Kathy Brodie: Free CPD for Early Years Professionals

Kathy Brodie is an author, Early Years Professional and Trainer specialising in online training and courses. She is the founder and host of the Early Years Summit and Early Years TV, weekly Professional Development for Early Years practitioners and educators.

CategoryGuest post

Guest post

The Good Play Guide’s Must-Have Toys This Christmas

Posted on November 17, 2023.

I’m delighted to share with you this post on Must-Have Toys this Christmas from Amanda Gummer and the team at the Good Play Guide.

Christmas is just around the corner and the shops are already full of Christmas toys and treats!

With just over one month to go until the main event, you are likely considering what presents to buy for your loved ones.

Here at the Good Play Guide, we pride ourselves on finding innovative educational products from smaller, independent companies, that kids will love!

Here are a few great products with a learning focus – buy them for the kids in your lives, or if you work in a school or nursery why not use this as a wish list for any parents looking to buy your class a lovely Christmas gift…

Rock Stepper Playmat

The Rock Stepper playmat has been designed to support early learning and development, encouraging phonics, word formation and early maths skills. Shapes, letters, numbers, colours, and pictures will keep children of different ages engaged and it comes with flashcards and access to an app, encouraging children to interact with the mat in different ways! The mat is well cushioned, meaning bumps and bruises will be avoided, and the reverse side has a stylish design on it so you can turn it over when it’s not being played with instead of putting it away each time.

Cube Fun

CubeFun is a game that encourages children to be active and imaginative. The soft and lightweight cubes are rolled like dice, and players follow the instructions on each side. The Christmas-themed cube gives instructions such as ‘prance like a reindeer’, ‘twinkle like a star’ and ‘float like a snowflake’, to name but a few! The game not only encourages children to get moving but also helps to extend vocabulary. Keeping children active indoors is often a challenge and these soft cubes are great for a rainy day activity.

Quickbuild London Bus

The striking Quickbuild London Bus Airfix model kit is a wonderful introduction to the world of model building and a lovely activity to do with your child over the Christmas break. The models are built brick by brick and there is no need for glue, making the process mess free! Building sets like this are great for helping to strengthen children’s hand muscles and for developing their manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination and logical thinking, and will give them a real sense of pride when they have completed the life-like model.


Ollyball is a great lightweight ball for indoor and outdoor use. Made from recycled astronaut kits, it is durable and has a fantastic colourable skin – a great way for children to get creative! The colouring-book style graphics on the ball capture children’s attention and provide hours of fun. Children will intuitively use familiar ball play to create their own personalised, indoor games with family and friends and get everyone active this Christmas.

Little Rebels

The inspirational Little Rebels plush dolls with their associated app are a great way to help children learn about iconic women such as Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, and Malala Yousafzai, whilst playing imaginatively. The dolls provide strong female role models promoting gender equality and are a great tool to help children develop their knowledge and understanding of the world around them.


Guest post

 Healthy Bodies and Oral Hygiene

Posted on July 6, 2021.


Guest post

The Importance of Music and Movement

Posted on March 25, 2021.

Guest post by Helen Battelley

We only need to stop and observe young children to see how movement is embedded within the very core of all early childhood development. Physical activity broadens our capacity to grow and is essential to a child’s optimal development.

However, living in a global pandemic has changed the way children access movement play. During 2020 and 2021, children had fewer opportunities for physical play with play parks, extra-curricular clubs and leisure centres closed. Research indicates many young children’s physical activity levels and play experiences diminished during lockdown, particularly for those living in urban areas alongside minority ethnic groups (The Sutton Trust, 2020; Ofsted, 2020).

Why is music and movement so important in early childhood?

Musical play and movement play with music are significant forms of play and are used in all cultures. There is an abundance of evidence to support the role of an infant’s innate response to rhythm and sounds in establishing early communicative abilities. Introducing young children to rhythm and musical experiences is keenly associated with developing language and reading skills, and the ability to perceive and produce rhythm. In 2005, a fascinating study carried out by Phillips-Silver and Trainor tested infants’ movement responses to auditory encoding of rhythmic patterns. The study identified babies and infants had the ability to feel rhythm in their bodies, presenting a physiological response to music, further reiterating music is an intrinsic part of our being and a powerful tool for motivation.

