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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.

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:

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 directly from your phone

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


Subject: Musical statues
Message: Ben and Polly played musical statues, Polly won because Ben got the giggles and couldn't stay still!


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.

Observations - The Easy Way

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Child Development, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: eyfs, notes, observations, photos, record, toucanlearn, video

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A childminder is required to record observations as part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and yet, how do you actually 'make' and record observations in a setting while trying to do other things and look after the children?

The easiest was is to use ToucanLearn's unique Daily Diary.  By logging what you see, what the children say, any milestones etc on the Daily Diary you get a great personal record for yourself to monitor and to share with parents too... and you don't impact on the care you are giving by having to scratch around for paper and note books.  Sign up at our website and start using ToucanLearn for free!

Use a digital camera or mobile phone to record what happens.  Take pictures of special crafts, achievements or just everyday shots of the little ones going about their playing.

Take video of the children mastering tasks and having fun.  Try to encourage them not to act up in front of the camera but to just be as 'normal' as they can... may be hard!

Have a note book somewhere central at all times and jot down observations.  You can then stick them on a poster or add them to the ToucanLearn.

Maintain a weekly observation chart and add an entry each week in order to monitor overall progress.


Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, ToucanLearn, Child Development, Preschool Children, Kids Activities , Tags: communicating, hello campaign, speaking, toucanlearn

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2011 is the national year of communication; Hello is a campaign to promote the importance of children and young adults talking to each other and communicating effectively. Visit the campaign website at

They maintain that communication is a skill to be learned and that it is a vital part of life.  The statistics state that over 1 million children in the UK have a language, speech or communication problem.  In poor areas, over half of the children begin school with language or communication problems.  This makes school much harder for them and can lead to all sorts of struggles in later life.

Hello aims to help those children by providing resources for parents, carers and teachers.  There will also be events throughout the country to support and promote the idea of good and effective communication.

ToucanLearn is very much in support of programmes such as Hello.  One of our key skill categories is 'Speaking' where all sorts of activities, games and ideas are provided in order to help parents and carers encourage, entertain and also inspire children to speak and communicate more.  For more information and great ideas, sign up at ToucanLearn where learning is fun for your and your little ones!

Baby Keepsakes

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, ToucanLearn , Tags: baby, birth certificate, daily diary, hand prints, keepsake, lock, photographs, toucanlearn

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Your baby grows up so quickly; before you know it, you have young children running around your house! When your baby arrives, why not make some keepsakes that will help you remember those precious early days? There are all sorts of keepsakes that you can create either yourself, or buy through services from professional companies. Here are a few ideas:-

  • Photographs: The simplest and yet most powerful of all keepsakes - make sure you photograph your baby from the early days so that you have a visual record of their arrival into the world.  Why not create a record of their early development in ToucanLearn's Daily Diary?
  • Hand and Footprints: There are plenty of companies offering hand and footprints of your baby in their first few weeks, but you can create these yourself too!  You can create prints in various mediums, such as paint or ink prints on paper, prints modeled into clay, even hand prints on ceramic mugs or other items that you can arrange in a local ceramics workshop.
  • Lock of Hair: You may want to keep a lock of hair from your baby.  You may have to wait a while before there is enough to cut, but this could be a keepsake that your baby appreciates later in life too!
  • Baby Book: There are plenty of baby books that allow you to record different aspects of your baby's early life, and early milestones.  If you buy one, make sure you fill it in and return to it regularly so that you create a full record!
  • Hand and Foot Casts: Similar to prints, casts can be made by professional outfits and will remind you just how tiny your baby was once they have grown up and you have forgotten just how delicate they were when they arrived
  • Commemorative Jewellery: Treat yourself and congratulate yourself on the arrival of your children!  Why not have a nice bracelet engraved with the names and dates of birth of your children, or add a charm to a charm bracelet for each baby?
  • Birth Certificates: When you register your children's births, you can request copy registration certificates for your own use.  Why not frame them and hang them in your house?

You can find details of professional services in your area who can help you create keepsakes in most hospital maternity wards, health centres, baby magazines, and, of course, online.  If you opt to create your own keepsakes, be careful to use safe paints, inks etc.  Use only water based materials and watch out for any sign of allergic reactions, your young baby's skin is very delicate.

Parents Stuggle To Play With Children

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Child Development , Tags: babies, palying, pampers, toucanlearn

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Recent research has stated that over 60% of parents find it hard to play with their children and struggle to play with them in new and exciting ways.  In today's busy life, with work, commitments, dates, appointments, some parents even forgo playing with their children at all in order to do other things!

The research was carried out by Pampers, and it found that over half of the population would like to spend more time playing with their children but that other commitments get in the way.

Play doesn't have to be clever, or expensive or use special equipment or take hours to prepare.  It is simple, it is easy and it can be the best thing in the world for both baby and parent.

ToucanLearn is full of ideas and inspiration for play for babies, toddlers and pre-school children up to age five.  It is so easy to use, and has some great ways to entertain you and your baby.  Take a closer look at ToucanLearn and join for free at  Don't be one of those parents who don't know how to play with your baby, seek inspiration from ToucanLearn.


