What’s in a Nursery Menu? The Importance of Healthy Eating for Children

As a parent, are you curious about which foods are contained in a nursery menu?

Are you anxious about what your child is eating at nursery and want to know more about their nutrition?

Depending on how much time your child spends at nursery, they could be eating a significant proportion of their meals there.

As a result, it’s important you understand exactly what food your child is consuming so you can be confident they’re receiving the nutrition they need.

Making sure your child eats the right foods from an early age is very important. In their early years, children start to build a relationship with food, and this will continue as they move through their life.

Therefore, encouraging positive eating habits in little ones can help make sure they are happy and healthy through nursery and beyond.

However, how do you know these healthy food habits are being maintained when you’re not present? You put a lot of faith in the nursery you choose, and you trust them to provide the right food for your child.

They have a responsibility to care for your child, and that includes providing healthy and nutritious meals. Now, we’re not trying to say your child can’t have a treat every now and then! It’s about balance, and making sure they’re consuming the right proportions of different food groups at the right times.

So, let’s dive into the importance of healthy eating for little ones.
two children eating food

Why Is a Nursery Menu Important?

We’ve briefly touched on this in the intro, but a nursery menu should contain all of the foods that your child needs to thrive.

Research has shown that a balanced, nutritious diet has a positive impact on a child’s ability to learn. During their early years, a child’s mind is absorbing a lot of information as they engage in new experiences for the very first time.

They’re discovering new ideas and concepts, and working out how different things work which takes a lot of energy. They’re also meeting a lot of new faces, and learning how to interact with others, which can be tiring in their early years of life.

Essentially, this is a period of rapid growth and their mind is like a sponge. Good nutrition is essential as it supports their well being and cognitive development.

At Nursery, you’re handing this responsibility over to the nursery practitioners. Lots of parents work full time jobs, and as such, your child might be at nursery for the majority of the week. Therefore, the nursery menu needs to provide children with the right food.

Any child care provider has a duty to introduce your child to a variety of foods and establish a pattern of regular meals and healthy snacks.

The arrangements of these meals will vary depending on the nursery you choose, so it’s important you do your research before choosing which setting is right for your child.

Do Nurseries Have a Responsibility to Provide a Healthy Nursery Menu?

Every nursery setting has a responsibility to provide a healthy and nutritious nursery menu for the children in their care.

The Government’s Department of Education’s Statutory Framework for The Early Years Foundation Stage defines standards that nurseries and other childcare providers must meet.

However, these are vague and are often misinterpreted as a result.

The guidelines simply refer to:

  • Healthy, balanced, and nutritious meals and snacks
  • Fresh drinking water at all times
  • An area adequately equipped to provide healthy meals

Because there is nothing that actually states what should be included in a nursery menu, nursery settings can often get this wrong.

Without having a qualified Dietitian or Nutritionist advising on what to include, nurseries use their own knowledge to decipher what foods to offer children.

As a result, this causes a great deal of variability between settings, which can be confusing for parents when deciding which nursery is right for their child.

However, there are more detailed voluntary guidelines that nursery settings can use to help them interpret the standards in the right way.
young child smiling

What are the Voluntary Guidelines for a Nursery Menu?

Whilst the voluntary guidelines have been available since 2012, nurseries can choose whether or not they listen to these guidelines when deciding what food to serve children.

As such, these guidelines are helpful, but they do not provide any guarantee that your chosen nursery will follow them when designing their own menu.

According to the guidelines, a healthy balanced diet for children aged one to five is based on the following four food groups:

  • Starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and cereals (four portions per day)
  • Fruit and vegetables (five portions per day)
  • Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy forms of proteins (two portions per day)
  • Milk and dairy foods (three portions per day)

These four food groups provide a range of essential nutrients that children need to develop.

It’s important to offer a selection of food and drinks from the food groups above, as this helps to ensure that a good balance of nutrients is consumed. As well as detailed information about each food group, the guidelines also cover the areas below:

  • Drinks
  • Desserts, puddings and cakes
  • Fat
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • How to read food labels
  • Iron and zinc
  • Food additives
  • Ready-made meals and takeaways
  • Fortified foods
  • Portion sizes for different ages

The guidelines also provide information about how food should be balanced throughout the day.

It is important that children consume the right amount of food and drink at different times as this ensures a well-balanced, healthy diet.

The guidelines divide energy and nutritional requirements across meals and snacks in the following proportions:

  • Breakfast — 20%
  • Mid-morning snack — 10%
  • Lunch — 30% (assuming lunch is the main meal)
  • Mid-afternoon snack — 10%
  • Tea — 20%

Whilst this is a fantastic guide, there is nothing set in stone.

Nursery settings can still choose which parts of the guidelines they listen to, which explains the varied experiences parents have when looking through different nursery menus.
children healthy eating at nursery

How Nurseries can use the Voluntary Guidelines in their Nursery Menu

Nursery settings should be aware of the voluntary guidelines and should make a conscious effort to include this in the menu planning.

It’s important they ensure each day is balanced so that your child has enough variety. After all, it’s very boring eating the same thing over and over again (even if it is healthy), so they need to introduce children to new and exciting foods.

This includes a variety of textures, taste, and colour so that children can experience food from different cultures. It’s also important to have a menu cycle for several weeks, so that children attending on the same day each week are not always having the same meal.

New menu cycles should be introduced at least twice a year and where possible, seasonal foods should be used. At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we provide a summer and winter menu to provide your child with a mix of delicious meals. Within those seasons, menus are rotated to ensure children experience a variety of cuisines and flavours.

In addition to this, menus should be planned in advance as this helps ensure a good variety of food is maintained.

Meals and snacks should also be shared with parents so that they can plan meals at home.

Nursery Menu Example: The Hunny Pot Nursery

At The Hunny Pot Nursery, all meals are freshly prepared every day. Our own in-house, experienced cook ensures that the meals are well balanced and nutritious, through the provision of a variety of tasty foods.

We understand the growing problem with obesity, which is why we take healthy eating very seriously.

By encouraging positive food habits in early childhood, we can contribute to a healthier and happier society.

You’ll be reassured to know that our kitchen is inspected by Environmental Health Officers every single year. The inspection outcome is a score based on a star rating from 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

At The Hunny Pot, we have always achieved a score of 5 and have proudly maintained this for the last ten years.

Take a look at our sample menu below:

hunny pot sample menu screenshot

Our menu options always go down an absolute treat with the children in our care!

We’re not only committed to providing children with nutritious food, but also a fantastic learning experience. That’s why our staff will sit with your child, and will guide them through the importance of good table manners so that they can become independent and happy eaters.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our friendly team or book a tour of the nursery today!

What Is the Current Health Status of Young Children in England?

When identifying the importance of a healthy nursery menu, it can be helpful to look at some facts about the health status of young children in England.

As we’ve discussed, instilling healthy eating habits from a young age is highly important as this influences the way they see food throughout their life.

Therefore, this can help mitigate problems in later life such as obesity which has huge negative implications on a child’s mental and physical wellbeing.

It can also lead to issues with their self-confidence and self-acceptance which can make it more difficult for them to integrate into a classroom environment.

With that said, let’s look at some statistics about children’s physical health:

  • 14.4% of reception age children (age 4-5) are obese
  • 13.3% of children between 4 and 5 overweight
  • At age 10-11 (year 6) 25.5% of children are obese
  • In years 6 15.4% of all children are overweight
  • Obesity prevalence is higher for boys than for girls

The data above is taken from 2020/21 and is gathered as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.

The report also found that these figures have rapidly increased compared to the previous year (2019/20), when 9.9% of children aged 4-5 and 21.0% of children aged 10-11 were obese.

As a result, childhood obesity rates are on the rise which is why a nutritious nursery menu is critical to ensure children lead happy and healthy lives.
child reaching for strawberries

What’s in a Nursery Menu? The Importance of Healthy Eating for Children

A nursery menu should contain all of the nutrients your child needs to grow and develop.

This is a crucial stage in a child’s life as this is when they first form their food preferences and eating behaviours. Therefore, this provides nursery practitioners with the perfect opportunity to shape a child’s eating for the better by introducing a range of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Every parent wants to know that their child is eating well at nursery. When they’re not physically present, it’s the responsibility of their chosen nursery to look after their child and serve nutritious food.

As we’ve noted, nutritious doesn’t have to mean boring! It’s about serving delicious meals that are packed with good things that children enjoy eating.

This will encourage children to have a positive relationship with food which is vital for their mental and physical health. On top of providing a good nursery menu, early years settings should also provide ample opportunities for exercise and outdoor play.

At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we have a range of exciting outdoor classrooms that ​​expose children to a wide variety of physical activities. This means children can have a different adventure every day, whilst getting plenty of fresh air and exercise.

To find out more, book a free tour of our nursery today!

What Is Ofsted and How Can it Help Me Find the Right Nursery?

Perhaps you’re looking for a nursery and you’re wondering ‘What is Ofsted?’

You might have heard of Ofsted before, but are unsure what it means practically for your child.

When it comes to choosing the right nursery, you want to be confident that you’ve made the right decision.

After all, this environment sets the foundation for your child’s future learning, so it’s important you choose a nursery that supports their needs.

From educational skills, to social skills, nursery sets the base for your child and influences how they approach learning moving forward. From a young age, it’s important every child feels valued and supported regardless of their individual requirements.

This is where Ofsted comes in, as it ensures every nursery is providing a secure and stable learning environment for your child to thrive.

In this post, we’ll break down exactly what Ofsted is, and how it can help you choose the right nursery.

At The Hunny Pot, we want to make this process as straightforward as possible, as we know how stressful it can be for parents.

Hopefully after reading this post, you will be equipped with all of the knowledge you need when it comes to finding the right nursery setting.
Ofsted inspector and nursery practitioner

What Is Ofsted?

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

It’s a government body and it is Ofsted’s responsibility to inspect organisations providing education and skills for learners of all ages, to ensure they are delivering the best possible service.

Any learner, of any age, deserves to receive the highest standard of education and care, and Ofsted ensures this happens.

It carries out inspections and regulatory visits on a regular basis, and publishes reports online for full visibility.

Ofsted are independent and impartial, and they report directly to Parliament.

What Are Ofsted’s Responsibilities?

