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Planning Adult-led Activities In A Child-initiated Environment


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#1 Wolfie

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:12 AM

As some of you may know, last week we abandoned topics in our room for 2-5 year olds in favour of observing the children and planning activities and resources based on their interests. We are at an incredibly early stage with this and at the moment, the satff are getting grips with the different areas that we've created in the room and observing the children, their learning, development and interests, in a lot more detail than before.

At the moment, we have no planned adult-led activities during the children's "free choice" time - this is something that I want to introduce very gradually once all the staff have got to grips with what we're doing at the moment. But I'm feeling a bit stuck! I can see how we can plan adult-led activities based on what we have observed but am getting bogged down in the organisation of it and need to hear other people's solutions! When and how do your staff get together to talk about and plan activities? Is one person responsible for turning all the ideas into written plans?

Ideally I know that these plans will be done on a weekly basis but I can't see how the staff are going to get together this frequently - the only time when they all get together round a table is every six weeks at 6pm staff meetings - not at all ideal! Shift work means that they are never all there at the same time.

I like Peggy's idea - posted a few weeks back under "Long Term Plans" - of concentrating on particular aspects of individual areas of learning every few weeks so that everything ios covered by the end of a year. I also like Sue R's idea of identifying specific skills to concentrate on in a given period, metioned in her "Motivational Planning " article. I think the best idea will be for me to complete the paperwork but how to I get the ideas from the staff and communicate everything back to them on a regular basis?

The easy answer is probably staring me in the face but this morning I can't see the wood for the trees!!! :o

#2 shazzam

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 10:25 AM

i am having the exact same dilemma at the mo, the staff are unable to get together more often as although they could they would need to be paid for their time and we just cant afford more than one planning meeting each half term. i've started by using a sheet which is for a whole term and getting them to write one activity idea a week each and i end up doing the rest of the planning. if anyones got any ideas i too would be grateful to hear them.
i think its going to take some time to get used to!
oh and i've also started a daily diary( just an A4 book) which ofsted loved, i or another just write down all activities we have out that day, changes children have made, observations ,evaluations etc
summer hols here we come!!!!!

#3 Wolfie

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 11:45 AM

I like the diary idea Shazzam, that might be a good way for the staff to start recording possible developments, what works and doesn't work, etc. :o

#4 Deb

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 12:37 PM

Since the beginning of term we have been trying to follow children's interests more by carrying out better observations.

Fortunately, we have a weekly planning session. We are also given time during the Friday session to analyse our observations, add them to our key children's profiles, then write against each child's name what they are interested in and possible lines of development. This is just a note, nothing more, as an aide memoir. So one of my children this half term has been really interested in mark making so each week I have put - mark making or junk modelling followed by ideas to develop his interest such as large pieces of paper and big markers or shaped paper to write on. This is then transferred into a weekly grid which is split into different areas such as sand, water, fine motor skills. Then we have a planning meeting on a Friday afternoon,(one hour paid) where we plan for the next week.

We haven't got it right yet - we need to think about how we evaluate the activities, how many children we observe each week and much more. The important thing is that all staff are involved and I feel are meeting the needs of individual children better. Long way to go yet to keep everyone happy. The key is regular observations by everybody, I think.
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#5 Wolfie

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 12:49 PM

Deb, do you have an adult led activities planned each week?

#6 SallyQ

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 02:49 PM

Hi everyone

I run a a pre-school setting and have never used topics since openening five years ago. As an expereinced practitioner I felt very strongly that topics were more for the benefit of adults than children. I have to say this was one of the best descisions I have made and we have never regretted it. We have had two succesful Ofsted inspections since opening and acheived "Good" as a grading each time.

We have tried adult led activities and when we did use them they were planned with a single activity to run throughout each week. These were planned by staff at our termly staff meetings and chosen from observations of the children and areas key workers identified. However we no longer use these as we found them restricting and felt they wern`t really necessary. As long as you have a rich setting with all the necessary areas of the curriculums on offer each session - and most importantly-adults to work with and observe the children it works well.

Hope this helps. This is something I am very passionate about - as you may have noticed - and love to share my expereince.
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#7 Wolfie

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 02:58 PM

Hi Sally - so what does your paperwork look like? I now have long term plans for each of the areas provided in the nursery, linked to the EYFS and am looking to devise something which roughly equates to medium and short term planning, if that is necessary! Just for the moment, we don't have any daily plans for any adult focus acitivities, say for example if an adult was leading a cooking activity -what do you have?

