Tag Archive for: free childcare

How to Make a Wildlife-Friendly Garden With Your Child

There are many simple ways that children and families can attract wildlife to their garden or nearby outdoor space.As promised in our last post we now extend our gardening for children theme and take a look at some of the ways that children can attract wildlife to their gardens or other outdoor spaces nearby. Young children, particularly under-fives, will love seeing a variety of delightful little creatures arriving, especially if it results from their actions. The wildlife-attracting activities we suggest today will help their young minds learn more about nature and how to help it, as well as teach them new skills. Spending time in nature is also incredibly good for children and, what’s more, the activities include acts of kindness that will also benefit plants, flowers, and the wildlife itself. It’s a real win-win! So, perhaps take a few minutes out of your day to learn how you can help your child attract wildlife — and make the world a better place!

What Kind of Wildlife Can Children Attract?

We’re talking here about how to attract adorable pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies, as well as larger creatures like birds and, if children are lucky, hedgehogs. Some of the activities are also designed to attract interesting creatures like minibeasts, which are always a huge hit with children. So, by following today’s suggestions, children may get to see a wide variety of delightful wildlife!

Children should be aware that wildlife may not visit right away. Wildlife is naturally afraid of humans and often distrusts ‘new’ things in their neighbourhoods. So allow time for the wild creatures to become accustomed to changes in children’s gardens and encourage children to be patient — it’s a great lesson to learn.

How Can Children Attract Wildlife to Gardens?

How children attract wildlife depends primarily on what kind of wildlife they want to attract and, to a degree, what kind of natural space they have available. Supplying a source of food or somewhere to live is the key to success in most cases. Let’s take a closer look.

How to Attract Bees, Butterflies, & Other Pollinators

Bees, butterflies, hoverflies and pollinators in general are some of the easiest types of wildlife for children to attract. What’s more, it’s a fun, easy, and educational activity for children to take part in. Here’s how:

Pollinators Need a Drink!

Creatures like bees and birds will all appreciate being given a supply of drinking water.One of the key things that pollinators like bees need is something to drink, particularly when the weather is hot. They expend a lot of energy buzzing about and can easily become exhausted without a source of water. So, a simple thing that children and families can do is to put out some small, shallow dishes of water among any flowers (whether in flowerbeds or flowerpots). The little drip trays that you put under flowerpots are perfect but any small, shallow dish will do. A critically important detail is that a ‘landing stone’ should be placed into the water so that the bees have somewhere safe to land above the level of the water’s surface. They can then crawl to the water’s edge to have a refreshing sip of water without getting themselves into danger. What’s more, you may also find that other types of pollinators visit — perhaps even dragonflies and damselflies if they’re in the neighbourhood.

Pollinators Need Food (think Nectar!)

Children can sow pollinator-attracting flowers from things like poppy seeds and wildflower seed mixes. Bees and other pollinators will love these!Bees, hoverflies, butterflies and all pollinators also need nectar as a food source. For our children, that means that flowers — and their pollen — are the key to attracting them. So, with adult supervision, children can sow pollinator-attracting flowers from things like poppy seeds and wildflower seed mixes. These are readily available commercially, are usually marked on the packets as pollinator-friendly, and are usually very inexpensive. They’re also easy to grow (see our wildflower-growing guide for children for more details). These will not only look beautiful once they’ve flowered but will attract bees, butterflies and many other types of pollinators to the child’s garden or nature area. They are delightful little creatures and are also incredibly important, of course, for crop production for our own food. So, once again, if children feed such creatures, they are helping both the pollinators and humans. They can learn a great deal from this activity, therefore.

Attracting Butterflies

Bees, butterflies and even dragonflies absolutely love flowering Buddleia.As we mentioned above, butterflies will be attracted to flowers like poppies and wildflowers. However, they absolutely love flowering Buddleia (right) and Hylotelephium (a.k.a. ‘Ice Plant’ – see main image at top), especially if they’re located in a sunny position. On a good day, children may find such plants absolutely covered with visiting butterflies and other pollinators — and these creatures are a delight for little ones and adults alike. Note, though, that parents will need to hard prune most Buddleia varieties in early Spring, otherwise, they can grow quite large. If space is limited, therefore, stick with poppies, wildflowers, and ice plants rather than buddleia.

Butterflies can be attracted to children's gardens using overripe fruit drizzled with sugar solution.As well as enjoying the nectar from the flowers that children have planted (see above), butterflies can also be lured to children’s gardens through a kind of drink that’s also food for them. For butterflies, children simply mix up to four parts of warmed water with one part of sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Children can then drizzle the sweet solution over small slices of ripe fruit or even small cut-up pieces of a clean sponge. As with the water for the bees, these can then be placed in shallow dishes and left among flowerbeds or alongside flowerpots on a balcony or windowsill. Once they’ve discovered them, butterflies will soon begin to land to sip at this sweet food supply. Children will then be able to see their incredible beauty up close. Download our free butterfly identification poster for children here.

Another food type that butterflies love is — rather strangely — overripe fruit like oranges, bananas, melons, pears, plums and pineapples. Even when these are well and truly overripe — indeed way more ripe than humans would eat — butterflies enjoy them immensely. So, these too can be put out for butterflies to nourish themselves. Children can even make a paste mix of squashed, overripe banana and water and, when butterflies find this or any of our butterfly food suggestions, children can watch as the butterflies sip through the equivalent of their tongue, the proboscis.

Avoid putting these food and water sources near open windows otherwise pollinators and possibly other insects and bugs may get trapped inside your house.

How to Attract Birds

There are a number of activities that children can take part in to attract birds to gardens and outdoor areas.

Food to Attract Birds

Putting out food suitable for birds is the most simple way to attract birds to a child's garden or outdoor space.Putting out food suitable for birds is the most simple way to attract birds to a child’s garden or outdoor space. Once the birds recognise and trust it, the new food source will provide a regular stream of pretty, feathered visitors. Children will love knowing they helped to attract these wonderful creatures and have been responsible for giving them a much-needed meal. They can also use our free bird identification poster to learn which bird species are which. So, it’s both worthwhile and educational as an activity for children.

With regard to the food to put out for the birds, children/families can buy or make ‘seed cakes’ or ‘fat balls’. Children will love making these and can follow our guide to making home-made bird feeders here. Once complete, these can simply hang from string from branches of trees and bushes, from overhangs on buildings and sheds, or even from brackets used for hanging baskets. All of these are good places as they provide some protection from attack by birds of prey who, if present, usually watch and attack from above.

For a close-up view, a type of bird feeder that attaches to the outside of windows is commercially available.Commercially available ‘Robin peanut cakes’ and ‘sunflower hearts’ are also a big hit with many birds, and can usually be found in supermarkets or online. Whole bird-friendly peanuts are also popular with birds like bluetits and great tits, however, can be a choking hazard for baby birds during the breeding season if not crushed into tiny pieces. More information about suitable food types for birds can be found using the link in the paragraph above.

Another feeding option is a semi-permanent bird-feeding ‘station’ or bird table. As with the bird feeders, these can either be purchased commercially or home-made and need to be sighted somewhere ideally with cover from above — unless, of course, they have their own integral roof. There are even some that stick to windows, so those can be great options for children who live in an upstairs flat or apartment. All bird feeders should be cleaned regularly, by the way, in order to stop the spread of diseases and protect birds’ health. Obviously, too, the use of all such items will require the parent or caregiver’s supervision and help as appropriate.

Put Out Bird Baths Too

Birds need to drink and bathe themselves, so putting out water in shallow vessels like flowerpot saucers or complete bird baths will be welcomed by them.Birds need to drink and bathe themselves, so putting out water in shallow vessels like flowerpot saucers will be welcomed by them. These are best located somewhere a little secluded, e.g. in amongst flowers in a flowerbed or below overhanging shrubs or trees, rather than right out in the open. Otherwise, birds may avoid them as they’ll feel unsafe from birds of prey that sometimes view from high up in the air. If bird baths supplied are on the larger side, birds may bathe in them as well as drink from them. That’s a delight for children to see, so encourage your little one to make one or more bird baths available but also make sure of several things:

  1. Ensure the water is shallow as birds will prefer this;
  2. Put a rock or smaller upturned flowerpot saucer in the middle of larger bird baths as somewhere for the birds to safely land;
  3. Ensure the water is changed regularly and the bird bath is kept clean;
  4. Ensure children wash their hands after touching these or anything else in the garden.

