Book Review: 50 Fantastic Ideas for Tuff Tray Mathematics by Sally Wright.

So I’m hoping that you get this feeling too? That feeling that a new book you’ve been expecting arrives and it’s just brimming with inspiration. Today I got that feeling when Sally Wright’s latest edition to the “50” series, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Tuff Tray Mathematics.

Now this isn’t a huge tome that requires your devoted attention (and that isn’t a criticism, it’s certainly an advantage), this is most definitely one to dip in and out of and be inspired each time that you do.

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If you compare this book to Sally’s previous book, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Tuff Trays, then you can see that she has also been on a journey or learning and development in her practice. The activities in the new book are very much based around the way the children have interpreted them and not necessarily with a fixed purpose from the adult.

The book is also organised into some great sections which feature in daily nursery life such as schemas (transporting), small world play, mark making and creative play to name a few. One of my favourite sections was “use what you’ve got” as it really didn’t require anything that any reasonably resources early years setting would have.

I’m reading this book while on a week off at home (no abroad holiday for us this year!) and it’s frustrating. No, not the lack of abroad holiday, but the fact I’m at home and really want to go to Nursery and get out all the scales we own and pile on the porridge oats and scoops (You’ll need to look at page 28 to see what I’m burbling on about), however I can use this time to prepare my plan of attack with the tuff tray.

I’m not mathematically minded in the slightest, physical play and storytelling are my specialities, however this book doesn’t require you to be Carol Vorderman (or Rachel Riley depending on how old you are!) it just wants you to set up an inviting tuff tray that the children can come along to and not feel pressured into doing an activity carefully curated by you to crowbar them into completing an outcome of the EYFS.

If I have to say one negative thing about this book it’s this, 50 activities aren’t enough. I’ll have gone through them in a week if I have my way!

Sally, HELP!!

Dissertation Realness

Rather than sashay away, I’ll be more Shantay, you stay (Drag Race reference for you there folks!)

Now I’m about to start the final year of a degree I’ve got the mammoth (read gargantuan) task of choosing and then writing my dissertation. I roughly know my topic but will need to tidy it up to submit my proposal.

What’s that? You want to know what it is?

Oh, well ok! I’m looking at physical literacy in children and how we should focus on that to improve the children’s abilities for writing later.

As I said it is very much in the embryonic stage of development but I’m wondering if my lovely TMP Tribe can help me with useful reading, guidance, research or resources?

If you can then feel free to message me on my social media channels or drop me an email to as it would certainly help.

Product Review – Nursery Nook Nook Club Subscription

Glenn (AKA The Male Practitioner) reviews the monthly subscription box from Nursery Nook’s Nook Club. This amazing monthly subscription gives you the opportunity to explore the world of open ended play as James delivers a carefully curated box of resources to your doorstep each month. Watch the video as I open up my latest delivery of delights.

If you want to know more about The Nook Club, including up to dates costs, then visit the Nursery Nook website by clicking HERE

James is also on social media, you can visit him on:





The Musings of The Male Practitioner

It’s Saturday morning and I’m having a muse about the first week back at nursery after lockdown and how, as a sector, we showed how important Early Years truly is and why we need to shout about ourselves more to receive the government funding we actually deserve. #EYRevolution

Feel free to comment on here on on my social media pages and tell me how you feel, I’d be interested to know I’m not alone in my musings?

Product Review – Outdoor Activity Cards from Cosy Direct

In this video. Glenn (AKA The Male Practitioner) has the opportunity to review two sets of outdoor learning cards from Cosy Direct. The Waterproof Mud Pie Recipe cards and Creative Star’s Messy Maths 50 Things To Do Before You Are 6 And 3/4.

You can find the Mud Pie Recipe Cards by clicking HERE

The Messy Maths Cards can be found by clicking HERE

You can also explore the whole of the Cosy Direct range by visiting their website at

Cosy are also on social media here:




Product Review – Just Jigsaws Fruit Peg Board

In this video Glenn (AKA The Male Practitioner) reviews this classic product from the legendary British puzzle manufacturer Just Jigsaws who have been making durable and classic products for Early Years since 1973.

