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Adapting EYFS Activities to Different Topics

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: activities, days of the week, development, dinosaurs, eyfs, minibeasts, romans, topics

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The EYFS covers broad aspects of child development (such as Communication and Language, Literacy, Mathematics) rather than specific topics such as 'Dinosaurs', 'The Romans' or 'Days of the Week'.  At ToucanLearn we have a range of activities suited to the capabilities of each individual child. The selection of activities you see for a 3 month child is different for those of a 9 month child or 2 year old toddler. Our activity programme takes each child up to school age.

If you want to cover specific topics in your setting then look at adapting our activities to cover the topics you want to cover. Some of our activities will map very easily whilst some may not. For example, if you are studying 'Minibeasts' then look at adapting the range of activities being offered to change the focus to creepy crawlies instead.

Of course, there are plenty of other activity sites on the Internet and a quick search will bring up all sorts of activities relating to specific topics. Where ToucanLearn differs is that we offers activities aimed at the specific capabilities of each child, each one focusing on different aspects of the EYFS at that stage of development. By adapting our activities to a different topic, you can ensure that the activities are pitched at the right level in terms of capability.



EYFS Activities

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: activities, areas of learning, eyfs, eyfs activities, toucanlearn

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The EYFS is all about facilitating early learning, it's not a curriculum that should be followed prescriptively.  Indeed, prescriptive learning lies far from the aims of the EYFS.  Children have developed through learning since the dawn of humankind, and the EYFS doesn't bring us anything radically different in our approaches to learning for preschoolers, it simply encourages particular types of learning to stimulate the important parts of early development.

For this reason, it's not possible to pigeonhole an activity and say 'this is an EYFS activity'.  You would be hard pushed to undertake any activity that didn't cover at least one of the bases of the EYFS areas of learning. However, certain activities cover certain areas of learning better than others.

At ToucanLearn, we offer hundreds of actvities that, for our premium members, are all categorised by EYFS areas of learning. Most of our activities predate the EYFS, but they were designed with the same aims of the EYFS, to promote health early years development. As a young carer, you should observe the way that your wards are developing and should aim to promote those areas where you perceive work is needed.  Babies develop at different rates but generally conform to a linear pattern, hitting goals in a very similar order.  If you observe that your little ones might be struggling with gross or fine motor skills, or in the development of language, then actively seek out activities that will help to promote these areas.  At ToucanLearn you can achieve this simply by searching for an activity covering a particular area of learning.

Do continue pursuing activities in all the other areas of learning too - babies are developing rapidly so even if progress is good, or even better, continue visiting activities that you know they will cope well with as practice, repetition and the sheer fact that they are engaged in activities will all help their early development.

If you have stumbled across this entry inadvertently, then please do visit our main site, ToucanLearn. Sign up for free and access hundreds of preschool activities. If you're a professional childminder then you will find that we offer lots of services to help you fulfil the EYFS, and hopefully we can play a small part in helping your little ones achieve their potential in life.



Observing the Weather

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: chart, cloud, eyfs, observation, project, rain, sun, weather

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Weather makes for a great long term project, especially at this autumnal time of year when the weather is quite changeable. Observing the weather ticks a number of EYFS boxes, particularly in Communication and Language and Understanding the World but you can also extend it into Literacy by having your older toddlers write weather symbols, and you can easily create counting games based on weather observations.

You can buy some really good weather and calendar charts, but you can make them yourself at almost no cost.  Just create a chart on a large sheet of paper covering the days of the week and cut out some weather symbols stuck onto card.  Have your little ones select the right weather symbols to match the current weather.

Because the weather can change, they can add symbols for each type of weather during the day.  It may start off sunny, cloud over and then rain before clearing up again.  Instill observation in your little ones by encouraging them, proactively, to add a symbol to the weather chart each time they observe a change outside.



