Welcome to Portland House

The team and I would like to give a very warm welcome to all our new families that have started with us over the recent months. We are very much look forward to meeting you all at the upcoming stay and plays, charity events and parents evenings.

There are so many ways we are looking forward to welcoming Autumn with the children this term, it is a beautiful season and reminds us that our bodies, minds, and surroundings are always developing through change. Thanks to the changing nature of life, each and every day presents us with new mysteries, experiences and opportunities to explore our amazing outdoor environment.

Autumn represents the preservation of life and its basic necessities it’s a time when colours change, moods change, and weather changes. We will be teaching the children that during this time, animals prepare for the winter by storing food and creating cosy hibernation spaces. Farmers work on their harvest by collecting a reserve of crops and the changes that take place in our environments. We will be learning about the importance of exercise and self-protection by wearing layers and thicker fabrics and a focus on our health by boosting our immunity through healthy choices, habits and nutrition.

We will be having fun exploring …

  1. The trees change colour and look really pretty – with the changes in temperature we will notice the leaves starting to turn a beautiful orange and yellow welcoming the changing season.
  2. There are plenty of leaves to kick – because of the falling leaves, it gives more reason to have fun together kicking the leaves up in the air.
  3. There are also plenty of leaves to jump into – we love making leaf piles and falling into them. It is great fun.
  4. There are plenty of conkers– Conkers fall off the trees and there are plenty around, making it the perfect season for using them in activities, counting etc.
  5. It’s the season for the best rainy weather –it gives us chance to dance in the rain and jump in muddy puddles.
  6. Mornings are golden and may be misty – the autumn mornings bring a wonderful misty feel that is quiet and alluring for morning walks to nursery and adventures in the garden.
  7. Enjoy autumn season flavours with pumpkin flavoured food – pumpkin flavours are always a favourite for everyone, we will be tasting new and exciting things and making pumpkin soup.

Focus for this term

Focus for teaching and learning this term for all Portland Nurseries will be;

Our baby rooms; Sing along with babies…let’s get tuned in.

Singing to young children helps them to develop early language.

  • A welcome song session at the beginning of each day and for those who only attend in the afternoon key- people will repeat.
  • A method of choice will be available in the rooms to ensure children have opportunities to hear and share their favourite songs.
  • What’s in the box – an activity of awe and wonder incorporating song.
  • Key people will develop and share a growing bank of songs with all children to ensure vocabulary is rich and flowing. Singing sessions will include the use of props enabling children to have visual clues to words being leant.

When little ones are humming and singing words that you are unsure of, please ask for a song sheet and maybe a staff rendition so you have the tune. Enjoy learning.

Our toddler rooms; Everyone an artist…Lets make marks

Early marks made by children help them to represent thoughts and ideas, express feelings and relive experiences.

  • How many ways can a child make marks without a brush? We will discover this through our varied and exciting activities.
  • Children will explore seasonal colour and you will get lots of picture for your fridge!
  • Sticky pictures… you may have to wait a day or so for these to dry.
  • Junk modelling … you may not know what they have made, but your child will.

We hope these ‘works of art’ offer lots of opportunities to share conversation with your child around their nursery day and their exploration and creativity.

Our pre-school rooms: Letter and Sounds….Listen whilst you work

Children develop speaking and listening when they are attuned to the sound around them for example by concentrating on body percussion, e.g. clapping and stamping, environmental sounds and rhythm and rhyme.

  • Planned key-worker group letter and sound sessions
  • Outside activities – listen to the world around them what do they hear?
  • Making up silly words which may rhyme. Can/do they hear the rhyming words?
  • Having fun with language. Nonsense words
  • Blind fold games – Can you hear what is happening?
  • Instruments – describe sounds
  • Create instruments, stories and rhyme

Gosh we are going to be busy but the learning moments will be plentiful and oh so much fun!

Forest School focus

At Portland we believe that learning can happen both inside and outside the nursery and are fortunate to have free flow access to our very own forest space as well as vast garden space. All our children, ages 0 -5 experience daily sessions in the forest providing all the natural resources children need and offer exciting opportunities to achieve and develop confidence.