Ofsted are responsible for numerous jobs, including:

Inspecting

  • Maintain schools, academies, nurseries, and many other educational institutions and programmes outside of higher education
  • Maintain childcare, adoption, fostering agencies, and initial teacher training

Regulating

  • A range of early years and children’s social care services, making sure they’re suitable for children and potentially vulnerable young people

Reporting

  • Publishing reports of our findings so they can be used to improve the overall quality of education and training
  • Informing policymakers about the effectiveness of these services

Ofsted are committed to providing evidence-led information using evaluation tools that are fair and reliable.

By using a clear and concise Ofsted rating system, they can grade a nursery based on evidence found during an inspection. By publicising these reports and ratings online, it allows parents to make more informed decisions about their child’s education.

This leads us nicely onto our next section.
nursery practitioner observing children

What Is an Ofsted Rating?

An Ofsted rating is given to a nursery setting depending on the quality of their services and care.

This rating helps parents understand the level of service their child will be receiving, which gives them peace of mind that their child is being taken care of.

During a visit, an inspector will do several things:

  • Observe the children at play
  • Talk to the nursery practitioner and the children
  • Observe how the nursery practitioner interacts with the children
  • Check the children’s levels of understanding and if they take part in learning
  • Talk to the nursery practitioner about the children’s knowledge, skills, and abilities
  • Observe care routines and how they’re used to support children’s personal development
  • Evaluate a nursery practitioners’ knowledge of the Early Years Foundation Stage

As you can see, the inspection process is robust, so you can be confident the Ofsted rating is accurate and based on real findings.

With that said, let’s explore the 4 different types of Ofsted ratings and what each of them mean.

Inadequate

This is the lowest rating Ofsted hand out and should be a concern for any parent looking for a nursery for their child.

This rating states that the setting does not provide an acceptable quality of education and care for children. As such, serious improvements will have to be made immediately (or at the very least, in time for the next inspection in the following 3 years).

Requires Improvement

If a nursery receives a ‘Requires Improvement’ Ofsted rating, it means they provide an acceptable quality of education and care for children, however, there are still improvements to be made.

These areas of improvement will be identified by the Ofsted inspector and will need implementing as soon as possible.

Good

An Ofsted rating of ‘Good’ is where most nursery settings are most likely sitting. To achieve this rating it means the quality of education is good and all other key judgments are likely to be good or outstanding.

In rare circumstances, one of the key judgement areas may require improvement, as long as there is convincing evidence that the setting is improving this and striving towards good.

Outstanding

And finally, there is ‘Outstanding.’ In order to receive this rating, a nursery setting needs to be exceeding expectations on every level and ‘stand out’ from the average.

This takes everyone into account from nursery practitioners, to administrators, to children. At an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ nursery, staff are fantastic role models who put the needs of every child first. In these settings, children are also well-behaved and happy.
children playing on the carpet

What Are the Four Ofsted Categories?

The four categories covered in an Ofsted inspection are outlined below:

Quality of education

This refers to how well the nursery provides the teaching children need at their specific stage of learning. At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we have 4 bright, attractive floors which are age-related to cater for the needs of the child.

Behaviour and attitudes

This refers to how children, nursery practitioners, parents, and governors feel about the nursery, and how children behave in and out of the nursery setting.

Personal development of children

This refers to how well the nursery setting provides services such as pastoral care to prepare children for the future.

Leadership and management

This refers to how well the Senior Leadership Team manages the nursery.

Under the new Education Inspection Framework 2019 (EIF), Ofsted will focus less on paperwork and results, and more on the development of the child as a whole.

This includes an emphasis on how children can build resilience and become better citizens.

And as we’ve covered, nursery is an integral part of a child’s life as it sets the base for their future.

The lessons and skills they learn at nursery, will shape their path moving forward and will influence the person they become.

What Does the New Education Inspection Framework Mean for EYFS?

As we’ve touched on, the Ofsted framework was updated in 2019 following much discussion and consultation in the sector.

The new framework involves some considerable changes and is more focused on the child as a whole, including their health and wellbeing.

Whilst the changes are detailed and comprehensive, we’ve compiled a list of key takeaways below.

For any parents, this allows you to see how the framework has changed, and which areas Ofsted inspectors will concentrate on:

  • Paperwork is no longer a focus during the inspection as inspectors want to know more about the child is managing, which includes their wellbeing.
  • There will be more direct interactions with nursery practitioners and children as this is the most effective way to assess a child’s progress.
  • The EYFS should be viewed as the basis of curriculum, and then nursery practitioners can decide how to build on this to ensure each child gets the support and attention they need. At The Hunny Pot Nursery, every child is assigned a key person to ensure that daily needs are met so that every child feels special.
  • Inspections will remain consistent as Ofsted implements the new framework changes. The new framework also comes complete with quality assurance procedures and an accessible approach to collected findings and keep everything transparent.
  • A tick-list approach might have been useful in the past, but Ofsted wants to know how providers support nursery practitioners in developing their own judgement through CPD.

Under the new framework, Ofsted wants nursery practitioners to focus more on what they do best – helping children to learn.

Instead of being bogged down by paper work, inspectors want to see what it’s truly like to be a child in a nursery setting. This allows for a much more natural inspection, which in turn, leads to a more accurate Ofsted rating.

As such, you can feel confident that the Ofsted report is reflective of the nursery setting, and not only takes the quality of teaching into account, but also the level of care.

It’s vital every child feels valued and included at nursery, which the new EIF supports.
parent reading an Ofsted report

Top Tips for Parents When Reading an Ofsted Report

Whilst you’ll never be able to know everything from an Ofsted report, it’s still a good indication of quality when it comes to choosing the right nursery.

Following an Ofsted inspection, the inspectors will write up their report and include the rating the nursery will receive.

The full report will be published within 28 days of the inspection taking place, and is available for anyone to read. Ofsted reports can be found here: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/

Perhaps you’re interested in a nursery and you’ve found their Ofsted report but you’re struggling to make sense of it?

Under the new EIF, reports are designed to be shorter and easy to understand so you can see key points at a glance. This is music to any parents’ ears!

With that said, we’ve put together some top tips to help you understand an Ofsted report:

Number on roll

This tells you how many children are at the nursery. Whether or not this is important is based on individual preferences, as you might want your child going to a nursery with a smaller capacity.

Inspection judgements

When a nursery is inspected, they are given a rating of Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement or Inadequate.

These ratings can then be broken down into the four categories which are Quality of education, Behavior and attitudes, Personal development of pupils and Leadership and management.

Again, this falls down to personal preference, as some parents might be able to overlook ‘needs improvement’ in leadership and management, if they’ve been awarded ‘outstanding’ for personal development.

Which areas needed to be improved

Reading this section gives you an insight into what areas need to be improved so that you can decide what you can overlook and what is too important to ignore.

Bear in mind that even nurseries rated ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ are likely to have action points to make them better.

Next steps for the Nursery

Pay attention to what has been identified as the nursery’s ‘next steps’ as this gives you an insight into what areas require more effort moving forward.

For example, has it been outlined that staff need further training? If so, what areas do they need training in? This helps you decide whether a particular nursery is right for you and your child.

How Important Is Ofsted for Parents?

By understanding what each of the Ofsted ratings mean, and how inspectors have arrived at their judgement, it will inform your decision when choosing which nursery is right for your child.

It’s important you feel comfortable and at ease when leaving your child in the care of a nursery practitioner, as you are putting them in control.

According to the Ofsted Parents Annual Survey 2021, seven in ten parents have read an Ofsted report at some point, which shows how important Ofsted is for parents.

Whether you’re only leaving your child for a few hours or for the whole day, you’re putting the nursery in a position of trust.

You need to understand exactly what services they offer, and how this will benefit your child’s learning. For example, at The Hunny Pot, we provide a range of indoor and outdoor classrooms which allow your child to explore.

We understand how important it is to ignite their curiosity and imagination from a young age, which is why we provide children with a range of interactive learning experiences.

Knowing what services are available is just one piece of the puzzle. As a parent, you need to feel sure that your child’s needs are being met, both from an educational and well being perspective which is why an Ofsted report is so important.
nursery nurse showing children some work

What Is Ofsted and How Can it Help Me Find the Right Nursery?

Hopefully after reading this post, you’re not still pondering ‘what is Ofsted?’

Whilst you can never know the exact ins and outs of every single nursery, an Ofsted report remains a good insight into the quality of a nursery setting.

Aside from the educational value, it also focuses on the needs of the child to ensure their individual requirements are met. Every child has the right to good education, and they should feel fully supported throughout their learning journey.

At The Hunny Pot Nursery, this is something we’re passionate about.

Our team of experts are committed to providing a home-from-home environment for your child, where their needs are consistently met.

We’re very proud to have been awarded a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, and we continuously strive to provide the best possible care for all children. You can read our Ofsted report here.

To find out more about the nursery or to book a tour, simply get in touch.

Easy Baking Recipes for Kids (that adults will love too!)

Grab your spoon and apron, and check out these easy baking recipes for kids!

Baking with your little one is so much fun, and is a great way to spend some quality time together. And even better, you can tuck into your delicious goodies at the end!

When it comes to baking with toddlers, it doesn’t have to be anything complicated. It’s about letting them get stuck in and enjoy something that they’ve helped to create.

It can be a real confidence building exercise and brings plenty of educational benefits to your child, some of which you might not have realised!

For example, they will be helping you count different cake tins, and measuring the quantities of ingredients.

So, aside from keeping them entertained, they can actually learn something too. Bonus!

If you’re struggling for ideas, check out these easy baking recipes for kids (that importantly, adults will love too!)

Broken Biscuit Squares

Ingredients:

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the tin
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 300g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 150ml double cream
  • 30g jammy ring biscuits
  • 30g chocolate sandwich biscuits
  • 30g custard sandwich biscuits

Method:

Step 1:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 5 and butter and line a 30 x 20cm tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Then, add the vanilla, almond extracts, and orange zest. Mix together to combine.

Step 2:

One-by-one add the eggs.

After each egg has been added into the mixture, make sure to keep whisking to avoid any splitting.

Then, add the flour and baking powder in and whisk for a further 2 minutes until you have smooth batter.

You can then gradually fold in the milk.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of an oven for around 25-30 mins. You should then insert a skewer to make sure it comes out clean before taking the cake out of the oven.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Step 3:

Whilst the cake is in the oven, it’s time to start making the ganache.

