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Extending A Topic


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

I am trying to think of how to extend a topic we are exploring with the children - the farm. We have the following resources out this week but I want to add to them next week and haven't got a clue!

 

Water tray - we have ducks (wind ups) that kick their feet in the water, in addition we have bubble bath and warm water

Sand tray - wet sand with the usual buckets and spades and the additional farm animals

Dough - yellow in colour with farm shapes to mould and cut out

Jigsaw puzzles - individual cow, sheep, pig and horse puzzles

Small world - tractors and porridge oats in a box, the tractors have scoops and trailers to fill

Blocks - magnetic type blocks

Home corner - dinner table set with potatoes, carrots and onions to use, we also have a small vets area with stuffed animals and medical equipment

Book corner - loads of books on farm as well as our scrapbook of tractors and photo album of farm animal pictures

Junk art - loads of stickers, cotton wool, feather etc

Paint - yellow, green and brown paint

 

Is this the correct way of doing things? We have been told that this is the way most Playgroups do it - you add to it in the following week?

 

We brought in daffodils today and the children used these in the junk art with an adult led activity to make vases out of toilet roll holders to put them in.

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Hi, we wouldn't normally theme the whole set up around a single topic, but that's not to say it's not an effective approach for you. We also tend to only run with a child initiated theme for a few days or a week max usually as it tends to run out of steam.

 

To be honest these days I feel a theme is more useful for adults to inspire planning than for children who don't necessarily 'see' the theme in the way that we do.

 

I would go for planting crops if you have outdoor space (or even just in pots if you are indoors). We've just sent children home with pots of peas that they planted and we grew on. Tomorrow we will plant potatoes in a bag.

 

Mind you round here a lot of the kids are from farming families or at the very least have several dozen tractors driving past their homes each day!

 

How about going on a visit at some point to a real farm to see lambing, or ask someone to bring in chicks (we have a parent who does that for us). Oh and we had a baby lamb in once, one that was being bottle reared so the children could feed it.

 

As you can tell, we are very rural!

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Guest terrydoo73

We did the planting of seeds earlier on in March - sunflowers, nasturtium and sweet pea which the children loved. We have included within our outdoor play area a box of compost with some onion bulbs hidden for them to find and repot!

 

The theme idea works for us as otherwise we wouldn't know what to put out in each area - I mean we couldn't just put out the fire engine, trains, tractors, helicopter etc all in the small world at the one time or should we be doing this?

 

Our children are only aged 3 so it is adult led at present although we have followed through on their ideas - the tractors in porridge oats was from a comment one of our children had about seeing the tractor lifting sawdust hence following through on it.

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One thing our children love is large construction, they make animal pens over and over again. You can give them animal masks if they need role playing support but ours just like fencing each other in!!

 

Oh singing Old Macdonald...

and one song our children really like is called Cows in the Kitchen

 

Cows in the kitchen

moo moo moo

Cows in the kitchen

moo moo moo

Cows in the kitchen

moo moo moo

What shall we do

tell farmer

 

and this is repeated in sillier ways ducks in the dustbins, pigs in the garden etc

then at the end along comes a child as farmer and shoos them all out. Here comes the farmer shoo shoo shoo etc!

 

Even though you did the planting earlier on that was flowers, this would be veg so you'd be revisiting, checking how much they'd remembered about what plants need to grow etc. building on their current experiences.

 

My children are aged 2 - 4 and we don't theme plan either, just go with their interests. I'd probably put a blank mat down and put your small world boxes down near them, then the children can choose which box they want to tip out and play with. For example we have a farm box, a car box and a dinosaur box and then I'd see quite quickly what interested them the most. If I knew they'd always choose the farm box I might split it so some farm stuff was on the table say with twigs or wooden bricks so extending their play and the rest was still there for choosing.

