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Sometimes overlooked or left to art activities, pattern is fundamental to children's understanding of mathematics, says Judith Stevens.

As part of regular provision, children in the Foundation Stage Unit at Chilton Primary School have free access to a range of malleable materials.

Playing with sounds promotes young children's acquisition of language, says Steve Grocott

Make the most of water play by offering the best experiences and stocking the essential resources, as suggested by Jane Drake

Encouraging parents to read to their children is just one aim of the National Year of Reading. Ruth Thomson talks to one nursery chain getting in on the act themselves.

Practitioners need to identify and observe young children thinking to give them opportunities to move on further, says early years consultant Marion Dowling.

A study has measured the effects of music therapy on children's emotional well-being, reports Karen Faux.

Puppets come in all shapes and sizes and are indispensable in most settings. Early years professionals put their hands up and give their verdicts on the following selection to Sue Hubberstey.

Less may be more when you choose instruments for music sessions, says Steve Grocott.

Let the children take on a new identity with fun dressing-up activities from Alice Sharp.