Play and learning blog

little boy sawing at the workbench accompanied by a practitioner

Working with wood in the early years

“Anyone who has witnessed young children tinkering away with tools in the woodworking area will know just how magical it can be,” writes Pete Moorhouse. However, despite the magic, many educators are afraid of the perceived risks involved in woodworking and the workbench has all but disappeared from many early years settings. Can this be remedied before we raise a generation of children who have never used a real tool in their life?

 

From his years of experience, Pete shares insights on the value of working with wood. The deep concentration, empowerment, and pride visible in the face of a child constructing with real tools will win over any sceptics. Read more.

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boy engaging in loose parts play with natural materials

The learning in loose parts

“The Lego was fought for, stringing beads spilled in anger, plastic animals broken by grabbing...as a teacher I was at my wits end with this particular group of children. They simply could not play harmoniously together,” relates Martha, an experienced preschool teacher.

 

“On a sudden inspiration I emptied all the tote pans and put the contents in storage. Then we went outside and collected natural objects to fill the pans: small rocks, twigs, acorns, pinecones, and bark. Once inside, we began constructing ‘dream houses’ using Plasticine to hold the sticks together. Soon tables, beds, and little pathways appeared. We kept the houses displayed and worked on them again and again. The old grabbing habits were gone – after all who ‘owns’ the things of nature?”

 

As Martha discovered, the best toys don’t come from a shop. Nature offers a wide assortment of loose parts that are captivatingly simple and empowering. Plus, they’re easy on the budget!

 

Although teachers have always known the great play value in natural materials, current research now validates the tremendous learning potential they offer as well. Read the article.

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girl stacking Outlast wheels

Maths in the great outdoors

“When you look closely, the everyday living world is intriguing and magical, and full of awe and wonder: think of the excitement when a child finds their first ladybird; how many times as a child did you count the dots on the ladybirds back? Young children feel this need for exploration, discovery and creative learning strongly and we will have done our job if we can help them to retain this throughout their lives, ” writes Michelle Wisbey.

 

Looking for ways to expand the range of mathematical activities in your outdoor environment? Michelle outlines the importance of these activities and provides some suggestions. Read the article.

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boy on a rope swing outdoors

Rae Pica: The 3 things that have changed

“Early childhood educators tell me lots of stories when I keynote or train,” writes US early years consultant Rae Pica. “Since I’ve been speaking and training for almost four decades, you can imagine how many stories I’ve heard. But lately I keep hearing the same three stories from teachers, repeatedly. It’s disturbing—and it needs to be addressed.”

 

If you’re in the early childhood field you can probably guess what these three issues are. Read Rae’s take here.

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little girl playing guitar on the floor

Singing new songs

“Singing and music are part of children’s development. We miss opportunities for learning if we rely on singing only a limited number of the good old favourites,” writes Marjorie Ouvry. “Have we an appropriate repertoire up our sleeves?” Here are some helpful tips and ideas.

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