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EYP Matters The Newsletter for Early Years Professionals in Essex Edition 9: Spring 2012


In this edition…

Welcome to the Spring 2012 edition of EYP Matters, the magazine for Early Years Professionals and those working in the early years sector across Essex. Each edition is filled with ideas to help promote good practice and improve outcomes for children and includes – our Guest EYP, important dates for your diary, training reviews, case studies and much more! Remember this is your magazine so keep those ideas coming in!


The Early Years and Childcare Training Fund (EYCCTF) Currently, we are unable to advise the level of financial support available to support qualifications for the 2012/13 funding period. All contracts end on 31st March 2012 and it will be necessary for your setting to reapply. Details of eligibility, criteria changes and terms and conditions of any future funding will have been sent to your setting by late February. If funding is awarded, please ensure you read and understand the contractual responsibilities and monitoring requirements before signing. For further information, please see the Spring 2012 Early Years and Childcare Newsletter or contact Vickie Thomas on 01245 438552 or email:


Meet our guest EYP...! Maths is child’s play Bird Poo investigation! Top Five EYP Resources

Calendar of Events March 9

Reggio Emilia Information Day – County Hall, Chelmsford


Claire Warden – The Importance of Outdoor Play

Calling all Essex Early Years Professionals Are you an EYP or do you know of any EYPs in Essex that are not currently accessing their EYP Network opportunities? If so, you/they will be missing out on valuable networking opportunities and funded Continuous Professional Development. Be sure to contact the Workforce Development team on and get involved!

Guest EYP Carol Middleton,  EYP and Early Years Consultant

My journey started when I joined the team at Ormiston Children’s Centre in Colchester. Coming from working in the foundation stage, I wanted to upskill on children aged 0-3 years and signed up for my Early Years Professional Status.

My role has enabled me to look at both provision and the environment it takes place in; changing resources, developing child centred planning, and making children’s learning really visible. Time to reflect is a vital aspect. Learning from each other and the children and thinking about qualities of leadership all help to construct a shared understanding of where we’re going as a service and how to help parents value their children’s play as vital investigation.

After achieving my Status and connecting with the Essex EYP network, I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend a trip to Reggio Emilia and to Danish forest schools. These experiences made me wide eyed at the respect and trust that children are given. Every The best advice from all my great child a competent learner took on EYP training is that “We must be ready for all the possibilities.” a whole new meaning.

Maths is child’s play


Oh the joy of early years!


Ginny Andreas, EYP and Manager, Little Sparrows Nursery, Ingatestone I recently looked at older children’s disaffection with maths and was brought back to possible roots in early schooling. I came upon a quote which suggested that it is the “...failure to build on children’s experiences before school, to work from the concrete to the abstract, that limits later understanding” (Carr cited in Pound (2006) - Supporting Mathematical Development In The Early Years.) It reminds me how important encouraging early mathematical confidence and competency is. All of you will have many wonderful mathematical games and experiences so instead I offer you thoughts on the importance of our role in this area:


■ L earning is shaped by our culture and therefore experiences should be relevant to children ■ T he way adults react to maths will influence the extent to which children feel confident and competent


x =

■E  ncouraging ‘slower ways of knowing’ which involve time and space to practice and reinforce is more useful than teaching children to use conventional notations too quickly ■ I magination, which enables children to think abstractly, is very important in developing mathematical thinking

■ Children’s interests provide the motivation for exploration and learning, as do curiosity and willingness to persevere. For all of us, the task of learning new things is easier when we want to understand and find out more.

My research has led me to ask myself and my staff two fundamental questions about maths in my nursery:

1. How well do we provide rich concrete maths experiences which can be extended later in school?

2. How can we extend our play with, and enjoyment of, mathematical ideas and concepts with children in our setting? Let’s get enthusiastic about maths and search for ways to enhance our current provision!

EYP Matters Spring 2012

Our Bird Poo Investigation!

Bernadette Colyer, EYP, The Treehouse Nursery, Waltham Abbey One morning, our registration was interrupted by one of the boys shouting out. He had spotted dirt on a skylight which was very high up in the roof. Chaos broke out as all the children rushed to see what he was pointing at. The chaos turned to hilarity as one girl correctly identified the dirt as ‘bird poo’! With the children so interested and excited, they began asking questions. ‘What bird had done it?’; ‘How could you get up to clean it?’ and ‘What would you clean it with?’ As practitioners, we set about supporting the children’s exploration of these issues. They were very keen to identify the culprit. Suggestions included owls, pigeons and a penguin! After looking at a book with pictures of birds, the children set about drawing their own birds. Next, we discussed how to get up to the roof. The children’s ideas were a plane, a rocket, a helicopter and a ladder. One girl put forward using a fire engine “...cos that has a ladder and a hose for washing!” They also liked my idea of hauling my colleague up on a rope… although, strangely, she didn’t seem so keen!

agents. We then tried cleaning with the different substances. Again, the children photographed their efforts. They concluded that washing up liquid worked best.

The children now set about making models of their ideas using construction sets, such as Sticklebrix, Duplo and Polydron. We gave the children a camera to document their results.

