Sunday, 3 November 2013

My Favourite Colour This Week; Orange


I love pumpkins! Growing them, eating them, carving them, rolling them, cooking with them (they have a great smell when roasted.) It is great, then, that this is the time of year we see a myriad; all shapes, sizes and variations on the colour orange begging us to play with them.

As a childminder with, currently a two-and-a-half year old and a three year old, my mind isn't really on carving them as is the current tradition. I really have to focus on their capabilities and, although they are adept at using a knife to cut certain fruits and vegetables, this doesn't yet extend to creating gorgeous lanterns (like the ones recently viewed in my obviously highly talented local shopkeepers' windows.)


Instead I focused on what they enjoy doing and what they could learn most from so it was messy play all the way! Firstly, we had a good go at scraping (and pulling) all the stringy, fleshy bits out of the middle along with the seeds. We put all this into a large pan.  There wasn't very much of it so we put in some flesh from two oranges along with the juice (again scooping and squeezing the sticky mass.) It smelled "delicious" and felt "wet and sticky" (the children's words.) The children grabbed their own large wooden spoons to stir as we recalled what the Cat, Duck and Squirrel added to their soup. 


We also discussed what we would like to add in. I chose a stock cube and we had a go at crumbling the savoury-smelling lump with our fingers. Someone else chose pasta and another rice so we had devised quite a hearty soup by the end of the afternoon. (It did also end up with glitter and glue being poured in so we didn't get round to eating it but we didn't forget out "pipkin of salt.")

After lots of mixing, we came back to the pumpkin. Shame not to decorate it really so the children plastered glue and added sprinkles to the top. All in all, a great mixing, smelling, feeling, scraping, chatting, sticking afternoon and all done by them with very little help from me.


Sunday, 27 October 2013

My Sensory Walk To School; Autumn

My recent Twitter-chat on 'Early Years Talking' (@EYTalking) reminded me of my current seasonal walks to school.  Unfortunately, you can't capture that in 140 characters, hence my current blog.

The walk itself would take an adult approximately 10 minutes at what I would define as a 'reasonable pace.' This one takes around 30 minutes depending on what we happen to find on the way and everyday is different. It is weather-dependant and invariably concludes with a mad dash after the hasty realisation that we are going to be late for the pick-up.  All walks share the similarity; they engage children, identify new interests and they make young children aware of the world around them. (What the RSPB, in a recent report, referred to as becoming more attuned to nature.) So here is a typical (recent) Autumnal walk:-

It begins almost immediately across the road from my house where, as a result of the continued warm weather, roses continue to bloom in the front gardens.  They have a low fence so young children can easily see into the hedges, smell the roses and collect fallen petals to use in perfume or picture-making later.

Roses - ideal for perfume making

At the corner of the road we have a shop which sells all manner of plants and local produce. We take time to explore the sweet-smelling flowers available and marvel at the size of the pumpkins. 

A little further on we come across a tall, slatted fence which we run alongisde, dragging sticks across the slats to make a noise as well as experiencing the feel of the vibrations.  Sometimes we are stopped by the sight of an insect such as a spider or ladybird and we look closely at the markings. An added bonus is seeing a spider in its web, particularly in the dew of the early morning.
Next we come across a firm favourite; a low sprawling conifer which children have to duck to crawl under, the feathery leaves tickling their necks and heads.  We do this three or four times before we come to a low step that we all like to climb onto and launch ourselves off after the obligatory counting to three. We are almost there but we do always come across some velvety moss growing on a shaded wall which we stroke and umpteen leaves which have blown onto the path.  Of course we have to 'swoosh' and 'whoosh' through these, kicking them upwards with our welly-shorn feet. (This can take some time!)

The last 'obstacle' comes in the form of long grass which we stealthily wade through (or jump over) which also makes a swishing sound as we go. Then it's a short hop to the school gate to see what interesting sights, sounds and scents awaits us there!