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Fluffy Duck Dilemma

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So, the wrap-around care in my setting do Fluffy Duck type activities regularly and although some of the staff work with me and know my feelings they do it anyway. So, usually I can just let it go (along with the colouring sheets). However, today I found them making Bats for HALLOWEEN!! It's still 3 weeks away! Arrgggg. When I say 'make', they are completely cut out with only sticking required. What makes it worse is that the children were excited to show me which then makes me feel bad as I start to wonder whether I'm getting it wrong! Of course, the children are excited when they make something of their own in my session and have got infinitely more out of it, but I wonder whether I'm providing enough inspiration/ideas for starting points. Some children will make these fluffy duck type things that don't choose to use the creative area in my session. Is it because they know what they will come away with or they know it won't be very hard work?

I know from Anna Ephgrave's books that she provides Craft books in her creative area for inspiration. What do you all think? How far do your ideas and inspiration go or do you leave it too the childre?


Green Hippo xxx

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I too suffer with the fluffy duck syndrome at my setting...even after the most severe offender left ,it till persists.....no amount of asking,telling,suggesting has helped......yesterday we too started the dreaded Autumn procedure......75 hands cut out by 2 members of staff for 1 hour.......for our Tree......to be honest...we also have some parents...when they collect...what did you make today sweetness......so i am open to ideas on how to cure this malady........

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i feel children do them because they are easy ...and because they are asked to do it (and they want to please...and feel they have to when asked by a teacher!) and also because it is often something they have experienced on television(even though they may not have done it in reality!) BUT we all know how little they get from them...where is the differentiation....where is the creativity and where is the thought process?????

My little ones have very few experiences though so sometimes they do need to be encouraged to use materials in a variety of ways ...so this week we are printing in the creative area....i hope they will use this information later (most of them just appear to want to experience covering themselves in paint at the mo!) I can show them some techniques but it is up to them whether to do the same or experiment....some will follow the rules to the letter (perhaps fearing that they will get it wrong...or get told off!?!) others will do their own thing.....i try not to attach too many rules to these sessions except things like paint on the paper not on the walls!

I too have had 'creative' books in the art area in order to increase literacy but i only had one child ever use them and he was SO obsessed by doing it the same that we often didn't have the equipment to provide for him...and then if others wanted to join in we were not prepared for the onslaught and couldn't find 150 loos rolls to hand etc!

I'm surprised that early years settings do Halloween apart from the religious issues it causes i'm not keen on teaching stranger danger and then encouraging children to go round to strangers houses and ask for sweets...HUMM?

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It is very hard to challenge when so many staff feel its okay and that children need to do some 'real' crafts (I.e. a recognisable picture) to take home rather than just free painting / gluing. I still feel like Im considered a bit odd because I don't encourage anything like this.

Im happy to be considered odd though if it stops the children having to do such pointless things.


The really pointless 'creative activities' are pre drawn, pre cut shapes for a display that children just paint in a adult chosen colour ..what is that about really?? :huh: and yet its still the default setting for many staff unless challenged.

I provide the materials and then step back - I support verbally and by being close but encourage children to explore and enjoy the process and the materials. Offering a range of materials, tools, colours, textures, shapes...modelling techniques ...choice about whether to do it or not...


I try to show how this frees children AND adults...and how much more productive and interesting is it to have an adult who shows interest in what you're doing, responds to your interest, talks about your ideas and discoveries, provides & encourages exploring vocabulary "longer one" "squidy...slimey"..."its going round and round".."more...too much...", helps you make connections - e.g. 'remember when...'...'its like...' ...to encourage you to continue your exploration of mixing paint with glue, or the feel of glue on your hands even if you do get messy and you come away with nothing more than a piece of paper with glue smeared across it as a result...

Practically every area of learning covered there.


Better that than an adult saying

"you're going to make a bear...here's some brown paint...put it there...great...next please"

"we're doing handprints...lets paint your hand...press it down....right quickly go and wash it ... right so and so your turn now"


no comparison really! :blink:


I think when children get excited about fluffy duck stuff the children are excited because they liked what they saw and want one and thanks to the adult they got it...not excitement about what they did..but what they now have.

As for why adults keep doing them - a lot of it could be that they get the recognition and feel good because the child and parents (who its really for) show that pleasure....when a child goes home with a teeny scrap of paper on their sheet that doesn't happen does it :D


The real challenge is making the learning visible I guess...


