Our project for the Spring Term is “All About Me!”
Learning about ourselves is a fundamental part of childhood development, especially as children start to ask questions about who they are and how they are the same, or different, from others. Naming different body parts, recognising similarities and differences between human beings, and the importance of exercise, tooth care and healthy eating all form important aspects of our ‘All about Me’ project.
To set the scene and help children become more familiar with the names of body parts, creating life size body posters is a great activity. Children work in pairs, one drawing round another as they lie on a length of paper. They use pencils and marker pens to create an outline, then add name labels of the various body parts. Beginning with the simple names e.g. head, arms, hands, legs, feet and then moving on to add more, e.g. neck, elbow, knee, ankle, hip. Children are encouraged to make comparisons of parts of their bodies, asking questions such as, ‘Who has the biggest hand?’, ‘Who has the longest leg?’, ‘Are all the body posters the same size?’, ‘Which one is the tallest?’ They might also make comparisons of physical details like eye colour and hair colour or whether a boy or a girl.
We encourage our children to be aware of what their bodies need to stay healthy, and exercise forms a very important part of this. Blast Sports, yoga and Dancing with Claire are great ways for us to get our children moving and thinking about what keeps us fit.
Dancing classes can involve ‘All about Me’ activities when the teacher asks the children to ‘stick body parts to the floor’; Sticking two hands, one foot or a hip or one hand, knee and one elbow, results in much giggling due to the resulting tangle!
Children are also encouraged to take note of how hot or cold the different parts of their body feel, and any changes to their breathing and heart rate before and after exercise.
If we are to maintain a healthy body we also need to eat well. We teach our children about the different types of food that we eat and what food groups they fall into.
Lunch and snack times are a great chance to talk about healthy eating and also the things that we like to eat at family meal times. Discussions about how our family’s favourite recipes may be different from our friend’s, encourages our children to think about what makes us the same or different from others. Cookery activities can explore different types of food and whether we can eat them freely or just for special occasions.
Our bodies are also affected by our surroundings, the weather and temperature variations. Encouraging the children to suggest when they remember last feeling hot or cold makes them think about changes that relate to different weather, temperatures, season or months of the year. Or to the heat that comes after running around at playtime or during a sports session.
To help maintain our body temperature we need to wear different types of clothing. Sharing pictures that show clothing that might be worn during typical weather each season of the year opens up interesting discussions when the children can share with their friends where they have been and what they wore.
They also might in turn draw, paint or create a collage of themselves dressed appropriately for a variety of weather conditions.
Even very young children can work scientifically to investigate how different materials can be used to help keep us warm. Providing a selection of gloves made of different materials for children to compare, e.g. from disposable gloves and kitchen gloves, through to woolly mittens or sheepskin gloves encourages comparison of the temperature of something hot, such as a baked potato, placed inside each one. ‘Which potato gets cold first?’ ‘Does the thickness of the glove make a difference to how long the potato stays warm?’
It’s important that children experience and learn more about their senses and how they can use these to find out about the world around them. Activities that get our children thinking about smell, taste, touch, sight and hearing will all be incorporated into our project. Montessori sensorial activities lend themselves exceptionally well to this.
Children can use their sense of smell to identify materials out of sight, inside ‘smell jars’. A variety of foods or herbs of various kinds, can be compared, grouped and ranked in different ways. Carefully selected household products (like soap, polish or wax) add variety to the smells that children encounter. Children might rank the smells according to whether they like or dislike the smell or come up with different criteria for their ranking. Our children are fascinated to learn that inside the nose we over 10 million scent receptors that can distinguish up to 10000 different smells!
‘What does this taste like?’ is a great question encouraging exploration of the sense of taste. Children taste a variety of unfamiliar foods and use their senses to describe them. Children can classify the foods they sample by taste, i.e. sweet, salty, sour or bitter.
They might answer questions about the groupings they make and compare their decisions with other children’s. ‘How many different foods did you decide tasted sour?’, ‘Did everybody agree the types of food that were sweet?’, ‘Did you like that taste?’ and ‘Did the other children all dislike/like the taste?’ Parents are often amazed that their child is far more willing to try out new tastes and foods when they are encouraged by their friends in nursery!
Our children learn that the tongue and the roof of the mouth are covered with around 10,000 tiny taste buds. Taste buds recognise the four basic kinds of taste; sweet, salty, sour and bitter. The salty/sweet taste buds are located near the front of the tongue, the sour taste buds line the sides of the tongue and the bitter taste buds are found at the very back of the tongue. Did you know that about 25% of the population are highly sensitive to taste and are known as ‘Super tasters’!
We can learn about what happens when light is excluded from the human eye with activities using a blindfold and investigating the shape of different objects. Can they guess what they are without actually seeing them? While the senses of taste, hearing, smell and sight are located in specific parts of the body, the sense of touch is found all over the body.
Music is a fabulous way to learn about the sense of hearing. Listening to different instruments and discussing whether we recognise what they are from the sounds that they make, and questions such as ‘Is it louder or quieter?’, ‘Is it happy or sad?’, ‘Faster or slower?’ are great for getting our children to think about hearing and how much we depend on it to make sense of the world around us.
Children are always particularly keen to copy the things that they see in adult life, and role-play activities, mirrors and dress-up play can easily be included. Doctors and dentist surgeries set up in our quiet room are great for imaginative play that will tie in very well with this project. If any parents have interesting jobs that would suit our theme, we would be very pleased to welcome you into nursery to give a small talk to our children. Please see a teacher if this is something of interest to you.
Practical life activities teaching dressing skills and self-care will also be included in our ‘All about Me!’ project. It’s always extremely popular and this term we’re really looking forward to learning about what makes us the same as, or different from, all of our Chrysalis friends!