Note that birds often distrust anything ‘new’ in the garden, so it may be a few days or even a couple of weeks before the first bird takes a bath. That said, sometimes a particularly brave bird may come almost right away and, in any case, patience is a virtue, as they say. That’s another important lesson that children also need to learn.

Add Nesting Boxes

Children will also love seeing birds moving into birdhouses, which families can either make or buy.Children will also love seeing birds moving into birdhouses, which families can either make or buy, often inexpensively, and put up around gardens or properties. There are lots of different kinds, for example, blue tit boxes have a hole as an entrance whereas robins require a larger opening. Some research online may be wise and families can decide which type to go for based on what species of birds they wish to attract.

Bird boxes should be positioned carefully, though, bearing in mind the following guidelines:

  • Boxes should face anywhere between north and east otherwise babies can die from the heat during the summer months;
  • Position at least 2 metres above ground level, somewhere cats, foxes, squirrels and birds of prey cannot easily access them (so, not near the tops of fences, for example);
  • For the same kind of reasons, it’s best if bird boxes are located under some kind of overhead protection e.g. under the eaves or an overhang on your house, or on a tall post underneath a tree canopy (this reduces the chance of attack from above by birds of prey). Hiding them within an area covered in climbing plants is another option;
  • Locate them away from permanent bird feeders as they need to be away from other areas that are busy with activity from birds, animals, and humans;
  • Tilt the box forward a little so that rain runs off more easily.

More information about bird boxes and how families can even make them is available on the RSPB website.

How to Attract Minibeasts

Children can make a compost heap to attract minibeasts and give them a home.By far the best way to attract minibeasts, apart from ensuring harmful weedkillers and other nasty chemicals aren’t used around the garden, is to give them a compost heap to live in. Such places will attract minibeasts like centipedes, woodlice, millipedes, worms and many other types — perhaps even slow worms. Building a compost heap is a wonderfully worthwhile, fun, and educational activity for children to take part in and our guide explaining how to make and maintain a compost heap can be found here.

Once the compost heap has been established, minibeasts will move in as it will represent both a home and a food source for many of them. Children can also download our free Minibeasts identification poster here.

Teach Children Empathy & Responsibility

Children should be shown how to take care of and be gentle when looking for wild creatures, as each is an individual who wants to live in peace, is scared of humans and is both delicate and easily harmed. Taking such care will teach children lessons like empathy and responsibility as well as help the garden wildlife to stay safe and well.

Create a Wilderness Area

Lizards, frogs, toads, and newts may also be attracted to wild areas that are damp.Aside from that, minibeasts and many other types of garden visitors love a wild area of the garden or outdoor space to live in, ideally with ramshackle things like flower pots, rocks, piles of rotting leaves, and rotting logs/branches for bugs, slow worms and other minibeasts to live under. Lizards, frogs, and toads may also be attracted to such areas, particularly if the area is kept damp.

In the right circumstances, children may even get to see birds like robins nesting if there is somewhere safe, peaceful, hidden and suitably high off the ground.

Keep grass in wilderness areas long, sow wildflowers there, and disturb the area as little as possible.

Bug hotels are also a great way to attract bugs and minibeasts to the garden.Make or buy a ‘bug hotel’ and place this in the wilderness area too, as it’ll provide a home for all sorts of bugs and insects, including some pollinators like solitary bees, bumblebees, and other minibeasts like ladybirds, woodlice, snails, spiders — even some types of butterfly potentially. Indeed, bug hotels are excellent in autumn as they will provide somewhere safe for the creatures to over-winter and hibernate. The RSPB has an excellent guide to making your own ‘minibeast hotel’ which is another name for a bug hotel. This particular one is fairly large, so will need input from parents or caregivers, however, the same principle can be used by children on a smaller scale if they would like to build their own. We may produce our own guide for them separately in due course.

How to Encourage Hedgehogs

If children are really lucky, they may even find that adorable little hedgehogs pay a visit.With the right preparation and if children are really lucky, they may even find that adorable little hedgehogs pay a visit. Better still, they may even move in under and raise families of adorable baby hedgehogs if the circumstances are right. Piles of leaves in wild areas, compost heaps in garden corners, unlit bonfire wood stacks, beneath sheds and where there are leaves collecting under undergrowth are all great areas for hedgehogs to stay, particularly if they’re secluded and peaceful areas away from noise, activity, and garden pets like dogs and cats. Ensuring there is a suitable gap under garden fences will also allow hedgehogs to come and go as they please, to forage for food. Ensure they’re not too big, though, if you have a pet.

If encouraging hedgehogs to the family garden, ensure children know not to feed them bread or milk as these are harmful to them.

Avoid using pesticides and harmful chemicals in the garden. Examples to avoid include weedkiller, snail or slug killers, and patio cleaning chemicals. These are usually potent poisons and are likely to kill garden creatures — even birds and their young, whether ingested directly or via eating of poisoned slugs, snails, or bugs.

Little Cedars Nursery: the Natural Choice for Childcare in Streatham

We offer the very best start for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high-quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rates Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a wonderful nursery and preschool in Streatham that understands exactly how to bring out the very best in every child. During their time with us, we’ll ensure we do everything possible to ensure they’re ‘school ready’ and primed for success by the time they begin formal education at school. We’re located in Streatham but are also conveniently close for families in Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Many free, Government-funded places are also supported for eligible families and Ofsted rates Little Cedars as a ‘Good Provider’. So — your child is in the very best hands at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham.

Contact Little Cedars Nursery today to register your child for a place, arrange a visit, or ask any questions:

 

It’s the Perfect Time for Some Children's Gardening Activities!

At the time of publishing this article, many UK children are enjoying National Children’s Gardening Week. At this time of year, the weather is sunnier more often, so it’s the perfect time to involve children in gardening activities. Whether taking part in the event or not, gardening is a fun, educational activity for children — and will also help to make the world a better place! So, if you would like to introduce your child to gardening and all that it has to offer little ones, read on as we tell you about some gardening activity ideas that little ones can take part in now and at any time during the warmer months of the year.

National Children’s Gardening Week

National Children's Gardening Week takes place each year during the 'warm week' beginning right at the end of May.National Children’s Gardening Week takes place each year in the UK during what’s known as the ‘warm week’ beginning right at the end of May. This year (2024) it spans from 25 May to 2 June. However, children can get involved in gardening well outside of those dates*, of course.

The annual gardening event for children started in the north of England but now takes place across the whole Nation and, like the plants and flowers in the gardens, its popularity is growing. Indeed, children are taking part at home, in schools, and at childcare settings like nurseries and preschools. In turn, the initiative itself supports the Greenfingers charity, which provides wonderful gardens and outdoor spaces for children in hospices.

* Children Can Garden Any Time in the Warmer Months

Late spring and the summer months in particular make things much easier for children to learn about gardening as there’s negligible chance of frost occurring. Warmer weather makes gardening easier and less complicated for them because, when it’s warm, there is no need to protect plants and seedlings from adverse weather conditions. What’s more, gardening results are much faster during the warmer months of the year, so even less patient children can remain engaged. That said, patience is something every child will have to learn, so a little waiting for results is a good lesson to learn.

Gardening Activities for Children

There are many fun gardening-related activities for children to do during the warmer months. Here are a few ideas to get children and families started.

Grow with Peter Rabbit Activities

Free "Grow With Peter Rabbit!" activity booklets are available to download.This year (2024), National Children’s Gardening Week has teamed up with The World of Peter Rabbit and is encouraging children and their families to Grow With Peter Rabbit! Free activity booklets for the initiative can be downloaded here.  The dozen or so pages in this year’s activity booklet include 9 gardening-related activity ideas for children to take part in. Activities include anything from growing a windowsill herb garden and creating leaf-print cards to more simple tasks like solving garden-related pictorial puzzles. Download the activity booklet using the bold link above.

