When #EYshare discussed Play

Last week’s #EYshare was all about Play (20/02/2019). It was a fantastic chat with lots of thought-provoking discussion, and I’m going to summarise some of the key ideas here.

N.B. I would usually collate the tweets BUT my trusty storify is no more and twitter moments decided not to work for me at all! If anyone can recommend a good way to collect a large number of tweets together, I’d love to hear about it!

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Q1. We all agreed that play and learning are inextricably linked. There can, however, be a wide variety of terms and synonyms which can cause confusion – such as playful learning, play based learning, pure play, free play etc. For some people, playful learning could be play which is more controlled by the adult, whereas play is perhaps more organic. In whatever way that play occurs, it is essential that teachers/practitioners are flexible and are able to follow children’s interests and needs. They must also take relevant observations and scaffold learning where appropriate. Adults may also be responsible for creating play environments which are conducive to learning.

There was also some talk about various terminology being perhaps used to try to justify play when it occurs in our educational settings. Many people agreed that we still feel that we need to justify play, particularly perhaps to parents and families.

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Q2. One of the major problems when it comes to play in schools is time. Time is a huge issue for many reasons, but with teachers already having a crowded curriculum and short school days, play can often be pushed to the bottom of the priority pile. It is often squeezed in to ‘golden time’ or used as a reward after other work has been completed, rather than being embraced for its own sake. It was suggested that there is a place for play in schools, as long as it is planned and purposeful, and note used as an excuse for teachers to take a bit of time off.

Q3 and 4. These 2 questions are linked, as were the answers and discussions. Some people felt that written logs and annotations are a great way to observe play. Other suggestions were using photos or a sequence of photos and annotating the learning. I loved the phrase “Listen, Note, Quote” as it emphasises the importance of listening first, taking down your notes, and then including the children’s voice. One tweeter commented that they keep their observations and next steps in their head, and that this is great for being able to plan responsively and in the moment. It was also recognised that pupils should be involved, as much as possible, in the planning and next steps for their learning.

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Q5. Whilst it may be slightly frustrating for an adult to set up lovely activities, and have some children ignore them in favour of playing the same game day-in and day-out, many tweeters argued that we should recognise the value of what these children are doing and what they are getting from it. The child may be learning new and different things through playing in a way that is familiar and comfortable to them. They will likely move on from this when they are ready to do so. It was suggested that a teacher/ practitioner could use the interest to cover many different aspects of learning. It may also be possible to introduce new resources into that play, or to bring the favoured toys into new areas to try to encourage the child. It was also suggested that the particular toy/ activity might not be on offer for a while to allow the child to explore other options.

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Q6. Many of us used to feel that it was right for children to share, but on reflection many of us now feel that sharing depends on context. Turn taking and social skills are important but children need to know that they don’t necessarily need to hand over the toy that they’re playing with, or equally they might not get a toy right away. Adults should also be helping the children to understand rather than just being told to share.

This is a very brief round up of some of the wonderful ideas and points that were shared during the chat. I really enjoyed the discussion and it reminded me yet again of the importance of play in our children’s lives. Working with my EYP hat on, I know and live this, but with my teacher hat I need to work a bit harder to see how play can be utilised and embraced.

I’d like to give a huge thank you to:

@JamesEYFS @early_miss @edublether @LyndseyJF @StacyBenge @earlyyearsMrs_R @Eyfs4M @SuzanneAxelsson @Primaryteachks @signoramac @DavidN_Cahn @foresta54 @kenadams777 @sarahmay_90 @MisterTeachYT @blueybaloo @CiarnaC @airasams @AndreaDPowe @TeresaAslanian @MsNursery

(apologies if I missed anyone!)

If this post has peaked your interest and you have anything to add to the discussion about play, please tweet using the hashtag #EYshare. Alternatively, you could add a comment below.

#EYshare takes place every Wednesday at 8pm. This week we will be chatting about literacy in the early years and I’m sure it will be another great chat with lots of ideas being shared. We’re a friendly group and always welcome new-comers, so please do come and join in!

Finally, I’m looking for guest hosts to cover #EYshare sessions while I am on teaching placement. If you are interested, please pop me a message @EarlyYearsIdeas.

Easter Ideas

2018-03-20 12.44.54-1Hooray! I love Easter! Being a massive chocoholic helps, but it’s also great to see Spring underway and things coming to life after the long winter. My daffodils have started popping up and I’ve even been lucky enough to see some sunshine this last week!

