Monthly Archives: April 2010

Monday Morning

I started this morning at PP1 – litter picking the front, jumping in the bin to compress the overflow and greeting children and parents  as they arrived. J-R showed me a piece of volcanic rock, picked up during a beach walk on the Isle of Wight with her dad. We role played volcanoes (me being in one), somehow this changed to elephants by the time several others had joined us. I morphed into a rhino which had to chase children round the room, fall asleep, wake up and eat buns. 

Later we got a box of musical instruments out and became the Paint Pots marching band. It was an absolute racket but actually quite rythmical. This went on for some time. Several groups appeared – one playing twinkle twinkle, another competing with Jingle Bells and some boys shouting Bob the Builder. A group of drummers assembled round a table, grasping various sicks and rods. They decided to use the farm buildings as a full drum kit. What a fantastic din.

Once this had subsided, we cleared up and someone remided us of We’re going on a bear hunt. I decided to teall a new bear story, where the bear was up a tree looking for hungry children to eat, as they came through the forest. A boy and a girl approached carrying a basket of honey sandwiches for grandma (can you see the source of this story yet?).

The bear was so overcome with passion for honey that he fell out of the tree landed on his bottom (this was really funny!) and started to cry. The boy and the girl took pity and fed him all the sandwiches. They all became friends and the boy and girl hopped on the bear’s back all the way to grandmas, who was terrified and screamed. Eventually she calmed down.

 The fact there were no sandwiches was not a problem as grandma had made an online Tesco food order and they all went in for a slap up feast. The end.

Family Feel

Dropped in at PP4 yesterday afternoon. It was sunny and the new Nomow covered garden was alive with children from 6 month olds up to 8 years. They were all enjoying themselves hugely. Children were whizzing round the new path on scooters; some of the older ones were playing the board game Operation. Children were throwing and catching balls. Some of them showed me their drawings, others, on the climbing frame, were pretending to be in space and throwing bombs at each other. Two younger girsl were being pricesses. Several boys emerged from a tunnel while a member of staff chased an after-school child round the play-house. A group of little ones were sat down sharing a story book with another member of staff.

I thought it was absolutely brilliant and epitomised what Paint Pots stands for – our family feel. I left feeling really up!

National Strategies

There are any number of new strategies being proposed, implemented, imposed. It can become quite confusing – Every Child Matters, Every Child a Talker, Early Years Foundation Stage, Social and Emotional Aspects of Development, Healthy Early Years Award, Flying High Quality Accreditation, Early Years Professional Status, Progress Matters etc. All with their own acronyms, methodologies and paperwork.

Yes, there are invariably hardcopy forms to complete, physical evidence to collect and store.  There are also a lot of publications becoming available from National Strategies in support of all of these. Some are dreadful – unhelpful, patronising and bureaucratic. Others are actually sensible, practical and useful.

One such, I discovered today, is Learning, Playing and Interacting – a guide to good practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

It makes sense, it talks to you as if you are an adult and as if you have some idea about what you are doing. It gives useful, supportive guidance with practical examples. Hurrah!

I would like to order a copy for all staff. Such a shame then, that it is download only :0(

And why, as we are expected to print it off ourselves, does it contain so many full colour pictures? 

Maybe we all need to invest in an ipad ro read these publications on?


It’s great when ex-Paint Potters come back to visit, usually accompanying a parent during school holidays, to pick up a younger sibling. They are mostly huge, talk a lot or not at all, don’t remember who I am or anything about their time with us. If they do ever remember Mrs W, they often remark on how small she is. Memory has a cruel way of resizing people (not cruel for the child, more for Mrs W who doesn’t really need reminding of her 4 ft 10 3/4 inches!)  

H came back today. He is now 6. We used to  absolutely love having him. He is one of those vastly entertaining old fashioned (in the good sense) boys, you know, the sort that obsess on diesel trains, pistons etc.

I asked him the usual questions – Did he remember me? No. Did he remember coming to Paint Pots? No. How old is he now? 6 etc. He asked me what I was carrying. I told him it was old videos from the cellar which I was going to give away. He said he never knew we had a cellar. ‘Yes,’ I told him, ‘that’s where we keep all the children we don’t like very much.’