EYFS 2012 is Here!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: eyfs, eyfs 2012, prime areas or learning, specific areas of learning

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It seems that we've waited forever since EYFS 2012 was published back in March, but it has finally come into force and we have updated ToucanLearn to reflect the revised areas of learning.

One of the changes introduced in EYFS 2012 is a split between 'prime' areas of learning and 'specific' areas. The prime areas (Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development) are the essential building blocks designed to promote healthy development. The specific areas (Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Art and Design) are more attuned to future school learning in specific subjects.

You will find that activities for younger children focus more on the prime areas but as they grow older, more and more focus will switch to the specific areas. This follows natural learning and progression and is reflected in the activity programme offered to all preschoolers in ToucanLearn.



Maintaining Diaries

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: daily diary, diaries, eyfs, eyfs 2012, toucanlearn

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A core requirement for EYFS is that childcare providers must give parents information on the types of activities they are undertaking, the daily routine, food and drink provided and, in EYFS 2012, how the EYFS is being delivered.

This is exactly what ToucanLearn's Daily Diary is intended for.  Each child has their own unique Daily Diary and you can create entries during the day. Each Diary can be shared between parents and childcare providers which allows parents to log in and see what's going on at any time of the day. Everyone can even add their own entries.

We recently launched our mobile phone service where you can email a photo directly from your mobile into the relevant Daily Diary - what could be easier?!

This service also processes text messages, so, for example, if you want to quickly report on what the children are eating, just send a text email (not an SMS message) to your diary and a new entry will be logged. Remember to name the children in the subject line or the body of the message, and please ensure that your 'from' address matches your ToucanLearn login.  Entries should arrive in your diary within 2 minutes and if it fails to match, you will receive a notice back telling you that.

Find out more here: http://www.toucanlearn.com/daily-diary.



Emailing Photos to your Daily Diary

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: daily diary, eyfs, eyfs diary, mobile, photo, toucanlearn

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Sharing your pictures has never been easier with ToucanLearn's facility to email photos directly from your mobile phone into the correct Daily Diary!  There isn't an easier way to maintain EYFS diaries throughout the day and what's more, you can share your diaries straight with the relevant parents too, so that they can stay informed throughout the day.

Those members who tested this for us are unanimous in their praise!

"This great new feature of being able to send photos straight to the learning journey is great! It really makes my work very much enjoyable and its simple to use", Fay, Childminder, Bedfordshire.

Here’s what to do!  Give it a try and let us know how you get on...

  1. Take a photo on your mobile phone
  2. Add a subject line and message - this will appear in the diary
  3. Include the child's name (or children's names) in the subject or message
  4. Email it to diary@toucanlearn.com directly from your phone

The photo will automatically appear in the account/s of the child/children's written in the subject line.

Example:-

To: diary@toucanlearn.com
Subject: Musical statues
Message: Ben and Polly played musical statues, Polly won because Ben got the giggles and couldn't stay still!
[PHOTO]

 

This email will be turned into a Daily Diary entry for both Ben and Polly with the subject line as the entry title, and the message becomes the caption for the photograph.

Photo entries should appear in your diary within two minutes.  If we fail to match the photo to the correct diary then you will receive an email back explaining the problem.

This feature is for Premium Members only as we don't offer photo uploads on free accounts.



Medium Term Planning

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Child Development, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: daily diary, eyfs, medium term planning, planning, toucanlearn

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Early years providers should be constantly looking ahead to ensure that they can nurture the development of their wards over time.  Short term planning ensures that you know what you are doing with your children day in, day out.  Medium term planning gives an overall strategy and direction to your learning.  Essentially, following a strategy to push development turns you from a babysitter to an educationalist.

Medium term planning should be done up to 4 or 6 months in advance.  Best practice advocates not simply creating a 4 month plan, seeing it through and creating the next one, but revisiting the plan regularly, at least once a fortnight, to ensure that you are on track and to extend into the future.  At any given moment, aim to have the next few months in development terms mapped out.  In revisiting the plan, adjust it to any needs that may be emerging.

