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Creative materials are likely to be available by the crateload at a scrapstore near your early years setting. Meg Jones rummages around In the run-up to Christmas, scrapstores all over the country are brim full with gold card, sequin waste and bright pieces of card. All sorts of factory waste materials and printers' off-cuts suitable for making cards, decorations, costumes, scenery and Christmas gifts are just waiting to be collected by nurseries, schools and other early years settings.

Creative materials are likely to be available by the crateload at a scrapstore near your early years setting. Meg Jones rummages around

When one nursery group takes over another, the integration of staff and policies must be handled sensitively, writes Mary Evans Large nursery chains seeking to grow their businesses often opt to purchase or merge with other childcare groups and in doing so have to overcome some major managerial problems.

Children at BAE nursery, a workplace nursery at Rakes Lane, Warton, Lancashire,look forward to regular visits from a mobile zoo of animals We wanted to give our children some experience of animals in an environment that we could control. We found out about the mobile zoo a few years ago from another nursery. Since then John Makinson has visited every year with his animals. There is no set charge but we usually give him a donation of 20.

By Heather Gillies, manager of Glasgow's Clutha Street Day Nursery, which has an award-winning garden We have a 3m x 2m plinth of concrete in the middle of our courtyard. The children would run over it but that was the sum total of its worth. Boring and unimaginative, it had just sat there and glowered, until we set about brightening it up.

Rising stars New and exclusive to Philip & Tacey, Mini Starcharts with stickers are suitable for a wide age range. Each chart provides space for 30 smiley star stickers, as well as room for comments and/or a signature. There are 24 charts per pack, all of which are 'open - ended' to allow for different purposes, such as behaviour or effort, and the stickers come in four bright and colourful designs. A pack of 24 charts and 720 stickers is priced 6.99.

We adapted a Nursery World project to suit our children with special needs, writes Carol Smith, a nursery nurse at Raeden Day Nursery, Aberdeen The day nursery of the Raeden Centre in Aberdeen, better known to staff and parents as 'Room 1', caters for...

Children at Lancaster Kindercare made the most of their love of toys with a visit to a toy workshop. Nursery teacher Helen Connolly went along behind the scenes The highlight of our six-week project on toys was a trip to Tobi Lane Designs. The shop is unusual because attached to it is a workshop, where craftsmen make wooden toys using traditional tools and methods.

On behalf of our readers, staff in nurseries, schools and out-of-school clubs around the country have put a range of products through their paces to assess their value in the workplace and to give each item a star marking STAR RATING

Children at Badgers Day Nursery in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, have been learning about road safety with nursery worker Linda Chudovszky Our bright idea

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