‘You’re joking, aren’t you, David?’ he said.

”Yes,’ I answered, ‘ it’s only the teachers we don’t like that we keep down there – with the dragon.’

‘Don’t be silly,’ he said,’ they’d all get burnt’ 

I said it wasn’t really a problem as long as we didn’t make him angry.

Is it wrong to lie to children? – even 6 year old ones who are starting to doubt and think you have a weird sense of humour?

Post Office

David – “Hello O , why are you upside down?”

O (4 year old boy, upside down on the settee with legs in the air), “Hello, David, we just are upside down”

David, looking backwards through his legs, “Now you are the right way up.”

O, “So are you. Ha, ha” 

K (another 4 year old boy) runs up to my back, bends down and glares at my upside down face, then sticks his head through my legs, followed by his body. “Come and see what we’ve been doing,” he says, pulling me by the arm.

O jumps off the settee and leads the way. “We’ve turned the role play area into a post office,” he says. “Do you want to come and have a look?”

Do I have a choice?

It’s a pretty good post office. They show me the post box, an area for parcels, all their pens, pads etc.

“I need to post a parcel,” I say, ” a big one.”

O “There you go, try this.”

David “It’s a bit small” 

O “What do you need to post?”

David “An elephant. I’ve also got a snake and a giraffe that need to go to the zoo”

K, rummaging in the parcel depot and finding a tube “This will be good for the snake.”

David “Ok thanks. Right I’ve put it in but be careful because this end is open and he musn’t escape. Remember you are both in charge.”

O “Okay, leave it to us. Where is it going to again?”

David “The zoo” 

O to K “You take this to the zoo”

David ” What about my elephant?” 

O picking up the largest box he has “There you go”

David “I think it’s too small”

O “You’ll have to chop its trunk off”

K “…and its ears”

lots of laughing. This is hilarious apparently.

David “How many stamps will I need for an elephant?”

O “Fifteen hundred thousand million”

David “That’s a lot!  I’ve got 20p will that do?”

K “Yes” Puts his hand out to collect the pretend money. He takes the parcel and puts it in the box

David “Thank you. Tell me when they have got to the zoo please.”

O “Oh no, the snake’s escaped and eaten all the other animals!”

David “I thought that might happen. Now what are we going to do?”

K ” I know, we can go and buy some more animals”

David “But I haven’t got any money left”

O “I’ll phone the zoo.” Picks up the phone “Hello , is that the zoo? Please can you send us a snake and an elephant right away. Thank you”

K picks up the long tube and makes farty noises into it.   We each put an eye to one end and then say silly things into it, holding it up to each other’s ear.

Then it’s snack time

Weekend Away

A bit of a busman’s holiday this weekend – away with 150 people from our church, to a very nice hotel in Sidmouth, where we have been several times, for a relaxed and fun social time.

There were lots of children – 40 ish? Several of them are past or present Paint Pots attendees. It was difficult to avoid them (not that I was trying to!) especially in the swimming pool where the question seemed to be who could splash David the most.

(Alright I might have started off encouraging it a bit but where were the parents when it got out of hand eh?  – sat reading the paper on the side of the pool and laughing at me, that’s where!). 

So anyway, it didn’t help my cold which, on my return home, is now threatening to develop into some form of ghastly man-flu and has rendered me very miserable and short tempered according to Mrs W. 

I have decided not to inflcit my germs or bad temper on anyone so am sat here with a warm laptop for company, feeling sorry for myself. 

I have finished a business plan for a new potential prospect. I just need to get the printer working so I can print it off, put it in the very official envelope provided for submission and have done with it.

I think I can feel a large medicinal brandy coming on this evening.

Swimming Emergency!

Numbers are lower at Paint Pots 3 during the school holidays. We have some older children back with us for out of schools care for a couple of weeks.

Yesterday some of them went swimming. As one little girl did not book in for her sessions, we substituted Z – a 2 year old, who was thrilled. 

Once in the water, Z suddenly shouted at the top of her voice – ‘I need a poo! I need a poo!’