Pour the chopped, white chocolate pieces in a large heatproof bowl.

You should then bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and pour it over the chocolate. Leave for around 1 minutes to melt down.

Then, whisk the cream and melted chocolate together until you have a smooth, ganache mixture. Set aside as it will thicken up as it cools.

Step 4:

Using a palette knife, spread the ganache on top of the sponge (which should now be cool). Break up the biscuits into rough chunks and scatter evenly over the top of the cafe.

Cut the cake into 12 equal squares.
biscuits on a cooling rack

Banana Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 75g salted butter
  • 100g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 250g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 50g raisins, chocolate chips or pecan nuts (optional)

Method:

Step 1:

Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

Step 2:

On the hob, heat the butter in a small pan. You can also heat the butter in a bowl in the microwave on high for 30-second bursts, until it has fully melted.

Tip the butter into a mixing bowl if melted on the hob.

Step 3:

Use a wooden spoon to stir the sugar into the melted butter, then beat in the egg until smooth.

Now, stir in the mashed banana. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt into the bowl and mix together until it forms a soft dough consistency.

Add the raisins, chocolate chips or nuts (if using), and stir well until evenly distributed through the mixture.

Step 4:

Use a teaspoon and drop small scoops of the mixture onto the prepared trays.

You should have enough mixture to make about 24 cookies. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins until they are light brown on the edges and feel dry to touch.

Step 5:

Leave on the tray for a couple of minutes to set, and then lift onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can also keep the cookies in an airtight container for a maximum of three days.

Easy Cornflake Tart

Ingredients:

  • 320g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
  • plain flour, to dust
  • 50g butter
  • 125g golden syrup
  • 25g light brown soft sugar
  • 100g cornflakes
  • 125g strawberry or raspberry jam
  • Custard – to serve

Method:

Step 1:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Unroll the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface until it’s large enough to fit a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin.

Using the rolling pin, lift the pastry over the tin, and then press into the corners and sides so the excess pastry hangs over the rim. Trim away most of the excess pastry, leaving just a small amount hanging over the rim.

Step 2:

Use baking parchment to line the pastry, and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 15 mins and then remove the parchment and beans.

Place back in the oven and bake for another 5-10 mins until golden. Remove from the oven and trim any excess pastry from the edges using a serrated knife (parents, this part if for you).

Step 3:

Using a small pan, heat the butter and syrup, with a pinch of salt. Stir frequently, until it is melted and smooth. Fold in the cornflakes to coat in the butter mixture.

Step 4:

Spoon the jam into the base of the cooked pastry, then level the surface. Pour the cornflake mixture over the jam and gently press down with a spoon, until all of the jam is covered with a layer of the mixture.

Then return the tart to the oven, and bake for a further 5 mins until the cornflakes are golden and toasted. Leave it to cool until it’s just warm, and then serve with custard.

Chocolate rice crispy cakes

Ingredients:

  • 100g milk chocolate, broken up
  • 50g dark chocolate, broken up
  • 100g butter
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g rice pops (we used Rice Krispies)
  • 50g milk chocolate, melted
  • sprinkles, mini marshmallows, nuts, Smarties, dried fruit or white chocolate buttons

Method:

Step 1:

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and add the butter and golden syrup.

Melt for 10-second bursts in the microwave, or melt it over a pan of simmering water – making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water beneath.

Stir until smooth, then take off the heat and stir in the rice krispies. Make sure they are all completely covered with delicious chocolate!

Step 2:

Slide 12 fairy cake paper cases into a muffin tin, and evenly divide the mixture.

Leave to set, but if you want to speed the process up, put them in the fridge for 1 hour.

Step 3:

Drizzle the cakes with some melted chocolate and decorate with sweets, dried fruit, or nuts while they are still wet enough to stick them on.

Rice crispy cakes will keep in an airtight container for up to five days.
cake mixture inside cake tins

Butterfly Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 110g butter , softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp milk , plus 2 tbsp if needed, to loosen the buttercream
  • strawberry jam (optional)
  • sprinkles (optional)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 150g butter , softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
Method:

Step 1:

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a cupcake tin with 10 cases.

To make the sponge, mix the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and milk in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Then, divide the batter between the 10 cases and bake for 15 mins until golden brown. Before removing, insert a skewer in the middle of each cake to make sure it comes out clean. If so, transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Step 2:

While the cakes are cooling on the wire rack, make the buttercream by beating together the icing sugar, butter, and vanilla. Beat until it is pale and fluffy and texture.

If the icing feels too stiff, mix in the extra milk.

Step 3:

Once the cakes have cooled, use a sharp knife to slice off the tops. Cut the tops in half so you have two pieces of cake.

Pipe or spread the buttercream on top of the cakes, then gently push two semi-circular halves into the buttercream to form butterfly wings.

You can then serve the cupcakes with a dollop of jam in the centre and a scattering of sprinkles if you would like.

Simple Iced Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract or 1 lemon, zested
  • 400g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
  • 8-12 x 19g coloured icing pens , or fondant icing sugar mixed with a little water and food colouring

Method:

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Put the butter in a bowl and beat it using an electric whisk until it’s soft and creamy. Then, add in the sugar, the egg and vanilla/lemon, and finally the flour to make a dough. Beat together to combine,

Add a little more flour if the dough feels sticky.

Step 2:

Cut the dough into six pieces and roll out one at a time on a floured surface. Make each one approximately 5 mm in thickness.

The easiest way to do this is to roll the mixture out on a baking mat. Then, cut out letter and number shapes, and peel away the leftover dough around the edges.

Step 3:

Transfer the whole baking mat or the individual biscuits onto two baking sheets (transfer them to baking parchment if you’re not using a mat) and bake for 7-10 mins.

Leave to cool completely and repeat with the rest of the dough. You should be able to fit about 12 biscuits on each sheet. If you’re using two sheets, then the one underneath will take around a minute longer.

Step 4:

Once the biscuits have cooled, use the icing pens to make any design you like! The biscuits will keep for five days if stored in an airtight container.
mini quiche on wooden tray

Mini Quiches

Ingredients:

  • 300g shortcrust pastry
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 4 rashers back bacon , fat trimmed, chopped
  • oil – for frying
  • 100g gruyère cheese, grated
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 125ml double cream
  • 18-20 mini tartlet tins

Method:

Step 1:

Roll the shortcrust pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface until it’s very thin.

Then, cut out circles that are 1cm larger in diameter than the tartlet tins.

Line the tins with the pastry circles, and press into the edges and up the sides. Re-roll any pastry offcuts until you’ve lined all the tins, and then leave to cool for 30 minutes.

Step 2:

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

Line each pastry case with a piece of foil and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes, and then lift out the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 mins. Meanwhile, fry the bacon in some oil until it’s crisp.

Step 3:

Divide the bacon and half the cheese between the cases.

Then, beat the eggs and cream together, and pour over the bacon and cheese until the cases are almost full.

Scatter over the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. Leave to cool before serving up.

Snickerdoodles

Ingredients:

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Method:

Step 1:

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6, and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Beat the butter and both types of sugar in a large bowl for 2 mins until it is smooth and fluffy in consistency.

Step 2:

Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Then, add the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and ¼ tsp salt, and mix together. Stir in the milk to loosen the mixture.

Step 3:

To make the topping, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

Then, roll 40g of the dough into a ball. Roll the dough ball in the cinnamon/sugar mixture, then place it onto the prepared tray and press it down lightly.

Repeat with the remaining dough and topping, and make sure to space the balls apart.

Step 4:

Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins until golden and puffy. Leave to cool on the tray for around 5 mins, before transferring to the wire rack to cool completely. The snickerdoodles will keep in an airtight tin for a maximum of four days.
marble cake on white plate

Pink Marble Sandwich Cake

Ingredients:

  • 225g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the tin
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
  • a few drops of pink food colouring (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar – for dusting
  • 200g white chocolate, chopped
  • 100ml double cream

Method:

Step 1:

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line the bases of two 18cm sandwich tins and then beat the butter, sugar, flour, and eggs in a mixing bowl until it’s smooth.

Step 2:

Divide the mixture between two bowls. Beat half the jam and the food colouring (if using) into one bowl, and then beat the vanilla into the other bowl.

Step 3:

Spoon alternating dollops of the mixtures into the cake tins, then swirl together using a skewer.

It’s important you do this carefully – if you overdo it, you won’t see the pattern. So, parents, you might have to lend a helping hand here!

Then, smooth the tops using the back of a spoon.

Step 4:

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden. Insert a skewer into the middle to make sure it comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 mins, and then turn out.

Step 5:

Meanwhile, to make the white layer of chocolate, mix the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of just simmering water. Be careful, make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream and you’re left with a smooth mixture. Leave to cool completely in the fridge, stirring occasionally.

Step 6:

Sandwich the two layers of cake together with the remaining raspberry jam and the white chocolate mixture. Then, use icing sugar to dust the top.

Slice and serve.
mother and child baking together

Easy Baking Recipes for Kids (that adults will love too!)

So, there you have your list of easy baking recipes for kids – that hopefully you will love too!

Have we missed any off the list?

All of the recipes above are easy to make, and your little one will love mixing all of the different ingredients together (with your supervision of course).

It’s important to note that these recipes are a treat, and should be part of a healthy diet. At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we take healthy eating very seriously and want to instill positive eating habits. That’s why all of our meals are freshly prepared, to ensure your child receives well- balanced, nutritious food.

As well as being fun, baking provides a whole range of educational benefits as children will be busy separating different ingredients and weighing things up. They can also count how many snickerdoodles you have made for example – so you’ll know if any have gone missing!

Having fun and being able to get creative, is a key part of your child’s development. At The Hunny Pot nursery, we actively encourage children to learn and explore as this ignites their curiosity and imagination.

Through our indoor and outdoor classrooms, children are free to discover things for themselves which leads to a deeper level of understanding.

To find out more about our nursery, simply get in touch.

The Best Books for Toddlers That Your Little Reader Will Love

If you’re looking for the best books for toddlers, then look no further!

Reading with your little one is a great way to spend some quality time together as they get lost in the fun and adventure of different books.

They will be transported to mythical and magical places where anything is possible. This is fantastic for their creativity and imagination, as they are free to explore different ideas and concepts.

