Growing Microgreens: A Fun, Educational Activity for Children

Growing Microgreens: A Fun, Educational Activity for Children

Microgreens are an easy-to-grow crop that can be grown by children and parents any time of year.Back in April last year, we wrote an article about teaching children to grow food like vegetables and herbs at home — and its many benefits. It turned out to be enormously popular, so today we follow up with a guide to growing microgreens, for children. This activity is great fun, very educational and the result is extremely nutritious food!

What Are Microgreens?

Also known as micro leaves, microgreens are an easy-to-grow crop that can be grown by children and parents any time of year. What’s more, they can be grown indoors, without needing much room, and all at negligible cost. Take a look at the photos and you’ll soon get the idea of what type of crop they are; they’re basically the very young sprouting leaves and shoots of things like root vegetables, young herbs and leafy greens. We’ll go into more detail about those shortly.

Why Children Should Grow Microgreens

Once ready, microgreens can be used as salads and garnishes.Microgreens are great fun and extremely easy for children to grow. Once ready, they can be used rather like salads and garnishes. They are very tasty and are extremely nutritious.

Because they’re so compact, they can also be grown in virtually any household. They can be grown indoors too, for example on a windowsill, so families without gardens can also enjoy growing them. What’s more, getting children to grow microgreens may save money for the household.

Growing microgreens will really educate children about nature and the importance of caring for a living thing. It’ll help them learn new skills, teach them to be responsible and also help them learn more about where food comes from.

Growing their own food may also make children more likely to try different foods, particularly natural ones like these that are so good for them. All things considered, this fun, natural, educational activity is a total win-win!

What They Are Grown In

Microgreens can be grown in small spaces like windowsills, indoors.Microgreens are traditionally grown in shallow seed trays, which are inexpensive to buy. However, at home, they can just as easily be grown in flower pots, used yoghurt pots, empty egg cartons, the trays from ready-meals or even cut-down cardboard cores from kitchen rolls. So long as water is allowed to drain from them and they can support at least a shallow depth of compost, these can all be suitable. Plastic cartons will need a few holes punched in the bottom to allow for drainage, so parents might need to organise that in order to avoid their children hurting themselves. Other than that, it’s plain sailing for supervised children to do themselves.

What Else is Needed?

Microgreens are usually grown from seeds and, for those, you have a couple of options. Both are very inexpensive. You can use either:

Suitable seeds include rocket, beetroot, spinach, red cabbage, fennel, broccoli, radish and mustard.Suitable seeds include: rocket, a type of strongly-flavoured lettuce; beetroot, with their lovely red stems and mild, earthy taste; spinach, which also has a mild flavour and is full of goodness; red cabbage, which is also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals; fennel, which will have a distinctive aniseed flavour; broccoli, which will grow into sprouts that have a slightly spicy taste; radish seeds, which also grow into leaves that taste a little fiery; and also mustard seeds (for children who are OK with even more hot, spicy flavours).

The only other things that are needed for children to grow microgreens are water, drip trays and some compost.

  • For the compost, ‘Multi-Purpose Compost’ or ‘Seed & Cuttings Compost’ are both perfect. Peat-free versions of those are even better, as they’re kinder to the environment.
  • You’ll need some seed ‘drip trays’ to place under your trays or pots of microgreens. As the name suggests, these are simply trays to catch the draining water and to protect your windowsill etc. They’re inexpensive to buy but, if you’re on a budget, a saucer or suitably shaped plastic carton of some sort will be fine, so long as it’s watertight underneath and is shallow enough. This is also a great way to recycle plastic and show your child how easy it is to do so.

