Laminated words, box labels and other things   10 comments

Following on from the Early Years 2012 conference – and the question posed by Helen Bromley about the use of laminated words  – I have been giving some thought to my personal view on the use of laminated words and other laminated things within my childminding setting.

However before I start – I should remind everyone that the children in my care are all 2 or 3 years of age.

Using my question approach – I have asked myself the following questions

WHO are these laminated cards for?

WHAT  do I hope to achieve by using them?

IS there any evidence that they improve outcomes for the children in my setting ?

So one at a time

Who are these laminated cards for?

My first response was – for the children

– so going on to question 2

What do I hope to achieve by using them ?

Again first response – to provide information and an environment that showed words had a purpose, were useful, to help the children become familiar with letters,words, sentences.

– and the third question

Is there any evidence that they improve outcomes for children?

Well if I am honest – No – not that I have noticed – in fact the children don’t notice the words, or use the words, or point to the words, or show their parents or their friends or me.

I have no evidence that the children in my care are using the words or even taking any notice of them, no evidence that this group of children who have now experienced laminated words since they were 12 months old are making any better progress in the area of literacy than any of the many children that I have cared for over the years (including my own children).


Lets ask myself the questions again

Who are the laminated cards for?

Well me! Not because I want to read them – I know what they say as I went to the trouble of printing and laminating them.

No  -I do it because I have been brain washed into thinking that they have a use. that parents and inspectors will like them, but my own evidence is that they do not improve outcomes for children.  The parents do not see most of them – as on wall in conservatory and although come into setting every day usually do not go and look at the displays.

And the inspectors – my view is that I should not do things just because others say I should  – I should only do things that safeguard the children or improve outcomes for children – and my evidence is that laminated word cards do neither.

So as of now the laminated words are to GO

Is my laminator redundant?

Far from it – I will still laminate pictures and the place mats (including the ones with words), the children’s self registration cards – number lines  and other picture based display items  – the big difference being that from now on I will be asking myself every time before I laminate something – WHY do I need to laminate this thing? – and – WIL it improve outcomes for the children?

My own children did not not experience a single laminated word at home or at play group. They came across a few  – very few – words displayed on the wall at school – and these were usually their name and class under their picture or piece of work – and a title for the display.

But in all cases – home, playgroup and school – there were pictures and art work displayed.

I have to ask – just where did the idea that laminated words were a good thing, come from?

I find myself thinking back to the environment provided for my own children and in the first few years that I was registered – and will be adding some more blogs about these thoughts, when I have time.

One benefit of all this thinking and recording of that thinking in my blog – when I do get my next inspection – I think  Ofsted will have to agree – I am a reflective practitioner.

Oh and the toy box labels?

I stopped using these nearly a year ago – because the children just took them off and I like to swap the boxes round and to add things, take things away, to change the continuous provision – and to include an element of surprise and discovery.

Posted September 28, 2012 by psw260259 in Random Things!

10 responses to “Laminated words, box labels and other things

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  1. Hi Penny, I have followed your tweets with amusement. I am a recent childminder and I have laminated even the kitchen doors and drawers the children have access to. I use pictures, logos and words and I believe in the early days it is the logo’s and pictures that are of interest to the children. Boxes and cupboards that were once ignored are now pointed to and freely accessed when they wish. I have some 2.5 yr olds that whilst phonics may be a little early do sing phonic songs and will start to recognise the first letter of their name in other words around the setting … my suggestion would be to not lose heart in laminating words but to add bold pictures that tell a thousand words! Look forward to your next tweet. Doreen, Sounique Child x

    • Thank you for comments Doreen – and I agree with you hat pictures tell a thousand words – and do use these in my setting – just not on toy boxes.

      It sounds like the children in your care are making very good use of the laminated cards in your setting – and I think that is great – in your case the have a benefit and therefore your reflection is totally different to mine.

      My children actually do the same as your children in that they freely access the boxes and the drawers – and they know which toys ‘live’ in which box.

      Glad that you are enjoying the blogs – look out for a future ones on how I support children in pre reading and writing development – because of course I do.