 

Can you see the tractors from where you are? My children love going out with telescopes and binoculars and spying on our farmers (who luckily are all very nice and might wave back, beep horns or flash their lights)

 

Ours like oat play too, the other thing I've put with the small tractors is frozen peas and sweetcorn lots of fun and language there!

 

Not saying this is right, just how we do it. x

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The theme idea works for us as otherwise we wouldn't know what to put out in each area - I mean we couldn't just put out the fire engine, trains, tractors, helicopter etc all in the small world at the one time or should we be doing this?

 

This is not a criticism - just a question - why do you feel that you have to decide which type of small world play to offer?

 

In my Small World area there are (always) - dinosaurs, farm animals, wild animals, trains, train tracks, figures/people, large community playthings wooden blocks, duplo, cars, a garage. planes, a castle (the children made this themselves!)........children can then access freely whatever takes their fancy! :o

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Guest terrydoo73
This is not a criticism - just a question - why do you feel that you have to decide which type of small world play to offer?

 

In my Small World area there are (always) - dinosaurs, farm animals, wild animals, trains, train tracks, figures/people, large community playthings wooden blocks, duplo, cars, a garage. planes, a castle (the children made this themselves!)........children can then access freely whatever takes their fancy! :o

 

 

Simple answer - space! We don't have enough of it - just 6 little boxes for small world and construction together. Our room is small with a maximum number of 12 children allowed at any one time. Ideally I guess we should have "everything out" as our Registration Authority advocated at the beginning but on a practical level how can you do this when space is really limited and we are not allowed to have any permanent fixtures only moveable cupboards etc as we rent the premises.

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I bought some Ikea trolleys and put wheels on them - the kind that you buy drawers of different depths to go in. We have spare drawers in the cupboard so that we can change stuff about, as children's interests change. We don't have as much stuff out as sunny mentions, but we manage to combine quite a bit of small world resources within our block area.

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There was a time when the setting would be themed around something, but not usually in all areas...

 

sand was always a veg rack on wheels with all the resources available on it, put next to the sand tray, we added glitter , sequins, stones etc and ahd wet or dry variation to change the area.. otherwise free choice.. same for water..using bubbles, colours etc to enhance did not take up much room at all and they had free choice... we had too much for one trolley so we changed the contents of the trollys when we noticed lack of interest in them... and yes they did put everything in the trays at first.. over time, once used to the idea that it would always be there and that they could choose this stopped.. alongside some teaching to remove the item if no one else was playing with it before leaving.. amazing how fast they learnt to do this..

 

this was then translated into the other areas.. playdough/malleable, writing, craft all had similar thing...was so much faster to set up in the morning

 

we had as Maz said Ikea things put on on wheels so we could have drawers with construction or small world out... we too changed contents of the drawers... as we had not enough space to put all out...

 

dressing up we had boxes we put out for topics/themes which we rotated alongside the daily favourite box.

 

Themes we found were actually not really recognised by the children unless we had sat down and discussed we are doing XXX and even then they did not link what we had provided with it.. to them it was just ducks or dirt, or planting..

 

Our children were 3- 4 and were not adult led... we sat and modelled the play they joined in with us...as they became more confident in the free choice they used to wander and choose their own areas and play together, we would then observe and join in if we felt it appropriate, but did find sometimes this stopped the play and learning we could see so became selective in where we would join and where we would observe and add to the add to the area to extend what they had started.

 

We did have some adult led activities during the session but these were usually linked to some area we noticed the children needed extending in or practice in.. so could be a maths thing, or a language activity rather than linked to a theme..

 

I know some do use themes and we followed through from the children with a topic for a few days as Suzie says above... and if we wanted to spark an interest we would use a book or just introduce a storyline into the play area, like a teddy with a letter or an unusual item to find and ask about... usually worked.. but all groups were different and it did become a very think on your feet setting... I was just thankful for motivated and able to do this...

