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littleanna
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In our LA we are strongly encouraged to have everything out at all times-sand,wet and dry inside and out,dough,paint on tables and easles,water inside and out etc etc.The problem I have is that we are a small setting with small rooms and it all feels too much and crowded.Please don't get the impression that I don't want choice for the children I do,but am I the only one to feel not every thing at once.I feel that the busyness of all the rooms is not calming on the one hand and never anything fresh and new.I'd love to read some research that supports my theory that we are assulting all the senses with an overload of 'stuff'

Thanks

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Sounds like the communication friendly places research might be of interest here - that focuses on how rooms which are visually busy can be overstimulating for children.

 

On our ECERS training last week there was a focus on what constitutes quality provision, and whilst there was an emphasis on providing a variety of resources there wasn't any suggestion that it all had to be available all the time. Although I think there were guidelines for how long children should have access to some resources/materials each day which I can check if you're interested.

 

Personally I think it is unrealistic to expect even the largest setting to have everything on offer all the time - apart from anything else it would be very difficult to supervise children effectively especially if working to minimum ratios.

 

Will be interested to see how other settings manage their resources given the space constraints we all work with!

 

Maz

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We have all the 'usual' stuff 'available' all the time - i.e we have out a certain amount of equipment (that the children choose the previous week as part of their input into planning) but all the equipment is avilable in that if a child says "can i have the ..." or "where's the ....?" or "I need the .... with the ...." it's readily available and can be whipped out sharpish!

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I don't know if any of these questions would help but it was good for me to think about them.

 

Do you have so many activities that the children play individually rather than playing together and learning from each other?

 

Do the children have the space to adapt the resources to follow their own interests perhaps linking two pieces of equipment together?

 

Do they have the opportunity to use the same resources over a long period of time to develop a 'project' or particular interest?

 

Could you justify taking fewer resources out by having an ethos where the children are able to ask for something to be brought out or get it themselves?

 

How do you cope with the children who don't have the motor skills to move around a crowded room without bumping into each other and the equipment?

 

Sometimes the most creative learning environment is an empty space with a few sheets, pegs and cushions.

 

How do new children feel coming into such a crowded and busy room?

 

Can you observe the children effectively?

 

If you feel it is too much and too crowded what must it be like from a child's height?

 

You need to stick to what feels right for the children in your setting whose needs you know better than a stranger from the LEA.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Good luck with it

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we have just had our ecers r and did really well - we only provide sand outside and water and painting are inside or outside depending on the weather - we found if cold the children wouldnt use water ouside and if really windy the paper would blow everywhare making it impossible to paint - we said this when had visit and they were happy with that.

outside we always have sand, construction of some sort,seats with books,baskets with pencils etc in,musical instruments and ribbons and depending on weather water and painting and then one/two child chosen resources. we also have bikes and scooters and climbing frame and slide which children access for part of session

inside we always have dough,home corner,book corner,small world,construction (large), mark making area, maths area, two other table top activities,musical instruments, computers,collage and junk modelling -water and painting if not outside - and then tuff spot is either inside or outside.

we have quite a big room so doesnt look too crowded but we did rearrange our room after first ecers r - the one thing that came out from this was the children shouldnt have to walk through one activity to get to another - which they dont have to now and i would agree that it makes a difference as children are not disturbed in their play by others walking through .

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Our LA also has the same sort of ideas, but the way we got around it was to have the basics

out according to planning and then have A4 cards with photo's or pictures of other resources.

The children then get to choose other activities to be put out according to their choices.

 

LA now happy and OFSTED love the fact children are making their own decisions and choices.

 

Just my 4d worth

 

The token male

 

Tony

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I know a local childrens centre that has taken all the bright displays down and gone for neutral colours because of over stimulating the children so Im sure there is some research into over stimulating the sences

 

some children thrive with a stimulating environment where everything is on offer all the time but from the various settings I have worked over the years I have noticed that too much stuff can be also overwelming for some children and too much choice can have a negative impact on behaviour. children flit from one thing to the next because they want to make sure they have played with everything and while they are playing with one thing something else in the room that catches their eye and distracts them from what they are doing.

 

quality not quantity and surely putting everything out all the time is not necesseraly quality?

 

I think that for some it would be better to put a selection of activities out and change them during the session so that over the time they have had the opportunity to play with everything but not had all the choices thrust upon them all at once

 

and what about the child that only plays with one thing? is it wrong to put it away and make that child think about looking for something else to play with?

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We have limited space so we rotate activities around a core which is always there, like painting, drawing, construction, role play, small world etc. We don't always have dough or sand or water out - we rotate these in our 'messy area'. This ensures that the activities don't get 'stale'. If a child asks for one that's not out we either change by group consensus or promise to have that out the next day, if they still want it.

