Exploring Light, Shadow and Reflection at Strathdearn Daycare Centre

The Children at Strathdearn Daycare Centre have been taking full advantage of the dark clear nights.  By exploring the night sky, they have learned to identify a range of constellations: this has led to discussions on stars, how they are formed and learning about hydrogen and helium gases. 

They have also engaged in a range of fun games, exploring and experimenting with how light travels, playing Night Time Gorse bush Hide and Seek using torches to navigate their way around and communicate with each other.

In the shadow den the children experimented with light, learning about distance by moving objects closer or further away from light and how to position light to create shadows. The children used the shadows to make and tell stories and using coloured finger lights they explored mingling the colours together to create new colours. 

Staff noted having fun in the dark was extremely beneficial in helping to support children to overcome fears and build their confidence of the dark.

Child lead shadowgraphy storytelling

They’ve had great fun playing ‘Nighttime Gorsebush Hide and Seek’ using torches to navigate their way around and communicate with each other.

In shadow den children experimenting with light, learning distance by moving them objects closer or further away from light. Learning how to position light to create shadows. Using coloured finger lights children explored placing colours together to create new colours.

Staff have found this extremely beneficial in helping to support children to overcome fears and build their confidence with the dark.

Help shape the future of out of school care in Scotland

Would you like to help shape the future of out of school care in Scotland? Then why not come along to the ‘Shaping the Framework’ event on Wednesday 6th March in Inverness. SOSCN and the Scottish Government want to hear what you think should be included in the out of school care framework currently in development.

The ‘Shaping the Framework’ event is run by SOSCN in partnership with the Out of School Care Team at the Scottish Government. At this event, SOSCN will share recent sector updates as well as results from recent research with children and parents.

Venue: Craigmonie Hotel, 9 Annfield Rd, Inverness IV2 3HX
Date and Time: Wednesday 6th March 2019, 9.45am – 1,00pm
Refreshments: breakfast rolls, teas and coffees will be provided

Download a booking form by visiting: https://www.careandlearningalliance.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/SOSCN-Inverness-Shaping-The-Framework-Event.doc

Youth Hour at the Scottish Child Law Centre

Every Tuesday and Thursday between 12 am – 1 pm is ‘Youth Hour’ at the Scottish Child Law Centre. During Youth Hour, the solicitors manning the phones at the Scottish Child Law Centre will only take calls from people under the age of 21. 

They can be called free from a landline on 0800 328 8970, or from a mobile on 0300 3301421.

The Best Start Grant – Pregnancy and Baby Payment

The new Best Start Grant is up to £600 to help with a new baby. If you receive benefits or tax credits, you could be eligible. Visit https://www.mygov.scot/beststart/ to find out more.

Bringing Generations Together (Featuring Junior World in Nairn)

The Care Inspectorate has published a document named “Bringing Generations Together”, which includes “Some great examples of intergenerational practice from care services across Scotland highlighting the benefits of bringing people together from different generations“.

CALA’s Junior World are highlighted on page 6 of the document for their fantastic intergenerational work with local care home Whinnieknowe.

The article can be found below, and the full document can be accessed on the Care Inspectorate website [PDF]

Download the full document from the Care Inspectorate website. 

Upcoming training: Needs, Connections and Development

Care and Learning Alliance are pleased to announce our upcoming training: ‘Needs, Connections and Development’. 

Sessions will be taking place in Inverness and Elgin, both in March 2019. Please see our course flyer for more information. 

Click here to book online.

Book your place by filling out our online booking form, or telephone Rebecca on 01349 866749

Thank you to everyone who helped make #lovefromCALA a huge success!

Care and Learning Alliance would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who supported our day of charity fundraising, #lovefromCALA, which took place on the 14th of February 2019. To everyone who baked, pedalled, danced, walked, dressed-up or donated, your support helped raise vital funds for two incredible charities that seek to improve the lives of young people in Highland: Mikeysline and the Hive and The ARCHIE Foundation.

The final amount is still being tallied up, but so far we have raised over £1500 pounds. 

#lovefromCALA was a real team effort, with money being raised by our Inverness and Dingwall offices, our childcare settings all across Highland, our family support and our training team and our fantastic board of directors. We would also like to thank members of the public throughout Highland who dropped money into collection boxes, and to some incredibly generous local businesses who donated fantastic prizes for our raffle. 

The Big CALA Bike Ride

With an exercise bike kindly lent to us by Bannatyne Health Club, our goal was to clock up as many kilometres as possible in the working day. We were thrilled with the number of people who were willing to take a turn on the bike, including office staff, visitors, a board member, a 4-year-old and a 12-year-old, and even an employee from an adjacent office. 