Also, the bright, colourful images support their cognitive development as they can identify and analyse different characters to understand more about the story.

Visual thinking is important during the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), as children will still experience difficulty with words. Therefore, the images are a great visual aid, and help children figure out the narrative which is great for their comprehension.

Listening to adults read the text out loud will also help improve their language skills, as children can then practice sounding out the language themselves. Adults should offer support where necessary, and should encourage children to talk about what they see on the page.

As we’ve covered, there are various benefits to reading with your little one.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best books for toddlers.
Guess how much I love you book front cover
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Guess How Much I Love You – Written by Sam McBratney, Illustrated by Anita Jeram

This sweet yet simple story is all about how much a parent and child love one another.

Little Nutbrown Hare asks Big Nutbrown Hare, ‘Guess how much I love you?’, and the book continues as the two Hares use increasingly large measures to quantify how much they love one another.

The author, McBratney, communicates this message in a simple, and child-friendly way to show the bond between a parent and child.

Young toddlers will respond to the humour used throughout, as Little Nutbrown Hare’s pronouncements become more extravagant and exuberant.

There are also lots of beautiful illustrations which bring the story to life and make your little reader feel part of the narrative. Right down to the tiniest details such as the angle of the ears, the simple gestures, and facial expressions, the use of soft shaded watercolors keeps the book’s mellow and calm.

This makes it an ideal bedtime story and a comforting read.
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Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? – Written by Brianna Caplan Sayres, Illustrated by Christian Slade

After reading this book, your toddler will want to make their diggers, trucks, and fire engines, part of their nightly routine!

Discover what bedtime looks like for snowplows, dump trucks, giant cranes, and more which fill the pages of this engaging, construction story.

Just like human beings, the vehicles in this book settle down for a good sleep after a long day of hard work. As such, young readers will identify with these trucks as it adds a human touch.

Also just like children do, the vehicles keep asking their parents to read their ‘one more story’ before they settle down to sleep.

Using an irresistible rhyming scheme, and a soft illustration style that’s perfect for nighttime reading, this book is part of a full series which includes the titles Where Do Steam Trains Sleep At Night?, Where Do Jet Planes Sleep At Night?, Where Do Speedboats Sleep at Night?, and Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas?
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Use Your Words, Sophie – Written by Rosemary Wells

Whilst Sophie has a big vocabulary and knows lots of different words, she doesn’t always use them. That’s because she finds it more fun to speak in funny languages such as hyena talk or space language.

Her parents are also telling her “Use your words, Sophie!” but Sophie just won’t as she enjoys it too much. This comes in very handy when her new baby sister arrives as Sophie is the only one who is able to find out what she wants.

Children will love the idea of using nonsensical languages as this all adds to the fun! Also, those with new siblings will be able to relate to the story, as they too, would have experienced getting to know a new person in the household.

This has to be one of the best books for toddlers as it follows Sophie, the irresistible two year old who is wonderful and always so lovable. It also teaches children the importance of being welcoming towards others.
Wheels on the bus book front cover
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Wheels On the Bus – By Grosset and Dunlap, Illustrated by Jerry Smath

Which toddler doesn’t love music?

And which toddler hasn’t heard ‘Wheels on the bus’?

With wheels that go round, wipers that swish, and people that go bumpety-bump, this book can be enjoyed by even the youngest of readers.

Even better, you can sing along to it too!

This creates an engaging and interactive reading experience and also helps toddlers understand different words through sounds and movement. For example, use your arms to imitate ‘wheels going round’ and jump up and down when the bus goes bumpety-bump!

Your toddler is bound to enjoy this classic book, and the illustrations will captivate your little one’s attention through the use of bright colours. This will ignite their senses as they’re using both their sight and sound.
Just for me book front cover
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Just for Me – Written by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

This book is full of useful lessons for your little reader as it’s all about the importance of sharing. ‘Just for Me’ is nowhere near as fun as ‘Just for Us’ as it’s important children learn to value other people and their feelings.

When little Ruby has something special such as a toy or sweets, she’ll always use the phrase ‘Just for me!’. However, when she’s playing with a friend, she takes this too far and a precious toy ends up being broken.

As a result, Ruby realises that having a friend is much more important than having lots of toys to yourself. The concept ‘sharing is caring’ is placed front and centre of this book, and teaches your little readers to be more sensitive towards others.

It’s important they learn this concept as sharing is something that they will have to do when they start nursery, and further into their education.

Coupled with bright and bold illustrations, this is the perfect story for parents to share with their little ones.
Hey Duggee book front cover
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Hey Duggee: The Handwashing Badge

This book draws on a very important topic – washing our hands!

Children can learn from the Squirrels who are learning how to wash their hands properly before tucking into some pizza.

By correctly washing their hands they can earn their Hand Washing Badges, which adds a fun and interactive element as they are getting something in return. Toddlers can also learn the special handwashing song which adds a sense of playfulness into this activity as they can sing along as they go!

This turns quite a mundane (but essential) activity into something more appealing for young children.

In the process, they will learn the importance of personal hygiene which is important when they start nursery.
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The Watermelon Seed – Written by Greg Pizzoli

The Watermelon Seed introduces toddlers to a funny crocodile who has one major fear – swallowing a watermelon.

He absolutely loves watermelon but he’s so afraid of what will happen to him if he eats one of the seeds?

He sits and ponders the different outcomes if his greatest fear were to come true. Will vines sprout out of his ears and will his skin turn pink? The crocodile’s mind goes into overdrive and children will find his wild imagination hilarious.

Featuring bright colours and a series of engaging, playful illustrations, this has to be one of the best books for toddlers! They will love the sense of humour of the crocodile, and it is a book they’re sure to pick up time and time again.
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The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Written by Eric Carle

We couldn’t put together your list of the best books for toddlers without mentioning this classic!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a popular picture book which children just can’t get enough of.

The story features a very loveable, and very hungry caterpillar, who eats everything in sight until he gets a stomach ache. On the seventh day of eating, the caterpillar is given a ‘nice leaf’ which makes him feel much better.

The now big, chunky, and not-so-hungry caterpillar builds himself a cocoon to nest in. When he finally emerges, he has transformed into a beautiful butterfly!

Children are so engaged with this story as the caterpillar quite literally eats his way through the book which is represented through a series of visual illustrations. There are ‘eaten’ holes in the pages which helps children count the days of a butterfly’s life stages.

As such, this teaches children how to count as they connect the numbers with the amount of items the Very Hungry Caterpillar has eaten.

This iconic picture book it’s easy for children to follow, and they want to reveal what lies on the next page.
Pat the bunny book front cover
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Pat the Bunny – Written by Dorothy Kunhart

This classic touch-and feel book delivers an engaging and interactive experience for young readers.

Featuring a range of unique materials and textures, and a combination of fun colours, this makes for a great first read.

The fantastic features allow children to use a range of their senses as they are encouraged to feel, look, touch and smell as they interact with different elements in the book. The illustrations are simplistic in style and feature splashes of yellow, turquoise, and peach.

This creates a very clean and uncluttered finish which brings the activities to focus.
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Diary of a Worm – Written by Doreen Cronin, Illustrated by Harry Bliss

You guessed it.

This book features the diary of a worm, who surprisingly, isn’t too different from you and me.

He lives a very normal life and lives at home with his parents, plays with his friends, and even goes to school. This creates a connection between a toddler and the characters featured in the story as it plays on elements they are familiar with.

However, there are some noticeable differences, as unlike human beings, he never has to take a bath, he eats his homework, and he doesn’t have any legs!

He also can’t do the hokey cokey no matter how hard he tries!

Children can explore the world of this underground insect, as the worm realises there are some good and bad things about being a worm in the big, wide world.

With fun, colourful illustrations throughout the pages, this is a laugh-out-loud book which is sure to entertain both you and your little reader. This book is also perfect for helping children learn different sounds and sentences.
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A Busy Day for Birds – Written by Lucy Cousins

Imagine if you were a bird…

What sort of activities would you get up to? From pecking at some tree bark, to swooping and soaring through the air, you’d be very busy!

This playful, vibrant book lets children use their imagination and explores the world of birds. It’s full of cheerful rhymes which teaches children all about the different types of birds through a series of eye-catching illustrations.

Drawn with very distinct colours, A Busy Day for Birds is sure to catch your child’s eye from the get go as they’re mesmerised by the pages.

There’s an interactive element too as children can join in with different commands. Whether that’s stretching their neck like a swan or shouting cock-a-doodle do, they’re sure to have a great time reading this book!

Finishing on a more relaxing note, A Busy Day for Birds makes for a great night time read when you’re trying to get your toddler to settle.
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Giraffes Can’t Dance – Written by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Giraffes can’t dance… or can they?

This family favourite is all about Gerand the tall giraffe who would love to attend the jungle dance with the rest of the animals.

However, there’s one thing standing in his way – giraffes can’t dance. A friendly cricket approaches Gerald and encourages him to create his own unique dancing style.

Gerald then surprises everyone with his elegant movements which makes for a truly touching and humorous story as he has found his own confidence. There’s a very strong message within these pages that even clumsy creatures can be graceful.

This inspires children to find their own sense of confidence and to be more accepting of themselves and one another.

Complete with beautiful illustrations that bring the spirit of this book to life, your toddler won’t be able to put it down!
We're going on a bear hunt book front cover
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We’re Going On a Bear Hunt – Written by Michael Ronson and Helen Oxenbury

Follow along as this family goes on an exciting new adventure. Every child loves to explore, so the idea of going on an adventure will really appeal to their interests.

As the family wade through grass, splash through rivers, and squelch through the mud in search of a bear, they don’t realise the surprise that awaits them in the cave!

The use of descriptive language throughout this book helps children associate different words with different sounds which is key for their cognitive development.

It’s full of excitement and suspense which engages your toddler, and makes them wall to peel back more pages.

As a timeless classic, it’s fun for parents to read out loud. Also, as lots of the verses are repeated such as ‘We’re going on a bear hunt!’ it’s each for children to follow and they can join in as you’re reading!

The Best Books for Toddlers That Your Little Reader Will Love

So, there you have your list of the best books for toddlers.

As we’ve covered, reading is a great way to spend time with your little one, as they immerse themselves in different worlds.

Through reading, you can introduce them to new words, concepts, and illustrations as you peel back each page. It can also help your child learn more about the world around them, for example how to be sensitive to other people’s feelings and how to value friendship.