Constantly reviewing and revising your plan keeps it fresh in your mind so that you know what you are delivering at any given point.  Buy some books on child development and use this to help work out what milestones you should be reaching, and undertake activities that help achieve those milestones.

Your medium term plan will inform your short term plan so that you can map out activities on a weekly basis.  Activities on ToucanLearn are designed so that they are always at the edge of what children should be achieving.  By keeping up with activities in ToucanLearn you will automatically be following a strategy for success.

When planning, make sure that you cover all the bases of EYFS.  Projects offer a great opportunity to extend activities out over time.  The spring and summer months are great for projects because you can study how plants and animals develop, base craft around the notions of insects and animals, and there are plenty of games and songs to take in along the way.

Allow for flexibility in your planning.  Short term planning allows you to cater for the emerging interests of your children and to some extent you should always follow their interests above any rigid planning.  Children learn through constant interaction with the world and if they show an interest in a particular topic then run with that, ignite that spark and your children will soak up knowledge and learn based on what they find stimulating at any given point in time.

If you have children of varying age groups within your setting then younger children will develop faster as they try to mimic the older children surrounding them.  This create a positive impact but at the same time, do not neglect the needs of the younger children, especially babies.  Even though they may appear to be less demanding than older children, they still need devoted time for stimulation and interaction.

Your Daily Diary in ToucanLearn will help you achieve your planning aims, you can then share your plans with parents and they can comment and get involved too.  There's absolutely nothing wrong, however, in keeping your plans on paper.  Planning in any medium is much more important than having no plans at all.



Observing Children

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, ToucanLearn, Child Development, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: daily diary, eyfs, observation, progress

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One of the requirements of the EYFS has always been to observe children and gage their progress against the areas of Learning.  Observation should tell you what stage your children have reached in terms of development and will help you plan activities to challenge their current capabilities.  Parents naturally observe their children but in an informal way, and it doesn't necessarily lead them to challenge their children.

There are two key modes of observing children.  The first, formal mode, is to watch them for a period of time as they play in their setting.  Watch what they do, what they say, how they solve problems, and make a record.  Doing this on a frequent basis will let you notice patterns emerging and help you plan progress.  The other mode of observation is simply noticing particular moments that strike you as funny, special, amazing.  Young children are constantly amazing us, perhaps they do something in the way that you do, or say something that you would nomally do; maybe they achieve something that you really didn't think they could do, a baby rolling over, pulling a cushion off a sofa, pulling themselves up to a standing position.  Note these moments too and again you will see patterns emerging over time.

Using ToucanLearn's Daily Diary, you can keep a permanent record of progress and come back to it over time.  If you are a childminder, share the Diary back with parents and that way they can log in at any moment and see how their child is progressing, and what they are doing.



Outstanding Childminders Never Stand Still

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Childminders and Childminding , Tags: childminder, eyfs, good, ofsted, outstanding

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In 2008/2009, only 9% childminders were graded 'Outstanding' but with 55% making 'Good' and 30% 'Satisfactory', there's little to worry about in the provision of childcare on the whole.  But what makes turns a Good childminder into an Outstanding one?

OFTSED recognise a number of features that contribute towards the award of an Outstanding review, and it's largely not about what you do in your setting, but what goes on around and outside of it.

The overwhelming contributing factors highlighted by OFSTED are those of continual reflection and improvement...childminders must never stand still!  Factors include:-

  • Continually working with parents and other carers to exchange information about the child and family (this plays a more important role in EYFS 2012 to be introduced in September)
  • Continually reflecting on their provision and looking at how they might improve
  • Attending regular training on educational and developmental matters and gaining recognised childcare qualifications
  • Having an excellent understanding of the EYFS areas of learning
  • Reviewing and revising procedures and policies on a regular basis
  • Using external resources including OFSTED self-evaluation forms, childminder advisers and local network and quality schemes to help identify and implement improvements

Having all the toys in the world, cooking the best food or playing the best games with your children alone won't achieve Outstanding status.  An Oustanding childminder almost needs to treat their work as a career rather than a job.



