Author: Gemma Paterson

Marvellous Mealtimes

As most of you begin to get ready for the 21-22 session, I am sure Marvellous Mealtimes will be one of the approaches at the forefront of your pedagogy to ensure high quality early learning and childcare for all of Falkirk’s wee people.

I have to say- there has been an amazing amount of work that has be done by practitioners to ensure that children have still had the very best snack and mealtime experience, considering the many barriers we have had to face and overcome.

In moving forward, it is important to think about how we share the principles and values of marvellous mealtimes with our families. We want to develop an inclusive approach to involving families in snack and mealtimes; however this may look in current times. A “Marvellous Mealtimes Family Information Poster” has been developed which you can use to let families know about the approach. You can access the poster in PDF by accessing Falkirk Early Learning – Marvellous Mealtimes.


NHS Forth Valley have developed this information which provides you with a variety of information for promoting snack and mealtimes in ELC and for sharing outwards with families. You can access all of the information at NHS Forth Valley – Nutrition.


I’ve already been meeting with some practitioners, enthusiastic to develop the approach further next session and it’s exciting to see Marvellous Mealtimes becoming a vital part of core provision. Next session our work around Marvellous Mealtimes will focus on:

  • Supporting individual settings in establishing a marvellous mealtimes approach.
  • The Larder Approach
  • Marvellous Mealtimes with Families.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything further, just get in touch at


A Pedagogue Ponders…

A Pedagogue Ponders…

Hello! Some of you may already know me and for others I may be a relatively new face. I have recently just returned from maternity leave and thought I would introduce myself to all of our fab Falkirk folk!

I am Ashley Cupples and I am one of the Early Years Pedagogues within Falkirk Council. I am based at Nethermains ELC and at present we are one of the settings currently being extended as part of the Scottish Governments ELC 1140 expansion. I think I can say on behalf of myself and all of the fantastic educators here, we are looking forward to transforming our new spacious environment into a wonderful place for our wee people to play, laugh and learn together.

On Wednesday the 24th of March 2021 I returned from maternity leave after being off for the past year. Like any first-time mother I had big plans for my maternity leave, however only six weeks after having my daughter we went into lockdown and we spent most of it in lockdown. We even appeared in the daily record which was our claim to fame!

 What Matters to Me?

I thought I would take a wee bit of time and express “What Matters to me?” as a practitioner and as a Mum, who has recently gone through a Home-ELC transition. I have worked in Education for fifteen years now and I honestly could never imagine doing anything else. I have always been passionate about early years and truly believe as early educators, we have one of the most privileged and important jobs. To know that the first five years of a child’s life determines and influences their life chances is just so powerful. And to think that myself and my lovely colleagues have the power to really make a difference, makes me so proud every day. Building positive relationships with our wee people and their families matters to me. Family involvement is so important.

My family are my world. I love spending time with my husband and my baby. I am such a proud mum and often ask myself how did I get so lucky? My little girl is my greatest achievement in life. However, I think it is important to say that even with all my early years’ experience, every day is a learning day as a parent and that is ok! On my days off and at the weekends, myself and my family love exploring the outdoors, going long walks and to be honest I think we have just about visited every swing park in North Lanarkshire.

I love studying and have always been an avid learner. After returning from Maternity leave, I now work part time (Wednesday, Thursday & Friday) and this is the perfect work life balance for me. However, in the future when my daughter is a little bit older, I would like to further my studies and undertake a master’s degree.

My own transition experience…

My little girl has just recently started nursery and as a parent it is a daunting process during normal circumstances, but the restraints of the pandemic have made it even harder. Luckily my daughter has settled so well but this might not always be the case and as an Early Years Pedagogue part of my remit is to support families too. So, with this in mind after spending my first day back getting to know all our wonderful wee people, I made a point of going out to the ELC gates to introduce myself to all families.

I have been able to reflect on my own transition experience and urge our practitioners to consider the following points:

1.Have you introduced the whole staff team to existing and new families?

Before the pandemic families would have been able to come into the ELC setting to speak/interact/meet/chat with educators.

  1. Is there a way new families can see the nursery environment before their child starts?

Again previously families would have been able to come in to visit, walk around the playroom and see the ELC environment.

(Such as virtual walk round)

  1. Due to the fact verbal daily communication is limited, are families still kept up to date with their child’s learning?

Think about how you communicate with families…  Some examples used are twitter, seesaw, sway and online learning journals. These are great methods of communication but one thing to keep in mind is not all families have internet access.