During the next few weeks as the weather starts to turn we will be focusing on different ways to connect with nature, and re-introduce the forest school principles. Each day the children will visit the forest and find our ‘sit spot’. We will use all our senses to notice the life around us, the sounds, smells, the sights textures and tastes. Paying particular focus on the sounds of the birds. We will be identify different tones and with practice, will soon understand that birds tell us what is going on around the forest. During time out in the open there will also be storytelling. Talking about our adventures in nature with our families at home trying to act and recall in as much detail as possible.

A reminder of the six key principles taken from the Forest School Association ethos. Click here https://forestschoolassociation.org/full-principles-and-criteria-for-good-practice/

Our families are encouraged to continue learning at home and in this case, any outdoor forest space you can gain access to. You could collect and create some leaf animals using other forest finds for eyes, wings and feet. Perhaps, collect autumn colours leaves and create your very own crown. Design and run your own treasure hunt or memory game. Or even try a spot of wild weaving. Please share and forest adventures with your key person via the parent zone app.

Letters and Sounds

Early literacy skills: why are nursery rhymes so important?

Literacy skills begin at birth. From the moment you start to chatter to your baby, sing nursery rhymes to them and read with them, you are developing your child’s literacy skills.

Research evidences a correlation between reading ability and nursery rhymes. The best readers at the age of 8 are not those children who started to read at an early age but those who knew the most nursery rhymes by heart at 4 years old! This is because these children develop a sound and deep understanding of the sounds in words, an ability to hear and differentiate all the different sounds in words and an ability to decode words – all these skills without even knowing it!

Experts in literacy and child development discovered that if a child knows eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they are four years old, they are usually among the best readers and spellers in their class by the time they are in Year 3. This is due to repeatedly hearing the sounds that make up familiar words and the impact this has on phonological awareness and understanding – in simple terms the ability to hear all the different sounds that make up a word. For example singing ‘Baa-Baa Black Sheep’ enables children to understand that the word sheep is made by combining the sounds sh – ee – p. This ability to ‘decode’ the sounds in a word is an essential pre-reading and pre-writing skill.

In order to make a good start to reading and writing, children need to be listened to and talked with. Portland Nurseries use the ‘Letters and Sounds Phase One in Action’ government guidelines to develop early phonological skills. Letters and Sounds is a national strategy that was introduced in 2007 to “build and develop children’s speaking and listening skills.” Letters and Sounds has proven to be a highly effective way of developing early literacy skills and, most importantly, it’s all the learning is through fun play activities.

The Phase one activities in Letters and Sounds start by concentrating on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and phonological awareness. These activities are intended to be used “as part of a broad and rich language curriculum that has speaking and listening at its centre, links language with physical and practical experiences, and provides an environment rich in print and abundant in opportunities to engage with books.”

So when you are singing your little ones favourite nursery rhyme with them for the hundredth time, just remember you’re playing an important role in developing their literacy skills!


Where can I get support if I am struggling?

Every family faces challenges, some more difficult to manage than others.

Experiencing issues such as difficulties with family life and routines, managing children’s behaviour, difficult family relationships and parenting confidently can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to turn for help and advice.

If any of this sounds familiar you may benefit from contacting The Early Support Service. This is a service which aims to prevent problems from escalating by involving the right services when they are needed. The service is able to support families, children and young people in Kirklees.

The Early Support Service can help in many ways from building your confidence in your parenting skills, helping you to manage your family routines, supporting with parental relationships and conflict in the home and encouraging better behaviour in your children.

An example of some of the support on offer includes:

  • Family Support
  • Parenting Team help
  • Family Group Conferencing
  • Youth work
  • Play schemes
  • Children's Centres

You can request help yourself by completing this referral form or you can speak to your nursery manager for help in accessing the service.

Menu Update

We are now on our three-week Autumn Winter Menu and the children seem to be thoroughly enjoying all the meals and snacks!

Our in-house qualified Nursery Chefs have prepared a nutritionally balanced 3 week, seasonal rolling menu that is designed to give your little ones the very best start in life. We make this possible by providing culturally diverse, home cooked nutritional food, bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables and all the essential ingredients necessary for healthy physical and mental development. Whenever possible we source our food locally and organically, and use the herbs and vegetables we grow in the gardens.

We have been awarded the Soil Association’s Food for Life Award as well as the Green Flag Eco Schools Award. With this in mind, we have followed nutritional guidelines and produced a healthy, low carbon footprint Autumn Winter Menu, with carefully selected teas for easy outdoor eating when the weather allows!

