First of 2013-2014

30/9/13 First Blog of the Year!
I was hoping to blog before now, but it’s been such a whirlwind of a start for us my feet have only just touched the ground. Those new to the Bute blog – welcome and thank you for reading my before sleep thoughts.
Everybody has settled into their groups so nicely, our little Bute family relationships are really blossoming.
We have been working hard at greeting each other in Welsh at the start of every session and this is really starting to show now – da iawn pawb! Lots of the parents are commenting on how much Welsh the children are speaking at home and this makes all the staff smile so much.
We are in yellow week, blue and red weeks were great successes with lots of interesting objects brought to share from home.
During red week we used the printing technique and printed red 2D shapes in the art room. During blue week we “rock and rolled” marbles in shades of blue paint to make line pictures all over our paper. Great fun was had by all and the effects are quite super. Have you spotted any around the nursery?
This week all of the children will be finishing their first portrait paintings of a family member – the key workers love this activity – we get to spend one to one time with each child to create a fabulous painting. We especially like the captions the children give us to go with their paintings – ranging from “Daddy likes beer!” To “Charlie-Jo’s a pudding”. As you walk through the nursery see if you can spot someone from your family!
The children will also be helping the key workers with their muddled up laundry basket – all the patterned socks have been mixed up, so we’ll need their help sorting them out. Patterns, patterns everywhere!
You may have heard some of the children, Miss Collard’s children in particular, talking about our ‘DoughDiscos’ – this is something new Miss Collard is trialling, to give our hand muscles a good workout, ready for holding a pencil correctly. I’m not sure who has more fun, me or the children! Especially since the ‘installation’ of our disco lights.
It won’t be long until you receive your first reviews of progress, but please don’t hesitate to speak to your key worker before then – comments or concerns are always better shared.
I’ll leave you tonight with a comment I overheard from the children today, “I love Bute Cottage, do you?”
Nos Da Pawb – GC x

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16/5/13 Thursday

16/5/13 it’s Thursday!
It’s becoming a tradition I start my blogs like this…
Where has the week gone?! After some torrential rain, we were blessed with a delightfully sunny day today. It’s so nice to be able to start bringing out the summer equipment, the big sand tray opened for the first time this year – our very own Barry Island! Bute Beach! The rope swing is ever popular, the children are becoming more and more brave as they have chance to practise holding their body weight. I recorded fantastic turn taking and cooperative play there today along with lots of laughs! Such happy children.
The teacher’s emotions are running high as we begin to learn the songs for leavers 2013 – memories of concerts gone by bring it all flooding back! We had a ‘moment’ in the garden as all of us were outside in the sunshine singing the pirate song. Beautiful!

We released twelve butterflies into the garden today, it’s great to see them flying around. We got some good photographs with the macro lens and some children were chosen (by the butterflies themselves!) to have a hold as they landed on them. So much care and a gentle touch was shown. We really know how to care for out environment and other living things at Bute Cottage.

I am totally blown away by the generosity being shown for the donation of raffle prizes – we really do have some amazing experiences to be won. Thank you to those who have donated and worked hard to get people to donate! Another thank you to all who are offering raffle tickets, your support of everything we do is priceless.
Our Open Day promises to be a good one – we have so much planned. Please send good thoughts for fine weather!

There are two quotes of the day for me today…”I did a ‘fablious’ 4!” along with “I just said ‘wn i ddim’ like you, what does it mean?” – To which I replied “I don’t know” (it actually does mean “I don’t know” yn Cymraeg) which led to a further statement – “Yes you do! You say it all the time!” Made me smile.

Until next time! GC x

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13/5/13 another Monday…
Wow the time is flying by!
This week’s special jobs include invitation writing and working with water estimating capacity. I wonder how many capfuls to fill this?
All of the key workers are beginning to get going on the children’s very special final reports. A culmination of the year’s learning and play in a very special big book. They’re emotional to write and put together and I’m sure they’re equally as emotional to read. We’re very proud of them and hope you treasure them.
Plans are massively underway for our open day. We have some fabulous raffle prizes being donated, if you’d like to be in with a chance please see Mrs Bushby or Miss Collard for extra ticket purchases! We’re hoping for a very successful, busy day. There will be lots to do, lots of visitors to welcome to the nursery and show off our learning. Let’s get Bute Cottage on the map!

We had the last but one photography club today – oh how time flies! We worked with macro lenses to photograph the now cocooned caterpillars up close. Another new skill to add to our repertoire. Soon it will be time to frame our final pieces and display them for our visitors – what a busy club, so much to fit in and so little time (and space!) next week is time for our photography party, party snacks and fun photography. Bring your best smiles!