We used plastic mirrors to simulate the window glass and the children had great fun mixing a concoction of white paint, glue and wooden pencil sharpenings to simulate the poo. We also discussed why it wouldn’t be a good idea to use real poo. The vocabulary the children used in explanation included ‘germs’ and ‘bacteria’.

We then turned our attention to how we would clean the poo off. The children thought of toothpaste, milk, soap and ‘bubbles’ (washing up liquid) as possible cleaning

The children helped print off the photos, gathered up the drawings and made a book recording our investigation. We then trooped off to the nursery owner’s office to

present our findings, solving her problem of how to clean off the poo! The children had great fun during our investigation. They love looking at their book, which we also make available to parents. As practitioners, we feel it demonstrates for parents how interests can inform planning and play can facilitate development across the learning areas. It also shows the range of activities that can take place without there necessarily being an ‘end product’ to take home. Most of all, we all laughed so much – I hope reading about it has made you smile too.


Top Five EYP Resources! As part of our continued support of EYP practice in Essex, the Workforce Development team currently offer a Top Five EYP resource loan scheme. The resources have been in settings for the past ten months and here are some of the comments gathered so far, evidencing the endless enjoyment, exploration and learning.

Kay Fisher EYP, Childminder The guttering was one of the most popular resources I have ever used. Children from as young as one to as old as eleven years old played with it, for hours. I must say I was amazed at how sustained and exploratory their play became, simply by adding additional elements to the resource. The favourite naturally was the hosepipe which started a conversation about wasting water as it poured from the guttering. A four year old promptly grabbed a toy box to place at one end of the guttering and began filling cups, bottles, and jugs, to transfer the water from the tuff tray at the other end to the toy box, to then be reused in the guttering. We tried many various materials to explore speed, weight and volume etc. The children were very creative in our first experiment, which involved ways of stopping the water and objects from falling off the guttering before they had reached the bottom. Overall, we found bean bags were the best at blocking off the ends. These are just a couple of examples of the versatility of


this resource. The practical way it allows children of all ages to explore and discover some very in-depth concepts, alongside the social skills it promotes such as sharing, taking turns and communicating ideas and thoughts.

Laura Boultwood Deputy, Rum Tum Tuggers Nursery The children in our setting have absolutely loved having the guttering to play with throughout the summer months. It’s been

a brilliant way to help develop children’s negotiation and problem solving skills as well as communication, language and literacy development. We have been able to use it indoors with balls, cars and trucks as well as outdoors with water and sand. One parent told us she has since been out to her local DIY store and bought some guttering for her child to play with at home! It’s nice to see something so simple has created so many learning opportunities.

EYP Matters Spring 2012

their sustained shared thinking and also linked to a themed discovery box. We used a variety of materials including tissue paper and cellophane, which was great for introducing words such as transparent and translucent. We also used black shapes for shadows and wool, string and glitter. The children needed little direction and we also shaded the lit area for some of the activities to reduce the glare from the bulbs. We limited the time spent with the light box to a maximum of ten minutes to reduce the strain on eyes.

Stephanie Collins EYP, Ingrave Playgroup I had often seen these tuff trays and always thought that they were a bit of a luxury. However having loan of one has changed my mind. We have used the tray mainly on our messy activity table where it has been invaluable in minimising mess but at the same time allowing the children to explore lots of malleable and messy materials. The children could work in their own little space or the whole of the tray, sharing and exploring with friends.

Lisa Caswell-Chappell EYP, Whipper Snappers Nursery We have never had a light box and it has opened up a whole new group of activities for us and our children. We created shadows and patterns with natural resources such as conkers, acorns, leaves, sticks, pine cones etc, all collected on our nature walk. Children also discovered leaf tracing, sand mark making and colour mixing with acetate sheets! This resource is excellent for all ages and stages.

We had lots of fun exploring paint, cornflour, pasta, shaving gel, hair gel and tennis ball painting!

Pat Cox EYP, Manager, Dovedales Nursery

The best part was taking the tray outside to hose it clean!!

The light box was used by the older children and supported


Play Dough Recipes Karen Burgess, EYP and Manager, Tudor Cross Pre-school PL AY DOUGH cipe – Microwave re

veral e have tried se w s ar ye e th r Ove ich cipes some wh ‘play dough’ re an re successful th have been mo others. e vered microwav Then we disco t really ways turns ou dough which al it! of who makes well regardless 2 cups flour 2 cups salt 2 cups water tartar 4 tsp cream of 2 tsp oil Stir together. 0 watts) for 60 Microwave (65 en cook for 90 seconds. Stir th ugh. when cool eno d ea n K s. d n seco

FINGER PAINT Cornflour Water in a Mix cornflour and water until at he low a small pan over ve mo Re t. thick and transparen . from heat and add paint fun! Allow to cool then have



SMELLY DOUGH 3 cups plain flour 1 cup salt 1 tbsp cooking oil Water as required. Mix and knead well. This makes a basic tough dough. Add massage oil such as lavender, food essences, herbs or spices. Add textures such as sand, glitter, tea leaves. PLEASE NOTE: Aromatherapy oils should be used with caution when offering to children.

