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Extending Children's Play And Independent Activities


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Hello everone,

 

I hope you are all having a good term so far!

 

I wondered if you could please help me! I have knots in my stomach everyday, I'm finding it really hard to control my Reception children this term. They are wild! I'm worried that they are bored. I wanted to know what sort of independent activities you set up in the morning pleaseDo you leave these out all day? I'm finding time a real issue, do you spend hours setting up independent activities? Do you have a bank of ideas where you go to for ideas? Would you say the Featherstone Little Books are good resources for independent activities? I have got loads! How do you extend their play in the home corner? How do you engage the boys in indepednent activities. I need to know that the children are engaged when I'm working on a focus group activity?

 

PLEASE could you tell me what you are doing at the moment? Could anyone send me their planning please? I know that is really cheeky! I just want this panic feeling to go!

 

Thank you for reading this!

Tash X

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Hi,

 

I'm upping this for you because I would also be interested in any responses! I constantly feel I should be supporting play (yet doing focus activities at the same time!!) but am unsure how to go about this - sometimes there is an obvious extension, but sometimes the children don't seem to want to do what is suggested - I also have a rather independent bunch this year (in that they think they can do what they like the whole time!)

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Welcome to the best website in the world! Official!

 

A lot of Reception classes seem to be a sturdy lot this year - anything happen 4/5 years ago?

 

Firstly - do you both have any/much support, I would hope that the answer is yes! If so, how are you using the other person/people? They can do focus tasks as well, leaving you the freedom to interact with provision, extend children's play and promote more effective/less boisterous independent play.

 

Would this be a big shift in practice at your school or not? Let me know more details and I'll try to help a bit more effectively!

 

Jenni

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Hi all, I am also really interested in this topic. I was really pleased with how things were going, I went with the mini theme" we are all special "and yes it is going ok, getting parents involved and so on. Travel agents role play went down really well and hairdressers. then i noticed children turned the home corner into a cinema- great, set up cinema role play, made popcorn, tickets, talked about favourite films etc. Lots of interest in police and the goodies and badies so i extended that but now i am a bit stuck and i have tried different methods of recording all this and i am still not happy with my planning ..............

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It's a relief to hear others have the same problem!! My reception group are one of the most badly behaved classes I have had for years and I too am tearing my hair out almost to the point of despair! I can't get them to respond to instructions at all, they basically are so used to doing whatever they want whenever they want and they have no listening skills at all. Introducing letters and sounds at phase 2 which is where I would usually start ie introducing the letters through jolly phonics is out of the question I am having to start at basic listening. I have a lovely classroom with good resources and am trying really hard to provide a balance of focused activites alongside plenty of child initiated activity time the trouble is they then fight, argue and shout continually!! Sorry for the whinge but I'm going demented!!

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I can't believe how many people are having the same problem this, I thought it was just me! I have many years experience, more than I care to say, but this new group are really challenging. I too cannot get my planning right. For example, I spent hours last weekend planning focussed activities and the continuous provision, but haven't got through even a quarter of because it is so difficult to get the children's attention. Then after the story 'Aliens love underpants' we have gone off on a completely different tangent to respond to the childrens interests. This is great, but very frustrating after spending so long planning. there must be a happy medium, but what is it? Any ideas, PLEASE!

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What a great thread! I too am having problems this year. The children seem wild and are unable to listen. I am also finding they are just emptying shelves into the water/sand and wrecking the home corner. I have done lots of modelling and worked in specific areas to show them what to do but it isn't working.

Any advice would be welcomed!

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hi you just summed up my class too! i have 18 boys to 12 girls so always find it makes for a harder balance. We had a staggared entry so had small groups and introuduced 'how to play' with the activivtes but now they are altogether it is a noghtmare. i had a screened off book area with drapes i have had to take these down because they are fighting, and i really mean fighting! they are dvingin over the furniture and really hitting and hurting each other. one adult has a focused group and one to faciliate play only there is no facilitatng play as they have to deal with fights or strops etc.

next week i am splittign them into 2 groups of 15 and are going to give their maths, phonics, writng input as two groups. but after that i just hope they will settle down, they are just so rough with the toys and equipment and each other! i think i put out some good independent activities but maybe i put too many because they just mess them up. i have decided on only one new independent task e.g. mark making in sand trays and using it as a focused activity until they get used to it. would love an are on the site to just list activities e.g. writng table activities, water paly activities, CLL activities etc.

sorry to ramble!

hope it settles down for us soonx

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Thanks everyone for your replies .. so glad others are finding the same and it's not just me!!