‘Parents and families must have access to information that allows them to form a clear understanding of how their child is progressing, and the information they need to help them play a key role in their child’s education’. (National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education, 2016)



By Ashley Cupples




Falkirk Families Play is the Way

How will we play today?

The Falkirk early learning central team and Falkirk early years pedagogues are working to produce a series of posters to support families in providing a range of high quality play, playful and real life learning experiences for their children, at home.

The experiences described in each poster reflect many of the high quality experiences children regularly have the opportunity to  access when attending Falkirk’s early learning and childcare settings.  Each poster will provide key information about the experience and the learning it supports; offer tips and ideas or provide external links to these and offer advice about the adult role and high quality interactions during the experience.


Each poster will also have a blank space left on it to allow each setting to personalise it with your own ideas, in your own voice.  Practitioners and teams are invited to use this blank space to share an example of what the experience looks like in their own setting- e.g. photo, link to a video, audio clip, etc.  This will help to make a bridge between children’s learning at home and in the setting and help children to make connections in their learning.

Once they have personalised the poster, ELC teams should then decide how and when to share these with their families to support family learning through playful and real-life experiences.

On Fridays we will upload a batch of posters to our Glow page. Details of themes are within the Family Learning Posters overview sent to leadership teams earlier last week.

Falkirk Family Posters can be found in the Parental Engagement and Family learning section of the Falkirk Early Learning Glow Sharepoint

If you will be using Twitter to share the posters, please use hashtags: #FalkirkForFamilies #WeePlayFalkirk #PlayAtHome

Note: Once you have personalised your poster make sure you “export” this into PDF format so families can access the links to interesting videos, experiences and further information. To do this go to FILE-EXPORT-CREATE PDF.


Sing at Home Sway 3

#Sway3 #SingatHomeFC Campaign!

Team Falkirk- are we ready to join in to help spread the joy of singing with our #SingAtHomeFC?


As we celebrate the great Robert Burns on 25th January, we have added a wee Scottish rhyme “Wee Willie Winkie”.


  • Ask families to share photographs and videos of them taking part in the Sing at Home songs. You can then share this with us on twitter by tagging @FalkirkFroebel and using the #SingatHomeFC
  • Join in too!! Learn the Makaton signs. Listen to the music and songs. Why not get your own family to join in and share your fabulous singing and Makaton signing with us.

“The Mulberry Bush” is our other song which is a popular seasonal song to get us all moving.

Let us try and create opportunities to spread the joy and the importance of singing and rhymes

Use this link to access the third sway                 

Send the link to your families to encourage them to sing together at home.


Falkirk Early Years Blether Sessions


We hope you are all safe and well. Things are a little different once again but we are heartened to see teams pull together for their children and families.

Whilst ELC settings are closed to many children it is a good time for us to take the chance to join together (albeit virtually) to share ideas and aspects of our good practice.  The Falkirk early learning central team and early years pedagogues would like to invite you to take part in our series of “Falkirk Early Years blether sessions”.  These blethers will provide opportunities for us all to gather and discuss aspects of high-quality practice relating to a range of contexts.  All blethers will take place on our dedicated group on Microsoft Teams called “Falkirk Early Years blether sessions”.   No sign up is required; just join the blethers of your choice after joining the team using the code (please see your SEYO to access the join code). Further details have been sent out to Leadership Teams this afternoon.

As always, please get in touch with your cluster link should you have any questions or need any support.

Christmas Family Songs at Home

#Sway2 #SingatHomeFC Campaign!

Team Falkirk- are we ready to join in to help spread the joy of singing with our Christmas #SingAtHomeFC?

Use this link to access the second sway. Remember to:

  • Send the link to your families to encourage them to sing together at home.
  • Ask families to share photographs and videos of them taking part in the Sing at Home songs. You can then share this with us on twitter by tagging @FalkirkFroebel and using the #SingatHomeFC
  • Join in too!! Learn the Makaton signs. Listen to the music and songs. Why not get your own family to join in and share your fabulous singing and Makaton signing with us.

Christmas Holidays are coming… hoping they will be filled with love and happiness for each and every one of you!

Marvellous Moments for Marvellous Mealtimes

I can honestly say I am absolutely blown away by the commitment and focus our Falkirk practitioners have had in implementing marvellous mealtimes. Just two years ago only two settings in Falkirk were implementing the very beginning of the approach.

Fast forward a few years with some challenges, a lot of possibilities, a few case studies and a few ( a lot!) visitors and we now have Marvellous Mealtimes sweeping across Falkirk.

