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Setting Up Activites


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I am doing a staff meeting next week on setting up activities.

 

I am so despondant when I see a box of animals simply tipped out onto a bare table; or a ton of puzzles all mixed up together giving the children no chance of achieving them.

 

I am going to set up a few activities myself, using fabrics etc and the good old tuff spot :o

 

Any ideas for other things? Something inspirational if poss, but also something that doesn't take forever to set up, and I don't want to make it inpractical for staff to achieve in their busy days?

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Our children seem to like large sugar paper covering the whole table, with felt tips and pencils etc provided, along with bricks or animals etc, then children can draw for a purpose. We start if off for them by say drawing a pond or the beginning of a road way. Is that the sort of thing?

 

We like to combine things like the blocks and knights, so that children can use their imaginations.

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Our children have enjoyed drawing their own railway tracks this week in the small world/construction area. We laminated some big sheets of paper and only provided the children with the trains. They have enjoyed drwaing their own tracks and any countryside etc around it. Some Rec boys have even labelled the pictures- we were pleased we were getting boys to write!!

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Could you do something at the staff meeting which makes the staff think about how they present activities to the children? A jumble of paperwork , refreshments in chaos, chairs in disaray, missing items? xD:o

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Could you do something at the staff meeting which makes the staff think about how they present activities to the children? A jumble of paperwork , refreshments in chaos, chairs in disaray, missing items? xD:o

 

Love your idea Rea.

Why not take photos of equipment set out either as a prompt for staff or as a task for children "Can you make this picture?"

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:o can i just ask why not let the children set out their own activities?Of course, make sure the puzzles, games etc have all the pieces intact (if not, chuck 'em out, they're no use to anyone), but seriously, if everything is handy for the children to access easily, there's no reason why they shouldn't get them out is there??
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At the moment we have filled our water tray (no water!!) with pot pourri thats all different colours with different seed heads etc in. I have added fir cones, different seed pods, vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks & those wicker balls you can get in the supermarket, some pretty feathers, leaf veins etc. On a table by the side I have put wooden spoons, tea bag squeezers, and spoons of different sizes for them to use to scoop or pick up specific bits and bobs. There are also lots of different wicker baskets, a variety of pretty boxes and bags, some with clasps, some with zips (like I seem to accumulate around christmas when you've had a bodyshop gift bag that you don't know what to do with) that the children can put the 'treasure' in. There are also magnifying glasses on the table and those see-through coloured glass things that make things change colour when you look through them. The smell has lasted ages and the children access this at their own level. Its a totally sensory experience!!

 

The last week before half term, following the discussion on soap flakes on here, the water table was full of lovely soapy gloop which we added pink colouring to. It looked a bit like milk shake (only 1 child tasted it!!). We added the tea set and the exploration lasted a whole week! So did the gloop, it only needed a bit of hot water and a whisk to get it going again. You could extend this by adding scents.........

Edited by Guest
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have you seen the small trains and cars that follow thick black felf pen lines? they're really good not getting the 'non markmakers' going! We make roads on the floor out of white paper and the children draw the lines for the cars to follow.

xxx

 

Have not heard of these, where did you get yours from?

 

Will have to try the Pot Pourri idea in our water tray - think the children will love that.

 

Must add that our children loved the soap flake gloop too. Initally we had the consistency quite thick so that children could model with it but only two children liked the feel of it. So the next day, not wishing to waste the soap flakes, we added more hot soapy water (before the children arrived) and whisked it up to a gloopy consistency like meringue which they loved especially adding jugs and cups and ladels, whisks etc. One day children added water of their own which happened to be blue so that was a big hit. Like LJW - our children enjoyed this activity all week. Adults and children alike did seem to 'wear' it rather a lot but that's what pre-school is for!

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Along similar lines for making staff think... Once went to a meeting where they set up a craft activity where scissors are needed and only supplied left handed scissors.... Made everyone think about what the children need and why they can get very frustrated at not being able to do something so give up.....

 

Inge

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Shelley1, I may not be too popular with my comment, and I acknowledge your skill in identifying an area which needs developing, but, for goodness sake, presenting activities, be it in the context of children self selecting or presented by the adult, is a basic requirement of your staffs' role. If they are not doing this correctly they should be 'bought to task' and be given clear consequences of 'not doing their job'.

