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Goals and Milestones

At Maidenhead Nursery School we value experiential play. We plan rich and challenging activities and experiences for the children designed to spark their curiosity, engage them and encourage sustained shared thinking, such as when building bridges over puddles together and designing homes for chicks. Awe and wonder is planned for, for example through planting, nurturing, picking and eating our own fruit and vegetables and through observing first-hand the life cycles of chicks and caterpillars.

Confidence - Confident to know who to go to and how to find help when solving problems


We would like children to use the language of learning and to be resilient when faced with learning challenges. This supports children in being confident to ask for help when they start school.

First milestone: Children are confident to explore the environment. They demonstrate and express a range of emotions.





Photographs of all staff, including the lunch club support team and office team are displayed at the children’s level and also sent home in welcome booklets before children start.

Information is shared with the children and parents during their induction. Children meet their key person prior to starting nursery and visit the setting. Group time activities explore all of the environments and activities to help the children access the whole environment. Stories such as ‘The Colour Monster’ are shared to facilitate discussions about different emotions.


Explore a range of resources in the environment and manage emotions with support.

Second milestone: Children are confident to have a go and try new things. They are able to label emotions such as happy, sad and angry. Children are able to tell a person when they do not like something and to stop. 

Children are well versed in the rules ‘ready, respectful, safe.’ Children showing effort and going above and beyond are praised. Books and stories about trying new things and expressing emotions are shared. The language of learning is shared with parents and used within focus child learning maps.


Make choices and label emotions such as happy, sad and angry.

Third milestone: Children are able to be confident to ask for help when they are stuck. They persevere at learning that is difficult.




The language of learning is shared and peer to peer learning and asking a friend is supported and encouraged. Children are given responsibilities such as counting the children in the group, delivering messages. Positive relationships are modelled and positive behaviour strategies used consistently with the children. In the moment planning, learning journeys and displays are shared with the children to help build their self-esteem.


Talk about what they are doing using the language of learning.

Final milestone: Children reflect on their learning. They are able to reflect on what helps them to persevere through difficulties and what helps them when they find things hard. They show pleasure and pride in what they have done. Children are able to ask for help.

Vocabulary: confident, help, reflect, explore, ready, respectful, safe, choices, achievement

Talk - talk about what makes them special


We nurture children towards having high self-esteem, an appreciation of diversity and the wider world.

First milestone: Children can make a choice based on their interests, likes and dislikes and know that they can say no. They can identify their family.

Children are encouraged to bring in a photograph of their family from home to display in their group corners. In the moment planning enables adults to plan from individual children’s interests. Adults demonstrate how to manage conflict and resolutions and support the children positively with this. The children are encouraged to make their own choices from a range of high-quality activities and resources.


Make choices and talk about family.

Second milestone:  Children can act out family experiences that are familiar to them.



Resources that reflect the children’s home lives are shared in nursery. Dressing up materials are generic drapes rather than set costumes to allow for different interpretations. Festivals and celebrations are shared and explored such as Diwali, Eid, Hanukkah, weddings, christenings and Christmas.


Acts out a narrative in play.

Third milestone:  Children can notice differences and similarities such as skin colour, gender, types of hair, special needs and disabilities, in picture books and within the setting and wider community.



A wide range of children’s books which better reflect our diverse society are an integral part of nursery and are available for the children to take home.

Our diverse community is shared through multicultural activities and visiting parents and groups such as drummers and dancers.


Talk about differences and similarities.

Final milestone: Children can recognise the difference and similarities between themselves and their peers. Children care for others and know how to make them feel better. They can talk about what they are good at, what they are an expert in and what makes them unique.

Vocabulary: unique, expert, similar, different, choice, festivals, celebrations


follow - Follow a recipe to bake a bread roll 


We want children to become confident in working independently and following step by step instructions.