I think I'm having an "off" day - just can't get my head round my next steps!! :o

#8 Bliss

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 03:26 PM

We have recently abandoned themes, and some of our staff are also having difficulty, as one staff member each day is responsible for planning an activity.

However, we target 3 children per week, and ask their key worker to look at the Long Term Plan to see which aspects of the 6 learning areas we are covering that week.

They then look at their children's profiles, see which stepping stone they need next (next steps) along with the child's interests.

These notes (which are our Medium term plans) are passed on to the planner (we take turns) to put into the short term plan. Each half term we have a planning meeting, where the aspects are discussed along with children's interest, and we suggest ideas for adult-lead activities, eg. using one-handed tools and equipment, we may spend the week using scissors on a variety of materials.

We found it so hard to find an activity linked to a theme, but now the world's our oyster, we sometimes don't know where to start! The Little Big books are very helpful, as they link activities to the aspects and stepping stones.

Good luck!

#9 Deb

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 03:57 PM

I love the idea of child-initiated play, and I see the importance of observations - the difficulty is convincing everyoneelse who for whatever reason like doing things certain ways. So we have to proceed slowly, slowly, understanding everyone's point of view, trying to show the advantages and compromising! There are times when I'd rather have teeth pulled though :o . I am very keen to learn how others do things so look forward to fine tuning our provision.

I think Sally is absolutely right the key is adults who want to interact with children and want to observe them.

Like you Wolfie we have been concentrating on observing children and planning for their interests first. We had a Good result Ofsted at the end of last term so we have the time to experiment. We have tried to ensure children have long periods of time to get involved in an activity of their choosing, I think this is important too and gives us the chance to do the observations. Judging by the involvement of the children they are not missing out.

We are gradually introducing an adult led activity because some of the adults in the setting want some structure to say introduce children to autumn or harvest for example. As I said, we are trying to come to a solution that is workable and we are all happy with. We also have a daily Letters and Sounds activity which remains the same for the week.
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#10 Lou

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:21 PM

We don't use topics or themes. We run child initiated sessions with two adult led activities per week. How we do it is, all staff are given a blank mind map, in the center we write what stepping stone we are covering then staff take one away with them. They return the following week with up to 6 activities written down that will cover that stepping stone. Then it is formulated into the weekly plan by the deputy. We have up to 10 activities/resourses out that will cover all six of the ELG's. Staff then have to go to the children to carry out the activities and don't call the children to one activity. We get an observation on all our children every two weeks. It works for us but an idea from many will help you find your own way.
Lou

#11 Mrsb

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:24 PM

We don't have themes or topics and our weekly plannning is led by the children's interests...... I have (hopefully) attached a copy of our weekly planning sheet.

Would be interesting to see other nurserys..... mrs b

Attached Files


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#12 Sue R

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 04:42 PM

They look very interesting - we have similar info, but spread over more paper, it would be easier to record this way, and then to keep them all together!

Sue
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#13 nsunshine

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 01:18 PM

Thanks to the many ideas and pieces of advice on this site we have now got a system for planning in response to children's interests confidently and consistently working.

Each of our 4 keyworkers has a focus child for the week who they will observe - and thanks to Millhill's information they have a home-school record for the week which parents/other settings can contribute to. We are lucky enough to have planning time together so review the observations once a week and plan 4 adult-led activities in response to them for the following week.

Using the ideas in SueR's article on motivational planning I have set up focus activity plans for each key activity/learning goal these detail the main LO and the stepping stones so all the keyworkers have to do is fill in the activity context.

We are a foundation unit within a school so mixture of staffing - keyworkers are mix of teachers and NNEB / TA - but with basic planning outlines in place everyone is happy to plan their focus activity. The teaching staff then complete the rest of the planning detailing when each focus will take place etc.

Although having time to plan as a team is invaluable I think this could be made to work without as the basic plans are there for staff to fill in the activity content.

#14 SallyQ

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 02:28 PM

This is how we plan. Initially writing the long term is quite labour intensive but it then never needs to change (unless there is a new curriculum!!!) As for the rest of the planning once it`s done it takes very little time to maintain i.e. a couple of hours at the start of each half term.

Firstly our hall, daily as it is set up, covers every part of both the birth to three and ELG`s. This is shown via our long term planning which details each area and learning it offers covering every aspect of both curriculums. When children come in they have freedom of choice - along with adult scafolding to access the curriculum. Key carers track childrens progress to ensure they are progressing accordingly and moving them on where necessary with a foucsed ILP for each child termly.

Medium term planning is simply what we are covering during the term for festivals, harvest, Divali etc. As this just needs dates changing each academic year it takes little work.

