Term and Holiday Dates 2017 - 2018

Autumn Term: Mon 04 Sept '17 - Fri 20 Oct '17
Autumn Term: Mon 30 Oct '17 - Wed 20 Dec '17
Spring Term: Thur 04 Jan '18 - Fri 09 Feb '18
Spring Term: Mon 19 Feb '18 - Thur 29 Mar '18
Summer Term: Mon 16 Apr '18 - Fri 25 May '18
Summer Term: Mon 04 Jun '18 - Tues 24 July '18

(Use as a guide only. Dates may differ between regions, please check you local area here).

By Jon Alexander 12 Dec, 2017

Plenty of things change as we get older. Our taste in food, the way we think, and of course our physical ability – and that’s just the adults. And with such fast development in the childhood years, it’s understandable that the way children play goes through several phases as they grow older. However, play should also challenge them in different ways. Read on as we explore how play changes through the childhood years.

 

The first movements

Play and movement is important from day one for babies. It begins with reflexive movements, such as when babies jerk their arms and legs. Hardly an intense workout, but it’s the start of their slow journey towards controlled movement. As they develop, infants become more aware of their movements, and begin to work with their motor skills when they play:

·        Gross motor skills involve large muscle groups like arms and legs

·        Fine motor skills involve smaller muscle groups like the fingers and toes

Gross motor skills are essential in all the landmark moments for infants – sitting up, crawling and walking, while fine motor skills allow them to play with smaller objects, exploring new shapes, textures and colours.


Moving through childhood

As toddlers becomes children, their play becomes a lot more physical. They want to run, jump and even swing. There’s more to this that first meets the eye though. Physical activity is at the core of children’s social development. It’s how children meet new friends, and learn to cooperate and compete. With the right kind of physical play, young children can learn important behavioural skills like reciprocation, turn-taking and following rules, while also improving their physical fitness.


Adolescent “play”

It’s not just mood swings and growth spurts – when children become teenagers, play is important in keeping them active. Whether it’s team sports or individual activities like yoga or climbing, it’s essential for teenagers to have the space and facilities to stay active. They may not refer to it as “play” any more, but this activity is also a great stress-reliever – and we all know how essential that is in the teenage years.

Looking forward, adolescent play lays the foundations for adulthood. It’s no secret that an inactive lifestyle is a factor in a wide range of health complications, so it really is essential for teenagers to make physical activity a part of their day to day life.

 

Providing the right space for play

Whether it’s sensory play for infants or sports courts for adolescents, it’s important that children have the right space to play throughout their childhood years. At Playcubed , we provide a wide range of play areas, active play facilities and sports surfaces across London and the South East.

Covering survey, design and installation, our comprehensive service makes it easy for you to get the perfect facilities for your school or public space. Get in touch today to discuss your needs with our team.

By Jon Alexander 29 Nov, 2017

As much as children might think otherwise, schools are more than just lessons, textbooks and homework. Yes, while these are three of main reasons teachers lose sleep, there are so many more. Another big task for schools is developing healthy habits for their pupils. But is your school doing enough? This post explores the best ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle.


Get it in early

So, why is it that schools need to instil healthy habits in children? Quite simply, the earlier children learn it, the more natural it becomes. Like languages, maths and… anything really – learning healthy habits at an early age is much easier than adopting them later in life. It makes it much simpler to carry these habits into adulthood.

 

Five a day – and more...

Top of the list when it comes to healthy habits is a well-balanced diet. It’s no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise, which is being carried into adulthood increasingly nowadays ( read more on that here ).

The solution? Teach children about a balanced diet as soon as possible – and put it into practice. That’s not just five fruit and vegetables a day, but ways to get learning about lean proteins and complex carbs – and how to get these into your diet.

We’re all guilty of pigging out from time to time, but it’s also useful to introduce children to eating in moderation. Children don’t have to have the sweet stuff locked away, they just need to know when and how often they should eat it. Like us, really… It’s also important to know when you’re full. Teaching children about these simple things stops them overeating, as well as steering them clear of the unhealthy boredom snacking habit.

By Jon Alexander 15 Nov, 2017

In 2015, the Government found that 1 in 5 children were obese, with 1 in 3 obese or overweight. Yes – really! Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. What does that mean? Well, it spells an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and breathing difficulties. That’s not mentioning the potential impact on children’s mental health and self consciousness.

It also means more unhealthy children growing into unhealthy adults, with the development of serious diseases more likely as time goes on. But what can schools do? A great deal, actually! Here are four simple steps your school can take to tackle childhood obesity.

 

1.   Get out and play!

Exercise is essential for any person’s health – child or adult. Even if someone eats well or is the “ideal” weight, a lack of activity can have a negative impact on muscles, organs and joints. In addition to PE, which is required on the national curriculum, schools can encourage active play during break times too. Lucky for us, children love playing! They just need the right space and facilities to do so.

 

2.   Promote cooperation and friendship

Getting children to play can be a problem if they feel isolated. Schools should encourage children to make strong friendships. Here are some ideas:

·        Icebreaker activities to introduce children from day one.

