Write away! 

I began writing this on a facebook thread and then decided to devote a blog post to it. 

If you’re anything like me you get to this time of year and begin to panic about your children entering year one and whether they’ll be academically ready for the jump. I see lots of writing being posted around various facebook sites, and think crikey I’m not sure my children would write at that standard consistently without Suppprt. Of course I have a handful of children who are exceeding, I also have a little sprinkling of children who are emerging. Of course I have because children come to me at very different starting points both physically and academically. 

What we do instill in our children is a love and a real WANT to write! This hasn’t happened over night, it has taken hard slog, persistence and a few tears (Yep that’s just from me!!) 

We have massively raised the profile of writing… So how have we done it? 

First of all we got rid of the writing table? WHAT?  I hear you shout! 

I observed who was going into the area, and what they were doing. It tended to be a small group of girls, who write and colour the same things each day. I knew as long as I provided them with the resources they needed they would write anywhere. It was my lower ability boys and middle ability girls that weren’t choosing to write. We did lots of chatting both as adults and talked to the children and came up with lots of ideas to help raise the profile. Here are the things we’ve trialed (some were more successful than others!) 

We filled copious amounts of Pringles tubes with lots of lovely mark making tools 

 
We left out lining paper in each area  

Mark making tools very easily accessible 

  

Each child has a balloon with their name on it hanging on a washing line, every time they do a piece of writing (however long or short) they add a paper chain piece to their balloon. This is a fab way for adults in the setting to see which children are writing/mark making independently and those who need a little more support. 

We also make a BIG deal about celebrating our writing. If children would like to share their work they pop it on my chair and at the end of each session we play “Celebrate” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3GwjfUFyY6M  (but have changed the lyrics to “Celebrate good writing today!”) my colleagues who walk past think we’re barking but the kids love it, and that’s the main thing! 

If you were to ask any of my children where they could write they’d tell you “ANYWHERE!”

  
During our focus writing time the children are grouped weekly by ability. The groups are very fluid and children are placed according to their next steps in writing. The group decide together WHAT  they want to write, WHO they want to write for WHAT they want to write with (crayons, chalk, felt tips, pens, water and paint brush, wands, kungfu sticks!)  WHAT they want to write on (plain paper, coloured, template, paper cut into a shape, lining paper, A3, Tarmac etc etc) 

 
(We use this sheet to evidence what children have written so we can keep a record of genre. I have taken children’s names out for obvious reasons) The notes section is great when it comes to report writing.  

 

I create an ethos within my classroom where EVERY MARK MATTERS! I want my children to have a love of writing that comes from within, I want them to WANT to write because they love it, not just because a grown up has told them! So far so good! I feel a tingly warm fuzzy feeling when I see my gorgeous gaggle led on their tummies writing on clip boards! Please don’t think I am some miracle worker, believe me it has been work in progress but I am delighted in saying that all of the things we’ve tweaked have had a huge impact on giving out children a love of writing x 

  

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Story Trail 

This week our text has been “The hungry Caterpillar” by the marvellous Eric Carle

On Monday we carried out a story trail… For those of you that haven’t ever experienced one of these here’s how it works… 

  1. Photo copy pics from the text
  2. Place copies of each picture in separate baskets (ideally outside)
  3. Children get into pairs 
  4. Zoom around the trail collecting pics from various baskets
  5. Place pictures in correct order
  6. Retell the story In sequence (noting any parts of the story they are missing!) 

                  So what learning has taken place?

  • Great communication and language skills
  • Turn taking 
  • Making relationships 
  • Sharing ideas
  • Sequencing 
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience 
  • Counting 1:1 correspondence 
  • Story telling
  • Retelling events 

Did they know they were learning? Did they heck! Did they have high levels of involvement and enjoyment? ABSOLUTELY! 

Super Heroes! 

How many of your children love Superheroes? Yep mine too… Surprisingly it’s not just the boys either- my girls are just as excited about Superheroes as the boys. 

I am a keen believer in allowing children to take the lead in their learning. I know that so many of our children love this topic and are excited about it that I need to embrace theirove too! 