Setting Up & Sewing the Seeds

Setting up is easy:

  • As soon as shoots appear, remove any covering and ensure the compost is kept moist.First, your child should fill the seed trays, flower pots or equivalent, almost to the top, with some compost.
  • Then firm it down a little so it is flat and even.
  • If they want to manually space out the seeds individually, then they can use a fingertip to indent where the seeds will go, then pop a seed into each indent.
  • Otherwise, the fastest and easiest approach is to lightly sprinkle the seeds onto the compost. Be sure to do it lightly (tip: sprinkle from a little bit of a height to make this easier). Your child should avoid allowing the seeds to clump or be spread too densely, otherwise problems can occur once they start to grow.
  • Optionally, the seeds can then be covered with a light sprinkling of more compost, just to keep them in place while still allowing some light to get to them.
  • Water lightly (outside may be best to avoid any mess indoors). Be gentle when watering so the seeds do not simply wash away.
  • Place the pots or trays of seeds back on the windowsill or similar. Wherever they are placed, it needs to be in full daylight during the day and also ventilated.
  • Optionally, they can be temporarily covered with a piece of kitchen towel or cling film, but this is only while the seeds germinate.
  • Your child should check daily to ensure that the compost stays moist. If needed, water gently from above or, if seed trays are shallow, put some water into the drip trays so the compost draws it up.
  • Snipping them at their bases instead of pulling them up may allow them to regrow, so they can be harvested more than once.As as shoots begin to appear (usually after just a few days), remove any covering if used and continue to ensure that the compost is always kept moist, but not over-watered.

Harvesting your Microgreens

In just one to two weeks, you should have a nice ‘blanket’ of shoots and baby leaves growing beautifully. The idea with microgreens is to harvest them while they have baby leaves, before mature leaves start to form. So, they should be harvested while still very young. Snipping them at their bases instead of pulling them up may allow them to regrow, so they can be harvested more than once.

Microgreen Meals

Full of vitamins and minerals, microgreens can be used in a huge number of different meals.Once harvested, they should be rinsed to get rid of any stray compost. They are delicious to eat and, depending on the seeds grown, have a huge variety of tastes and colours. Children and parents alike can benefit from the nutritious and tasty shoots as part of a variety of meal types. Full of vitamins and minerals, they can be used in salads, as pizza toppings, garnishes, toppings for risottos, soups and pastas, as fillings in sandwiches, sprinkled on top of baked potatoes or into burgers and much more. They’re very adaptable and, with their distinctive tastes and textures, will make any meal really special.

Childcare Excellence in Streatham, SW16

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamChildren will love growing these little edible plants and harvesting them for food. They will learn so much along the way, building to a great sense of achievement in what is a great home learning activity. Learning at home is just as essential as all the learning that takes place at nurseries like Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. Children will learn best when it’s a true partnership between nurseries/pre-schools and parents, so we encourage regular feedback and cooperation.

If you are looking for outstanding nurseries in Streatham for your baby or under-five child, please get in touch with Little Cedars Nursery. Our nursery is also near Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so get in touch if you’d like to discuss or register a place for your child. We’d love to show you around …

20 Amazing Baby Facts

20 Amazing Baby Facts

When preparing articles for this website, we often spot interesting baby facts that may surprise people. So, today, we thought we’d share 20 or so of our most surprising discoveries with you.  Many are a reminder of just how amazing babies really are!

1. Twenty Babies Born A Minute

Did you know, one baby is born every three seconds. That’s 20 every minute, 1200 every hour and nearly 29,000 every single day.

2. Rapidly Expanding Brains

A baby’s brain will more than double in size in their first year. By the time they’re five, it will have tripled in size compared to its size at birth. The brain will not finish fully developing, however, until the individual reaches their twenties. The brain of newborn boys may also grow faster in the first 3 months than that of newborn girls. It’s something that’s keenly debated amongst experts, though.

Babies are born with 50% more bones than adults.3. Almost 50% More Bones Than Adults

Babies are born with more bones than adults. In time, some will harden and fuse together into just a single bone. Babies’ heads have soft spots when newly born, but which don’t last. That’s because various, separate, bones form their skull at birth. Initially these are connected by something called ‘noggin’, but later the separate skull bones fuse together. Babies are born with around 300 bones. By the time they’re adult’s they will have just 206.

4. But No Kneecaps

Babies do not have kneecaps when they’re born! Had you ever noticed? These finish appearing only once the baby reaches at least 6 months of age.

