New Vacancies

From September 2015 I will be working term-time only and will have spaces for two new children per day for three days a week. These spaces are due to my own son starting school and to my very first starter leaving after a happy three years in my care.

 

Ideally, I am looking for one child to start in September, three days a week, term-time only with the second child starting a few months later, once the September child is settled. (Twins/siblings would obviously start at the same time.)

 

Please contact me to discuss your requirements. I may be able to offer an earlier start than September, depending on circumstances.

 

Email:  fay@parker1.co.uk

Text:   07952 983 267

Call:     01772 322 947

Ofsted changes Timing of First Inspection – about time!

When I registered as a childminder in March 2012, Ofsted’s policy was to carry out its first inspection within seven months of registration. I was inspected on 11 September 2012 on what was my tenth!!! full day of childminding. Looking after one 10 month old baby, I found it impossible to give the inspector the very detailed evidence she required during a six hour very thorough inspection and was left with a grading of “satisfactory”, much to my dismay. However, the inspector was lovely and very positive about my setting. This is apparent when you read the inspection report itself. The inspector clearly liked what she saw and gave me some excellent feedback, which I acted upon. I am confident that the outcome of my next inspection will be far better.

 

I have always felt that this policy of carrying out a full inspection so soon after registration was flawed and I know several other childminders who have also suffered at its hands. The problem is that it can take a few months to find your first mindee!

 

Fast forward to now and Ofsted has decided if you are on the Early Years Register, you will now be inspected within the first 30 months of registration (not 7, as previously) and then at least once in every inspection cycle. The current Early Years inspection cycle finishes on 31 July 2016. This is great news for all new childminders and I predict higher gradings for those important first inspections as a result.

 

As for me, I sit and wait for the phone call from the Ofsted inspector, asking which days I work so that I can be inspected at the next available opportunity. I have already been inspected this cycle (1 September 2012 – 31 July 2016) – at the very start of it on 12 September 2012! So who knows when it will be. It could be tomorrow or not for another 2-3 years. One thing I do know is that I am ready this time and very well equipped to answer all those questions, with lots of evidence covering a variety of ages and children.

Free Early Education Provider

I am now an eligible Free Early Education provider.

 

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free early education or childcare a year. This is often taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year (ie. term-time). Some 2-year-olds are also eligible. You can start claiming from the term after your child turns 3.

Lack of Blog Activity

Hi there – if you are looking for a childminder and have come across my site, then you are probably wondering why my blog ends in October last year. Firstly, I would like to confirm that I am still childminding and I still love my job. The blog will hopefully give you a good insight into the types of activities that I still carry out with the children in my care.

 

As my business has grown, I have found the maintenance of the blog to be too time-consuming. I also care for a little one at the moment whose parents do not wish to see photographs published online. In the beginning, the blog was a great way of communicating with the parents of the children in my care. However, as technology has moved on, I now find that the easiest way to do this is via a daily text with accompanying pictures.

Halloween Saltdough Creations

First we made some saltdough. This should be incredibly easy to make: 1 cup flour, 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup water. Unfortunately, the first attempt was incredibly runny and I soon realised that I had given the boys 1 cup of water each. After some frantic rummaging in the cupboard for a new bag of salt, we ended up with twice the intended amount!!!

The boys know the drill by now: roll it out, cut it out, put it in the oven.

 

Nathan enjoyed cutting the dough with his knife.

He cut out a lovely window for his haunted house.

The saltdough needs to bake on a low heat (100c) for a good few hours. You can tell it is ready because it goes rock hard, which is the idea. If you want to hang your finished masterpiece up with ribbon later on, you need to make holes in it before it goes in the oven (the wrong end of a pencil is ideal for this).

 

The following day, we painted our masterpieces.

Check out J’s precision pumpkin painting.

J also did a great job with this bat/snake combination. He started to paint the snake green and I encouraged him to only paint the snake and not get any on the bat in the middle. He did a really good job, carrying on to paint the bat black just as perfectly. His concentration with this was admirable. (He then went on to paint over the snake again in black, just for good measure.)

Here are N and J’s finished masterpieces. I love the spooky ghosts at the top that we made from the boys’ footprints.

Painting with Conkers

We have been playing with conkers and pine cones recently. The children have spent time scooping them and putting them into pots, baking them in the toy oven, stirring them in cups of tea, sharing them out and transporting them around in vehicles.

 

Today we decided to use conkers in our craft activity. We put a piece of paper in the bottom of a washing up bowl and squeezed some paint on. This was very liberating as the boys do not often get their hands on the full bottles of paint!

  

Next, they dropped half a dozen conkers each into their bowls.

N positioned his conkers carefully on top of his splodges of paint, not sure what was going to happen next.

Much rolling and shaking followed. J was a bit under the weather and did not have much energy for this but loved the results when given a helping hand.

J got stuck straight in and soon decided that more paint was needed. He then dashed off into the lounge for more conkers too!

We got through many sheets of paper. (If you fancy trying this, make sure you have plenty of space to put the finished masterpieces.)

N then decided to take his conkers out of his bowl and roll them on a piece of paper by hand. (He then tried to pick the paper up, conkers and all, and they rolled all over the kitchen floor!)

Great fun!

Oatmeal Biscuits

Today we made oatmeal biscuits and talked about Halloween as we cut them out using our spooky biscuit cutters.

