1. Where in Adelaide are you from?
I’m actually from country SA but moved to Adelaide after high school to attend university. We moved from Plympton back to the country five years ago just before the birth of our third child.
2. Where did the name of your blog come from and when did you start blogging?
I don’t actually remember where the name ‘you clever monkey’ came from, I think it was something my mum used to say when she was happy with the work or effort we put into something. I started the blog when I went back to university to study teaching as I was curious about how blogs worked and it was a valuable self-reflection tool. I thought about changing it when I came back to blogging after I started teaching but really couldn’t think of another name that wasn’t already taken that still suited the type of blog it was becoming with time. It seems to be heading more towards school based posts lately because that’s where I’m spending so much of my time right now.
3. How many years have you been teaching?
Not long. This year is my first year teaching full time. For the three years before that I’ve worked a mix of short term long contracts and relief teaching.
4. What age group do you teach and how old are your children?
I’ve taught teach preschoolers up to Year 2 so far. My own three children are 6, 9 and 11.
5. Your recent post ‘Printable Desk Mats’ has been doing really well on Facebook lately – I see it pop up all the time. I think it’s so great that you have free printables available on your website. What are you top 3 most popular printables?
Yes, the desk mats have been very popular but like most of my printables, I made them a few years ago as I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I really like the fruit and vegetable cards. My visual timetable cards have been such a great tool in the classroom. I love pattern blocks so have been using these challenge cards a lot .
I’ve got quite a few more I’ve made for class recently so will be adding them to the blog when I get a chance. You can find all my printables now in the one place.
6. I think you and I share a love of all things rainbow. It was this post ‘Rainbow Stacker 5 Ways’ that first caught my eye and introduced me to the Grimms wooden rainbow stacker – I have the medium size one for Miss M.
Can you explain the importance of open ended play which toys such as this encourage?
Around here some of our favourite ways to play involve small world or imaginative play. Play that lets you pretend, play that lets you take on another character, play that lets you make up the story as you go along, play that lets you take something and give it a new purpose, play that it doesn't matter if you're not all the same age. Over the last ten years as a parent I’ve become better at choosing resources that can add to such play. Intentionally I haven’t said toys because sometimes their play might be centred around something that you wouldn’t find in a toy shop but the shed, kitchen, garden or recycling instead. I encourage my children to see that most items can be used many ways. Some of our all time favourite toys would have to include our MagnaTiles, Schleich animals and, of course, the Grimms wooden rainbow. They always get played with and have withstood years of use. I imagine that they will be in the cupboard when any grandchildren come to play. We also have tubs of loose parts (collected shells, glass gems, different size stones, blank wooden people) and sensory bases (rice, salt, kinetic sand, couscous) in the cupboards for them to use as they wish. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll often see me posting photos of such play on our kitchen floor
7. You have an impressive 6,000 + facebook followers! Can you give me any tips? Mine have been hovering around 660 for quite a while ;)
No real tips. I’ve have a few posts that have been shared by educators in the US and the UK which have bumped my FB numbers along. I’m not always posting new content on the blog now that I’m teaching full time so I will sometimes share older posts on other FB pages. A lot of my posts are evergreen so I can share something I wrote a year ago like my line rocks and still see new people commenting on the post.
8. How did you spend the school holidays?
Relaxing at home mostly. We’d been to Melbourne in the last break so everyone was very ready to stay and play at home. The kids took over the lounge room floor for the duration so that meant dodging three different Lalaloopsy houses most evenings so they could just get up and restart their play the next day.
9. Favourite Quote?‘If we allow people to shape their own small worlds during childhood, then they will grow up knowing and feeling they can participate in shaping the big world tomorrow’ (Sobel, 1990)
Thanks so much for your time Nichole! Here's where you can find Nichole on social media.