Here are a few fun Easter themed activities that you might be interested in for the long weekend:

Easter Egg Rolling (Science/ Maths) 

This activity really does what it says on the tin. You can use chocolate eggs, hard-boiled eggs, or plastic eggs. Even better if you have a combination and they’re different shapes and sizes.

WARNING: BE AWARE OF ANY ALLERGIES BEFORE USING REAL EGGS

So what do you do? First you’ll need a ramp of some sort. You could use a slide, a plank of wood, or a large piece of cardboard (easy!) Fix it into place and then – you guessed it – roll those eggs! The science and/or maths comes into it if you decide to look at the distance that the eggs might travel after they leave the ramp. You could measure this using a ruler or tape measure, and this brings in some important measuring skills. The science element could be to look at the reasons why some eggs travel further/ faster than others. You could also try sticking a rug/some felt/ bubble wrap/ any other material with an interesting texture, onto your ramp to see if it changes the distance that your eggs travel.

Easter Egg Hunt (Social Studies)

Everyone knows about the good old Easter Egg hunt! But why not add in some extra fun and learning by using a map to find your eggs?

The first thing to do is to create a map of your garden or room (wherever the eggs are going to be hidden). This doesn’t need to be complicated, and is best created together with the child(ren) so that they have a good understanding of what it means. See my example below:

Map

Once you have your map, it’s time to hide those eggs! Don’t forget to mark on the map where you’ve hidden them. This is also a great opportunity to practice some positional and directional language.

Now let the fun begin! You could even repeat the activity by letting your child/ children hide am egg and mark it on the map for you to find!

Easter Baking (Health and Wellbeing/ Maths/ Literacy/ Science)

I love baking cakes almost as much as I love eating them! I wont bore you with any recipes on here because there are so many online for you to find, but if I was going to suggest a couple for you to try I would say – Nest Cakes or Rock Cakes. Both are super simple and really yummy!

Maths comes into baking when you measure out your ingredients. You can use scales or count scoops, either way this is great maths practice! Literacy is involved when you and your child follow a recipe together. The science aspect is a little more complicated, but can be simplified through a simple conversation about how things change – for example melting chocolate (solid to liquid, and back again), or baking the mixture so that it changes from a sticky gloopy mess, to solid cakes. Finally, Health and Wellbeing is important with baking, particularly when you think about hygiene, such as washing our hands before touching food. You should also be talking to your child(ren) about safety, particularly if you are using the oven, or anything like boiling water.

You may also want to talk to your child(ren) about different foods and which are healthy or unhealthy. This is really relevant at Easter when the focus is very much on chocolate and sweeties!

Decorating Eggs (Art/ Maths)

You can approach this activity in a few different ways:

  • Paper templates
  • Polystyrene eggs
  • Real (hard boiled) eggs

WARNING: BE AWARE OF ALLERGIES BEFORE USING REAL EGGS

With a paper egg (you can find these online, they can either be a simple egg-shaped outline, or can have patterns drawn onto them for colouring), you can explore colour, shape, pattern, and design. Use crayons, felt-tips, paints, stickers, or anything else to make the eggs look fantastic.

Polystyrene eggs can easily be decorated using stickers or felt tips. These are a little more tricky to work with because they are 3D and require some hand-eye co ordination.

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Real eggs can be decorated with felt pens or paints. I recommend poster paints mixed with PVA glue for those bright, shiny colours that look fab. Again, some co ordination is needed to manage this activity. Best to cook a few spares as there are bound to be breakages!

When you’re decorating eggs, you can encourage your child to think about pattern by asking them to think about what might come next, for example if you’re painting spots: red, blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow, red… You can also introduce them to the fun language of shapes and patterns, such as zig-zag, or criss-cross!

 

 

What do you have planned this Easter weekend? Pop me a comment below or tweet to me @EarlyYearsIdeas to let me know!

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Third Trimester – Hooray!

Oh my goodness, how can it be? I’m onto the home straight! The last time I posted I was a mere 16 weeks and now at almost 28 weeks everything is starting to feel very real.

There have been a few developments since I last posted. Firstly, at the 20 week anomaly scan we were delighted to discover that bubba is growing perfectly and there are no signs of problems. We also decided to find out what we are having (I couldn’t resist) and it turns out that baby is a girl ❤

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At 21 weeks (Christmas eve,eve), I had a bit of a nightmare. I got up as usual and went to the bathroom to find… blood! Well as you can imagine, I was terrified that something terrible had happened and we rushed down to the hospital. After a short wait (it’s a bit like A & E where you get seen as and when) I was taken into a side room with a bed, a bathroom, and lots of intimidating equipment. I really have no experience with hospitals, so along with the worry of what was going on with my baby, I was pretty anxious about being in that environment. Luckily, the midwife that came to see me was really lovely. She asked me what had happened and took a urine sample. Then she listened in to baby’s heartbeat and all seemed fine. Finally (I knew it was coming) she told me that she’d need to examine me. Queue the undignified pose with that pathetic bit of paper which does nothing to cover anything! Oh and the spotlight!