SOAPY MIX LUX Flakes Water - warm/cold Mix to own desired textu re. Adding a little extra wa ter to soap flakes changes the mixture from a malleab le material to slime. As more water is added, children can use a varie ty of beaters and whisks to cre ate different effects.

PVA Glue Borax Glycerine Water In a bowl add 2 average yogurt pots of PVA glue, dilute with 1 pin t of warm water. In another bow l mix 1 tbsp Borax, 1 tbsp gl ycerine and a little water. Gradually add the Borax mixture to the PVA. Keep mixing and even tually something am azing happens! (We purchase our Borax from Boots).


1 pack et of co rnflour Drop o f paint to colo Cold w ur ater Add wa te desired r gradually u n consis tency i til s reach ed.

EYP Matters Spring 2012

Outdoor Research Denise Russell, EYP and Manager, Saffron Walden Nursery School As the manager of Saffron Walden Nursery School I find myself very privileged to have a large outdoor play area for the children to use. At present it has many exciting things from water gutter runs to a sensory garden, from a large slide to a playhouse. I had been considering myself very lucky, until I started to really think about how the children actually used it. Did the children make full use of the playhouse? Did they ever really use the water run, if an adult wasn’t present? Did we really need all these rules in order for the children to use the large slide? These were to name just a few. During the summer holidays in 2011, with all these questions whizzing round my head, I made the decision to evaluate the current garden resources. I wanted to start to introduce some new ideas and activities to see how these were greeted by not only the children but also the practitioners. At this stage my head was buzzing with various ideas, but I really needed to have a small group of children whom I could observe and use to carry out my small research project. So after explaining to the practitioners at the beginning of September what my plans were, and ensuring that I had them on board with me, (I must say they didn’t take much persuading) I decided upon four children whom I could observe. Letters were sent out and permission sought and replies were quick to come back, with the parents expressing their interest in reading the results. So what has happened between then and now? Well, I’ve been carrying out my usual observations on my target group of children. I’ve already found that the water run

never gets used by the children alone they always tend to have an adult with them and we now have the large slide being used all the time. The rules governing the use of the large slide proved to be an issue when I started at the nursery. However, after a discussion about how little the slide was used and why (often centered around the rules saying it needed three members of staff to man it) we have now relaxed the rules. It was decided that there wouldn’t be anytime that it couldn’t be used and really it didn’t need anyone to man it as such. As long as we were all deployed suitably and could watch the children using it there shouldn’t be any worries. I explained that the children needed to take risks in an environment where they felt safe to do that and this was an ideal piece of equipment for them to do this with. I’m pleased to say that the children are now very busy using this all the time although it did take a little while for them to realise they could use it without an adult being at their side. I’ve also purchased a large wooden owl to put into the garden and been donated two African warriors, one male and one female (and oh gosh the lady has a bare chest covered simply by her necklace) and a large wooden pig (not real).

These are all at present being given several coats of varnish in preparation to be going into the garden. I also wanted to incorporate a den building area in the garden with large sticks and logs etc suitable for building with. I discussed this with the rest of the practitioners and luckily found out that one staff member has a great contact for this type of resource. So I’m now awaiting a delivery of wood, in readiness for some lovely dens to be built. I’m extremely lucky as the fundraising committee have given me £1000 to spend in the garden area. But as we are all too aware it doesn’t take long for money to go so I’m looking at spending it wisely. I will be sending out a wishlist to parents/carers for items which they may have at home which they could donate to the setting. I would love the children to have some really long, tall grass to go through and play in, however, at present I’m struggling to find anything suitable that isn’t going to take years to grow. If anyone has any ideas about suitable grass I would love to hear from them.


Thought provoking musings Ruth Bolton, EYP, Learning & Development Curriculum Planner, Springboard Pre-school Recently an increasing number of articles and essays have been championing the aid of ‘provocations’ as a means to develop children’s creative thinking. While I fully understand the concept behind the term ‘provocation’ I feel we should be a little more cautious in its linguistic use. Most practitioners will know and value the effect of ’positive language’ on children’s behaviour, self-esteem and their general well-being. Thus we have learnt to phrase our questions and comments carefully when talking to children. And yet, in professional discussions we appear to be less selective in the choice of our language. Longman’s dictionary defines ‘provocation’ as an ‘action or event that makes someone angry or upset, or is intended to do this.’

Is this really our intention – to incite children instead of excite them? The EYFS clearly states that sustained shared thinking involves ‘the adult and children working together to develop an idea or skill.’ (EYFS, Learning and Development.4.3) Do we really mean to intimidate our colleagues and workforce with worries of objects not being controversial enough, instead of motivating them?

If we are to provide positive images that challenge children’s thinking (EYFS, Enabling Environments), perhaps it is time for professionals and practitioners to use language with which we ourselves feel comfortable and which will inspire the best in all of us. By all means let’s have stimuli that are thought provoking, but not provocations with all its negative connotations.

Contact details

Comments and suggestions are always welcome. For further information on Early Years Professional Status and Level 2-7 qualification training and funding please call 01245 438552 or email us at


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Useful Links

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EYP Matters Spring 2012