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To Have A Psrn Area Or Not?


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I am doing something 'radical' this year and I am not setting up an area for PSRN. For many years I have set up an area of the classroom devoted to PSRN and spent hours trying to entice children in there, as it is not something that they have experience of or see adults doing at home. Maths is one of those things that infiltrates all other play and children often do it without being told to, or without having to go to a specific area of the classroom.

So...this year I have no area for PRSN, instead I have all resources in different areas of the classroom with PSRN enhancement baskets to add to their current play.

What are other people doing? And do you find similar issues?

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I am also having this dilemna! I talked it through with our LA maths bod and we decided to investigate a bit before making a decision - not a scientific investigation though!

 

We observed my Reception class over one hour and noted there was no use of the area if nothing was 'out' on the table - if some items / games / jigsaws were put out then there was a little more use, but not sustained. Most use of the area occured when an adult was stationed there with an open-ended game we made especially. Some children accessed the game again later on, but nothing was sustained! We also questioned children who acccessed the maths area and although they knew it's name, they couldn't really explain why it was there and what it was for (we did this in July this year, so it wasn't shyness!) - interesting!

 

What did we decide?..... that, like you say, it is easy to replicate writing activities and situations in a mark making area, but maths is not the same.

 

I have therefore decided to go down the 'let's take maths to the other provision areas as much as possible and make sure that the adults in class are aware of the need to make those cross curriuclar links AT ALL TIMES! Cue lots of resource buying via office!

 

However, I am going to have an 'investigation shelf', onto which I will put some maths based puzzles etc - to monitor and see how it goes! Hope yours goes ok, let me know!

 

Jenni

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I am very interested in this discussion having delivered training on PSRN for a while now.

I usually throw in this debate to my courses - should we have a PSRN area?

A conclusion that we often come to is "yes but do it differently"! and many people express similar thoughts to jennim and rufus.

It is absolutely right to audit the different areas and consider whether they are being used and how.

 

I usually challenge people to remove the table from the area and have resources on a mat or in a builders tray - that indicates to the children that this may be quite interesting! Nursery World had a great article about a year ago about the hidden messages children receive from the environment as to whether something is work or play which then determines their response to it.

Include natural resources for exploring, construction resources like blocks, duplo etc, cardboard boxes or tubes etc.

 

The PSRN area becomes a combination of a resource storage where children can access appropriate resources, and a learning bay where activities take place - similar to other areas like a writing area or book area. We then need to ensure that maths resources are available in other areas of the room and outside as we would with books and mark making.

 

I think we need to re-examine what we categorise as maths activities and think more in terms of things that encourage problem solving and critical thinking. Having moderated PSRN this year in the LA it was interesting to note that a lot of assessments were based on quite formal adult led activities. Maybe we should position our PSRN area next to construction and see what happens. My fear is that we lose the distinctive presence of mathematics.

I will be interested to follow this discussion and find out what happens in the two classes described by jennim and rufus. I would appreciate hearing more from anyone who is experimenting in this way.

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Interesting that you advise people to remove tables from the PSRN area. I have never had a table, preferring floor based work, and this is the case throughout much of my classroom, as children often prefer to play on the floor.

I have also tried teaching all maths focus activities in the maths area to enhance the understanding of this area. That worked slightly more but was only ever sustained with an adult there.

Tuff spots with malleable and messy play help to draw the children into the PSRN area.

I just find that PSRN happens naturally and in a CI way in all areas of the classroom, yet in the PSRN area it is much more reliant on an adult to show them what to do in the area.

The most successful PSRN we have are things like.....

Making dinosaur poo in the mud pit and comparing weights and weighing.

Making kites/aeroplanes and measuring how far they fly.

Lots of maths on the playdough table

Posing problems like....how can we get the treasure from island a to b without carrying it?

 

Things likes peg boards etc we put in the writing/motor area to work on fine motor skills and then an adult will focus on the PSRN side of things in CP.

 

Hoping that our enhancement baskets will work, especially if we keep them fresh and respond to their interests.

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Sounds great stuff you are doing rufus. What sort of resources are you putting inyour baskets?

I visit a lot of schools and have rarely seen a maths area without a table which is why I throw in the challenge.

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Not completely decided what is going in them and how much at any one time but a few ideas are Ben10 alien number cards, as most of the boys coming in are obsessed with Ben10 (aargh!). Number line based around their interest, dice, pots of themed counters, tape measure, sand timer, maths based books, ruler, pens, chalk, string and scissors, pot of acorns/conkers/stones, digital timer.

I'm sure there are loads more stuff I can put in. I want to make sure there is a variety but not too much, otherwise they will be over faced. I'll monitor what is popular and what isn't and then rotate resources or jazz up ones they are not using, to appeal to their current interests.

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Some fab ideas generated here!

 

I put lots of child interest based stuff into mark making area without a thought - never made the link to maths resources - Ben 10 Number lines etc. Just bought a Princess based number book from a local shop, so will put these around the room!

 

Will be thinking up my recipes for dino poo pdq!

 

Will also use the idea from abc does a blog site - see the thread about Witchy maths - good for Halloween methinks!

 

I won't have the same amount of tables this term - we've moved into a portacabin, so that's the issue of tables sorted. I do have some of those very low square tables and so children have to sit on the floor.

 

The role of the adult is, as always, crucial and we will be asking children more questions about the 'maths' resources to hand in whatever area!

 

Good luck all!

 

Jenni

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