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Babies and bottles

I haven’t added anything on here for ages but we have just been so busy so apologies from me. And because we’ve been so busy I wasn’t quite sure where to start but we are currently putting together a display for our home corner and all of the images are downloaded ready to print so it seemed a logical place to start. The images we use will be there to support children’s play in the Home Corner by modelling things that they can do while they play there.

Children from a very young age enjoy the home corner, its natural they can mimic the things the see at home. They enjoy pretending to make cups of tea, setting the table, washing the dishes. Its natural for children to copy things they are familiar with but after a time they need some new ideas.

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Our home corner was becoming a little unloved with children choosing other areas instead or just making a mess when they did go in. We needed a change of focus so we added babies to gauge the reaction by the children. Our older children went straight into the home corner and interacted with the new additions. They wrapped them up, put clothes on them and pretended to feed and bath them. It was a real hit with the older children, so much so that the younger children couldn’t get a look in! So the home corner was being used once more and the children were showing a real interest in the babies, so much so that we wanted to develop this topic a little bit further. There were also a few of our Mum’s expecting or just had babies so it was a lovely topic for those children with new siblings.

We wanted to add some new equipment so we put a plea out to our parents for unwanted baby equipment. We were inundated with items which was lovely. So we added a variety of items including bottles, spoons, bowls, bibs, blankets and nappies and even a moses basket (which was kindly donated by one of our parents)

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Watching the children engage with the new equipment was great. For a time we just watched from a distance giving them space to investigate and develop their own ideas. The younger children watched and copied the older children and the children began to interact with each other and the level of communication increased significantly.

From these observations the thing that we noticed most was that the children loved giving the babies a bottle. After a few ideas being discussed about how to move this forward a bit more and how we could link it to our targets for the children we decided to let the children make up some bottles for the babies. They used flour and water to make up what looked like formula to feed the babies and it was definitely a hit.

It was a great mathematical development activity with the children using mathematical language such as more and less, full and empty. They estimated how many of spoonfuls of flour they needed to add to fill the bottle to a given point. They counted the spoonfuls of flour used to make up the bottle adding one more or two more. It was a challenge for our older children using larger numbers and estimating and for our younger children they loved the filling and emptying of the containers. It was a fantastic activity that went on for over a week.

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Along side this we talked about how else to care for babies and how our parents care for us as we get older. We talked about how babies are different to us and things we can do now that babies can’t. Children with younger siblings shared their experiences of helping to feed, change and dress their brothers an sisters. It opened a wide range of discussion topics and engaged even the most reluctant of children, which is exactly what we wanted.

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The children had a fantastic time and it was enjoyed by girls and boys alike. When challenged by one Dad about why his son was playing with dolls we were able to dispel some ideologies that boys shouldn’t play with dolls with the amount of learning that he had gained from it. We also explained how it was giving him the first insights into caring for others and how to be a caring person as he grows up. When I had my children my husband bathed them, fed them, changed their nappies and pushed them in the pram or pushchair, like I said earlier children copy actions that they see and this is a totally normal, everyday thing. Dolls are certainly not just for boys just like cars and trains are not just for boys. Toys should not be gender specific and they certainly aren’t in our nursery.

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So what started as a way of engaging the children more effectively in the home corner branched into a whole range of teaching and learning opportunities. Did the children know they were learning? What do you think? They were just having a lovely time which is exactly what teaching in Early Years is all about. To many it looks like we ‘just play’. Play is exactly what we do and just look at how much the children get out of it. We are beginning to teach them many of the skills they need to succeed in life and that is why Early Years is so important and that is exactly why I love my job!

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