In terms of development, reading can also expand your toddlers vocabulary as they become more familiar with different words and sounds. They will follow your voice as you read out loud, and you can ask them to repeat different words or to point at different pictures on the page.

At The Hunny Pot Nursery we understand the importance of child development and the essential role of reading.

Books stimulate a child’s imagination and help them learn about the world around them. This is something we’re very passionate about, as we provide a secure environment where children can thrive and grow. With unrivaled indoor and outdoor classrooms, you can be confident that your childs needs are catered for as we create the best foundation for every child.

If you would like to book a tour, then please get in touch.

Benefits of Using Loose Parts Play at Nursery

Loose parts play is a pedagogical approach that enables children to learn about the world through exploration.

In terms of child development, the benefits of loose parts play are endless.

As children are playing with different materials, they are using their imagination, problem solving-skills, and independence to work out how different parts come together.

They have the freedom to create anything they choose without conforming to a strict set of rules meaning they are able to experiment. By their very nature, these materials are ‘loose’ as they can be manipulated into different patterns and designs.

It’s this concept that makes the activity so enjoyable as children can focus more on the experience rather than concentrating on making a particular ‘product’. There’s no right or wrong as it’s up to the child to decide for themselves, which puts them at the centre of their own learning.

Aside from being enjoyable, loose parts play is also very educational which is why so many nursery schools include this in their practice. As a form of open-ended play, this concept can be added to any activity to turn into something that allows a child’s imagination to flow.

In this post we’ll explore exactly what loose parts play is, how it was developed, and the benefits of using it in an early years setting.
toddler playing in the grass

What Is Loose Parts Play?

We’ve touched on this slightly in the intro, but loose parts play includes any materials which are essentially ‘loose’. It’s this concept that allows children to freely move them around and turn them into different shapes as they don’t have a fixed purpose.

Loose parts are very flexible and can be mixed, redesigned, pulled apart, put back together, and manipulated to form anything the child desires. As such, they are a fantastic resource to support schemas in young children’s play as they learn about the relationship between different objects.

Common loose parts play materials include:

  • Buttons
  • Beads
  • Pebbles
  • Pom-poms
  • Straws
  • Flowers
  • Twigs
  • Leaves
  • Acorns
  • Sequins
  • Pegs
  • Egg cartons
  • Wooden blocks

Please remember to check that all of the resources are safe for children to use.

As you can see from the list above, all of these materials are easy to source and many of them can be found outside.

This makes it easier for nursery practitioners and parents to incorporate loose parts play into a child’s learning, as the materials are easily accessible. As such, this learning approach can also be implemented at home, to fully support a child’s development.

At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we know how important it is for children to explore the world around them. With our outdoor classrooms, this has never been easier. We provide an unrivaled learning environment that is divided into six distinct areas.

This means we can create a focused curriculum that is tailored to the needs of different age groups. From ‘Kangas Pocket’ to our ‘One Hundred Acre Wood’, children can interact with a whole range of different loose parts, as they climb, dig, and explore in the beautiful outdoors.
child playing with blue and green clay

How Was Loose Parts Play Developed?

The theory ‘loose parts play’ was developed by an Architect called Simon Nicholson in the 1970s.

He identified that children prefer to play with open-ended materials rather than learning in a ‘fixed’ environment. When learning is ‘fixed’, there are limited opportunities for the child to be creative as toys have a predetermined purpose.

“Children learn most readily and easily in a laboratory type environment where they can experiment, enjoy and find out things for themselves.” – Simon Nicholson

In contrast, the loose materials we have outlined above can be manipulated depending on the interests of the child. For example, pebbles can be stacked, twigs can be dragged from one place to another, and leaves can be glued together.

There are all sorts of possibilities when it comes to playing with loose materials and that’s all part of the fun!

This opens up a child’s imagination and makes them think ‘what if’. It’s this level of curiosity that supports their cognitive development as they start to work things out for themselves.

“Loose parts enhance children’s ability to think imaginatively and see solutions, and they bring a sense of adventure and excitement to children’s play”. – Dale and Beloglovsky

As such, this leads to problem-solving and theoretical reasoning which are essential skills for later life.

During the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), nursery practitioners are preparing young children for further education, such as primary school and secondary school. This makes fueling a child’s appetite for learning from a young early age vital.

What Are the Benefits of Using Loose Parts Play at Nursery?

Loose parts play encourages children to foster a love of learning through play and exploration.

This will stay with children throughout their educational life, and goes beyond the nursery school setting. As such, there are various benefits of using loose parts play in nursery, as practitioners are preparing children for their future.

At The Hunny Pot Nursery, this concept is very close to our heart as we are passionate about creating a stimulating environment where children can grow and thrive.

We value each and every child, and provide a home-from-home environment that encourages your child to use their imagination and become a confident learner.

With that said, let’s explore some of the benefits of loose parts play in more detail.
toddler playing with paint

Supports Creativity

Because there is no right or wrong when it comes to loose parts play, children are free to experiment to create exciting new things. They are not restricted by what they are ‘supposed’ to be doing, as they are taking responsibility for their own learning.

This enables children to think of new ideas, take on new roles, build imaginary objects, and transport themselves to a world where anything is possible. Their creativity is allowed to flow as they discover things they never knew were achievable.

If we compare this approach with most modern-day toys, they usually have a definite purpose or function. Whether it’s electronic toys, plastic figures, dolls, or computer games, the child is told what they are to do with the toy, meaning they cannot explore their own ideas.

This hinders their creativity as they are not able to test different ideas or solutions. They are simply following instructions rather than thinking outside of the box.

However, when they interact with loose materials, they can find their own solutions, by opening the door to so many wonderful possibilities. There is no rule book or guide, as it’s up to them to find creative ways to make and create.

Promotes Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Due to the fact loose materials have no structure, children will be able to construct, transport and maneuver objects wherever they want.

In terms of fine motor skills, children will use smaller muscles in their fingers and hands to move certain objects into place. This might involve stacking, building, picking, pinching, or pressing.

For example, children might pick up a handful of beads and then drop them again. This requires their hands to open and close as they hold and release the beads. They might also pour jewels into a pot, which requires the child to lift their arm and rotate their wrist.

They could also use their fingers to push beads through small holes, for instance, pushing beads through the gaps in a colander.

Children will also have to use their bigger muscles to lift, push, pull, and carry larger loose parts into their desired positions which develops their gross motor skills. The heavier the parts are, the more movement and strength that will be required. For example, if they were transporting a large cardboard box or picking up a heavy tree branch.

All of these actions help develop their gross and fine motor skills and also enable children to understand how different objects can be transported from one place to another.

Develops Higher Order Thinking Skills

Loose parts materials are a form of open-ended play which naturally allows children to develop higher order thinking skills.

According to Bloom’s taxonomy theory, there are 6 levels of learning. These include remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate, and create. The first 3 levels are designed for lower level thinking, whereas the last 3 are classified as higher order thinking.

When young children are engaging in loose parts play, they are developing higher order thinking. Let’s take a look at this is some more detail:

Analyse – Children are free to explore the characteristics of loose parts play through examination, organisation, comparison, and experimentation.

Evaluate – Children choose which loose parts they are going to play with and they are encouraged to justify their decision.

Create – Children are creating something new and original as there are no preset rules. They are free to change, design, develop, construct and manipulate materials in any way they please.

“In the early years of education, it is critically important to develop higher-order thinking skills, which enhance children’s mental abilities.” Polette – 2012

As children arrive at new meanings and work out what is possible with different objects, it will transform their initial understanding.

For example, instead of seeing a cardboard box as an empty box with no use, children will climb in it or flip it upside down and realise that it can also be made into a house. They will be able to look past it’s ‘fixed’ purpose and transform it into something exciting and fun.

This opens up their mind to a world of possibilities that they would never have known existed!
child playing with red, yellow, and green beads

Improves Maths Skills

As children are engaging in loose parts play, they will practice a range of key numeracy concepts.

This includes making patterns, counting, matching, sorting, classifying, estimating, sequencing, measuring, shapes, balancing, and symmetry. All of these skills are essential for future development, yet children are practicing them in a fun and interactive way.

This helps them gain a deeper understanding of numeracy, and also makes them excited to learn more about the subject throughout their education.

In nursery, there are various ways of using loose parts play to develop a child’s maths skills. For example, you could provide a visual of the number 8 as it is written, along with loose parts materials for exploring that value. This could involve writing out the number 8 next to 8 acorns so that children can visually recognise different numbers.

You could also send your little mathematician on a treasure hunt to collect 8 objects from the garden. This keeps the activity fun, yet the educational value remains.

Another key maths skill that is developed through loose parts play, is sorting. Give children a collection of plastic lids, beads, spoons, or even objects found outside, and they will naturally start sorting them by colour, size, or material.

As humans, we inherently desire the order and predictability that comes from sorting objects in our environment. By asking children questions such as “is there a different way you can group these items?” it encourages young children to explore the ways they can classify objects.

Facilitates Problem Solving Skills

During loose parts play, children will test and hypothesise, evaluate and re-test different ways of doing things. For example, how can I fit stones into a box? How can wooden blocks balance on top of each other? How can I use a cardboard box as a house?

Because these materials have no fixed meaning, children are free to experiment and learn for themselves. They can play and manipulate the loose parts, developing their own solutions and enhancing their problem solving skills.

There will always be obstacles for them to overcome which is the great thing about this approach. Through a series of trial and error, they will come to their own conclusion rather than being led by an adult. This is highly valuable as when a child works something out on their own, they will feel a real sense of pride and achievement.

They have solved this problem independently, without adult intervention, which leads to increased confidence in their own ability.

Thinking abstractly is a problem solving skill that is important for nursery school and beyond. It will allow children to be able to manage a whole range of challenges from social interactions with their peers, to maths problems.

Both at nursery school and in the home, it’s important children are given the opportunity to test out their solutions in a hands-on, practical way. This makes loose parts play provide the perfect solution.
girl sitting playing with box

Benefits of Using Loose Parts Play at Nursery

Loose parts play enables children to freely explore the world around them through discovery and experimentation.

Instead of giving children ‘fixed’ toys with a specific purpose, loose parts play lets children create concepts for themselves. The child decides what the material becomes, rather than following a set of instructions. As such, their creativity is ignited as the impossible becomes possible.