EYFS In Everything We Do

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Parenting, Child Development, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: chores, daily diary, eyfs, learning, routine

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Although the EYFS is a prescriptive programme to help cover a wide variety of development topics, almost everything we do covers aspects of EYFS without even having to try, and that's because EYFS is really gearing us up to learning about the real world.

Take a trip to the supermarket for example, your little ones are learning where their food comes from, they can help find products on the shelves, they help you with the money when you come to pay.  These activities touch elements of health and bodily awareness (PD), place (KUW), and shapes, space and measures and calculating (PSRN).

Picking up siblings or other children from school and chatting with mum's at the school gate aids language (CLL) and sense of community (PSED) as well as helping grow confidence (PSED), the walk alone contributing to Physical Development.

Familiarity with the goals of EYFS will let you turn every routine task or chore into a learning game.  Accentuate the lessons across the different areas of the EYFS and at every step you will be nurturing your children in understanding the world, their place within, and in how everything works. Don't forget to log the lessons learned in your Daily Diary at ToucanLearn!



EYFS 2012

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: communication and language, expressive arts and design, eyfs, eyfs 2008, eyfs 2012, literacy, mathematics, physical, psed, uderstanding the world

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The revised EYFS framework was published this week, the existing framework, EYFS 2008, remains in place until the end of August, the new framework called EYFS 2012 will be mandated from the 1st September. The revised framework aims to reduce bureaucracy and simplify learning and development requirements, reducing the early learning goals from 69 to 17. The framework concentrates on the three areas of learning deemed the most important:-

  • Communication and language
  • Physical
  • Personal, social and emotional development

In addition to these 'Prime Areas' there are also four futher 'Specific Areas':-

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

At ToucanLearn we will revise our system to tie in with EYFS 2012, ready for launch on 1st September.  At the same time we will launch some new features to offer new tools to help childcarers implement the EYFS.  We're excited about these changes, while we always felt that the EYFS offered a great platform for early learning, we also think that these revisions help to focus on the important parts of learning and will help those who might have struggled with the breadth of coverage of EYFS 2008.  We will write more about the revised EYFS framework over the next few months, and keep you informaed of changes coming toToucanLearn.

You can download the new EYFS framework here.



You've Got A Friend...

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play, Parenting, Child Development, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: eyfs, friends, making friends, personal development, relationships, social development

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Making friends, especially if you are a toddler, is not always easy... some children are keen to have 'best friends', others go around in packs and some are simply not interested at all.  When you ask who they played with a nursery and they say 'no one' it can be heart-breaking.  But, we have to remember that some children are emotionally 'advanced' and understand the concept of having a friend; whereas others are more interested in playing along side another child with no interaction at all.

If your child is nervous of making friends or you want to gently encourage them to make some new friends, here are a few ideas for encouraging and guiding them.  Friendship is an important part of all our lives and the importance placed on making friends in childhood is demonstrated by the fact that 'Forming Relationships' is part of the EYFS and is a focus of Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

Here are some tips on how you can help children make friends:

  • Give them plenty of opportunity to make friends: see lots of people and do lots of different activities
  • Give them lots of praise when they do something kind to another person
  • Don't force them or try to make them form friendships with people they don't like even if you like them!
  • Try not to interfere when they are interacting or playing
  • Be bold and approach people at playgroup and get to know them yourself
  • Lead by example, chat to people and make friends yourself
  • Talk about being kind, sharing and being a good friend while you are at home
  • Support any efforts to make friends even if they fail
  • Look at photos of friends and chat about how much fun they can be


Biggest, Tallest and Fastest in the World!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: comparing size, eyfs, problem solving, reasoning and numeracy

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Part of the Government's Early Years Foundation Stage areas of Learning and Development covers 'Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy' and one of the focuses is 'Shape, Space and Measures'; in order to introduce the idea of size and comparison, try this simple activity, especially if you have recently been to a zoo!  This can be done when walking along the street to playgroup or when sitting on a bus.  Make it a chatty conversation, and not a mathematical exercise.  Keep it simple and talk about the possible answers.

