Sunday, 28 October 2012

Help Dora the Explorer

Last year, our small community came together and we won the Tesco School Uniform Competition. It was great to see the community come together as we canvassed all our friends and family from across the globe for votes to help our little school win a free school uniform for every child that attended. The feeling of pride and achievement when we won was amazing! Everywhere I looked on the day we found out we had won, all I saw was huge beaming smiles, as everyone was so amazed that such a small town had won and we felt unbelievably proud of our community. 

You can read our story and even watch the documentary that was made (and I appeared in) as an advert for this years competition here;
School Uniform Competition... Did We Win?
Movie Star For The Day
The Winners Story!!!

So when I heard about the Help Dora Help campaign and I was asked to help promote it I was thrilled that I could help another community feel the same sense of pride that we did when we won our community. Yes, winning the prize is awesome, but with winning comes a more important feeling of pride and well-being. We found that even the competition itself was fun as we reconnected with old friends and family members as well as making new ones, both from the community and further afield!

But what is the Help Dora Help? I actually heard about this earlier in the year on facebook and encouraged our local nursery to apply, I even saw a few TV adverts showing the wonderful garden and nature trail that last years winners had created. The winner will receive the amazing award fund of £20,000 plus fantastic discovery and learning equipment to help their very own little explorers.

Five nurseries selected from across the UK have been chosen as the finalists for Nick Jr's Help Dora Help Campaign. The initiative is supported by The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts and is designed to support nurseries, preschools and children's centres in their educational curriculum. Almost 300 nurseries and preschools submitted an entry to this years campaign with applicants from Cumbria, Derbyshire, London and Lancashire elected as finalists. The winner will be decided by members of the public that vote at

"The quality of entries for the Help Dora Help was extraordinary and gave a great picture of the areas of educational interest across UK preschools." said Helena Dowling, Nick Jr presenter and Help Dora Help judge. "With funding required for things such as buying a minibus to creating a mini beast learning zone, the finalists each demonstrate a desire to offer more educational opportunities for their pupils. I am looking forward to seeing which entry the public chooses to receive the award."

Voting is now open to decide which of the finalists will receive the amazing award fund of £20,000 plus fantastic discovery and learning equipment to ehlp their very own little explorers. Voting is open to anyone within the UK and voters can take a look at all five finalists and learn more about their submission at Voting is open until 5pm on the 2nd of November 2012 with the winner if the award announced on 19th November. 

Inspired by the adventures spirit of Dora, Help Dora Help seeks to encourage support education, development and exploration in the pre-school environment. The five finalists for this year's campaign are;

The Old Forge Day Nursery - Findern
The current owners took over a very run down, dilapidated nursery in 2009, since then all funds have gone into creating a safe, secure, warm and loving environment. leaving very little left to invest in new resources for our children. We would love to improve many areas within our Pre-School and Nursery, here's a few. A fabulous Log Cabin in the garden with sensory room, library and dance studio which would greatly enhance the children's senses, imagination, movement, communication, language and literacy! Wonderful role play areas, with structures like castles, pirate ships and other themes, filled with wonderful resources for the children to play and explore! Improve our craft and messy play areas so children would have a greater variety of creative resources like easels, play dough, stencilling, cutting, sticking and fabric and greatly improve our sand and water facilities! Develop our music area, sourcing instruments from around the world!

Walton Lane Nursery School and Childrens Centre - Nelson
we are applying to the Help Dora Help Award Fund to help us enable children from an extremely deprived area such as ours (top 8% and 1%) to experience nature first hand. Enhance our developing nature trail so children can experience and explore life cycles with a natural environment with help from our parks departments. Create a bug hotel with children to explore, investigate and increase their knowledge of mini beasts, nature and conservation first hand. Enhance children's learning of recycling and being eco-friendly by creating the bug hotel from natural and recycled resources. Purchase resources such as outdoor clothes, wellingtons, books, magnifying glasses, binoculars and I.T equipment to enable better understanding and learning. Enrich children's learning about the environment around them, which has naturally developed from activities such as building a wormery. Develop Parental Involvement Activity Days, Dad's groups, Holiday Club etc. which include members of the family and community. 

Greystoke Under 5's - Greystoke Penrith
We are applying to the Help Dora Help Award Fund to help us..
1, 2 we need something new. 3, 4 So we can explore. 5, 6 We can learn more tricks. 7, 8 We could move up down and straight. 9, 10 We could build a sensory den. 11, 12 We could dig and delve. 13, 14 It would be like nothing we've seen. 15, 16 We could bake in a new kitchen. 17, 18 Learning and developing. 19, 20 Please help us learn plenty! We are a dedicated volunteer playgroup based in a rural village with a 15 mile catchment. We would use the award to revamp our tired/basic outdoor play area, or our kitchen which would enhance motor skills  confidence, flexibility, social interaction and exploratory learning. This would benefit the entire community, supporting parents learning with their children. 

Oakmount Day Nursery - Preston
We are applying to the Help Dora Help Award Fund to help us...
We continually strive to do stimulating stuff
Like develop our outdoor area but it's simply not enough! 
Unfortunately the amount of space we have is low, 
and sometimes the children's imaginative play has nowhere to go! 
The purchase of a minibus we think is wild. 
To provide continuous invaluable experiences for every child. 
It would allow us to access our local nature spots. 
And have camping and woodland adventures that were really hot! 
Indoors an interactive smart board would allow learning to come alive.
Technology skills could develop and the children would thrive. 
Discovering together would be a fun way to learn, 
instead of sitting at a computer or waiting for a turn! 
Additionally - to enhance our outdoors we hope. 
We'd like metal detectors, walkie talkies and a telescope! 
All of these things could be packed in a bag. 
And taken on many adventures that are waiting to be had!

Parkfield Childrens Centre - West Hendon
We would like to develop our Early Years playground into an adventure wonderland. We want to provide the children with an area that can be adapted to follow the children's interests as well as build their knowledge and understanding of the world. We plan to build the basic dwellings and places common to most villages across the world, town houses, huts, market places, communal areas, transport links etc, but which can then be "staged" to reflect various countries, cultures, seasons and festivals. We will resources each dwelling with equipment and furnishing which reflect a country/season to support the children's creative and expressive development through active learning, exploration and a truly enabling environment. Ideas include; French town and market, African village and animal reservation, Egyptian desert and river Nile. We can create a winter wonderland or seaside town, we decorate the village in lights for Diwali/coloured paint for holi. 

An expert panel led by Nick Jr's Wake Up World Helena Dowling, alongside Nick Jr representatives and partners including The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts, Dora Magazine and Chad Valley chose the five finalists with each finalist awarded discovery and learning equipment from Chad Valley as well as a classroom visit from Dora the Explorer. 

So why not pop over to Nick Jr and vote for which nursery or idea you like the most and vote for them. Help another community win a fantastic prize and feel the wonderful feeling of a community coming together to win, that we felt last year!!!

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