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Observations To Aid Planning For Play


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I posted a topic back in Nov called "Accessing Resources" about how people set up their continuos provision. After trying lots of different things I try to get a balance of directed activities and free play activites.

 

But now I am struggling to know how to use my observations of the children's play to move my planning on each week.

 

For example: How do I record it in my planning? If I see just one child move the play in a particular direction is that enough to alter my plans for the following week? How do I get a balance between topic based play and the children's interests?

 

Is there anyone out there who knows what I mean, to be honest I just need someone to point me in the right direction!

 

a confused Zoe x

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Good question Zobo,

 

What I love about the early years is that no matter how systematic our observations of children can be, they still manage to do, or want to do something that was totally unpredictable!

 

We do formal, specific observations which inform us about individual childrens abilities and thus next steps but we also do informal evaluations of each day with the following format;

On an A4 sized page, I list all the planned learning outcomes for the week which are ticked if met (with a comment). Underneath this list I have 3 columns with the following headings, and 5 rows, one for each day of the week.

* Which children showed an interest in your activity? ( this can be adult led activity or just the area the staff was working in)

* What did they learn, How do you know?

* What didn't work and why?

 

Each member of my staff is asked to write a short comment at the end of each session. Although we have a long and medium term plan, we look at these evaluations and write our weekly plans one week in advance and include any activities or opportunities to meet childrens interests or needs identified in these evaluations. ( I hope that makes sense)

 

Do we need "Topic" based playplans at all? From my reading it seems that this can restrict childrens access to their own interests, learning styles and direction. That said, we do need systems that can show we are offering opportunities to access all areas of the curriculum. I do have topic plans but they are very adaptable/flecable.

 

In answer to your question, "If I see just one child move the play in a particular direction is that enough to alter my plans for the following week? "Nursery World have been doing a series of planning "from the child" they give scenario's showing observation of one childs play and how they then adapt the plans to meet that particular childs interest the following week. Their rationale for this is that even if one or only a few children show a particular interest, their peer group are likely to follow.

 

I'd be interested in others comments on this subject that I think sends us all round in circles :o

 

Peggy

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Thanks Peggy that was really useful, I guess when you're doing so many obs for the FSP's on individual kids you sort of lose sight of what you are trying to acheive.... thanks again, I love the idea of your A4 sheet with your objectives on, might give that a go.

Zobox

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Peggy - I am interested to know how many learning outcomes do you have for each week, would you have one from each of the six areas. How many staff and children do you have and does each member of staff have different learning outcomes or do you have some shared? Also how do you show your differentiation?

 

Sorry, What a lot of questions?????????????

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Those headings are really useful Peggy. I am continually going round in circles on planning. Do I plan around a theme/topic? Do I use my observations and be child led? Do I plan for particular learning intentions? Do I decide on an ELG and plan an activity around that, or think of activities for specific outcomes? I have tried so many different ways and I'm never happy that I've achieved what I want, and never really sure of what I really do actually want anyway! Ideally I would watch the children. Record what I see and move with that. But I know that way I might not cover all the ELG's and then panic would set in amongst some staff and I'd be back to square 1. The wonder is that I'm not on very strong medication! :o

 

In answer to you mimi, we have 3 focused activities a week (bearing in mind some children come to us for only 2 sessions and others for 5) but, I also add some along the way if I'm bored or if the activities are boring or if the children arent interested. I then write up plans retrospectively.

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Peggy - I am interested to know how many learning outcomes do you have for each week, would you have one from each of the six areas. How many staff and children do you have and does each member of staff have different learning outcomes or do you have some shared? Also how do you show your differentiation?

 

Sorry, What a lot of questions?????????????

32473[/snapback]

 

 

Mimi,

I am registered for 32 children but average 20 attending per session ( although afternoons are quieter with only 10-15 attending). I have 3/4 staff each session.

 

I shall attach last weeks planning.

I use a long term plan which ensures every aspect is covered at least once if not more throughout the year. ( attached word doc)

 

Each week we focus on only one development area of the curriculum ie: week 7 summer term = CREATIVE. ( attached excell doc). However the staff plan with this focus plus the theme ( sounds) in mind for just their play area in the setting ( we have 5 play areas which are equiped to give opportunities for all curriculum development areas) These are noted at the bottom of attached planning sheet.