·        Group activities in lessons.

·        Team games in PE lessons.

·        Change around seating plans to get children talking to different classmates.

 

3.   Food education

They say you are what you eat – and, to some extent, it’s true! Even the most active child will not be healthy if they aren’t eating the right food. As well as offering balanced meals and healthy snacks, schools should look to educate children about food so they make the right choices at home and in future.

Worried about squeezing it into the already-jammed timetable? Try incorporating it into other lessons, like maths, science and art.

 

4.   Mental support

Being overweight can affect the mental wellbeing of children. But it can also work the other way . If a child doesn’t feel supported, they’re less likely to lead a healthy lifestyle. And where do kids look for support? Adults, of course. Make sure children are supported at school by offering them the chance to talk about any issues and reinforcing positive thinking.

 

Providing the means for a healthy lifestyle

You can’t force a healthy lifestyle on children, but at school you can give them the knowledge and means to pursue it themselves. At Playcubed , we provide tailored play areas and facilities to schools across Greater London. Covering consultation, design, presentation and installation, our service makes it easy for your school to get the perfect play areas and facilities. Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.

By Jon Alexander 16 Oct, 2017

EduKent EXPO & Conference is Kent’s leading event for the promotion and development of effective school leadership, management, learning and teaching featuring a high-level conference, inspirational workshops and a comprehensive exhibition of leading suppliers of services to schools and academies.

In November 2016, the fifth EduKent EXPO & Conference brought together hundreds of education leaders from across Kent and neighbouring counties - to share best practice and new ideas on managing and developing education in the region.

Continuing to build upon previous successes, the 2017 event will take place on Wednesday 8th November at The Kent Event Centre, Kent Showground, Detling ( view on maps ).


Free-to-attend

This free-to-attend event is Kent’s largest exhibition and conference for the county’s Head Teachers, Finance Directors, Bursars, Business Managers, Governors, Local Authority education leaders, PTA’s, IT Managers and school leadership teams from the state, academy and private sectors.

Delegates benefit from a unique opportunity to meet key suppliers in the market and attend a wide range of free conference sessions - hearing directly from senior figures who set education policy and strategic direction across the national and local education agenda. High-quality content provides practical advice on how to achieve outstanding results through strong leadership, excellent teaching and effective management systems.

Breakfast, lunch, refreshments and parking are all free-of-charge for all delegates!


The place for quality education support services

EduKent has been developed by Kent County Council in response to the rapidly changing educational environment and is designed to meet the needs of schools and academies by providing education support services, all in one place. By building on the success of Kent Services for Schools and by combining such established services as Schools Personnel Service, EIS and Schools Financial Services with the newer service providers, EduKent offers high quality, competitively priced services delivered by experienced staff, to assist in improving outcomes for all pupils.


Come and see Playcubed at Stand 229

We will be exhibiting at Stand 229. Be sure to drop past to meet the team and discuss any outdoor developments at your school.

CLICK HERE  to book your free place and make sure your school is represented.

By Jon Alexander 09 Oct, 2017

Learning the senses is a key part of a child’s primary education. Ask most young children and they’ll be able to list sight, sound, smell, touch and taste (or close enough anyway). But what about learning through the senses? Sensory play engages children, helping them explore and discover the world. Read on to explore how sensory play helps children learn, in more ways than one.

 

Getting touchy

Speak to most people about sensory play and they’ll assume you mean touching and feeling. They wouldn’t be wrong – touch is one of the senses, and is an essential part of sensory play. But it’s also important to engage children with sights, smells, sounds and even tastes. Colourful, aromatic plants, sensory panels and textured surfaces are just some of the ways to ensure children are using all of their senses.

 

Two types of motor skills

Running, walking and climbing help children improve their motor skills. Or, more specifically, they develop their gross motor skills, dealing with large muscle groups for dynamic activities. But what about their fine motor skills?

No, we don’t expect kids to fix a faulty gearbox. This applies to smaller muscle groups, essential for things like writing and shoe-tying. Yes – all the things you want children to master in their early years. Sensory play absorbs children with activities involving fine motor skills, exploring things like squeezing, pinching and lacing.

 

Language skills

As any parent or teacher will know, language is essential to children’s development. It’s how they understand the world around them and express ideas and emotions. Can sensory play help? 100% yes! When you’re learning new words and ideas, the touch, sound and smell of objects can bring them to life.

Point at a picture of a tree and explain it to a child. They’ll probably learn it eventually. But when they can see it up close, feel the rough bark and smell the fresh leaves, it suddenly becomes more real, memorable and easier to understand.

How about concepts and comparisons? Try explaining smooth and rough objects to a child without letting them feel them and experience them. It’s almost impossible for them to understand. With sensory play providing a range of colours, textures and smells to children, this comes naturally.

 

Engaging children with sensory play areas

With clear benefits for children’s learning, sensory play facilities are a superb addition to any educational environment. If you want to add a versatile, engaging sensory play area to your school, Playcubed can help. We provide tailored facilities for sensory play to schools around London and the South East of England. Offering full consultation, planning and installation, we’re the perfect solution to all your sensory play needs. Get in touch today to discuss your project.