First milestone: With adult support, children mix different ingredients, including; sand and water, and flour and water to make simple playdough. They use the following tools; wooden spoons, sieves, scoops, rolling pins, cookie cutters and knives. They follow simple recipes in areas such as the mud kitchen.

As children take part in these activities, they become more precise in using scoops (filling the scoop carefully to the top); they count the scoops as they tip them out; they use a wide range of different-sized buckets, tins and other containers. Children become confident in using tools at the snack table to prepare their own snack e.g. spreading butter on toast and pouring their own drink.


Mix 2 substances together using tools.

Second milestone: In a small group children follow the steps in making a chapatti with an adult. The adult draws the children’s attention to the recipe card. With adult help, children use measures (teaspoon, tablespoon, cup etc.) and tip in the ingredients. With adult help, they knead the flour until it becomes soft and cover it. With adult help, they roll the dough into small balls and flatten. They help to cook these and reflect on the process.

As children become more used to cooking, the adult reduces their support for the group. Children also mix other substances together carefully, with adult guidance, e.g. mixing water and powder paint.


Follows all the steps in the recipe card, with support.

Third milestone: In small group cooking activities, children follow the steps in making a bread roll with an adult. They independently fill measures carefully to the top (teaspoon, tablespoon, cup etc.) They recognise the numerals in the recipe card. When they count out quantities (e.g. 3 teaspoons of salt) they say the numbers in the correct order (1-2-3) and they know the last number they say (3) is the total number of spoonfuls they have added.

As children become more independent, there is minimal adult support as they follow recipe cards and follow paint-mixing cards.


Fills measures accurately to the top.

Final milestone: Children follow the steps of a recipe independently. They measure ingredients, mix them and create their own bread roll by placing the mixture onto a grease-proof try ready to be baked.

Vocabulary: predict, precise, accurate, instructions, sequence, knead

create - Create and use an obstacle course


We believe that children grow in confidence through reaching physical milestones.

First milestone: Children explore the climbing equipment e.g. wooden blocks and planks, crates, climbing frame steps, logs to treehouse and sandpit low wall. They identify safe equipment for building and begin to explore their own physical capabilities.


With advice, support and encouragement children begin to move safely whilst maintaining balance and stability. They can start with smaller resources such as the wooden blocks and then larger equipment as they become more confident and capable.

Children begin to communicate to an adult what they are doing.


Balance and climb on equipment.

Second milestone: Children gain confidence in exploring the climbing and balancing equipment.

Children gather equipment to build a structure or obstacle course and show others how to use it.

As children grow in confidence they begin to challenge themselves on more complex equipment such as the chain climbing frame. Adults ask questions and verbalise thinking, modelling the process of ‘what should we do and how should we do it?’. Children respond positively to adults challenging them.


Build an obstacle course and model how to use it.

Third milestone: Children repeat physical climbing experiences and show perseverance when difficulties occur. Children show pride in their achievements e.g. when climbing on the small climbing frame or logs to tree house.

In a group children use equipment to create obstacle course or structure. They develop their ideas and focus on ‘does it feel safe?’

They initially communicate their ideas with adult support and then independently.

Adults encourage children to use the skills they have learnt and encourage them to take part in more challenging climbing activities e.g. the fort or swinging on the monkey bars. Adults verbally support children to climb up the fort.

Children are encouraged to explain their thinking, first to adults and then to ‘tell your friend’. Children start to communicate with each other as they design and build.


Work as part of a group to create an obstacle course

Final milestone: Children demonstrate strength, balance and co-ordination when climbing independently.

Children build a safe, solid structure which is planned for and built collaboratively from a range of equipment where they use a variety of physical skills to move around the course.

Vocabulary: climb, balance, build, safe, communicate, model, group

create - Create a piece of artwork in response to a range of stimuli 


We want the children to use creative resources to express their own ideas.

First milestone: Children experience and explore a variety of media and materials e.g. sensory, painting, potions.

Children begin to explore and access creative activities within the nursery environment, both indoors and outside.


Coordinate movements as media is explored.

