• stevalpreschool

We are very pleased to announce that on Wednesday 2nd October we will be hosting an open evening here at pre-school.

At St Eval Pre-school, we love to get parents involved, so this October we are opening our doors to parents, both current and prospective, giving them the opportunity to tour our setting, see first-hand what the children are working on, and above all, talk with our lovely staff about their child's progress and pre-school life.

Our committee will also be on hand so parents can talk to other parents about how our unique little pre-school works. They will also be serving some wine and nibbles to complete this warm, welcoming occasion.

Join us at pre-school on Wednesday 2nd October at 7.30pm.

We look forward to seeing you then.

Despite the chill in the air, the daffodils and lighter mornings tell us that Spring is coming – and we can’t wait! It’s such a special season with so much change, growth and new life.

There are lots of natural opportunities for learning at this time of year, so we’ve chosen ‘In the Garden’ as our topic this term. From planting and growing to mini beasts, we’re spending lots of time outside, learning about our changing environment and all the living things that contribute to it.

Planting the seeds of knowledge – why we teach the children about the garden

Spring brings so many changes to the children's surroundings, from flowers in the garden to baby lambs in the field. The world comes alive again in this magical season, so it’s an ideal time to teach them about life, growth and how to take care of living things. Through growing their own plants and vegetables, the children learn how living things need to be cared for, fed and watered – just like them. And they’ll work together to tend to their plants, which helps build relationships and teaches them about teamwork.

Teaching pre-school children about planting and growing is also an excellent way for them to learn where their food comes from. You’d be surprised how many children think bananas come from Tesco! Learning about the care and attention needed to grow our food can also help them see how valuable it is and encourage them to be less wasteful.

Inspiring the children to have green fingers can also help promote healthy eating. Pulling a carrot from the ground that you’ve seen grow from a seed, to a sprout, to a full-sized vegetable, is much more interesting than simply grabbing a packet of crisps from the cupboard.

How we teach the children about planting and growing

Let’s get growing!

At St Eval Pre-school we have an strong relationship with Trevisker Primary School. We have our own polytunnel on site there, where we did some great growing last year. We’ve been busy clearing it out and preparing it for this year’s fruit and vegetables. Once the weather is warmer, the polytunnel will come alive with plant life and we’ll go over there regularly, so our little farmers can tend to their crops. This valuable resource not only gives us space to help extend the children’s learning, it's also an important first step in their transitioning to ‘big’ school.

We were very lucky to have Lewi Skinner from Padstow Kitchen Garden visit us recently, who talked to the children about how to grow your own food and take care of plants. During his visit, he helped the children plant lots of seeds that are busy germinating away inside pre-school. When the weather gets warmer, we'll move these to the polytunnel at Trevisker. As well as planting beans, radishes, carrots and leeks with the children, Lewi also taught them about plant awareness - helping them identify what berries you can and can’t eat. The children have since been taking great care of their seeds, watering them daily and patiently waiting for them to grow.

We’ve also been tidying up our garden at pre-school, so we can do some more planting, playing and learning here too. Like last year, we’re hoping to plant things like sunflowers, pumpkins and potatoes. The children will enjoy being outside daily with their rakes, shovels and watering cans, lovingly tending to their crops.

And if they come across a creepy crawly or two, that’s another opportunity for learning. We identify the bugs, discuss what they do and move them to our 5* bug hotel.

We like to teach the children the full lifecycle of our food, from field to fork. So, as the vegetables grow and the berries ripen, we will use them in our snack here at pre-school. The children love to eat the fruits of their labour and it’s an ideal way to promote healthy eating, in line with our healthy eating policy.

This year, we’re lucky to add another dimension to this topic, as one of our staff members is doing some growing of her own. Pregnancy is often a confusing, but very real topic for a lot of our children, so this year, as well as caring for and growing our plants, the children will be learning about pregnancy and how a baby grows too. This is a perfect way to dispel any fears or confusion children might have about pregnancy, and it helps them understand the changes and care it involves. We even have our own sweepstake to guess the gender, which helps the children with their maths.

Other ways we learn about the garden and how you can get involved at home

There are lots of exciting ways to extend the children’s learning in the classroom, at home and out in the community. Here are 10 activities we’re doing at pre-school and how you can easily adapt them at home:

  1. Read books like The Hungary Caterpillar by Eric Carle. As well as teaching the children about metamorphosis, you can use this book as a talking point for the different fruits. You can ask your child: what fruits did the caterpillar eat? Where did the fruit come from? What colour are they? What’s your favourite? There’s also a little movie you could watch together as a special treat.

  2. Welly Walks are something we’re doing a lot of here at pre-school. The newly-opened pathways around our village have a wealth of nature, plants, bugs, birds and animals waiting to be discovered. Get out and about, and see what you can spot.

  3. Next time you sit down to a meal or snack with your child, discuss what you’re eating and where it comes from, e.g. at breakfast time, talk through how your cereal is grown in fields, the milk comes from cows and the berries are grown on plants. You might even learn something new yourself!

  4. Play ‘Guess Where It Comes From’. Choose any fruit or vegetable and ask you child to guess where it grows - trees, plants, bushes, fields, etc.

  5. Use different fruits to elicit different colours. Some fruits and vegetables come in different colours (like apples or grapes), and some change colour as they ripen or get old. Talk through this with your child and see what they already know. This not only teaches them about food, it also practises their colours.

  6. Do some vegetable stamps paintings. Use hard vegetables like potatoes, cut them in half and cut shapes into the flat edge. Dip them in paint and start stamping! It's so easy for little hands to manage and it's lots of fun. You can even try and use a range of different fruit and vegetables - cut them in half and see what natural shapes they make – like this video here.