Wildflower Growing Activity

The most simple way to sow and locate seeds is to create a wildflower meadow.A quick and easy outdoor activity for children is to sow and grow wildflowers (follow the bold link for much more information about this simple but worthwhile activity). Once growing and flowering, wildflowers will brighten up the garden and also attract important pollinators like bees and butterflies. What’s more, this activity is possible using just flower pots or grow bags on a patio or balcony if you don’t have access to a garden. You can also download our free butterfly reference poster for children here.

Make Simple Bird Feeders

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders.Did you know, there are some incredibly easy ways for children to make home-made bird feeders?  Follow our guide and you’ll soon see how children can make bird feeders from something as simple as a pine cone or even a recycled milk carton. Take a look via the link and get ready to welcome some lovely birds to your patch. Indeed, bird spotting is all part of the fun (download our free bird-spotting poster here).

Composting Activity

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.Composting is another hugely worthwhile activity for children to take part in, even right up into the Autumn. It’s easy and a great way to ecologically dispose of waste like egg shells, vegetable peelings, and garden waste like grass cuttings. What’s more, once complete, the household will have a ready supply of nutrient-rich compost that will enrich and feed flowers and plants in the garden or flower pots on the windowsill.

Minibeast Spotting

The Great Outdoors serves as a natural classroom, with true hands-on learning experiences that provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge.Compost heaps are also wonderful homes for minibeasts, which are also fun and educational for children to spot. Use our previously published free Minibeast Reference Poster to learn how to recognise some of the common minibeasts that might be hiding in gardens, under pots, and in compost heaps around Britain.

Wildlife-Friendly Gardening

Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly (whether in back gardens or smaller spaces like patios and balconies). Ensure children understand that wildlife like bees and other flora and fauna are under threat from nasty chemicals and habitat loss. Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly.So, making a wildlife-friendly garden or area is a very worthwhile activity for children to take part in — and is educational on so many levels. See our separate guide to wildlife-friendly gardening for kids, try some of the ideas above, or download this free wildlife-friendly activity pack.

Indoor ‘Gardening’ Activities for Kids

The seeds will eventually grow into green cress 'hair', giving the egg people real character!Children can do ‘gardening’ activities indoors too! Get them to try making egg cress heads, for example. It’s an easy, fun activity and children will love the results!

Did you know that children can also grow food from scratch indoors? They’ll love growing microgreens indoors and it can also be done on a windowsill. Not only will it be fun and educational for the children, but they’ll also be able to eat the results! Learn more about growing microgreens indoors here and learn more about the benefits of teaching children to grow food here.

More Gardening Ideas for Kids

More gardening-related activities for children can be found here. At the bottom of that page, you can also use the ‘older entries’ link to discover even more ideas.

Gardening is also a great way to introduce children to the concept of sustainability, ecological matters, and the need to protect both the environment and the planet as a whole. After all, we only have one planet and our children and grandchildren will eventually be in charge of its stewardship. Find out about some additional sustainable gardening activities that children can take part in here.

Why Gardening is Such a Worthwhile Activity for Children

Gardening will teach children many new skills and new knowledge.The benefits of gardening for children are many and varied and that’s why it’s such a wonderful activity to get them involved in. It will teach children many new skills and new knowledge. It’ll teach them about the circle of life, how to care and be responsible for other living things, and about the importance of looking after the planet. It will also give them an insight into where some food types come from. It is also great fun, will give children a huge sense of achievement, and may even open their eyes to the possibility of careers in horticulture, land management, food production, farming, and the like. And, of course, gardening makes the world a better place in so many ways. Let’s also not forget that being around nature is hugely beneficial to children, but do remember to follow good safety precautions when children are outdoors.

Little Cedars Nursery: First-Class Childcare in Streatham

Looking for the best childcare in Streatham or near Tooting, Furzedown, or Balham?

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars Nursery also appreciates the importance of nature and outdoor play, so often engages children in such activities in our wonderful outdoor spaces. These include our own planting area where children can grow vegetables! The setting is a first-class nursery and preschool in Streatham and may also suit families nearby in Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. A full early years education is available here for babies and under-fives, who are given all the tools and guidance they need to thrive once they leave us to begin at school. Government-funded childcare schemes are supported and the nursery is rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

So, if you’d like to give your baby, toddler, or preschooler the best start in life in the Streatham region, please get in touch today:

 

 

10 Ways to Boost Learning Through Play at Home

Children learn and benefit in a huge number of ways when they play.As we previously reported, children learn and benefit in a huge number of ways when they play. Improvements to motor skills, critical thinking, fitness levels, creativity, social skills and emotional intelligence are just a few known benefits. Indeed, play is accepted to be the very best way for children to learn, particularly in their early years. Furthermore, when play is coupled with a deep parental involvement in a child’s education, the benefits can be truly profound. With all that in mind, we follow up today with 10 easy ways for parents to boost children’s learning through play at home.

1. Set Aside a Dedicated Play Space at Home

Optimise the success of indoor play by setting aside a dedicated and safe play area or room for your child.One of the ways you can optimise the success of any indoor play is to set aside a dedicated and safe play area or room for your child. Here, you can ensure that children have the space and tools available for stimulating play when needed, and quieter play at other times. Age-appropriate toys, books, and equipment are, of course, the first prerequisite for such an area. However, you may also consider other elements such as a quiet storytelling/reading corner, a play den or teepee, a relaxation area with cushions and blankets, a creative section with art and craft supplies, a play kitchen or play tools section, and so on. Giving your child such a space is sure to encourage them to immerse themselves in their play activities. And, as we know, children learn best through play.

2. Play Proactively & Interactively With Your Child

Getting proactively involved in some play activities may boost your child's imagination through the scenarios and ideas you introduce.As well as giving children the tools for imaginative and educational play at home, your proactive input will also boost the benefits they receive from such activities. So, get involved, lead them sometimes and at other times let them lead. They’ll discover and learn more in this way. Ask and answer questions, encourage them to be creative in their thinking and physical approach and highlight aspects and elements that they may not otherwise have been aware of. Such an approach can teach children so much. It may well also deepen the bond between you.

3. Role-Play Together

There are many types of play at home that can involve role-play, which is a powerful tool for learning.There are many types of play at home that can involve role-play, which is a powerful tool for learning. Role-play allows children to immerse themselves deeply into the game, story, or scenario they are acting out. As such it greatly boosts young imaginations and stimulates creativity skills. So, encourage such activities as dressing up in costumes, acting, and putting on pretend voices to embody characters. You and your child can take this a step further through the setting up of play equipment or props to create a new play scenario, for example, a play den, cave, pretend kitchen, or castle. Children will have immense fun whilst also learning huge amounts from such creative and imaginative activities.

4. Read Interactively Together

Interactive storytelling and reading are great ways to boost children's engagement, imaginations and creativity.Role-playing can also be brought into time spent reading with your child. Reading with a child is hugely beneficial to them, so reading with them in interactive ways is to be encouraged. Indeed, studies show that reading with a child during their early years boosts language skills by the equivalent of 8 months and, to a significant degree, it can also level the educational playing field for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Note that we say read ‘with’ children not ‘to’ them here. Interactively reading with your child is the key here as it engages them more fully so that its benefits can be felt by the child for the long term. So, next time you read with your under-five child, ensure you get them involved and encourage them to immerse themselves in the story or scenario. Let them ask questions or guess what will happen next, and make it fun through role-playing of the characters and suchlike. Reading with children really is worth its weight in gold!

5. Limit Time Spent Using Screens

Playing teaches children so much about the world around them.While electronic screens have their occasional place in the education and entertainment of families, it’s healthy to ensure your child has regular screen-free time. Partaking in active play at home — rather than staring inactively at a screen — can only be a good thing, in so many ways. Social skills will be better when children are actively involved in physical play with others. Motor skills and fitness will also benefit. Creativity levels will go through the roof too when children play in real life. They will also learn so much about the world, everything around them and the endless possibilities available to them by playing in the real world. Ensuring children get access to such benefits and opportunities by switching off smartphones, TVs, tablets and game consoles is something every parent can easily do for their child. Doing so will allow for more traditional play, which will enrich their lives in an infinite number of ways.

