We’re going on a Bear Hunt

At the moment, the children really love “We’re going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. It’s a great book – have you read it?


Today we decided to take our bear to the woods to give the story more meaning. We stopped for a snack of breadsticks and read the story.

As usual, the boys joined in with the repetitive phrases and were very concerned when the bear chased the family back to their house (especially when they forget to shut the front door!) Our bear however was very friendly, enjoyed a lovely stroll through Cuerden and was even allowed to share the boys’ breadsticks!

During our morning at Cuerden, we identified with lots of different scenes from the book:


Uh-oh – a forest! A deep dark forest! Stumble trip! Stumble trip!


Uh-oh – mud! Thick oozy mud! Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch!


Uh-oh – a river! A deep cold river! Splash splosh! Splash splosh!


Uh-oh – grass! Long wavy grass! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!


We also did LOTS of squelch squerching and splash sploshing ourselves!!!


And we found lots of seed heads, wild flowers and insects in the long wavy grass.


We had a great morning at Cuerden and now we have lots of pictures of our exploits so that we can make our own “Bear Hunt” picture book next week.


Recommended web links:

Watch Michael Rosen read his book on YouTube:



There is also a lovely animated version here:


Lunch Menu

I provide home-cooked lunches and encourage a positive attitude towards healthy eating. Here is a taste of what the children eat. I take portions from our family meals, refrigerate or freeze them and then reheat them thoroughly.

  Spaghetti Bolognaise

  Roast Dinner

  Tuna Pasta Bake

  Mince and Dumpling

  Quiche and Baked Beans

(The children made this one themselves – see our blog of 23 March)

  Creamy Bacon Penne

 Lancashire Hotpot

 Fish Pie (salmon and haddock)

Other typical meals include stew, casserole, cottage pie, chilli. Sometimes the children make their own lunch, eg. pizza or quiche and if we go out for the day, we may take a picnic lunch with us instead.


In addition to a hot lunch, I also provide snacks mid-morning and after the school run. At least one snack is fresh fruit (apple, banana, pear, grapes, melon, satsuma – occasionally pineapple, berries, kiwi). Typical non-fruit snacks are toast, breadsticks, cheese and crackers, hot cross buns, malt loaf, fruit toast. Biscuits are provided at some toddler groups.

Fresh drinking water is always available and I also provide 200ml of milk per day for children over 12 months. Juice may be available at some toddler groups. Infant formula and bottles (if required) should be provided by you and I am happy to either refrigerate pre-prepared bottles or make up bottles on demand.


A few weeks ago, the children made their own ham and pineapple pizzas for lunch. It was a great hit and they wanted to do this again – soon! So today we made quiche for lunch. They loved the experience, it was a great opportunity to talk about different food groups and healthy eating and their plates were clean at the end.


First of all, we made the pastry. Rubbing the fat into the flour was tricky (but good for our fine motor skills) and then we stirred in the water.

Next, we kneaded the dough. Lots of squashing, squeezing and pounding!

Followed by rolling. We looked at the quiche dishes, which were round and we tried to roll our pastry into round circles.

We added our fillings: (cooked and cooled) bacon, onion, brocolli, sweetcorn and cheese.

We cracked then whisked our eggs and milk together before pouring the mixture on.

Ta daa!

Yummy yummy :-) :-)

Where did our Pumpkin go?

Around the time of Hallowe’en, the children were captivated by a book we read called Pumpkin Jack. In the story, a boy could not bear to throw away his carved jack o’lantern so he placed it in his garden, on the ground among the autumn leaves and forgot about it. The story follows the pumpkin as it rots away and in the spring, a new shoot is found from one of the pumpkin’s seeds and eventually the boy is rewarded with a bumper crop of pumpkins, which he shares among his friends.


The children were intrigued by this story and it was read many times. We decided to find out what would happen to our pumpkin if we left it outside, although I explained to them that we had already scooped all the seeds out so there would be no regrowth. Here is the story of our own Pumpkin Jack.


  11 November

  2 December

  8 December

  19 December

  29 December

  13 January

  3 February

  24 February

  16 March

The children have loved watching the pumpkin “disappear”. In the early stages, there was surprise at each visit, accompanied by lots of “yuk” noises. As the weeks progressed, we talked about what had caused the pumpkin to rot; what might have eaten it; how the weather might have affected it. They still go over to the patch of soil now and point to where the pumpkin “used to be”.

Happy Mother’s Day!

We wanted to make something special for Mother’s Day so we began with a visit to our local garden centre so that the children could choose their own plants.

Then we set to work painting our plant pots. (But first, I attached masking tape around the pots to read “M U M M Y”.)

The following day, when our paint had dried and the masking tape had been peeled off, we planted our bulbs – a mixture of various dwarf narcissi and hyacinths.

Our mummies were AMAZED at home time when we presented them with their gifts – and we felt SO proud of ourselves!!! Happy Mother’s Day!

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!