Earth Week. Tissue paper, volcanoes, marble planets, and recycling (Week Beginning 27th April 2015)…

You will hopefully notice an ‘earthy’ theme throughout this week’s blog. Last week’s national ‘Earth Day’ was just not enough for Young Friends so this week we went one better with a whole week dedicated to all things ‘Earth’…

The Chimps, to follow from last week, have been practicing taking care of babies. So naturally their group times this week have been focused on being gentle and caring for one another – it’s all been rather cuddly and fluffy in the group area as a result. They have also been practicing their rocking arms with the song “Miss Polly.” In the role play area, some of your little ones have been very intrigued with nappies. They have been learning Makaton for nappies and having a go at changing the dolls themselves. Speaking of Makaton the Chimps also learned “hot” as they stirred jelly into water for their jelly “soup.” Of course, no soup is complete without some tasty bits and bobs which took the form of buttons and sequins. The children also used these to add to their hair gel sensory bags. In their sensory tray the Chimps have been leading the little ducks around in their rice pond and a few have been saying “duck.” It’s always hard to maintain a nice clean sheet of paper without those cheeky things crumpling them and they clearly reasoned this with the true old saying in mind ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’. The Chimps were given carte blanche with tissue paper this week and it was rumpled, crumpled and torn to their little hearts’ content. They obviously noted the pretty noises it made as they explored it, too. There was a rather larger than life ball in the soft play area and the Chimps wasted no time in rolling and poking and prodding it. Squeals of glee and Chimpy giggles could be heard from the garden as the ball was thrown into the air. Eeeeeeeeeeee!

The Howlers enjoyed an eruptive treat this week as Amy treated them to an exploration activity involving creating volcanoes with playdough, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. They enjoyed adding vinegar using their pipettes and then stirring the colourful fizzing volcano contents around. Amy has more plans to extend this activity next week so watch this space… For their role play experience the Howlers had a roll around (and through) their giant bird’s nest complete with papier mache eggs. They also used papier mache to create globes with blue and green tissue paper as well as newspaper. The sensory tray was all rather earthy as the children explored natural resources (sticks and stones) and soil. For some reason the sticks always turn into drumsticks (we can’t imagine why). They did enjoy the sounds they made at the sensory tray which was a great precursor to their world instrument sessions in the dance room. They learned to make different kind of sounds… or at least how to describe the sounds they were making with the clamorous clanking and… I can’t think of something alliterative for banging and shaking. In the construction area, the Howlers have been using junk modelling materials working on balancing items, sorting, and fitting different sizes into each other. The balloons have been out in full effect as the children enjoyed some balloon games for their physical activity. We have had some rather beautiful afternoons (some not as much) this week, so the Howlers took advantage with a little trip to the library, naturally waving at a few buses along the way.

“That’s where we live!” shouted the Baboons during the Solar System song which was part of their earth awareness group time. They spent time talking about why they couldn’t live on other planets because they were either too hot or cold and there were no plants or trees. Speaking of plants, using Georgia O’Keefe’s nature images the children took a closer look (they even talked about terms such as “close” and “far”) to see what was special about the flowers. They made good use of their junk modelling items this week as the Baboons made recyclable fish. Some were made of bottles while others had egg boxes for eyes. Now there’s a school of fish I’d like in my aquarium. With all the beautiful sun we get in the garden, Ben took the Baboons out to do some shadow chasing, or drawing rather. The Baboons were very aware of how different all of their shadows looked and some thought their shadows were standing on everyone else. Back in space, the Baboons created spaced out black and glittery playdough and used marbles to represent the planets, making sure there were eight to cover all of them. Mike stopped by this week to talk about his trip to Thailand and a not so happy experience with some children who were making fun of his hair. Mike and the children looked at lots of images of people with different types of hair and the Baboons helped him feel happy knowing that his hair was just like a lot of other people’s. Thank you, Baboons! For music and movement, the children rolled the animal dice to find out what animal they were going to act out. They also read a story called “The Walk” which also features many animals, so the children acted them out as well. Some of them even created sounds for animals they weren’t quite sure of. Apparently a zebra sounds like a cross between a horse and a dog. Neighwoof. Or was that woofneigh? Who knows…

You’d be forgiven for thinking there was rather a lot of rubbish in the Gorilla room this week, but your children have been learning all about recycling in their recycling centre role play – they have been separating plastics from paper and paper from cardboard (don’t worry – no glass). Their book focus has also been recycling and the Gorillas’ interest was particularly high during a story about the adventures of a plastic bottle, aptly and originally entitled ‘The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle’. The Gorillas learned some new terms that you may be hearing at home such as “crude oil” “polymerization” and “sterilize.” They were amazed at the things recycled plastic bottles can turn into such as toys and even clothes. Thank you to the parents who have let us borrow microphones because this week, and you can see from the photos, the Gorillas took their roles very (and hilariously) seriously as they interviewed their friends and staff around the nursery about the things they love doing here and why. The interviewers and photographers noted that all the rooms do lots of different activities and there are very particular toys in each group for the children. There are clearly some natural reporters and photographers among the Gorillas. Caz has been lending her culinary skills to all the rooms and the Gorillas enjoyed the process of making empanadas which is a very yummy (and healthy) stuffed pastry. There was lots of chopping, grating, and smelling of ingredients. They have been bundles of pure energy this week, so to release some they have been working out their imaginations as well as their limbs with some open ended dance room sessions. The Gorillas had to run for their lives as their crate islands dwindled away every time a new song was played as they splashed about in the “water.” In the end they had to share and balance themselves among three crates only. The Gorillas also listened to different instruments and then imagined how they would be played – soft piano music required tip toes while electric guitar involved some serious jumping. Sorry, Howlers. The Gorillas have also had lots of yoga this week and had a visit from a children’s yoga teacher called Cassie. She was so impressed with the control the children had – they really are turning into yoga pros.

The children got a new ‘sand and mud’ kitchen this week with a load of new utensils and a great big trough of sandy/sawdusty mud. They have been making pies and cakes and all sorts of other things in the sunshine. Lovely.