What was once a tree branch, is now a spoon, a wand, or part of a tree house.

As you can see, the branch has no predetermined purpose or limitations.

This is what makes loose parts play such a valuable pedagogical approach. At The Hunny Pot Nursery, we provide a range of exciting outdoor areas that make it fun for the children to play, explore, and learn.

Being outside in the fresh air is so important for their wellbeing, but it also brings lots of educational benefits too. In our outdoor classrooms, children have the freedom to interact with a range of loose parts materials that will ignite their imagination and curiosity to learn.

We know that choosing the right nursery for your child can be a daunting experience, but we’re committed to providing a secure environment that nurtures your child’s development.

For more information or to book a tour of our nursery, simply get in touch.

What is Inclusive Practice and Why Is it Important for My Child?

Nurseries are a place for learning, a place for fun, and a place for everyone, regardless of cognitive level or background. This is exactly where inclusive practice comes into play.

There will always be inherent differences between children, as each child has a different story. However, how they are treated in a nursery classroom is key as this sets the foundation for later life. The most important thing to remember is that every child has the same right to learn.

Applying this concept in your practice will help children build confidence, and allows them to grow in the world without limitations. No two children are the same, and it’s important their individuality is celebrated.

Continue reading to learn everything there is to know about inclusive practice, and why it plays such an important role in your child’s development. We’ll also be looking at what nurseries can do to be more inclusive in their own learning environment.

What is Inclusive Practice?

Inclusive practice is an approach to teaching that understands the fundamental differences between students, and ensures that every child has access to equal opportunities.

This approach puts children’s needs at the forefront by structuring teaching methods and activities around inclusivity. As a result, this encourages all children to participate in learning activities, whilst ensuring educators treat every child with the same level of care.

Here’s a quick rundown of what inclusive practice means:

  • Working collaboratively
  • Opportunities for all
  • Embracing others
  • Being open-minded
  • Encouraging personalisation

Essentially, inclusive practice treats every child fairly, and caters to their individual backgrounds, interests, and requirements.

These practices apply to educators, but the benefits extend to children.

Inclusive practice encourages children to interact with those around them and teaches them not to define others by capability or cognitive level, but instead by their character.

It’s worth noting that whilst there is no legislation enforcing inclusive practice in the classroom, the Equality Act 2010 and Schools protects children from discrimination by law.

two students drawing on a book

The Importance of Inclusivity in Early Years

Inclusive practice applies to all levels of education, including early years (up to age 5). These years are incredibly important to children as this is when they begin to learn more about themselves and others.

Self confidence is incredibly important at this stage, as these experiences shape who children become as they grow up. Those that consider themselves ‘different’ from others will feel more isolated, which will negatively impact their confidence and social skills.

Of course, every child will develop at their own pace, but it’s important this journey is supported by those around them, this includes nursery practitioners and parents.

By promoting equality and diversity during this stage, children are more likely to grow up as well-rounded, accepting, and kind individuals.

Why Is Inclusive Practice Important?

Outside of creating a safe space for children, an inclusive nursery has various additional benefits that extend to both nurses and parents.

Below is a summary of those benefits, some of which we’ve touched on above:

  • Children learn the significance of equality and diversity
  • It improves the confidence in certain children
  • Students learn about how differences make us unique
  • Educators create creative ways to problem solving
  • Parents are given confidence that their child is accounted for

For parents, it’s important to understand what inclusive practice is and how it’s implemented within the schools and nurseries. This helps you decide if nurseries withhold a certain standard, and care about creating an inclusive space for all.

Hunny Pot is one of these nurseries, as we provide a stimulating environment where every child can thrive. When they step through our nursery door, every child is assigned a key person to ensure their daily needs are consistently met so that every child feels special.

Multiple toy figures in a line

How Can Nurseries Be More Inclusive?

There are various ways to implement inclusive practices in nurseries. The methods we’re about to cover are the same used in schools too, for the most part. They might be altered slightly to suit older children, but the goals remain the same.

The following principles help schools and nurseries create environments that champion inclusivity:

  • Strong Leadership – Laying the base for the rest of the school/nursery is a strong leadership team that influences others through action.
  • Climate/Structure – Educators must ensure that every step is taken to make every child feel included and valued.
    Family/Community Involvement – Welcoming families and members of the wider community to embrace this practice can go a long way.

It’s a team effort all round, requiring all hands on deck.

Educators, families, and the local community all play a significant role in helping children feel at ease with themselves both in and out of the nursery setting.

In terms of teaching, it’s about structuring lesson plans and activities that champion inclusivity and engagement amongst children.

For example, if a child has ADHD, then shortening the length of certain tasks might be required as they struggle with concentration.

Assessing Teaching Methods

Nurseries are constantly assessing how they can implement inclusive practice within the classroom.

It’s important to assess your approach, as every teacher will have their own experiences before they acquired their role as a nursery teacher. For instance, educational background, personality, likes/dislikes, and upbringing, all affect the way they teach, whether they realise it or not.

Nurses must consider any areas where they aren’t taking every child’s needs into account. Again, this stage is so important in terms of development.

They must ask themselves: do they structure activities around what they think children enjoy, or do they structure them around what they actually enjoy? Also, is this activity alienating anyone?

Approaching these questions from a students point of view ensures that every lesson/activity is beneficial, fun, and most of all, inclusive.

Examining Potential Prejudice

What’s more, nurses should be examining any potential prejudices they may have. For example, one teacher might favour a particular student because they remind them of someone they previously taught.

Educators, especially those within nurseries, should be constantly questioning any potential bias they might have. Inclusive practice is all about approaching teaching from an even playing field, which isn’t possible if one student is favoured over another.

Little girl playing with a toy camera

Adapting The Approach

Nurseries that believe in and implement inclusive practices succeed because they’re adaptable and agile. They tailor their teaching style to meet the needs of multiple learners, while balancing any potential prejudice and teaching methods that could be considered alienating for some.

This applies to how they think about teaching and how they apply their teaching methods. For example, if a child is a visual learner, nurse practitioners should adapt their style to suit the preferences of that particular child.

Not every student will learn the same, which makes it very important to accommodate their individual learning preferences. For example, is there a task where you can use images instead of words to communicate the same message?

Here’s another example: Let’s say a new student has joined the nursery from another country. It’s the responsibility of the teacher to adapt their teaching style to suit, which includes structuring lessons around their individual needs i.e. catering for different languages. They should also make sure to welcome the child into the wider group, to help them feel comfortable and included.

One way to do this would be to educate the class about which country the child comes from, which might include sharing pictures of popular landmarks or teaching students some basic phrases in their language. This will help integrate the child into the classroom and will make them feel more comfortable when interacting with others.

Embracing Variety

Adults understand that it’s our differences that make us unique, but children might not understand this concept at such an early age. Their first interaction with someone from a different background could be at nursery school, so it’s important that these interactions are embraced as much as possible.

As parents, it’s important to encourage children not to judge others and to welcome people from different walks of life.

The following methods help nurses bridge the gap between different students:

  • Reading books
  • Computer working
  • Music activities
  • Role play
  • Outdoor play

Encouraging children to work in pairs or groups is easily one of the most effective ways to embrace diversity. Educators will also be able to see who works well in a group and can adjust lessons accordingly, if needed.

Supporting Students

By providing constant support for children, it will help make nursery a relaxing and enjoyable place. A lot of support is action-based in the sense that nursing practitioners should be highlighting any potential issues in advance.

Minimising as many barriers as possible will make supporting the health and wellbeing of students a lot easier.

Support can come in many ways, from giving diabetic children breaks to eat, to arranging outdoor play that a child in a wheelchair can also get involved in.

Another way to provide support is to simply ask children how they’re feeling. Doing this encourages children not to contain any feelings, but instead, to share them with adults to overcome any concerns.

Support in nursery schools is essential and plays a huge role in adopting the principles of inclusive practice.

Crayons with a child drawing in the background

What Is Inclusive Practice and Why Is it Important for My Child?

Hopefully by this point you should have a better understanding of what inclusive practice is, and how it benefits children, educators, and you as a parent.

Every child has the right to an education, and to information that will help them better understand their classmates. Being inclusive will also help children feel more at ease with themselves, and will help them become more confident.

Early years are so important to your little ones, as this sets the base for their further education.

The way they interact with their environment during this stage will help shape who they become. That’s what makes inclusive practice so important as you are instilling a sense of belonging and acceptance from a young age.

As a matter of fact ‘inclusion’ is one of the core values at Hunny Pot nursery. We believe that every child is unique, and that individuality is something to be celebrated through our care and service. Essentially, every child matters.

If you are interested in finding out more about Hunny Pot Nursery, get in touch using the form below, and we’ll be happy to arrange a tour for you.

Inclusive Practice FAQs

What is inclusive practice?

Inclusive practice is an educational approach that looks to put every child on an even playing field at all levels of education, regardless of cognitive level or background.

Why is inclusive practice important in early years?

Young children are only just discovering the world around them, which means the information they receive now, and the environments they find themselves in, can shape who they’ll one day become.

Is Hunny Pot Nursery inclusive?

One of our core values is inclusion. We believe that every child has the same rights as others, and that individuality is something to be celebrated. Every little one in our nursery matters, we champion these differences, and adapt our teaching style to suit their needs.

Childcare Business- What I Have Learnt in 20 Years

What I have learnt from running a childcare business for 20 years.

20 years running a business

I have just celebrated 20 years of running my own childcare business- The Hunnypot Day Nursery. In this blog, I talk about what I have learnt from running the business for 20 years

The Hunnypot Day Nursery was originally called Carr Lea Nursery. It was set up in the mid-1990s and we bought the nursery as a going concern from a former teacher. I assume she set it up as she lived in a little studio flat in the same building. By all accounts, the former owner, Ms H. had a nervous breakdown. That should have been enough to set alarm bells off you’d think! But no. We (Bob, my husband and I) decided we could do this. After all, it was business and we knew how to run a business – at least my husband did, and I had a business degree. How hard could it be?

 

 

working in the city

 

Pastures New

Well, it truly was a baptism by fire. Not only did we know nothing about the childcare industry, but we also lived in London; a mere 200 miles away. So to say this was biting off more than we could chew was an understatement. When we purchased the nursery, there was no EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage). Every Child Matters came into existence 3 years later, in 2004 after the horrific Victoria Climbie incident. (just writing her name now has sent chills down my spine as to how horrific it was).