I began by researching lots of different bits and bobs. Here are the different things I have found useful- they are not all my ideas I will give acknowledgements where I can but some pics I have picked up along the way and I’m not sure where they are from! 

A fantastic document I have read recently is this http://www.islington.gov.uk/publicrecords/library/education-and-skills/information/leaflets/2011-2012/%282012-03-03%29-engaging-boys-leaflet.pdf What do you think? 

   
Block play is just fantastic isn’t it, I think these are awesome designs and love the fact the children have drawn and labelled their designs. It could be good to stick pics of super heros onto the blocks to encourage this more.

  This is a great idea from @jessicawebb92 with using blocks and ping pong balls! Great for control
One of my lovely twitter friends has some great Superhero ideas on her page…  

     

Here is the link to her webpage- do pop over to say hello! 

http://rockmyclassroom.com/2015/02/24/superhero-ideas-for-the-early-years/
   
 

Kids of all ages love puppets don’t they… I found these peg superheroes and thought they would be great not only for CL but to begin a little “talk for write” I can really see my lovely lot using the peg characters and then using some speech bubbles. 

   
 

Just for fun… Here is another fab idea I found whilst googling…! These would make  great end of term photos but also great talking and writing prompts

  • Who are you saving? 
  • What super powers do you have? 
  • What would happen if you flew into the building? 
  • What will you say to the person you are helping? 

 
How about having a Superhero dress up day? Children to make and write invitations! 

  Measuring superheroes using non standard measures. 

 Make a cape for a teddy… What makes the best material for a cape and why? 

   

 These areas are not mine… But I think they are amazing! 

Great books for you book lists… 

   

  

  

  

  

 For those of you that like the look of supertato… I found these fab potato people that look great fun and again could encourage some great writing!  

   Great idea to freeze superheroes In ice

http://rubsomedirtblog.com/2013/07/super-frozen-fun/
 
Making cuffs using kitchen rolls 

  

  Love this idea… Can you climb over and under the laser beams to save Teddy from the baddies? 

   
       And of course a super hero needs a super hero Cape! We have a fab supply of all different types of Super heros! If you would like to place an order  please email me at eyfsmatters@aol.co.uk

Capes are just £4.99 each 

  
Have fun! 

Inspiring Writing! 

I am constantly trying to find ways to inspire my children to write, and in order for them to write they need to be able to talk first! 

I was surfing over the weekend and found some pictures that I think would really make my kidlets chuckle and may just get them talking and in turn  

 writing captions and sentences about what the objects are thinking/feeling/saying etc

What do you think? 

Please feel free to use them and let me know how you get on? 

   
                             

  

Critique and Feedback 

I just had to write a post on this and share with you the fabulous “Austins Butterfly” video that I watched earlier this afternoon. 

As part of our staff meeting today we fed back on various twilight courses that we attended a couple of weeks ago. One that tickled my taste buds was entitled “Growth Minset” and how we can all change our mindset, and also help our children to become more confident in their own abilities thus have a “growth mindset” and not a fixed mindset. 

I need to do an awful lot more reading on this to fully understand it, and to be able to discus it with you further, but one link that was suggested we watch is this…

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hqh1MRWZjms an amazing video entitled Austin’s Butterfly. 
It really just makes such sense to me, not just for EYFS but any year group. 

Looking specifically at EYFS though, it is so poignant. Especially in the way we give out feedback and critique. I try each day to build a class of resilient rhinos that keep on trying, and find new ways to do things and different ways to approach problems , but some days I’m just not sure that I am successful in my quest. This amazing video proves the need for being resilient and keeping on going. It has made me even more determined to educate our children in the knowledge that there is always scope in trying again and achieving way more than you ever thought possible! 

I guess it’s about educating our children that critique is kind, helpful, and specific. Young children are able to do this very well sometimes they just need a little guidance from us on how to go about it successfully! 

I hope you enjoyed the video as much as I did 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! 

  

Message in a bottle

Message in a Bottle

I’m always thinking of exciting and engaging ways to get young children to write that has meaningful purpose with an element of creativity chucked in!

Whilst out and about I happened to come across these lovely little bottles… they started my creative juices going and “EYFS Message in a bottle was created!”

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