6. Use Toys That Allow Open-Ended Play

Open-ended play is the type that young children will usually learn the most from.Toys that allow open-ended play are the toys that young children will usually learn the most from. For example, allowing your child to play with building blocks and materials for arts and crafts will let your child’s imagination run riot. Through these, they will be able to create an infinite range of scenarios and possibilities. Dolls and action figures are also good examples that will allow children to immerse themselves in open-ended play, with you there to help expand those possibilities, scenarios and learning opportunities even further.

7. Allow Your Child to Take the Lead

The avoidance of over-structured games and play scenarios will also allow your child to take the lead. Children learn in different ways and at different paces to each other, so allowing them to guide the direction of play will also allow them to play and learn at their own unique pace. It will also allow them to tailor their play to their own particular interests, which will also ensure their engagement is optimised. Your involvement, however, can help your child avoid missed learning opportunities and perhaps some scenarios that they may not have thought of themselves, so it’s a fine balance.

8. Facilitate Social Play

Group play allows children to learn social skills like cooperation, teamwork, leadership, sharing and conflict resolution.It doesn’t have to be just you and your child playing. Siblings and your child’s peers can also be encouraged to join in. Consider inviting your little one’s friends to your home or local park for a play date. Getting your child’s friends and peers together for group play will allow your child to learn and hone social skills like cooperation, teamwork, leadership, sharing and potentially even conflict resolution. And, with you there to oversee the group session, you can be sure that home play will be fulfilling, organised, fair and rewarding for all who take part.

9. Encourage Outdoor Play Too

You can facilitate learning through play outdoors too.Remember that you can facilitate learning through play outdoors with your child too. Whether in the garden, park or countryside, playing outdoors gives children a vast number of learning opportunities — and it’s great fun! By accompanying children outdoors, they can naturally explore and discover — and enjoy doing so in ways that are much more free than when playing indoors. Outdoor play is a feast for the senses, it will encourage the honing of physical skills like balance, coordination, motor skills and strength as well as fitness. Playing in the natural world is also incredibly good for children’s mental well-being and holistic development. Learn more about the benefits of outdoor play and the importance of nature to children by following the bold links.

10. Celebrate Your Child’s Achievements Together

Use the power of positive reinforcement to take your child’s enjoyment of home play to the next level. Giving positive feedback to your child when they accomplish a task or achieve something new will greatly encourage them. It’ll give them a sense of achievement, boost confidence, and let them know they’re doing well and are on the right path. What’s more, it’ll encourage them to play to learn more.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider

The concepts above are, of course, also the types of approaches we use at Little Cedars to boost the learning of children under five in our childcare setting. We are a high-quality nursery and preschool in Streatham in South West London, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. We also support many of the Government-funded free childcare schemes and are rated as a Good Provider by Ofsted.

Contact us today to explore a possible nursery/preschool place for your child at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham:

 

Exploring Spring with Children Under 5

Paying attention when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the seasons.At Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, one of the activities we do with children around this time of year is to explore the season of spring. Spring is a wonderful antidote to the cold, winter months as new shoots begin to sprout from the soil, flowers start to reappear, birds begin to return from warmer climes and there are early indications of warmer weather ahead. Paying attention to such things when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the various seasons. It’s also a free, fascinating, and educational activity that parents/guardians can do with children. Families can, for example, explore the signs of spring in the garden, out on walks, in local parks, and in the countryside. With that in mind, today’s article looks at the type of things children and families can look out for during the season of spring.

When is Spring?

According to the meteorological calendar, spring arrives on the 1st of March and ends on the 31st of May every year. As such, it keeps things very simple, synchronising spring with a standard calendar’s full months of March, April and May.

According to the astronomical calendar, however, spring for 2024 arrives on the 20th of March and will end on the 20th of June, although exact dates can vary a little from year to year. To explain, the astronomical calendar is based on the position of our planet’s elliptical orbit around the sun and involves the tilt of the Earth. Using that alternative timeline, spring begins on the ‘vernal’ (spring) equinox, which is a day of equal length to the ‘autumnal’ equinox later in the year.

Things Children Can Look Out For in Spring

Spring is such a vibrant and exciting season that there are lots of things children and families can look out for. Here are a few suggestions to start things off:

Baby Farm Animals

Meeting spring lambs or calves is always a huge hit with children.As every child knows, young lambs are an absolute delight. They’re incredibly cute and the way they play, group together with fellow lambs, and happily jump into the air is simply adorable! Although timing varies from farm to farm, most newborn lambs arrive during early spring — typically in March — with others arriving in April, particularly if they’re in UK areas further north where it can be colder. At Little Cedars Nursery, we try to ensure children get to meet some spring lambs or calves each year and it’s always a huge hit with the children.

Frogspawn

Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds.Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds. Children will love watching the little eggs change over time, their contents growing from tiny black dots into creatures that have obvious legs, tails and heads. And, once they emerge from the eggs, the tadpoles continue to delight little ones as they gradually develop into tiny frogs. It’s a wonderfully magical thing for children to witness in spring and is also hugely educational.

Sprouting Snowdrops

Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives.Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives. They’re pretty little plants with slender green leaves and flowers that, as their name suggests, resemble delicate drops of snow. Young children will love that! Look out for them in gardens, parks, forests and hedgerows. Each plant generally forms a ‘bunch’ of around ten stems and they reappear every year. Warn children to look but not touch, though, as they are poisonous if eaten.

Shooting Daffodils

Daffodil shoots begin to appear in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden.Another of the earliest plants to appear in the year is daffodils. Their shoots begin to appear through the soil in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden, lawn, forest or flower bed right into May. Once daffodils are in bloom, you also know other plants will soon follow. So, they’re a great sign of the changing season for children to look out for, and a signal that gloomy winter is now over and summer is not far away.

Daffodil flowers come in many different forms, with different coloured ‘trumpet’ style blooms including yellow, white, orange and indeed mixtures of those colours. Perhaps encourage children to see how many different types they can spot when out and about — many residential gardens will have daffodils growing, so this activity can be done in towns and cities as well as in more rural areas. As with snowdrops, though, daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so children should again look and admire them rather than pick them.

Bumblebees

Once they know they're peaceful creatures, children will generally love bumblebees.Bumblebees are amongst the cutest of garden visitors and many children will naturally love them, particularly once they’ve realised how adorable they are with their velvety bodies, sweet faces and attractive markings. They’re also peaceful little creatures, many of whom don’t even have a sting, who simply want to go about their business of collecting nectar from flowers. Bumblebees start to reappear in the spring — because flowers are also reappearing after being dormant over the winter months. They then become more and more populous as the months become warmer and can be seen right into autumn.

There are many types of bees in the UK and all types are incredibly important to both nature and humans; it’s mainly bees that pollinate flowers so more flowers, plants, trees and indeed crops can grow. Because of this — and their cuteness — bees are a wonderful thing to encourage little ones to look out for and learn from. If there were no bees, the human race would be in big trouble and they also therefore represent a great way to introduce children to the concept of looking after nature, conservation, and green matters.

It’s important, too, to ensure children respect them by admiring but not interfering with them. Like children, they have their own lives and have feelings too. Bees can teach children so much!

Songbirds

Robins are beautiful to listen to.The return of many of the UK’s favourite birds is another wonderful sign that spring has arrived and winter is over. While some birds, including robins, may stay during winter, others will have migrated to warmer places, perhaps thousands of miles away. Once they return to the UK, children will be able to watch out for them and listen out for more birdsong. Early mornings and sunsets are great times to hear them, particularly when the weather is calm, meaning their sounds travel more clearly. For example, tiny wrens have an incredible and very melodic set of sounds. Robins are also beautiful to listen to. Thrushes sometimes sing at the tops of trees at dusk too, and that’s also wonderful to hear. Encourage children to watch and listen out for other birds too, for example, blackbirds, starlings, doves, blue tits, great tits and occasionally more rarely-seen birds like goldcrests.

Birds are fascinating creatures for children to learn about and spring is a fabulous time to start to see them as they return to gardens, parks, and the countryside. Download our free bird identification poster to get your child started.