5. Amazing Taste

Babies have about 30,000 taste buds when they’re born. This is three times as many as adults. This is accounted for by the baby having taste buds not only on their tongue, but also on the sides and roof of their mouths as well as on the tonsils and back of the throat. Despite this, they apparently can’t taste salt until they’re about 4 months old.

Newborn babies are short sighted, only being able to properly focus on an area 8 to 14 inches in front of them6. Not So Hot on Eye Sight

Newborn babies are short sighted, only being able to properly focus on an area 8 to 14 inches in front of them — that’s perfect for seeing mum when being breastfed when you think about it. This area of focus will increase with time, of course, and babies also use their peripheral vision to make up for the lack of deeper focus.

7. Fur, Gills & a Tail — Yes, Really!

According to the experts, foetuses have gills, fur and even a tail during development. All three end up disappearing either before birth or, often in the case of fur, within the first few weeks after being born. The tail will have become the coccyx and the ‘gills’, which are temporary slits (pharyngeal arches) in the neck, will have developed into jaw and ear bones by the time the babies have been born.

8. No Tears for Weeks

Babies don’t cry tears until they’re about a month old. Until then, it’s rather like ‘dry’ crying.

Newborns hold their breath underwater and even adapt their heart rate and peripheral blood vessels while submerged.9. Natural Born Swimmers (… Kind of)

Newborns hold their breath underwater automatically and even adapt their heart rate and peripheral blood vessels when doing so. We strongly advise against you testing this, of course, but apparently it’s true. This natural ability does not last past the age of six months, however.

10. Baby Time in the Womb

Some interesting statistics suggest that, on average, female babies remain in the womb a day longer than males, white babies remain there 5 days longer than black babies and Indian babies remain there 6 days longer than white babies. If true and not simply a momentary glitch, the reasons for this are a bit of a mystery.

11. No Memory Before Three

People’s long-term memories go back no earlier, in general, than the age of three. This is believed to be because either memory function hasn’t developed sufficiently until then or because memory may be tied to the ability to understand language.

12. Recognising Day & Night

It can take up to 12 weeks before a baby will recognise the difference between day and night. Hence, the irregular sleep pattern that can last until they’re 5 or so months of age.

13. Eyes to the Right

85% of newborn babies prefer to face to the right when lying on their back. The preference only lasts a few months, but may also be an indicator of whether they’ll turn out to be right-handed or left-handed.

Breastfeeding babies for at least 2 months halves the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)14. Is Breast Really is Best?

As well as protecting against diseases, breastfeeding babies for at least 2 months halves the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) — that’s incredible when you think about it. It also gives greater protection from SIDS the longer you continue.

15. And Breast Milk Adapts Like Magic

Expressed breast milk for a baby should never exceed 4oz per bottle no matter what age they are. While formula-fed infants have bigger bottles as they grow older, babies fed via bottles containing expressed breast milk should stick to 4oz (1 to 1½oz per hour) maximum. That’s because the breast milk adapts itself to their precise needs as they grow; it constantly changes its composition as the child gets older and that includes calorie content contained per ounce. That’s clever!

Human babies are the only primate babies that smile at their mother or father.16. The Only Smiling Primate

Human babies are the only primate babies that smile at their mother or father. That’s quite remarkable, although we wonder whether other primates have a different way of smiling that we don’t recognise or understand.

17. Special Birth Months

According to statistics, the most common date of birth is the 9th of September. This is closely followed by the 19th, 12th and 17th of September, in that order. Interestingly, babies born around this time stand the best chance of being the smartest in the class and going on to have the greatest success in life. We considered whether this could be linked to school starting in September, making these children the oldest, most mature pupils in the class at a time when learning and development is so crucial.

Meanwhile, people born in October seem to live the longest, living on average 160 more days than those born in the Spring.

Scientific evidence also points to the month of birth affecting personality. For example, those born in the summer months having the most optimistic outlooks.

