Friday, 23 September 2011

Gruffalo Books

There are so many books which relate to the theme of The Gruffalo. I am a big fan of Julia Donalson and now have all of her and Axel  Scheffler's picture books. I added some of them to my collection today.

The children were so excited when the courier arrived with a big brown box from Amazon this afternoon and I was looking forward to having my new books to read at story time!  I opened up the box and underneath all of the brown paper were the books I had ordered 2 days ago;  Zog, Tabby McTat, Stick Man, My First Gruffalo buggy book, My First Gruffalo Opposites and My First Gruffalo Numbers. 

We all sat on the sofa ready to read them but this was short-lived... the appeal of the box and the brown paper was just too great!!  And so the children played with this for some time, climbing in and out of the box, wrapping themselves in brown paper, ripping it up into little pieces and wrapping books and toys up like presents! Great fun!

For anyone else doing a Gruffalo theme this Autumn, there are so many books available which are great for children and toddlers.  Here are some of them...

My First Gruffalo: Numbers

My First Gruffalo: Animal Actions
My First Gruffalo: Hello Gruffalo! Buggy Book
My First Gruffalo: Gruffalo, What Can You See? Buggy Book
My First Gruffalo: Touch-and-Feel
Due for release on 18th November 2011

My First Gruffalo Little Library
This little Gruffalo library is also due to be released on 5th January 2012

I had a booklet through the door this afternoon from Argos and was thrilled to see that the fabric bookcases I have been after for months were in there.  I didn't realise Argos even sold them!  I had been looking on nursery websites and was put off by their hefty price tag; some of them were over £100.  I even considered making one myself at one point, although finding the time was a big issue.  You can imagine my joy when I saw them in the Argos brochure on sale for just £26.65! I quickly went online while the children were having their snacks and reserved the last one they had in stock and I will be collecting it later!  So now we will have a nice new book shelf to display all of our new books!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Gruffalo Chocolate Cupcakes

Gruffalo Chocolate Cupcakes 

  • 225g (8oz) Unsalted butter, softened
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g (3.5oz) chocolate chips
  • Chocolate frosting  (I cheated and bought shop bought ready made chocolate frosting!)
  • Gruffalo rice paper toppers
1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4)  Line a bun tray with 18-24 paper baking cases.

2. Place the butter, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes, or until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips, spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake for 18 minutes, or until well risen.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

3. Stir the chocolate frosting to soften and coat the top of each cupcake with the mixture.  Top with a gruffalo rice paper.

Makes 24

Gruffalo Masks

The children have been very busy this week with the Gruffalo activities I had planned.  We started with some Gruffalo masks.

The children painted a paper plate each with brown paint, and when they were dry, they stuck on his features from the story...

"...He has terrible tusks and terrible claws
and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws.
He has knobbly knees and turned out toes
and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.
His eyes are orange, his tongue is black,
he has purple prickles all over his back.."

I was so pleased with how they turned out and they have pride of place on the living room door where everyone can see them.  In fact, we've turned it into a bit of a Gruffalo themed door!  The children also coloured in some Gruffalo pictures and made a jumping jack.

Also this week we did some hand painting and made a lovely autumn tree, using the handprints as leaves.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Woodland Walk

I took some of the toddlers to East Carlton Country Park last week where we collected lots of leaves, twigs, conkers, acorns and pine cones.  They had lots of fun running around, feeling the bark on the trees and jumping in the crunchy leaves on the ground.

When we got home we made a Woodland Small World tray with all of the bits and pieces we found.  Then we added some woodland animals to it.  The children have loved playing with it throughout the week, feeling the different textures, making owl and fox sounds and role-playing with the animals and getting very muddy in the compost!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Activities to Promote the EYFS

I have been having trouble uploading this to one of the childminding group pages so, Childminders, please find the document below!

Activities to promote Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Imaginative Play Role-play ● dressing up ● Home corner Cooking Shopping Doll House ● Activities to learn about sharing ● Activities, puzzles & board games to learn about taking turn ● Celebrate achievement & birthday

Activities to develop Communication, Language and Literacy
Story Time (children to make up own their stories, tell their news)
Spoken games about colours, shapes & opposites Nursery Rhymes  Alphabets games and songs  Recognizing a variety of sounds

Activities to develop Handwriting Skills
Tracing Copying Mark making Writing: letters to friends, shopping list, own names, cards, labels, postcards, simple words etc…

Activities to promote Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
Card games with numbers ● Shopping (play money) ● Labels of numbers for counting ● Sand/water play for measuring ● Songs with numbers in them  Cars for measuring distance and space ● Counting Sorting Matching Building with construction  Wooden bricks Farm animals and Zoo animals, Threading buttons,  etc

Activities to promote Knowledge and Understanding of the World
Activities for exploration of senses: taste – touch – hear - smell               
Activities for investigation: mirrors, magnifying glass, wet sand, dry sand, binoculars etc
Activities to promote designing: Learn to use tools such as scissors, glue, string, sticky tapes, hole puncher, etc… to assemble, to shape, to join.
Discovering our world: activities to learn about our world, countries, food, people, animals, music, and festivals
Computer Skills ● ICT in the environment  Learn about the use of technology