Pussy Willow Buds

The soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit with children.Buds on trees and bushes can also be an interesting natural phenomenon for children to look out for in spring. Many are quite beautiful if you take the time to have a close look. Young children are indeed fascinated by several types of tree buds in early spring and perhaps the most attractive one to them is pussy willow. For them, the soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit and something that really draws their attention. They really do feel furry and it’s almost as if they’re little creatures or kittens paws — quite a magical thing for any child to look out for in spring!

Catkins

Catkins are also fascinating for children, especially the youngest.Catkins are also fascinating. Their little dangling fronds almost look like yellow caterpillars, so this is another type of spring occurrence to draw children’s attention to. From such attention, they can be taught lessons about pollen, seeds, nectar and the circle of life.

We hope this starter guide to exploring spring with children and under-fives has given families food for thought. There is so much to see, hear, touch (when safe) and smell in spring and it’s a great time to encourage children to start spending more time outdoors, weather permitting. Getting children interested in nature and spending time in the natural environment is incredibly important to them and has a huge number of benefits — some quite astounding in fact. Learn more about the benefits of nature in childhood here.

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham

High-quality childcare in Streatham, close to Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery and preschool located in Streatham in Southwest London (SW16). We offer a complete early years education for babies, toddlers and preschoolers aged under five. We support many Government-funded schemes for free childcare too and are rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

If you’d like the best weekday childcare for babies and children under five, contact Little Cedars Nursery today:

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham is also suitably located for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Autumn Composting Activity for Kids — Leaves, Learning & Fun!

This composting activity teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability and also provides an exciting outdoor activity connecting them with nature.Autumn is a magical time filled with vibrant colours, falling leaves, and a wonderful quality to the air. With rustling leaves covering the ground in a myriad of hues, it’s the perfect season to engage children with the wonders of a composting activity. Composting is fun, worthwhile, and educational. It not only teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability but also provides an exciting outdoor activity that connects them with nature. In today’s article, we’ll explore the joy of composting with an autumn twist, where children can harness the abundance of fallen leaves to create a rich and fertile compost for the garden. Children of all ages will love this nature-based outdoor activity and it’s a win-win in every sense — for children, nature’s flora and fauna, and the garden itself.

Leaves, Learning & Fun!

The Magic of Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves are rather like nature's confetti.Autumn leaves are rather like nature’s confetti and they play a crucial role in composting. Perhaps explain to children how leaves provide essential carbon and nutrients that are key ingredients for a successful compost pile. Encourage them to collect a variety of leaves in different colours and shapes, so this activity becomes a stimulating treasure hunt too.

No garden? No worries; composting needs as little as a corner somewhere and the final product is just as good for indoor plants.

Creating a Compost Bin

Guide children in setting up a compost bin — or it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden.Guide children in setting up a compost bin or, in its most basic form, it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden if you have one. If not, an undisturbed corner somewhere outside will suffice. Emphasise the importance of a balanced mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Leaves are a fantastic source of carbon, balancing out the kitchen scraps and other green materials that you and your child may soon start to add.

Layering the Good Stuff

Help your little one understand the layering process of composting. Start with a layer of autumn leaves, add kitchen scraps like fruit leftovers, vegetable peels, and crushed eggshells, and then sprinkle a bit of soil if you have access to some. Repeat this process, creating a compost ‘lasagna’ that will eventually turn into nutrient-rich soil.

Turning the Pile

Composting is not just a one-time activity; it’s an ongoing process. Show children how turning the compost pile every few weeks helps speed up decomposition. This is a great opportunity for them to get their hands dirty (under supervision) while learning about the science behind composting.

Observing the Changes

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes. Discuss how the compost becomes darker and richer over time. Point out the minibeasts that’ll no doubt move in and, of course, teach them to be gentle around them, to nurture their sense of responsibility and empathy. You can also use composting as an opportunity to talk about the importance of recycling and reducing waste.

Using Compost in the Garden

Once the compost is ready, involve children in spreading it in the garden. Or, if you have no garden or outdoor plant areas, the compost is just as beneficial to indoor potted plants. Explain how the nutrient-rich soil that they have generated will help plants grow strong and healthy. This hands-on experience connects them with the entire cycle of composting, from collecting leaves to seeing the positive impact on plants.

Autumn Composting Activities

While waiting for the compost to develop, children could decorate the compost container through painting, or even do some leaf art!To make composting even more enjoyable, you and the children could incorporate other autumn-themed activities. For example, they could create leaf art while waiting for the compost to develop, they could decorate the compost container through painting, or they could take part in an autumn treasure hunt for different types of leaves and seasonal seeds. This all adds an extra layer of fun to the composting process.

Composting is Fun, Worthwhile & Educational

Composting in autumn is not only a practical way to manage organic waste but also a delightful and educational activity that gets children outdoors and brings them closer to nature — and that is good for them! The vibrant colours of fallen leaves, the earthy smell of compost, and the satisfaction of creating something valuable from nature’s bounty make this experience both educational and enjoyable. So, encourage them to gather those leaves and embark on an autumn composting adventure together!

Your Streatham Nursery & Preschool

High-quality Weekday Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery and preschool in Streatham. As well as providing weekday childcare for children under five, we also provide them with a high-quality early years education. This is all done by childcare professionals in a lovely home-from-home setting away from the busiest part of Streatham, close to Tooting Common, in Aldrington Road. At Little Cedars, we nurture every child so they achieve personal bests in all areas of their learning and development, ensuring they are school-ready by the time they leave us at the age of five. All the main Government-funded childcare schemes are also supported for eligible families.

Get in touch to ask any questions, to arrange a guided visit, or to enrol your child for a childcare place. We can’t wait to meet you and your child!

Little Cedars Day Nursery is based in Streatham, close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Safeguarding Note

Children, particularly the very young, will require adult supervision and oversight when playing or exploring outdoors. Please do your own risk assessments as well as teaching children to be mindful of hazards, stranger danger, health and safety. Our safety tips for outdoor play should help to get you started.

Autumn Treasure Hunt — a Fun Nature-Based Activity for Children

Preview of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet.Autumn is a time of the year when magical colour changes occur across gardens, parks and landscapes. Leaves can be seen in a multitude of different colours before falling along with seeds, ripening fruits and berries. In autumn, nature shows us a wonderful metamorphosis and it’s a time of beautifully crisp air and clear distant views. It’s all incredible to behold and also offers children some unique seasonal activity opportunities.

One such activity is an autumn treasure hunt. Here, children get to explore the outdoors and see if they can spot some natural delights that are only available at this time of year. For example, can they spot a red leaf? How about a purple one… or a multicoloured one? Can they spot an acorn that’s fallen from an oak tree or spot ‘winged’ seeds falling like helicopters from a sycamore tree? Can they find some conkers or sweet chestnuts? And so on. With that in mind, we’ve put together a free reference sheet featuring 20 such items for children to look out for. Children or accompanying adults can print it out, take it along and tick off each item that’s successfully found. The activity could even be the basis of a competition between multiple children, perhaps with a treat or extra sticker for the child that checks off the most.

So, take a look and save the reference sheet by clicking the preview image below — the file is in Acrobat Reader format, so should work on most devices.

Autumn Treasure Hunt Reference Sheet (Click to Download):

Large view of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet. Click to download and view the Acrobat PDF, then print out.

This activity is great for children because it gets them outdoors, close to nature. And, as we’ve mentioned before, study after study concludes that outdoor play is incredibly important to children and being close to nature has huge benefits for them. However, remember to pay close attention to the safety and well-being of children under your care at all times, especially when playing outdoors — see some examples of things to look out for in the ‘child safety precautions’ box at the end of this article.

We hope you and your child enjoy this wholesome nature-based activity this autumn. It’s a simple but effective way to encourage children to appreciate nature and The Great Outdoors. It’s also a fun way to open their eyes and educate them about the sheer magic of nature and the natural world around them.

A Childcare Nursery for Your Child in Streatham

Are you looking for a high-quality childcare service in Streatham?

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderThis nature-based activity comes courtesy of the team at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, London SW16. We provide an outstanding early years education and high-quality childcare service for babies and under-fives. We also support free, Government-funded childcare places subject to eligibility and availability.