While this year has been challenging in many ways, it was important not to lose focus of what is truly important to us in early years- to ensure our wee people are at the heart of all we do. As oor Lisa McCabe likes to remind us- “keep the main thing, the main thing” and put simply this is what you have done practitioners of Falkirk!

Of course there is still challenges and hurdles to overcome, however being solution focused, sharing practice and seeking support when needed is paramount in moving forward.

As we move forward in the marvellous mealtime experience and “The Larder” begins to provide opportunities for us to cook and bake with children, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go over a few considerations and top tips.


Baking and cooking should still be happening regularly within your setting. However, as we know, things have had to be adapted and routines altered. The following points will support you in developing baking and cooking. :

  • Cooking and baking should be implemented in small groups- a maximum of 3 children.
  • Children should have access to their own set of ingredients and tools.
  • Children should not prepare foods for others. Simply- they can only eat what they prepare.

Have a look at some of these examples from our #FabFalkirkFolk






In each of these examples you will notice how children have their own ingredients and tools with small groups of children taking part.

Marvellous Mealtimes Top Tips

  • While a small group of children bake or group in a day it doesn’t mean that the larder can’t be used for the whole setting. For example while your wee bakers mix, measure and roll their own bread; a batch for the rest of the children can be made individually by a practitioner for everyone at snack, following the appropriate cooksafe procedures. Access the most up-to-date version of cooksafe here.
  • It’s important children have the right tools. These knives are sturdy and safe but do the job. If we want children to develop the skills for baking and cooking, butter knives for chopping will simply not cut it (no pun intended!). Follow the link here.
  • Maximizing the outdoor space is a great way of continuing the marvellous mealtimes experience. Get your wee people involved in developing their eating spaces outdoors.
  • Be aware of your snack time experience- are there tongs and spoons for children to use? Do children have their own knives for spreading? How long is snack available for? Do children help to plan their snack menu and choose which foods to eat?
And finally…

The Scottish Government have updated their Early Years COVID Guidance including a snack and mealtimes update. You can access this here.

“It is important to continue to ensure that mealtimes are a relaxed and enjoyable time where children can socialise, while implementing practical approaches to prevent the spread and control of infection.” (Scottish Government, 2020)

As always please just get in touch if you have any questions at Remember to access the marvellous mealtimes section on  Falkirk Early Learning – Home 


Falkirk Home Bubble Sing-A-Long

Join in Falkirk with our new #SingatHomeFC Campaign!

We know that singing is a valuable experience in ELC. Due to our current circumstances this won’t be happening as regularly as normal. Hence our mission to encourage our Falkirk families and children to sing at home! Some of our Falkirk Froebel Family have connected as a community of early years practitioners to produce songs, rhymes and music to share with our families through a sing at home campaign.

We have been supported from our wonderful colleagues at Speech and Language Therapy services, YMI and Falkirk High School music teachers to collaborate and produce a series of Sing at home sways.

Each sway will have a minimum of either two lullaby’s, rhymes or songs, with real instruments to accompany them, illustrations, along with Makaton signs for actions. Thank you to all of the fabulous #fabfalkirkfolk that helped make this happen.

We plan to create a series of 8 sways which will be shared over a period of time. Our first Sing at home sway is being launched on St Andrews Day 30th November 2020 hence the  Scottish song choices.

There is also the link to the Froebel Trust  pamphlet which explains the many benefits to songs rhymes and finger plays through a Froebelian perspective.

Helena MacPhail (EYP at Sacred Heart ELC) has been focusing on singing as part of her pedagogue project and her Froebel in Childhood Practice course. Helena has used different resources, including singing spoons, which have been a great success as provocations for sparking spontaneous singing with children. I wonder what ideas our Falkirk practitioners have for encouraging families to sing at home? Remember to share and tag us in your tweets @FalkirkFroebel and use #SingatHomeFC

So Team Falkirk- what do we need you to do?

  • Use this link to access the first sway- Send the link to your families to encourage them to sing together at home. You might use different platforms to communicate with your families such as Seesaw and the link can be easily shared this way. You can also use twitter to encourage families to join in.
  • Ask families to share photographs and videos of them taking part in the Sing at Home songs. You can then share this with us on twitter by tagging @FalkirkFroebel and using the #SingatHomeFC
  • Join in too!! Why not get your own family to join in and share your fabulous singing voices with us!

