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Sunday, 15 October 2017

Getting them mark-making with Brian Clegg's Paintsticks

Hi all!

This week we have been super busy working on our mark-making skills, especially as a lot of the children (we have a super clever bunch in nursery!) will be starting Phase 2 phonics next week and will then begin to work on their letter formation.

Mark-making is SUCH an important part of the whole writing process - and most importantly it should be FUN and exciting for them.. and boy did we have fun! I read a lot of education forums and came across a post which made me so sad. A practitioner said that her children were mark making anywhere but the mark making area, on the walls, the tables - so she removed the mark making area from the classroom! Guys, this is not the way forward! We should be encouraging mark making in all forms (I'm not saying let them destroy the room with their mark making!) ..but there are ways to make mark making fun - not just sitting at a table with a pencil!

Brian Clegg's Little Brian company sent me over some paint sticks for the children to use and they have LOVED them so much! We had the metallic and the day glow set - the day glow are my favourite because they're super bright neon 80s colours!

When the word paint is mentioned in an Early Years Classroom it often leaves the practitioner hiding under a table thinking 'Please God, just choose another activity' because the mess is often too much to bear! Kids just love piling on the paint and repainting over the same spot over and over until the paper disintegrates! Not with these bad boys!

Initially the children just used them to create pictures in the creative area and taking the lids off and putting them back on again also supported their fine motor development;


The children produced some lovely work and there was minimal mess to clean up afterwards which was a total bonus!

We then began to experiment with mixing colours which the children really enjoyed, but before long they had other ideas (as they always do!)...

They soon realised that they could paint their hands and fingers and transfer it on to the paper which they thought was brilliant!

We used them on huge sheets of paper to create larger pictures;

...and I also taped some paper underneath the tables which was one of their favourite activities! They loved lying on their backs and a bonus was they were developing their gross motor skills too without even realising it!!

However, the highlight of the whole week was getting to mark make on the windows!! Yes my friends, the kiddos were using the paint sticks on the windows! (Don't worry, I did make it clear to them that we only do this in nursery - I didn't want any angry parents coming after me after their child decided to turn into Picasso on their bedroom windows!) 

I could not keep the boys away from this area - normally it's a struggle to get them into the creative or writing activities but this is definitely an activity that I will be using a lot in my classroom now! I just used baby wipes to clean it off the windows, I didn't even need any harsh sprays it was such a breeze to remove even after the paint had dried! 

If you would like to purchase these paint sticks for yourself then they can be purchased from Brian Clegg direct, in store at ToysRUs or even Amazon with prices starting from just £4.99 - they're a great addition to any classroom and would make a great stocking filler for Christmas for your own kiddos - especially those with an aversion to paint and mess!! 

For the full Brian Clegg range then simply visit their website for lots more creative ideas! 

I received these products for free to try out with my class. However, the review and opinions are my own and I have given a full and true reflection of how these products were used and tested in my classroom.

 I hope this has gave you some ideas to use in your own classroom and given you an insight into how Brian Clegg/Little Brian items could be used in your own classroom or at home!

Head on over to Brian Clegg Art's Facebook page to keep up to date with all the latest competition and offers and ideas on how to use their products! 

Happy mark making!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Lots of fun with Learning Resources UK!

My little ones have been back for two weeks now and the time has flown by! We have started to welcome new friends and we are practising our rules and routines each day to make us great learners.

I was fortunate enough for Learning Resources UK to send me over some products for my children to use and they have been going CRAZY for them!!

First up is the New Sprouts Smoothie Maker which has been a focal part of my home corner - I have lost count of the number of smoothies I've been 'drinking' whilst I've been at work! I should be a lot healthier and skinnier than I am!

We had lots of fun filling the smoothie maker with the different fruit and filling the jug with what we had made - we even used some of our own food which made for some interesting combinations - jacket potato smoothie anyone?

i am sure that this will be a firm favourite in the home corner for a very long time to come, and it's really durable too which is fantastic considering I can have up to 39 morning children and 39 afternoon children, these resources are really put through their paces! 

Then we have our Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set which I absolutely LOVE!! 

Even though Halloween is still a fair few weeks ago my children have been absolutely obsessed with witches and making up their own spooky potions - and I knew that this set would be the perfect addition to a potions and spells tuff spot! 

The children didn't even realise that they were strengthening their muscles using the grabbers and pipettes. This is SUCH a versatile set and I just know that I will be using this tool set in so many areas of the classroom! 

Continuing with the fine motor theme which is a big area for me at the moment, we have been really enjoying using the Playfoam Student Set and as you can see from the photos below, it was EXTREMELY popular with the children when it was put out in our malleable area.

We even got to practise our dough disco moves with it and we used our dough disco posters to help us, here we made a ball with the playfoam!

 I was really surprised with just how versatile this playfoam actually is! I initially put it out in small clumps with some of my floam mats;

But the children had different ideas of how to use it (as they always do!)... they fetched their trusty cutters and rollers that they would use with their playdoh and to my surprise the floam was really mouldable. Even when they inevitably mixed all of the colours together, it turned into a gorgeous rainbow of rollable loveliness. This is already being requested daily and thankfully it doesn't dry out (I'm storing mine in an airtight container) and furthermore, there's no mess - hurrah!!

 Finally we were sent the Gears! Gears! Gears! Deluxe Building Set which I added to my construction area as something different to the usual cars and blocks. My children (especially the boys, surprise, surprise!) have really enjoyed this. Initially they were a little apprehensive as it's not as 'obvious' what to do with the gears as it is with bricks and cars - but I left it there for a few days for them to figure it out for themselves and once they did they had so much fun joining the base boards and making all of the cogs move - I can't wait to see what type of constructions they come up with as their little inquisitive minds figure out different ways of playing with these gears - the process of them working it out for themselves is so important to me (and them!) and I know that this set has so many learning opportunities!

My children have really loved the learning opportunities, and more importantly the fun that these resources have brought to our classroom. This is just a snippet of the many brilliant resources that Learning Resources UK has to offer, so head on over to their website if you're looking for new additions to your classroom or with Christmas coming up, a great gift for your little one that will support and extend their development! 

I am part of the Learning Resources UK testing team and received these products for free to try out with my class. However, the review and opinions are my own and I have given a full and true reflection of how these products were used and tested in my classroom.

 I hope this has gave you some ideas to use in your own classroom and given you an insight into how Learning Resources UK items could be used in your own classroom or at home!