A member of staff (V) rushed to pull her to the side and get her out. Z shouted more urgently, ‘I need a poo, I need a poo!’ 

V speeded up, got herself out and half carried, half pulled Z towards the changing rooms. They hurried towards the toilets and V managed to get Z’s costume half way off just as Z shouted, ‘I need a poo, Oh no!’ 

‘What’s wrong?’ asked V, noticing Z glancing down at the puddle at her feet.

‘It wasn’t a poo, it was a wee!’ she said

Easter Workmen

As we have been closed from Thursday (staff training day) right through to tomorrow (Tuesday), it was one of the few opportunities we have to get some maintenance jobs done, thus over the weekend, we have been sorting out details with –

The carpet man, electrician, decorators, window and door replacement people, builder and plumber creating a replacement loo (very exciting) and the drains people. So this evening, I have to go and try to put stuff back so the children can get in the building. This might be tricky, as I have had to give everybody my set of keys. 

The loo people have also emptied the office which is taking ove the old staff roon, which has moved to a portacabin!

Could be a late night!!!!

Wareham Double Act

Mrs W and myself drove to Wareham on Wednesday to be speakers at an event put on by the Childrens Workforce Development Council to promote the benefits of employing an Early Years Professional. The audience comprised Early Years staff / owners from Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth local authorities. It was difficult to know how to pitch our talk as we didn’t know how much this audience would be for or against the idea.  We focused on our continued efforts at Paint Pots, to promote quality by recruiting and developing qualified staff – 7 graduates, 3 of these holding Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), 1 awaiting validation and 2 staff studying for a foundation degree.      

We described the benefits of EYPS generally, as –

Improved status within and outside the sector, better awareness of importance of work in Early Years   

Higher level of pedagogy / leadership

We said that the reason we have employed an EYPS  is that it provides  a separate curriculum and quality leadership function within our organisation, freed up  from management stuff.

 An EYPS provides –  

  • moderation across our settings – consistency of practice, record keeping, staff deployment, learning environments, resources
  • role modelling and aspiration for other staff
  • support / empathy / best practice / staff development
  • a change in culture, staff more self assured, more empowered
  • increased belief in our values – why we do what we do         
  • a recognised point of contact within and outside the organisation  eg local authority support teachers

 and the business benefits are –

  • high quality provision. Consistency, rigour, improved experience / outcomes for children
  •  increased confidence in anticipation of Ofsted inspections.
  •  increased expertise and confidence in other practitioners
  •  good reputation => more recommendations => increased demand for places => more income

Critical to success is choosing the right person for your organisation, someone with the right interpersonal and diplomacy skills –

Someone who asks ‘How can I help / How can we improve? not    How can I dictate?

We seemed to be warmly received. After the other 2 speakers, there was a question and answer session with us as the panel. It was all going well until the question of wages came up and then it descended into a general rant about lack of money.

Lunch was nice!!  :0)

Training Day

Contrary to some rumours, today’s Paint Pots Staff Away Day was not a “jolly” or skive. We worked hard!! but also enjoyed ourselves. 

We added another ‘L’ to ‘Love, Laughter and Learning’ – Listening, to one another, to parents and to children.  Especially to children. Did you know that research shows it can take some preschool aged children up to 7 seconds to formulate a response to a question? Try it – a 7 second pause, waiting for a reply, seems like an embarassingly long time. But we need to show children that we are attentive and that what they have to say is important to us. We all agreed that Time is vital for effective listening.

G ran an excellent session on story telling, with some practical puppet making. Shame he brought a tub of liquid soap instead of glue!! but it didn’t matter.

The afternoon was given over to music, courtesy of Major-Minor Music. Mervyn, had us moving, singing, clapping, writing our own songs and playing instruments. It was very hands-on and hopefully will inspire us on to more opportunities and increased confidence in using music in our activities and routines.

Once again, we considered how rhythm, rhyme and pitch are important in developing pre-reading and language skills.     

E won star of the day award for her incredible imitation of an elephant trumpeting!!

All in all, I thought it was a good day with some positive feedback.