If you want to know how this puzzle was made then they have a great video on their facebook page, just click HERE

You can view their whole range on their website at

Ordering is easy, just use your normal supplier or order direct by visiting

Just jigsaws are also on a variety of social media platforms:




Product Review – Small World Superheroes supplied by Early Years Direct.

In this Product Review Glenn (AKA The Male Practitioner) had the opportunity to review the Just Jigsaws Small World Superheroes set which was supplied the Early Years resources company Early Years Direct.

Early Years Direct are small but mighty with fast delivery and super friendly customer service. You can visit them online at and explore the wide range of equipment, resources and supplies for babies and beyond! Not forgetting they do free delivery on orders over £75!

The current retail price (inc. VAT) for this set is £45.60, they can be found by clicking on this link HERE

This is me!

It’s not often I talk about myself on here, I tend to leave my home life at home and talk about practice or sharing practice with other amazing individuals here on this website. However, with this strange new world we are now emerging, and particularly with the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations it’s made me think about equality and diversity even more. In my setting we have a variety of cultural background and it’s just a wonderful, eclectic mix and provides the children and practitioners with the opportunity to learn about, and respect, different cultures.

If you remember all the way back to your training you will know that children are very much open and accepting to anything and this is why attitudes such as racism are a learnt behaviour and because of this we can understand some of the reason behind Black Lives Matter.

I can understand and empathise with this whole movement as I have faced discrimination in my lifetime simply because of who I choose to love. I’m gay.

If you’re wondering why I’m associating being gay with the very visible, current struggle that members of the BAME community are facing then it’s like this. Just recently, as it’s Pride Month, I’ve been watching some programmes that were made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wolfenden report. This report was first published in 1957 and finally saw a change in the law 10 years later in 1967 which saw the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Yes, that’s right, it was illegal to be gay. That wasn’t the end of descrimination against gay men and women though and during the 70’s and 80’s you could still be sacked for being gay. It became against the law in the 80’s for schools to even talk about being gay because of Section 28. A gay relationship with termed to be “pretended” like it was just playing at being family. It took until the 90’s for some sense of equality to begin happening for gay men and women. However, there are still some countries where it’s still illegal to be gay and can be punished by prison, stoning or even death. So yes, I can relate to the BAME community.

Now, I’ve been married to my husband for almost 3 years and we’ve been together for 7 years and in that time he’s supported me wholeheartedly in my journey in Early Years. He shoots all the videos for my website and reads over articles I submit. He’s also been there to encourage me in furthering my qualifications from my SVQ Level 4 and my Level 5 diploma and not that I’ve applied to complete my degree. He’s even come in with me on several weekends to help me tidy and re-arrange play rooms at nursery. Why does he do this? Because he understands just how important this vocation is to me (it’s him who calls it a vocation).

However in my past I’ve been subject to discrimination because of my gender and questioning because of my sexuality. I’ve had a manager in a previous setting actually corner me in the kitchen to ask me if I was gay purely because she had overheard parents talking about whether I was or not. I wasn’t out at the time (I didn’t come out properly until I was 29). It was scary but I said yes, I was.

I’ve also had a parent ask my manager to stop me changing their child’s nappy because I’m male. This hasn’t just happened once but in three different settings and always before they’ve got to know me. Thankfully one parent who protested at a man changing nappies later came and apologised to me when she realised her child had such a good bond with me and talked about me positively at home. I’ve also had the backing, and support of my managers who have had to say to parents that I’m a qualified, experienced practitioner who has undergone all the same checks as my female counterparts.

In my current setting I made the decision before I started to be more myself and not hide who I am or who I live with. That’s not fair to my husband who has supported me in my journey as well as to the children who won’t have the chance to understand that there are lots of different families out there and we are all part of this one world. A world that is full of colour, vibrancy and life of all sorts. I’ve spoken about my husband with my preschool children when they asked who was with me on the postcard I sent from our holiday. They just accepted it and moved on to the next thing in their busy day.

It’s as important that my colleagues in the LGBTQ+ community are open and honest with who they are as my wonderful colleagues in the BAME community are. We have so many rich experiences to share with children, let’s not hide them.