Our aim was to go on a virtual tour of the Highlands, passing as many of our childcare settings as possible. Starting with Inverness settings such as WECC, St. John’s Preschool, Kinmylies, then out to the Black Isle taking in Muir of Ord and Dingwall Ducklings. With some tired legs, we pushed on and made it out to Strathpeffer Out of School Club, Golspie ELC. With a final big push at the end of the day, Office Manager Debbie took our total distance to 161km, enough to reach Tongue ELC.

CALA Childcare Settings

We couldn’t be prouder of the children and staff at our childcare settings, who embraced the spirit of #lovefromCALA by coming up with creative and fun ways to raise money. 

Two of our Inverness settings, Raigmore ELC and Drakies OOSC, went on a sponsored walk to the UHI campus. A long way when you just have little legs! 

The kids of Junior World in Nairn also chose to go for a stroll, handing out hand-made love hearts to passers-by in exchange for donations and the children attending the out of school care held a Valentines Disco. The children at Croilegan Inbhir Narann were dressing in red and doing a word search for their activity.

Wimberley Estate Childcare Centre went back in time to the 1980s, donning their leg warmers and neon headbands to have an 80’s themed disco. 

Cradlehall ELCC organised a coffee morning, with relatives of the children stopping by for a hot drink and a piece of cake. 

The children of Fortrose ELC limbered up and took part in a sponsored exercise session. For one minute they exercised their little hearts out – some danced, some ran on the spot, and some did star jumps. 

Muir of Ord ELC got involved by having a ‘pyjama day’. They also made their own crowns, decorated with lots of love hearts, while Munlochy Preschool Centre children went for a sponsored walk to look for fairy houses!

So many of our settings got involved that there isn’t enough space to mention everyone here! Thank you to all of the children, staff and relatives who got involved and made #lovefromCALA so special. 

Coffee Mornings

Coffee mornings were held at our Inverness office and our Dingwall office, with a steady stream of visitors stopping by to leave a donation, have a chat and enjoy a bit of home-baking. Thanks to everyone who stopped by! 

Again, a huge thank you to everyone who helped  #lovefromCALA raise a fantastic amount of money for two amazing charities! 

#lovefromCALA – here’s what’s happening at CALA centres

Tomorrow is #lovefromCALA day! There are lots of fundraising events taking place throughout Care and Learning Alliance, including our sponsored bike ride, a raffle with some amazing prizes and a coffee morning at our Dingwall office. 

But it’s not just the CALA offices taking part in #lovefromCALA – lots of our childcare settings are getting involved too! Here are some of the ways in which the children and staff at our settings are helping us raise vital funds for two amazing charities: Mikeysline and the Hive, and The ARCHIE Foundation.

If you can’t make it along on the day, please consider donating via our GoFundMe page. 

Junior World in Nairn

The children and staff of Junior World will be going on a sponsored walk around the River Nairn. The children attending the out of school club will be having a mini-disco. And since it’s Valentine’s Day, the children have been making and decorating flowers and hearts to hand out to passers-by to “share the love”. 🙂

Wimberley Estate Childcare Centre (WECC)

The children and staff of Wimberley Estate Childcare Centre will be strutting their funky stuff on the dancefloor, with a charity disco. There will be a prize for the best outfit. 

Tongue ELC

The children of Tongue ELC have been busy baking Love Heart Cookies to sell to parents, relatives, and the local shop. 

Fortrose Pre-School

The children of Fortrose Pre-School will be limbering up and taking part in a 1-minute sponsored exercise (child’s choice).

And lots more!

We’re delighted so many of our settings have decided to get involved in #lovefromCALA and help raise money. Here’s what else is going on:

Sutherland Stepping Stones will be having a coffee and cake drop in. St Sylvester’s Nursery will be decorating biscuits and selling them to parents and relatives. Croilegan Inbhir Narann will be dressing in red and holding a word search competition. Drakies OOSC and Raigmore Out of School Club will be joining forces and going on a walk to the UHI campus. Munlochy Preschool Centre will also be going on a sponsored walk. Dingwall Ducklings and Muir of Ord Preschool Centre will be having a slightly more relaxed time and have organised a pyjama day. Meanwhile, Kinlochbervie Playgroup will be having a Teddybears picnic. Ullapool Out of School Club will be making hearts for people to buy and sharing messages on the ‘Sharing the Love’ board which is up in the local supermarket. 

As you can see, there’s a lot going on across the different parts of Care and Learning Alliance! If you’d like to support our fundraising efforts, please consider donating a few pounds via our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/calabikeride

We’ll be posting updates about #lovefromCALA on our social media tomorrow. Please like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter

The Big CALA Bike Ride – Thursday 14th February

Final preparations are being made for our upcoming day of fundraising – #lovefromCALA. With the big day just around the corner, we thought we’d share with you some of the things we’ve got planned. 

