“Strive to make everyday the best day of your life, because there is no good reason not to.” Hal Elrod
My obsession with classroom environments began when I first visited St John’s C of E Primary School. From the moment I walked in I was struck by the calm atmosphere and serenity it brought to their children. My colleague and I whispered to each other is disbelief “it’s just so calm”. Upon walking back into my own classroom I was smacked in the face with bright colours and loud noises! Everything felt over stimulating and busy by comparison; as if there were balls of high energy bouncing around the walls! From then onwards I was hooked into finding ways of calming my classroom and moulding the environment to generate the same serene feeling I’d experienced at St John’s.
I began with the lights! First of all, I wanted to reduce the lighting, I’m lucky to have two large windows and a half glass door within my room; meaning that most days there is sufficient natural light filling the space. So I borrowed a set of ladders and set about...
Many of you are worried that due the pandemic all the hard work you’ve done over the last year on the ethos of your practice and the learning environment has to go.
I’ve heard of heart broken reception teachers having to sit their children at desks in rows, display boards getting ripped down and child led learning getting lost.
We can’t let this happen.
It doesn’t need to happen.
In this blog post I’m going to share with you some thoughts on how we can keep that hygge feeling without losing all of the hard work we’ve already done.
Let’s begin by reminding ourselves what hygge is. Hygge is the Danish approach to living well that focuses on being in the moment and embracing the feelings of warmth, simplicity and togetherness.
It’s not just about how your physical environment is set up (although this contributes to it) but it’s about slowing down to be present in the very...
I get asked all the time...'Where do you get your resources from?'
So let me share this with you (please note these are all personal recommendations and not ads or gifted products)
Firstly, many of the resources we use in Early Years can be collected, reclaimed or re-used for free. Some of my favourite summer loose parts are;
When it comes to buying resources i have always worked in schools and settings with very little money to spend on resourcing. Any money that we did have would be spent on;
1. High quality staffing
2. Block Play resources
4. Small world imaginative play
I feel that when we spend our budget in this way we support open ended and holistic child led learning. We also have the staffing in place to support, challenge and extend the learning.
Block play is one resource that allows all areas of learning to happen and is great for supporting child led play and exploration. I have always invested in buying unit blocks from Community Play...
I have created a list of over 50 wonderful nature based children's books to support our Wanderlust Child Nature Study (currently £5 instead of £120- click here!)
The list has been created through Amazon (not an advertisement) but books can also be purchased from independent book shops.
To access the list follow this link
Have you ever spent ages setting up a play and they either ignore it, “destroy it” or play for a few moments then walk off? Yes, me too! Imagine being placed in a room with just the books a friend owns, you read a few pages and realise they are not to your taste and so you quickly get bored. Well for a child, that’s likely what they must feel in a room full of adult driven themed set ups for them to explore. Up until about a year ago I was very “theme” driven and planned the themes for every term, and often recycled them the following year. But do you really know whether those children in your setting will be interested in People Who Help Us for an entire half term in Summer 2?
When children have a fascination, it’s vital we use that as a vessel to fuel their curiosity and motivation to learn through play. How do we know what they are interested in? We watch, observe and respectfully question. Now I’m not saying if a few...
Supporting Children’s Emotional Security
As practitioners, we spend a huge amount of time and energy making sure our learning environments meet and extend the physical developmental needs of the children within our care, but how much thought do we put specifically into their emotional needs?
My three initial areas to consider in promoting emotional security within our provision are safety, fostering home school links, and is above all, that it’s relevant.
Safety is obviously at the core of Early Years provision. As practitioners we all understand that children have basic needs; to be kept safe from dangers, warm, fed and have adequate rest, but I’d argue that their emotional wellbeing is just as important. In order to keep children emotionally safe we need to be pleased to see them, value them, have time for them, know them, listen to them, and care about helping them to develop their understanding of emotions. We need to ensure our provision...
In this video from our Free 5 Day challenge (Join for FREE here) we explore how to document and support child led interests.
By the end of our 5 days of training together you will be enthused to make learning happen outdoors and have a bank of knowledge and ideas on how to make it happen. Taking inspiration from Scandinavia.
I walk you through bringing more nature into your day through a series of short sessions and a little task for you to try.
Day 1: Why nature based learning is needed
Day 2: Daily rhythm in nature
Day 3: Creating an environment for outdoor learning
Day 4: Child Led Learning in nature
Day 5: Provocations in nature
Creating a Purposeful Early Learning Environment
Creating interesting and purposeful early learning environments is something we all strive to do, but whose purpose are we talking about here? I imagine we’d all immediately jump in and claim it’s for the child, but in reality, there are often a number of other people that we end up considering.
Are they for us as practitioners? Whilst we’d all love to imagine that our environments are directed towards child lead learning, many of us operate within systems that mean we find ourselves often steering children round to a next step or learning goal that we need to prove they’ve met. Sometimes I’ve even desperately re-set children up so as to take a good evidence photo to go along with the observation I’m about to report in great detail. Who is that for? Did it help the child? Or did I interrupt their purposeful activity and are they about to ask that question… “can I go and...
Outdoor provision is an effective tool in empowering children to engage with their learning through experimenting, questioning and reasoning. We love to incorporate outdoor play with all aspects of the EYFS curriculum as we feel children learn best when they are encouraged to be active agents in their own learning. Where the natural space allows children to freely make sense of the world around them through their interactions with play, where mathematical opportunities are endless including: weighing, size ordering, number recognition, problem solving and estimating.
In our garden, as many of you might know if you have signed up to the Wanderlust Nature Study Course, we have enhanced elements of our garden to create invitations to play and learn. The weighing scales next to our Mud Kitchen allow the children to experiment with mathematical language such as ‘heavier’ ‘lighter’ ‘balance’ ‘more’ ‘a lot’ as they add or take...