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Self Selection.........how Do You Do It?


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Hi guys,

I work in a 'pack-away' pre-school, where we have to set up and put away each session.

 

We tend to put a selection of stuff out, such as 4/5 jigsaws on a table, ride-ons, home corner, climbing frame, round-about,playdough, farm. As well as having a set of pull-out drawers containing such things as paper, crayons, dolls house equipment, animals, fuzzy-felt and other table-top stuff that the children can help themselves to and play/work with.

 

We have been told that by putting out equipment for the children we are not allowing them to self select. I think it would be impracticle to have all the equipment out at the same time and due to limited space we have lots of stuff in the store cupboard and it would be unsafe to let the children in there to help themselves.

 

I would be interested to hear how other settings do self selection, especially those who have to put all their equipment away each day .

 

Sorry if this is a bit waffly and doesn't make much sense. if required I will try to clarify our situation.

 

Many thanks

 

Salsa

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We dont put away each day although some of the toys are in a cupaboard.

We have a "childrens choice" book. A 4 book for the equipment that is in the cupboard.

A4 photos of toys, dressing up clothes, even art activities done in the past.

It does work. If the children dont fancy anything they can see, they look through the book

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Hi

No it makes perfect sense.

We also meet in a church hall and get everything in and out of the cupboard each day.

The way we do it is by having a range of portable storage that can be taken out of the cupboard as is and ready to go.

 

For example we have a wheeled trolly with construction toys in labelled drawers. We have an old camping kitchen in our creative area with boxes and tubes and containers then a selection of smaller boxes with ribbon, wool, feathers, leaves, bottle tops etc and another with glue, scissors masking tape pritt stick. We have another trolley of labelled drawers with pencils, paper, envelopes etc. We have some of those plastic carriers I think they are for putting cleaning materials in with paper, notepads, books, pencils etc that we can put out near different activities so we can have mark making equipment in different areas for the children to access.

At the end of the day it gets packed back in the container back in the cupboard and its ready to go again.

 

Easy to lift or on wheels that is answer.

Hope that is some help

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We dont put away each day although some of the toys are in a cupaboard.

We have a "childrens choice" book. A 4 book for the equipment that is in the cupboard.

A4 photos of toys, dressing up clothes, even art activities done in the past.

It does work. If the children dont fancy anything they can see, they look through the book

 

 

oh, that sounds like a fab idea.

thanks

Salsa

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We used to have a book of choices with pictures of all our resources in it but found that the children didn't really use it, especially the younger ones (maybe on reflection it was because we didn't introduce it well enough). We were doing to change it to having posters on the doors of the storage areas with what was stored in those areas but instead invested in the units on wheels (courtesy of a grant) . These have been the best investment we have ever made. We have a construction one, a maths/ict one, an arts and crafts one, a small world/play doh one and one that has been fantastic is a tall one that has a drawer for each key person in so we can put our portfolio's and childrens work in it. Two of ours are lockable and are kept out at the side of the hall and the others just wheel into our walk in storage cupboard at the end of each day. Tidying up at he end of the day and during the holidays has become less time consuming and the children can choose what they get out.

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We have a couple of trolleys where children seof select from as well . Like the sound of the lockable ones and one for keypersons. Can I ask where you get yours from as we are looking to buy some more?

 

smiles

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We have also been told we don't have enough self selection and are in the same position as the OP. I have been told by someone who claimed to know that offering a book of resources was not good practice, and we don't do it because frankly it would take me all my time to photograph the selections!

 

We also don't have many wheeled trolleys with selections on as we have so much lego, duplo, stickle bricks, etc that to put it all on a trolley would make it unwieldy and to put bits of it out seems to defeat the purpose of having enough for everyone to share it.