The benefits of musical play are seen in a wide range of children’s developing abilities, including those related to social interaction, communication, literacy, emotional understanding, memory, self-regulation and creativity (Kirschner and Tomasello, 2010). We can observe the power of music in our own lives, by seeing how certain songs evoke memories and responses. My go-to song to uplift and motivate me is ‘Chain Reaction’ by Diana Ross!

How can we best support young children in a post-COVID world?

Primarily, we will need to be available and aware of the potential challenges each individual child may have encountered and allow time for children to develop relationships and social skills above all else.  Ensuring your provision is developmentally appropriate is essential. The components of DAP (Developmentally Appropriate Practice) are:

  • Child development and learning pedagogy
  • Each child as an individual and unique
  • The cultural and social contexts of each aspect of a child’s environment
  • Moving away from a ladder of progression mentality and adopting a more holistic approach, and an interweaving of the developmental processes 

Simple activities that you can do with children

Start with simple, fun activities which can be further developed at home. For example, you can make a paper fortune teller and add a physical activity or action rhyme behind each number i.e. 10 star Jumps. Children can progress to make their own fortune tellers, promoting agency over the activity and encouraging their own creativity. Here is a link that shows how to make a fortune teller. Once created, simply add your activity behind the numbers.

Combine ideas with movement

Ideas that are communicated in parallel with actions (e.g. gestures and actions) are remembered better because general memory ability is enhanced by physical exercise (Madan and Singhal, 2012).

The more elements used within an activity will determine the vividity of the memory, triggering our auditory and visual memory which will be enhanced if we use gestures, a third component.

Here is an example of gesture associated rhyme.

Discover music with children

Listening to music together can be a shared, inclusive experience and promotes social bonding. Try creating some simple activities using music for motivation or as a rhythmic tool. Here’s an idea: Play Bjork’s ‘Oh So Quiet’ and invite children to travel around the space. When the music is quiet, encourage them to travel slowly (e.g. creeping or tiptoeing) and when the music is louder suggest they make larger and noisier movements (e.g. stomping, skipping or jogging).

Click here for an activity to introduce young children to musical instruments.


How does movement play support child development?

Anthropologists and the World Health Organisation suggest prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour (e.g. sitting) in early childhood reduces the ability to learn from experiences and produces developmental delays. Higher levels of physical activity during early childhood are associated with improved health outcomes, whereas sedentary behaviour is associated with poorer health outcomes.  Prolonged periods of sedentary time and a lack of socio-dramatic play are also associated with an increased risk of loneliness, social anxiety and depression in children and adolescents.  We must evaluate how much time children are spending in sedentary positions and make changes and choices to reduce that time.


As parents or educators, we can often feel the need to rush children to the next milestone. But children need time and space to develop relationships and connections to become feeling and thinking human beings. And they mainly learn through first-hand experiences: through interaction with their peers, objects around them and the wider environment. To support early language skills children must experience diverse vocabularies and language rich environments of stories, rhymes and actions songs before focusing on literacy outcomes (Pascal, 2018). The more diverse experiences a child encounters, the further learning potential.


Ofsted (2020) COVID-19 series: briefing on early years, October 2020. Available here.

Pascal, C., Bertram, T., Cullinane, C., Holt-White, E. (2020) COVID-19 and Social Mobility. Impact Brief #4: Early Years. The Sutton Trust. Available here.

Phillips-Silver, J. & Trainor, L.J (2005) Feeling the beat: movement influences infant rhythm perception.

Kirschner, S. & Tomasello, M. (2010) Joint music making promotes prosocial behavior in 4-year-old children. Evolution and human behaviour.

Madan, C. R., & Singhal, A. (2012). Using actions to enhance memory: effects of enactment, gestures, and exercise on human memory. Frontiers in psychology3, 507. Available here.

Pascal C., Bertram T. and Peckham K. (2018) DfE Review of Evidence on EYFS Early Learning Goals, Teaching Content and Pedagogy in Reception Year. DfE: London.

Helen Battelley is an internationally renowned Early Years consultant, trainer and author. Helen is the Founder and Director of Music + Movement, which delivers dance and movement workshops for children and CPD for practitioners.