18. And the Not So Special

Meanwhile, December, January and February are the least common months for births, with December 25th and 26th seeing the fewest during the entire year.

Firstborn children are 1.7 times more likely to live to the age of one hundred.19. Outcomes of Being First Born

Children who are first-born are 1.7 times more likely than their younger siblings to live to the age of one hundred. Those with young mothers at birth stand the greatest chance of doing so. The first born is statistically more likely to have better mental health but have a slightly higher propensity to be overweight or have high blood pressure. Firstborns are often natural leaders but younger siblings may experience that simply as bossiness when growing up!

20. The Origins of ‘Infant’

The term ‘infant’ comes from the Latin ‘infans’, which means ‘unable to speak‘ … which makes sense, when you think about it.

We hope that you have found these surprising facts of interest and have perhaps learned something you didn’t know before — we certainly enjoyed putting them together for you.

High Quality Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamWe are Little Cedars, a pre-school and childcare nursery in Streatham. As well as being one of the best nurseries in the London SW16 area, we would also make a convenient choice for anyone requiring childcare nurseries, pre-schools or playgroups in/around Balham, Tooting, Norbury, Colliers Wood, Furzedown, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill and Streatham Park.  Why not book a visit, register for a nursery place, or ask any questions — our childcare professionals are here to help:

Apply for a Nursery Place Arrange a Visit or Email Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

Statutory Paternity Leave & Pay (Rough Guide)

Statutory Paternity Leave & Pay (Rough Guide)

An eligible father/partner of the mother can take 1 or 2 weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave when their partner has a babyFollowing up from our Rough Guide to Statutory Maternity Leave & Pay (for mothers), we follow up with a similar guide for the father (or partner of the mother, including in same-sex relationships). As you’ll see, some of the rules are quite different …

Statutory Paternity Leave

An eligible father/partner of the mother can take just one or two weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave off work when their partner has a baby — so, significantly less than the mother. The length of time they’re entitled to does not increase if twins, triplets or more are born — it remains at 1 or 2 weeks total. It’s also worth noting that the paternity leave needs to be taken in one go, not split up into smaller chunks of time.

We should also clarify what counts as a week. This is however many days they work in an average week in their employment.

Timing

The father/partner-to-be of the mother must give their employer at least 15 weeks' advance notice that they wish to take Statutory Paternity LeaveThe father, or partner of the mother, must give their employer at least 15 weeks’ advance notice that they wish to take Statutory Paternity Leave. This can be imprecise, however, given that they won’t be 100% certain which day the child(ren) will be born. If they later change the proposed date, employers must be given at least 28 days (4 weeks) notice of the change, made in writing if requested by the employer.

Statutory Paternity Leave must end no later than 8 weeks after the date of the birth (or due date if born early) and must not start until the baby is actually born. Please note that different rules apply for those who are adopting and we do not comprehensively cover those in this article.

Eligibility

To be eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave, the person must be taking time off to look after the child and needs to be:

  • Learn more about eligibility for Statutory Paternity Leavethe child’s father, or
  • the mother’s husband or partner (including if same-sex), or
  • the adopter of the child, or
  • if the baby is born through surrogacy, the intended parent.

In addition, the person:

  • must be an employee of a company (with an official employment contract);
  • must give the correct advance notice (see ‘Timing’ section above);
  • must have been working for their employer continuously for 26 or more weeks prior to the 15th week before the baby is due* (N.B. different rules apply for those who are adopting);
  • must not have already taken Shared Parental Leave (‘SPL’);
  • if adopting, must not have already taken paid time off to attend adoption appointments.

Statutory Paternity Pay

We explain the rules around eligibility for Statutory Paternity PayTo be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay, a person needs to:

  • earn £120 or more each week, before tax;
  • give the correct advance notice to their employer (see ‘Timing’ section above);
  • be employed by them right up to the date of the birth;
  • have been working for them continuously for 26 or more weeks prior to the 15th week before the baby is due* (N.B. different rules apply for those who are adopting).

* The 15th week before the baby is due is is known as the Qualifying Week.

