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Topic Or No Topic..


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Hi all

 

Do you all plan using topics?

 

We have been wondering if we are restricted by using topics xD . sometimes staff have ideas that don't always fit into our topic.

 

Athough we are guided by the childrens abilities, observations, interests etc would it be easier and more effective without a topic, erm.. :o

 

I look forward to finding out what others do.

 

Cheers Jo :D

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We don't use topics any more - just go with the childrens' interests . It is much less restrictive.

It's much harder to resource, but more children seem to be engaged/inspired. In many respects it easier to plan for topics too, especially as I can't recycle planning at all anymore.

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Hi Joanne,

 

We plan using topics, half-termly, but they are really a framework for us to build on. We never feel we can't branch out and follow the children's lead - we just write it into the planning retrospectively.

 

Sue

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good question Jo

 

we have tried both over the last twleve months and we are still undecided at which is best we found when we had a topic there where restrictions and no topic left our ideas tooooo open for expanding we found that we needed a happy balance

 

 

 

it will be interesting to hear what others think

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Maybe I should say, we chose the topic approach so we had something in place for those moments when you're not quite sure..... certainly gives you something to go on when you're dealing with lots of new faces.

 

Sue

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We also plan using topics. They are generally used as a rough guide into which we fit the children's interests etc. We have found that using topics gives a basis for the kinds of resources we are going to need, so we can plan/buy in in advance but we have found that some topics can be a little bit restrictive, for example, Old and New. There are only so many old and new things we can show the children and make comparisons with.

 

Ideas for activities etc generally come up all the time, so we devised an 'ideas sheet' onto which we write our ideas and file it under specific headings. We have a folder which we use for cutting activity ideas out of magazines and for keeping the free posters you tend to get and our idea sheets go in with them, that way, when we decide to do a specific topic, there are magazine ideas and our own.

 

It is a little bit more paperwork, but it only takes a few minutes to write ideas down and it really helps when it comes to planning activities/opportunities. The staff like the system we have, as it tends to take some of the pressure off of them when planning!

 

Our topics are used as the foundation for the children's learning, and anything that interests them in the meantime is incorporated into the plans. I have learnt from people on here that it is ok to re-write plans as you go along and am now much happier to do so, particularly if the children are directing their own learning (if you see what I mean!)

 

Aside from the children, we have have quite a few students who have to do planning as part of their courses. By using topics as a basis, it helps them to develop their planning skills, observation skills etc.

 

In short, it means that everybody is happy! The children because we adapt the plans to suit their interests, the staff because they are contributing all the time and making their planning more manageable and the students, because they are able to develop their planning skills for use throughout their career (which hopefully we will see the benefit of for a while!) :o

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Sorry, meant to add that our topics last half-termly which I much prefer. I have worked in settings in the past that plan monthly, and sometimes this is not long enough for children to fully grasp what we are trying to 'teach' them. On the other hand, some themes that last for longer may be restrictive, as ideas begin to run dry. Hence, the ideas sheet!

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We moved from topics to using stories which support our long term plan.

 

Our long term plan shows what development area / aspect we are focusing on, these cover one or two weeks. The stories are normally for one week, but can be carried over for longer ( but sometimes with a different development focus) if the children are really inspired by the story.

 

We like stories because you can cover all the learning areas.

Childrens individual interests or next step can be met through the story or within our continuous provision planning.

 

for example this week our learning area focus is PHYSICAL: Aspect 3 Health and Bodily awareness - our story to support this is The Very Hungry Caterpillar - our focus will be on fruits and healthy eating, life cycle - how the body metamorphasis changes from egg-caterpillar-cocoon-butterfly. and Physical movement.

 

We have 2 adult led activities per week, this week;

 

Making fruit kebabs using liquorice laces to string 3 pieces of fruit together. ( 3 because we have a 3rd birthday this week)

 

Physical movement- curl up like an egg, roll out and wriggle through "Food hoops" ( food pic mobile from top of hoop), wrap up in large material to become a cocoon, emerge and fly like a butterfly.

 

Our continuous provision (child initiated) resources are:

Role play fruit shop

Fruit prints in paint

Finger painting caterpillars

Butterfly prints

Life cycle jigsaws

Sequence Threading laminated pictures from story

Pairs game with laminated pictures of foods from the story

Jelly and custard in the water tray

Orange scented Playdough modelling fruits -

Green mint scented playdough rolling out caterpillars

 

Meeting childrens interests and next steps, last week a few boys really enjoyed a number hopscotch, ( promoted by the story leaping frogs). So this week will be using laminated and real fruit pieces and numeral cards to promote number recognition ( and sorting and counting in sets 1-5)

 

Our Mat and circle times will include caterpillar rhyme, story, talking about healthy eating, having tummy ache etc.

 

These activities may prove popular and continue, with adaptations for next week. Our focus next week is KUW sense of time, when we will look more at days of week sequence from the story. If the children lose interest in the story then we will use another story which supports KUW -4, to promote interests in these concepts.

 

We have also noticed just this morning that some children were putting toys up jumpers pretending to be pregnant, if this course of play continues over the next few days we will change planning and story to these childrens current play themes.

 

Hope that helps see one perspective of not planning to topics.

 

Peggy

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We use topics, but we use other things as well.

 

Have you ever thought of asking your children, at the beginning of the school year, to give ideas of what topics would interest them? Sometimes one feels 'constricted' to certain seasonal topics. If it becomes too difficult, you can also provide a series of possible topics and let them choose from those. Some topics are favourites year after year and others you discover that are not so interesting for them. The thing is to focus it from them.

 

Also, the important thing would be to start spreading the Stepping Stones and the ELG throught the year and then, secondarily, put the topics around this. Then you know you are covering everything progressively. But, sometimes it happens that the group goes slower or faster and then you also need to adjust the objectives. It is all inter-related.

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We also use topics but they are only a starting point and we include lots of other things as the children take us in different directions. This terms topic is Jungle Saffari.............. from the children's ideas following reading Rumble in the Jungle and Walking through the Jungle.

As Smiley says let the children lead the learning...........its fun and surprisingly effective :)

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Hi Peggy

Is there any chance that you have an example of your long-term planning that you don't mind posting. Thanks

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Hi longway around,

 

We started the book idea last September, we used the attached previous years long term plan as a template. ( this years plans are on my laptop which is poorly at the moment, so can't attach. xD )

 

The far right column shows the learning area & aspect. The middle blank column is where we write the book title, as we go along to enable changes. The far left column is just a guide to what the aspects could cover. We choose the book relevant to the aspects. I have added a couple of examples. During this year we did do a major focus on all the children designing our outside area, they ended up making models so this may not be the book we use this year at this time.

 

Hope thats not as clear as mud :o

 

The main reason for the long term plan is to show that we cover, have regard to, all area's aspects within a year cycle. These may change if we decide through assessment that focus on one specific aspect requires more repetition.

 

Peggy

ANNUAL_TIMETABLE_OF_THEMES_2004_2005_2.doc

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