A completely unplanned activity …………. or two   5 comments

Those who know me well, know that I do not do formal planning of activities. Of course I do plan in an informal sense – as every day I set out the environment based on my knowledge of the interests, stages of developments and mix of children attending that day.

Some days I will have forward planned experiences outside the home; such as this week on Monday we went to the Bright Stars Childminding Group Messy Play day – and on Wednesday we went for our regular outing to Pyramid  ( I hope to back track and write blogs about these days over next week when I am on annual leave)

Some days I will have forward planned to borrow resources from colleagues to support interests and stages of development.


However – I do not like forward planning as I feel that is my direction / lead,  hinders the natural flow of children’s interests and indeed limits their development opportunities, because if they don’t want to do the adult planned activity, they won’t make those connections in their brain, they won’t want to extend their own learning – and they may well just ‘switch off’ or find something more interesting to do – and that some may consider that something’ more interesting’ to be ‘challenging behaviour’


So this morning I had four EYFS children in my care – 2 x 4 yr olds, 1 x 2.5 yr old and 1 x 10m old. I had set out the environment by adding to the continuous provision some number based resources for sorting, counting, sharing and so on, the sandpaper number boards, a wooden clock puzzle, the magnetic polyron, and a basket of baby / toddler toys.

The 2.5 yr old tackled the clock puzzle,

The 4 yr olds set up a role play game with the soft toy dogs and used the sorting objects and dishes as food for their toy dogs (lots of sorting, sharing, comparing, counting in doing this – all led by them) – unplanned activity one

The 10 month old decided that he should take all the children’s cookery cards of the low accessible shelf in the kitchen and scatter them everywhere. unplanned activity two

When he moved away from the cards, I started to tidy  them away back onto the shelf – when I suddenly stopped and looked at the top card in my hand  – this one;















And I thought – ‘There’s an idea’  – The 3 older children like cooking, and as the 10 month old is due his nap – we should have time to make something similar. And in my head I was already thinking of the opportunities, for all areas of EYFS that the activity could provide.

So I called the children to have a look and to discuss if we should make some cheesy biscuits – and if so to check if we had the things needed. As I thought they might – they did and we did have the things we needed.

So baby in lie back buggy,  hands washed and  we make the dough – so much to talk about, so much to experience through our senses, so much mathematical and descriptive language, so much concentration, so much perseverance, so much fun – and of course so much ‘mess’ – everywhere

Here are a few pictures to prove we did make some cheesy biscuits – not little chicks of course – but each child did have his / her own ‘shape’ so that easy to identify once cooked.



























So a very successful unplanned  activity three – and as you can see the children sampled them at snack time (plus have some to take home)





Later on the 2.5 yr old decided to make the toy donkey ‘better’ – this was linking her interest in donkeys from our days at Pyramid on Wednesdays and the donkeys we see there (she does a very good hew -haw and always says hello donkeys as we drive past on the way to site, and bye bye donkeys as we leave), She found a selection of toy medical equipment from the continuous provision, climbed on the sofa and made donkey ‘better’ unplanned activity number four

The four year olds meanwhile had returned to their toy dog game for a while, playing with them in story corner – but then without even a pause, had diverted to doll play – and dressed some of the dolls unplanned activity number five – before taking the dolls into the lounge where the collection of toy dogs were still all over story corner (note to self  – if had made the four year olds tidy the toy dogs before they moved on to dolls – their whole flow and extension of their ideas would have been lost) It soon became clear why they needed dolls – these were their babies in the game – called Hannah after one of the children’s baby sister and Finley after the 10 m old present today.

(The 10m  old meanwhile was practising pulling himself upright by the sofa and the low play table – he then managed to pull himself upright against the storage cupboards – and discovered he could reach the things on top of the cupboards – and discovered a packet of baby wipes – and demonstrated his ability to pull baby wipes out of the packet unplanned activity number six)

Meanwhile  one four year old  selected a story – about trucks – from the box box (which not surprisingly is next to story corner’) and the other four year old ‘read’ the story out loud – quite an abbreviated version of the story – but it did start with looking at the cover, a beginning – ‘There was some trucks’  – a middle ‘Where is the cat hiding’ (and other child opening flaps to find said cat) followed by a end –   ‘The End’ and shutting of the book so unplanned activity number seven

By then it was lunch time and today after lunch the children wanted to watch ‘Harry and a bucket full of dinosaurs’ which the 4 year olds and 2.5 year old watch with enjoyment, interest and joining in (some dinosaur names known)