Physical Activities
Climbing frame Slide ● Swing ● Ball games Skittles / Bowling Beans bags ● Hoops ● Balancing beams ● Tunnel ● Actions games: hopping, jumping, and running Bikes ● Trikes & Cars

Creative Activities
Drawing ● Colouring ● Printing  Painting Sticking ● Collage ● Drawing with templates & stencils ● Create with dough ● Make own music  & songs. Dancing ● Movements with music

Gruffalo Crumble

The children and I went blackberry picking this morning.  We picked just enough to make our afternoon activity: Gruffalo Crumble!

Here is the recipe we used.  It is a Rachel Allen recipe from the Good Food channel website.


·         4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into big chunks
·         1 tbsp water
·         3 tbsp sugar
·         225g fresh or frozen blackberries, or mixed berries

For the crumble:
·         170g plain flour
·         75g butter
·         75g Demerara sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

Put the apple chunks, water and sugar into a saucepan over a lowish heat and cook until the apples are soft and mushy; this should take about 10 minutes. While cooking, stir it every minute or so to prevent sticking. Taste and add more sugar if it needs it.

Transfer the apple pulp into individual bowls or one big pie dish and allow to cool slightly. Stir the berries into the apples.

To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles very coarse breadcrumbs. However, if you rub it too much the crumble will not be crunchy. Combine with the sugar. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the slightly cooled apple and bake for 15 mins for small crumbles or 30-45 mins for larger crumbles. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

I added some Gruffalo eyes, horns and a poisonous wart on top of the crumble which is made from sugar paste.

At the end it looked like this:

We all had a piece served with ice cream.  It was delicious!

Gruffalo Woodland Walk

This afternoon we all went on a woodland walk at Fermyn Woods.  We met up with Naomi and her nannying children and set off into the trees to find the things on our list.

I made a sheet with pictures of things the children had to find; green leaves, brown leaves, acorns, conkers, a squirrel, a bird, ants, trees, bark, sycamore seeds, pine cones and.... a Gruffalo!

Unfortunately there weren't many signs of autumn at Fermyn this afternoon.  It was very sunny and warm, and all the leaves were still on the trees!  We did see some birds and an eagle flying in the sky and collected a few green leaves. There were no Gruffalos!

After our walk we went to the Tot's Corner where the little ones had some fun on the wooden train and enclosures.

After we'd been in the park for about an hour, the heavens opened and we had to run back to the car!

We had a great time.  I do love Fermyn Woods.  There's so much to do and it was lovely and quiet today, now that the kids have all gone back to school.

This afternoon's activity; Gruffalo Crumble.  Look out for the recipe coming up!

Autumn Theme: The Gruffalo

Our theme this month is...

I am so excited as The Gruffalo is one of my all time favourite childrens books!  I have lots and lots of activities planned, so watch this space!

At circle time today we started off by reading The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson.  Looking at the phrase from the story "Who is the scariest creature in the wood?", we spoke about things that make us afraid and why we are scared of them.

The children got out our Gruffalo story sack and did some role play with the puppets. We used a blue cloth for the lake/stream and some boxes for the rocks.We then did a floor puzzle before dinner.

Tomorrow we are off on a woodland walk at Fermyn woods.  I have set out a list of things the children have to find on the walk.  It should be lots of fun!

Check back again tomorrow for some more Gruffalo activities!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Sunflower Seeds

Last weekend we unfortunately had to say goodbye to our sunflowers. With the remaining part of hurricane Katia set to hit the UK, I knew they wouldn't withstand the high winds that were forecast.  The flowers on some of them became so big that the heads were weighing down the plants and some of them were starting to die off.

At the end of our Sunflower competition, the winner was Paul!  His plant reached a record 8 foot tall and the flower measured 39cm in diameter.

We have now cut the plants down and will be making some bird feeders from the seeds. The children have been taking the seeds out of the middle of the flowers and we have saved some ready to sow next year.

Comic Relief

We were very pleased to finally receive our certificate for the money we raised for Comic Relief back in March.  We have it proudly displayed on our noticeboard.

Milk is Cool!

I have recently joined the Cool Milk scheme which entitles all children under the age of five to 189ml of free milk a day.  This is delivered to us fresh 3 days a week.
Providing milk is a great way to support the health and development children in my care. It is one of the few drinks recommended in the latest School Food Trust guidelines on food and drink in early years, so I am pleased to be able to offer this in my setting.
 Milk is an ideal mid-morning drink and is the perfect accompaniment to fruit.  It is excellent for hydration, supporting brain function including concentration, memory and creativity.
The children have been enjoying their milk each snack time.  We were even lucky enough to receive some free Cool Milk cups!

For more information on the benefits of milk, and information on the types of milk that Cool Milk offer please visit

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