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Structured Play Activities


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Hi,

We have had our school improvement person in, who is also an Early Years specialist and used to be an Early Years advisor. She spent an hour in our unit and basically said we were set up well and everything was working as it should, which is nice to know. She advised us to ensure that there are enough 'structured play' activities provided to ensure that there is enough challenge especially for the reception children (she wasn't saying that we didn't do it just that is something OFSTED would look for). It got us thinking about the balance of child-initiated and adult-initiated play. We have organised the time so children have separate child-initiated and adult-initiated/led time which is balanced and works very well. We were just thinking that when we provide activities that are suggested ideas e.g. can you build a wall for humpty dumpty etc is that still considered child-initiated as the children still have a choice as to what they do or would it be considered more teacher-initiated? Also, how much introduction do others give for these sorts of activities?

Sorry it's a bit of a rambling post,

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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I don't really have structured play activities. What I do is to go through what is out in the continuous provision for the day (they can choose anything) but I highlight new things and suggest ways to use it but the children don't have to do these activities and often they don't. If children do then choose do one of those activities I generally consider it to be child initated in terms of the evidence gathered for the profile.

 

I have been setting 1 challenge a week which I expect all children to do over the week, I model it on the carpet and throughout the week remind children do it, praising those who have so this is a more structures play activity I guess. My adult led activities are play-based and this is structured.

 

Hope that makes sense, not sure it totally answers your question but this is just what I do! x

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Thanks KST,

This sounds like what we do - make suggestions but allow children to choose what they can play with and how. The lady advised to make sure that when we do put different resources out that the children are shown how to use them and encouraged to do so e.g. if we put diaries, lists etc in the home-corner that the use of these is modelled and encouraged in order to extend the learning especially for the reception children. This is the sort of thing we do anyway but in a sensitive way so that we don't take over their play. We sometimes model the play for a new role-play area just to tune the children's thinking into the new resources. We're very keen to keep the child-initiated time, child-initiated - it's a fine line!

I'm curious to know how others set up their continuous provision and if and how they introduce new resources?

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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Yes this is exactly what I do. I agree about keeping child initiated, child initiated! But modelling new things is important too. Its all about getting the right balance. Also I find that I can model and support children more specifically to their level of development if you do alongside them when they play.

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Do others not provide structured or suggested activities? I'm worried about being too structured but feel that we do need to provide some suggestions to challenge children? Interested to know others' thoughts? Of course we play alongside the children to develop and extend their play on an individual level but from what the SIP said OFSTED want to be able to see the challenge and extension within the environment.

Hmmmm...

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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we recently had ofsted. We had child initiated actiivties out - we class these as you humpty dumpty example above. Ofsted liked these as they said children had the opportunity to do what they wanted with the activity but that the challange had been provided if the chose to use it. I feel that with complete child initiated play with absolutely no adult influence our children i)can become unfoccussed and behaviour can become an issue ii)children tend to repeat the same play over and over again and do not extend it and iii)they often dont set themselves any challenge and i can often look and think what is it that they are getting from that play?. Ofsted were perfectly happy with everything we did and i got an outstanding for teaching and a good overall so we were satisfied that we were doing things right......until the next team come along and want totally different things ha ha

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Thanks lolaschool,

I think this is what our SIP was getting at really - she said that it's important to introduce and model play as children often repeat the same play and don't develop it further by themselves. She said to always ask ourselves 'what are children getting out of this?'. If we don't offer these suggested activities then some of our boys, for example, would play football at every given opportunity but if you start them off with an idea they will stick with it and develop it in their own way.

She also suggested making sure that children visit the mark-making and maths area everyday - we're not sure about this as we offer mark-making and maths around the setting as well as in these areas and find that some children who would never come to the writing area love using chalk on the playground, clipboards outside, water on the wall etc? What do others' think about this? I think she was aiming this at reception again - to show the differentiation.

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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so just a question from me green hippo! Do you have 'focused' activities for children to move forward in their learning each week such as PSRN (shape, measure, size etc) and CLL (writing their names for example) or are these specific tasks included in 'continuous provision'??