Another sign we’re nearing the end is the group photograph shoot drawing near – my morning group had theirs today, it was so much fun! I had a sneaky peak at the shots after nursery and they were all so adorable I don’t know how you’ll pick! The teachers are looking to have some fun with their group photograph too, wonder how we’ll pose this year? Everybody has fun at Bute Cottage!

At the end of last week I visited a school in Cardiff who are making good headway with digital learning using their iPads. It was a good day, I certainly represented the Vale of Glamorgan! I got a good list of apps I am slowly working my way through, if you need any advice I’m sure there’s one on the list for everything!! I was blown away by Myscript Calculator! Try it and see.
This coming Monday I have another digital learning course, this time using iMovie, Garageband, Book Creator and Nearpod. Coming away with an Apple TV for the nursery is merely an added bonus..! New toys!

I must say a huge thank you and even bigger well done to those that have brought in creatively “up-cycled” planters so far! We were re-tweeted both by Eco Schools Wales and Keep Wales Tidy today when we sent the photograph of the children who made them putting them in place! They are fabulous, we have kitchen recycling planters, a mug, a giant rubber duck and a colander. Da iawn pawb! What a great effort and a huge impact on the welcoming look of the front of our nursery. There’s still time to get yours in – in fact we’d always welcome them! I’ve seen some fantastic planters in old wellingtons, an old football and even a barbecue!

Here’s to Tuesday! GC x

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7/5/13 Tuesday but feels like Monday…
Treated to a bank holiday Monday this week and didn’t we have glorious sunshine for it?
Back to nursery today and the garden is most popular, everybody is happy when the sun shines on Bute. The teachers set up a tricky climbing obstacle course and more of the children mastered riding the two wheeled bike without stabilisers – cries of “I’m doing it!” and “Are you proud?” – we are proud. Very proud. We tried a new combination of cornflour and shaving foam to make a sort of modelling substance as a fine motor activity – the jury is out on that one!
Inside, we had a go at pattern making and printing using a variety of sponge brushes on the painting table which attracted children who rarely visit this activity – one to repeat! One of the special jobs this week is another painting technique – string painting. The aim is to create beautiful butterflies. Ask the children at the end of the week what special pattern we have been looking at to make the wings the same each side! The answer begins with ‘ssss’!
Talking of butterflies, our busy, busy caterpillars have enjoyed the warm weather so much they have all formed their cocoons, so it won’t be long until we can release our very own Bute-erflies into the nursery garden. Last year the children called the first butterfly we released “Dave”. Fantastic name for a butterfly! It was a very magical moment as it landed on one of the children’s heads whilst drying its wings before flying off to find some nectar.

The other special job is word building, using the sounds the letters of the alphabet make when read to build known words, such as, their name, ‘caterpillar’ and what we call in the business, CVC words like ‘c-a-t’ or ‘r-e-d’. You may see some of this work around the nursery on display.

We had a haul of raffle prizes today via Twitter and our plea letters. A very special mum is helping with this – tweet tweet! – this mum in a million also brought us a very healthy cheque today as a result of the foreign/old coin collection. Many thanks to the community and our families for supporting us in this, we are hoping to purchase another iPad for assessment, recording and digital learning. This will be an ongoing form of fundraising so think of us after your holidays!

Plans are ongoing for the Under 5s Community Open Day and Photography Exhibition, we will be having a teddy tombola so if you have any ‘spare’, fairly new soft toys we’d greatly receive them!

Keeping the learning burning…GC x

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Wednesday 1/5/13

Wednesday 1/5/13
May Day. No dancing around the Maypole in sight, but it was gloriously sunny and this made everyone happy. A couple of the children even mastered riding a two wheeled bike – no stabilisers! – in the garden today.

It was the turn of my group to do the mathematical development high focus. We used mini beast props (thank goodness they weren’t real!) to sort, count, make groups, make patterns, add up and some of us even took away! I dried up TWO yellow highlighters marking all the achievements off our assessment records this evening.
On a personal note, I’ve gotten a little philosophical today about teaching. What can only be described as a pure hatred of ‘maths’ was put on me around the age of 9 or so. I didn’t go to school in this country so was taught by a diverse range of very eclectic teachers from all over the world. Many of which have since become lifelong friends and my inspiration to be the best teacher I can. Back to ‘maths’ – it’s this particular teacher who really I have to thank for making me realise who I don’t want to be. As teachers, it’s our job to make the learning meaningful to the children, it’s not the children’s job just to tow the line. We understand this in the Foundation Phase. I recall her writing in my year book “Let’s hope your maths gets better next year!”, what a statement to start the ‘summer vacation’ as it was called then. The me now would have answered “Let’s hope your teaching improves!” But at 9 years old its a different story. A summer of dread knowing a year of feeling like a failure lay ahead! But…I did alright! Before,you start wondering, I am qualified to teach ‘maths’, just remembering how important a good teacher makes everything so much easier. Needed to get that off my chest. Thank you readers…

We have one day left of this week for the children, Friday is a big resource organisation day for the staff. Please remember if you have any small bikes, trikes, scooters or other indoor/outdoor equipment you no longer need we’d love to re-home it for you!