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Simple answer - space! We don't have enough of it - just 6 little boxes for small world and construction together. Our room is small with a maximum number of 12 children allowed at any one time. Ideally I guess we should have "everything out" as our Registration Authority advocated at the beginning but on a practical level how can you do this when space is really limited and we are not allowed to have any permanent fixtures only moveable cupboards etc as we rent the premises.

 

As Maz and Inge have already said - trolleys are fab and really need not cost the earth!

 

The resources that I mentioned are, for the most part stored in wicker baskets on a trolley - we are not packaway (yay I did that for 15 years and know how difficult it is!) We are, however a very small group just like you, we only take 12 children per session. With your question in mind, I kept a close eye on what was happening in my small world area this morning.......the only things that the children didn't use (not all at the same time but over the course of one and half hours) were the garage and the 'wild animals'.....my belief is (and this doesn't make it 'right') that children should be offered an 'enabling environment' with resources freely available to allow them to make active choices........I wouldn't want to make decisions for them i.e. 'we are doing farms' so you may only use tractors today! :o

 

I'm not 'keen' on themes either........unless a theme/topic happens as a result of children's interests........we have been looking at 'Dear Zoo' over a very short period - this as a direct result of several children being very interested in the book! We have had a lot of fun with this - one of the activities we most enjoyed was writing to the zoo - I wrote the letter and some children chose to contribute drawings of the animal that they wanted the zoo to send to us! We walked to our local PO to post the letter - great fun - I had warned the PO staff that we would be coming and they 'played along' perfectly! The upshot of this was that 'The Zoo' (not really!) send us a delightful puppy complete with his own carrier - he came with a letter which explained that we must think of a name for him and that we must look after him really well, we are not to leave him at pre-school on his own...he has to go home with a little boy or little girl everyday! This has been so popular! xD

But back to my main point (what a waffler I can be!) this 'theme' was 'stand alone' - I didn't offer any further extension - could have done but there was absolutely no need to....so the rest of my room was 'set up' in the usual way.......

 

I really hope that this helps - please accept this in the way that it is intended - just 'useful' suggestions - not any sort of 'lecture' or 'criticism'

 

By the way - I think your activity ideas are fab - you have obviously put an awful lot of thought and effort into your planning!

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Guest terrydoo73

Sorry should have said - we do add to with the theme of farm, I mean we have the usual pouring and filling for water, buckets and spades for sand etc and we do use vegetable racks for storage. We have 8 little cubby holes for our small world and construction with the 8 boxes filled but it was just a thing the children saw. We are in a rural farming setting too and we had a field next to the Playgroup with tractors in it next day. A lot of the children started to talk about farming in general and we extended it by talking about the animals on a farm, bringing out the puppets to show them and in this way directed their thinking.

 

 

We have a store next to our setting of items we have purchased or have been donated but to put them all out into the playroom well there just would be no room for the children to move let alone see what is available. We have labeled boxes ie transport jigsaw puzzles, people who help us dressing up clothes but we just feel that to bring every box out into the floor would be a real nightmare to tidy up as our children do tend to flit and although are taught to tidy up we would never actually see the floor for boxes so couldn't do a proper tidy up.

Edited by terrydoo73
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We have a store next to our setting of items we have purchased or have been donated but to put them all out into the playroom well there just would be no room for the children to move let alone see what is available. We have labeled boxes ie transport jigsaw puzzles, people who help us dressing up clothes but we just feel that to bring every box out into the floor would be a real nightmare to tidy up as our children do tend to flit and although are taught to tidy up we would never actually see the floor for boxes so couldn't do a proper tidy up.

 

I wonder what you would make of my setting - it becomes a complete 'tip' when we are in full flow - can't say that bothers me at all - I do tend to pick things up as I walk past them - particularly if they are causing a 'trip hazard' but aside from that we have one massive 'tidy-up' time at 10:30 - children and adults working together! xD:o

 

Quick edit to say - we don't have 'everything' out either - plenty more stored in cupboards - but as I said, I want the children to be free to 'self-select'.... :(

Edited by sunnyday
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