Why Use Makaton?


Makaton is the use of signs and symbols, along with spoken words, to help support communication. Using signs can help children with no or little speech to communicate their needs. This could be due to a learning disability or for children who are very young and speech might be unclear.

Many children may become frustrated when not been able to communicate effectively. Using simple signs can avoid any upset or confusion. A lot of the time children’s understanding develops before their speech, so you can see how this might cause tantrums or sometimes expressive behaviour as the child more than likely knows what they want but are finding it difficult to communicate this. Using sign can allow children to express their needs, wants and feelings.

Makaton can also help develop speech. Providing children with a form of communication will stimulate the sounds and words that comes with speech.

The symbols in Makaton provides children with a visual image, supporting their understanding of the meaning of words. Symbols are lasting and permanent, giving a child more time to take in information.

At Little Owls we use Makaton throughout the daily routine. All adults use signs while communicating with the children. The children tend to pick this up very quickly and often ask for their needs such as; snack or nappy changing through sign. We find Makaton a very inclusive resource and really supports all of our children with communication, speech and understanding of words.


Learning in the Snow


“The very fact of snow is such an amazement.”  

(Roger Ebert)

It is always exciting when we have snow, for all ages. Whether is it a full blanket of snow or a little sprinkle we all wrap up warm and race outside. Making snowmen, snowball fights and snow angels. But is there any benefits of this for young children? Of course! Even more than just fresh air, getting away from the TV and fun.

Snow days develop creativity for children, building a snowman and finding objects such as, sticks and stones to decorate it with. A lot of the time this is done with other peers, also developing team work. Problem solving is a factor, moulding and shaping the snow, how will it stay together? What can I do to create this? Mark making in the snow is an opportunity to an alterative to pen and paper.

Sledging in the snow is a favourite. This will support children’s physical develop, building resilience. For children to cope with the cold and maybe taking a few falls and getting back up again, these are life skills needed for the future. Self-control and patience is a factor while sledging, children need to wait their turn, to understand it is ok to allow other children to go first.

Science also plays a important role while out in the snow. Lots of discussion can arise, how the snow melts, weather, ice etc. Children will be engaged, they can visually explore for themselves, test their own strategies.

This week at Little Owls we all have made the most of the snowy weather and had lots of different learning opportunities. We have been sledging, digging, brushing the snow, rolling lots of snowballs and of course tons of fun! Snow days are our teachers.


The Magic of Storytelling


Why do we have books in our children’s bedrooms, on the shelves and in early years settings? Is it just about reading skills?

You might be surprised at the numerus benefits of storytelling in the early years. Stories have so much to offer, they develop listening and communication skills. They improve concentration and memory. A lot of stories and books will provide children with new facts and information, for example about the weather or how flowers might grow. This will also support children to make important links between spoken and written words, widening their vocabulary. Storytelling can be fun to use props and characters supporting a child to become engaged and involved in the story, allowing them to understand what might be happening and what might happen next, creating a sense of wonder.

However, storytelling does not necessary mean reading from a book. Storytelling can be the adult ‘telling’ the story, no book just themselves. Adults can make eye-contact with the children, see their reactions, expressions. Also vice versa, the children can see the adults hands, their body language, how they might feel. The storytellers tone of voice and facial expressions, all of this becomes more obvious and engaging as there are no pictures to detract, their imagination can run wild. This creates a completely different experience for the child, taking away skills and memories that will last a life time.

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” 

(Rudyard Kipling)