At group time we followed the story of Miss Spider’s Tea Party (available as a free apple app, search for UK version). It’s very well written and recorded, a must see! It’s my app of the week – very popular story with the children. We discussed how Miss Spider must have felt when none of the other bugs would be her friends – a life lesson in there!

I was pleased to be asked by Natasha Jenkins of photography*jnr to work with her on a project in the summer – recreating our 6 week photography project in just 4 days. Naturally, I jumped at the chance of this great opportunity. Exciting times ahead!

I have blogger’s elbow…goodnight, GC x

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Monday 29/4/13

Monday 29/4/13

The start of week 4 of summer term 1, the weeks are flying by. In their play and conversations with one another all around the nursery I hear the children discussing ‘big school’ – “We’re both off to big school!” and “I’m going to primary school soon!” My children told me at group time “We’ll all think about you when we’re at big school. Everyday. We will miss you, Miss Collard.” (Cue the tissues!)
Thinking of group time, we read “Billy’s Beetle” and discussed alliteration and positional language. One pupil said “The sniffy dog is not very good at sniffing for the beetle…maybe he has a blocked nose like I do.” Great thinking skills!

Our special jobs this week have a high focus on numeracy and literacy – we will be working on the computers recognising numbers, making sets and beginning to look at addition. For literacy we will be reviewing the drawings we did of a frog life cycle and adding labels.
There’s a great app called “Math age 3-5” (eurotalk) – all the teachers are using it, it’s partly free with an add-on at £2.99. We really like it!

Photography Club took place today and we got technical! Natasha of photography*jnr prepared a dark box and we posed iconic characters for photographs – looking forward to seeing the prints of these! We also framed our fun portraits and these are on display in the Bwthyn Bach Pinc if you’d like to take a look, along with displays of the journey so far. We’re having so much fun and don’t want it to end. Next week (after the bank holiday break) we’ll have a photography club party during the session, we will provide a party picnic, you can wear your party clothes if you like and we’ll take portrait style photographs with your friends.

Raffle prizes for the open day are trickling in – if you or somebody you know can help, please get in touch!

Have you seen the caterpillars lately?! Munching and crunching their way to becoming beautiful butterflies!

Nos da ffrindiau – GC x

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24/4/13 Wednesday

24/4/13 Wednesday – hump day officially!

I have typed A LOT today!
The staff all went to Ashgrove School this evening as part of our ongoing training; to observe quality learning environments for children with Autism and gain an insight into the sensory aspect of it. Fascinating – we picked up some good sensory activity ideas and saw some dreamy furniture we’d love to have. At Ashgrove they have a children’s mini gym – definitely something near the top of our wish list! In fact, a staff gym would be nice…and a cashpoint on site! A girl can dream…

We had a large donation of foreign and old coin brought to us by a very kind person in our community – coins dating back to 1821! And all itemised. We’d like to keep the coin collection as an on-going fundraiser.

Mrs Bushby (evening!) and I met today and discussed the community open day. Some lovely stalls coming together – if any of our parents have any small businesses – or know of any who would like to support us – please pass our details on! We once again appeal for raffle prizes – they are building up slowly, no donation is too small (or…too big!)

We had our second SuperStars lunch club and afternoon sports session today and we have a new member of staff, welcome Lizzy to Bute Cottage for the rest of the half term. We practised throwing and catching today alongside creative movement during the lunchtime session. Thank-you for your support in this to help us fund the afternoon sports opportunity that the morning children enjoyed so much. We really appreciate the chance to work with Superstars again and look forward to future partnerships.

On a personal note, I had one of my boys write his name in full for the first time today. What a moment – sheer pride for both me and him. Just magical! One of those “Eureka!” moments.

I’m liking an app called “Little Writer” (Alligator Apps). It takes a little setting up, but it’s so worth it! On the home page, top right is “settings”, choose “customise items” and you can record your own voice, or your child’s, saying each letter/number/shape/word. Then, when in the app, The instructions to form are in yours/child’s voice and any language! So much potential – record in English, Welsh, or any other language, I’ve heard some Spanish, French and Russian around the nursery this year.

That’s enough, Miss Collard, you’ll have nothing to say next time! GC x

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