She is the author of 50 Fantastic Ideas for Songs and Rhymes, a dip-in collection of rhymes, action songs and funny verse that come with tips and fun ideas to make the most out of the song. Find out more about Helen’s work here and follow her on Twitter @musicandmove




Guest post

Nature as a third teacher: Play cues and returns

Posted on February 15, 2021.

Guest post by Marina Robb, The Outdoor Teacher

The more that time goes on, the more I value nature as a third teacher!

There is this dynamic when we work outdoors with someone else, that is influenced by the context of nature – the three aspects being: the adult practitioners, the client or ‘young person/s’ and the natural world. As everything is actually alive and changing, they all affect each other’s experience of the moment.

Nature is our natural habitat and there is something, often below conscious awareness that allows us to encounter our natural selves. Usually being outdoors is a very pleasant experience, one which millions of people seek out for their own mental well-being. ‘Our natural self’ is the larger self that is absorbing and interacting through the senses with the external world. It includes the air we breathe and how touching a natural material may sooth or scare us!

In many ways our role as early years nature-based practitioners is to protect a particular time and space for the children, whilst they explore and play. Perry Else and Gordon Sturrock (1998) coined the term, Play Cycle and offered us terms such as play ‘cue’ and ‘returns’ for us to become more effective in our interactions with children’s play.
Cue: A lure or an invite
Return: The response

In this piece of writing, I am playing with their ideas of ‘cues’ and ‘returns’ to try to demonstrate how this is happening all the time when we are in nature. Often in human to human relationships, we value how that interaction may bring us a new piece of knowledge, or help us to feel emotionally safe and we accept in education that an adult will transfer knowledge to or teach something to a younger person. There is a general understanding in child development that there is an ongoing ‘serve and return’ between children and their carers – allowing for healthy emotional attachment.

What is less understood or valued is how the natural world also ‘returns’ our ‘cues’ and offers a vast spectrum of learning. This relationship ‘returns’ and grows our intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual selves. As a child slips in the mud, the ‘return’ is multifaceted – from building of muscles, to the coolness of the mud, to the increase in bacteria in their gut, to emotional resilience. Nature as the teacher, is quite a complex, wise and far-reaching guide!

And nature is also full of ‘cues’. The temptation to climb the boughs of the tree, the taste of a black berry, the sensation of safety hidden in a secret place, the drops of water on our faces – and what is our ‘return’? We can interact, have a dialogue, transform it, fight and destroy it, or honour and cherish it. We can neglect and love it. We can transform what feels stuck into something that begins to flow and once again change occurs. In neuroscience we talk about mirror neurons, where we learn through imitation. In the natural world we experience that life has a cycle with beginnings and endings and is changing. From this we hopefully feel comfort with this common ground.

Nature as a teacher is almost the ideal role model – available and non-judgemental, a wonderful listener and seemingly generous and unconditional. For many of us, and I include myself who have struggled with humans at different points, nature is a reservoir of refuge. Nature speaks in metaphors and the language of feeling and we often find ourselves feeling this love – the cue is love and the return is love. This forms what we could call healthy place attachment, so that to be a healthy person we are healthily attached to ourselves, others and the natural world.

At the simplest, this is the basis of the model that I work with as a nature practitioner. That the most important invitation is to be what we are.

“Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.” (Gretel Ehrlich)
This means that ideally, the space we offer is welcoming of difference and that we are watching closely for these ‘cues’ and ‘returns’ and do not assume that we are here to fill people up with knowledge, rather to encourage this intrinsic exploration, and to protect, as much as possible, that space from external agendas. All the time being mindful of this dynamic between the practitioners, the clients and the natural world and watching what wants to emerge.
I have always been interested in other cultures’ views of the human and natural world and how they approach community and nature. A nature-centric model as seen below helps us to frame human life within a wider natural world. It simplifies to me how a child, or a young animal needs to learn through this ‘serve’ and ‘return’ relationship and how nature, the context for our life, constantly provides this education.