If you’d like to explore the possibility of your child having a nursery or preschool place at Little Cedars, please get in touch:

Little Cedars may also suit families living or working nearby in Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Child Safety Precautions

As with all outdoor play, it’s important to ensure children are safe and kept out of harm’s way. For example, children, particularly the young, should be accompanied by an adult and supervised at all times. Also, ensure they understand that they should avoid touching anything potentially poisonous like fungi and berries. Even things like conkers are poisonous if eaten. Acorns contain toxic tannins as well as being a potential choking hazard. Parents/adults should therefore ensure that children know not to put anything anywhere near their mouths when foraging or playing outdoors. And, of course, avoid touching the spiky cases of sweet chestnuts because they’re needle-sharp! These are just examples and supervising adults will need to do their own risk assessments before and during any outdoor activity involving children. More safety tips for outdoor play are available here.

Spooky Kids' Activities for Halloween: Fun Ideas for 31st October

Children love getting into the spirit of Halloween!The arrival of October means it’s time for children and families to prepare for Halloween! Arriving on the 31st of the month, it’s a firm favourite for any childhood and gives children the opportunity for uniquely spooky fun, games and dressing up. Indeed, Halloween offers a wonderful variety of activities for children to take part in and that’s exactly what we look at in today’s article. Stand by, then, to prepare the household for some spookylicious Halloween activity ideas for kids!

Dress up in Spooky Halloween Costumes

A white bedsheet with two eye-holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully-effective ghost costume.Children adore dressing up for Halloween. The spooky nature of Halloween costumes really appeals to them, especially if they get together with friends and compare outfits on Halloween evening.

A huge range of wonderful Halloween fancy dress costumes is available to purchase. However, your child can have even more fun and potentially save costs by making their own Halloween outfit. It’s both great fun and a wonderfully creative activity. Here are a few ideas but bear in mind, of course, that any fabric cutting should be done by adults or, for older children, under their supervision:

  • A white bedsheet with two eye holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully effective ghost costume. Kids will love wearing these and leaping out at unsuspecting family and friends!
  • Black sheets or clothes are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Add pointy hats made from card.Similarly, black sheets are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Alternatively, use black clothing and, if it’s no longer being worn for anything else, it can even be given ragged edges for extra effect. Add pointy black hats made of cardboard or paper and the costumes are complete.
  • Clothing that’s no longer needed is a great canvas on which children or parents can paint the bones of the body, so children wearing the costume look like spooky walking skeletons. Some black and white face painting will complete the effect by creating a ‘skull’ face!
  • Home-made spider costumes are also feasible using black clothing, stuffed jumpers (for the body) and extra spider legs made from black tights stuffed and attached to the child’s belt.
  • Similarly, children can dress up as pumpkins simply by using an orange top or t-shirt, suitably decorated in paint so children look like walking, talking Jack-O’-Lanterns!

As you can see, these home-made Halloween outfits are fairly simple to accomplish, without the need for much, if any, expense. This activity is also one that really gets children’s creative juices and a sense of fun flowing.

Display Some Spooky Halloween Decorations

Set the atmosphere with spooky decorations!If you want your child’s Halloween experience to be truly spooktacular, encourage them to decorate the house – whether inside or out – with all manner of ghoulish decorations and ghostly paraphernalia. Home-made spider webs can, of course, be made using string, thread or stretched-out cotton wool. However, such decorations can usually be purchased inexpensively from supermarkets, which typically have cheap Halloween decorations around October each year. Spiders can be home-made by children from wool or black pipe cleaners, or similarly bought commercially along with shop-bought decorations depicting skeletons, ghosts, bats and suchlike. You can also buy LED lights, including strings of lights, that look like Halloween pumpkin lanterns. Such lighting is great for extra atmosphere!

Make Spooky Food & Drink

Children love cooking and decorating biscuits and cookies for Halloween!If your household is carving pumpkins for Halloween this year, perhaps save some of the flesh and use it to make a spookylicious pumpkin soup for the family to eat come Halloween evening time. There are plenty of excellent recipes online and children can help make the soup, under supervision for safety purposes.

Children of all ages also generally love cooking biscuits and cookies, so why not encourage them to make some that are Halloween-themed? Perhaps try ghost-shaped and bat-shaped cookies with decorating in black and white icing (see example).

Drinks can also be themed by children by painting Halloween imagery onto paper cups – it’s another simple Halloween children’s activity that’s both fun and creative.

Supermarkets are also sure to sell Halloween-themed party food, drink and accessories as Halloween approaches, so there’s usually lots for children and families to choose from.

Host a Spooktacular Halloween Party!

Combine the Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party!Children can combine Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party for friends and family. Such preparations are sure to set up a wonderfully spooky atmosphere in which children will have immense fun comparing outfits and getting into the spirit of the event. Add Halloween-themed games, play ghostly music and take turns to read ghost stories and the evening is sure to be one to remember! It’s also a great conduit through which children can socialise and perhaps grow stronger bonds.

Trick-or-Treating Activity

Children will absolutely love tricking-or-treating and it's sure to result in much giggling and laughter!Take the Halloween activities to an extra level by arranging a group trick-or-treat session, under adult supervision, for children in your street. They will absolutely love this activity and it’s sure to result in much giggling and laughter if it goes as planned. However, be sure to check with each neighbour before the day. In that way, they can opt out if they prefer not to get involved. For those that do take part, most neighbours usually go the ‘treat’ route but be ready for the possibility that a few may opt for the ‘trick’ option, in which scenario the children under your supervision will need to be ready with a fun but harmless trick. Some forethought and creative thinking may be needed there, with care being taken not to allow children to overstep the mark.

Also, be sure to buy suitable sweets or gifts for children who may trick-or-treat and knock on your door (age-appropriate, of course).

Visit a Local Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patches make great family photo opportunities around Halloween time.Pumpkin patches are often wonderful places for children and families to spend a few hours in the run-up to Halloween. In such places, your little one can explore amongst hundreds of pumpkins and other gourds of different sizes and shapes. And, if they find one they take a liking to, they can usually be purchased to take home, or might even be included in the price if the venue has an entrance fee. Pumpkin patches often also have other Halloween-themed activities at this time of year, whether it’s displays where you can take memorable snaps of your child amongst the pumpkins, wheelbarrow rides for children across a pumpkin field, pop-up refreshments with Halloween-themed food and drink or pumpkin-decorating workshops, they’re always great fun for children. They really help to make Halloween the special time of year that it is.

Pumpkin patches are usually found on farms and agricultural locations, so you may not have one locally if you live in a big city like London. However, some may be a short train, bus or car ride away. Either way, try Googling ‘pumpkin patches near me‘ and see if any of the results throw up a pumpkin patch that’s within reach.

Decorate Pumpkins & Make Jack-O’-Lanterns

Family preparing a Jack-O'-Lantern pumpkin.Once you’ve sourced a suitable pumpkin for your child, it’s time for the really fun part — pumpkin carving and decorating! While the carving part may not be suited to children of a young age (knives are super-dangerous), they can usually help, under supervision, with scooping out the flesh and then, the most fun part of all, decorating. Pumpkins can depict faces, spiders, owls or any spooky imagery you or your little one can imagine. And, even if they may be too young to carve the holes,Examples of carved pumpkin Jack-O'-Lanterns. they can still decorate using paint or markers, or simply enjoy Mum or Dad getting creative on their behalves.

Once ready, the spooky pumpkin(s) are ready to display indoors or out once it gets dark. Adults should supervise if lighting the pumpkins with real-flame tea lights, or better still look out for flickering LED fake candles, which will be the safest option. Children will love looking at these pumpkin lanterns (also known as Jack-O’-Lanterns) glowing in the dark and they will really set the Halloween atmosphere.

The smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers, so there's no need for dangerous carving.TIP: Kids don’t even really need a pumpkin; the smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers! They look really cute and an added bonus is that they avoid the need for any carving.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, London SW16

We hope today’s article gives children and families some good ideas for Halloween this year. These days, it’s simply a wonderful opportunity for children to have fun, socialise and get creative with friends and family. It’s also a unique milestone in the calendar each year and something children can really look forward to.

