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Linking Learning To Planning

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Finally feel as though we are getting somewhere with planning however still feeling a little lost about linking activities to learning!



Can you tell me what you think please....

1. We are planning activities with no learning intention for the children each week/fortnight coming from their interests for example

Billy enjoys playing with dinosaurs next week we might plan for him to make junk modelling houses as we notice he rarely goes nearly the creative area, no learning outcome we will just observe him then link to learning depending on what he gets out of the activity.


Then say its bonfire night and the children are interested in it so we might plan to add food colouring in the water tray, provide tubes for junk modelling to possibly make fireworks, we might tell a firework story to the children etc, these get added to our weekly sheet as enhanced provision?????????- again no learning outcome chosen just seeing what the children get out of it.




So each week, month, term we never prechose learning outcomes to cover- our advisory team are pleased with us implementing this, but we feel its not enough can I have some feedback please.




sharon x

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if 'Billy' is enjoying dinosaurs why not get him to make a junk model dinosaur, rather than a house? That way you tap into his interests and you would be able to plan for learning 'begin to make 3D structures'

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There are lots of lovely 'Billy and the dinosaurs' books which you could probably link to all areas of learning too.....

potato printing dinosaur footprints

problem solving making a dinosaur that can move: split pins etc

Physical: dinosaur stomp big book

Burying dinosaurs in the sand tray to discover and count, have you got them all?

dinosaur songs and counting rhymes

make dinosaur teeth to thread......


OK, I'll stop now!

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I may be wrong but my thoughts are that what you have described are 'continuous provision' activities with an adult focus, some linked to a seasonal theme.

for example;

Junk modeling / construction

books and stories

water play



These you can just 'resource' for and see if children access them independently showing how they 'take' learning from them, or consider, like your continuous provision sheets indicate, possible lines of development/learning. If staff are aware of these PLODS, and see the opportunity to enable them, (without spoiling a childs own learning intention) then the activities will be 'quality' adult focused.

Or you could make the activities adult led by knowing a particular skill / concept a particular child (or a few children) need or have shown previous interest in developing, that the activity is especially suitable for ie: a child showing interest in length / measure / maths, encourage this child to consider this aspect of the firework making activity, can he make the longest / shortest firework.


Enhanced provision I see as the opportunity staff take to 'enhance' a childs learning need or next step, or consolidation of a newly aquired concept or skill by presenting these learning outcomes within activities or using resources that the child has shown an interest in.

ie: Billy likes dinosaurs, he has also recently shown an awareness of the concept of 'family', so to further enhance his understanding of 'family' the adult could 'play alongside' him with the dinosaurs encouraging him to sort the dinosaurs by whatever 'criteria' he thinks would define them into a 'family group' ie:Tyranosaurus (spl) as Dad, Maiasaura (mother)

good link about dinosaur names


or maybe his learning interest has been in maths, about size, so encourage sizing dinosaurs. In other words take the learning to the child not the child to the learning.


Another way to plan using childrens interests is your example that you've identified that he doesn't choose creative activities, how best to introduce him to the creative art area, with junk boxes, paints etc than to place the dinosaurs in this area and see what he 'creates' with them.


In other words take the learning to the child not the child to the learning. To me 'enhancement' is knowing the children, not just their interests as in the resources they choose or the activity 'area' they go to but also their 'learning' interests. What concepts / skills / attitudes are they repeating in their play, how can you extend these using the resources / play areas that are known to 'engage' the child/ren.


Hope that makes sense.



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I feel a little bit uncomfortable with the "no learning intention" ! :o

I think everything you do in a setting could have a learning intention associated with it, so although you might not write the LI down, I would make it clear to your staff that there is one! In your first example, Sharon, it could simply be "to encourage Billy to try something new".


A learning intention is basically answering the question "Why are we offering this resource/activity and what we do we want the children to get out of it?" If you and your colleagues can answer that, I think you'll be fine xD

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I agree with everything you have all said thank you x, its just I cant get to grips with the fact that we arent showing any "Planned learning" intention on paper, so therfore have no evidence, I know what you are thinking and I agree but the big O want evidence dont they?


Yes the keyworkers can extend their childrens learning by playing as peggy mentioned -but our early years team say we need no planning whatsoever apart from our individual childs plans with our possible next steps(activities we are going to provide that week) and maybe an evaluation sheet on what has happened today.


So for example we had a parent bring in a kitten we did an activity the next day linking to showing care and concern for living things, the early years advisor said we needed no planning to link to that outcome, do you all get what Im saying?


Is noone planning to cover any areas of learning anymore and just playing with the children and observing then linking their observations to an area afterwards?


Where does the adult led activities and alance across the curriculum come in if this is the case?


Hope i havent confused you all x

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On your daily evaluation sheet, is there space for saying "So this is what we're going to do next" Or, if you only decided on the day, you could put it in your evaluation for that day, ie as restrospective planning? Either way, you have recorded somewhere :o


That way, you would be making that link that you are worried about?


It does seem that your advisors are encouraging inadequate planning and I agree with you; it doesn't seem enough when Ofsted come to visit!


I think you do need still to be planning adult-directed activities, and that, coupled with your continuous provision, would give a balance across the six areas.

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I agree with Helen, especially reagards to the use of 'retrospective planning' in other words recording the learning that has taken place.

This could be done on a planning sheet or even on a whiteboard which can be displayed for all parents to see as well. ie


Activities accessed today Learning that took place today children involved ( an option)


Sand play Exploring weight and mass Tom, Sarah, Jo


Sand Play collaborative problem solving Katy, Jo, Keiran

fitting & transporting Sam, Donna



Role Play Area (hairdressers) Writing appointments Donna, Sue, Bob

(speaking & listening



Or of course you could do this in a daily diary or plannig sheets etc.

I did the whiteboard idea but we didn't write the learning on it, we recorded, as we noticed, the areas being accessed by the children. I would photograph the board before wiping it so only had to write out once.

This showed patterns of what continuous provision was most popular, used by whom most often, how it sometimes became an adult initiated activity etc. It wouldn't be difficult to include a coloumn to show the learning (not planned learning but what the children indicated they had learnt through observed interactions, language and action/skills displayed)ie: retrospective planning. :o


Good luck, hope you find a system that you feel satisfies EYAT's and Ofsted, but keep in mind, as I'm sure you do, what works best for yourselves and the children is the main priority. xD




I typed my example 'whitebaord headings etc' in column format but it didn't come out like that, hope you get the idea though.




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