Sturrock, G and Else, P (1998) ‘The playground as therapeutic space Playwork as healing’ (known as “The Colorado Paper’), available as part of the Therapeutic Reader One (2005) Southampton: Common Threads:

Find out more about the Play Cycle from Dr Pete King on Early Years TV here

Find out more about Marina Robb, The Outdoor Teacher, by clicking here or visiting their website here:

Meet the Author

Marina Robb has more than 30 years of experience in outdoor learning and nature connection and is the founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery Community Interest Company and The Outdoor Teacher Ltd, both leading organisations that aim to transform education and health through nature.

Marina’s book, Learning with Nature, foreworded by Chris Packham, is considered a must-have book for Forest School & Outdoor practitioners. Her second book, The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy, published in 2021, contains everything you need to know from theory to practice.


Guest post

A Gender Gap in the Early Years?

Posted on October 21, 2020.

A guest post by Verity Downing (MEd Open) – Master of Education

Qualified Early Years Practitioner and Independent Academic


Within this reflective opinion piece, I refer to ‘female students’ and ‘girls’ and ‘male students’ and ‘boys’ as a matter of reflecting the phrases used in the government data, although, I respectfully acknowledge that gender and sex are deeply personal states of being that everyone expresses differently.


This title is ambiguous, I grant you. But what I’m referring to is the gap between the success of female students and male students across the EYFS that has remained a constant from 2013 to the present (DfE, 2019). This may come as a little bit of a shock, especially as I think it’s fair to say that we’ve become accustomed to describing our EYFS as ‘gender neutral’.

While it is an absolute positive that we can see, from information published in October of 2019, that the “gender gap continues to decrease” (DfE, 2019), it has only done so by “0.6 ppts from 2018” (DfE, 2019). This translates to girls still exceeding the success of boys with regard to “a good level of development” (DfE, 2019) by “12.9 ppts” (DfE, 2019). The biggest consistent gap between the success of boys and girls can be seen in reading and writing, however, in recent years, gaps are becoming worryingly evident in “self-confidence and self-awareness […] and the world” (DfE, 2019).

These gaps lead me to think: are girls outperforming boys, or are these gaps showing themselves because there is a disparity between what practitioners expect from boys and girls, or perhaps, looking farther afield, do the ELGs and Development Matters statements lend themselves towards stereotypically feminine strengths? I will stop myself from going down the rabbit hole of theoretical comparisons and the fundamental underlying principles of EYFS’ culture, and instead, concentrate on how we can tackle this disparity and ensure that no child is being disadvantaged as a result of their sex or gender expression.

My concerns with there being a gap between the success of boys and girls at this early age are;

  • that boys may not be being supported to reach their full potential,
  • that girls are seen to be over-achieving in the EYFS and are consequently being set-up for a fall in their future education (due to teachers’ expectations being too high of them as they were seen to be doing so well in the EYFS) and,
  • that these gaps could continue into later life.

It is our responsibility to liberate children from the “deleterious impact of gender-stereotypes” (Wolter et al., 2013, p. 64) and support them as they develop confidence and capabilities across the social and educational spectrum. A wide-ranging set of skills and interests will serve them well in the long-run.

Researchers offer the following explanations for the persisting gap:

  • It is thought that practitioners could fall into adopting traditional gender-based stereotypes of children (Baroody and Diamond (2012), Chapman (2016) and Runions (2014)), which can affect the children’s outcomes (Matthews et al., 2009), Robinson-Cimpian et al., 2014).
  • Sanford (2005) suggests that there is the chance that learning and educational development is happening in the EYFS, but that it is not being recognised. This goes back to my point that EYFS guidance tends to focus on feminine strengths. If, for example, boys are regularly seen playing with the blocks, it is possible that this familiarity closets the learning that is taking place (this example may explain the gap that is evident in “shape, space and measure” (DfE, 2019).
  • This also relates to practitioner’s valuing and recognition of behaviour that fits with their gender-based ideals. Chapman (2016), in her work that delved into how gendered ideas affect play within Australian EYFS settings, details that EYFS practitioners may give varying amounts, and types, of feedback to their students depending on their sex and behaviour.
  • While it goes without saying that all EYFS practitioners strive to ensure that they have relationships with the children that encourage feelings of safety, trust and fun, it is thought that girls are more likely to have better relationships with practitioners than boys, as their perceived superior social skills bias practitioners towards them (Robinson-Cimpian et al. (2014), Runions (2014) and Sanford (2005)). This in turn will influence where the children play and consequently what learning experiences they encounter. It could be concluded that the feeling of safety that is cultivated through these relationships may lead to female students exploring more areas of the setting, and boys not, resulting in the ELG gender gap (Downing, 2020).
  • Children may police each other with regard to behaving within gender stereotypes. Prioletta and Pyle (2017), who spent a considerable amount of time observing EYFS children at play in settings in Ontario, Canada, found that “in 70% of the videos, girls and boys played separately” (p. 398). This data also showed that the predominantly girl-only play happened at “the art/writing centre” (p. 398) and the boys-only play was mostly observed at “the blocks centre” (p. 399). I imagine that this will be relatable to many. This peer-on-peer policing based on understandings of gender can restrict the breadth of learning experiences that the children have. The writers go on to detail how at the girls-only play centres, the opportunities for literacy learning experiences were abundant, yet this is not the case for the boys-only play (Prioletta and Pyle, 2017). There is probable cause to think that this trend could be partially responsible for the gap in outcomes that are presented in the government data.

What can we do about this?

The smallest changes can make the biggest of differences.

  • Invite as many different people into your setting as possible. Sometimes there is nothing more influential than for a child to meet a ‘real-life [insert job title]’. Additionally, think carefully about how you interact with your visitor and the language used about them as the children will follow your lead. This then leads into ensuring that your setting represents people defying gender stereotypes in society. Also, if a female/male comes in to visit and is in a traditionally feminine/masculine job, ensure that this is as equally represented and appreciated as someone who is working outside of gender stereotypes.
  • This leads on to ensuring that we are mindful about the language and phrases that we use when around the children. “Matthew, can you please hold the door open as you’re a big, strong boy” may seem like a harmless phrase, but this is conveying all sorts of messages to Matthew and the other children who are listening in.
  • Think critically about how you assess your children. “Dominic is playing with the blocks again. I’ve already got an observation of him using positional language”. Don’t overlook this; what else is happening there? Is he sharing and taking on his friends’ ideas? Is he persisting when that top block wont quite stay still? Is he making a garage just like the one that mummy took the car to on the weekend for it to be fixed? Sometimes we have to look beyond what is right in-front of us and recognise the children’s play for its variety and value.
  • We need to get to know our children. The more that we talk 1:1, in small groups and in bigger groups with our children, the better. This immediately nips in the bud any chance of us falling into gender stereotypes if we can value and understand our children for their special, individual, little selves. Also, choose a topic to discuss with your key group. Let’s say ‘People who help us’. Brainstorm it together and model using inclusive language. If an unhelpful gender stereotype comes up, address it. Handle the situation gently and ask lots of questions. “Girls can’t be firemen!” “Why do you think that? Have you seen this book where there are lots of pictures of girl firefighters? Heather, would you like to be a firefighter when you grow up? It would be great to help people, wouldn’t it?”. These conversations allow us to open the children’s horizons.
  • Let’s encourage the children’s ownership of the resources. If you notice that one area is dominated by boys which could potentially alienate girls, or vice-versa, address it! Ask the boys why they don’t play with the playdough. “We like to play outside”. So, take the playdough outside! “We like the building area”. Incorporate little diggers and signposts into the outdoor playdough area. The results can be astonishing! Plus, think of all of those opportunities for incorporating fine-motor skills and mark-making skills into that play. I can sense the reading and writing gap narrowing as I type!
  • This then opens up the wonderful world of the role-play area. Building on from your brainstorming, “Perhaps we could turn our role-play area into a fire station?” Facilitate the children to have an input into creating this area. The opportunities for encouraging inclusive play in this area are endless. Oh, and get involved! Model playing different roles. This is a great way to build and strengthen your relationships with the children that will encourage them to see you in a whole new light. Prioletta and Pyle (2017) say “becoming involved in children’s play can be a useful way for practitioners to encourage […] alternative ways to be a girl or boy” (p. 405). We mustn’t underestimate our competences, versatility, and adaptability, and instead should push ourselves and capitalise on it because we can be incredibly influential in showing the children that everything is available to them.
  • In an ideal world, there would be a more balanced EYFS workforce, with more men joining the profession. However, when reflecting on their research, Wolter et al. (2013) said:

“it is not the biological gender of the kindergarten practitioner per se that has a differential effect on girls’ versus boys’ competence. Rather, our female practitioners were just as effective in supporting individual learning in boys as in girls as long as they took care not to provide predominately feminine gender-typed activities but offered masculine gender-typed activities to the same extent” (p. 64).