 

We do have "zones" in the room which are specified to certain types of activities and we rotate between these the different resources which fit with the zone, so children get to see a selection over a period of weeks. The details of that organisation are complex but it works once it is set up. We also make notes in the diary or on the weekly plan if a child requests a specific something, and we change the plan if needed to allow that out on their next session. Our cupboards are ot suitable for the children to go in alone and just start getting things out, but they are safe enough for them to go in with an adult (as they do when we are tidying up) and if they want to get something they see we either get it then or put it on the next session's plan. There are a small amount of resources they can get alone from the cupboard and they do! Bikes being the main one. Sometimes though I have to say we still say not today, for example if we have lots of floor based activities out which are being used by other children, and this is for safety.

 

I am awaiting a visit from someone from LA and they always tell us we do it wrong, but at the end of the day we have to work with what we have and what we can do safely.

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"We also don't have many wheeled trolleys with selections on as we have so much lego, duplo, stickle bricks, etc that to put it all on a trolley would make it unwieldy and to put bits of it out seems to defeat the purpose of having enough for everyone to share it. "

 

We have a trolley with 8 LARGE boxes of choices for construction and even though we have more choices we rotate e.g. only having one selection of duplo. We have 26 children in a day and don't have a problem with sharing it. In fact I think will less of one thing e.g. mega blocks has actually resulted in more purposeful useage especially when they combine it with small world items. We have a group of boys who love making tunnels and garages from mega blocks for the cars in small world.

 

We bought ours I think from equip 4 you or something similar and was able to buy 2 get one free. I bought the construction one from county supplies because it had bigger boxes.

 

I would not go back to making choices for the children before they have even come through the door. Also before I did have the time to produce labels from photos for all the drawers we just used old catologues to get our images from and involved the children in cutting them out to make the books. They loved it.

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"I have been told by someone who claimed to know that offering a book of resources was not good practice, and we don't do it because frankly it would take me all my time to photograph the selections!"

 

I couldnt disagree more!

The book of resourses is not to take away self selection. That takes place within the room. But to make sure every resourse you have, is avilable every day by the childs choice.

It wasent a chore to make. It was made over time. With some of the pictues being the actual box the toy came in

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The book of resourses is not to take away self selection. That takes place within the room. But to make sure every resourse you have, is avilable every day by the childs choice.

 

 

Maybe we are just a well resouced setting but if the above was the case for us then it would take a child all morning to choose. At hte risk of everyone else disagreeing with me I cannot see the problem with having 2/3 of different things out.

Our equipment is packed away like a jigsaw puzzle at the end of a passage and to get anything out a lot of the stuff has to be moved out & into the hall. With 25 children in each day we could in theory have staff members in & out of the shed all day bringing things in. We have outgrown our storage and this does limit us somewhat, but unless you are surround by all your resources in the room the children are playing in I dont see how true self selection can take place. Certainly for those of us in church halls that have to pack away, it isn't going to happen

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We have outgrown our storage and this does limit us somewhat, but unless you are surround by all your resources in the room the children are playing in I dont see how true self selection can take place. Certainly for those of us in church halls that have to pack away, it isn't going to happen

lynned55: I think your post amply illustrates that we all face our challenges, and that what works in one setting won't necessarily work with others. It is probably true that no two groups are the same, and that's especially true of packaway groups like ours. Our storage cupboard is quite close but there's a small ramp which makes life difficult (especially as it isn't fixed and often moves mid-manoeuvre so that our cabinets get stuck high and dry!).

 

I think we can all learn from each other (which is Marion-speak for stealing ideas!) , and the 'wish list' books with photos of activities are a great way of encouraging children to make choices: even if its the adults who have to go into the cupboard and retrieve the object of children's desires from the furthest reaches of said cupboard!

 

I am trying to work out how to upload a photo to show how we do self-selection by means of wheelable cupboards. When I manage it, I'll be back! :o

 

Maz

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I hadn't wanted to upset anyone with my comments which might have come across as a bit flippant or judgemental (blame it on being in the last hours of my EYPS written tasks and paperwork and being in a bit of a rush) - sorry.