I had a full-time job in the City and was not really involved for the first couple of years.  In 2004, I took redundancy and decided to retrain as a teacher. It was really at that point that I became fully involved. We rebranded in July 2004 and for all intents and purposes, we started from scratch, three years later. All of the policies had to be rewritten, a whole new team had to be employed and trained and above all, we needed to get attendance up to make the business viable. I stayed at the now John Smith Stadium for around 6 weeks (they used to turn their boxes into rooms). This meant I could be at work by 7 am and could finish late (often almost midnight). It also meant my whole focus was in the nursery.

There were many many times when we struggled to meet our wage bill and even more times when we had sleepless nights, due to everything from staff shortages to cash flow issues to potential court cases. Almost always, it was ..’make like a swan,’ where you are paddling like mad underwater but appear serene and calm on the surface.

Lessons I have learnt:

It takes a village…

Above all, childcare is about the people. Almost every childcare provider I know works extremely hard to provide the best service they can. After all, for almost everyone, a child is the most important and the welfare and the care with which that child is looked after is paramount. It is a very emotional thing to leave your child with someone other than your immediate family. The initial separation from your child can be heart-breaking, so you must have every confidence in your childcare provider and the team in that company.

To run a good strong nursery, you need a good, strong team around you. There needs to be synergy between the members of staff in each room as they work so closely. there also needs to be synergy between the rooms as there will often be a cross over of who with staff allocation in each room.

..and management

Then there is the management team. Imagine a rudderless boat at sea…this is what happens without strong management. The top-down approach to set the ethos and the ‘feel’ of the nursery, is absolutely vital. The managers need to be able to cope with anything and everything that is thrown at them with a cool head, ranging from a leak in one of the rooms, to an upset parent, to collecting fees (sometimes from reluctant payers), to a child or a staff member being taken to hospital, to a domestic row between two parents at the setting. None of these examples is theoretical; the managers at my nursery have had to deal with each one of these over the last 20 years.

As a business owner, my duty of care is to my staff, just as their duty of care is to the clients. I have to ensure that my staff are looked after, not only as I need to make sure that their performance at work is as professional as possible, but from a human perspective. All of this comes from training, knowing your staff and many, many conversations. To do all of this, however, I need to ensure that the business is viable.

So there is plenty of number crunching, from mortgage payments to rent, to bills, to tax on the outgoing, to ensuring that there is enough money coming in to meet all of these demands (just as in any other business).  It is especially hard to do so (in my opinion) in childcare as it is not about selling goods but about the welfare of children.

We have to look at the best utilisation of staff and space as in any other business but within very strict government guidelines with things like ratios, room sizes and safeguarding.

Lesson 1: Childcare is a people business (and I don’t mean the children)

Evidence, evidence, evidence

Tony Robbins, the motivational coach, calls entrepreneurs gladiators. I guess this is because you are effectively going into battle every single day; no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how tired, upset, bored or ill you are, the show must go on. No matter what happens, the nursery must open on time and close on time. In between, we have to provide the best service we can give.

As Charles Dickens states in his novel, David Copperfield, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result – misery.”

What I have learnt from running a childcare business for 20 years is, just how important it is to keep the paperwork. Evidence for all of the authorities involved and the legal framework for childcare is huge.

Lesson 2: The numbers don’t lie

 

Sleepless nights

It almost does not matter how old your business is or how many years you have been running a business. Sleepless nights are a part of the course. I am a born worrier anyway; I worry about everything, but I am not alone in finding that running a business has many sleepless nights of tossing and turning, then waking up exhausted to start a new day.

Often this is because I have not foreseen something or I suddenly find myself firefighting, with many issues that have cropped up at once.  It is not just me as the owner who finds this. The manager will often face the same -there have been many a time where the manager has said she has been up half the night thinking about a particular problem and how to solve it.

Sunday nights are the worst!

For example, the most recent time when I had a completely restless night was at reopening after lockdown. It was not so much for me about making the numbers work at this point. It was more about the stress of making sure that we had done everything to meet government guidelines- especially as they were changing almost by the hour. In the end, we decided to stay closed for an extra month and lose that income rather than open and put anyone at risk.

While writing this blog, I asked the manager when the last sleepless night she had in terms of work was. Her response was instant….’ every night!’ Then she told me that it was when she was planning the staff rota for the week and she received a call from a staff member to say she had Covid. The manager then added, “I never sleep on a Sunday,’ because she is anticipating the problems that she will face when she comes in on Monday morning.

Invariably there is some fresh issue (or hell as the manager put it!) that will be waiting to be dealt with.

What I have learnt from running a childcare business for 20 years is how many surprises can be thrown at the team.

Lesson 3: Things are never what they seem

 

Running a nursery is not a lifestyle business

Previously, I was involved in businesses that were open 7 days a week, I was adamant that whatever our next project was, it must be ‘office hours.’ I was tired of having to work 7 days a week and having no work/life balance. So when a friend of mine suggested childcare, it seemed to tick that main box of a business that was Monday to Friday. Finally, I thought, a lifestyle business. We can go on holiday and actually have time at home on Saturdays and Sundays. To that extent, the nursery provided a better balance. I underestimated the amount of paperwork involved, at least at the start of the journey. The downside was that journeys up north would take place on a Sunday, so I could claw back one and a half days 3 out of 4 weekends.

It may surprise you to learn that running a childcare business means making sure the paperwork is organised and in order.

Before the wonderful accounting software was available, it meant lots of spreadsheets and word documents. That meant that some of the weekends were taken up with the paperwork that goes with all businesses- receipts, spreadsheets, invoices etc.

What I was not prepared for was the amount of time the nursery would take up, once it got under my skin. For example, a trip to IKEA, COSTCO etc, even now, is never just a trip. There will always be something that I will see that will make me think, ‘this would work really well in this room at the nursery’. It’s always in my head. I recently went to a garden store- instead of buying what I needed, I found myself exploring the store and coming up with ideas for some of the outdoor spaces. It never leaves your head.

Lesson 4: Business is business, but it is my business

Would I do it again?

I have grown up living above our family business and then married a man who ran his own business, so I think that running a business is in my blood. As I have stated earlier, I also worked within different financial institutions for many years. So I have experience of both sides; being an employee and being an employer, working for someone else, and working for myself.  By far the more satisfying for me has been to work for myself. Yes, the financial rewards ( when they happen) can vary. Yes, the work-life balance can be non-existent, but by far the sense of satisfaction of creating something from the ground up. The sense of achievement, in this case when a child eventually leaves us to attend school. Yes, the sense of achievement to think, I helped that child is beyond measure!

What I have learnt from running a childcare business for 20 years: while earning a living is vital, to be able to contribute is beyond any measure.

Lesson 5: It can stressful and rewarding beyond measure!

By far, my biggest lesson has been how lonely it can be without the right contacts and teams.

 

 

 

Things to do in Huddersfield During Half Term Holidays.

Things to do in Huddersfield with the children without breaking the bank.

With half-term looming, what can you do in Huddersfield with the children without breaking the bank?

Let’s face it. It can be very challenging to keep children entertained over the holidays. What can we do short of putting them in front of a screen? Especially after the terrible 18 months or so, just as everyone is getting back to work, the summer holidays have come around and gone just as quickly. We are quickly heading towards the first half term in an almost normal few months. The weather hopefully will hold out until November. So make the most of the half-term break and enjoy some time outdoors with the kids!

Below are some ideas of things to do with children of all ages over the holiday break.
I have chosen these as they won’t break the bank, should keep children entertained and every parent sane!

1- Country Parks

Castle Hill
Castle Hill can be seen from great distances in Huddersfield. It is the site of a deserted village and the castle was built in the 12th century, but that area has been inhabited for around 4,000 years.

Castle Hill, Huddersfield

Beaumont Park
Beaumont Park is the first park that was created in Huddersfield. Henry Frederick Beaumont donated 20 acres and 4 woodlands in Crosland Moor to help create this park. The visitor centre is open every Sunday and Wednesday for cake and refreshments. The park has plenty for everyone, whether you are looking for weekly activities or simply a stroll in the grounds.

2- Museums

Tolson Museum
The area of ‘ Ravensknowle’ has its earliest mention in 1466, but the history of this area goes back further, we are told. After passing through various hands across the years and centuries, the house was sold to Legh Toson for £6,000.00 in 1901 and was finally opened as a museum in 1922.
The Tolson Museum holds various events throughout the year, so it is best to check the website for full details and any changes. Entry into the museum is free.

Bagshaw Museum
The Bagshaw Museum was established in 1911 and was originally called The Wilton Park Museum. It was renamed after its owner upon his death in 1927. The building has a Gothic revival structure, which cost £25,000 in the 1800s (approximately $2,500,000 in today’s money). The council bought the building for £5.00 after the owners struggled to find a buyer for the building. The museum has a South Asian Textile gallery as well as an Egyptological gallery. It is worth visiting the museum while you can as the future of the Bagshaw Museum is uncertain.

The Holocaust Learning Centre
The Holocaust Learning Centre is hosted by The University of Huddersfield and is in partnership with the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association. There are exhibitions which are open between 10 am and 5 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Due to the pandemic, the university has put some of the events online. A word of warning- there may be some graphic images and is probably not for the faint-hearted.

Colne Valley Museum
The Colne Valley Museum has just celebrated its 50th birthday. The museum was originally four cottages (now a grade II listed building). These were built by a family of independent cloth merchants. The aim of the museum is to preserve not only the building but also the traditional skills (weaving and others) which were practised here until the end of the 19th century. There is a virtual tour available if you prefer not to visit.

3- Galleries

Huddersfield Art Gallery
Huddersfield Art Gallery is set in an imposing building in the heart of Huddersfield. The gallery runs various temporary exhibitions, so it is worth visiting a few times a year. The Gallery has paintings by famous artists such as Lory (the stick people paintings), Frances Bacon (figure study) and Henry Moore (falling warrior- though this is a sculpture rather than a painting). Definitely worth a visit!

Packhorse Art Gallery
This art gallery is unusual in that it is set in the main market in town (Market Place). There are great pieces for you to buy and if the mood takes you, to just browse.

