This is not an exhaustive list, but rather examples of what we do… But it does provide an idea of the breadth and range of activities, why we do things, adventures the children embark on and the fun and the laughs we have!
Cooking provides great opportunities to work together, take turns, taste and feel different textures, talk about how things change. We tackle early math with weighing and counting. It also gives us the opportunity to talk about healthy living. It is lovely for the children to share their finished product at snack time or to take their creations home with them.
We have a range of construction toys, duplo, lego, sticklebricks etc. that the children can use to design, construct, manipulate and develop their own ideas with.
Small World Play
We encourage small world play where children can play with a wooden railway or road, small figures, a dolls house, animals, a shop and more. Small world play encourages children to act out the real world, experiment ideas safely and is great fun as they are in total control.
We always share our meals together, all sat around the table – we use this time to talk about table manners, and share ideas and interests with one another. Independence is encouraged as children learn to feed themselves and lay the table.
We encourage children to develop their interest in books and stories by having books they can explore at their reach. We also have story time each day where they choose the story to be read by the adult, and then we comment on it to promote understanding and develop communication skills. On bus trips, in order to make them fun and short, we encourage children to tell a story to the others and we take turns.
We provide a weekly theme based on seasonal, cultural and other events. This helps children to learn about different cultures and experience diversity. The children have celebrated Chinese New Year, Diwali, St Patrick's Day, Independence Day, St George's Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Christmas and many more cultural festivals.
We only have 15 minutes of TV time, before lunch, when we come back from our morning outings. This allows the children to rest a while as we finish preparing their lunch.
Peg boards and threading – these are all great activities for concentration, developing fine motor skills and help coordination. Without good hand-eye coordination children find it far more difficult to learn to write.
Treasure Baskets and Heuristic play
This is all about providing the children with the opportunity to play with real life objects – materials, keys, saucepans, pegs, cardboard tubes, pots, sponges etc. Children use these objects in a huge range of ways to enhance their play and develop an understanding of their environment.
Music & Dance
Music is a great way to explore the world. We listen to music on a daily basis and once a week we attend a structured music class. Musical styles we listen to range from classical to pop, rock to jazz. We also listen to nursery rhymes, music from around the world, and songs we can mime to. There is also a range of musical instruments available for the children to use, mainly percussion instruments. We also love dancing, which is a great physical activity when it is raining outside.
Cuddly Toys and Puppets
All our soft toys become great friends to the children in their own right. They take on roles in stories, become guests at a tea party, and have their own personalities as well as become stars of their own television shows!
Games provide great opportunities to take turns, match objects, have fun and work together.
We have a dressing up box which is always accessible to the children to encourage them to act out roles. It includes helmets, play shops, hats and bags, fabrics, animal masks, tools kits and doctors’ kits.
Children who don’t take a nap do School Time activities to prepare them for writing and reading. We trace letters, practice pen control, learn to write their names, and so much more…
Socialising with friends
We do socialise with other children, either by meeting up with them regularly in a group setting or perhaps getting together to visit somewhere as a group. These are times when the children can mix with their peers, play with a different range of resources and learn how to socialise in a larger group in preparation for school.
We celebrate all birthdays by throwing a small party. It’s a great opportunity for children to choose their own theme, and be the star of the show, play games with their friends and of course blow the candles on the cake! (Of course we have cake!) We make a special card for the birthday boy or girl and give them a birthday present.
Outdoor Play & Gardening
The patio area is where we go for messy play, water play, bubbles, ball games, counting stones and gardening when the weather is nice. We learn about science and growing things, by taking care of the garden, growing flowers and vegetables. We learn how to handle pets when we visit the Urban Farm.
Everyday household tasks
Children can benefit hugely by being involved in everyday activities. Laying the table reinforces math skills, tidying up helps children to learn to take care of things and where to find them next time, shopping can introduce early money management skills and provide an opportunity for learning where products come from and recognising simple words.
We do lots of crafts – painting, gluing, collage, drawing, playdough, and more, and through these materials we can show our own creative side and discover for ourselves the properties of materials and the “what happens if”s of experimenting!
We have a large selection of toys which the children can choose to play with, they are not all out all of the time – instead we rotate them and use them to reflect each child’s individual interests and development level.
After all this fun our bodies and our minds need a little down time to catch up and assimilate all the new learning experience!
As childminders we can use the wider environment too, with trips to Museums, the Zoo, Parks, theatres, cinemas, South Bank, Soft Play centres, restaurants, the park, shops, the library, and attend local events. These places offer a wealth of experience - I have highlighted the places we go to regularly here:
Out and about!
Parks & Playgrounds
We regularly go to Kew Gardens, Gunnesbury Park, Chiswick House, Ravenscourt Park, The Triangle Reserve, Diana Memorial Playground (where we do our Forest School learning experience). Plenty of physical activity to be had in the playgrounds as well as lots of exploring and discovering nature!
Walking to and from Parks & Playgrounds
We walk a lot and observe all of the local features as we go, learning about road safety and about the local environment. Younger children are in pushchairs – but their rides are never the same, as they have different company and are encouraged to look at everything en route.
We sometimes visit the library during the week to select and choose stories relevant to our current topic. This enables the children to become more familiar with the local community and more importantly to become book lovers, as they choose the books which are later shared with the group.
Network Support Group & Toy Library
We attend this group weekly to borrow equipment from their toy library, participate in seasonal crafts, share refreshments and have a group singing session. Lots of opportunities for children to mix with others!
During music sessions we join in to group activities, sing songs, play a huge range of instruments, listen to stories, see puppet shows, perform magic and have a dance around. Helen leads us through the session and each week we go on a different musical adventure to a different place in the world and we have great fun!
During this session we all become Jackson Pollocks! Liz surprises us every week with a massive cardboard structure for us to paint in the most unusual ways, we throw paint, we use different objects to paint, we mix colours and see what happens. It’s a liberating experience!
We join in a morning of activities; these usually include a craft, music and movement singing session or a story, a group snack, lots of physical activities of riding on large toys, and social play which enables children to play and socialise with other children with whom they may eventually attend school. The group sometimes has themed mornings, parties or guest speakers that come and visit the children.