A Nursery Place for Your Baby, Toddler or Preschooler in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderTrust your weekday childcare to a ‘Good Provider’ (it’s official!). We are a high-quality nursery and preschool located in Streatham, London SW16, offering a first-class early years education and childcare service to babies, toddlers and preschoolers under five. We may also suit if you’re located in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. What’s more, we support free childcare through various Government schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.

Request a place for your child, a tour, or more information below — we look forward to hearing from you:

Support for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’) in Early Years Settings

Today, we’re looking at what help is available for children under five with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’, also sometimes referred to as ‘SEN and disabilities’). Good support for such children, particularly in their formative years, is of critical importance to their longer-term progress, well-being and success. Appropriate support, provided in a timely and tailored manner, can have a real, positive impact on outcomes for children’s lives.

An Environment of Inclusivity

It is important to foster an inclusive environment for children with SEND, including at childcare/early years settings like Little Cedars Nursery. Whatever their differences, we know it’s crucial for all children to feel safe, comfortable, valued, and loved, as well as being free to express themselves. It’s also important that all children, irrespective of ability/disability, are able to make friends and socialise freely. This is therefore nurtured at childcare settings like Little Cedars.

Changes can also be made to childcare environments like ours, where appropriate, to improve accessibility for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Identifying SEND

Identification of a special educational need or disability is the first step to properly support affected children.Identification of a special educational need or disability is, of course, the first step in being able to properly support a child with SEND. For this reason, good early years providers like Little Cedars Nursery will, as a matter of course, watch out for signs of things that might be challenging for children. As prescribed by the EYFS approach to early years learning and development, such assessment will occur as part of the day-to-day activities at such nurseries, preschools and early years settings, as well as during more formal assessments like the Progress Check at 2. Childcare practitioners, the Key Person allocated to each individual child, and the setting’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) will usually all be involved in all assessment stages.

Parents will be alerted to any suspicions and indeed should alert childcare settings if they have a SEND-related concern regarding their child. After all, parents may well have more insight, as they know their child best.

External professionals including health visitors, paediatricians and professional specialists and therapists can also be brought in to help with assessments if deemed appropriate. Only once a possible special need or disability has been identified and evaluated is it possible to look at appropriate support options for a child.

Developing a Tailored Support Plan

External specialists/professionals may be involved in the support plan for children with SEND.Support plans for suspected or confirmed special needs or disabilities are then discussed and custom-designed for the child. Such plans will be agreed between the child’s parents/caregivers, staff at the early years setting itself and any external specialists or professionals involved in the child’s care. Such programmes will be customised to suit the individual child’s specific needs and may include tailored activities, strategies, resources and so on. Formalisation of the support programme will allow all parties to pull in the same direction, working cooperatively for the benefit of the child.

“Assess, Plan, Do and Review.”

Progress and the effectiveness of support plans will be evaluated continuously. Should the support plan require fine-tuning along the way, then adjustments will be made to suit the ongoing needs of the child. There is also possible recourse to request an Education, Health & Care (EHC) assessment of the child’s needs from the local authority if deemed appropriate and sanctioned by parents. Should one occur, then a new support plan may be devised.

Similarly, if the help of external experts is required, for example help from a speech and language therapist, this can be arranged as part of the support package for the child.

With the right support, “the great majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities … can find work, be supported to live independently, and participate in their community.” (DfE)

Special Funding & the Area SENCo

Special funding might be available to fund things like additional one-to-one support, special resources, or activities.In parallel to the SENCo at the child’s early years setting, local authorities also have their own Special Educational Needs Coordinator, known as the Area SENCo. They will also be integral to a child’s SEND support plan, helping with coordination between the local authority, the various parties involved in supporting the child, and in relation to any special funding requirements. If approved, special funding might be required, for example, for an additional member of staff tasked with giving one-to-one support to the child, or to fund extra learning resources and activities for them.

Area SENCos also continue to coordinate support for children with SEND through the transition from early years settings to school.

The ‘Local Offer’ Information Portal

Every local authority publishes information that informs families about the support available in their area for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. This is encapsulated in what’s known as The Local Offer. A Local Offer example for Streatham may help to illustrate the kind of help and resources available. Little Cedars Nursery is in the part of Streatham that falls within the London Borough of Wandsworth, and their Local Offer for SEND can be found here.

Funded Childcare for Under-5s with SEND

Parents may be wondering whether any free childcare is available for children with SEND. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the options:

  • There are several childcare funding options for children with SEND.All 3- and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible for a minimum of 570 hours of free childcare per annum, irrespective of whether or not they have SEND. This is known as Universal Free Childcare or their Free entitlement and is typically taken as 15 hours of childcare each week over 38 weeks of the year, but how it is taken can differ. Learn more here.
  • In some circumstances, the above entitlement for 3- and 4-year-olds may be extended to 1140 hours per annum, equivalent to 30 hours of free childcare over 38 weeks of the year. This is known as Extended Free Childcare or the 30 hours scheme but, unlike with Universal Free Childcare, is means-tested. Many more eligibility criteria also apply (learn more here).
  • 2-year-olds with SEND may also be eligible for free childcare hours if they fall within one or more specific categories (learn more here). These include:
    – Receiving Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’);
    – Being subject to an Education, Health & Care Plan (‘EHC’);
    – Having received a referral via their local authority’s Portage Service.
  • Parents of disabled children may be able to claim for free childcare support valued up to £4,000 per year through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare Scheme. Learn more here.

More information about various Government-funded childcare schemes is available in our rough guide to childcare funding here.

Nursery Places at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, London SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

We support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families at Little Cedars. We also endorse all the above support measures aimed at helping children with special educational needs and disabilities. We are officially a good nursery, as benchmarked by Ofsted.  Our nursery and preschool are located in Streatham, London SW16 although we are also conveniently close by for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

If you would like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask any questions or book a tour with your child, please select an option below:

The Progress Check at 2 – it's purpose, who & what are involved, etc.

At Little Cedars Nursery, we understand the importance of monitoring growth in children’s learning and development and ensuring they are reaching their full potential. With that in mind, today’s article is a detailed guide to the Progress Check at Two. An essential milestone in children’s early development, the assessment leads to profound benefits for young children. So, today, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the Progress Check at Two, its purpose, what to expect, and how parents* can actively participate.

The Purpose of the Progress Check at 2

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a comprehensive evaluation conducted for children who have reached the age of two. This assessment, completed prior to their third birthday, examines their progress across various essential areas of their learning and development journey. Its primary aim is to identify any areas where additional support or intervention1 may be needed. By closely monitoring children’s progress, early years providers can tailor their approach to meet each child’s unique needs and thereby ensure children’s optimum growth and success.

1. In cases where specific educational needs or disabilities are identified, a collaboration between the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and relevant health professionals or specialists will be built into the support plan that’s tailored to the child’s requirements.

The Significance of the Age of 2

The age of two is a pivotal period in a child’s development. It is during this stage that a child’s progress in learning, speech, language, cognitive abilities, physical growth, and social-emotional development becomes increasingly clear. Ensuring that each area is developing optimally at this early stage will have long-term benefits for the child, so it is important to confirm that everything is on track. A solid foundation for the child’s long-term growth and success can then be built.

Key Areas of Focus

The Progress Check at 2 concentrates on children’s progress primarily in the three ‘prime’ areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. These are:

  1. Communication and Language,
  2. Physical Development, and
  3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

However, those involved in conducting the assessment often also evaluate children’s progress in the remaining four ‘specific’ areas of the EYFS curriculum. These are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and lastly Expressive Arts and Design.

Preparing Children for School

Initiating the Progress Check at 2 and providing early support increases the likelihood of children overcoming developmental challenges before starting school. This proactive approach prevents setbacks during this crucial period in children’s lives. Without such intervention, children may face difficulties at the beginning of their educational journey, potentially hindering their overall growth and learning long into the future. Without a doubt, the Progress Check at 2 is vital in facilitating a smooth transition into school and fostering children’s long-term success.

Who is Involved?

