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Do you use themes when planning?


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Hi,

Just looking for a bit of advice. Do you use themes when planning? Obviously we cover the seasons, festivals etc but the staff are wanting to return to having weekly themes.

I'm unsure if this is the norm with other early years settings.

Any advice please???

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there are some good reasons for doing topics...it can be helpful if you are teaching EAL for instance however how do you know what themes you will "do"? will this come from the children ? how will you find out what they already know? how are you going to ensure your children start from a position of knowledge? if you have a mixed group (don't we all) how will it meet their individual needs?

We don't DO topics...what I mean by this is that we don't plan around a theme but if a child (or children) come up with a good idea we may plan some enrichments around this (currently investigating jousting!)

Why do your staff want to go back to topics? will it be right for the cohort? what are the staff not getting in the planning ?

I wouldn't say topics is the norm nowadays but I work near a school who operates like this..not my style...but is it yours?

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We use things that one might identify as 'themes' or 'topics' as starters - so our role play has recently been a dentist's surgery as we had a visit from a local dentist. We don't, however, work it to the extreme like one used to in the 'olden days'. Although the merits of topic/theme working are many from a staff point of view (you can think about how you're going to cover all 17 aspects while you're sitting at home and plan appropriately differentiated activities to suit) it rather comes unstuck when/if a child isn't motivated by the chosen theme. I think now, as finleysmaid has said, we 'theme' around current interests and plan exciting and enriching activities to motivate and inspire - and we might have many 'themes' running all at once - and some might more appropriately be identified as schema or dispositions (e.g mixing and pouring, transporting or containing)

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Many thanks for your responses. I think we will remain 'theme' free and carry on as we are focusing on the children's interests. I plan to introduce a wish tree, I will be asking the children/parents about their current interests, resources they might like us to purchase, places to visit etc. 

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On ‎12‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 15:39, tawny222 said:

Many thanks for your responses. I think we will remain 'theme' free and carry on as we are focusing on the children's interests. I plan to introduce a wish tree, I will be asking the children/parents about their current interests, resources they might like us to purchase, places to visit etc. 

I quite like the idea of a wish tree but your staff team might use it as an excuse to go back to the themes! often the 'topics' we end up following are not about classical things you might chose but follow something random...so snails/ice creams and bubbles have been recent ones. They vary in time spent on them from a couple of days to a couple of weeks!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Does anyone have a copy of their planning sheet I could have a look at please? Also how do you evaluate ? I have moved to a new setting and their way of planning is very old style and I want to try to update it (although manager isn't yet on board lol) but thought I could do this over period of time.

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We follow the ITM approach so our planning is very minimal now, we provide enhancements, provocations, hooks or whatever you might call them to enrich the environment, whether season based or interest based, my staff are very good at that, our actual ‘record it’ planning takes 5 mins a week (if that)we only record what our group activities will be, we have  2 end of morning groups (staying and home) and at the end of the day, we only write for example ‘lunch group - phase 1 phonics’ we don’t record what activities or which resources will be used, the staff on that group choose adhoc what will happen to promote that, the group planning will have come from gaps in learning that flag up from our Tapestry cohort tracking.

When we started ITM we did the recording sheets but then gave up with them, I ask staff to add one ITM teaching ob to Tapestry a week, but that is more to ensure they stay in that mind set and I can see they ‘get it’ and that chn are having valuable learning experiences.

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I am still up in the air on planning - does anyone use any sort of planning sheet , if not how do you show what you have been doing / children learning for an ofsted? Setting I am at is so old fashioned with planning and I would like to change it over time but owner would want to see how it all works first. Any planning sheets, ideas that show planning and evaluation etc would be greatly appreciated. Thank you x

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Sorry blondie, I can’t help you with planning sheets, we don’t have any now (and didn’t at our last inspection), we ensure both the indoors and outdoors environments offer plenty of opportunities to cover the EYFS areas, we focus more on that the chn are progressing rather than how they got there, if our Tapestry tracking shows a low level of progress for a cohort in a certain area/aspect we look at what we could add to the environment to cover that gap rather than activities that we record, any change to environment and why is then recorded on our improvement plan.

With the expectation from the new Inspection handbook looking like less unnecessary paperwork I might have to see what I could cut :P

Edited by Mouseketeer
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