A Sense of Touch

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, senses, textures, toucanlearn, touch

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Here are a few ways to introduce the sense of touch to children with appropriate EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) areas of learning and development  included.

  • Go On Safari... round the house to find things that feel different.  The Cool window, the smooth door, the furry teddy the soft blanket.  Have a chat about how things feel.
  • EYFS: This promotes exploration and investigation, using language for communication.
  • Create a textured painting... add various ingredients to poster paints and get the children to have go at painting with different textures.  Try adding flour, lentils, sand, broken spaghetti and you'll get some great results.
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.
  • Touchy-Feely box... take a few items that feel different such as pine cone, washing up brush, length of ribbon, necklace, spoon etc and ask your child to feel it, describe it etc.
  • EYFS: This promotes exploration and investigation and language for thinking.
  • Texture Book... get some different paper, fabric or things you can stick together to form a book.  Newspaper, tissue paper, soft fabric, cotton wool, silver foil could all be stuck securely to pages and bound with string or wool to create a great book.
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.
  • Messy Activity... the ultimate way to feel and touch is to get really messy!  Try doing some hand and feet painting and get the children to describe how the wet, cold, sticky paint feels!  They will love it!
  • EYFS: This promotes being creative and exploring media and materials.

There are so many more activities like this at, where learning is fun for you and your little one!


Stay Informed with ToucanLearn

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Parenting, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: childminder, daily diary, early years foundation stage, eyfs, feedback, progress, record, toucanlearn

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We've progressed a long way from the Victorian days when children were best kept our of sight and out of mind, but the sad truth is that modern living often means that your children spend more time with a childminder than they do with you. Are you kept informed of how your children are doing, and do you have a good idea of their progress?

The government's Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) requires for child minders, carers and nursery teachers actively to keep records of every child's progress. Make sure that you are getting the level of information you want about your children and how they are developing.  If you aren't hearing enough, then ask for more - if you feel your childminder is being too diligent, then they will be delighted to be asked to reign back a bit and tell you just what you want to hear!

At ToucanLearn, every child receives their own Daily Diary designed especially for childminders to share information with parents.  By sharing the Daily Diary you can stay informed about what your children are doing every day.  This service can be used for free, but premium members can also upload photos to keep a photographic record of everything they do too.

We know from feedback that we receive about our service that many parents are able to view what their children are doing throughout the day - they can see pictures of new artwork once it has been uploaded, and they can read what their little ones are making, doing and eating during the day.  Here at ToucanLearn we're dedicated to helping working parents share as much information about their children as they can.  If you don't feel you are getting the information you want from your childminder, why not ask them to start posting a Daily Diary in ToucanLearn?  Our FREE service means they don't even have to spend a penny to do so!

EYFS - Is It Here To Stay?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Preschool Children, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Childminders and Childminding , Tags: areas of learning and development, eyfs, government, institute of education, toucanlearn

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The Institute of Education says that there is huge support for the Early Years Foundation Stage among early years practitioners following a study carried out by the Government to assess the popularity of EYFS among the groups of people working within the framework. It seems the majority of people who work with children are very happy with the framework and the guidance that the EYFS provides. Great changes are not required.

The Areas of Learning and Development were seen as largely appropriate although teachers did note that the focus seemed to be on numeracy, literary and communication rather than social, personal and emotional goals.

Assessing children, especially the younger ones, was also seen as difficult and following development of each child was not always deemed appropriate.

We hope that for all childminders, services such as ToucanLearn help!  If you aren't already signed up to our EYFS activity programme, sign up FREE now!

National Family Week

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: ToucanLearn, Family , Tags: family, national family week, toucanlearn

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National Family Week runs from 31st May - 4th June 2010 and is the biggest and most publicised celebration of family life.  It's an annual event and it aims to celebrate all things family, promote the idea of spending quality time together and it also advocates an active lifestyle. ... as does ToucanLearn!

National Family Week is backed by all major political parties, and it works with hundreds of partners and supporters to help support family life.  There are restaurants, retail companies as well as charities that support the project.  David Cameron, Terry Wogan, Amanda Holdon, Sally Gunnell and Ester Rantzen are amongst many all lend their support.

Thousands of events will be taking place across the country - many of them free of charge for children - in all sorts of venues.  The deals on offer cover all sorts of venues that want to encourage families to enjoy eating, learning, playing, exploring and getting out and about together.  The project runs throughout the whole of the half term week, see the official website for information on events, and access to lots of special offers throughout the week.

ToucanLearn is all about spending quality time with your children... after all, ToucanLearn (two can learn!) better than one.  An annual subscription is just £16 a year for hundreds of activities, games, crafts and ideas about how to entertain and inspire your children.  All the activities are age specific and great fun for everyone!

Wanted: A Childminder

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Parenting, Kids Art and Craft, Child Development, Family, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: activities, childcare, childminders, toucanlearn

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If you fancy becoming a childminder, here are a few qualities that childminders need in varying quantities and on various days!