Those whose income has dropped below an average of £120 per week due to being on furlough during the pandemic may still be eligible.

How Much Do They Get?

An eligible father/partner of the mother will receive the lower of £151.97, or 90% of their average gross weekly earnings, per week. An eligible father/partner of the mother will receive the lower of £151.97, or 90% of their average gross weekly earnings, each weekThe payments are made through their wages by the employer after deducting any tax and National Insurance if due. (Figures correct at September 2021).

Making a Claim

Fathers/partners of the mother can use the same online tool as mothers to check what they’re entitled to. Start here.

Protected Employment Rights

As with mothers, a number of statutory employment rights for the father/partner of the mother are still protected under law. These include rights to possible pay rises, accruing of holiday leave and of returning to work after completion of the paternity leave. Eligible working parents are able to claim several weeks of unpaid parental leave under certain conditions. If met, they are eligible to take 18 weeks off (unpaid, but per child) before their child is 18. Follow the bold link earlier in this paragraph for more information, via our separate post.

Watch this space because we’ll cover the rules around Shared Parental Leave and more in separate, future guides.

An Outstanding Nursery in Streatham SW16

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamThis guide was brought to you by the team at Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham. For parents searching for the best nursery for their child in Streatham, Little Cedars represents a great choice. We offer outstanding weekday childcare in Streatham, also being convenient for those requiring a childcare nursery near Tooting, Furzedown, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.  To book a tour, ask a question or register for a nursery place for your child, please use one of the following options:

Apply for a Nursery Place Arrange a Visit or Email Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

The Benefits of Messy Play – for Under-Fives

The Benefits of Messy Play – for Under-Fives

Messy play is enjoyed universally amongst children, especially the very young. In fact, there is probably not a child in the UK that doesn’t enjoy it! Messy play is enjoyed universally amongst children, especially the very youngBeing let loose with coloured paints, art materials and creative opportunities is sure to bring a smile to their faces and a sense of enormous fun, creativity and discovery. No doubt too; they’ll be proud to show others their creations!

Is messy play all about having fun and being creative, though? Well, that’s important and it is partly about that. However, messy play also has a whole host of other benefits and purposes. In this article, we’ll take a look …

Learning Instinctively About the World

There’s something inherently natural about messy play — it instinctively appeals to children, giving them spontaneous ways to discover new aspects of the world and the properties of the things in it. Getting ‘hands-on’ with malleable media and colourful pigments surely is one of the most natural, fun ways for children to learn through play and discovery. Who doesn’t remember playing with wet sand on a beach, or being drawn to the joys of wet paint, mud or clay as a child? It simply is great fun and a way for children to let loose and get really messy — something they’re usually discouraged from doing.

Advancing Creativity & Self-Expression

Messy play allows children to express themselves in unbounded creative waysAs well as being enormous fun, messy play allows children to express themselves in unbounded creative ways. That’s important. Self-expression and creativity will help children to gain a sense of achievement and, through this subtle way, a greater sense of self-worth and confidence.

Building Blocks for Development

By learning about everything that messy play can teach them, children will also start to create building blocks upon which to develop intellectually and educationally. As well as learning about pigments, colours, form and the properties of different media, messy play will allow children to learn higher concepts. Just one example is planning. Here, they will learn how to decide on the order and structure of their activities before they actually begin them.

Improving Physical Skills & Strengths

Messy play is also a great opportunity for toddlers and preschoolers to build strength in their hands, to hone fine motor skills, and to improve coordination and even balance. Squeezing, pushing and pulling things like clay, or mixing and spreading pigments or glues all help children to improve their manual skills and build muscle in fingers, hands, arms and shoulders. Messy play helps children build strength in their hands, hone motor skills, and improve coordinationHand-eye coordination will also benefit, of course.

Gross motor skills can also be improved through messy play activities undertaken on a larger scale — for example playing in sandpits, creating large-scale art/sculptures and suchlike. What’s more, it’s all so much fun that children are completely unaware that they’re improving themselves as they engross themselves in the creative and playful aspects of the task. It’s all totally natural and, as such, messy play is a perfect example of learning and development through play.