 

Mine are not exactly badly behaved in the hitting, fighting sense, but they don't seem to have any respect for adults (they obviously rule the roost at home!) or for the toys - so many bits and pieces have been broken during the last 4 weeks compared to the last couple of years! Not major things, but lots of little things due to carelessness and using them inappropriately.

 

Jennim - I have a TA mostly full time (apart from 1 afternoon). She is brilliant thankfully, so either of us can do focus activities - sometimes we both do them at the same time, to get through all the children, to free us both up for later in the day, and sometimes just one of us will do that, and one will support children's play. I feel children should be doing focus activities, but should also be initiating own play so it's finding the balance...! I feel more confident doing the focus activities but maybe that's because we are (in theory) working to my agenda, not theirs!!

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Welcome to the Forum, corinne2 - if the only thing you get from the Forum is finding out that others feel the same way as you do, then it will be worth it!

 

We in pre-school are lucky because we can be flexible enough to go with themes that really engage children's attention when we stumble across them. In an ideal world I'd say go with child-led planning and abandon forward planning - but then I don't have a head teacher breathing down my neck and I have no understanding of what it is like to teach in Reception. :o

 

I'm sure that other teachers on here will be able to offer more appropriate/realistic advice - but I've just watched a teachers tv programme about Communication Friendly Spaces in response to Wendles' thread about her BA research. Elizabeth Jarman makes the point that the environment sends signals to children about what kind of behaviour is acceptable/appropriate in the setting, and that the environment can overstimulate children, making "behaving well" much more difficult. Might be worth considering?

 

Good luck - and I hope everyone is enjoying a frustration-free weekend away from their challenging classes!

 

Maz

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Thanks, Maz. I haven't been in school yet this week as have had a chest infection, hopefully(?) going back tomorrow. This forum is so good for support and advice, I found a thread in the planning forum that is really useful. It's much more manageable & I think it will suit me.

 

I think that as my class are a young group - 8 out of 20 have birthdays after June - I'm going to use the outdoors far more. xD

 

Good luck to everyone else suffering thew same problems! :o

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Hi everyone, one of the good things for us here is that so many are having the same difficulties and doesnt it make you feel like its not just you!

 

Ive had my fair share of classes just like the ones described and yes they are very demanding, especially the year I had 22 boys to 7 girls, with 10 SEN!

 

I dont have any magic answers but these are some of the things worth considering..

1. Definitely have only one adult engaged in focussed activities, let the other adult engage and model play.

2. Agree with maz, take a look at the Communication Friendly Spaces stuff, and clear out the busyness and clutter (if you have any!). Consider having less choices available, to get a routien established, some children just find it hard when faced with so many things to choose from.

3. Use outdoors more if the play is boisterous.. sometimes half the group outside makes the half inside more manageable.

4. Try if you can to establish what the chidlren DO like doing and see how you can make that available.

5. Use circle times to establish clear 'rules' preferably that the children come up with themselves.

6. Consider makng some independent activites those things that were focussed actvitiers previsulsy..so the chidlren can revisist them AND know what they are supposed to do with them. (so for example, you do a letters and sounds game with objects begining with 'b', leave them on the table for teh chidlren to return to to revisit and explore).

7. If things are really that bad, go back to setting routines even if that means throwing the literacy planning out of the window this week and focussing on PSED. It will pay dividends later on.

 

Im sure others will have otjher ideas, these arec just things Ive tried along the way (not always successfully by the way but worth trying anyway)

 

Good luck everyone, it is still really early days..

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Consider having less choices available, to get a routien established, some children just find it hard when faced with so many things to choose from.

 

We have gone the other way to try and deal with the same behaviour problems we all seem to be having with the current cohort. We have provided more independant activities areas but for small groups (2-4) to help establish relationships rather than 'gang culture'.We're using coloured bands for 3 minefield areas as a visual form of establishing suitable play. A positive behaviour reward scheme and an instant 'we're not happy' visual activity. One adult is doing a focus activity with a small group and the other adult is overviewing the room.We've also played traffic lights with areas.At the beginnning of each session the children go to areas for 10 mins with traffic light on red, when it turns yellow thats a warning of 2 minutes left, light goes green they can choose.It's lead to calmer starts to the sessions that set a more positive tone.I know some will be shaking their heads but we don't expect some of these approaches to be long term and we have seen an improvement. We discuss, we try, we review and revise......no easy answer