After lunch the four years asked for the ‘dinosaur map’ – after some questioning / and good use of descriptive words from the four year olds, I was able to ascertain that they wanted the dinosaur map out – still a bit puzzled I asked a few more questions and realised that they meant the collection of dinosaurs which are kept in the storage box that unfolds in to ‘Dinosaur world’. So I got this out of the gargae and while I did so the children put away the dolls and the dogs without me asking them to do so. They then played with the dinosaur collection – more mathematical language about sizes –unplanned activity number eight


Then they spotted the laminated ‘number dinosaurs (kept in same box) and worked together to put them in order on the floor – a good effort but not quite right – but some positive praise for their achievements , together with some verbal prompting and use of yet more mathematical language; they rearranged the laminated number dinosaurs into the correct order  – so unplanned activity number nine.


So rather a lot of unplanned activities – and rather a lot of unplanned learning / development – if I was the sort to tick ‘box type assessments’ I would now be busy doing that –  however as I don’t –  my in head recording tells me that the  children in my care are doing very well and certainly are securely within the developmental .norms’ for their age group. The photo’s that I have taken (many more than in this blog as their faces are seen in most of them) have documented not only today – but when taken together with their individual diaries, and the extensive photographic record of there time at Penny’s Place, document their progress.


However it does not end there – as there have been a few more unplanned activities today – those undertaken by me! And as I am always honest and always say when things do not go as well as they could – I will share with you all.


My unplanned activity one – soothing the baby.  The 10m old did go to sleep – but had only been asleep for a few minutes when the phone rang and woke him up – he then needed rocking to see if he would drop back off to sleep- but my hands were covered in flour – so I ended up with flour all over the buggy and his blanket – and he did not want to go to sleep again.

Meanwhile the 2.5 yr old was enjoying playing with the flour and her lump of dough – and a lot ended up on the floor – so unplanned activity two cleaning the floor

The children went off to play as described above, once the cheesy biscuits were in the oven, and as little one was still showing no intention of resuming his nap – I decided to give his bottle a bit earlier.

Unplanned activity three –  calming cross baby. Although I had boiled the kettle ready for little ones bottle – I did not think he would need it so soon and so the water was still too hot – however I made the bottle and cooled it as quick as possible – then just as I went to sit down to feed him – I remembered that in my haste, I had not added the medication, he takes to his bottle . He was not impressed with sudden disappearance from sight of his bottle – and of course protested loudly. Luckily he calmed quickly and took his bottle – and then played happily – demonstrating those standing skills previously mentioned.

Unplanned activity four – answering the phone. Today was just one of those days when the phone rang a lot – and although unplanned and sometimes unwanted calls – I was very grateful that the children in my care do not need my constant attention and direction and are able to lead their own play with my supervision and appropriate support.





5 responses to “A completely unplanned activity …………. or two

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  1. Sounds a lot like my days Penny. I usually put some things out and the children do completely different things with them to what I had in mind 😉

  2. I want to spend the day at your setting!!!! I also do the same as usually what I get out leads to other requests. I agree wholeheartedly that impromtu play is how the children learn best – after all this is based on THEIR choice and Their interests. I do a term plan and individual plan but it is always amended trhoughout the term. Penny – you are a fantastic childminder and Ofsted are a bunch of do-gooders and jobs worths! xx

    Fran Greatorex
  3. Excellent

  4. I wrote a longer piece Penny – but lost it! As you manage to convey so well in your work – taking care of children is a joy and a privilege. It’s so much fun and when we know individual children well and respond to their needs, providing all kinds of opportunities and making sure they feel special, it’s wonderful to see them grow in confidence and their faces when they arrive in the morning full of anticipation about the day ahead. Sadly, the ‘process’ has stripped the fun out of a lot of it, as providers are so anxious about following OFSTED guidelines and planning etc It’s all so ‘prescriptive’ and formulaic. No wonder so many people get disheartened and decide to give up altogether. Such a shame as we lose so many natural ‘nurturers’ along the way – people who have the skill of connecting with children (and yes it’s a particular talent that should be valued and supported in society – it’s not something everyone can be ‘trained’ to do). I loved your ‘unplanned day’ – wonderful.

  5. What a wonderful day your mindees had, lots of great opportunities for the children to follow their own interests,it shows how intuitive you are were they are concerned,it’s not something you can learn it’s just something you have.

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