Second milestone: Children become more familiar with a selection of resources e.g. different brushes, rollers, sponges etc. They are supported in using new techniques and skills.

As children gain confidence in using a range of media and materials, adults model new techniques and skills. Adults provide the materials, explain how to use them and extend the children’s experiences in order to support them in gaining creative skills and understanding.


Use a range of creative tools.

Third milestone: Children become more confident in mark making, independently choosing different art forms with minimal adult support.

Adults ensure that children experience a range of stimuli. Children use their knowledge of media and materials to creatively explore their interests and fascinations.


Make choices in response to stimuli.

Final milestone: Children independently use a variety of techniques they have learnt to create pictures or models.

Vocabulary: explore, create, resources, tools, materials, techniques

grow - Grow a vegetable, nurture it and eat it 


We want children to understand where their food comes from and to be confident to try new foods.

First milestone: Children are exposed to a range of fruits and vegetables in Nursery.

Children notice and talk about the different types of fruits available at snack time. Adults encourage children to help with the gardening each day. Children are shown how to dispose of food waste.


Notice and explore a range of fruit and vegetables.

Second milestone: Children explore the differences between a range of fruits and vegetables and how they grow.

Children are able to talk about their favourite fruit and vegetables and compare them. They are familiar with a range of non-fiction books about growing and fruit and vegetables as well as fictional stories such as “Oliver’s Vegetables” and show an interest in helping with the gardening.


Talk about fruits and vegetables.

Third milestone: Children are introduced to the concepts of growth and decay and explore where soil comes from.

Children ask questions about how plants grow and are becoming aware of what they need to survive. They help to recycle the food waste into the compost bin.


Talk about life cycle of a plant

Final milestone: Children experience planting a seed, watering it and watching it grow. They are able to talk about the changes that take place and know that a seed needs light and water as well as soil to grow. Children experience picking a tomato, raspberry, strawberry, potato, courgette etc. They help to wash it and prepare it, observe it being cooked if needed and then eat it. They help to empty the food waste into the compost bin and understand that the soil is made from decomposed food and plants.

Vocabulary: grow, decay, compost, nurture, recycle, life cycle, change, decompose


make - Make a model at the woodwork bench


We would like children to learn to explain their ideas and make choices, talking about what they have made and how they have made it. We would like them to be aware of the need to handle tools confidently and safely.

First milestone: Children explore using one handed tools such as: one-handed scissors, knives to spread/cut and wooden spoons to stir/pour.

With adult support, children learn how to use these tools correctly and understand their use. Children begin to understand how to use tools safely and are supported to do so by the adults. Children take part in junk modelling and use scissors and Sellotape to join things together.


Grip a tool and control its movement.

Second milestone: Children confidently use one handed tools to create changes in materials.

As children grow in confidence they are introduced to the woodwork tools and shown how to use these safely. They access the woodwork bench and explore using some tools with adult support e.g. hammering nails into pieces of soft wood.


Control a tool safely and change a material.

Third milestone: Children have repeated experiences at the woodwork bench. They think about what they are creating and how they want it to look e.g. “I’m making a car, it has four wheels.” They are introduced to more tools and how to use these safely.

With support children use tools such as: hammers, hand drills, screw drivers, saws and the glue gun safely and with increasing confidence. They have an idea of what they want to make and how they want it to look.


Talk about what they plan to make, in advance or during the making.

Final milestone: Children decide on the model they will make. They choose the materials they want to use, shape materials with tools, and join materials together.

Vocabulary: estimate, create, design, link, technique, resources


make - Make up a story and act it out 


We want children to be able to speak in a logical sequence when expressing themselves and use their imaginations as writing tools.

First milestone: Children take part in pretend play, making up or developing a story.

Children may begin by pretend-playing on their own with toys like farm animals, wild animals, dinosaurs or Duplo people. They may put on a costume to become a superhero or another character. Over time, their play becomes more complex. They are able to play with other children, developing the play together (e.g. deciding who will play what role in the home corner, or telling a story with the Duplo people where different Duplo people have different characters).


