As promised in our recent posts ‘How to Attract Garden Wildlife – for Under-5s’ and ‘Bee-Friendly Flower Growing for Kids’, we follow up today with a guide to bird feeders that children can enjoy making at home. It’s a creative and educational activity that children of all ages will enjoy. And, With the right location and bird food, the home-made bird feeders are sure to attract a multitude of beautiful birds to the garden for the children to enjoy and learn from.
With any of these feeders, though, don’t expect birds to come right away. They’ll be suspicious of anything new in the garden for a while, so children need to be patient while the birds learn to trust the new addition. Once they have accepted it, though, they’ll come again and again if suitable food continues to be supplied.
Starting with the most simple bird feeder of all, children can make an apple bird feeder. All they need is an apple and something to hold it. So, a piece of string threaded through it would be one easy solution for a hanging apple feeder (an adult may need to supervise for safety reasons). Another would be to spear the apple onto a vertical stick (see example photo), bamboo cane or even a suitably angled tree branch/twig. Again, adult supervision would be wise so the child does not hurt itself. Try peeling off some of the skin to show the apple flesh and this may encourage birds to have a peck. Apple feeders may be particularly popular with blackbirds.
Pine Cone Feeders
These are easy and fun for children to make. All they need is a suitable pine cone that’s ‘opened’, some bird seed and either peanut butter, suet or lard.* Children simply need to paste the peanut butter, suet or lard into the spaces between the pine cone scales, then roll the entire thing in bird seed, which will stick, and suspend the new feeder by string. Easy!
If no pine cone is available, the same approach can be used but using a chunk or thick slice of bread instead of the pine cone. However, we do not recommend it as bread will go mouldy if left outside for more than a day or two, and this can harm or even kill birds.
Suet* Flower Pot Seed Cakes
Suet or lard can also be used to make flower pot seed cakes. However, this will require the help of an adult because it will need to be …
Today, we follow up last month’s wildlife attracting guide for Under-5s with another, more specific, activity for children to undertake outdoors. This time, we outline easy-to-accomplish flower growing activities that children can enjoy, to attract bees and other friendly insects to the garden. While flowering plants can be purchased commercially ready-grown, we’ll concentrate today on ways children can grow wildlife-friendly flowers themselves, from seed. After all, it’s far cheaper, much more fun as an activity, teaches children more about nature and will also give them a greater sense of achievement. If it all goes well, the result will be some pretty flowers to brighten the place up as well as a host of charming and beautiful little creatures visiting. Children may get to see different types of bee perhaps along with butterflies, hover flies, ladybirds and probably many more wonderful creatures that might otherwise never have visited. Children will generally find flowers, bees and butterflies not only beautiful to look at, but also fascinating once they really start to look closely. After all, what’s not to love about stunning flowers and the cute, colourful pollinators that will visit them!
Sourcing Bee-Friendly Seeds
Parents/guardians of under-fives will need to supervise which seeds to buy — or to harvest free of charge at the end of a previous season. If purchased, they’re inexpensive with seed packets typically costing as little as £1.99 from places like Suttons, garden centres and even online from some supermarkets. Look out for seeds that are marked as suitable for growing bee-friendly and/or butterfly-friendly flowers, or are simply suitable for pollinators. Typical examples include seeds for poppies, sunflowers, forget-me-nots, sedum, buddleia, nasturtium, daisies, cornflower, cosmos and calendula. Even herbs will grow fragrant flowers that’ll attract pollinators if you allow them to grow to maturity. Good examples include mint, basil and thyme, any of which would serve a secondary purpose of being useful to eat — another useful and educational benefit of this activity for young children.
Even easier are …
The little creatures that nature provides are some of the most wonderful, magical things that both fascinate and educate young children. Nature is a wondrous thing, when you think about it. All the little beings and characters that crawl or dart around any wildlife-friendly garden will enrich both the garden and any onlooker. What’s more exposure to nature is known to benefit children in many different ways. With that in mind, today’s guide provides ways to make any garden more wildlife-friendly. By following the suggestions, young children can get to see more of these beautiful little visitors, many of whom may even become regulars if the conditions are right.
Attracting Mini-Beasts, Insects & Reptiles to the Garden
Mini-beasts like woodlice, centipedes, millipedes and many other bugs will love it if children leave them an undisturbed compost area to nest in. Insects and even reptiles like lizards and slow-worms may even move in. All they need is composting vegetation like rotting leaves, logs and perhaps grass cuttings that gradually break down — and they’re happy!
