Number Frames

Resources – chalk, spring finds, or alternatively pens and paper


Draw 10 grids of 10 boxes and number them 1 to 10. Add the amount of items to match the corresponding numbers into the boxes.

If your child is working on numbers to 5 just draw 5 boxes, similarly if your child is working beyond 10 add more larger boxes.


Intent- Learning Goals

Maths – Numbers

30-50 months

  • Uses some number names and number language spontaneously.
  • Uses some number names accurately in play.
  • Recites numbers in order to 10.
  • Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set.
  • Beginning to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper or pictures.
  • Sometimes matches numeral and quantity correctly.
  • Shows curiosity about numbers by offering comments or asking questions.
  • Shows an interest in number problems.
  • Shows an interest in numerals in the environment.
  • Shows an interest in representing numbers.

40-60 months

  • Recognise some numerals of personal significance.
  • Recognises numerals 1 to 5+
  • Counts up to three or four objects by saying one number name for each item.
  • Counts actions or objects which cannot be moved.
  • Counts objects to 10 and beginning to count beyond 10.
  • Counts out up to six objects from a larger group.
  • Selects the correct numeral to represent 1 to 5, then 1 to 10 objects.
  • Counts an irregular arrangement of up to ten objects.
  • Estimates how many objects they can see and checks by counting them.
  • Uses the language of ‘more’ and ‘fewer’ to compare two sets of objects.
  • Says the number that is one more than a given number.
  • Records, using marks that they can interpret and explain.
  • Begins to identify own mathematical problems based on own interests and fascinations.



A game of making a leaf man at Inspirations Nurseries

Make your own Leaf Man

Resources: Leaves, paper, glue,


Lots of children have been sharing their leaf play and discoveries with us. We hope you enjoyed our Leaf Man story read by Nicola, you can find it here-

Go for a walk and look for Autumn leaves and have a go at making your own Leaf Man, don't forget to ask your children some questions along the way. Below we have listen the criteria of learning development this activity meets. 

  • What does Leaf Man look like?
  • Who will you make?
  • What will you need?
  • What could you use to make their face?

Intent – Learning Goals

Moving and Handling

22-36 months

  • Shows control in holding and using jugs to pour, hammers, books and mark-making tools.
  • Beginning to use three fingers

30-50 months

  • Uses one-handed tools and equipment

40-60 months

  • Uses simple tools to effect changes to materials.
  • Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control.


22-36 months

  • Has some favourite stories, rhymes, songs, poems or jingles

30-50 months

  • Describes main story settings, events and principal characters.
  • Shows interest in illustrations and print in books and print in the environment.

40-60 months

  • Uses vocabulary and forms of speech that are increasingly influenced by their experiences of books.
  • Enjoys an increasing range of books.

Being Imaginative

22-36 months

  • Beginning to use representation to communicate, e.g. drawing a line and saying ‘That’s me.’

30-50 months

  • Captures experiences and responses with a range of media, such as music, dance and paint and other materials or words.

40-60 months

  • Create simple representations of events, people and objects.

Exploring and using media and materials

30-50 months

  • Joins construction pieces together to build and balance.
  • Realises tools can be used for a purpose.

40-60 months

  • Understands that different media can be combined to create new effects.
  • Manipulates materials to achieve a planned effect.
  • Constructs with a purpose in mind, using a variety of resources.
  • Uses simple tools and techniques competently and appropriately.
  • Selects appropriate resources and adapts work where necessary.
  • Selects tools and techniques needed to shape, assemble and join materials they are using.


Coloour Hunt Game results

Spring Colour Hunt

Resources: Pens or paints, paper/card, glue and natural loose parts

Photo credit: earlyyearsoutdoor


Paint some colours or a rainbow onto paper, see how many natural items you can find outdoors to match the colours, then stick them to the matching colour. There are some beautiful spring colours to find at the moment.

What colours do you have to use?

What colour would you like to have?

What colours could you mix to make this colour?

What colours did you find?

What colour items did you find the most of?

What else can you see in the environment that are these colours?

Intent – Learning Goals

Expressive Arts and Designs – Exploring and using media and materials

22-36 months

  • Experiments with blocks, colours and marks.

30-50 months

  • Explores colour and how colours can be changed


  • Explores what happens when they mix colours


Understanding the World – The world

22-36 months

  • Notices detailed features of objects in their environment.

30-50 months

  • Comments and asks questions about aspects of their familiar
  • world such as the place where they live or the natural world.
  • Can talk about some of the things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects.
  • Developing an understanding of growth, decay and changes over time.

40-60 months

  • Looks closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change.


Leaf weaving results | Sparking creativity at kids

Leaf Weaving

Resources – sticks, leaves and string


This activity needs a lot of focus, time and adult support when needed, but is a great activity to encourage concentration and fine motor control. It can be made simpler with less string to thread through.

Make a square with the sticks and string, then tie lengths of string across to weave the leaves through. There are lots of leaves around of varying colours to make colour patterns, what do you observe when you look through it at the sun?

