Enabling Environments: Tried and Tested - Celebrations!

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Early years settings try out the latest products to help young children learn about how cultures around the world observe their festivals and religious traditions, and report back to Mary Evans.

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Learning about different cultures and traditions broadens the children's knowledge and understanding of the world in which they live, and learning about how people celebrate is a particularly fun way to gain this knowledge

Celebrations Jigsaws

STEP BY STEP

AGE: 3+

PRICE: £21.95

CONTACT: 08451 252550 www.sbs-educational.co.uk

Four x 24-piece photograph jigsaws depicting family festivals from various traditions - a Somali wedding, a new baby, a birthday party and a carnival

Tested by Carolyn Spraggons, childminder, Long Melford, Suffolk

'Making the puzzles needed a lot of problem solving and the children, girls aged four and five, needed the pictures to follow to build the puzzles.

'Puzzles like these help children to gain an awareness of the cultures and beliefs of others and also to feel a sense of belonging. In communication, language and literacy, the jigsaws promoted discussions about a new baby, and the children linked the picture to personal events. For example, with the birthday scene they talked about similarities with their own party experiences.

'The jigsaws were a good group activity after the puzzles were made. The pictures are very colourful and there is lots going on in them. They promoted a great deal of discussion, especially about new babies and birthdays, as these are familiar events. Not all children have been to a wedding or know what one is, which led to discussion with families, and a display of wedding photographs of family, friends and famous people.

'I would consider buying this, but for children aged four-plus, as the puzzles are quite difficult.'

Star Rating: ****

Eid stand and fold decorations

NES

AGE: 3+

PRICE: £15.00

CONTACT: 0845 120 4525 www.nesarnold.co.uk

30 pre-printed Eid illustrations to colour and then simply fold and stand.

Tested by Imagine Co-operative Nursery, JR Hospital, Oxford

'This was easy to use and quick to set up. First we discussed Eid and how the festival is celebrated. Then we talked about the cards and what to do.

'The children each chose four different pictures to stick on their cards. The cards are bright and colourful. The children enjoyed picking the pictures and some of them commented about the pictures as they chose them. Then they coloured them.

'At the end of the day they were very proud to show them to their parents and carers and to take their Eid cards home.'

Star Rating:****

Reflect a Story - Divali

TTS EDUCATION

AGE: 3-5

PRICE: £54.50

CONTACT: 0800 318 686 www.tts-shopping.com

A story sack which includes a storybook and colourful visual aids to tell the Divali story of Rama and Sita.

Tested by the Daisychain Nursery, Kirkcaldy, Fife

'Our staff introduced the pack at group time. They began by reading the story to the children, then introduced the wooden characters. As the week went on the children were more familiar with the characters and were able to join in with the story. They used the props to act it out.

'We set the book, story map and wooden characters out for the children to use during free play, and they were observed using it for long periods of time.

'We decided to send this home as a story sack too, so together the family read the story, used the props and completed a book review. It has proved to be a great tool for enhancing the children's and the staff's knowledge of Divali.

'At £54.50 I feel this product is a little bit expensive. However, it is a very sturdy product and would last for a very long time. Parents commented on the overall good quality of the product.

'It is definitely a very useful product and everyone in our pre-school room has benefited from it. For this reason we would consider purchasing the product - if only the price was a little less!'

Star Rating: ****

 

Multicultural Lanterns

THE CONSORTIUM

AGE: 3+

PRICE: £15.35

CONTACT: 0845 330 7780 www.theconsortium.co.uk

A pack of 30 pre-cut lanterns made with A4 card, representing the major world festivals

Tested by Flying Start Day Nursery, Barnstaple, Devon

'The pack came with a book explaining the different festivals, which the children enjoyed learning about. They became really engrossed in decorating their lanterns - there was lots they could do with ribbons and glitter, which came in the pack. It was a fun way to learn about other cultures and traditions. We made a display of the lanterns and they took them home.

'The children liked making them so much that we have carried on with it and used our own card to cut out some more lanterns for them to decorate and talk about.'

Star Rating: ***

Rama and Sita Storytelling doll

ARTICLES Of FAITH

AGE: 3-5

PRICE: £31.50

CONTACT: 0161 763 6232 www.articlesoffaith.co.uk

A colourful three-in-one doll to tell the Divali story of Rama and Sita

Tested by Marigold Day Nursery, Heswall, Wirral

'This was a useful prop to have when discussing a different culture. It was bright and colourful and provided the children with something that they could link visually to the story of Rama and Sita. This enhanced the children's learning, as they could take the lead during the activity by looking at the Rama-Sita storytelling doll and asking questions.

'It also helped when they were asked questions, as they had a visual aid to help them find the answers. It was a fun way to enhance their learning.

'The doll generally seems safe. However, after wear and tear, pieces such as the small jewellery or the hair may become loose.

'It did seem a bit overpriced, but we have found most multicultural equipment to be rather highly priced.

'It was a good prop to use with the children, but a bit more information could have been provided, as we were not 100 per cent certain who all the characters are and so had to research on the internet to make sure that we gave out the correct information to the children.'

Star Rating: ****

 

Foundations Activity Pack - Celebrations by Kate Tucker

AGE: 3-5

PRICE: £24.99

CONTACT: 0121 486 3569 www.festivalshop.co.uk

An activity pack made up of a colourful book detailing more than 50 activities plus a CD of songs, stories and poems describing the major festivals around the world

Tested by Clare Bears Pre-School, Clare, Suffolk

'This is a very detailed book. It is well illustrated and very well set out, giving lots of useful information and fun ideas about how we can celebrate different festivals. It was very interesting to read, unlike many other books, so that you got lost in it! While it is expensive, we think it is good value for money and is something we would definitely consider buying.

'We used it very successfully for our harvest celebrations. We did the activity on harvest colours and encouraged the parents to bring in fruit and vegetables. We chatted about the produce with the children - what it was, the different textures and colours, and then we used it for snack time so the children could really see what the different fruits and vegetables were and what they were like under the skin!'

Star Rating: *****

All prices exclusive of VAT and post/packaging

 

BEST BUY

For Jill Vanstone, manager of Flying Start Day Nursery, Barnstaple, Devon

'The best celebrations resource we have is a treasure basket which we have had for years. We normally keep it in the baby room. It came originally from the Hope catalogue. It is full of the most wonderful fabrics of different textures, such as silks and satins. They are all vibrant colours. When we are celebrating festivals we can put it out and decorate it using the colours associated with that festival. We hang it up and decorate it with little lights for the Festival of Lights, Divali.'

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