To view our current menu please visit: https://www.portlandnurseries.co.uk/nutrition/menu

Projects Update

Well-being - We have sent out surveys to the majority of parents and staff across all sites and will be collating the results over the coming weeks to enable us to put together an action plan for each site. This will include improvements to staff and children's well-being and also help and support for parents.

Eco - We are due to renew our Green Flag awards next year for all sites, the original renewal date has been pushed back due to some changes in the system at Eco Schools and we now have an extra 6 months to achieve all our targets. Each site has been busy growing more vegetables in their patches and tasting the results!

Community - Now that we are able to have visitors into nursery, we will be busy sending out invitations and introducing our children to their local community. If any parents would like to come in to talk to the children about their job or a special interest, please speak to your child’s key person.

Training Update/focus

The training focus over the summer and this term is the changes to the EYFS. We had a focus on training day and there have been changes to our online learning journals through Parentzone so families will see a difference. Our observations will now be snapshots with a paragraph about what your child has been learning and enjoying at nursery. These will be published twice a month. The other difference is the assessments will now be learning stories. These are a more in depth explanation of the learning that has taken place and our ambitions for the following term. These will be published 3 times a year.

We have continued to train everyone in first aid and this is ongoing as is our safeguarding training.

Throughout September we have had a storytelling focus using props in storytelling and telling stories with and without books both inside and out. Storytelling is a vital part of early years. It develops language, vocabulary, listening and imagination. Stories increase social awareness, bringing experiences to life and creates a sense of awe and wonder.

The focus over the coming months will be on play and learning through play. Play underpins every aspect of a child’s development and is the single most important criteria for healthy brain growth. Play profoundly impacts on our children’s emotional well-being and is a key factor in life-long health and even life-expectancy. We will be exploring how we can support truly magical experiences for our children. Once things start opening up properly we would like to organise events in the nurseries so families can experience play first hand.

Charity Update

Charity brings attention to the most serious issues because it fosters a sense of community and purpose, most people want to help those around them. Charity is important because it raises awareness of issues and gives donors the power to do something about them. Sharing the experience of donating to charity with children shows them from a young age that they can make positive changes in the world.

Children naturally love to help others, so nurturing their innate generosity is likely to mean that they grow up with a greater appreciation of what they have, and will carry on supporting charity in years to come.

Each year we choose a charity to support through our fundraising events. This year we have chosen to support is the Yorkshire Children’s Centre as our main nominated charity for 2021-2022. https://yorkshirechildrenscentre.org.uk/


Modern society is full of social challenges and opportunities.
Our vision is a future where everyone in Kirklees has the opportunity for a better life.

We will of course be supporting other National charities such as Children in Need and other causes close to staff and children in the setting too.

Upcoming Charity events ……

Portland House Nursery

We will also be looking to support local wildlife rehabilitation charities. As part of our curriculum we would like for our preschool and fun club children to form links with them and see how we can support over the coming year e.g. volunteer in the holidays and organise some visits we will have a focus on exploring and teaching the children on how to help our planet and local wildlife, being kind to animals and how to care for them. This will fit beautifully with our green flag award, community and wellbeing being projects whilst raising awareness and following on from all our work attaining the RSPB wild gold award.

Saturday 13th November ‘Sponsored litter pick’ Fundraising for Meltham Wildlife Rescue, helping to clean up the canal. This however, is no ordinary task as our team of pickers will be in full fancy dress whilst collecting litter. We will be setting off after nursery on from Milnsbridge and seeing how far and how many bags of litter we can collect whilst dressed as a very attractive cleaning crew!

Our Eco committee in the fun club have been busy brainstorming their ideas for charity events for the Autumn term full details to follow.


‘Wear your hat to nursery day’ on Thursday 14th October.

We have organised a The sillier the hat the better, all donations are in support of Alopecia awareness.

Christmas Cards – Mini Me Cards the children will be designing their own charity Christmas cards to which donations will


Monday 4th of October to Sunday 10th - Fundraising activities for Yorkshire Children’s Centre.

Baby room ‘Share stories with family and friends’

We are asking for your family and friends of our babies to read as many stories to your little one as they can in the short space of a week. It could be the same story over and over or a variety of books to expand their smiles, vocabulary, enjoyment.

