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i was wondering if anyone can offer me some advise, im currently on my final teaching practice in a reception class of 23 with 1 full time lsa.


my problem is organising the children. at the moment the current teacher does not alllow much child iniated play and tends to have all the children doing the same work sheet.


i want to do more child intiated play like letters in the sand, painting letters using fingers etc.


BUT i need help with organising this. do i allow all the children to choose one of the activites i have set up such as letters in the sand.


OR do i put them into groups and send one group to do painting, one to sand etc.



please help me! im feeling quite unsure about how best to organise them as i want them to choose but the teacher at the moment doesnt so much so i cant really observe what she does.


sorry to be so nieve and long winded!



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Clare, that is neither naive or long winded.

You are right in recognising that the worksheets are not really ok.


If as you suggest the children are used to being told what to do then probably the idea of sending groups to activities will be more acceptable. Given a free choice the children may very well not choose sensibly and you would have chaos reeiforcing the teachers idea of worksheets .

Many people like worksheets because it gives the teacher an element of control that is more difficult to acheive in a child initiated classroom, sounds to me as if Reception is probably not her first choice of teaching location!

however, the free choice idea that you have is probably better overall but can to the unitiated look like chaos.


So, I think you would probably be better to try the directed groups on a rotation, which is certainly acceptable as a preparation for yr1 and literacy and numeracy hours at this point in the school year.

If the children go for it and react well you could try more of an element of choice at some stage too.


Hope thats of some help and everyone else agrees!


Good luck.


let us know how it goes.

BTW tell the children exactly what you expect of them and don't be afraid to stop them if they do not conform Remember you will be establishing a new routine albeit a work one!

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Dear Clare


I work in a pre-school so things are a bit different, but I do have a daughter of primary school age. At her school they have golden time on a friday afternoon where they can choose thier own activities.


If the teacher you are with won't allow much child initiated play on a daily basis perhaps you could suggest the idea of having an alloted period of time weekly or preferably daily where the children could make their own choices.


During this time I am sure they would be happy to try some of the other activities that you would like to try out such as the letters in the sand etc as these activities would be new and different from the norm.


Good luck and hope you are able to reach some form of compromise.



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Hi there


I have 20 children and one TA in my reception class and the children come to school part time.First we start with whole class introduction of the topic we're looking at. Then we split off in to four groups. Two groups do a sit down activity with teacher help and/or TA depending on the activity. This sit down activity may or may not involve worksheets. OH No! I hear people saying. I'm hear to tell you some worksheets are OK. That is the gospel according to Ofsted. The only critism they had at our inspection in December was that not enough was being written down by the use of worksheets!!!!! This was the direct opposite of the advice given by our LEA (Wokingham) who shunned all worksheets. Anyway I digress - the other two groups are invloved in independent activites - these include home area, role play area, mark making area, contruction area, computer, puzzles, water etc etc. This could be inside or outside. There is a sheet by each activity which they have to tick off ( that doesn't always happen) The children are encouraged to try a variety of activites. Each child belongs to a group and I rotate the gropus so they all have a go at the teacher directed activity and the child directed activity. We then get together at the end of a session and talk about what we've learnt. This type of organisation went down well with Ofsted. So far it works for me, my TA and the children but I'm always open to new ideas.



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Hey Mousebat,


I agree with what you say about worksheets in a certain respect - they are only as good as the way they are used. I make sure that any worksheets I do use are purposeful or delivered in a fun and creative way. They are not the be all and end all of my activities by any means.


As far as your Ofsted report is concerned, I was wondering whether you could give us all guidance on what it is they are actually looking for. Are they specifically looking at anything i.e. assessment, or the amount of time in the FS that children are able to access child-initiated learning etc?


Your help in this matter would be appreciated by all I can imagine!




D xxx

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Hi Sugarbabes


I would love to be able to give you more information on our Ofsted but at the time I was TA in the other Reception class so only got the 'edited' highlights of Ofsted from the teachers I was directly involved with. Ofsted did like the fact that we had a good balance of teacher led activities and child led activities. I'm now the teacher for the new summer intake and I have based my class organisation on the other Reception class. In that class it took us a while to find a method that worked to the advantage of children and the teacher. This has been a great help to me as I've been able to use the group method from day one with my own class and the children are really into the routine now and it's working well. I also use a visual timetable so the children know what they are going to be doing throughout the morning. Also, as they are new to school and are completely drained by Friday, for the last half hour I do a whole class show and tell session which includes me bringing in something. I also give out 'awards' which every child gets and its's a joy to see their faces light up when they receive theirs. This is a nice winding down activity before home time. Mind you, all this changes next week when we go full time!! I think I may need to stock up on the red bull!!!!