Intent – Learning Goals

Characteristics of Effective Learning

Being involved and concentrating

  • Maintaining focus on their activity for a period of time
  • Showing high levels of energy, fascination
  • Not easily distracted
  • Paying attention to details
  • Finding ways to solve problems
  • Finding new ways to do things

Keeping on trying

  • Persisting with activity when challenges occur
  • Showing a belief that more effort or a different approach will pay off
  • Bouncing back after difficulties

Enjoying achieving what they set out to do

  • Showing satisfaction in meeting their own goals
  • Being proud of how they accomplished something – not just the end result
  • Enjoying meeting challenges for their own sake rather than external rewards or praise

Making links

  • Making links and noticing patterns in their experience
  • Making predictions
  • Testing their ideas
  • Developing ideas of grouping, sequences, cause and effect

Choosing ways to do things

  • Planning, making decisions about how to approach a task, solve a problem and reach a goal
  • Checking how well their activities are going
  • Changing strategy as needed
  • Reviewing how well the approach worked

Finding out and exploring

  • Showing curiosity about objects, events and people
  • Using senses to explore the world around them
  • Showing particular interests

Being willing to ‘have a go’

  • Seeking challenge
  • Showing a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Taking a risk, engaging in new experiences, and learning by trial and error


Matching quantity to numerals | Some inspiration

Matching Quantity to Numerals

Resources: Stones, pens, numbers

Collect up all those stones you find on your walks and match them to the numbers. You can write the numbers on a piece of paper or use any numbers you have. As an extension you could continue to 20.

Intent- Learning Goals

Maths - Numbers

30-50 months

Recites numbers in order to 10.

  • Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set.
  • Beginning to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper

or pictures.

  • Sometimes matches numeral and quantity correctly.
  • Shows an interest in number problems.
  • Shows an interest in representing numbers.


  • Recognise some numerals of personal significance.
  • Recognises numerals 1 to 5+
  • Counts up to three or four objects by saying one number name for each item.
  • Counts objects to 10, and beginning to count beyond 10.
  • Counts out up to six objects from a larger group


How did this activity go? Please use this space to record any findings, adaptions, reflections and quotes from your children. We would love you to email them back to us or share them on Tapestry, Instagram or Facebook.



Physical Health for Children at our Leeds Nursery

The Five Big Questions - Part One

After recently announcing her 5 big questions survey, Inspirations has decided to take a closer look at what exactly the Duchess of Cambridge is interested in finding out. Starting with question one: 


We are offered the four options below and asked to put into priority order.

  • Good physical and mental health
  • Good friendships and relationships
  • Access to opportunities
  • Access to a good education

I found it tricky to prioritise these categories, as here at Inspirations we view each point as being an equally important factor in raising a healthy happy child.  Much thought has gone into how Inspirations operates in order to successfully cover these four areas.

Physical and Mental Health

Our outdoor learning environment and forest school ethos naturally promotes good physical and mental health. Children with spaces for running around and climbing trees naturally develop muscle strength, aerobic fitness, and better coordination. A Scottish study found activity levels were 2.2 times higher in a typical Forest School day than during a school day that included PE lessons. Not to mention that as parents we love our children to get plenty of healthy fresh air which our location offers in abundance, set a fair way from any roads and surrounded by country fields and a section of the wooded Leeds Way.


Friendships and Relationships

Playing alongside our children every day are of course their friends.  Friendships in the early years are so important to our developing children, they help them build self-confidence, develop their social and emotional skills and their understanding of the world around them.  Sometimes of course, children struggle to mediate their emotions and play can quickly turn to squabbling and tears.  It is then that our expert educators’ step in and support our children in understanding their emotions and help support them to make the right choices.



Access to Opportunities

Its safe to say that Inspirations children have an abundance of opportunities on offer! Daily forest school sessions, an art studio compete with art teacher, an array of fabulous loose parts and open-ended resources and the freedom to choose where and what they do with their day!

A Good Education

At Inspirations we pride ourselves on getting our children ‘school ready’.  With our experienced educators we spend much of our time planning for your child’s education and learning journey.  We observe their interests and extend on that incorporating numeracy, literacy, science and anything else we can cram in for their eager sponge like brains! Throughout their time with us we will track their development and ensure they are on track for the best possible start on their journey to being happy adults.

If you decide to take the survey which would you prioritise as being your number one important factor for developing into a happy adult?

Next week look out for my blog on question two, who is primarily responsible for a child’s health and happiness?


Ambiguous Resources

Here’s a wonderful example of how ambiguous resources can capture imagination, this week I left a small wooden door on a grass table to see what the pre-schoolers would make of it. Every group that came into the art studio used it in a different way; the first group passing pine cones through it to each other, the second group hiding behind it, knocking and opening it to reveal their faces before hysterical bursts of laughter, and others simply playing with the lock figuring out how it worked.

Some thought it was the best thing ever, others ignored it.

One little girl spent a long time playing with the door and when I asked her what it was, she whispered to me...