 

I think that every setting has to decide how best to work things for them and I had seriously considered the idea of a choice book, but I know I have been told very clearly (not necessarily my opinion) that it would be frowned on. Our LA does have a very "one-size-fits-all" mentality and whenever the issue of self selection comes up with them we get told we are doing it wrong. In our particular setting I would not like to use our resources the way the LA tell us we should as I don't feel it will work very well at all. Equally I have no more room at all to store any other wheeled trolleys even if I could fit my resources on them!

 

I think the point I wanted to make was that different settings have different ways of doing things and the powers that be should be looking at the bigger picture of what the setting does, rather than trying to do as our LA does and make us all the same. For us it may not be immediately obvious that the children have had input into the planning, but if they took the time to speak to us they would discover just how much input they do have. Sorry again - I am also a little anxious about setting visit and impending visit from said LA!

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Just echoing some of what has already been said :o We have a unit from Ikea (think its call Trofast or something similar) (we have the "stepped" version but you can buy it in differing formats I think) which you can buy differing sized storage boxes which slide in. We put castors on the bottom (as we have to set up and put away each day) so that we can just roll to and from the office where it lives - no room in cupboard!! We can just swap the boxes around depending on what the children have been interested in, requested. Also we have a set of plastic drawers for craft materials (scissors, tape, magazines, "sticking bits", string, glue stick, paper, card and so on and so on) . We did try asking the children the day before what they would like the following day but, as ours are quite little, they tend to say "toys" and if they are sitting with another child, the other child will also repeat "toys" when asked!! We tend to put out selections based on keyworkers obs of their children. Our children are quite good at requesting things they require which may not already be out (at the mo this is mainly torches!!)I am totally at one with the philosopy of theEYFS and we do whatever we can however sometimes those who "know better" have very different experience to e.g. someone in a packaway playgroup and ideals have to be tempered with a touch of reality!! (Am moaning as usual!!)

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Oh Gosh Holly, I'm sure nobody was upset by your comments & hopefully weren't by mine either. This is the only problem with the written word you cant always detect the true meaning of a comment or hear the tone of voice!!

As you say one size just wont fit all and we are all different. Just to make you laugh our EYAT was in last week and whilst she was congratulating us on the amount of self selection we do manage she also said- "I was in a group the other week that had a book of photos to show the children of resources, isn't that a brilliant idea" So even LA's can have vastly differring ideas.

Having somewhere like this where we can bounce ideas off each other and hopefully learn from each other is brilliant. Well I think it is anyway!!

Maz, what do you have wheeled cupboards rather then trolleys with equipmenrt in, that you put out?

Edited by lynned55
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One size doesn't fit all.. what works for us will not for other.. also what works this year may not next!

 

we have wheeled shelves/drawers for many items, dough, sand, water, paint, craft, drawing, books games..

and pictures for others.cars, animals, construction. puzzles , music etc...

 

we are lucky to metal cupboards which we can pot the pictures on and the children will bring us one or tell us of they want something we don't have out.....

 

Not ideal, but we would spend more time getting stuff out and putting away than we spend with the children ...

 

this may not work next year!

 

Inge

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Looks like I opened a can of worms!!

 

There are some great suggestions that I will take into pre-school to discuss with other staff members.

 

It is amazing how different solutions work for different people, and I am gratefull for all the comments.

 

We have today been donated a book-case which we will attach to the wall and use to put jigsaws on, we still won't put them all out (just too many), but it will allow a much greater choice for the children.

 

Thanks again, and it will be interesting to see if any more ideas come up.

 

Salsa.

:o

As a total aside the other staff in my setting now think I am mad as I spent the whole morning conversing in song and rhyme with the children. I must admit I do have a sore throat now!!!! But the children thought it was great and I could hear them in different parts of the room singing and repeating what I had been doing - it was fab.

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