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Talking about class organisation - we follow on the routine of high scope started in Nursery. The children refer to a planning board that has all of the independent activites that they can do - sand, water, dough etc and the children take part in 1 focused teacher led activity. When they are not working with the teacher they are expected to 'plan' their activity using the board.The independent activities include snack which all children know they have to choose during the session. Independent and focused activities are planned round a common theme.

Hope this makes sense ! :)

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When I am alone, it is not always easy to work with several groups at the same time. The times I had the TA, then I would divide the group in three and rotate these groups in different activities: one with me, another with the TA and another in area where they could play, but with something related to the goal.


During the afternoons I always use this sheet of paper which has the different areas/corners where the children can play. Each week we have a different leader (The Star of the Week) and s/he is the first one to choose. They usually have two areas that they can visit each day. On each next choice, they have to select from another area. This way they learn to borden their choices and they also learn that there are other children who which to play there: taking turns and sharing fairly.


SmileyPR :)

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Thanks for the welcome - lovely to be here ! I have to admit that we struggle with staffing - 60 children (who come from a socially deprived area) 2 teachers, 2 learning supports and thats about it. We are also told by our 'boss' ( who thinks Year 6 are wonderful so we know our place) to only plan for 3 adults in case 1 is away as no cover will be provided. Good job we can laugh about it !

Just had Ofsted by the way who loved us so we must be doing something right !

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I have a similar rouine to Kinny in my classroom. We have an activity board on which I velcro pictures of the activities that the children can chose from, next to the pictures there are spaces for the children to put up cards with their names on. That way if an activity is full the children can see clearly as there is no room for thier name. With some training this works quite well and encourages the children to become independent learners and plan for their play. It also means that I can make sure that all the activites avaliable have a numeracy focus for example or whatever is appropriate for that session.


Hope this helps...



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I'm new to Reception, last September, and (NOT) looking forward to OFSTED later this month. I've been just about doing somersaults trying to please all of the 'Advisors' who have been drafted in to help. They all seem to contradict each other.

Now, I've gone back to a system which I originally set up, which worked well for me, the children, and the HT.

I have only 15 children (I know, I'm so lucky...) but I don't have any TA or NN staff, it's just me.

Sometimes I have parent help for an hour or two, but nothing regualr.


I have 3 ability groups, and each day the children can have free choice from any 3 directed activity areas, plus reading corner, jigsaws, board games, free writing, drawing, etc.


At 9am, children come in and settle straight away to simple handwriting practice, which may be just oner or two letters, or their name(s). This takes a few minutes, and they chat quietly while they do this. It seems to settle them down, and gives me time to deal with the 1001 things which crop up first thing, and which there is no-one else to deal with.

After formal 'Good mornings', in a variety of languages, we have a short prayer and mark the register. We then have a Literacy session which usually involves text and word level work. Then one group works with me on a focussed task, while the other groups choose an activity from their group's choices for the day. The choices are rotated throughout the week, so the children know that if they are not allowed in say the role-play area today, they will be tomorrow, and so on.

I then try frantically to get through all three groups with a focussed task, before we have a numeracy session after morning break, with a similar set up. I have a very small fenced off area outside, but no-one to supervise it - I just have to try to keep one eye on that, while working in class, so it is only used when the weather is good enough to have the glass doors open.

I tend to take all the children out into the 'big' field, and do whole class activities whenever possible.

Afternoons are based on the other curriculum areas, but I don't stick too rigidly to a timetable, as sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

I have six topics during the year, but it's surprising what you can get away with if you try to fit things in! My main problem is finding ideas for activities in sand, water, DT table, etc which the children can do independently, and getting everything set up and cleared away each day. At the moment I work from 8 am till 6pm, and plan at weekends.

However, I have to say the children have made really good progress since September, so I must be doing something right! Let's just see what HMI has to say later this month!

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