Ask your child some size related questions:

  • Which is the tallest animal in the world?  A giraffe.
  • Which is the heaviest animal in the world?  An elephant.
  • Which is the fastest animal in the world?  A cheetah.
  • Which is the smallest animal in the world? A tiny bug
  • Which is the fluffiest animal in the world? A baby bunny?
  • Which is the biggest animal in the sea?  A whale.

Go to the library and find an animal dictionary or encyclopedia and look up the animals to see what they look like.  See what other interesting facts you can find out.  What do they eat?  Where do they live?  Do they live in groups or alone?  You could also go on line and look for images of the animals and search together.

Try comparing the size of other things around the house too.  Which is the biggest cupboard?  Run and find it.  Which is the tallest lamp?  Run and find it.  Which is the smallest door?  Run and find it.

 



Communicating With Parents!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Child Development, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: childcare, eyfs, parents involved

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Research has shown that children benefit more from childcare when their parents are involved.

This research has proved that parents who take an active interest in their children's childcare, reap the benefits. And, the children of parents who get involved settle better and progress more quickly.

This is not to say that parents need to go in and help once a week at nursery or donate lots of funds. It simply means trying to do the following:

  • trying to understand what activities your child is doing when at nursery or with the childminder
  • finding out what topics are being studied and chat about them together at home
  • speaking to the childminder and keeping in touch with progress and development
  • sharing with the childminder what your child has enjoyed at home or outings they have had at the weekend
  • keeping an eye on your child's Daily Diary and sharing it with them
  • looking and enjoying the arts and crafts your child come home with... perhaps trying them for yourselves at home

The Childcare Trust suggests arranging a daily diary for your child as it is a great idea to monitor and share activities and events. For a great, easy to use on-line Daily Diary (and a great activities-based learning programme for 0-5s) go to ToucanLearn.com for a free trial!



Learning Shapes and Shape Sorters

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Learning Play, Child Development, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: areas of learning, eyfs, fine motor skills, research, shape sorters, shapes

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Shape sorters feature in every nursery and offer a great way for babies to begin to understand the world around them and how they interact with it.  Research over the last few years, however, suggests that babies learn shapes regardless of whether they have access to these sorts of manufactured toys.  Studies of babies born in developing countries, without access to the toys we enjoy in the Western world, confirm that they are just as able to differentiate between different shapes regardless.

This prompts thinking that babies have a disposition to recognise lines that don't change as an object or shape moves in space before they recognise more complex shapes that do.  For example, they can see that straight lines remain straight while an object moves, even though the angles between lines change, making them harder to recognise.

This research helps us begin to form an understanding of how babies really begin to understand the world around them which in turn will allow us to develop aids that may help and accelerate children in their learning.

Of course, shape sorters aren't just about learning particular shapes - they also help develop fine motor skills as babies practice picking up objects, rotating them in their hands and guiding them through holes on another object.  The ability to post objects through holes offers the first steps towards being able to pick up and control objects in the wider world.

Early skills form an essential part of the Early Years Foundation Stage - make sure that your babies are interacting with objects in a nursery setting and you are already following several Areas of Learning!

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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

Sign up FREE to ToucanLearn to follow our activity based learning programme for babies, toddlers and children. We offer hundreds of fun learning craft, games and activities - every activity is aimed at the capabilities of your specific children. Download custom activity sheets, and log their progress in each child's unique Daily Diary!

You'll also find sticker and reward charts, certificates, number and letter practice. Every activity links into the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning and development.

Fill in our Daily Diary to log progress against the EYFS and add photo entries instantly simply by sending them straight from your phone. You can share diaries back with parents or childminders so that everyone can enjoy watching your children develop.

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