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Thanks for your replies. I do think that some children need to be given support to get them going but I'd much rather do that building on something they are interested in than providing cut out stick-together items. Often the children that are used to doing 'craft' at home are the least confident in having a go. If a particular interest has sprung up e.g. a couple of children making stick puppets, I would show the rest of the class what they have made and provide some extra resources (if necessary) but nothing would be precut and the children can choose whether to do it or not. As I'm sure I've spoken about in previous threads, I do do some little activities where necessary to introduce a skill e.g. using the hole punch and treasury tags, and the children make something similar. However, these are few and far between and very much focused on teaching a particular skills (and always have choice!).

Thanks again. x

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That is definitely the way to look at it, what is the learning intention. The only time I hold up my hands to being a teeny weeny bit fluffy duck, is at Christmas. And that is only in as much as they all make the same present idea, but completely child orientated so that they all look different at the end anyway.

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Once a little boy went to school.

He was quite a little boy
And it was quite a big school.
But when the little boy
Found that he could go to his room
By walking right in from the door outside
He was happy;
And the school did not seem
Quite so big anymore.

One morning
When the little boy had been in school awhile,
The teacher said:
"Today we are going to make a picture."
"Good!" thought the little boy.
He liked to make all kinds;
Lions and tigers,
Chickens and cows,
Trains and boats;
And he took out his box of crayons
And began to draw.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"It is not time to begin!"
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
"Now," said the teacher,
"We are going to make flowers."
"Good!" thought the little boy,
He liked to make beautiful ones
With his pink and orange and blue crayons.
But the teacher said "Wait!"
"And I will show you how."
And it was red, with a green stem.
"There," said the teacher,
"Now you may begin."

The little boy looked at his teacher's flower
Then he looked at his own flower.
He liked his flower better than the teacher's
But he did not say this.
He just turned his paper over,
And made a flower like the teacher's.
It was red, with a green stem.

On another day
When the little boy had opened
The door from the outside all by himself,
The teacher said:
"Today we are going to make something with clay."
"Good!" thought the little boy;
He liked clay.
He could make all kinds of things with clay:
Snakes and snowmen,
Elephants and mice,
Cars and trucks
And he began to pull and pinch
His ball of clay.

But the teacher said, "Wait!"
"It is not time to begin!"
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
"Now," said the teacher,
"We are going to make a dish."
"Good!" thought the little boy,
He liked to make dishes.
And he began to make some
That were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said "Wait!"
"And I will show you how."
And she showed everyone how to make
One deep dish.
"There," said the teacher,
"Now you may begin."

The little boy looked at the teacher's dish;
Then he looked at his own.
He liked his better than the teacher's
But he did not say this.
He just rolled his clay into a big ball again
And made a dish like the teacher's.
It was a deep dish.

And pretty soon
The little boy learned to wait,
And to watch
And to make things just like the teacher.
And pretty soon
He didn't make things of his own anymore.

Then it happened
That the little boy and his family
Moved to another house,
In another city,
And the little boy
Had to go to another school.
This school was even bigger
Than the other one.
And there was no door from the outside
Into his room.
He had to go up some big steps
And walk down a long hall
To get to his room.
And the very first day
He was there,
The teacher said:
"Today we are going to make a picture."
"Good!" thought the little boy.
And he waited for the teacher
To tell him what to do.
But the teacher didn't say anything.
She just walked around the room.

When she came to the little boy
She asked, "Don't you want to make a picture?"
"Yes," said the little boy.
"What are we going to make?"
"I don't know until you make it," said the teacher.
"How shall I make it?" asked the little boy.
"Why, anyway you like," said the teacher.
"And any color?" asked the little boy.
"Any color," said the teacher.
"If everyone made the same picture,
And used the same colors,
How would I know who made what,
And which was which?"
"I don't know," said the little boy.
.And he began to make pink and orange and blue flowers.

He liked his new school,
Even if it didn't have a door
Right in from the outside!

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  • 1 year later...

This makes me cry everytime I read it! And I do often, to the staff and the parents.

I've also had this battle.... but put my foot down this Christmas and decided we would not have our conveyor belt crafts....

What we did was agreed some craft ideas that the staff wanted to make.... provided the appropriate materials and colours.... the staff made what they wanted and the children made their own! Some copied the staff, some created something really different, some did what they always do, some made 15 cards, some didn't make any (and that was the hardest thing - some staff were VERY against this idea ).

However, we also held a Christmas Crafts week where the parents came in evey afternoon and could use all our resources, with some craft ideas, and could make them with their children (and be as prescriptive as they liked! ) while we explained about true creativity!

It was absolutely brilliant - and one afternoon all the children went outside to play (because of the free flow) and myself, 3 mum's and 1 dad created some lovely Hama head decorations ....


It was the best Christmas ever! And parents made lots of positive comments, because we did feel we had to justify why we were producing a list of adult-led decorations,etc.


Stand by what you believe!!!

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