Little Hoots Childminding in Wakefield is run by two staff with over twenty-five years combined experience in childcare and early years sector. We care for children from birth onwards and support the children and parents through various transitions. We firmly believe in a holistic and inclusive approach to learning and development for babies and children.
Makaton has become an integral part of our day at Little Hoots.
Makaton Max helps the children select which activities they would like to do each day and supports our story sessions with symbols in the books and story sacks. The children have free access to Makaton Max and use him in their daily play.
We chose to use wooden blocks to display the symbols in our setting as it supports our ethos based on a Reggio and Montessori approach. We have developed question boards for the weather and feelings that the children use each day to show how they are feeling. The written words are on the back of each wooden tile for extension and differentiation for ages and abilities of the children in our setting.
We are expanding the number of stories we have in our setting that are supported with Makaton symbols with a view to eventually having all stories with Makaton symbols support, most recently completing a story sack for Julia Donaldson’s story, A Squash and a Squeeze.
The children have enjoyed listening to the story and joining in with the signing. We have used wooden animals and put the key symbols on wooden tiles for the children to sequence the story. The March Madness sale has meant that we have been able to expand our resources for story sacks to include Bear Hunt, Dear Zoo and Rosie’s Walk, to name a few.
We have incorporated a Now and Next box for the children to understand the routines of the day and symbol cards are changed accordingly. The older children in the setting take turns in adding the correct symbols to the boxes and sharing them with the children at the key points of the day. We use a photo album with pictures of the resources in our setting and the corresponding symbols to allow the children to communicate their choice using Makaton whilst encouraging self-selection and practising the signs and symbols relevant to them.
Each morning at Little Hoots starts with a Yoga session for all ages of children and part of this is using the Yoga Prayer in Makaton before we start. At meal times the children are encouraged to use signing to communicate to each other what they are having for tea and for using their manners.
Much of our day is spent singing songs, which we always support with Makaton signing, and the children are steadily building up a repertoire of favourites.
Recently the children enjoyed signing key words associated with Chinese New Year. We have also enjoyed Pancake Day, using videos created by Singing Hands and recipe cards created by Hand Made Communications.
The children are all very keen to learn new signs and to continue to use the ones they already know. We have noticed the children are developing the ability to communicate more quickly and we can understand their needs with less frustration from the children. We have always been keen to nurture and develop communication from a young age in children and Makaton has provided us with a stronger strategy to do this.
We are encouraging parents to become involved by sending in photos so we can create a Little Hoots family album and will be going for walks around the village so the children can take photos of places such as the school, the church, the park etc for our album.
We use our Facebook page to communicate our activities with parents including Makaton and the Sign of the Week. This has encouraged many parents to continue to use Makaton in their own home.
The daily diaries we use in our setting include photographs and videos of the children using Makaton independently in play and in our adult led sessions.
Having recently completed our Forest School assessment we are busy integrating Makaton into the Hoots at Half Moon setting we have. This will include labelling plants and trees with durable Makaton symbols and having activity sheets translated into Makaton.
Most recently we worked alongside Kerry Cawley and a group of other Makaton users to create a video book for World Book Day 2019. This involved a collaborative project with others who had completed their training with Hand Made Communications to create a Makaton video of ‘Ten Little Bookworms’. This has been shared and viewed on Facebook many, many times. We felt proud to be asked to be a part of the project.
During 2019 we are working towards completing the Enhancement Workshop and the Makaton Signing for Babies Train the Trainer courses to further develop our Makaton skills and understanding to allow us to share our knowledge and commitment to Makaton with the wider community.