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We also had issues with having everything available in our classrooms. Our ECERs audit was pretty good but where it did highlight problems it was for things like the lack of sand and water both inside and out (we always have one or the other and we have open access to outside but in our case the ECERs audit indicated that this was not sufficient). Again our rooms are relatviley small but after much discussion and some input from our LA we have totally reorganised our classrooms so that we now have all the areas spread across the two rooms and the children will be allowed to freeflow between the rooms. You say you have small rooms and maybe it would be possible for you to link together with colleagues as we have done. It will be a very new way of working for us and we do have some concerns about our individaul teaching times but generally we are quite enthusiastic about our new space. It has created more available space for the children and less clutter as we are not doubling up. We have also tried design one room as the quieter space. It's been qite hard work putting it all together so we are really hoping it will work.

xD:o

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We have limited space so we rotate activities around a core which is always there, like painting, drawing, construction, role play, small world etc. We don't always have dough or sand or water out - we rotate these in our 'messy area'. This ensures that the activities don't get 'stale'. If a child asks for one that's not out we either change by group consensus or promise to have that out the next day, if they still want it.

this is what we do too, i found that if playdough was out every single day they got bored,also continuous provision isnt everY thing out atonce just as you say the core areas and then enhancements are added according to childs development eeds or interests, this could be changed daily or weekly, if the enhancements are changed regulary it stops children getting bored or even frustrated as they often might have too much choicen

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Ok I think I have decided-we are going to take down posters no one ever notices any more,clear the decks-keep out our core 'stuff'paint,role play,book corner etc and have some of the rest out eg farm or zoo or castle and knights to ring the changes.A photo book with photos of other equipment for the children to choose from.If we have sand in our outdoor covered area I don't think we need it 20 paces away indoors!

Less is more and you are quite right quality not quantity.

Am going to try and find more info on Elizabeth Jarmen and stick up for what i believe is right.

What is your opinion on plain white walls-are rooms are fairly dark

Thanks A :o

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Ok I think I have decided-we are going to take down posters no one ever notices any more,clear the decks-keep out our core 'stuff'paint,role play,book corner etc and have some of the rest out eg farm or zoo or castle and knights to ring the changes.A photo book with photos of other equipment for the children to choose from.If we have sand in our outdoor covered area I don't think we need it 20 paces away indoors!

Less is more and you are quite right quality not quantity.

Am going to try and find more info on Elizabeth Jarmen and stick up for what i believe is right.

What is your opinion on plain white walls-are rooms are fairly dark

Thanks A :o

think plain white or cream are ideal as you can then add colour with childrens work and it wont clash!!
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Anna, just out of interest, did you get your outstanding from ofsted with everything out?

At our recent inspection it wasn't mentioned.

Our children can move bewteen 2 rooms and the outdoor area so we try to ensure we cover all bases throughout rather than, for example, sand in each room.

We have an enormous amount of different types of construction, small world and role play as well as any number of resources we use to extend and enhance learning and it would be impossible to provide a quality provision having everything available all of the time.

I love changing the room around and have photographs on boxes on units for children to access during freeplay; our craft consists of a resources unit which has on it a combination of recycled stuff, glitter, glue, ribbons, staplers, hole punches, tissue paper, paper plates etc, so the children make individual unique pieces.

We tend not to have have dough available all of the time inside, but probably 4 weeks out of 6 and when the weather warms up we'll have water out all of the time in the garden. We have an outdoor sunken sand pit but also try to have sand available at waist height too.

 

Our displays are currently bright, but reflect the childrens artwork; our festivals display is colourful. I like the idea of keeping specific areas quite neutral, such as the quiet area, and am interested to see a setting entirely neutral, it must be very calming and natural looking. Our furntiture's all wood so it would be acheivable.

 

(I promised myself time off, but the draw of FSF is too much!!)

Sam

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I think you have to be realistic. We just dont have the space for everything all the time and it hasn't been a problem wih ofsted as the space really is just too restrictive. Personally I dont think you should restrict yourself on display backing. neutral themes work well sometimes, but i've also done some fab full on colour displays. The whole overstimulation thing is very subjective. I have found different colour themes can set off different classes of children in a variety of different ways and as the mother of an aspergers child who is apparently supposed to find the whole environemnt thing very overwhelming if too stimulating I can hand on heart say he never has particularly noticed it. I guess what I am saying is go with your kids. Does that help, probably not, Zoe.

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I was not thinking displays to b neutral as well ,but that they would provide the pop of colour.

We did get outstanding with everything out but it is more of a feeling I get about the rooms - I keep on getting down on my knees to see how I would feel if I was that small!

Anna

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