The Progress Check at 2 is a collaborative effort between a child’s early years childcare provider, their parents and, if applicable, their health visitor and any external professionals that may be involved in the child’s early years learning and development.

The Role of Parents in the Progress Check at 2

The importance of parental involvement during a child’s early years education cannot be overstated. Such involvement is particularly invaluable to early years educators and childcare providers during the progress check. Ultimately, it is also crucially important to the child being assessed. Parents are therefore encouraged to share any observations or concerns that they may have regarding their child’s development. Their insights, combined with those of the child’s childcare/early years provider and those of any external professionals (if applicable), create a holistic picture of a child’s growth and progress. It thereby enables providers like Little Cedars Nursery to organise tailored support to address children’s specific needs most effectively.

The Report

Following the assessment, parents will receive a written summary of the report. This outlines their child’s achievements, strengths, and any areas for further development. The report serves as a valuable tool that allows all involved parties to track a child’s progress over time and to devise a plan of action to support their individual growth trajectory. It also serves as a basis for ongoing communication and collaboration between the childcare/early years provider and the child’s family.

To Sum Up

The Progress Check at 2 is a significant milestone in every child’s early development journey. At Little Cedars Nursery, we are committed to fostering a supportive and engaging environment that nurtures each child’s unique abilities. By actively participating in the progress check process, parents are ensuring that their child receives the necessary support and resources to absolutely flourish. Together, we can help children reach their full potential and prepare them for a successful educational journey ahead.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is a ‘Good Provider’ of Childcare & Early Years Education in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Little Cedars is a good nursery — and that’s official, says OfstedOur nursery and preschool are in Streatham, SW16 but are also conveniently close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. We may therefore suit families living or working in those locations.

At Little Cedars Nursery free childcare is available as all Government childcare funding schemes are supported for eligible families (follow the bold links for more information).

Please choose a button below if you’d like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask a question or arrange a guided tour to see how well your child would fit in. We’ll be delighted to help!

A Clarification:

The ‘Progress Check at 2’  is Different to the ‘2-Year Review’ — but they’re Intertwined

As well as the ‘Progress Check at 2’, there is another, related assessment called the ‘2-Year Review’. Although both occur around the same age, they each serve distinct purposes. In contrast to the Progress Check at 2, the 2-Year Review is more about the child’s health and well-being. It is undertaken by healthcare professionals such as health visitors and assesses overall health. This includes things like immunisation status, physical and mental development, well-being, and parental support. Although separate, the two reviews share overlapping areas and, for that reason, are often conducted simultaneously. The result is thereby a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s development at this key age.

* To avoid repetition in this article and for the sake of brevity, the term ‘parents’ is used as a placeholder for parents, guardians or caregivers.

Free Butterfly-Spotting Activity Poster for Children.

See high resolution detail when you zoom in on the butterfly images in the poster. Following on from our bird-spotting article and poster published in March, we now bring you a matching butterfly-spotting activity. Butterflies are both beautiful and adorable. As such, children will love them and will enjoy spending time around them during this activity. Like before, it comes with another free poster for children to print out, display, learn from and enjoy. Butterfly spotting is another wonderful way to get children outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and benefit from everything that nature has to offer.

This time around, we showcase 36 beautiful butterflies that can be seen in many parts of Britain. Indeed, that was one of the main criteria we used when deciding which butterflies to include. Having said that, some of the butterflies will be more common than others and we really don’t expect every child to spot all 36 butterflies that are featured — although it’s possible if they’re patient and adventurous! It’s a lovely challenge for children, though, and spotting such beautiful creatures may begin to instil in them an appreciation of nature and all the amazing creatures within it. That would be a good thing because nature is more under threat than ever and children of today will eventually become custodians of Britain’s phenomenal natural environment. Nature will also benefit children in many profound ways, including spiritually and even academically.

Free Butterfly Poster

Identify 36 different British Butterflies using our free A3 reference poster — it's educational and fun for children.

Download Instructions

View the poster in the greatest detail onscreen by clicking the big image above or, with some web browsers, you may need to first download it by right-clicking and then saving. Then view it in Acrobat Reader, which is available free. From Acrobat, print out the poster at full size (A3) or choose ‘reduce to fit’ if your printer is only A4. We recommend using high-quality printing paper and the highest settings for the best results, glorious colour, and the finest detail.

Attract butterflies by putting out fruit wedges — they love the sugary taste of ripe oranges, grapefruits, nectarines, bananas, strawberries and apples!

Shown on the poster are some of the more commonly-known butterflies like Large Whites, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells. However, children may also spot some lesser-known butterflies like Purple Emperors, Orange Tips, Green Hairstreaks and Adonis Blues. Butterflies have wonderful names, don’t they? Parents can help younger children with names, as we don’t expect them to be able to read them all if they’re very young. The young will also need supervising outdoors, of course, for their safety.

Look but Don’t Touch the Butterflies

For the poster, we’ve chosen the butterflies most likely to be found widely in the UK. This is a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.We must also add that children should be encouraged to ‘look but don’t touch’ as butterflies are very delicate creatures. Children should not try to touch or catch them — they are best left in peace as every one of them is a little individual that simply wants to go about his or her day. They’re wonderful to watch, though, and our free poster should help children and adults identify many of the different types. Perhaps see how many different species can be spotted over the course of a year. Take photos too, and compare them with friends! Some butterflies visit gardens, floral window boxes and parks while others may only be found in wilder locations in the countryside. This activity is therefore a great excuse for families to get out and explore The Great Outdoors! Recording the date and location of each butterfly spotted will also help families work out where the best butterfly-spotting locations are for next time.

Fun fact: Butterflies have taste buds on their feet!

Butterflies are In Decline

Sadly, many butterflies are in decline, with studies reporting a 40% drop in populations in recent decades. That’s really sad, so it’s imperative that they and their precious habitats are not unduly disturbed. Therefore, please do take care. If anything, habitats need to be restored and greater protections put in place. Raising awareness of the plight of butterflies and other creatures in decline, like bees and birds, is therefore something that’s also important for children to be aware of. After all, as they grow older, they will eventually take over stewardship of the natural world and can help to steer decision-makers to improve things if they’ve developed a deep-seated interest in nature by the time they become adults.

The Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly CountWith that in mind, why not take this activity a step further and get involved in the UK’s annual Big Butterfly Count? For 2023, it takes place between Friday the 14th of July and Sunday the 6th of August, which is when most butterflies are at their adult stage. All it takes is 15 minutes and children will love being little ‘citizen scientists’! The activity can be done in gardens, parks, school grounds or out in the countryside. Taking part will give children a real opportunity to help with butterfly conservation.

Learn more about the Big Butterfly Count here. The page includes links to a free smartphone app that will help you/your children during the butterfly counting activity.

A Fun, Educational & Worthwhile Activity for Children

We hope families and children enjoy their butterfly-spotting activities and use our free poster to learn the names. In this way, they can get to recognise some of the different types of butterflies when they spot them when out and about. It’s a fascinating activity and butterflies are both amazingly beautiful and incredibly endearing. As pollinators, they’re extremely important too and represent a barometer for the health of the natural world. Learning more about butterflies and nature is therefore incredibly important and beneficial for children — and ultimately for the planet. So, we encourage children to dive into this activity at the earliest opportunity. Have fun, be gentle and stay safe.

Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham, London SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a high-quality nursery/preschool in Streatham SW16, providing childcare excellence for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under 5 years of age. If you’re looking for a good nursery or preschool for your child, arrange a free tour with us and we’ll show you and your little one around. You’ll be able to get answers to any questions you have and also you’ll see how well your child fits in. Ours is a lovely, welcoming, home-from-home environment where the very best is brought out of every child under our care, so your child will be in good hands. As well as looking after them while parents work or recharge, every child receives an excellent early years education and is prepared for a great start once they leave us to start school. Please choose a button to contact us today, arrange a guided tour or to apply for a place for your child; we’ll be happy to help.

Little Cedars Nursery: high-quality childcare services in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is located in Streatham, just a stone’s throw from Tooting Common and the A214. As well as suiting those families in Streatham and Tooting, we may also be conveniently located for those looking for a nursery or preschool near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.