Hedgehogs also love piles of leaves, so long as they’re left undisturbed and are somewhere peaceful and safe. Therefore, a pile of them under a secluded bush or underneath a shed may prove popular with them. Children can also make hedgehog hotels — or buy commercially available ones from a garden nursery or online. It’s essential that hedgehogs are able to get into the garden in the first place, though. Therefore, there needs to be a space somewhere to get in, e.g. under a garden gate and/or under one or more parts of the fence around the garden. If there are no gaps, then there is no point in putting out a hedgehog hotel.
On a side note, milk is harmful to hedgehogs, so never put it out in the garden for them.
Insect Houses & Bug Hotels
If children have no garden, simply attach an insect house (also known as a bug hotel) to …
Today we take a look at some amazing baby facts, many of which may come as a surprise. Human babies are incredible in so many ways, but you may not be aware of just how incredible they really are …
1. One Born Every Minute?
That’s not even close! Did you know that a baby is born, somewhere in the world, every 3 seconds? That equates to 28,800 new babies coming into the world every single day and over 10½ million new babies every year.
2. Babies Favour September
Studies suggest that more babies are born in September than in any other month. In fact, the top four birth days are all in September with 9th September seeing the most babies born, followed in order by 19th, 12th and 17th September. With September being the first term of the year in the UK, it may come as no surprise that those September babies, being the oldest in the class, tend to be the smartest in their peer groups.
3. Short People Live Longer
Another study suggests that shorter people live longer than taller people, on average. With females being statistically shorter than males, it makes sense, then, that male babies will have lower life expectancies than females.
4. Foetuses have Gills, Fur & a Tail
While they’re foetuses, babies have fur, a tail and gills at certain stages of their development. The gills are slits found in the neck, called pharyngeal arches. These eventually develop into ear and jaw bones before the baby is born. Meanwhile, the tail becomes the child’s coccyx. In regard to having fur, some babies will lose theirs by the time they are born but others may shed it within the first few weeks following birth.
5. A Unique Smile
Humans are just one species within a group of 200 primates that includes monkeys, apes and lemurs. Did you know, however, that baby humans are the only primate babies that smile at their parents? That’s unless other primates use some other way of smiling that’s unknown to us, of course — it’s possible!
6. Amazing Brain Growth
Just in the first year, babies’ brains will grow to twice the size, going on to triple from their birth size by the time the child reaches the age of …
Are you a parent who wants to continue studying in higher education, but may struggle to afford childcare costs? If so, we have some great news for you. Student Finance England offers eligible students, who are also parents, a generous grant for their child’s childcare. This may allow them to continue with higher education in the knowledge that their child is being looked after by childcare professionals while they study. It can make a real difference, allowing parents to concentrate on studying and potentially increase household income once they graduate their courses.
Today, we’ll take you through the rules around eligibility for the childcare grant and explain how much is available.
The childcare grant for students is in addition to other student finance.
Eligibility Rules for Student Parents
To be eligible, the following rules apply:
- The parent’s child(ren) must be under the age of fifteen, or under seventeen if they have special educational needs.
- The child(ren) concerned must be financially dependent on the applicant.
- The student/parent also has to be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on household income (even if they don’t claim it).
- They can’t already be receiving a postgraduate loan.
- They must be a permanent UK resident.
- They must be studying full time.
- They, or their partner, must not also be claiming Tax-Free Childcare or the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit.
- They or their partner must not be in receipt of childcare funding from the NHS.
A few rules also apply in relation to the childcare provider that receives the funding:
- The childcare provider cannot be related to the applicant or child(ren) if the childcare provision is at home.
- They should be officially recognised in the UK as a childcare provider, i.e. be registered with Ofsted or on the General Childcare Register.
The childcare grant does not need to be paid back.
How Much Do You Get?
The Childcare Grant for students is worth up to …
At the time of writing, spring is just around the corner and snowdrops and daffodils are already sprouting out of the ground. Soon, it’ll start to feel warmer and we’ll be more likely to venture outdoors again. With that in mind, we thought the time was perfect for a post all about the benefits of nature to children, particularly in their early years. If you’re a parent/carer and your children don’t usually get much exposure to nature, take a look at these benefits and consider encouraging them to get out more. The natural world and everything it offers will enrich their young lives in a myriad of natural ways.