      And thank you so much for posting a different view to me – excellent for helping others in their own personal reflective practice – and for demonstrating that what is right for one setting or even one child – is not right for another setting or another child.

  2. Oh Penny, I cannot agree more.
    I have resisted urgings from my EY team for several years in laminating and labelling everything. Going back a few years now, I tried a sample labelling and the children (again ranging from 1yr up to 3yrs) couldn’t have cared less.
    As a good childminder (mum/educator etc) we investigate shapes, letters, words, symbols that are all around us. If they children ask, they I assist them to find out.
    I grew up in a world, at a time where letters and reading wheren’t shoved down my (or other children’s) throats and I developed a VERY healthy interested in reading (actually have a voracious appetite for good reading material). Nothing was labelled… nothing!
    Time and again I have found the more I try to ‘push’ letters and reading and recognising text – the less interest the children have. There is plenty of ‘labelling’ on toy boxes and jigsaw boxes that can be used as examples rather than the ‘faux’ labelling we believe children are interested in.

  3. Rather than labelling anything for a child who is just starting to recognise that words represent objects I make a word book of photos of toys/children etc. that the child is particularly interested in. I encourage the child to take the photos themselves, print the words (with help of course) and then put the book together.

    • Great idea Lucy

      When I have a child who is ready and wants to learn more about words – I often make a book about them and the things that interest them. They love to feature in their own book.I have done this for years – including with my own children – and in those days – before igital cameras – they drew the pictures or cut things from magazines

      I think there is a huge difference in supporting a child who wants to know more about words – and having laminated words constantly displayed.

      A good use for the laminated picture / word cards – once a child is ready – is to make a lotto type game – again either with photo’s or drawings or cut out pictures

      And of course I am sure all of us use the most wonderful thing available for words all the time -books

  4. Lots of food for thought, Penny – I have corresponding pictures / words in a photo album (linking to High Scope) however, those on the boxes are for myself (having thought about it) as the whole point of them being in an album is so that children can make choices from that… not from the box itself. Lots of reflecting this weekend. Thank you

    • Always good to reflect isn’t it Jacqui

      I also have a book with photo’s of resources – but the writing is intended for parents as it is duel purpose for children to select and for parents to chose things to borrow. Have to admit now needs a major rethink / up date due to amount of stuff going (selling)and change to more open ended materials.

      Just supported 4 , 2 yr olds to tidy up – however the only support they need is not to get distracted and start playing again. They sort as they tidy and put things in the right boxes. The youngest (2 yr 5 m) does not always put in right box but I don’t say anything – as can easily sort once gone home – however I don’t need to as his friends comment ‘that does not go there does it’ – and then the friend moves it to the right box.

      I think at the moment I am doing a lot of reflecting about just what it is I believe in – and trying to stop doing tasks that take a lot of time – but that on reflection have little or no impact on the outcomes for the children.

      By writing my blog – I can record my thinking and my actions – and hopefully – as demonstrated by your comment provide a starting point for other practitioners own reflections

      I know we will all come to different conclusions – but that is how it should be

  5. Penny, you put all my thoughts into writing …….. all my clear toy boxes are labelled with words and pictures even though the children can see through them – WHY? because it was a suggestion that came from my Level 3 course and I think Ofsted will like it !! I love reading your blog, you bring common sense back to childminding.

  6. Penny I really resent anything that I do ‘for Ofsted’s sake’ and am working at doing away with it – I take photos of the toys in ym baskets and put them on the outside and change them around, and have never had laminated words on things – I agree no need and I am passionately against too much too young and forcing phonics down younger and younger children’s necks is harmful in my opinion. I was inspired when I met you the other week to stop doing things because of hearsay/Ofsted/ and supposed ‘good practice’ so thanks!! Jen x

  7. Hi Penny, so glad I read your blog, it reminded me of what a good speaker Helen is and I would be really eager to listen to her again. Like you I have been veiwing my setting with a slightly different set of eyes and although I haven’t made any changes yet- they are coming as I formulate what we (me and the children) will do next.

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