Play is just play… It needs no explaining!

I found this awesome quote from Fred Rogers whilst surfing around the net this morning! (Cup of coffee in hand- my favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday morn!)

Too often some practitioners will ask… “But what are they learning- they look like they are just playing!!”

Hands up if you’ve ever experienced this?

I tend to get my ikea fold out soap box out, and explain that although they are “just” passing a ball to each other, two months ago that little 4 year old there used to spend the whole time hurting other children because he/she hadn’t learnt YET how to use their words to convey feeling, that most of their time was spent being changed by a grown up because they hadn’t yet developed an understanding of personal care. That two months ago they wouldn’t have been able to catch the ball yet with two hands, because their hand to eye co-ordination wasn’t developed enough.

I then put away my fold out ikea soap box, and disappear in a puff of smoke to the thick of my learning environment to watch children at play, and extend their learning!!!

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Are you a puddle parent?

I am a definite puddle parent, my children at school know if its raining more often than not we’ll grab our wellies and waterproofs and head on out!

Last friday it was absolutely tipping it down, we donned our wellies and waterproofs and spent a delightful afternoon splashing in puddles and hunting for snails and slugs!

We had a few minor incidents, one of which consisted of me dropping my iPad in a puddle, but apart from that all was grand!!

I didn’t see one littley with a sad face, what I did see though was big huge smiles, giggles, whoops to be free of the stuffy classroom! Children jumping, chasing, hoping, running, discovering, chatting, squealing with delight!

So…. Are you a puddle parent? Or do puddles get you in a muddle? Would love to hear below!

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Creativity just makes my heart sing! 

I love watching children explore and create with loose parts. One little poppety and her friend worked for a long time yesterday on this marvellous creation- I tried to stay well back whilst listening to their lovely conversation. It always amazes and fascinates me to watch friendships and relationship build and blossom over the year. The two girls who created this masterpiece have only just “found” each other over the past few weeks, but I can already see their relationship developing and growing day by day! 

   
   
I am such a firm believer in the Prime areas of the foundation stage, this gorgeous pair wouldn’t have been able to complete such a fantastic outcome had they not had a solid foundation of PSED, C&L and Physical Development.

Watching the joy on their faces as they worked together on the same theme was yet another reminder as to why I do the job I do, and also how important child led learning is! 

  
What has inspired you this week? Please leave a comment below 

Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket…

As today is National poetry day, we embraced poetry, grabbed it with two hands and ran with it! 

My year group colleague is the Literacy co-ordinator at our school and found the most fantastic ideas based around twinkle twinkle little star. 

We began by playing our children this beautiful animation by my good friend Jim! http://youtu.be/ata6QbvRQpc

We then talked about all of the words that rhyme within this song. The kidlets were just fab at hearing the rhyming words. We talked about how a poem is just like this with lots of rhyming words. 

During fruit time we read “How to catch a star” by the utterly fabulous Oliver Jeffers. The children adored the book, it truly is magical! 

 
We had lots of children who “just got it” but others who didn’t quite understand the concept of reflection. We talked together about what activities they would like to do. It was agreed they’d love to create the night sky with twinkly stars. 

We set to to create this. We used inks and pipettes and straws to blow the ink across the paper. 

   
    
   
Once the art work is dry, the children would like to add their own stars. 

It was fantastic to see lots of examples of COEL in fact I am pretty confident that I observed every characteristic at some point during this little activity. The children were wowed with their finished masterpiece and each one was as individual and special as them! 

We then decided to try and make some glitter stars in laminated sheets….

When I say it was a complete and utter disaster I am kidding you not- lets just say I now realise that my scrumptious little lot have a secret love affair with glitter (who doesn’t)and I think I owe our cleaner a big box of chocolates! Ooppsssss

You know you’ve had an interesting day when you find glitter in your bra!!!

Ta ta for now, whilst I shimmer off and say Toodledooooooo!!!

Deconstructed role play 

Many of you will know I have written about this before…

I have a real passion and innate desire to allow children to be free in their own creativity. 

In our setting gone are the days where we create a Gruffalo cave (I’m not being funny… How many gruffalo caves have you been in? Me neither and even if I had I’m not sure what play I’d do in there?) I hold my hands up and say that I used to be that teacher that would print off a load of key words, spend hours laminating them and stick them up in “MY” role play area, and expect the Kidkets to sit with a clip board and write them down, or read them and use them in their conversation! Of course they didn’t use them… All that was happening was a big old waste of a few hours spent at the laminator! 

What I do do is spend my weekends trawling round various supermarkets and shops asking for boxes so that I can provide my children with a great range of different types, sized, shaped boxes that can be whatever the heck they like! 