1. Nature is Good for the Mind & Spirit
Nature is good for both mind & spirit. Many studies have shown that time spent with nature is very healthy for mental wellbeing and you only have to spend time in the Great Outdoors to know that this is true. There is something instinctively calming about spending time outdoors, surrounded by flora and fauna, and this is very beneficial for mental health, including relieving stress, anxiety and even depression.
2. Imagination Stimulation
Nature stimulates the creative mind in children. The natural world is a place of absolute wonder, when you think about it — particularly for the very young. So, spending time outdoors sets their minds working to create adventures, build, perhaps draw, create dens, collect flowers, invent games and so much more. Nature is an almost limitless source for children’s imaginations!
3. Nature Gives Children Perspective
Spending time in the natural environment, surrounded by nature and everything that it brings, allows children to get a better perspective on life. Once they see the enormity of the ‘bigger picture’, small issues they may be facing will become insignificant and they will learn what’s really important and what’s not.
4. Nature Promotes Profound Thinking
Children also get to think bigger thoughts and ask bigger questions when they spend time out in nature. For example, “Where do I fit into the world?” … “What is this little creature doing?” … “What is he or she thinking?” … “How do those little seeds grow in the wild?” … “What is life?” … “How did we all get here?” … “Where does planet Earth fit into the bigger picture?” … and so on.
5. Nature Gives Children Greater Freedom
The natural world is vast so, with suitable adult supervision, allows children to …
Treetops Nursery adheres to the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’) framework. This is a structured approach to learning and development for under-fives and is prescribed, by the UK Government, for childcare settings such as ours. It covers 7 key areas of focus for learning and development, which are explained concisely on our Curriculum page. Today, we look at the Early Learning Goals that are integrated into the EYFS framework, including how and why they are used in nurseries and pre-schools.
The Purpose of the Early Learning Goals
The Early Learning Goals (‘ELGs’) are used as a way for early learning practitioners and childcare professionals to continually gauge the progress of each child’s learning and development. Specifically, they’re used as incremental benchmarks to help ensure that children are successfully heading towards ‘school readiness’ by the time they leave early years settings around the age of 5. This is the point when they move to Reception Year at primary school.
“The ELGs should support teachers1 to make a holistic, best-fit judgement about a child’s development, and their readiness for year 1.” (Department for Education, Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation)
Children are assessed continually against Early Learning Goals that are appropriate for their age. A ‘Key Person’ assigned to each child is a critical part of this. The assessment allows the Key Person and other childcare professionals to tailor the individual learning and development programme so that it is customised to the strengths, interests and any weaknesses of each child.
Parents/carers are also kept informed at all stages and are indeed encouraged to continue helping their child towards the same goals when at home. This tandem approach has been shown to have enormous benefits for the child, both in the short and long term.
Furthermore, if a special educational need is identified during assessment, families and childcare practitioners can then …
Many new parents ask themselves whether they should send their baby, toddler or under-five child to nursery/pre-school. What exactly are the benefits to the child? Well, studies have shown that there are clear benefits for children if they attend a good nursery or pre-school in their early years. That good aspect is crucial, though, and as a good nursery ourselves (that’s official), we strongly agree. The benefits are obvious to us, but you don’t need to take our word for it. Today, we’ll look at the findings of independent research, including a recent study by the Department for Education (‘DfE’), demonstrating the clear benefits of sending children to a good nursery and/or pre-school during their early years.
What is a Good Nursery?
First, though, let’s clarify what makes a good nursery superior to a mediocre one. To give just a few examples, a good nursery will educate children under their care — they don’t simply babysit them because parents are at work. They’ll nurture children’s wellbeing, their learning and their development. They’ll create a learning and development programme that’s tailored to the strengths, weaknesses and interests of each individual child. A good nursery will set personal goals and continually assess the child’s progress, actually in partnership with parents. They’ll help every child to achieve personal bests in every area of a good Early Years curriculum. They’ll also do everything they can to help each child become school-ready by the time they leave, so they can move on seamlessly to Reception Year at primary school. Along the way, a good nursery, like Treetops, will help children in a huge number of ways, becoming more able, more self-confident, more independent, well-mannered, knowledgeable, aware of what’s right and wrong, able to socialise with others in an appropriate way — and so much more.
The Benefits of a Good Nursery or Pre-school
Now we’ve established what a good nursery/pre-school is, what did the 2020 DfE study say about sending under-fives to one? Well, they found that there are both short-term and long-term benefits to children if they …