Then finally short term planning shows areas for staff deployment daily and toys to be put out. The computer just rotates this so little work is involved in this.


The only other planing we have in addition to this is small group/story times at the end of the session when we plan and rotate activites for maths,CLL,music, circle time etc. These are fun times when the children have focused activity/games where they learn. This is a yearly programme so once written just gets re-cycled and allows us to cover lots of areas.


Hope this makes sense and you can get an understanding of how our planning works. As I said before Ofsted have no problems with it and it takes such little time to do. We have so much paperwork it`s nice to minimise time spent planing.

I used to work in a nursey and we would spend ages planning topic webs then putting in endless learning outcomes into daliy learning plans. In amongst all of this the children came in, got absorbed and learnt anyway - usually to their agenda - not our carefully planned topic! It is great being freed from thinking about the topic you are trying to impart and just sit down with the children and really get involved - children naturally learn through play - provide a rich enviroment, adult support let them get on with it and they learn so much.
Enviroments are like lanscapes of possibilities and suggestions.

#15 Wolfie

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:43 PM

Thanks for that Sally! So am I right in thinking that you don't have daily plans for an adult focus activity?

#16 SallyQ

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 08:40 AM

Thats right Wolfie. We have no daily plans for adult led activitys.

Did you manage to understand how we plan from my essay?!
Enviroments are like lanscapes of possibilities and suggestions.

#17 Wolfie

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 12:51 PM

Yes, your explanation as very clear thank you - I think I'm still expecting to have to produce some kind of daily focus activity plans in some format to cover short term planning! Still a lot of thinking to do! Thanks for your help!

#18 chellebee01

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 09:26 PM

As some of you may know, last week we abandoned topics in our room for 2-5 year olds in favour of observing the children and planning activities and resources based on their interests. We are at an incredibly early stage with this and at the moment, the satff are getting grips with the different areas that we've created in the room and observing the children, their learning, development and interests, in a lot more detail than before.

At the moment, we have no planned adult-led activities during the children's "free choice" time - this is something that I want to introduce very gradually once all the staff have got to grips with what we're doing at the moment. But I'm feeling a bit stuck! I can see how we can plan adult-led activities based on what we have observed but am getting bogged down in the organisation of it and need to hear other people's solutions! When and how do your staff get together to talk about and plan activities? Is one person responsible for turning all the ideas into written plans?

Ideally I know that these plans will be done on a weekly basis but I can't see how the staff are going to get together this frequently - the only time when they all get together round a table is every six weeks at 6pm staff meetings - not at all ideal! Shift work means that they are never all there at the same time.

I like Peggy's idea - posted a few weeks back under "Long Term Plans" - of concentrating on particular aspects of individual areas of learning every few weeks so that everything ios covered by the end of a year. I also like Sue R's idea of identifying specific skills to concentrate on in a given period, metioned in her "Motivational Planning " article. I think the best idea will be for me to complete the paperwork but how to I get the ideas from the staff and communicate everything back to them on a regular basis?

The easy answer is probably staring me in the face but this morning I can't see the wood for the trees!!! :o


Hi all
In our setting there are 8 part time staff. We plan topics for a whole year based loosely on children's interest and what has worked well in the past. This is broken down into half terms and the aspects of learning are split so they are covered throughout the year.
Each member of staff is a key worker to a group of 3-5 children. The key worker is allocated 1 or two sessions per week (mine is a tuesday morning and Friday afternoon) when most of my kw children are in, to plan activities around the key worker children's individual targets and needs. For instance if a few of my kw children need to work on their writing/handwriting stepping stones I will plan an activity that uses fine motor skills, perhaps holding a pen/chalk etc or using scissors. Last term our topic was transport so I make collage buses and trains and would have written an activity plan for this. They also needed to work on sizes and shapes so I planned an activity involving cutting out different sized wheels for vehicles and matching them to the correct one.
Each day there is one adult led activity in the morning and another in the afternoon. By the end of the week there are 10 adult led activity plans to file away once the member of staff responsible for each one has evaluated it . We have staff meetings every 6 weeks and discuss how different topics have worked or not as we are all part time and it is impossible to get together. As long as each member of staff knows what their kw children's targets are then they can plan appropriate activities and the other children will all take part too of course and benefit. Targets need to be reviewed regularly and activities planned around the needs of the children.
We had OFSTED the week before half term and our inspector was very impressed with the way we observe children, record progress and plan around them so we think it works! We got a "good" overall which we are very proud of.
Hope this helps!
MichelleB




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