Today was one of those days my heart felt happy, and a few goose bumps appeared on my arms! (Ok it doesn’t happen every day- but you know that feeling when it does!)

I looked over to our role play and this is what greeted me…  

  
I literally whooped and cheered! I think  I perhaps made a few children jump with fright in the process! (Oops- surely they are used to this crazy lady by now!!)  

I was totally blown away by the creativity, craftsmanship and collabation that had gone into this design. Not only had they cut the paper into a flag shape, drawn the skull and cross bones, attached it to the mast (big tube) tied the mast onto the box with string! But they also presented their plan!  

   

“We decided what we wanted it to be first” they said “So we drew it!”

And there we have it… Creativity in its simplest form!!

Coloured Pasta

I really wish you could have seen my kitchen half an hour ago… It literally looked like we’d been burgled by the food colouring police! It was one of those moments (I’m sure we’ve all had them) where I thought “How the heck am I going to get out of this mess?”

For those of you that know me well, you’ll know I always bite off more than I can chew… Instead of just dying one lot of pasta I decided to not only make and dye spaghetti but also alphabet pasta and stars! I could literally start up a pasta parlour with the amount of pasta we have in our house at present! 

The reason being… I want to provide my children with an exciting, engaging opportunity to investigate capacity this week. The pasta will not only be a fab sensory experience but will give them a great resource to develop mathematical thinking. 

Here’s how I got into the mess I did…

  1. Cook your desired pasta (my advice, just stick to one variety!         
  2. Drain as normal and pop into a large mixing bowl  
  3. Add a glug (technical term!!) of Olive oil to coat the pasta  
  4. Now add a few drops of food colouring (I needed more than I thought I would!)    
  5. Find a little person to help mix the colour through the pasta   
  6. Lay the pasta on a baking sheet to dry!          

Et Voila there we have the worlds largest amount of coloured pasta! 

Whilst I was making the black stars it did make me think how fab this would look set in jelly as “frog spawn” if I had the energy I’d do this, but for now all I have the energy for is popping the kettle on and having a cup of tea and a nice custard cream! 

Happy Sunday Lovlies x 

Deconstructed Role Play

I’ve had lots of people asking me what a deconstructed role play is and how it works. So here we go… 

  
I first saw the idea on an amazing blog I follow written by ABC does! If you haven’t come across his site you really must  pop its a great read for EYFS. We have used lots of his ideas as talking points in our weekly EYfS team meetings. In fact my colleagues say I talk more about Alistair than my hubby!!!! 

So what is a deconstructed role play! And how does it work? 

  
It’s basically role play that allows children to be totally in control of their own learning, for them to take ownership of their ideas, and for them to drive their learning forward with us as practitioners to help them extend their thinking with careful questioning and suggestions for higher order thinking and next steps. All of which are key to outstanding early years practice! 

  
It took me a little while to get my head around letting go… We always had a beautifully created role play, always linking to topic with key words plastered around (that the children never used) and gorgeous writing templates connected to this (that the children never wrote on- because they were our ideals and not theirs!) and went down the deconstructed route! 

  
This is simply a collection of different sized boxes. You will find yourself best friends with any delivery driver, routing through various skips and making special trips to super markets way after closing time! I have found the best place to collect locally is our “Iceland” store. They have fab boxes of all shapes and sizes which are plain cardboard allowing the children free reign on mark making and creativity. 

  
Once you are armed with your boxes, you need a space in your setting to allow your children space to create and design. I have also positioned our deconstructed role play near a white board so the children can use the board to mark make and add to their ideas. I have seen some children using this board to draw sketches of their designs (this happens less frequently but the opportunity is there non the less) if you haven’t got a white board a lovely roll of lining paper will suffice. 

Then let their little minds do the rest. Each week we add a different enhancement. These could be as follows…

  • Material 
  • Rope
  • String 
  • Tarpaulin 
  • Hats 
  • Dressing up clothes
  • Masks
  • Puppets 
  • Tyres 
  • Steering wheels
  • Bamboo canes
  • Wheels
  • Sheets
  • Branches 
  • Cable reels 
  • Logs 
  • Large/small tubes 

Just as we would do with literacy and maths , we plan opportunities to model sessions in the deconstructed role play, but ensure that our children take the lead. 

  
The one rule we have is that you don’t have ownership of your box, what may have been a car in a previous session could in fact be turned into a castle in the next! 

  
We tend to replenish boxes on a weekly basis- ensuring there is plenty of scope for new design and imagination 

I always provide masking tape, scissors, cellotape, string, marker pens and felt tips so the children can turn their boxes into anything that floats their boat. 

Often I just stand back and observe! 

The observations I have collected have been second to non- the world is your child’s oyster when it comes to plain, blank boxes! Give it a go…

I’d love to hear your outcomes!