 

dottyp

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We have separate daily focused activity time where we do a short activity in our key groups. We also provide individualised activities/enhancements/adult to meet children's next steps from long observations. We have changed the way we work so that we are not doing focused activities alongside the child-initiated play in order to really focus on the CI. This allows us much more time to play alongside developing play and do observations. Sometimes an activity which we do during the focused activity time is put into the continuous provision for children to explore and develop further.

Hope that answers your question

Green Hippo x

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I have various different activities out in my different areas for child initiated. I also have a list of questions next to it. For example this week we have had boats and dinosaurs in the water, and I wrote question such as ' how many dinos fit into on boat?' Which holds the most' etc. The questions and areas are explained to the children, and sometimes, they follow the qs but, mostly they dont. Just going through OFSTED now, and I believe they liked it

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She also suggested making sure that children visit the mark-making and maths area everyday - we're not sure about this as we offer mark-making and maths around the setting as well as in these areas and find that some children who would never come to the writing area love using chalk on the playground, clipboards outside, water on the wall etc? What do others' think about this? I think she was aiming this at reception again - to show the differentiation.

 

 

I think this goes against the principles of EYFS in many ways. Why should you be forcing the children to visit these areas? If you have mark making that they are accessing in other areas then what is the need to access a specific area to do this? Same with maths areas. Presumably you have PSRN activities set up in other ways, such as outdoors so why should they specifically needs to visit the maths area?

 

If you have a lot of children who don't visit these areas though perhaps modelling some play there or maybe looking at the interests of children who don't visit and trying to get them involved by developing something aimed at them in that area would help. I don't think you should be insisting they visit though, what a way to turn children off doing these things!

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I think this goes against the principles of EYFS in many ways. Why should you be forcing the children to visit these areas? If you have mark making that they are accessing in other areas then what is the need to access a specific area to do this? Same with maths areas. Presumably you have PSRN activities set up in other ways, such as outdoors so why should they specifically needs to visit the maths area?

 

If you have a lot of children who don't visit these areas though perhaps modelling some play there or maybe looking at the interests of children who don't visit and trying to get them involved by developing something aimed at them in that area would help. I don't think you should be insisting they visit though, what a way to turn children off doing these things!

 

Totally agree Kariana xx

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This was our thoughts too - we do exactly what you suggest but maths and mark-making (and other literacy) activities around the provision and follow the children's interests to encourage them into these areas. I suppose if you account for the children spending some time in these areas as part of your teacher-led time then it wouldn't contradict the child-initiated principles??

Thanks Green Hippo

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Hi I agree with Kariana too,

 

If you have zoned areas that provide different activities/resources it should be up to the children to explore and learn in a holistic way.

 

Today the boys were using chalk to draw on the outside tarmac (PD<CLL) , they were also role playing and designing a track for the cars (KUW, PSED<CLL) . Some of them were policeman counting the cars( PSRN). One observation covered nearly all areas of learning. I don't see the need for children to visit a maths or writing area to ensure these areas are covered. As long as you can show OFSTED how the children are making progress in all areas, they should be happy.

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Hi,

Thanks for all your advice. One of the other things the SIP lady said was to make sure that it is really clear what is adult-led/initiated and what is child-initiated on our plans - we have separate plans for our teacher-led and child-initiated so I'm sure it is very clear. If an adult is to support play within an area of learning to promote a particular objective then this will be written on our adult-led/initiated plan and crossed referenced on our child-initiated plan. I have however got myself in a pickle over what would be adult-initiated and child-initiated. I have read the 'Learning, playing and interacting' document (again!) to be clear of the definitions - and one of the case-studies gives an example of a teacher introducing an idea to her class, then describes how some of the children did what she had suggested - stating that this was child-initiated play.

So, basically what I'm checking is that even if an adult has introduced an activity/resources and suggested ways of using the resources, that if the children are allowed to choose whether to play with it and how to use the resources then it would be considered child-initiated? If you were an adult supporting the children's play where an activity had been suggested would you again suggest this idea to the children who came to the area or would you observe to see what the children chose to do first and model the suggested activity? Also, what would you define an adult-initiated activity as (as opposed to an adult-led activity)? I would define it as an activity that was explained to the children and one that you asked children complete but which wasn't completely controlled by the adult? Is this correct?

Sorry for all the questions!

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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