Must Like children! It sounds obvious but it is absolutely essential that childminders like children.  The idea of spending day after day with them should inspire a childminder rather than fill him or her with horror!

Safety conscious: Provide a safe and stimulating environment for children to play and learn.  Rid the house of all possible safety hazards.  Be hygienic and offer a clean place for children to spend their days.

Encouraging: Tempt and encourage children to take part and do activities and be sensitive to different children's needs.

Creative: Able to provide ideas for crafts and show the child how to do carry it out.  Join us at ToucanLearn for lots of great ideas!

Patient: Have a calm approach to teaching and demonstrating activities.

Love the outdoors: Take children on outings and adventures to the park and in the outdoors.

Willing: undertake the unattractive side of looking after children: such a dealing with dirty nappies and spills and mess.

A good cook - preparing hearty, wholesome and fresh food and snacks.

Good communicator: With children and adults too.  A childminder needs to communicate with children of all ages in a calm and assuring way.  All sorts of basic, but vital information needs to be shared between the parent and the childminder's setting.

Caring: They need to understand any fears and deal with any problems in a caring fashion.

Fit: It's physically and mentally demanding so health and fitness is essential.

Have business acumen: A child-minder is self employed and therefore needs to submit all the legal and tax documents that that entails.

If anyone ever queries why childminders are now trained and examined by OFSTED; or if someone asks why a childminder's rate is so much higher than a baby-sitter, just reel off a few of the personal requirements needed by childminders and there's your answer!  And, I am sure the list goes on...

Anyone think of any other things you need to be a childminder?  Perhaps (in the nicest possible way) a tiny bit crazy?!

For more ideas about what to do with children tell all the childminders about ToucanLearn!

Parents are spending more time with children!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, ToucanLearn, Child Development, Family , Tags: children, parenting, parents, time, toucanlearn

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It's official - parents are spending three times as much time with their children as they did a generation ago.  Some of the findings concluded by Dr Sullivan and his team at Oxford University inlude:

  • Working mothers spend more (and not as previously thought less) time with their children.
  • Mothers are still the main carer (which is not surprising) but fathers are doing more childcare than before.
  • Fathers spend up to half an hour a day more with their children than in 1975 and do more of the household chores!

The research was carried out by analyzing diaries kept by parents between 1975 and 2000.  The people were then divided into three separate groups: those with no O Levels or GCSEs, those with one or more and those with a higher education qualification, such as a Degree.

When it comes to domestic chores, men do more now than they did and despite the advent of domestic appliances with  "time-saving" claims, both men and women spend more time on domestic activities today than 25 years ago.

The results showed that in 1975 fathers spent a matter of minutes each day with their children on average.  By 2000, this figure is more like 35 minutes.  When it came to mums, in 1975 they spent about 20 minutes with their children and by 2000 it was over an hour.

This goes against the common opinion that suggests because more women are working they actually spend less time with their chidlren.  This could be explained by the fact that parents are more aware of the need and benefits of spending time with their offspring.

This is where ToucanLearn comes in - we wish actively to encourage parents to spend more time with their children; with hundreds of ideas, games and crafts to do with your children, there's no excuse not to play together!   Tell a friend about ToucanLearn and share the fun!

Problem Solving with Babies and Toddlers

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Child Development, Kids Activities, Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) , Tags: analytical skills, babies, early years foundation stage, eyfs, thinking, toucanlearn

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It stands to reason that art and craft assists to develop fine muscle control in your babies, and that kicking, running and chasing games improve their physical strength and control, but how do you kick start your baby's ability to think and solve problems?  Funnily enough, abstract thinking and analytical skills are the focus of many Fisher Price toys created for babies and toddlers.  You may not have thought about it, but toys such as shape sorters, simple jigsaws starting with just two pieces per puzzle, old fashioned building blocks and musical instruments all help to develop analytical and thinking skills in babies and toddlers.

Walk into a toyshop and so many of the toys available today were available in a similar form in our own childhood - many were available in similar form during our parents and grandparents childhoods too!  Science has long told us that interacting with such toys helps us explore the world and develop our thinking, perhaps what is more surprising is that there are so few innovations in childrens toys over the last two generations.  That comes down to the fact that human development hasn't evolved in that time, and for a long time we have had a pretty good understanding of it.

When nurturing your children, or children that you work with, introduce a good balance of 'thinking' games and activities.  This is only one area of child development, but it can be easy to overlook the importance of this area if you particularly enjoy more physical activities.  That is one reason that the Early Years Foundation Stage is so important - by following the guidelines and ticking off boxes for areas that you have pursued, you will automatically be delivering a well balanced development plan to your little ones.  If you aren't the most creative person and struggle for ideas in areas of EYFS, or you simply want ideas that you can adopt and develop, then sign up to ToucanLearn now!  We offer hundreds of activities concentrating on key development skills, and for premium members we link them all to EYFS too so that you can track progress with your little ones.  If you are toying with the idea of subscribing to ToucanLearn, then there are several hundred good reasons for doing so!


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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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