’This is how you get into the magic forest!’

Every child really is completely unique.

All Hands on Deck

Earlier in the year some coffee playdough lead to an interest in mixing with smells, so we used basil, ginger, rosemary, lemon, thyme and cinnamon to incorporate into our mixtures.

'I smell ginger, let's make ginger bread men'

This interest in mixing and ingredients lead to the creation of gingerbread people, we used the gingerbread cutters on the projector which brought them to life and provided the opportunity for the children to climb into the ginger bread projections.

'When i was little i used to be a gingerbread man'

'I didn't eat mine when i got home it just ran as fast as it could out my door and a bear ate it'

Some children were expressing an interest in pirates at this point and whilst playing around on the light projector with the ginger bread cutters a piece of foam piping became a pirate hat for the gingerbread man.

'He's a pirate! A gingerbread pirate'

We placed a vote to decide if we should use our large cardboard box for a Pirate ship or a Gingerbread house, the majority chose pirate ship and so piece by piece they created their own ship, flag, wheel and parrot.

We used scales to measure the weights of treasure, created maps, used compasses, flags, telescopes and one child decided our ship needed a parrot. During forest school the children followed clues left by a pirate who had stolen some of our nursery toys and buried them in the woods, and they even used literacy skills to write back to the pirate.

This pirate interest developed as the children turned to makers, explorers and adventures, they had the chance to build their confidence whilst engaging in role play, sailing to far away islands to reclaim treasure and being completely in control of their own learning.




End of Year - Here's to 2018

Two thousand and eighteen has been a year full of development and hard work and I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to my wonderful, hardworking team! Some members have been with me since the beginning (or very near to) and I value and appreciate them beyond measure as I know you do too. The love and care they show the children is the thing I am most proud of! Without their continued passion and support, all we have achieved this year would not have been possible.

And our achievements have been huge.

Early in the year plans began to take shape to change our name from Dolphins Day Nursery to Inspirations, a decision not taken lightly but one I felt needed to be done to carry us into the future. I was sad to say goodbye but also extremely proud of everything we had achieved in the fifteen years we had been.

Inspirations Nurseries and Forest School was a concept that has slowly evolved. Through staff’s continual professional development, new ideas, thoughts and pedagogical approach started to emerge and influence our practice. Concepts such as child led learning, loose parts play, the benefits of teaching through art and of course forest school and outdoor learning. We began by Introducing ‘Forest School Lisa’ who came to deliver forest school one day a week, changed our environments to include loose parts and discarded our plastic toys.










Every time I turned the corner into nursery the overgrown messy land out the front (which at that point didn’t belong to us) would stare me in the face and I would think ‘what a waste’ So, I contacted Leeds City Council and managed to include this space into our lease agreement with them. Building work began in May and today I look out our window and see all the physical hard work Colin, my Husband has put in for me over the year. Again, I find myself having to say a big thank you to him. Utilising his skills and knowledge has saved me thousands and thousands of pounds and I know, without him, nursery would never have been able to afford what he has so amazingly built for us.

But, there is still lots to do...

Although building work is almost complete, staff are still working hard to embed new practice and routines. They will continue reviewing and adjusting practice according to the needs and wellbeing requirements of the children. Staff throughout Inspirations will continue their journey of professional development and learning, and we will continue to endeavour to deliver the best childcare in the area!

We are all really looking forward to the year ahead and taking on all the new and exciting challenges a new year brings. Our children have another year of learning opportunities and I and my team will be here to support, encourage and enhance each educational experience so that your children are school ready and raring to go.

Finally, I would just like to say thank you too, to our children who, every day bring joy, laughter and inspiration to us all!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Nicola MacGregor


September in the Yurt

Over the past few weeks we have seen the children flourish, their confidence grow and new friendships made. As they leave their curiosity in bees behind with the season, autumn has provided ample natural resources to explore and create with. Their interests are currently mixing colours, autumn leaves, construction and music, so we will be following these interests to see what exciting path they lead us down.  The yurt now has its own guitar, ukulele and drum, and the children have enjoyed singing their own songs and initiating their own music sessions. Weekly forest schools sessions are in full flow, and for some it's their first time doing forest school; keep an eye out for the colourful stones they've painted and hidden.

We've used water colours for still life painting, clay to make leaf prints, sculptures with conkers and started creating a space for hedgehogs to hibernate.

Last week the Ladybirds outdoor provision celebrated its 1 month anniversary! Here's a message from the Room Leader Michaela:

'There are a million words I could describe our brand new journey together but there is only one specific word that covers the amazing, boundary pushing learning adventure: WOW!

Wow to your incredible children for embracing change with huge smiles on their faces.

Wow to all our families for believing in our inspirational philosophy.

Wow to Lisa, Sophie, Rachel, Stuart, Paula, Lauren and Nathalie for their super hard work and outstanding positive attitude towards achieving our goals.

And Wow to the family-setting partnerships which I hope will only grow stronger in the future. 
Let’s inspire each other and help our children discover their unique potential.'