging small object. Beads, paperclips, pom poms, buttons etc (in fact any sort of small embellishment) is placed onto a surface of either card, fabric or cork and once completed the arrangement can be recorded (photographed) and the child can start again if they wish. As I'd never heard of it before (although we have done something similar with sticky-backed-plastic) I wondered how the children felt about not being able to take their arrangement home, but apparently no-one had ever had a problem. It sounded like a nice creative activity and said I would be trying it with the children, which I did as you can see. I have since learnt that it the term is used when working with a light box too, but as I do not have the budget for a light box it is something I didn't know about.
Anyway the subject of Christmas then came up. The general consciences was that doing crafts over the Christmas period that can then be used as gifts for parents is quite difficult these days without the old style production line of prepared activities. You know the type of thing; a Father Christmas cut-out, neatly painted and stuck on a greetings card perfectly central and upright- allegedly produced by a 2 year old.
The line of acceptability in craft activities these days is quite clear; shapes that have been cut-out by an adult and are placed to produce a recognisable object ie Father Christmas is frowned upon, but something that a child has created from resources that an adult has prepared/sourced so the child can create something original is valued. If you look up the word 'creativity' you will find it means 'originality' and as each child is as individual as a flake of snow then their creations should be equally unique and valued. But while some may value the brown splodge because we know the process of creating it was long and involved and it consisted of many layers of primary colour paint, others may just see a brown splodge. The key is ensuring that the child's creativity shines through.

Someone on the table bemoaned the loss of 'circle time' at her setting. She said it makes it very difficult to produce the end of year nativity as the children never get enough time to learn the carols or practice sitting still. Which lead on to whether or not a pre-school or nursery room should look and sound chaotic, or should there be some order? Being a childminder without the first hand knowledge or experience of working in chaos I was interested in this debate but couldn't really offer my personal opinion....(although I feel nothing worthwhile can be produced in a chaotic environment)....but I kept quiet because some practitioners were obviously convinced that free-flow play is always chaotic. One lady was very adamant that free-flow shouldn't be chaotic and that resources should be tidied away as they go. I think all settings agree that getting the balance right is proving tricky.
At another gathering I was talking to a childminder about planning. She was a teacher before becoming a childminder so I thought I'd extract some expert opinion on the subject. It turns out she is just as undecided as the rest of us on how to approach planning, but admitted she has squirreled away her folder of themes- just in case one day they become acceptable again.
I'm not making any particular point other than it is obvious we are all doing the best we can to implement the EYFS as we understand it, but also as we perceive Ofsted will view our efforts.
But I do wonder sometimes if we throw the baby out with the bath water and focus too much on the froth left behind.    

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas starts here


Sara finds another use for milk bottle lids

(we do send them to charity too)




stained glass Christmas tree