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Topic Or No!


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Hi everyone,

 

I am beginning to get sleepless nights already about how we plan within my reception class. We had the dreaded Ofsted last spring and thankfully were given a good with elements of outstanding so planning and provision can't be that far off what we should be achieving in EYFS. However, I am beginning to feel slightly lost at this moment in time with the argument for or against topics. I read a thread on here somewhere recently which seemed favourable to dropping topics altogether. I could see how this would allow more freedom to follow children's interests, which I currently meet through my play plannning activities in general with a main topic theme, such as dinosaurs or food for my adult led activities. This topic is chosen once again by observing children's interests and I plan the topic to cover a six week perios as the norm.

Subsequently I trialled dropping my planned topic on nursery rhymes for a week to try setting activities which met more individualised children's needs and covered a much broader range of interests. It seemed sucessful but felt such a change. How are other reception classes planning currently?

Nervous by the move away from my topic base I continued with nursery rhymes for adult led this week but am now in such a dilemma. I don't think I can last much longer without a good nights sleep so any advice would be appreciated.

If I drop my topics how will I ensure i get the coverage I need?

It just seems so odd not having a map of what will be happening over the next six weeks and I feel it could take an eternity to plan exciting and original adult led activities at the drop of a hat to suit everyone when I usually plan a six week block in the holidays each time.

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All I can say is 'me too'. Have taught reception, and have enjoyed most of it, over 30 years now and am so nervous of how to deliver now. Local reception class just got outstanding - and they still do separate literacy and numeracy hours - so many mixed messages. I tried to go much more with children's interests last year, with some brilliant times and some not so brilliant, am still waiting for inspiration from them this september, or will have to impose my own topic soon.

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Hi

 

I think following children's interests is not about every single one of them having a topic just for them. For me it is about ensuring I find out what they already know and what they would like to know and I have taken the idea of provocation from the Reggio approach. So at present it is really about routines and the environment for the children and i am beginning to get an idea of the types of things they like and are interested in. I love the idea of going from a story and read as often as i can to the children and when they have an idea or interest then I will find a story to go with it. So for example when some of the children were really into conkers last year I found books and pictures and took them out to the park. they were fascinated by how huge the tree was so on our return we did a brain storm and I drew a mind map. I found out what they knew, or thought they knew, and what they wanted to know and then made my medium term plan up from there. It lasted until Christmas!! There is a great book called Thinking Floor Books you may also find useful and they have a training session coming to London in Jan. Also an excellent article in EYE magazine last month on using provocations!

 

http://www.mindstretchers.co.uk/events/20100112.html

 

So what I am trying to say in what seems very long winded is it is not topic or no topic but just find out what the children know and want to know and go from there. You are there already just tweak it a little.

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Thanks Amelia

 

The mindstretchers course sounds really interesting. London is a bit out of reach for me to attend being in Lincolnshire but I will look into the floorbook. I think I came across Mindstretchers on an early years conference, talking about forest school, last summer and it was really excellent.

You have made me feel a bit more positive. I should probably have another bash at it and keep my topic on the back burner just in case.

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I started off deciding to do dinosaurs thus half term - all the childen seemed really interested on induction day, so good idea thinks I. nOW, Week 2, I have already abandoned my dinosaur role play inside and made it into a car, and am trying to bring harvest and transport together as a theme. The rest of the school is doing the topic of Olympics, but I haven't even started to do that.

I think I will start each half term with a topic - I need something in mind to plan to - howver as with this half term, I am ready to adandon my ideas to go with the children.

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Thanks Amelia

 

The mindstretchers course sounds really interesting. London is a bit out of reach for me to attend being in Lincolnshire but I will look into the floorbook. I think I came across Mindstretchers on an early years conference, talking about forest school, last summer and it was really excellent.

You have made me feel a bit more positive. I should probably have another bash at it and keep my topic on the back burner just in case.

 

 

HJ there is a great school in Suffolk called Bealings Primary School where they deliver the whole curriculum through Mantle of the Expert and if you have any chance to visit go and take a look it is amazing and to see how others do things makes it easier to see how you cna adapt!

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Instead of having a topic that everyone does, we are doing a few 'projects' this term. They are smaller scale things which don't go into all the areas of learning, and only those children who want to join in get involved.

 

One of our 'projects' is on life cycles, which has come about since my little girl found some caterpillars and we took them in inside one of those glass observation tanks. So there was a table where the children could look at this and some books relating to it, then we've also put up some life cycle posters next to our pond. Some children did caterpillar pictures, but others haven't shown an interest.

 

We're running another 'project' alongside this on recycling which has come about through a parent who is a science teacher and also because we wanted to do some junk modelling. Again, it's not everyone doing it, just a couple of activities on offer which they might choose.

 

I think this strikes a good balance between introducing new topics to the children (who might not otherwise access them) and following their interests.

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