4- Railways

Kirklees Light Railway
This is great for train enthusiasts and is also good for a great day out with the kids. There are steam engines to explore and play areas for children to play, while you sit and enjoy the view with a cup of tea or coffee. There is a gift shop on-site and two play parks so the children can burn off some energy. You can take the children (or go by yourself) on a ride on one of the trains and enjoy the views.

5-Outdoor Landmarks

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Every time I come to Huddersfield, I drive past this park and always think I will visit it but have not yet managed to do so. The park has several exhibitions at any one time. Currently, probably the most famous one is the Damien Hirst Exhibition which ends in April 2022. The park runs various o1 day events alongside the exhibitions. There is also a cafe if you want to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the park and be in a great space. My personal favourites are Vulcan by Eduardo Paolozzi and The Iron Tree by Ai Weiwei.

Marsden Moor
Marsden Moor is part of The National Trust and has over 5,000 acres for you to explore. The moor has protected conservation areas for nesting birds. The rugged moor landscape changes with each season can be truly breathtaking, making this a place to visit and explore again and again. The walks along the canals or the open moor, take your pick!

6- Sports

The John Smith Stadium
The John Smith Stadium opened in 1994 and has existed under various guises. It is currently the home of Huddersfield Town and The Giants. The structure is quite imposing and there are guided tours available every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The stadium is much more than a venue for sporting events. The stadium hires out spaces for a whole host of venues, from graduation parties to music concerts to wedding receptions and exhibitions. Nowadays, there is also some office space available for hire. In the early 200’s, when the Hunny Pot Nursery was named Carr Lee Day Nursery, I used to stay overnight at the stadium in their comfortable VIP boxes (I think) that coupled as overnight accommodation. The Stadium is at the bottom of the hill from the nursery. Just outside the stadium, there are coffee shops, a pub and even a cinema to make the day out complete.

Huddersfield Golf Club
Huddersfield Golf Club is based at Fixby Hall, in Fixby. The Golf course website states that :
Huddersfield Golf Club is one of the oldest and finest championship golf courses in the North of England.
Fixby Hall is a prime example of the great architecture of the late 18th /early 19th century. With its imposing grounds and symmetrical building, many a Jane Austen novel could easily have been set here.

Huddersfield

7- Other attractions

There are plenty of indoor play areas, coffee shops and restaurants to visit. On my last visit, I noticed a much more diverse mix of restaurants which, I must admit, I had not spotted previously. I have however deliberately not included them in this blog. As I wanted to explore the many other things that may inspire and trips that would not break the bank, making it possible to be out and about almost daily or at least every weekend.

Choosing the Right Nursery.

How to choose the right nursery for your child. School or full-time nursery?

Give your child the best start in life.

Choosing the right nursery is probably the best start you can give your child. Parents often ask us whether they should leave a child in our nursery or move them to a school nursery. Below is a breakdown of the differences between the two types of settings.

The choice between a nursery at school (which is school hours) and a daycare nursery (which is full time) is a choice that must be made before your child has turned 3.

Prior to the age of 3, some of the childcare options available are daycare nurseries, creches and nannies. Full-time education in the UK is compulsory from the age of 5, however, from the ages of 3-4 years old the government provides an optional 570 hours per year of state-funded pre-school education.

So, let us assume that your child is in a daycare nursery that they love and is turning 3 soon. Should you move them to a nursery school or keep them in a daycare nursery? We have created this guide to help you understand the similarities and differences, and ultimately choose the right childcare for your child and you.

Schools often call their nursery school a pre-school.

chilld's play at the right nursery

The Curriculum

Similarities between nursery school and daycare nursery

Both nursery schools and daycare nurseries follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

The government sets the criteria for children’s development and care. It is the curriculum that all registered providers must follow and is applicable to children from birth to 5 years old, known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

After the age of 5, your child will begin Key Stage One (KS1).

The EYFS has systematic milestones which are measured at certain ages. The milestones are at 11, 20, 26, 36, 50 and 60 months so that you can monitor the continual progress of your child.

The milestones are focused on 7 areas of learning. These are:

  1. · Communication and language
  2. · Physical development
  3. · Personal, social and emotional development
  4. · Literacy
  5. · Mathematics
  6. · Understanding the world
  7. · Expressive arts and design

Funding

Both ‘approved’ nursery schools and daycare nurseries receive government funding of 570 hours a year or 15 hours for 38 weeks in a year for children aged 3-4 years old. To be ‘approved’ by the government, nursery schools and daycare nurseries must be registered with and inspected by one of the Health and Social Care Trusts, for example, OFSTED. As long as a nursery school and daycare nursery are OFSTED registered, you can claim your government-funded (free to you) childcare hours.

Please contact Kirklees Council for further information.

School Place

Nursery schools are associated with a school, whereas daycare nurseries are independent of any school. It is commonly assumed that if your child attends a nursery school, then they will also attend the associated school. This is a misconception; there are no guarantees of this and there have been many instances of children not getting the desired school place. So, both nursery schools and daycare nurseries have the same impact on your child’s school place.

OFSTED Registration

OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) Both nursery schools and daycare nurseries must be OFSTED registered and are required to have routine inspections regardless of their grade. Schools for children aged 5 + which receive grade 1 are exempt from routine OFSTED inspections. There are four OFSTED grades:

  1. · Grade 1: Outstanding
  2. · Grade 2: Good
  3. · Grade 3: Requires Improvement
  4. · Grade 4: Inadequate

Click here to find the OFSTED inspection report of the Hunny Pot nursery.

Differences between nursery school and day nursery

Age range

Nursery schools are associated with a school and are for children aged 3-4 years old. (In exceptional cases they may take children aged 2 ½ years old). There is a common assumption that after nursery school a child will attend the associated school, though as mentioned above, this is not guaranteed.

Daycare nurseries commonly take children from the ages of 12 weeks to 12 years old. After the age of 4, daycare nurseries can offer ‘wrap-around care,’ meaning that they offer morning and after school clubs, including drop-off and pick-ups to and from local schools. These clubs can be helpful with transitioning children from nursery to school. They can also be useful if you have more than one child and want to drop and pick them all up from the same place. The wraparound care will often also include breakfast and a small tea after school. The advantage of that is that it ensures children get proper nutritional foods and snacks.

Opening Hours

Nursery schools are generally open during term-time and offer half days, such as from 8 am to 2 pm.

Daycare nurseries are generally open 51 weeks of a year and from 7 am to 6 pm.

As a result, many working parents find that nursery schools require them to use another form of child care in conjunction with the nursery school. Alternatively, daycare nurseries with their longer opening hours can be especially helpful for working parents and those who wish to not take holidays during standard school holidays. It also allows your child to only have one form of external child care, creating more stability in their life.

Children to Adult Ratio

Nursery schools are required to have 1 adult for every 13 children aged 3 to 5 years.

Daycare nurseries are required to have 1 adult to every 8 children aged 2 to 12 years. (For 12 weeks to 1 year this increases to 1 adult every 3 children).

Therefore, teachers at daycare nurseries will be able to give your child more attention and focus than teachers from nursery schools.

Parent-Teacher Interactions

Due to the nature of nursery schools and daycare nurseries, the parent-teacher interactions differ.

Nursery schools are also known as pre-schools and as a result, they follow a similar structure to schools. Parent-teacher interactions are generally reserved for scheduled parent-teacher meetings which normally happen once a term.

Daycare nurseries also have scheduled parent-teacher meetings, but it is also very common for parents to have an informal chat with a teacher at least once a week, sometimes even once a day!

Additionally, as children will only spend a half-day at a nursery school and a full day at a daycare nursery, the level of detail with regards to observations of your child will differ in the parent-teacher meetings of nursery schools and daycare nurseries.

Teaching Style

Both nursery schools and daycare nurseries will follow the same EYFS curriculum, however, their teaching methods and focus will differ.

Nursery schools will focus very much on teaching children how to read, write and count; with creative, free play and rest sessions mixed in. This will mean that the sessions are much more formal.

Daycare nurseries, however, will focus very much on the well-being of the child and will specialise their learning plans to match a children’s needs and interests. This will mean that each child will have much more freedom to learn through play as the sessions will be more informal. However, it should be noted that daycare nurseries will also ensure that every child is able to read and write by the time they are ready for school.

Formality

As a result of the differences in curriculum specialisation, nursery schools are regarded as more formal than daycare nurseries, which in turn are regarded as more flexible. There are different views as to what is the best way to help a child develop and learn. As Albert Einstein said:

‘It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.’

Summary of nursery school and daycare nursery 

Nursery School Day Care Nursery

Curriculum Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

OFSTED is required by law to have routine inspections by one of the Health and Social Care Trusts, for example, OFSTED.

Funding Any ‘approved’ institute will receive 570 hours of government-funded child care for children aged 3-4 years

School Place Cannot guarantee your child a place a certain school

Age Range 3-4 years old 0-12 years old

Opening Hours:

Term-time 8 am –2 pm 51 weeks of a year

Open from 7 am to 6 pm

Child-Adult Ratio:

1 adult to every 13 children aged 3 to 5 years.

1 adult to every 8 children aged 2 to 12 years

Parent-Teacher interaction:

Interactions Scheduled parent-teacher meetings, normally once a term.

Scheduled parent-teacher meetings, normally once a term + weekly/ daily informal chats.

Teaching Style:

Focus on reading, writing and counting; with creative, free play and rest sessions mixed in.

Focus on the well-being of your child, and specialise learning plans to match your child’s needs and interests.

Formality: more formal Less formal

 

In Conclusion

The backbones of nursery schools and daycare nurseries are the same. Both types of daycare are there to teach your child using the EYFS curriculum. The setting must be OFSTED registered, meaning that your childcare costs can be paid for with your government-funded child care allowance. However, there many differences to consider that depend on your preference for how your child will learn, the type of interaction you want to have with your child’s daycare, and also what your personal schedule is like. As important as it is to choose the daycare that best suits your child, it must also fit you too! The right type of daycare for your child is the one that makes both them and you happy.

Whichever route you decide to go down, make sure you book an appointment and take a visit first. The best way to get to know any nursery is to look around the nursery, to get a feel of the place and by asking questions.

So get in touch and we’ll be happy to arrange a tour for you. Complete the form below to get in touch.

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