I have written this piece, chose to focus on it for my Masters research, and hope to continue researching it during future Doctoral work, because I really believe that we owe our littlest learners the best start to their education; a start that is free from the restraints that society puts on sex and gender expression. We want our learners to develop skills and interests in the widest reaching range possible. We want our learners to take these skills and interests on into the big wide world and change it for the better. We want our learners to be whatever they want to be, and we as practitioners can support that. And it’s wonderful.

(Please note, statistics for the 2019-2020 period were due to be released this month, however, due to the pandemic, the scheduled release will not be going ahead


Baroody, A. and Diamond, K. (2013) ‘Measures of preschool children’s interest and engagement in literacy activities: Examining gender differences and construct dimensions’, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(1), pp. 291-301.

Chapman, R. (2016) ‘A case study of gendered play in preschools: how early childhood educators’ perceptions of gender influence children’s play’, Early Child Development and Care, vol. 186, no. 8, pp. 1271-1284.

Department for Education (DfE) (2019) Early years foundation stage profile results in England: 2019, [Online], Data Insight and Statistics Division, Department for Education. Available at (Accessed 5 October 2020).

Downing, V. (2020) ‘The stronger the bonds, the greater the chances of success: Actioning on research to address the gender-based achievement gap in the Early Years’, Impact: The Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, Issue 10, Autumn 2020, pp. 34-36.

Matthews, J. S., Cameron Ponitz, C. and Morrison, F. (2009) ‘Early Gender Differences in Self-Regulation and Academic Achievement’, Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), pp. 689-704.

Prioletta, J. and Pyle, A. (2017) ‘Play and gender in Ontario kindergarten classrooms: implications for literacy learning’, International Journal of Early Years Education, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 393-408.

Robinson-Cimpian, J., Ganley, C. and Copur-Genctruk, Y. (2014) ‘Practitioners’ Perceptions of Students Mathematics Proficiency May Exacerbate Early Gender Gaps in Achievement’, Developmental Psychology, 50(4), pp. 1262-1281.

Runions, K. (2014) ‘Does Gender Moderate the Association Between Children’s Behaviour and Practitioner-Child Relationship in the Early Years?’, Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 197-214.

Sanford, K. (2005) ‘Gendered Literacy Experiences: The Effects of Expectation and Opportunity for Boys’ and Girls’ Learning’, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 49(4), pp. 302-315.

Wolter, I., Gluer, M. and Hannover, B. (2013) ‘Gender-typicality of activity offerings and child-practitioner relationship closeness in German “Kindergarten”. Influences on the development of spelling competence as an indicator of early basic literacy in boys and girls’, Learning and Individual Differences, vol. 31, no. n.a, pp. 59-65.


Guest post

Quality story books reflecting positive images for all

Posted on January 14, 2020.

Quality Story Books for the Foundation Stage reflecting positive images for all
By Fiona Greenwood

I was delighted to be contacted by Fiona to tell me that she’d been inspired by Kala Williams’s Early Years TV interview. Here’s what happened:

After watching Kala Williams on Early Years TV I became painfully aware of how few books we had in our Nursery which reflected diversity. It also made me think about stereotypes in children’s books and illustrations and I decided to spend some of our fundraising money on some good quality books.

As Kala had discussed, it struck me how few books there are which reflect Britain today so after searching the Internet I phoned my local Waterstones to help me in my quest.

They were incredibly happy to help and it was brilliant to see how many appropriate books they had for sale in their store. Vicky also ordered more for me and below is the start of what will become our new library. Some of these titles will also become our Core Books which the children will get to know extremely well.

I am Assistant Head at a predominantly white British Nursery School which made it so important for us to question the books we had and purchase new books which showed positive images of our whole society, not just of our immediate area.

