St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School - Wetherby
Autumn 1: First Steps
Starting Nursery is a big first step on each child’s learning journey. So, it is really important that we take time and care to get the transition process right for each of them. We begin with home visits and settling visits and these are great ice-beakers for children and parents too.
The children learn the routines and get to know their new classroom very quickly. Most importantly they get to know their new teachers and begin to make friends. We begin by making a Brown Bear Class book with photos of our friends and teachers and play lots of games to get to know each other’s names and interests. Slowly and steadily, we learn what is important at Nursery to ‘Stay Happy and Stay Safe’ and we then agree our class rules. We all sign up with a finger print to our Smart Kids class rules, which is a promise to try our best to look after each other and our classroom and to listen to our teachers.
In Nursery our play is our work!
The children learn to access many learning experiences independently as they choose activities in each of the provision areas. These areas provide an open ended menu of learning opportunities and for pudding, we add enhancements. These enhancements include adult led activities and teachers responding to children by adding extra resources that reflect their interests. For example our home corner now has a special area to look after our much-loved black and white cat, which has been a significant toy for some children as they have settled.
Our Photo Gallery demonstrates all of the thinking, sharing, turn-taking, interacting, wondering, talking, collaborating, enjoying and creating that is our learning.
RE: God’s World
In RE we learn about God’s World. We listen to the story of creation. Our World is amazing and full of beauty. We go out and about together, to explore some of its’ wonders! We march through the woods, hunt for mini-beasts and rustle through leaves, we harvest apples, made delicious apple muffins and even print with them. We talk about our favourite creatures and say thank you to God for everything that he has created and we discuss taking care of these things. We meet and look after Mrs Reddiex’s tortoise for a whole morning. Mr Trot needs great care: to be fed, bathed and entertained with gentle hands to stroke him. We end each morning by saying Thank you to God for all of our friends and family, with our class prayer, which we say and sign.
The Characteristics of Effective Learning
The Characteristics of Effective Learning are generic learning skills for life.
They are about how every child learns and we are ‘on the look out’ more than ever for these, as we tune into their personalities and interests in the early weeks at Nursery.
To support children’s learning and development effectively, we need to pay attention to the uniqueness of every child. We work out how best to support children’s learning and development by paying attention to these Characteristics of Effective Learning.
Playing and Exploring
Creating and Critical Thinking
The Characteristics of Effective Learning: Playing and Exploring
As children begin to ‘find their feet’ in Nursery, we observe them becoming inquisitive, motivated learners through their play and exploration. We watch them access learning as they follow their interests and enquiries in their child initiated play in the provision areas and respond by planning next steps in from this.
Playing and exploring takes many different forms every day, for each individual child: it might be making comments as you come up close to a tortoise, daring to go star gazing in the star zone or noticing spiders webs and then having a go at weaving your own.
We watch them play and explore to find out more.
We observe them playing with what they know.
We celebrate their willingness to try new experiences and to have a go at new challenges.
‘An involved child is gaining a deep, motivated, intense and long term learning experience.’ Frere Laevers.
The Characteristics of Effective Learning: Active Learning
Active Learning is not just about being physically active but also mentally alert and ‘ready, willing and able’ to learn. As children become more confident and purposeful in their new learning environment we see them demonstrating concentration, persistence, energy and satisfaction.
Active Learning takes many different forms every day, for each individual child: it might be sorting and ordering collections of objects, setting off on an imaginary journey, following PE instructions and trying so hard to hold your balance.
We watch them becoming deeply involved and concentrating.
We observe them persisting and keep on trying.
We celebrate their sense of satisfaction when they enjoy and achieve what they set out to do.
‘When we receive encouragement for our efforts and our ideas are valued, our feelings acknowledged and our discoveries recognised, we come to see the world as a safe place, and ourselves as competent and capable agents within it.’ (National Strategies, 2007: 3)
The Characteristics of Effective Learning: Creating and Critical Thinking
Creating and Critical thinking is when we see children following their own lines of enquiries and imaginative drives. It sees them using their previous experiences, building their skills as they transfer knowledge, experiment to find solutions and take on tricky challenges.