More Posts

10 Reasons to Take Lessons Outside

  • By Jon Alexander
  • 27 Jun, 2016

Most classrooms have four walls, but routinely spending hours confined between them does not create a productive learning environment. The old saying ‘variety is the spice of life’ is important to bear in mind when providing children with a full education. Does this mean we can forget classroom teaching and spend all day outside? Much as the children would love it, of course not - classroom teaching is an essential requirement and practical method of educating children. But by varying the environment in which children learn you will reinforce the lessons learned and provide a number of additional benefits. We have included 10 of them below, so read on.

Outdoor Classrooms are a fantastic facility for outdoor learning, and with so many options available, you can adapt them just how you need.

1. Make learning more engaging

Keeping children on task in the classroom is always a challenge, especially when the weather is bright outside and the subject being taught demands a bit of brain power… But bringing lessons down to practical activities enables those potentially laborious subjects to suddenly become enjoyable and engaging. Ironic as it sounds, learning outdoors actually improves a child’s concentration. When absorbed in an activity, their minds are entirely focused on what they are doing, rather than the constant distractions and fidgeting that occurs when children are sitting indoors for lengths of time.

Take maths outside for example - children can estimate how long it would take to run, hop and skip a certain distance. They can record the results and display them back in the classroom. Or create graphs showing the contrasts. Simple activities like these allow children to develop a variety of skills, from analytical skills such as prediction to practical skills, such as measuring a distance. An Outdoor Classroom or a Canopy make ideal sheltered space for these activities.

2. Make learning relevant

By heading outdoors with teaching, you will find opportunities arise to make understanding concepts real and relevant by putting them into a more realistic context. Many concepts, which seem too difficult to get a grasp of in the classroom, are a lot easier to understand when they’re set in context and can easily be shown by practical example. Children are more engaged and motivated, putting them in the right mind frame to understand, learn and ‘receive’ more information.

3. Nurture creativity and imagination

Taking children beyond the classroom is like unclipping their wings. Suddenly their minds are free to explore, and you often achieve some very creative results no matter what subject you are teaching. This freedom and allowance for thought also encourages a mind-set ready for absorbing information. For example, instead of learning about castles from the text book, you are able to ‘take’ your children to real castle ruin and have them act out roles. A dedicated role play area or themed area provide the perfect facilities for these lessons. You will be amazed at their imagination!

4. Develop learning through play and experimentation

We all know that children learn more when they are happy and engaged. And being happy and engaged involves the active use of imagination, so no wonder then that children learn so much through play. You can bet that the children who did the role play in the castle will remember heaps about what life was like for their characters. Experimenting is also a fantastic way to learn – very young children learn a huge amount of scientific lessons, such as volume and textures, by simple sand and water play, whilst older children will enjoy becoming nature detectives and learning about nature and habitats.

5. Improve attendance

If you’re able to build outside play and learning into your curriculum to engage and motivate pupils to learn, you’ll inevitably find that children are more motivated to turn up to school and arrive promptly for lessons – knowing that something fun is about to happen…You will also find that the prospect of learning outdoors is something that the class looks forward to, making them more attentive when the paper and textbook sessions do take place.


6. Reduce behaviour issues

Whilst learning beyond the classroom certainly involves strict behaviour monitoring, it can often mean a general improvement in behaviour – yet another consequence of children being happy, engaged and motivated. There are not many children who are likely to play up if the consequence is that the whole class has to go back indoors, or they don’t get to go out next time!??

7. Develop interest in the environment and wider surroundings

Learning outside can give you a great opportunity to teach your pupils about the environment, see nature at close quarters and learn about your local area. This is an important part of developing them as responsible citizens that can be difficult to convey in the classroom. Often creating a Mural scene on a blank wall can encourage children to imagine and play in real-life situations.

8. Expose children to new opportunities

Learning outside the classroom doesn’t just mean wandering around the school grounds, though this is a great place to start. Often the benefit of school trips can be maximised by outdoor learning/acting sessions around the subject, both before and after the trip. There is no end of places you can take the pupils that they might not get access to otherwise. Museums, galleries, zoos and farms can be of great interest, or somewhere where they can find out how things are made (and maybe even have a go themselves) can provide learning experiences that won’t be forgotten.

9. Keep healthy

It’s the familiar cry, but it’s true! Getting outdoors provides a more active and healthy environment than sitting in the classroom. Even if you’re just going to work a few feet from the confines of your classroom, well directed outdoor learning opportunities can offer a great opportunity for fresh air and exercise. Even pupils who are not performers in PE can usually be tempted by a fun or imaginative learning game without the pressure of needing to ‘win’.

10. Enjoy almost limitless resources

One of the key benefits of learning outside is that you have the most amazingly well resourced stock cupboard you could hope for. No matter how tight your school’s budget, as long as you have a good imagination you’ll be able to develop meaningful learning opportunities for your children that will stick with them.


So there we have 10 reasons how outdoor learning can benefit both learning and teaching. Please get in touch with us if you're outside space needs adapting to make those outdoor lessons even more interesting.

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