  7. Chop up fresh herbs and discuss the different smells. At pre-school, we even put herbs in playdough for an added sensory experience. The children love experimenting with different smells and textures.

  8. During our Wake and Shake, we practise growing. We start crouched down as tiny seeds and then gradually stretch up into beautiful flowers. This helps wake the children up, gets them focussed and ready for the day. It’s also gentle exercise.

  9. Put an assortment of seeds, beans and lentils in sensory trays for the children to explore the different textures. We also add in the small world toys like tractors and diggers for an extra bit of fun.

  10. Sing the ‘Peel Bananas’ song. The children love jumping around and going bananas at this simple, yet effective song. Pinkfong (the creators of Baby Shark) have an extended version, which goes through lots of other fruits and vegetables, with exciting dance moves. The children won’t be able to resist!

Year on year, the children at pre-school love learning about the garden, planting and growing. And it's a great way to introduce important issues like food origin and healthy eating. We hope you can use some of the above ideas to get involved at home - we're sure you'll enjoy it just as much as the children.

From little green fingers to muddy boots and smiley faces, 'In the Garden' has to be one of our favourite topics, so let's get growing!

Don't forget to share your thoughts and experiences on our Facebook page.

Written by Erin Madden, Pre-school Secretary and Writer at Ignite Copy.

  • stevalpreschool

Updated: Mar 20

It’s that time of year again. The temperature's dropping, the leaves are falling, and the clocks have gone back. With festivals like Halloween and Guy Fawkes, many pre-school children find themselves allowed out at night for the first time, and they’re amazed. To them, the after-dark world is fascinating - they’re ready to explore and eager to know more.

With so much natural curiosity flying around, it’s an ideal time of year to teach children about space and that’s why we’ve chosen it as this term’s topic here at St Eval Pre-school. There’s lots of out-of-this-world activities relating to space, but here’s some of our favourites and how you can adapt or extend them at home.

Preparing for launch – why teach pre-school children about space?

First, it’s important to say that space is a complex subject and you don’t want to get too scientific. The main aim when teaching this topic is to increase children’s awareness of their surroundings and their world, so that when they’re out on these dark nights they know what the twinkly things are in the sky and that the moon isn’t just a huge street light.

At St Eval Pre-school, we’ll introduce the concept of planets - the Earth, the Sun, the Moon and our neighbours like Mars, Venus and Saturn. We’ll also touch on space travel, playing with rockets and dressing up as astronauts. And, of course, we’ll have heaps of fun with flying saucers and little green men.

As well as practising numbers, shapes and colours, space is a great topic to stretch their imaginations.

pre-school space Cornwallpre-school space Cornwall

How to take them on an intergalactic journey

There are so many fun and engaging ways to teach pre-school children about space. Here’s a few of the activities we’ll be running at pre-school and how you can get involved at home.

Books to help blast off the topic

Books are a great way to introduce any topic, and there’s some excellent ones about space. With the whole class or in smaller groups, the children love reading books over and over. When going through stories, we ask the children as many questions as possible about the pictures on each page, and if they know the story well, we encourage them to re-tell it.

Our favourite books about space are:

1. Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman – This hilarious rhyming tale always has the children in stitches.

2. Hello, World! Solar System by Jill McDonald – This is perfect for teaching them about the different planets and includes helpful prompts like “can you point to the red planet?” to get the children involved.

If you know your child has read these stories, ask them what they were about, and see if they can re-tell them to you. Or borrow one of the books from your local library and read them together before bed.

Songs for stargazing

Pre-school children always enjoy singing and there’s a couple of space-themed songs that work particularly well.

1. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – We all know this one! Why not take your child outside after dinner to spot some stars and sing this together? Doing a fun activity like this with your child familiarises them with their environment, and can even help overcome fear of the dark.

2. 5 Little Men in a Flying Saucer – This cute little song also practises numbers and we use it a lot at pre-school. You could watch the video with your child at home and ask them to help you with the words. Also, try asking them about what they see in the video to practice their vocabulary e.g. what colour are the men? what planets can you see? Who are the little men? What are they flying in?

Interplanetary craft

We’ll be doing lots of space-themed crafts at pre-school that easily be done at home as well.

Here’s some examples of what we’ll be making:

1. Paper plate planets – This is a great one to practice the different colours of the planets. All you need is paper plates, paints and some crafty bits for sticking!

2. Name rockets - We give each child a range of shapes with the letters of their names on. The children then arrange the shapes to create a rocket and spell out their name. As well as making a cool rocket, the children are practising letter recognition, fine motor skills and shapes.

3. Moon sand – The children love this one and it’s a perfect sensory play idea for at home too. Using flour and baby oil, you can make soft, mouldable sand. We usually add colours and glitter at pre-school too to give it an extra spacey-twist. Here’s an easy how-to video so you can make it at home.

We have lift-off!

Pre-school children learning through play, so the best way to practice everything we’ve introduced is with a little role play.

At pre-school we make a space station out of an old computer and spacesuits with tin foil-covered cycle helmets for the children to dress up in and explore the galaxy. Having endless fun along the way, the children’s imaginations run wild as they build stories, make relationships with each other and share experiences.

Role play is an easy one to replicate at home too. Next time you’re stuck at home on a wet afternoon, get the cushions off the sofa, grab a blanket and build yourself your own space station at home. To take it to the next level, get the tin foil out and raid the recycling for cardboard boxes, bottle tops, toilet roll tubes and yogurt pots. With a little imagination, you can build anything.

Teaching pre-school children about space is a lot of fun. We hope you can use some of these ideas to get involved at home and enjoy being part of your child’s learning. If you have any other space-themed activities that you’d like to share, please let us know on our Facebook page.

Here's to a fun-filled term - to infinity and beyond!

Written by Erin Madden, Pre-school Secretary and Writer at Ignite Copy.