On February 14th, the CALA Inverness office team will be taking part in a sponsored cycle. We will be taking turns on an exercise bike (kindly lent to us by Bannatyne Health Club), embarking on a virtual tour of as many CALA settings as we can reach in a day. 

If you’d like to support us, please visit our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/calabikeride.

All money raised will go towards two amazing charities: Mikeysline and the Hive, and The ARCHIE Foundation.

We’ll be posting updates on social media on Thursday, so please make sure you share our posts! And join in using the hashtag #lovefromCALA!

ICT Support for People With Dyslexia – 25th February 2019, 7pm-9pm, Inverness

The following blog post was originally published on the Highland Literacy Blog

Dyslexia Scotland are running the following event in Inverness on Monday 25th February 2019, 7pm-9pm in Kinmylies Primary School, Inverness.

What is #lovefromCALA?

On February 14th, Care and Learning Alliance will be holding a day of fundraising for two amazing Highland charities: Mikeysline and the Hive and The ARCHIE Foundation. Fundraising events will be taking place at our Inverness office, Dingwall office, and at some of our Early Learning and Childcare Centres. 

If you’re on social media, we need your help to get the message out there! Join in by using the hashtag #lovefromCALA in your social media posts. We’d love it if you could share or retweet our posts on the 14th of February! 

We have a GoFundMe page set up for our fundraising efforts – please donate anything you can spare, every penny counts! 

Who is taking part?

CALA’s Inverness office will be taking part in a sponsored exercise bike ride. We’ll be taking turns on the bike and embarking on a virtual tour of the Highlands, hoping to reach as many CALA centres as possible. We’ll also be selling raffle tickets, with some fantastic prizes on offer. If you’re in the area, pop by for a cup of tea and a piece of cake!

Meanwhile, our Dingwall office will be getting involved by holding a coffee morning, where there will be teas, coffees and sweet treats available.

Some of our childcare centres are raising money too! Wimberley Estate Childcare Centre are holding an 80’s theme party, with a prize for the best costume!

Up in Caithness, the children and staff of Tongue ELC will be baking Love Heart Cookies, which they plan to sell to parents, relatives, and the local shop, with the proceeds being donated to #lovefromCALA. 

How can I get involved?

There are a number of ways you can show your support for #lovefromCALA! 

Who are you raising money for?

Every penny we raise on the day will be donated to two fantastic charities: ‘Mikeysline and the Hive‘ and ‘The Archie Foundation‘.

Mikeysline and the Hive

Mikeysline and the Hive was founded in 2015 after a number of suicides in the Highland area. They have four main goals: to help fight the Highland-wide problem of chronic loneliness, to provide a light in the dark for those in the depths of depression, to offer a distraction from thoughts leaning towards self-harm, and to tackle head-on the staggering rate of suicide in the Highlands.

Learn more by visiting their website. 

The ARCHIE Foundation

The ARCHIE Foundation is a charity that makes the difference for local sick children when they are in hospital or require long-term medical treatment. Some of the services they provide are advanced training and equipment, specialist staff, child-friendly environments, and extensive support to families of sick children.

Learn more by visiting their website. 

Children’s Mental Health Week – 4th – 10th February 2019 – Healthy: Inside and Out

Set up by the children’s mental health charity Place2Be, this designated week shines a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health. This year’s theme of Healthy: Inside and Out encourages everyone to think about how they look after their bodies and minds.

When people talk about being healthy, they are usually thinking about eating the right food, exercising and getting enough sleep. Place2Be reminds us it is important to look after our minds – our mental wellbeing – too. Mental health issues are not restricted to adults: schools recognise that children in every class have diagnosable mental health conditions and many struggle with difficulties in every day living.

Our bodies and minds are connected, so simple things that we do to improve our physical wellbeing can help healthy inside and out our mental wellbeing too. It doesn’t have to be difficult.

Place2Be has produced a range of resources to support parents and children in thinking about how they look after their bodies and minds. It might be talking to each other, a friend or a trusted adult; noticing something that makes you feel good and thinking about why it does; or deciding to do something new to look after your body and mind.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s bodies and minds are different. There’s no such thing as a perfect body or mind so people might pick different things that help them feel Healthy: Inside and Out – and that’s OK!

For more information, including guides for parents, carers and children, check out the Place2Be website at: www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk

If you are a child or parent, you can find out about organisations that can help at: www.place2be.org.uk/usefulcontacts

Children and young people can also call the Childline helpline at 24 hours a day on 0800 1111