Discovering New Senses

Messy play will also give children the opportunity to discover and recognise senses. Sight, touch, smell, sound and, if safe and appropriate, even taste senses can be stimulated through messy play. Through stimulation, children will get to learn more about themselves and the world around them. In terms of things in that world, it’ll also allow children to build up a picture of their own personal likes and dislikes. It also introduces children to spacial and material concepts, allowing them to recognise hardness, softness, solids, liquids, textures, form, colours and so on. Such concepts are important as foundations upon which to grow — as people and educationally.

Encouraging Independent & Team Working

As well as using messy play to practise independent working, it can also be done in small groups. In this way, children will begin to understand the power and importance of team work and co-operation, also learning things about leadership, communication, negotiation and problem-solving. That’s all incredibly important as they grow older, ultimately helping them at career level. Also, of course, it’s a great way for them to bond with peers.

Messy Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

We understand the many benefits of messy play at Little Cedars NurseryWe fully understand the many benefits of messy play at Little Cedars Nursery, of course. Indeed, it’s part of the curriculum. Under-fives are encouraged to learn through messy play using an enormous wealth of resources, equipment and materials at the setting. That’s both indoors and in our outside play areas. From paint and paper indoors to sandpits and water play outside, toddlers and preschoolers have a wonderful time with messy play at Little Cedars, all in a safe, structured, fun and educational environment.

Nursery Places in Streatham, Near Furzedown, Balham & Tooting

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamLittle Cedars is one of the best nurseries in Streatham, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park and Furzedown as well as Balham, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Norbury and Colliers Wood.  If you’d like to explore the opportunity of your baby, toddler or under-five child attending the setting, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to tell you more or even show you all around. Please select an option:

Apply for a Place Here Arrange a Visit or Message Us Here Telephone 020 8677 9675

Nursery places for Key Workers in SW16 & SW17

Childcare for key workers in Streatham & Tooting

Key workers in Streatham & Tooting:
We can help you with childcare.

Following on from our Coronavirus Update, we’re reaching out to ‘key workers’ in the Streatham & Tooting areas. If you require childcare during the COVID-19 lock-down, we can help.

“If you need childcare in the London SW16 or SW17 area of London and are what the Government are categorising as a ‘Key Worker’, we can help with nursery places for your children.”

What is a Key Worker?

Loosely speaking a key worker, as defined by the Government, is anyone whose work is “critical to the COVID-19 response”. It also includes people working in one of the “critical sectors”. These are categories that they see as essential to keep the UK safe and the economy and infrastructure functioning. Where children of key workers cannot safely be cared for at home, they will be “prioritised for education provision”. That means eligibility for childcare at nurseries and pre-schools like Little Cedars Day Nursery and Beechcroft Day Nursery.

  • NHS staff and those working in health and social care, we can help you with nursery places for your children.
  • Teachers, childcare workers and education professionals, we can offer your child a nursery place.
  • Emergency services, MoD staff, armed forces critical to the response to the coronavirus pandemic and prison/probation staff, we can offer childcare for your children.
  • Workers in national or local government essential to the COVID-19 response: we have a place in our nursery for your children.
  • Transport and delivery workers may also be eligible for childcare in our London nurseries.
  • If you work in banking/finance, IT, postal services, delivery, utilities like oil, gas, electricity and water: we can also help with a nursery place for your child.

The list of eligible key worker categories is thankfully large, so those were just a few examples. To check whether you’re eligible for a childcare during the lock-down, check the full list of eligible key workers. Then get in touch with us (see below).

A Nursery/Pre-school for children of key workers in London SW16/SW17

We’ll temporarily operate from Tooting Bec during the lock-down. As we mentioned in our last post, Little Cedars Day Nursery (Streatham) has temporarily joined forces with our sister nursery Beechcroft Day Nursery. This is very close by (just a 7 minute drive) at 83 Beechcroft Road, London SW17 7BN (Tooting Bec). Read more