In their facial expressions we see their complex thinking and effort.
Creating and Critical Thinking takes many different forms every day, for each individual child: it might be matching the appropriate number of shells in our sea side maths activity, singing a range of songs with your friends with musical instruments to match or making your train before heading off with your friends on a journey- “where should the wheels go?”
We watch them having their own ideas.
We observe them making links .
We celebrate their receptiveness to new ideas as they choose ways to do thing.
‘Awareness of oneself as a thinker and learner is a key aspect of success in learning’ (Tickell, 2011: 90).
Our Learning Journey: On the Move
We’re Going On A Learning Journey….we’re going on a train ride.
It has been striking how the children’s play has become more collaborative, interactive and louder as they have got to know each other and learned that it is good to feed off each other’s ideas.
This interest in going on a train journey, took hold when the children made a long line of chairs stretching from the home corner to the door. They took turns to be the driver and shared ideas about where they were travelling to. Some children brought on board snacks, babies and even a laptop to get on with some work!
We took the train outside and re-built it, this time it was constructed out of crates, wheels and steering wheels, all aboard and off they went!
We focused on some number order work 1-5/10, with train carriages and thought about which shapes worked best for our large scale train model.
We made up a fantastic song ‘The Wheels On The Train’ and proudly shared it with Mrs Stoney and Miss Milivojevic. We also made name jigsaws, with the letters in our name forming the carriages.
This topic will probably run over into the start of next half term as the children are so happy and engaged with it.
Autumn 2: Wow! Look at what we have been learning now that we are settled at Nursery.
We firmly believe in the Early Years adage ‘there’s no such thing as the wrong weather-just the wrong clothes!’ We have enjoyed using the outdoors space to weather watch, explore pattern making with natural objects, mark make, build and also to notice what we mean by ‘wearing the right clothes to suit the weather.’
Learning how to put on your own shoes and coat is a huge achievement when you are 3 and 4 and it is a triumph to see children who have struggled to take great pleasure in being able to finally do just that.
We have been coaching the children with pencil control inside and outdoors too. For some children, this starts with feeling free with mark making on a big scale with large brushes and chunky floor chalks to get their movement muscle memory, working out how to make marks of lines, curves and patterns.
We also love our PE sessions with Mr Shaw and Miss Annabelle. We have been developing lots of skills such as moving in different ways, learning dance sequences, developing hand eye skills using balls, bats, hoops and quoits. Our Total Sports colleagues provide exciting and challenging activities that we are able to observe and then work with the children on.
Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
This area of learning is truly at the heart of all of our learning experiences. After all being comfortable, secure, willing to try new experiences, happy to co-operate and make friends are vital skills for life.
The children have shown their true interests and fascinations this half term and through shared play and learning experiences, they are making connections and relationships with each other.
We meet for group time at the start and end of the day and children are encouraged to contribute and see themselves as part of a larger group with agreed boundaries.
We have had a very memorable last few weeks of Term, sharing together in the magic of the build up to Christmas. There has been such magic, pride and excitement in role playing Santa’s sleigh, wrapping gifts in our outdoors workshop, sharing Christmas stories, singing, making Christmas gifts for our families to show our love.
Two highlights were when at the start of Advent, sharing with our families at Church in out EYFS Crib Service and then performing so wonderfully at our Christmas Nursery Nativity.
Communication and Language.
Talk, Talk, Talk but also Listen, Listen, Listen!
We are continually learning the art of language as we chat, think out loud, make comments, respond and share our experiences, explain ideas and ask and answer questions. Again a life long skill but one that we invest much time and care with, so that children become self assured and effective communicators.
The stimulus for talk this half term has been rich and varied. It included an encounter with Robbi the robot (Thank you Mrs Waterhouse!) This gave an opportunity to practise giving clear instructions. WE have also been explaining to each other the instructions for making things such as our Christmas wreaths and decorations.We have also been on A Bear Hunt together outside and knowing this story so well gave children a feel for rich story language, characters, feelings and the idea of a sequence of events beginning, middle and end. We have talked at length about our families and what we do in our homes at Christmas.