 

Each member of staff has a planning sheet per week, they look at creative, aspects 1 & 4 and the theme of "sounds" and think about what activities they could do in their particular "Play" area. They consider adaptations from previous week, childrens interests / needs. Identify activity, method, learning intentions ( from stepping stones - this is where differentiation comes in), Resources, individual children they want to access the activity or they want to observe. ( attached excell doc)

 

I type up plans and transfer all learning intentions to evaluation sheet ( attached excell doc). The staff comment each session ( example given for friday)

 

The aim of this planning method is to show that learning is holistic, Maths can be accessed through a creative activity ie: Friday: Number notes on play piano.

 

I hope this answers some of your questions. I use this method to ensure ALL staff are involved in the planning and access the FSC book on a weekly basis to really understand the curriculum in a holistic style.

 

Peggy

 

p.s. I have highlughted week 7 on the long term plan.

weekly_plans_sept04_july05.xls

ANNUAL_TIMETABLE_OF_THEMES_2004_2005.doc

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Those headings are really useful Peggy. I am continually going round in circles on planning. Do I plan around a theme/topic? Do I use my observations and be child led? Do I plan for particular learning intentions? Do I decide on an ELG and plan an activity around that, or think of activities for specific outcomes? I have tried so many different ways and I'm never happy that I've achieved what I want, and never really sure of what I really do actually want anyway! Ideally I would watch the children. Record what I see and move with that. But I know that way I might not cover all the ELG's and then panic would set in amongst some staff and I'd be back to square 1. The wonder is that I'm not on very strong medication!  :o

 

In answer to you mimi, we have 3 focused activities a week (bearing in mind some children come to us for only 2 sessions and others for 5) but, I also add some along the way if I'm bored or if the activities are boring or if the children arent interested. I then write up plans retrospectively.

32500[/snapback]

 

Rea,

I know just how you feel, not sure if I have it right but what I do seems to work ( for the moment anyway)

I have attached examples of my planning process. I hope you can open the excell document. There are 3 tabs at the bottom for different planning sheets.

See my last post ( to mimi) for explanation. We have one adult led per day.

 

What we should remember is all the learning that takes place during the everyday routine, the circle and mat times, story, song times etc and not just through the "Activities" planned. Not to forget the "spontaneous" play WHICH I FIND IS THE MOST FUN AND BENEFIT TO THE CHILDREN.

 

I just tell myself that if I had a cam corder filming every minute of every day I still couldn't evidence and evaluate EVERYTHING that the children learn, let along write it all down.

 

My indication of "successful" provision is the individual childrens' personalities, disposition to learning, surprising comments ( How did he know that??), their enjoyment and special relationships they have with everyone. Their enthusiasm, wonder, ideas, confidence, independence and eagerness to come to preschool each day is what metters to me. Their individual records of achievement show their "academic" abilities and these I monitor to see if there are any areas of the curriculum that needs revisiting or has not been sufficiently covered.

 

You Just keep spinning, it's fun on this merrygo round if you just enjoy the ride :D:D

 

 

Peggy

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Mimi, I forgot to reply, "How many learning outcomes per week?"

 

In week 7 ( attached example) there were eleven, other weeks could be more or less. It depends on the theme, development area, childrens needs.

 

I think we should not be too prescriptive ie: 6 per week etc I did try this planning once ( a few years ago) and it just didn't work because if the children didn't show an interest or went in a different direction it was difficult to tell who missed what. ( if you know what I mean) With my system we often visit the same or similar learning outcomes within the year period.

I monitor learning by making a list of all children and a graph with a column for each stepping stone, this is coloured when achieved ( as shown in achievement records. This graph gives a picture of the whole group and shows gaps that need to be focused on. I hope my explanation is clear, the graph is on my other computor, I will attach an example if you want.

 

Peggy

 

ps Adult led activities on my planning are identified with a smiley face :)

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I just know those attachments are going to be useful, unfortunatly I cant open them. But I know a man who can :o

Peggy, thank you for that. I'm not sure you'll like being called sensible (I'm thinking of leather trousers,snow and a trampoline xD ) but I have to say that I wish I could write such sense. :D

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Rea,

I think you wrote the most sense, and I quote "I then write up plans retrospectively" :D:D

 

 

Peggy

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