The joy of child initiated learning!

abc doesChild Initiated Learning, Talk6 Comments


Man they were tired today – and kept telling us! There are only so many responses you can give to 'I'm tired!' (other than SO AM I!)

We are meeting after the pm session everyday to plan for the following day. Not only does it mean you get your weekend back but you are actually planning something that has maximum impact on where the children are at.

Mentioned earlier about one of our boys who is fascinated by how things work – firstly we set up a table of 'things' with mechanisms which, after an initial 'lull', got lots of visits.




The hole punch was the most popular item, especially when we took the back off to reveal the 'holes' which are now in a pot in the workshop!

One of my TA's then brought in her sewing machine to show the children how it works and also run up some cushion covers! We are trying to recover all of those really disgusting 1980's geometric patterned square cushions. The problem is we had only a small budget. Anyway, my TA had the brillinat idea of making cuashion covers out of towels! They are fab – and cheap.

Anyhow the machine was a HUGE success, especially with one boy in particular!!


Meanwhile we have a girl who seems to be demonstrating a schema for order through playdough – even she visited the 'how does it work' table!  

After a week, the children are able to self select paper for the easel and when they run out of paint they refil by themselves and then put away - Yes, they are three and  from an area with pockets of significant deprivation. This low level of intervention from us allows us to teach where we are needed!

One of my TA's brought in some plums from her tree for us to try yesterday – once the children got over their fear of the small slightly spherical object…(none of them had ever seen a plum before) they absolutely LOVED them.  All were amazed by the stone inside.

I did NOT cut them in half or de stone them. I demonstrated how to eat around the stone and left them to get on with it and…surprise, surprise…they all managed it!

Today one of them asked if there was anything inside the stone – so we cracked it open and found a seed. They then all began to ask if we could look in all the fruit to find seeds – so we did!

The thing that amazed them most  was seeds in a banana! Their eagerness to soak up every word was a joy to behold!



Alongside our assessments of what they can do, we are also discussing what they like and thinking about how we can combine all of that into a 'theme' – cars, trains, mechanism, pouring, play dough… will be interesting!

We also got some free aprons from B and Q – worth an ask!


My 2 TAs are working really hard on establishing our 'talk area' with a 'talk sofa' in the nursery. It is not just a nice place to sit, it is a designated place for quality talk full of interesting things to talk about.

I will post more info and planning ideas soon but here is a 'sneak peak' 


The idea is that it feels more like 'home' and everything in there is a talking point if you need it to be (including the pot pourri!), The cushions are all different textures and sizes and smells – the most expensive one was the sequined one at £9.99 from TX Max! 

The ladies are doing a great job it is a real sanctuary!  Very tempting for a quick lie down on a frantic Friday afternoon! Speaking of which…

Must be time for wine!


6 Comments on “The joy of child initiated learning!”

  1. Hi Alistair
    doh- re my earlier question re the assessment books- I’ve only just managed to find it as I couldn’t work out how to get back into this screen from my original message! Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the reply:-)

  2. Hello Lily
    Our assessment books are little note books that we all carry in our bags all the time. They are for the practitioner to note down things that are meaningful to them. If you look at the video of the boys making the tunnel you will see that my TA has hers in her hand!
    At the end of the session we discuss our comments which helps to plan for the next session. Things like when we were enhancing mark making I said that everyone I had seen so far was still palm gripping but one of my TAs had recorded evidence of 2 children who were already triangulating therefore the provision was different. On the planning sheet I did a brief outline of the activity and for evidence of why I had planned it I referenced formal obs and the assessment book.
    The books are dated each day and am children go at the front and pm at the back. It really focusses your thinking.

  3. Thank you for the planning examples Alistair. Would you be able to expand on the idea of your assessment books were as you say there is more detail- what do these relate to? We have learning journey books for the children’s photos/obs etc to go into but they are more after the event and used as evidence and sharing with children and parents/carers.
    Are your assessment books this sort of thing or other?

  4. hi alistair, at the moment our smt insists we complete a weekly plan before the week begins. i am working on ways to change it and would love to follow a daily plan. if you do post a filled in daily plan i would love to suggest to our smt that this is the way to go and follows the children’s interests more closely than ours. we plan our children’s interests for the following week which by then they may have moved on to something different!
    also do you plan for whole group inputs/ key worker groups/ phonics groups? and if so when do you fit them into your session? we have 39 children per session with some staying for the whole day. which means am and pm group times can’t be the same. we have two group times each session – one whole class register followed by breaking away into ability groups, then end of session key worker groups followed by whole class singing/story time before home time (or dinner time if all day).
    i would love to see an example of your daily timetable.

  5. Hi Alistair
    I wondered if you could share one of your daily planners that has recently been filled in? I would like to have a go at this with our nursery team and it would give me a better idea of what it looks like if I could view one that has been done. Hope you can help, and once again many thanks for all you are doing and sharing with us

  6. Your “talk sofa” looks nicer than my living room! I think I can spot one of my cushions there, too.
    How many children do you have in school at the moment? We started off with the full intake – your graduated approach seems much “kinder”…to both children and adults 🙂 I still have Friday’s migraine – hope it goes before X Factor starts.

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