A couple of parcels for the children at Granny’s Daycare   Leave a comment

Setting the Scene

I used to be a registered childminder until April 2016, and occasionally would review products for the early years. In particular those from Early Years Resources (if interested use the search box to locate those blogs). Then on my retirement I was asked if I could still review products but at a colleagues setting – this worked well and I had 2 colleagues who were willing to help – and for their help they could  keep the products to use in their setting. THEN – one resigned and one retired!

So as Early years Resources would still like me to occasionally review products for them, I have come up with another idea – Granny DayCare!

I have always looked after my grandchildren, both as a Granny who was a childminder, then just as a Granny. To be honest apart from the lack of an Ofsted certificate and any payment, there are not many differences because once a childminder – always a childminder with the same focus on the individual child, the same setting up of an enabling environment, the same attention to safety and so on.

So one the day in question when I reviewed these latest resources, I had 3 of my grandchildren in my care Annabelle who had just had her 4th birthday, Anya who is 3, and because it was the school holidays, Selena who is 6. The girls are all used to spending time at Granny’s and used to each other.

The Products Being Reviewed                                                                                                      The first product is the Dinosaur Weaving Frames


Chosen because both of the younger girls have had a long term interest in dinosaurs – although to be honest in recent months they have shown more interest in unicorns, ponies and fairies.

The second product is the Rustic Play Blocks


Chosen because I love wooden blocks and I wanted to see what this set was like, and if a fairly small set could engage the children as much as the rather large set that I used to own as a childminder.

The Review                                                                                                                                             Before the children arrived I had set up the lounge and dining room much as I used to when a childminder. In the lounge the coffee table was pushed to the wall to create a large open play space, Some duplo was put on the coffee table, and a basket of heuristic play things on the floor. The new resources were sill in their packaging so the children and I could open together – just as I did when childminding. There was also a basket of assorted ribbons, and  laces ready to use. In the dinning room there was some painting resources on the table and a pop up tent complete with cushions, books and some soft toys.

The 3 girls were very excited to see the new resources and wanted to open them before playing with the other older resources.

First the weaving frames, despite not being their most current interest, the girls were delighted with the frames and were able to recognised and name each of the 3 dinosaur shapes. Descriptions of size, shape, if flew or walked, if had 2 or 4 legs – and which was their favourite littered the conversations. They had to wait while Granny selected some laces to tie the weaving frames to door handles, so the girls could stand to do their weaving – and so there was plenty space between the frames. Selena got stuck right in, knowing how to weave and having a plan in her head of creating straight lines. She used appropriate wording describing her ribbons and laces in terms of colours, width, and length. She also wanted Granny to constantly look at her weaving and to comment, which of course Granny did. Selena continued with her weaving until just about every hole in the frame had been used. She was very pleased with her work, and when her mummy collected her later, she wanted to tell mummy all about her weaving – and of course show her, which was possible because Granny had left the weaving frame on the door for everyone to admire.

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6 year old Selena’s weaving

Annabelle, had not done any weaving for a while and had forgotten how to weave. Her first attempts just fell out and she needed some support from Granny to get started. She was very interested in the colour of the ribbons and the length. She liked the longs ones but could not quite manage to perfect her weaving and although did succeed with some in and out weaving, she also  had lots of loose bits that she started to weave  but then left ‘hanging’. However she was very pleased with her efforts, and like Selena sought lots of praise from Granny.

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4 year old Annabelle’s  weaving

Anya quietly concentrated on her task, like Annabelle she struggled with her technique but kept trying. Anya commented out loud to herself ‘in and out of the holes’ and ‘up and down’. Even so, Anya still had lots of ribbon hanging loose. This did not bother Anya as she thought it was ‘beautiful’ and particularly liked the stripy shoe laces to weave with. Like her sister and cousin,  Anya wanted Granny to admire her work.

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3 year old Anya’s weaving

All 3 girls really enjoyed the weaving and remained on task for about 40 minutes. All were very pleased with their finished dinosaur  frames – as was Granny.

Granny had supplied a range of ribbons and threading laces but this could have been extended with pipe cleaners, string and wool. Children could be challenged to try only using certain colours, or to weave other materials into their weaving. In addition patterns could be made both with colours and with ‘holes’ used.

However, based on my knowledge of child development and how children learn through hands on experimentation, I would much rather just provide children with opportunities to use the frames regularly and observe what they do. I see my role as one of support offering encouragement, praise and vocabulary. Of course if the children suggest ideas, I would be very happy to discuss their ideas.

One of the features I like about these frames is they can be used inside and outside, and are very easy to tie to objects or just put on a flat surface. However, I don’t think the frames could be left outside for long periods of time in inclement weather.

Using the Rustic Blocks

As a childminder I always had blocks of some sort as I believe they are a very versatile resource with many uses. At first I just had some cube blocks as used to be in push a long walker; then I had small blocks in various shapes and colours; and finally a huge collection of natural blocks in many shapes and sizes.

Since retiring, I have just kept a small collection of smaller size wooden blocks for grandchildren’s use, and to be honest these blocks had not been played with for a while due to having kitchen make over, which meant I could not access the blocks easily.

Once the girls had finished their weaving they were keen to play with the blocks, and started to sort the blocks, and build with them straight from the box. They named the shapes they recognised, Selena had clearly been learning about 3 D shapes, while both Anya and Annabelle were more confident with the 2 D shape names. On a couple of occasions Granny was asked to name unrecognisable shapes.

Annabelle was really into careful design and building, while Anya preferred lines and towers.

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Some of the structures made with the blocks

After a while, Selena decided that the blocks were books in a library and invented a whole game around library books; borrowing, taking home to the play tent – there was even mention of fines for being late in returning the block books.

Both Anya and Annabelle enjoy the library books game and pretended to borrow books, and then to read them to the toy dogs and teddies. Granny recognised several of their current favourite stories. When Selena said the library was closed the girls all read bedtime stories from their block library books before pretending to go to sleep.

As you can see from the photos although a fairly small set of blocks, there were plenty of different shapes and more than enough for the girls to play both alongside each other and together. As an adult I appreciated the rounded edges and smooth surfaces.

On this occasion the children did not add things to their block play, other than their imagination. However, I know from past block play adding natural resources such as pebbles and pine cones; or small world people; or heuristic objects or loose parts can transform and extend block play.

If I was setting up as a childminder again, would I buy these items?

Yes I would because they would be used over and over again in a huge variety of different ways, and by children across the early years age range – and so well worth the investment.

Passing on the resources in this review

As I am not setting up again as a childminder, and as I don’t personally want myself or a family member to benefit from keeping the resources, I asked Early Years Resources if it would be acceptable to pass them on to a local children’s charity. This was agreed to and so I have passed them on to Wyre Forest Home Start for their volunteers to use with local families and in their drop in groups.






Posted September 18, 2018 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

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