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!

addtext_com_MTUyNDAxMTI0NjI

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.

addtext_com_MTUyNTE4MTI0ODM

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.

addtext_com_MTUyODI4MTE1NjI

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.

addtext_com_MTUyODUxMTE1NjU

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.

easter-eggs-3199558_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

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!

Signature

Advent Activities (17th December)

A slightly messy one for today – but don’t panic – it’s only water! Today’s activity is:

Ice Play

Sensory play (named because it stimulates the senses!) is great fun for children. It also allows children to develop problem solving and cognitive skills, while exploring various materials. Sensory play can include sand/ water/ gloop/ shaving foam/ cooked spaghetti… basically anything that looks, feels, smells, (tastes/ sounds) really interesting.

ice-cubes-1224804_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

Today we are thinking about Ice Play – because if your weather has been anything like mine, there’s loads of ice around and it’s really interesting, slippery, cold fun.

 

 

 

There are a few different things you can do with ice in your sensory tray:

  • Fill the tray with ice cubes.
  • Freeze small toys/ other items (maybe glitter or something else really exciting) into the ice. Children love chipping away at the ice or trying to melt it to get the toys out!
  • Create some large Ice Balloons – water is frozen inside a balloon, and then the balloon is cut away. This can be fabulous as you see the air bubbles as they freeze inside the ice ball! You could also experiment with freezing different liquids.
  • Add food colouring to the water before freezing to create coloured ice. Wonderful fun when the ice melts – especially if you have more than one colour and they mix together.
ice-2637363__340

Image from pixabay.com

It can be great to explore the melting process with children, and why not explore whether we can make the ice melt more slowly or quickly? What effect will some salt have on the ice?  This is actually the very beginnings of scientific enquiry skills – the kind that children will be using at school and beyond! Never underestimate the power of play!

This kind of play is also a great opportunity to introduce lots of language about temperature!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another activity!

Signature

advent-calendar-1780949_960_720

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

 

Advent Activities (13th December)

Wednesday is #EYshare day! If you’re a twitter user, I hope you’ll pop along this evening at 8pm to join us for a friendly chat before we finish for Christmas.

And on that note – on to today’s Advent Activity:

Make some festive fun Playdough

cookie-cutters-343087_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

Playdough is wonderful fun. It allows children to be creative, making and modelling whatever their heart desires. It’s also fabulous for developing those fine motor skills that are so important for developing pencil grasp and those other really important abilities.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • splash of oil
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • food colourings (I suggest red and green as these are very Christmassy colours)
  • Peppermint essence OR Christmas spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon…)
  • OPTIONAL: glitter
  • OPTIONAL: sequins
  • Playdough tools – cutters, rolling pins etc

What to do:

  1. sequins-843368_960_720

    Image from pixabay.com

    Mix together your flour and salt, and add your splash of oil

  2. Slowly add in your warm water as needed until the dough starts to come together
  3. Mix in your food colouring. If you want to make various doughs in different colours, just split the dough up into smaller balls and add the desired colour to each one.
  4. Mix in your seasonal smells.
  5. Keep kneeding until the dough feels fairly smooth, and it clings together but is not too sticky. You may need to add more water if it is crumbly, or more flour if it is sticky.
  6. OPTIONAL: sprinkle glitter all over the dough for added sparkle

 

This is a recipe that I have used before as it’s really simple and uses the least amount of ingredients – but I will admit now that I am not the best at making playdough! If you wish – there are tonnes of wonderful recipes online so feel free to take a look!

 

The sequins are fabulous for pressing into the dough (more fine motor and co-ordination skills here). If you roll your dough into a ball and then press your sequins into it, it can look like a festive bauble!

What else can you make? Send me your ideas or pictures on twitter @EarlyYearsIdeas!

Signature

 

Previous Doors:

advent-calendar-1780949_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

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

Advent Activities (5th December)

Christmas Role Play!

arrow-1238842_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

I’ve actually got 2 ideas for you today (aren’t I good to you!?) Both are ideas for a bit of role-play fun this December.

Turn your role play area into Santa’s Workshop!

Who doesn’t like to think about those little elves getting everything ready for the big day? Why not let your children help with making and wrapping some ‘gifts’? This kid of play is great for fine-motor, co-ordination, and concentration skills, not to mention of course, wonderful imaginative play!

Items you can add:

  • Wrapping paper
  • Old gift tags, ribbons, bows…
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors (safety scissors will work!)
  • Cardboard boxes (or anything the children can wrap and unwrap)
  • Tools (pretend OR real – depending on the age and stage of your children and how brave you are)
  • Pieces of wood
  • Junk modelling items

Don’t forget to make the whole area really Christmassy with plenty of tinsel! I’m sure your children will help you to decorate. You could even add those wonderful paper chains that you made on December 1st!

christmas-2630529_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

Turn your role play area or writing table into a Christmas Post-Office!

christmas-2982969_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

This is a time of year where we write and send lots of letters and cards! That means it’s a great opportunity to allow your children to practice their writing and mark making skills.

Don’t forget to make your own little post box! All you need is a large box painted red and decorated however you like. Add a slot for posting and voila! Added bonus if you make a door for taking the letters out again – I always forget!

envelope-34738_960_720

Image from pixbay.com

Items you can add:

  • Envelopes
  • Paper
  • Pens and pencils – the more different kinds the better! Chunky/thin, coloured/ black and white, long/ short…
  • Stampers
  • Stickers
  • Old Christmas cards & gift tags
  • Stamps – you can cut these off old envelopes

 

 

Have a great day!

Signature

 

advent-calendar-1780949_960_720

Image from pixabay.com

Previous Doors:

Day 1: Paper Chains

Day 2: Reindeer Cam

Day 3: Salt-dough Ornaments

Day 4: Letters to Santa