I hope that this newsletter finds you and your families well. Getting outdoors in April seems to have been a game of two halves – split between making the most of lovely spring sunshine, and dodging heavy rain and hail! As you will see below, much of the Nursery managed to get out and about in Newmarket during the better weather, and we have enjoyed the opportunities on our doorstep as restrictions begin to ease.
Please note the forthcoming changes to drop-off and collection arrangements detailed at the end of the newsletter.
The babies have been enjoying the warmer weather and getting outside lots. They have been exploring the garden area and have been out in the triple buggies too. On our outings, the babies develop their observation skills, often waving to the horses, cars, and other more exciting vehicles, as well as looking at pretty flowers and other aspects of nature around them while we model and encourage the use of key vocabulary.
Now that the sun has started to make more of an appearance, can we kindly ask parents to provide named sun hats and appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear. Thank you!
As you can see here, Foals 2 have had a bit of a change around of the layout of our room. This has enabled us to reinstate the maths-focused area in line with children’s current interests; filled with inset puzzle boards and counting resources which also enhance children’s knowledge of colours and use of fine motor skills. We have also made some changes to our role play area; always popular as the children express their experiences in play through looking after baby dolls and making ‘tea’! We have particularly been developing the older babies’ independence when putting on shoes and coats and, as always, have got lovely and messy with paint, shaving foam and gloop.
There has been a focus on using fine motor skills; strengthening hands and improving coordination. One task was to search for buried treasure in jelly; a mixture of coins, jewels and gems were hidden in blocks of strawberry jelly and the children were encouraged to retrieve them. The children made their own playdough, using cocoa powder to scent and colour it, then developed their fine motor skills by moulding and shaping the dough into cakes and sweet treats of their choice.
We have also been making the most of the glorious weather and have enjoyed some occasional walks to the Heath. The children have loved seeing horses, dogs and tractors along the way and have had a picnic with their friends.
This month Ponies 1 have started a new topic all about life cycles. We have had lots of fun looking at and carrying out activities based around the life cycles of frogs and caterpillars. We especially enjoyed taking a look at some frogspawn, brought in by some of the children from home to share with us all!
We have also been welcoming new friends into the room as our older children continue their Fairstead journeys into Ponies 2. This has given the children the chance to rekindle friendships with children they knew in Yearlings, and build new relationships together.
Ponies 2 were able to make the most of the beautiful weather and a smaller group of children during the Easter holiday, by going out on a trip to the ‘castle’ park. It was great fun going on the big slides, on the climbing frame, on the roundabout and in the sandpit. We also saw some of our friends from Reception and Year 1 with their families. We have made use of the Severals next to the school, popping out for a run around, and on a separate occasion taking out our picnic tea for a change of scenery.
The children have taken part in a new directed drawing activity where they had the choice of creating a lion, a turtle, a snake, an elephant or a unicorn. Each child had to follow the step by step instructions to create their animal, and then used watercolours to bring them to life. The children have been incredibly proud of their drawings and have been applying the skills to their chalk drawings outside, without needing to use the step by step instructions.
We have been learning about Ramadan from one of our little learners, who shared some of his books with us about this special time for him and his family. We have read the stories several times, with the children being able to recall important information from the book, such as that Ramadan starts and ends with a crescent moon, that grown-ups cannot eat food when the sun is out, and that they go to the mosque to pray.
Our new topic for the Summer term is ‘The Wonders of Water’. The children will be learning about the water cycle, why water is important, the different states of water, under the sea, and life in a pond. As well as incorporating activities in the focus area and in the discovery area, we will be making full use of the sensory tray and the role play area. Currently in the sensory tray the children are fishing, using nets and magnetic rods. The role play area has been turned into an aquarium.
We are very excited to have some new pegs for the children, smartening up the Ponies 2 entrance hall. The children love that they have their own cubby holes for their hats, scarves, gloves etc, and hopefully now the children will not get their belongings so muddled up! Please continue to make sure that items are named to make this easier for us all.
Changes to Drop-off and Collection Arrangements
Some of the changes that we have had to make in our daily lives over the last year have had unforeseen benefits, and one of these has been the daily drop-off and collection arrangements. Whilst it seemed very strange initially to collect children from their cars or at the gate, it soon became the norm and brought unexpected positives with it. As soon as they walk into the Nursery, children settle much more quickly into their morning routines, and there is a much calmer atmosphere in the room for all children at the start and end of the day without parents coming in and out of the door, each time every child looking to see if it’s someone for them! We do still miss welcoming you into your children’s Nursery rooms, and are working on ways that we can share changes with you within the restrictions, as shown in the news from the rooms above.
However, whilst it is lovely to speak with every family on the phone at drop off and collection every day, nearly a year on and with 60-70 children attending daily, it is taking the attention of a member of staff away from the children for around 4 hours of each day. Parents have also mentioned that it can be frustrating when there are a lot of collections at the same time and you can’t get through on the phone.
We will therefore shortly be moving to use Q-Bell, a location-based virtual doorbell app which was designed by a Nursery Manager for exactly this purpose. Anyone who regularly drops off or collects a child will need to receive an invitation from us and download the app to their phone, and then when you are within the set zone, you are able to ‘ring’ our bell with just a tap on the app. This ring will go directly to the iPads in the relevant Nursery rooms, and you will see your place in the queue. You can also pass on messages when you ‘ring’ the bell, such as the frequent “Please can he bring his wellies home?” or “I’m in the main car park”. It is currently available for Android and iOS phones – please let me know if this will cause a problem for you. More information can be found on the Q-Bell website here and you may wish to download the app in preparation. The parent app is the one with the orange and grey logo.
As I am sure you will understand, it is a key part of the security of the system that only invited contacts are able to ring the bell. I will be issuing email invitations this week using the contact details currently registered on Famly, so please check that your email address and mobile phone number are present and correct, and also that you have created profiles with both contact details for any Grandparents, Nannies, or other contacts who will regularly collect your child. Additional contacts can of course be added to the Q-Bell system at a later date, and the main Nursery phone number will still be an alternative for emergencies. The current ‘parking phone’ number will be discontinued once the system is all set up and working well.
With my best wishes for the month ahead,
Lucie Melen and all of the Nursery Team