This first list are great stories that depict black girls as the main character – not set in Africa – but here at home!
Look up! by Nathan Bryon
Billy and The Beast. by Nadia Shireen
Biily and The Dragon. by Nadia Shireen
Suzy Orbit Astronaut by Ruth Quayle
Ten Minutes to Bed Little Mermaid by Rhiannon Fielding
The Dinosaur Department Store by Lily Murray
Cendrillon by Robert San Souci is a fabulous Caribbean Cinderella. Imagine the discussions with this book!

Here are a few books where the illustrations depict diversity
Jack and the Flum Flum Tree by Julia Donaldson
When a Dragon Comes to Stay by Caryl Hart
Flotsam by David Weisz

The next few books kick stereotyping into touch for both boys and girls
Pink is for Boys by Eda Kaban
Not Every Princess by Jeffrey Bone
The Girls by Lauren Ace (This is a beautiful book)
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

And a few Early Years books about our environment in danger
World in Danger by Frankie Morland
Greta and The Giants by Zoe Tucker
A Planet full of Plastic by Neal Layton ( with multicultural images too)


Guest post

Five Fantastic Faeces Facts

Posted on January 10, 2020.

Five Fantastic Faeces Facts. (5 minute read, just for laughs)
by Jungle Jo

Yes that’s right, I’m going to talk about poop. Some of you may find it a bit disgusting and others like me chuckle about it. I’m surrounded by it every day with my animals and children so to do my job I need a crazy sense of humour. Like it or not poop is really interesting and super important for the planet. There are several names such as dung, frass, guano, droppings, pats, manure, pellets, scat, dodo, number 2’s etc. dozens to choose from. It all depends on the animal its structure, shape and what the animal eats. Whatever you want to call it here are some cool facts for you to chuckle about.

1. Animals eat poop including humans. Animals can eat it to hide the scent of their babies from other animals such as wolves eating their pups poop. Some animals like rabbits will poop a soft nutritional pellet overnight and eat it. So actually eat their own poop (imagine that). The first time they ate it, their digestion hasn’t completely absorbed all the nutrients so they don’t waste it; they just eat it a second time round. Cockroaches, worms and millipedes eat other animal poop which cleans up the planet but then they will poo an amazing fertiliser which in turn grows our fruits, trees and veg. Of course the dung beetle is the most famous poop eater of them all. Thank you very much poo eaters you rock.

Humans can use poop in our food products the most expensive coffee in the world has been eaten and excreted through a civet cat. There are drinks such as beer and even green tea which benefit from faeces. Finally shellac is the excretion from an insect which we use to coat many of those tasty crunchy coated sweets which we all love. Yummy…

2. Animals and humans can use poop to make houses. There are several species which can use other animals’ faeces to make a home or nest. Birds are great at using herbivorous animals poop. It has a great fibrous structure and dries solid. Using poop for your house can repel other animals; it can be shaped into many different structures both small and large. It can work as a great insulator. It can also become a wind block and rain proof once smoothed and finished off with a coating of your own dribble. Humans have used animal excrement for thousands of years. Normally horse or cow manure mixed with urine, hair, mud and straw. It has protected us from all of the elements and many countries still use it to this day. Remember that it’s super strong and thankfully over time the odour becomes weaker. Just remember to not light a match.

3. “Poo with a purpose” or a “very important poo” (VIP). Here I am backing up the point I make on the video. Spiders are not everybody’s best friend but I love them and own 4 tarantulas. Their poo is absolutely awesome. They do not poop like we do. Every living thing, plant and animal, as we know must eat and excrete. The spiders and tarantulas of this world are the perfect recyclers. They eat and then their excretion is their venom and their WEB. Yes their web is their poop. It is completely recycled into a liquid protein silk which they can use for their houses, to catch their prey, to dance on and generally show off their skills in remarkable patterns and orbs. If their web breaks they can eat the broken web to recycle it and remake their web again. They can poop a tiny silk pellet which they leave in their webs, if they don’t catch any more food they will eat the silk pellet to make more web. Oh my goodness, it amazes me. The Madagascan bark spider is smaller than your thumb nail and can throw its first single thread of web downwind 25 meters across. Spider silk, poo, web whatever you want to call it is super strong and super fantastic.


