Welcome to St Michael’s Early Years Unit!
Who are we?
The Early Years is made up of Reception and Nursery, where children are able to join us from the age of 3. We are in three different groups called Owls, Robins and Woodpeckers. Our teachers are called Ms Pattenden and Miss Henderson-Hill. The learning support assistants in our unit are Miss Brown and Mrs Robertson. During lunchtime Miss Davies, Mrs Gutteridge and Mrs Hay are the midday assistants in the Early Years Unit.
Timings of our day
Nursery (Woodpeckers) – 8.50am-11.50am
Reception (Owls and Robins) – 8.50am-3.05pm
Our Favourite Activities in Early Years
Every week we take part in helicopter stories, this is where the children write their own stories. These are scribed by an adult before all the children help to bring their stories to life by acting them out:
“Helicopter stories is tried, tested and proven to have a significant impact on children’s literacy and communication skills, their confidence and social and emotional development.” Trisha Lee
We enjoy doing Dough Disco every day.
What is dough disco?
Dough disco involves moulding play dough in time to music and performing different actions such as rolling it into a ball, flattening it, putting each individual finger into the dough, rolling it into a sausage and squeezing it.
Why do dough disco?
This activity helps to strengthen children’s fine motor muscles to enable them to develop their pencil grip which in turn will help to develop their writing skills. But most of all it’s fun!
What do you need to do a dough disco?
- Music – any song will do! We have had Abba, Frozen, Musicals and TV themes to name a few of our favourites.
- Dough – You can buy pots of dough or make your own with your child. See the recipe below.
- A set of moves – These can be done in any order and you don’t need to include them all.
What are the dough disco moves?
- squeeze it
- roll it into a ball
- roll it into a sausage
- poke it
- flatten it
- pinch it
We have also learnt how to make pizza and a doughnut with the dough which the children are brilliant at doing.
Here’s a simple recipe for you to make play dough at home:
- 1 cup of plain flour
- Half a cup of salt
- 2 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 1 cup of water
- Food colouring (optional)
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a saucepan. Stir the mixture over a low heat until it comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Tip the dough out and leave it to cool slightly.
- Store the play dough in an air-tight container or plastic bag and let your child use it every day (it should keep for about a week).
Here is a link to a video that shows how to do dough disco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3K-CQrjI0uY
Squiggle Whilst You Wiggle
Squiggle whilst you Wiggle is a kinaesthetic approach to stimulate early writing. It encourages children to focus on making large scale movements to music. The children then mirror these movements using pens on paper. It is the first stage in handwriting practice delivered in a super fun, lively way and it has been shown to increase handwriting confidence and progress.
Scribble and Drawing Club
Scribble club in Woodpeckers is an amazing way to explore early drawing and mark making through scribbling. The children invent their own magical adventures and have taken us to many magical places such as treasure island where the pirates are hunting for all the jewels or to unicorn world where unicorns and mermaids play together.
In Robins and Owls the children explore drawing club through the magic of stories. They are immersed in new vocabulary and are inspired to draw pictures and secret messages based on stories such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Not Now Bernard and We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
We use Read Write Inc to teach the children how to read in St Michael’s. Here is a link to a parents guide explaining how phonics is taught. https://home.oxfordowl.co.uk/reading/reading-schemes-oxford-levels/read-write-inc-phonics-guide/
The children in Owls and Robins are making great progress with learning their letter sounds. This video shows you how to say all the letter sounds that we teach the children at St Michael’s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkXcabDUg7Q&list=PLDe74j1F52zSCiOMSn3zQDSzgu9TrbQ1c
We enjoy exploring numbers and numerical patterns through play. The children enjoy counting activities every day and are learning how to subitise numbers.
What is subitising?
Subitising is the ability to instantaneously recognise the number of objects in a small group without the need to count them. An example often used to explain this, is to think of a die – we immediately recognise the number of dots without having to count each one individually. A parent’s guide to subitising is in the documents below.
PE Days - Our PE day is Friday. For PE, we wear red shorts or jogging bottoms in cold weather, white t-shirt with St Michael's badge, plimsolls/trainers. The children can come to school in their PE kits but please make sure that any jewellery, including earrings, are left at home.
Outdoor learning – We go out in all weathers so please make sure your child has a pair of wellington boots left in school with their name on and bring a coat every day.
Library – Every Friday we visit our school library and the children will choose a book to bring home to share with you.
Uniform – Please put your child’s name in everything you bring to school. This makes it easier to trace mislaid items.
Reception Baseline Assessment - In Reception the children undertake the Reception Baseline Assessment which is a short assessment, taken in the first six weeks of starting Reception. A guide for parents is in the document list below.
Love of Learning Afternoon
Unfortunately due to COVID we have been unable to invite you in to share all the wonderful learning we have been doing in Early Years. However we are able to share with you a snapshot of our learning for the Autumn Term.
Early Years have had a very busy term settling into St Michael’s learning about our school Core Values and the St Michael’s Code. We learnt about some of the things that make each child unique in Early Years and talked about some of the similarities and differences of our friends and families. During drawing and scribble club the children have learnt about characters, settings and taken the characters on many different adventures. In Squiggle we have been mastering our large scale movements using our flappers and then using a range of mark making equipment. We have learnt how to draw horizontal and vertical lines, wiggles, and arches. During our Magic Maths sessions the children have been learning about the numbers up to 3 and have been learning how to represent, compare and make the numbers. We have also been learning about 2D shapes, size, mass and capacity. We have been learning about the traditions and stories of Diwali and Christmas. The children worked with together to perform the Nativity story to share with their parents at home.