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Its good to know that we are not the only ones. We are having problems with our Year R and it is such a relief to hear that other people are too and how they are approaching the problem. THanks

 

 

 

 

We have gone the other way to try and deal with the same behaviour problems we all seem to be having with the current cohort. We have provided more independant activities areas but for small groups (2-4) to help establish relationships rather than 'gang culture'.We're using coloured bands for 3 minefield areas as a visual form of establishing suitable play. A positive behaviour reward scheme and an instant 'we're not happy' visual activity. One adult is doing a focus activity with a small group and the other adult is overviewing the room.We've also played traffic lights with areas.At the beginnning of each session the children go to areas for 10 mins with traffic light on red, when it turns yellow thats a warning of 2 minutes left, light goes green they can choose.It's lead to calmer starts to the sessions that set a more positive tone.I know some will be shaking their heads but we don't expect some of these approaches to be long term and we have seen an improvement. We discuss, we try, we review and revise......no easy answer
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I just wanted to add that I am reading this thread with a great big sigh of relief! I have quite a challenging class this year who seem to think they will get their own way if they threaten to or indeed use violence towards the other children or myself. Myself and my (full time) TA have really thought long and hard about what we can do to help the children settle in and as we too have a larger proportion of boys than girls and we too were finding the classroom and garden trashed and resources and equipment broken. We are now taking a lot more of our focus activites into the garden rather than inside. We have free flow outside and in all day and wouldn't have coped without it and I am taking the activites outside to them. Things appear to have been better this week but my TA is now off sick and I have had no support today or tomorrow, however a week ago I would have cried at this prospect but today they have been fab!

Hang in there everyone because I am sure things will get better its still early days!

Ems xx

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I feel miles better having read this thread. I was beginning to think it was just me, too. One of my Y2s even said to me when I was mid grumble the other day about how long it takes them to stop, listen and look, "Do you think it's because you're used to juniors, Mrs L?"

My main problem is that I nearly always have to have sone adult doing focus work with the Y1/2s in the class, so any adults with YR are crowd control (I'd like to say supporting play, but we're not quite there yet). It's so tempting to give in and have them doing more directed activities for the sake of the sanity of my long suffering TA. She's fabulous at focus activities and adult directed stuff, but out of her comfort zone supporting chidl initiated play. I'm also desperate to do something about my timetable. I counted up the amount of time YR have adult led activities, including registrations, milk/fruit (tried the floating snack bar but had major problems with two children sitting grazing all morning until there was nothing left for anyone!), assembly, two PE sessions (my PPA time), harvest festival singing practise with the whole school, etc. and was horrified. I've asked if I can keep them out of the 2 PE sessions and spend some time with them on their own as I never seem to have chance to observe them otherwise. That said, we have gone a few weeks without me being kicked, bitten and sworn at, so maybe we're starting to get somewhere. :o

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My main problem is that I nearly always have to have sone adult doing focus work with the Y1/2s in the class, so any adults with YR are crowd control (I'd like to say supporting play, but we're not quite there yet). It's so tempting to give in and have them doing more directed activities for the sake of the sanity of my long suffering TA. She's fabulous at focus activities and adult directed stuff, but out of her comfort zone supporting chidl initiated play.

 

Tracylu - could your TA do some of the adult focus work with your Y1/2s while you spend some time with the Rec? Just a thought!?

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I know it may seem inappropriate, but we now have Literacy/Numeracy sessions 3 days per week - whole class 15-20 mins then small groups 10-15 mins -1 group outside usually with TA, 1 group working with me then 2 independent groups working on directed 'play-based' activites. This means that during CI Play (1hr per session) 2 adults are free to support play if needed which in turn means better behaviour - it makes free-flow easier too and you don't have to go searching for children to do adult-directed activites! This works well for us, we have plenty of time for observations and children have a good balance of adult-directed and child-initiated activities.

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Tracylu - could your TA do some of the adult focus work with your Y1/2s while you spend some time with the Rec? Just a thought!?

 

Yes, I do plan her in for this from time to time, she does a couple of guided reading groups for me, and has maths focus groups twice a week while I spend some time with YR, but our focus is more able Y2s this year, and the head prefers me to spend most of my time with them. It's a case of spreading myself as thinly as possible! :o I also feel a bit guilty as I'm off out enjoying myself with only 10 YRs, leaving her with the larger group (20 of them), which just doesn't seem right, somehow! My next plan is to take Y2 as the separate group, and lhave Y1 with YR more often so that they can model appropriate play. Not sure if the head will go for it though.

(Sorry - hijacking!)

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