Guest post

The History of Physical Development Champions

Posted on March 26, 2019.

In this blog post, I asked Sharon Skade what had motivated her to set up ‘Early Years Physical Development Champions’ and what the benefits for children are.

You can find out more on Sharon’s FB group: @EarlyYearsPhysicalDevelopmentChampions and you’ll find lots of interesting posts, articles, links and advice on her Twitter feed here:

You can contact Sharon directly to ask about training and consultancy here:

Here is what Sharon had to say about young children’s physical development:

Physical activity specialists are often seen as the poor relations when matters of curriculum are discussed.

I experienced this first hand during my time working for a Local Authority, when having been asked to consult on local provision for families and attending some very productive meetings I was not invited back as I only had a Level 3 Childcare qualification. My various Coaching qualifications were not recognised, even though many of my ideas were implemented.

I was delivering a long-standing successful physical activity programme for children and their parents/carers and had developed a new programme which would encourage parents to interact and engage in physically active games with their children and be able to continue this in the home environment without the need for expensive specialist equipment or a large amount of space.

In some instances, the sessions involved providing time for the parents to learn how to play but more alarming was this knowledge had to be shared with the practitioners supporting the session.


Guest post

Some of the benefits of homebased childcare

Posted on November 29, 2018.

Pebbles Childcare was the first winner of the brand new category ‘Childminding Business of The Year’ at the Nursery World Awards 2018. Bridgit Brown has built up this childminding business, based in Worthing, West Sussex, over the last 3 years, drawing on her 20 years of childcare experience in a huge range of settings.

I was therefore delighted when Chloe Webster, who works at Pebbles Childcare, offered to write a guest blog, detailing some of the many benefits of home-based childcare. You can see how this good practice supports children’s holistic wellbeing and development.

Home-based childcare has countless benefits, despite a sad lack of understanding and recognition from society, other childcare professionals and parents alike, who still struggle to see home-based childcare as a viable career and childcare option.

Home-based childcare provides children and their families with a home-from-home childcare environment, which for the parents enables them to build up a friendly rapport with their child’s caregiver, and the process of walking into someone’s home, instantly puts you at ease, making the parent as well as the child feel comfortable.

For the children, home-based childcare provides an individual and holistic approach to childcare and with reduced ratios, provides them with a sense of ‘family’ amongst the flexible, real-life learning experiences that home-based childcare has the freedom to provide.


Guest post

Sensory processing and children with autism

Posted on April 8, 2017.

In today’s guest post, Mrs M. explores the world of sensory processing. For many of us, we assume that others experience the world in the same way that we do – lavender is a calming smell, it is pleasant to have soft music playing in the background and the smell of bacon frying makes your mouth water. However, this is not always the case.
Mrs M. takes us through some of the different experiences that children with autism have and, most importantly, how we can support children to make sense of the world around them and thrive in it.


Imagine living in a world that bombarded you from every angle with sensory information that you couldn’t process…

Imagine desperately wanting to open your morning snack, but being unable to as your fingers feel as if you are wearing a thick pair of gloves.

Imagine walking into your classroom every morning only to be hit by the smell of your teacher’s perfume which is so strong that it makes you feel sick just to be near her.

Imagine the labels in your uniform scratching against your skin like a cactus, making your skin sore and irritated.

Imagine the flickering of the light in the classroom flashing so brightly that it was like a strobe light in a disco.

Imagine the smell of lunch wafting down the corridor which is so overpowering that you simply can’t focus on anything else.

Imagine not being able to feel your seat underneath you, almost as if you had been numbed. No matter how hard you wriggled around you just can’t get comfortable.

Imagine snapping your pencil in half every time you tried to write as you can’t judge the amount of pressure you are applying on the paper.

Imagine the sound of the chairs scraping along the floor as if it was fingernails being scratched down a blackboard.

Imagine being surrounded by beautiful bright displays that make your eyes go funny and your head spin around like you’re on a fairground ride.

Imagine having to filter out all the noises, visual distractions and smells from around the classroom every second of every day.

Imagine having to hold all this in.

Having to concentrate.

Trying to focus.

Attempting to follow instructions from your teacher.