Let’s go Falkirk! #WeAreFalkirk


Falkirk Early Years Pedagogues

Who can believe that the last week of the first term is upon us? It has been a privilege to witness teams across Falkirk work together to ensure their wee people have the very best early learning experience. Our practitioners have gone above and beyond for children and families – we really do have, #fabfalkirkfolk.

Our Early Years Pedagogue team have been working on many interesting projects during the first term. Like everyone else, our team have had to adapt to our current circumstances and develop new ways of working with children, families and teams.

Our Falkirk Early Years Pedagogue poster gives you more information on our role as Equity and Excellence Leads.

We also have to think about the way in which we are sharing our work with practitioners. Each of our Pedagogues have developed a Sway which details their progress in developing different projects. These will be updated monthly and you will be able follow each project as it develops. Follow the links below to have a look at what we have been up to in the last few weeks and get to know our Pedagogues a wee bit better. Remember you will need your Glow login!

Elaine Haughton- Carmuirs ELC

Helena MacPhail- Sacred Heart ELC

Donna Green- Nethermains ELC and Froebel Falkirk Lead

Claudette Wright- Beancross ELC

Louise Harrison- Bowhouse ELC

Lisa Boa- Bainsford ELC

Yvonne Robinson- Victoria ELC and Queen Street ELCC

Our early years pedagogues have been focusing on :

What Matters to Me?

Our What Matters to Me projects stem from Jason Leitch’s TED talk in which he spoke about a what matters to me approach for patients in hospital. We wondered how this approach would look in ELC while thinking about transitions, care planning and responsive and intentional planning. Have a wee look at the video below, we are sure it will definitely get you thinking!

Children’s Creativity

Our Pedagogues will be exploring the progression of children’s creativity using the Duffy Scales. From painting to dancing, our Pedagogues and their teams have their creativity hats on in developing these experiences, spaces and interactions across their settings.

Early Mathematics

Our Pedagogues and their teams will be exploring different mathematical concepts through the use of Cuisenaire rods. We are currently receiving CLPL on this and will begin this project after the October break.

Keep in touch

The Pedagogue sways will also share unique successes and developments within settings that happen out with the identified projects. From nurturing nature, to our fabulous Froebel initiatives, we hope you’ll find these sways useful in sharing our work.

You will also be able to read about our pedagogues in the Falkirk early years newsletter. Look out for our pedagogue ponders section.

You can now also follow us on twitter @FalkirkEYP to keep up to date with our latest developments.

Let us know what you think of our sways and get in touch for more information.


Marvellous Mealtimes

We began our marvellous mealtimes journey 2 years ago and what an experience it has been! It’s been fabulous to see all of our wee people and #fabfalkirkfolk return to ELC over the last few weeks. It’s also been heartening to see our #MarvellousMealtimesFC approach being implemented across the authority with some fabulous environments and experiences being developed for children.

As expected there have been a variety of different questions and queries around the implementation of marvellous mealtimes in our current circumstances.

It is important, as always, to consider spaces, experiences and interactions when implementing the marvellous mealtimes approach. You can access our updated values here.

While implementing marvellous mealtimes you may wish to consider some of the following points:

  • Does each bubble have their own eating area? Are these areas relaxed, nurturing and homelike?
  • While a full self-service model can’t be operated at this time, do children still have choice in choosing foods and drinks?
  • Do children still have the opportunity to be social during snack and mealtimes, sitting with friends and familiar adults?
  • Has time been taken to consider the experience of snack and mealtimes? As a rich experience children should be able to choose their own plate and cup and use this for lunch. Serving children grab and go bags as they are is not suggested, children should still have the opportunity to use a plate and glass as part of the mealtime routine.
  • Is lunch a staggered experience? Consider having children in smaller groups, rather than everyone eating lunch at the same time. This enables practitioners to spend meaningful time with children at one of the most social times of the day.
  • Cooking and baking are regarded as continuous provision and, where possible, this should continue. The way we provide this experience will have to be adapted and assessed differently across settings. For example children should experience this in small numbers and should have access to their own ingredients and tools.

This is a marvellous mealtime moment from Easter Carmuirs ELC. The space they have developed lends itself to ensuring a warm, welcoming and relaxing space for children. The use of real crockery, cutlery and additions such as flowers demonstrate the quality of the experience and the high value practitioners place upon it. 



Continue to share your marvellous mealtime moments using the #MarvellousMealtimesFC

Please just get in touch with your cluster link if you have any questions regarding marvellous mealtimes!