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A Change From Topic Planning


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Hi Everyone,

I have recently been reading the fantastic article on motivational planning. It has made me feel alive again. This may sound silly but could anyone give me a step by step approach of how they introduce child centred planning as the way of planning for Foundation Two. I would love to scrap topic planning and base everyting around the children's interests but feel a little lost with where and how to start it.


Thank you in anticipation of your knowledge and experience.

Boogie x

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I can't claim to be an expert or have any more knowledge than you do about non topic planning as we are going to work this way from Tuesday when the children return. For some time we have planned part of our week retrospectively to reflect the children's interest or more truthfully their lack of interest in the topics so this seemed the logical next step.


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I have been working my way away from topic planning to child centered over the past year in my nursery - now feel I have a planning system clearly outlined from LT through to ST - with lots of help from the information I have gained on this site (thanks to all).


Introduced this to my colleagues in Reception last week and it was well received so am hopeful I have now cracked it.


Have limited time to explain all now but will try to add details as soon as possible.

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Hi Marion and nsunshie,

Thank you so much for your link and quick response. It was interesting to read what other people have written but I still feel a little lost with it all. I'm looking forward to hearing from you again nsunshine.


~Thank you both again.


Boogie :D

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I have mentioned the idea to my colleagues and will have to soldier on and try gentle persuasion, they are not keen, people don't like change and I think because I am doing the FDey they see it as a 'she's on a course!!' type of suggestion.


You know that feeling when you learn and experience different ways of doing things and methods of provision and then you try to take it to where you work and it is unheard and dismissed, like it is too much effort to change things and keep with current thinking. :o

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We have changed our approach slowly over the past year - like shirel I was the one bringing in the new ideas as part of my further development and although I am well supported in my setting it is still hard for people to let go of a way of planning that is so embedded.


To begin with we kept our topic outline for the year but I changed the title of my medium term plans so they became possible lines of development - this gave me the reassurance of having something in place to follow if needed but the flexibility to ignore it and follow the children's interests as they arose.


In the autumn term when most of the children were new we tended to follow the topic outline but we involved the children in planning parts of it such as what activities they would like out the following week and what they would like to set the role-play area up as next.


As we approached Christmas and started to gather ideas from the children for the next role-play area their interest in Cinderella became apparent - many already new the story and it was the pantomime we watched. They requested Cinderella's house and I developed the theme for the Spring term around this. Of course not all the children wanted the same thing and another strong interest was transport. It is possible to have two themes running alongside each other - transport became the focus of our outdoor role-play and of many other activities. (our LTP would have led us onto a topic on toys & bears but we didn't have time for any of this).


Next term would have been my home & neighbourhood but the interest that grew was in Superheroes - the boys and some girls loved to dress up as knights in the Cinderella role-play and this theme within their play of rescuing people and fighting off dragons developed when they discovered they could make capes from some material in the dressing up box.


Luckily nursery ed had a timely topic pull-out on superheroes and we developed the plan for the summer term. What become apparent as you develop this approach is that topics don't end for children just because the term has ended. Some continued to dress-up as knights/princesses and the dragon was still a feature of their role-play - but now he had knights and superheroes to contend with!


The children also developed other themes within their play - cake-making (in the sand tray) was a common interest and this became the focus of a mini-theme running alongside the superheroes.


Some of the boys who initiated that superhero topic are still with me in the nursery (now in their 4th term) and continue to return to the theme in their imaginative play.


This year we have gone a step further and have abandoned the topic outline completely.

Our long term planning focuses on the areas of provision and outlines the resources, organisation, possible activities that will take place there.


I then have a grid which acts as a bridge between long and medium term planning - this outlines the progression of skills to be covered each term.


Medium term planning is focused on planning for children's interests and involves adding to the long term plans for each area of provision any enhancements/additional resources that will be added to extend the children's interests.


Short term planning includes a weekly sheet with the group time activities and staffing details. Small group time plans (this is a time when we work in differentiated groups and focus on core skills in PSE, CLL & MD).

Each week we observe 4/5 focus children. At our weekly planning meeting we evaluate these observations, identify their interests and plan the next steps for those children. Resources/activiites are noted on the area of provision plans e.g. for a child showing an interest in circles/roundness we added circular paper to the art area. Where an interest is noted as being common to several children a mini theme might be developed.

Focus activity plans are also developed from the evaluations - in Reception up to 5 focus activities may be planned one from each observation. in Nursery we would usually only plan 1 or 2.


Don't know how much sense this will make but I have attached some planning examples and would be willing to attempt to answer any other questions.



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Thank you soooooooooooooooooo much for sharing your ideas and good practise nsunshine. I really appreciate it. Lots to think about and talk to my staff about when I get to work tomorrow. It is so nice to have a starting point and some guidance from someone who has already tried and tested ideas.


Thank you again.

Happy Boogie :D

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ok...please bare with me and put me right..... :(


LTP.....going to outine all 6 ELGs and BTTM and how we will implement these. xD


STP..... will use focused activities adult and child led :(



Is this ok so far....... :(


Now the problem, just cannot get my head around meduim planning (do i need it????)

My head is so used to planning for the tiopic that we will cover in the following term which make up our MTP, now if we following childrens ideas and thier imput surly that has to be done now in the STP not a term in arears where it can alll be written down...does that make sense!!!!! :o

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Hali, you don't really need a MTP, but often staff find it comforting. A sort of 'framework'. In our MTP we highlight the aspects of each area of learning we will be concentrating on, with ideas for resources/activities to support them, for the term.


It's a very simple document which we can add to as we go along, if we see the need.



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We decided to abandon MTP.

The format we have decided on using is similar to Sue Rs for LTP and continuing with the STP format we previously used to keep track of the stepping stones and ELGs we are covering we plan to highlight statements as they are covered ( so this part is retrospective ) which should show us any gaps.





Edited by Marion
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Hi Marion

Will you keep us posted as to how it's going

It looks fantastic, a lot of hard work initially, but I'm sure it will be a great success

Good Luck!

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6 ELGs, hali?????



I think Hali meant to say 6 curriculum Areas. :o




correct me if I'm wrong Hali. :)


Mind you six ELG's as a total would be great


1/ Make friends and have fun

2/ Communicate

3/ Think

4/ Explore environment using all senses

5/ Move

6/ Imagine and create



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