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Tapestry

Occupying Lively Minds....


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Hi there! Amongst our oldest children we have two boys due to start school in September who are proving a challenge in our setting at the moment. They are bright and achieving to a high standard, but I am getting fretful about how I can keep them stimulated and learning, how to increase the challenges I present them with for the remainder of this term and the whole of the summer term! They are forming letters well, are beginning to blend, can sound out simple cvc words and are beginning to write spontaneously - amazing for boys eh. especially as we are 6 months into child initiated learning and I don't 'teach' them formally. Can you help? I can already see the signs of behaviour slipping into 'monkey business' and I am desparate for them not to get bored.

 

Knowing what a fab lot you are, I wondered if you have had similar issues and found some things that worked well for you.

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we had several children last year, they responded well to investigative things, experiments to try out. etc. how to make a bridge using material given will it support them etc,

 

what happens when or may happen when you.....,

 

how to move water from a to b only using c what would be better to use, can they find it etc

 

our were into creepy crawlies and spent ages playing and looking at them particularly snails, snail races, snail trails on paper, why does it happen using books to help find out about them with our help. got mum on board and she went to library and found us a few books to use. (Ofsted loved this one!)

 

They were more engrossed for long periods in some of this, helping other children to do it as well,

 

I have in the past made a simple circuit board with a battery for children to use, so they have to find materials to make the bulb light up , under supervision this worked well.

 

they were very interested in star wars so used this as a space theme and developed their ideas from this.

 

Inge

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I am so pleased that you bought this up, I was wondering whether it was just me but the big fish, little pond seems to be happening earlier this time round!! We have lots of boys that dont do anything but make guns out of anything they can get their hands on!! The behaviour of many of the children is deteriorating, lots of whinging, snatching, pushing etc. We even did a puppet show about behaviour last week and go through the rules all the time (I was very proud of my collegue who helped me as she usually avoids puppets but she even did a funny voice!!)

 

I know that ultimately it is us that has to find things to stimulate the children (particularly for us, the boys) but I am struggling greatly at the moment. I bought some tap-a-shapes from ELC and they are great and all the children seemed to enjoy them but other staff are not keen on the small tacs as one got stuck in a child's shoe last week.

 

I did try a few weeks ago by asking a dad to come in and do some cooking with the children (he is a chef), he made pasta from scratch and we found that the boys showed more interest with having a man about. I have asked a few more dads if they would be interested in coming up to do some physical activities with the children and they seemed quite keen.

 

Tomorrow I am going to try dinorsaurs in green slime as well as other things to distract them from making guns!!

 

I will be watching this post with interest.

 

J

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Jenni. Thanks for understanding! And for reminding me about the pasta machine! Haven't got mine out for years!

Keep the posts coming.........

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I think that setting challenges is always a good thing to do with all ages -after all, it's still scaffolding their learning at whatever stage they are at.

 

Could you introduce a 'plan-do-review' process where the children think about what they would like to do, actually do it and then think about what they did and how they would improve it/do it differently.

 

I had twins that were progressing faster than the rest of my rising 5s and I did something similar. One of them was really into construction and model making, so we set him challenges of finding buildings that he liked in books, drawing his own plans, thinking about materials he could use to build it and then actually making it.

His brother loved space and all things related, so we did a lot of work on transport, making things fly, patterns of stars and other patterns in the environment.....Their parents were also really supportive and did things at home with them, so the boys would come in on a morning enthusiastic about something they had seen on the telly, internet or in a book the night before.

 

It's hard work but ever so rewarding :D

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...and one little boy I had used to LOVE making up his own crossword puzzles..........he'd drraw a grid, then colour in random blocks to leave various spaces and then he'd say, 'right, we have five spaces, lets think of a word that long' etc....and he'd do it for ages! Very bright.........but didn't really now how to play, it was almost as if the other children were 'beneath' him!!It took us a lot of effort to get him to mix, but he still wanted those puzzles..and eventually, he went on to be 2 years ahead of the other children at school, so got sent up early.I awlays remember him with a mixture of delight and sadness...

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Oh, I thought it was just my son that liked making up his own cross word puzzles. Luckily though he did also enjoy junk modeling and construction too.

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Its happening here to....older boys= guns. We have disscussed this with the children telling them that guns hurt people really bad so we don't want any one to be hurt at play group. We tried to suggest other things they could be such as magic wands this did not work. They are using the stickle bricks as guns but when a adult is near by they are "water soakers"!

The oldest lad was born in spain he quite rightly told me that police men have guns and they are good people so why can't I? The police in spain do carry guns also the children just have to be near the telly when the news is on and they will see and listen to gun violence or see soldiers at war.

I am debateing if we should let the boys run with this role play or not. I'm 50/50. I guess what ever you do it may upset some one.

We are working on the childrens other intrests and engageing them in activties which helps no end.

So is it a age thing or boy thing or media thing ( i guess i have broken every rule regarding stero typing but this is what I am finding.)

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Not got the answer but very often they do say 'go with the flow'.

 

I ran a forces group (years ago now during time of first Gulf war), and unrest with NI etc. we were on a base and all the children saw patrols out in the street around where they live with guns and batons. They used to enjoy talking to the soldiers while playing outside.

it was so normal but they never role played it, or any gun play at all, which surprised us.

Parents disappeared for months at a time, and children all knew where they were and what they were doing but it did not come into their play.

 

we all expected it to , but they were more interested in Power rangers which caused more problems with play than any other topic, it was a 'Food fight' episode which constantly caused toys to be thrown all over the room at each other and we eventually removed the food from the home as it became a bit dangerous.

 

we don't seem to have a problem with this at the moment but mostly girls here, happy to role play for every in any situation, indoors & outdoors , and the boys just seem to be joining them.

 

Inge

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Have you watched the Teachers TV current Early Years programme about Early Years Curriculum in Wales. I am fairly certain on there I saw a clip with children playing guns in roleplay and the commentary was very wise, about not burying our heads in the sand and pretending it doesn't happen when shooting is on the news on a weekly basis. My concern is that our children are exposed to so many tv programmes, video games etc. which portray violence, guns, shooting, and yet the injured person is shown to get up and miraculously carry on with life, when in reality we all know its not like that. We need to run with the children's play and ideas, gently guiding their young minds into understanding just how dangerous guns are and that what they see on tv is not 'real' but 'real' guns kill.

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Perhaps that is why the children In the forces group didn't actually play guns... they knew the result of real guns, from parents ( we had to check under and around our cars everyday before getting into them! so they were aware of the nature of things from a very young age)

 

and Tv play was imaginary .

 

Inge

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To allow construction of guns in preschool, or not, that is one question.

 

another is, how on earth do you stop it if they want to play with them?

 

We used to ban gun play, and I am sure they were always renamed as fireman hoses or similar when a member of staff was near.

 

Then we allowed guns and (predictably) a child 'shot' me at the start. I lay down and refused to get up as I had been pretend injured!!! the children were a bit disturbed as we said we couldn't do all the rest of the planned activities (they became doctors and made me better).

 

Now we allow made guns (never proper toy guns) but they must only be used by the children in that role play area - so quieter children are not being upset. amazingly enough, the problems have stopped.

 

Staff tend to work with the children if they are making guns, helping them to make them bigger, more complicated and more involved so effort goes into the construction and not their use.

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crafter,

 

That is great! It's exactly what the children need, following their interests, but also extending knowledge, skills etc - and miraculously defusing the situation along the way! Keep up the good work!! :D

 

Sue

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