 

F worked his upper arm muscles as he stirred the ingredients and rolled the dough out.

    

We made pumpkin and bat biscuits with half of the dough.

Together, we rolled the rest of the dough into a long sausage and then I marked lines where I wanted F to cut. He felt very grown up and responsible using the knife and concentrated hard to cut along the lines I marked.

After that, we rolled each piece into a ball and F flattened it with the palm of his hand to make oatmeal splats.

Frozen Paint Jack-o-Lanterns

Today we painted with frozen paint and it was er… cool?! (Sorry – I know that was poor!) The night before I squirted some paint into an old ice-cube tray, stuck a lolly stick in the middle of each one and popped it in the freezer. To release the paint, I put an inch of hot water in the bottom of the sink and floated the ice-cube tray on it for a few seconds.

 

One of our recent library books is “Five Little Pumpkins” so, using this for inspiration, we set about painting our own jack-o-lanterns. I provided the boys with some white paper templates, green frozen paint “for the stem” and yellow and red to see what colour they would create for the pumpkin itself.

 

As you can see, “for the stem” was interpreted by N (27m) as “apply liberally all over”:

 

J (23m) is better at following instructions/less of a maverick and managed a lovely green stem on his right-hand pumpkin:

When you first use the frozen paint, the effect looks similar to using a wax crayon but as it begins to melt, you get more and more paint transferring to the paper. N found this very intriguing. He is very tactile with his artwork and decided to see what the paint felt like. “Cold,” he commented and realised that he couldn’t hold it with his hand for too long. He then decided that he wanted the blob of frozen paint off the lolly stick and started to rub the two sticks together to try to achieve this.

  

Here you can see that N has managed to break off a fair bit of the yellow paint. Interestingly, the red paint was a different brand to the other two colours and melted far more slowly.

J meanwhile was happy holding the lolly sticks and moving the paint from side to side. The holes cut into the paper for the face posed quite a challenge for him because he is very precise and did his best not to get any paint on the table. (N on the other hand got stuck in – his motto could be “the most paint in the most places”.)

After the boys had been painting the pumpkins for a while, I gave them some black paper and we put the white templates onto it. I reminded them of the page in the book where it is dark and you can see the glowing jack-o-lanterns and encouraged them to use the pumpkins as stencils and paint “the black bits”.

  

N finally got the blobs of frozen paint off the lolly sticks and decided that the most effective method was to smear it with both hands!

NB. I discovered that frozen paint is a great way for young children to use stencils effectively: give them a paintbrush and it inevitably goes all the way under the stencil – this does not.

 

Seed Window Art

Do you remember backing your school exercise books with sticky backed plastic? Well here’s another use for it. We used it to catch all the seeds from the seed heads that we gathered in the garden the other week.

 

First of all, I taped the sticky backed plastic to the table (sticky side up and with a piece of white A4 underneath as our tablecloth is too colourful for this activity). A quick reminder of how to get the seeds out and they were off. We had:

 

Vigorous shaking…

Careful pulling apart…

General tipping out…

Careful selection of individual larger seeds…

Sprinkling…

This is one of my favourite pictures. N (2y) was actually giggling in anticipation of the goodies inside as he concentrated on opening the sweet pea pod .

By this point, the sticky backed plastic was laden with seeds (and seed heads) and I wished I had left the same amount again with the backing paper still on so that we could have simply folded it over and stuck it together… Instead, we used some red cellophane from the craft cupboard and patted it down hard.

J (23m) discovered that it made a pleasing rustling noise and explored this further.

Ta daa! This one is actually N’s after he had “encouraged” a lot of the larger bits to drop out of the bottom! (He had as much fun doing this as he did creating his masterpiece, to be honest.)

 

Exploring Seeds

I always try to draw the children’s attention to things going on in the garden and this time of year is full of change as summer moves into autumn. The sunflowers that we planted a few months ago have all bloomed and withered but there is still fun to be had with them – and plenty to learn about.

I cut three of the sunflowers down and presented the boys with one each. They explored the textures of the different parts and waved them about. A few of the seeds fell to the ground and we talked about what they were and examined the seed heads further.

 

The obvious next step for our inquisitive young minds was to find out how to extract more seeds. J (23m) used a pincer grip to pull them out. A (4y) used brute force to pull the head apart and release several at once.

 

He then tried to help J with his sunflower. In the meantime, N (2y) was waving his sunflower about and hitting it against the table, successfully releasing seeds.

Then he dropped it on the ground and quite a few fell out. His next discovery was very effective: he decided to stamp on it! This resulted in lots of seeds to gather up and put in the table.

 

When the boys grew tired of the sunflowers, I showed them the seed pods on the faded sweet pea plants and they couldn’t wait to see what was inside. We examined withered brown pods and fresh green pods and discovered that the seeds inside were different colours and textures.

  

We talked about how we must never eat anything that we find in the garden and why, even if it resembles a familiar fruit, berry or vegetable.

After that, we wandered around the garden looking for more seeds. We found poppy seeds and listened carefully to the noise the seeds made when we shook the seed heads.

We tipped the seeds out onto our hands. They were much smaller than the large sunflower and sweet pea seeds.

We found fluffy seeds, compared them to dandelion clocks and talked about them being carried on the wind.

There were lots more seeds to be found and we carefully placed all our seed heads into a container, ready to use for next week’s craft activity. All I need to do now is think of something to do with them!