The good news was that there was no obvious signs of anything wrong, and they took a swab for further tests, and let me away. Apparently sometimes these things just happen!

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At 25 weeks I had another panic. On the previous days I had felt a lot of movement from my little one (I love it so much), and then I had a day where I hardly felt her at all. It’s not that I hadn’t felt ANY movement, more that I had only felt her once or twice, and the movements that I had felt were weak in comparison to the big kicks I’d been getting before. I tried all of the usual tricks – drinking cold water, having a sugary snack, laying on my left side in a quiet room and focusing… nothing seemed to be doing the trick. In the end I dragged the husband back to triage again. I spoke to yet another absolutely lovely midwife who reassured me and checked baby’s heartbeat. Everything appeared to be fine, thank goodness. It’s possible the baby had moved and so I couldn’t feel her kicking as much.

There’s a fabulous charity called ‘Kicks Count‘ which provide advice to expectant mothers. I have downloaded their app which I use to keep track of how often I have felt baby move during the day and it helps to reassure me. Kicks Count advise people to ALWAYS get checked if they feel like there has been a reduction in movements, and I must say that the staff at the hospital appear to share the same opinion – it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If I were to give any advice to a pregnant lady, I would say that if you are worried at all, never hesitate to call your midwife or the staff at maternity assessment.

 

Well I think that’s enough of a ramble for one post! I wish I was closer to being ready for baby to arrive, but I am getting there slowly and surely. I will post again soon (as long as I don’t drown in this mountain of university deadlines!)

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Advent Activities (24th December)

We made it!! Today is Christmas Eve! I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone.

Our last activity is to:

Track Santa!

There are (at least) 2 wonderful websites that allow you to follow Santa on his journey around the world:

Google Santa Tracker

NORAD Santa Tracker

Have a look at where he has been, and where he’s heading to now!

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All that’s left is for me to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has had a look at my Advent activities. I wish you the most wonderful Christmas and New Year, and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2018.

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Previous Doors:

 

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-Dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letter to Santa

Day 5: Christmas Role Play

Day 6: Scented Pictures

Day 7: Christmas Baking

Day 8: Home-made Christmas Cards

Day 9: Christmas Puzzles

Day 10: Do Something Kind

Day 11: Feed the Birds

Day 12: Go for a Walk

Day 13: Festive Playdough

Day 14: Read a Christmas Story

Day 15: Paper Snowflakes

Day 16: Christmas Movie

Day 17: Ice Play

Day 18: Christmas Around the World

Day 19: Christmas Colouring

Day 20: Sensory Bottles

Day 21: Singing

Day 22: Design a Christmas Tree

Day 23: Feely Game

Advent Activities (23rd December)

We made it to the weekend! And what’s even more exciting is that it’s Christmas Eve Eve! Today’s activity is all about description, so using loads of wonderful language.

Feely stocking game

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This game is really simple! All you need to do is find some items or toys that have an interesting feel. These can be anything: a spoon, a candy cane, a toy car…

Pop one item into a stocking (in secret) and allow the child to reach inside and feel it. They mustn’t take it out or peek!! Encourage them to talk about what they can feel – is it hard or soft? Is it bumpy or smooth? Is it round or flat?

At the end of the game the child needs to have a guess as to what the item is, and then they can take it out and see if they were right!

Then you simply put a new item into the stocking and let the next child (or the same one if you’re playing with just one) have a feel!

 

Have fun!!

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Image from pixabay.com

Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-Dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letter to Santa

Day 5: Christmas Role Play

Day 6: Scented Pictures

Day 7: Christmas Baking

Day 8: Home-made Christmas Cards

Day 9: Christmas Puzzles

Day 10: Do Something Kind

Day 11: Feed the Birds

Day 12: Go for a Walk

Day 13: Festive Playdough

Day 14: Read a Christmas Story

Day 15: Paper Snowflakes

Day 16: Christmas Movie

Day 17: Ice Play

Day 18: Christmas Around the World

Day 19: Christmas Colouring

Day 20: Sensory Bottles

Day 21: Singing

Day 22: Design a Christmas Tree