…….. of child initiated play
It has been a while since I wrote a blog about the experiences of the children at Penny’s Place. I have to admit that I have not been that well health wise and I think in part that is due to sheer overload with all the campaigning that I have been doing – and the resulting involvement in other things.
Basically – as happens every so often – my body pressed the ‘pause’ button which means that although the children have been enjoying the same experiences as they always do, and campaigning and volunteering have been ‘ticking over’ – my body has ensured that I simply did not have the energy to do anymore.
So back today – as always – no written planning – just the thoughts in my head based on my knowledge of the children and child development, the children’s interests - my observations of the children over the past few days (in my head mainly – but backed by the setting photographic record) – and of course from comments made by parents at the beginning and end of each day.
Therefore this morning the indoor and outdoor continuous provision was added to
Indoor:- The huge duplo collection because this has been popular with all the children over the last week – in fact since the postman brought some more duplo (brought from ebay) – in particular the duplo house and farm (Penny is a bit miffed because these are yet more resources that she used to have when last childminding but sold – and now having to buy again)
Also the new giant wooden xylophone brought recently from the early learning center sale – and again very popular with all the children – who can produce some very imaginative – and tuneful music.
Outside:- Water play – a must for hot weather! but also Penny had noted the children’s interest in pouring and filling containers from play over the last couple of days – so today put different containers including buckets from the sand pit (which not provided before) some paint brushes, different sized recycled containers and the water wheel
The new large JCB play dumper trucks – actually brought last year – but in use for the first time today – and to support play two different types of sticks – put out because observed this type of play with the duplo
A den built by Penny and made from crates and a piece of material – a new idea for the children because up to now we have used shop brought tents and playhouses.
Selection of pebbles and an assortment of containers – as this is also a popular activity
So as the saying goes ‘the scene was set’ for a morning of child initiated play – because although the environment was chosen and set up by Penny – what the children did with the resources and how the play developed was not in Penny’s hands – Penny’s role was - as always – to ensure the children managed their own risks, ensure they resolved ‘conflicts’ before they escalated out of control, protect them from the sun and observe.
Questions – even ‘sensitive’ ones, suggestions and leading play not to be used – some may be surprised by this as surely Penny’s role is to help support and extend the children’s learning, to encourage investigation and discovery?
And indeed it is – but these children are all 3.5 yrs old – all have been attending Penny’s Place since they were 12 months old – and all display the characteristics of effective learning. The vocabulary is extensive and exceeds the ‘developmental norm’ for their age, their ability to seek support is secure, their understanding of each others needs is very good – although still developing.
Having said that – answers to direct questions and support with aspects that children ask for support with – are unlimited.
So before any personal reflection on Penny’s practice by Penny or others – let’s see what the children did on this ordinary morning
The photo’s will provide a lot of the evidence but in some cases Penny has provided brief details of what was said or what happened between the photo’s in this two hour period of time
The first thing the children had to do was decide if they needed to wear the sandals / doddle shoes that they had arrived in or if they needed to select a pair of wellies to wear from the large selection in the bucket just outside the back door. Penny did not have to say anything or guide their choice – they understand their choices. ‘I need wellies’ says Alex ’cause I want to play in the sand’, ‘me too’ says Erin – ‘I need wellies cause my feet might get wet in the water’ says Shona. Next they had to find pairs of wellies in the right size – this – as always led to discussions about when they were ‘babies’ and had little feet – and because parents donate outgrown wellies they often find the wellies they used to personally wear.
The children filled the buckets, using different size containers and amounts of water. They used language such as more, full, empty, all gone, enough, too much, not enough – plus I want the big pot / bucket, this pot is too small. Alex used a small container to fill a bigger container before using that to fill his bucket. They spent some time doing this before deciding to ‘paint’ the fences and the decking edge to the climbing frame area. While painting they made up a song / chant ‘Nice and shiny, nice and clean’ which they sang over and over again. Alex noticed that the water in his bucket was getting dirty and wondered why – but answered his own question – ‘the fence was dirty but now it is clean- the water was clean but now it is dirty’, he solved the problem – to his satisfaction – by tipping the dirty water into the paddling pool and filing the bucket up again.
