At Fun and Play nursery we follow the British birth to three matters and EYFS curriculum. We are extremely proud to have built a truly academic nursery that is fully inclusive, nurturing to every child that attends the setting and affordable to all families. Children’s progress is tracked against all the goals of the EYFS curriculum using an online app, and parents are given regular updates of their child’s progress through this app as well as termly reports showing the child’s attainment relative to the age-expected target.
We begin to introduce numbers to the children in our toddler class when they are ready and begin to show an interest in counting and using numbers in play. Children in this group are initially introduced to the numbers 1-3, through number recognition cards and counting objects, both in small group maths sessions and during topic based play using the sand and water trays. We then gradually introduce the numbers to 5 and then to 10. By the time they move on to our foundation class, we aim for the children in our toddler class to be able to count to, and recognise the numbers to 10. In the Toddler class we also introduce colours and 2D shapes,giving children the tools to investigate and discuss the world around them. The toddlers are also sorting objects into groups and on sight handing teacher ‘give me one, give me two’.
Children who start with us in the foundation class are introduced to the numbers to 10 as in the toddler class. Children who have entered the foundation class from our toddler class are introduced to the numbers to 20 after revision of the numbers to 10. By the end of the year, some of our older children are able to progress onto numbers to 100, gaining an understanding of how place value can be used to identify these numbers. Once they have a firm grasp of the numbers, both in recognition and counting, children can begin to use these numbers practically, as we introduce addition and subtraction. Initially we use cubes to visually demonstrate these concepts but children who quickly understand this can progress on to using mental strategies, including counting on, to solve addition and subtraction problems which they can represent using numbers and symbols. We also introduce division and multiplication through practical activities, using cubes to double, halve and to share into groups.
We also ensure children are introduced to the concepts of measurement and geometry. We continue the work on colour and 2D shape that children will have been introduced to in the Toddler class and introduce the 3D shapes. Children use these skills to build and create patterns during play as well as during their maths sessions and build the vocabulary to discuss size and position. We also introduce the practical skills of measuring length, capacity and weight using balances. Children gain a range of useful practical skills including telling the time, days of the week and months of the year and using money.
Our toddler class are introduced to the important listening skills they will need to begin learning phonics. We play listening games and sing songs where children are required to listen to and identify sounds. This could be animal noises in a song of ‘Old MacDonald’, musical instruments or objects hidden in a bag or going for ‘listening walks’ in our environment and identifying what we can hear. We then move on to making sounds using body percussion, musical instruments and our voices, introducing volume, speed and rhythm. We also use word games to introduce rhyme. Children are introduced to the basics of line, shape and letter formation and writing through initial mark making in sand, shaving foam and paint. Toward the end of the year, the toddlers are introduced to the phonics sounds using the read, write inc system. This sets them up for a fantastic start in our foundation class.
In our foundation class we cover all the initial skills covered in the toddler class for those children who are new to our nursery. We then introduce the first 31 sounds covered in read, write inc. The children learn to identify these letters and sounds and use whiteboards and pens as well as pencils and paper to form these letters. We encourage the children to develop a stable pencil grip which will set them up for starting school. Once the children have mastered these 31 sounds they can use them to blend and segment when reading and writing. The children start reading simple 3 letter words and progress onto longer words and those that require children to blend the consonant sounds together. Alongside our phonics programs, the children use the ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ books that they will encounter in school. Initially these books require children to look at the pictures to tell a story before introducing words and sentences which the children must use their phonic skills to read.
Once the children are confident with their first 31 sounds we introduce pack 2 sounds from read, write inc. This includes the vowel digraph/trigraph sounds, where 2 or 3 letters make a specific sound (includes: ai, ee, igh, ow and oo etc). At this point the children are confident writing whole words and move on to start writing sentences for themselves. We also play reading games with these sounds as the children build confidence and progress onto the higher levels of the ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ books.
Children’s learning is themed by topics which change each half or full term and are based on the EYFS curriculum. We adapt this UK based learning to reflect our location in Dubai. The topic guides our planning of craft sessions, stories and songs as well as our formal teaching sessions. We also use our topics to build our role play area and in our messy play (sand and water) area which gives the children new and exciting experiences alongside familiar toys. Research has shown children enjoy topic based learning and that it is a fantastic way to harness their curiosity and motivate them. Having topic based free-play allows the children to self-direct their learning alongside their teacher led sessions. The children’s progress in topic work is recorded and shared with parents using the Tapestry app.
Some of the topics the children have enjoyed this year have been:
All about me: We usually start with this topic when the children first arrive in September. This gives them the vocabulary and skills to introduce themselves and make friends as well as develop the self-help skills they need including feeding themselves, using the bathroom and the social skills to build friendships. We start introducing topic vocabulary through games and songs as the children describe themselves and name the parts of the body and the face and look at the 5 senses. We then use our vocabulary to discuss our friends, family and pets. The EYFS curriculum has a strong focus on diversity and inclusion and, with children joining us from all over the World, Dubai is a fantastic place for discussion on how we are all different but all the same on the inside.
Our Community: This topic builds on the skills children have learnt as we look at people in our community who help us and a range of occupations including doctors, dentists, teachers, the police, the fire service and construction workers. We also look at the transport we rely on in Dubai, including, boats, cars, planes, trains and the tram and metro systems, as well as the people who drive them and the emergency service vehicles that look after us. This topic introduces a range of small world play including dolls houses, car and construction mats and train sets. This small world play allows children to practise this vocabulary and build co operative imaginative play worlds and develop narrative play as they create stories with their toys.
Animals: This topic brings in a lot of useful vocabulary as children learn about animals in different environments. Our role play and messy play areas evolve each week as our focus moves from pets, the farm, the jungle, the poles, under the sea, insects and prehistoric animals, keeping the children engaged in their learning. This topic has a strong science focus, and introduces a lot of vocabulary including ‘herbivore’, ‘carnivore’ and ‘omnivore’ as we discuss what animals need to eat to grow and thrive and we also learn about life cycles, habitat and diet, as well as social skills and responsibility as we learn about looking after animals both our pets at home and protecting animals in the wild. We continue to introduce a range of small world play including farm and zoo sets, the duplo animals and the toy dinosaurs.
Around the World: This topic has a strong Geography and History focus as children begin to learn about our world, the continents and countries. We introduce the continents song and in our Foundation class, children can identify these on a map and look at the 4 compass points. We also look at the weather and climate in our focus countries and how their location, relative to the poles and equator, influence this. We look at the countries we are from, traditions and customs and landmarks and landforms. We introduce cooking and hygiene skills as we experience traditional foods from around the world. Again our role play and messy play evolves every week as learn about one continent each week before ending our topic looking at our place on Earth, in the Solar System. This continues our work on diversity and inclusion, a key part of EYFS, as children see that while we might all look different and have different customs and traditions, we are all the same on the inside, deserving of kindness and respect.