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I'm sure that cooking activities are an integral part of learning through play in all early years settings. In common with everything else on offer within a session, they need to be centred round giving children a myriad of sensory experiences. So, imagine my disappointment while reading the Fruit Ice activity in the pull-out centre-spread ('World of ice', 20 November) to note that only two of the seven stages were identified as 'together', as opposed to 'adult'.

Children and monsters go out of their way to prove they know better in the latest books reviewed by Alison Boyle You Do!

A group of experts has been set up in Wales to take the Welsh Assembly's childcare policies forward, emphasising its key role as a business advisor and lynchpin for economic development. The group will make sure that childcare businesses are given appropriate advice, use European Structural Funds in a more strategic way to build childcare provision, and take action to expand, train and develop the childcare workforce.

Young children's health, fitness and co-ordination have been boosted by a successful nursery exercise scheme in Clackmannanshire. Fears over the health of young children were heightened last month when Government statistics showed that 21 per cent of children aged between three and three-and-a-half were overweight, while 9 per cent were obese and 4 per cent severely obese. The data showed the problem had been getting worse in recent years because of children's poor diet and lack of exercise.

Prominent figures tell Nicole Curnow about their wishes for developments in the early years sector in the year ahead The pace of change within the early years and childcare sector looks set to continue in 2004. In England, the first of the Government's planned Children's Centres will come into being. More Neighbourhood Nurseries will open their doors, and the first of the extended schools will start to take on the wider role envisioned in the Green Paper Every Child Matters.

5 January Jewish early years conference

As a former South African teacher working as a nanny in the UK I am utterly appalled at the behaviour of children here. Some parents appear afraid to discipline their children, even though children feel secure and confident when they have clear boundaries established for them and know how far they can go. Parents need to dare to discipline their children or things will become totally out of hand.

Teachers in Northern Ireland belonging to four main teaching unions have voted overwhelmingly to stage industrial action and go on strike for pay parity with teachers in England and Wales from today (1 January). A ballot of the teachers, who belong to four unions in the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council - the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), the NASUWT, and the Ulster Teachers'

Endless variations are possible for making your own puppets and a stage for them to perform on, and what children do with them is limited only by their imagination, following these suggestions from Sue Sheppy Puppets have been used to tell stories for...

Research showing that children learn to 'use mental control' so they do not give public vent to ethnic prejudices reinforces the need for all nurseries and schools to have effective anti-racist policies, according to a leading early years consultant. Gina Houston, vice-chair of Early Years Equality and director of a Sure Start programme in the London borough of Brent, said, 'Children learn to control their racism, particularly in the presence of an adult such as a teacher.'

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