Alex noticed that Penny was taking the JCB toy dumper trucks out of the boxes – and came over to help. Penny explained that he could use the trucks to push but not sit in and could also use the trucks to move the sticks around – which he did – filling the back of his dumper truck and saying ‘I have got them all Penny, I have got lots’ ‘I am going to take them down the garden – which he did – when he got to the end of the path he turned the truck round ready for a return journey – complete with beep, beep reversing sounds. Shona meanwhile was protesting loudly that she did not have any sticks – until Penny asked what was that in the basket by her – Shona looked -saw the bamboo sticks and was happy to use them to fill her truck
Erin meanwhile was not interested in playing with the trucks – even though there was a third one – and she went to play in the sand, she filled a container with sand and stuck a stick in it. Alex who was passing by – parked his truck and joined Erin in the sand pit and they started singing ‘Happy Birthday’ – picking up on a game they played yesterday. Shona heard the singing and soon she was also in the sand pit. The game was then extended by the children ‘I am mum’ says Erin as Alex addresses her as ‘Erin’ – oh ‘I am Dad’ says Alex – and ‘I am Granny’ says Shona . The game continues for a while and Penny goes in to get the snack ready – and mentions that there is a lot of sand on the patio.
So while Penny is in the kitchen (but can see through the window)- Alex gets the brush and dustpan and sweeps up – Shona gets the sieve (can be seen in the photo of Erin in sandpit) and copies the action she had seen Penny do and sieves the bits out of the sand that Alex is sweeping up – and then comes to the back door with the sieve of ‘bits’ ‘ See Penny – I got the bits for the bin’ she then tips the leaves, bits of grass etc into the bin.
Up to this point no one had mentioned or used the den, but then after snack, Alex took his truck in there and sat on one of the crates – of course before long their were cries of ‘Where’s Alex’ His giggling led the girls to the den and for a while all three children played happily – until of course the inevitable happened and they knocked the crates over and down came the den.
Penny, Penny came the cries – and of course Penny could have easily re constructed the den – but instead she said ‘Oh dear – what are you going to do?’
‘mend it, built it again came the replies.
Alex started to move crates but gave up when he could not get the piece of material to stay on top of the crates – so he went back to playing with his truck.
The two girls started to move crates – but not to build a den!
‘I know says Erin turning a crate over and standing on it – let’s sing’ let’s do it together says Shona turning another crate over. The two of them then turned all the crates over and made – a stage!
‘Hold hands Shona’ says Erin ‘No. I don’t want to says Shona standing on the crate and starts singing Twinkle Twinkle. ‘ Let’s both sing’ compromises Erin – ‘yes’ says Shona. So they both stand on their crate stage and sing complete with actions – however not the same song – Shona sticking to Twinkle, Twinkle and Erin singing her current favorite – something on the lines can’t sing, can’t ???? who cares, walks like Rhiannon (not one Penny knows but Erin clearly does)
By the way – did you notice the girls had changed footwear? Their decision – made at snack time cause they said ‘we finished playing in the sand’
Then as often happens they all change activity – without a word – and move to the pebble collection
They decided they were going to have a picnic and set about sorting and arranging the pebbles into containers. They then spread out the piece of material – as best as they could on the lawn and moved the containers of pebbles (the picnic) to the piece of material (picnic blanket.
The girls ate quickly and disappeared leaving Alex to finish his picnic on his own – and the girls what were they doing? Yes making an important phone call
By now it was 11am (ish) and Penny decided now too hot and so everyone went in.
And if wondering – did the children play with the duplo and the xylophone – yes they did – both before and after lunch. And during the afternoon we also explored ice and talked about it, watched it melt, made some more ready for tomorrow – and when Alex’s mum collected him he told her about the trucks – and with a prompt from Penny about the ice – in great detail.
Penny has of course been reflecting while writing this blog – and is very happy with the experiences the children created through their play and their own extending of their learning – and therefore their development.
Penny will of course use her observations from today to plan the environments over the next few days and is confident that when the children go to school in September 14 – they will be ready for school – not because they will necessarily ‘score’ well in formal assessments of their development – but because the foundations for all future learning will be securely in place.
And that – in Penny’s opinion is the all she asks and expects of the children – and herself
Would be interested in the views of you the reader……….