Play out a simple story with toys.

Second milestone: Children take part in interactive reading. They respond to the features of the story. Children engage in number rhymes with props and join in with the actions.

As children become more used to interactive reading, they ask questions and make links between what happens in the story and their own experiences. Children join in with rhymes and songs e.g. repeating words or following actions. Children play with props to retell/make up their own stories.


Play out a story based on a book of rhyme they have heard.

Third milestone: Children take part in telling a story using signs and story maps with adult help or can create their own story of their day using a visual timetable. They begin to become familiar with the way stories are structured.

As children become more used to using actions and story maps, they can increasingly take over and use the symbols. They can make up their own story or ‘tell the story of their day in nursery’ with little prompting from the adult.


Tell a story or narrate using actions and story maps.

Final milestone: Children use the available resources to make up their own story, developing the character, setting, problem and solution for their story. They act out their story to their group alongside their friends.

Vocabulary: resources, create, eventually, beginning, middle, end

write - Write a message to someone 


We want the children to see themselves as writers and use mark making and symbols within their play.

First milestone: Children explore using a variety of mark making materials and develop their gross motor skills through e.g. dancing with streamers and using large paintbrushes.

With adult support children learn to mark make using a variety of movements such as circles, lines, dots and zig zags.


Coordinate movements of both hands.

Second milestone: Children confidently develop their fine motor skills through mark making on paper as well as in a range of sensory materials e.g. sand, gloop, playdough.

Alongside adults modelling mark making, children gain confidence in developing marks using a range of materials.


Use hands, fingers and tools to make marks. 

Third milestone: Children spontaneously mark make in their play e.g. writing signs for their play, creating maps to share with others.

Children talk about the marks they have written in the context of their play.


Make marks for a purpose within play.

Final milestone: Children will hold their pen or pencil with a comfortable, effective grip and use the resources available to write a message to someone and talk about it.

Vocabulary: concentration, precise, accurate, practise, control, grip, read, message


explore - Explore Numicon colours and values to 5 


This supports recognition of patterns, coding, patterning and the cardinal principle.

First milestone: Children take part in finger rhymes with numbers. They show an interest in counting-like behaviour, such as making sounds, pointing, or saying some numbers in sequence. They are interested in numbers in the environment.

Adults introduce and model a range of number rhymes with props e.g. Five Green and Speckled Frogs, Five Little Duck, One, Two, Three Four Five…

Numicon tiles are used throughout the nursery to support children’s play.


Join in with number rhymes.

Second milestone: Children are able to count objects, actions, and sounds to 5 in a sequence.  They can say one number for each item in order: 1,2,3,4,5. They know the different colours and shapes of many of the Numicon tiles. They can show the different quantities on a 5 frame.


Children use counters and five frames to show the ‘Number of the week’ and begin to understand the concept of one more. They use Numicon, and counters on 5 frames to show amounts. They help to select the correct combination of Numicon tiles to represent the total number of children in their group.


Use objects to practice counting.

Third milestone: Children know that the last number reached when counting a small set of objects tells you how many there are in total. They can show you numbers 1-10 on their fingers and using Numicon tiles. They know that when you add more objects to a group the total increases.


They are beginning to subitise to 5.

Children learn that they are subitising when they can see “how many” without counting. Adults ask “what do you see and how do you see it?” Giving learning opportunities to see what totals are made up of . Children are given daily opportunities to count objects, using a variety of resources to represent numbers. Children experience moving objects in different ways and realise that the number stays the same even though the resources are moved.


Subitise and find the total of a group of objects.

Final milestone: Children are able to recognise the colours and values of Numicon tiles to 5 and explore the composition of 5 through use of activities 5 from two Numicon tiles.

Vocabulary:  activities counting, subitise, sequence, pattern, more, less, total, represent