 

Let's be generous here and maybe think that the staff have just got a bit stale, THEY need to get their thinking heads on and talk through ideas themselves, if you give examples etc then they will let you, but it won't guarantee a change in practice because you have done the thinking for them.

 

I agree with Rea, present the staff meeting in disarray, to prove the point but then just fascilitate their discussion, first thoughts, planning ideas, of how THEY are, as from the day after the meeting, going to do what I'll say again, is the mere basics of their job.

 

The other responses show the sense of excitement, of pride when well presented activities are seen to be enjoyed and accessed by the children. This is where your staffs motivation should come from, THEIR ideas and their work showing positive effect for them. If they present what you have given the idea for then the only pride they may get is through following direction. Maybe have an in house competition, all voting on which was the most successful activity presentation, using the everyday activities (sand, water, role play, jigsaws, etc) and not super duper adult led unique ones that happen once in a while. I think this issue is about 'attitude' that needs changing and not 'lack of knowledge' that needs instruction/training.

 

Apologies if I have read this wrong.

 

 

Peggy

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I am certainly not offended at all Peggy. I certainly don't want to waste a staff meeting only to find that a week later it has all fizzled out again.

 

Thank-you to everyone for the ideas. Looking forward to my meeting!

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Hi Shelley,

One idea which does't take long but requires a little planning is to freeze polar animals over night in an ice-cream tub and put this in the tuff spot. lLots of interest. The chlidren also love little boxes placed with the animals and or people they use them for caves, houses etc. One of our nursery nurses created a wonderful seaside scene with pebbles , water, little boats etc We have also put bark leaves slik or plastic flowers and bits of log and added plastic insects. If I think of anything else I'll post it, we use our tuff spot all the time.

 

Womble

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Hi Shelley,

 

I recently attended an in house training course on classroom set up, half way through the course we were led in small groups to different classrooms 1 toy was 'dumped' in the middle of the floor we had 5 mins to set the toy up as creatively as possible using as many other rescorces as we liked that we could find in the room. After finishing we were asked to leave the room and walk back in on a childs level and think about how appealing it looked. We then walked around the other classrooms to see what the other groups had done.

 

Toy set up is important but it can often be rushed and i think its fair to say its easy to become abit stale and we can all be guilty of grabbing the wooden blocks and building a tower then rushing off to finish something else.

 

Some ideas that we have started using to try to make things look better and more interesting are:

 

A big box of felt squares that puzzles can be separated onto on a table on.

 

Printed and laminated photos from the internet that can be dispayed next to the toys, London bridge, IFC (tallest building in HK) next to the wooden blocks.

Aeroplanes and cars with the stickle bricks.

 

 

A list of toys that work well together stuck into the lid of the boxes of toys

 

eg Blocks and animals

Blocks made into a track and cars

etc

 

 

We have also included some photographs of great set ups in the boxes

 

Abit of competition can make all the difference!

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I certainly don't want to waste a staff meeting only to find that a week later it has all fizzled out again.

They will respond well to praise when you see they have set out an activity really attractively Shelley - they'll be like the children when you "catch them being good" :o Good old conditioning techniques...

 

Seriously, when you are able to point out how much more the children are getting from activities that are thoughtfully set out, the staff will hopefully begin to realise the benefit of spending a bit of time and effort to present resources attractively and begin to do it automatically.

 

Maz

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Just another viewpoint, when setting out activities be careful not to 'always' be too 'suggestive' in what the children could do with the resources, balance these adult led ideas with just basic, attractive, tidy presentation without 'leading' the play.

ie: animals in ice is a great idea, or cars with blocks, but these presentations will effectively lead how the ice or the blocks are played with.

Maybe give children choice of various resources placed nearby to add to blocks or Ice/water (rather than with).

I used to put small tubs, small resources near the water tray, some children chose to use them, some didn't, when a child was seen putting a small item into a small tub of water, then they were asked, what do you think would happen if you put that in the fridge? (meaning ice box). This way they experienced the process as well as end product We would then often see a trail of water from the water tray to the fridge or find a few tubs in the ice box miraculously appear on subsequant sessions. The children had remembered and made some independently. xD ( it was quite interesting to see what they had chosen to 'freeze' :( The small tubs would freeze before the end of the session so they didn't have to wait too long for the end result either. :o

The other children were happy to be left pouring and playing as they chose, thus maintaining individual play choices.

 

Peggy

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