Toddlers ‘Locate 10 x rhyming items – E.G. sock -lock’

We are asking is for you along with your child to locate 10 rhyming items within your home. Please don’t stop at ten if you can find more.

Preschool 30 rhyming items found/seen around your home or local area E.G. Gate/Plate and 20 items that fit together/combine E.G. Salt and Pepper.

We are asking is for you along with your child to locate the items listed above, we are very excited to see the variety of rhyming and matching objects you can find. Enjoy searching!

Holly Bank

Monday 4th of October to Sunday 10th

We are doing a food bank collection for Harvest Festival

“In our community, many people rely on our foodbank not only to feed themselves but their families too. Often, they have nowhere else to turn and without our support would go hungry. But we can't provide our food packs without the support of the community. Harvest Festival is the main time of year when our stocks are replenished, preparing for the busy winter months will be The seasons may change, but our community support remains strong and constant.

We will also be doing children in need and a Christmas fundraiser at our Stay and Play, further details to follow.

A few words from the Fun club children

“Charity is important so we can help people in our community”

“Charity is where people can get free or cheaper things if you can’t afford it”

“We need charity so homeless people can eat, drink and survive”

“People use charity to get something for less or for free and to be able to help people”

Longevity Staff

2 Portland Nurseries staff are celebrating 20 years service

Debbie Platt at Oakwood House and Vickie Sykes at Portland House

2 Portland Nurseries staff are celebrating 5 years service

Yannick Verrier and Elisa Lister both at Portland House

7 Portland Nurseries staff are celebrating 1 years service

Lawrence Buck-Matthews, Emily David and Nina McLean at Portland House, Amanda Griffin, Victoria Nagy and Kiera Parchment at Oakwood House and

Danielle Williams at Harlequin,

Resources/book recommendations

At Portland Nurseries we pride ourselves on our creativity and our resourcefulness. In Oakwood House pre-school room we have been working on a new topic of creating our own toys. Even though we have a vast bank of resources we decided that we could do a project all together and design and make our own dolls house. The children spoke about what we might need for our house and what rooms they have at home. Once they had decided we collected boxes and started the structure, we have also collected carpet, wallpaper and blind samples to include in our house as well. Even though this is a work in progress it has already started coming together and so far we have a three story house with staircases and flooring included. The children have been very excited to show off their house and they are now talking about how they are going to make a garden and a garage. The beauty of a homemade house, there is always space for an extension

Book Recommendations

Mimi’s dream house- this is a book about a mouse who decides to move out away from her brothers and sisters. She decides to build her own house however her sisters help her and create a house which she doesn’t like, her brothers then help her but it’s also a house she doesn’t like so she builds her own which was perfect.


Lets Build a House by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

Usborne first experiences Moving house

The Berenstain Bears Moving Day by Stan and Jan Berenstain

Diary Dates


Evening 24th December and reopening Tuesday 4th January 2022


Stay and Play 11th November Festivals of light

14th December Christmas Crafts

12th January Individual – based on room planning


Stay and Play 18th November Baby room


Stay and Play week commencing 8th til 11th November Individual rooms

week commencing 6th til December Individual rooms

week commencing 17th til 20th January Individual rooms

Charity Events November – Fire fighters clothing donations

December – Christmas Fayre

January – Bobble hat outdoor adventure

Parents Eve 23rd November 6.15pm - 7.30pm Bluebells and Sunflowers

24th November 6.15pm – 7.30pm Poppies

25th November 6.15pm – 7.30pm Daisies and Buttercups

Parties 20th December Babies

21st December Poppies

22nd December Preschool


Stay and Play 8th November 9.45 – 10.45 Babies Story Telling

22nd November 3.45 – 4.45 Toddlers Singing

29th November 3.45 - 4.45 Pre-school Story Telling

Christmas 13th December 8.30 – 9.30 Babies Christmas Breakfast with singing and crafts

15th December 3.00 – 4.30 Toddlers Party time games

16th December 3.00 – 5.00 Pre-school Party – Santa in attendance

21st December 3.00 – 4.00 Toddlers/Pre-school

Christmas songs around the fire pit

Copyright © 2018 Portland Nurseries, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Oakwood House, 2 Hungerford Road, Huddersfield HD3 3AL
Portland Nurseries Limited. Company No. 7538309. Registered in England & Wales.

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