Children leading learning through Usher!

abc doesBoys Learning, Mark Making, Planning and Assessment, Role Play9 Comments


Today was a bit of a blur! We had 3 new starters (one whirlwind, one refuser and one screamer) a vomit incident (into the dough) a water tray leak followed by what happens when you leave two boys in the sand while you are distracted by a whirlwind a refuser a vomiter and a screamer…


Yes, that would be every sand play toy  we posess plus half a gallon of water – so much for teaching them to fill the water tray by themselves! I have to say though – they had a GREAT time and I did find myself having a sneaky splash!

Oh, and I also had to meet with the Governing Body to talk to them about what I was doing and what structures I was putting into place for long term impact. All in all quite a full day!

I am really chuffed with how much mark making is going on at the moment, especially with the boys who are producing LOADS. We are all using our assessment books to note down what they are doing so that we can challenge them next time they are there. We have one child who is showing an obsession for drawing different doors. Everything he draws and paints is a door
with something exciting behind it, and it is catching. He had a whole table full of children all drawing doors today.

  You can see how well that they are using the area independently ( and make a quick assessment of scissor grip if you really want to)

What really excites me about the boy and his doors is that I NEVER would have had that as a theme at this stage of the year for this age children (if at all) and now, because of how our curriculum is structured, one child has inspired the others in a big way to work with ' doors '. I will now run with this and layer my knowledge of where they need to go (informed by assessment) on top!

If I had being doing ' ourselves ' it never would have happened.

Another  ' infectious moment '  happened today totwo girls in ' baby prison ' ! Kylie (one of the tricksy twins) has been sent to prison , we are not sure why, and one girl took another on a visit. The first had to ' go through security ' so invented herself a telephone from some pipe insulation.


She has brought Sanita and baby Jason with her! They cannot get the hang of swapping between ear and mouth all of the time until the second girl comes up with this… 


A two tube telephone. Of course once news of this got out we had phones everywhere! Another opportunity to enhance learning built on ' NOW ' interests – I am genuinely excited. How often do you ever say that about a topic title? EXACTLY!

We also had a special visitor…



I know – it was HUGE. Found on the coat of a hysterical Reception child who went for help only to find 2 hysterical Reception staff. It took one of my fearless  TA's to come to the rescue and release it. After we had all had a good look of course!

There is such a wealth of opportunity for engaging children out there every single day – you just have to be on the look out for it.

The other thing I have done today is to get rid of the ' only 3 children can play here ' signs that were dotted about.

I have never regulated the number of children in an area as I think with proper modeling it is not an issue. Very ocassionally if I feel it is unsafe I might ask the children to think again but I have honestly found that they do it themselves.

If you find that all of your children want to be in one place, you have to ask yourself what is good about that place and what isn't about everywhere else. Then do something about it!

Today was also the birthday of my little friend who couldn't be  bothered listening to me on her first day. Over the weeks I have grown to absolutely love her – she really makes me laugh.

We sang happy birthday to her – I played my Beano guitar. None of the children sang (bar one who just shouted the last word of every line) It was like something out of an institution!

I then asked her if she would like to pick a song to sing as it was her special day… she would and she would like….

' Serumphlin Cub '

' Sorry? Say that again for me – I am a bit deaf '

' Serumphlin Cub'!

'and again ? '

' I said…Serumphin CLUB '

' Ah ' say I ' S Club 7? Reach for the stars? Ooh, sorry I can't play that one!'

' NO! ' she says, while her hands move up to her hips, I SAID ' Serumphlin Club'.

At this point I feel like Margery Doors at Fat Fighters..

' Who sings it '  I ask.

Now, she tuts and turns her back on me with her arms folded – in a proper huff. Now this is a shame because I am trying hard.

' I am sorry ' I say ' I am getting old, It's my fault I can't hear very well '

She then speaks to me loud and slow like I am simple   ' I want … SEX IN THE CLUB  – I dunno who says it! '

I really wasn't expecting that. All I could think to say was ' how about 5 little speckled frogs' to which she replied ' Naaah, forgerit' and sat down.

It's Usher by the way – who ' says it '. Sex in the club – the choice of every 4 year old on their birthday!


9 Comments on “Children leading learning through Usher!”

  1. Hi Kat
    Believe me I know the feeling well. It is times like this when sitting children in rows begins to sound like a good alternative. We are tackling some very similar behaviour in the Reception classes that I am working with at the moment.
    What I always find most effective is to remove some of the choice in the short term. Often too much choice promotes ‘flitting’.
    Also, analyse the antisocial behaviour and capitalise on it. If they are being very loud, or gun driven, then set up your room to try and enhance that interest, then you have more control over the play.
    This early in the year I still do a lot of ‘stop and remind’ especially when the environment begins to look like a bomb has hit it! We don’t want to stop and redirect children when they are engrossed but it is hard for them to engage in an activity when there is bedlum going on around them.
    Massively praise those that comply – we have also given specific tasks to specific children to encourage both responsibility and compliance.
    Most of all don’t lose hope. It is often like this at the beginning of the year it is just that we forget! Try not to just be reactive to the behaviour. Try and think strategy all of the time.
    Good Luck!

  2. Oh dear, I think I’d want to sink into the floor if that happened to me! Hilarious to read about though!
    I’d be interested to hear how you deal with your more awkward children such as your whirlwind and your refuser. I have not one but several whirlwinds in my class and I’m struggling to deal with them. The freedom of continous provision leads to them playing far too roughly (often with hitting/throwing things incidents and they don’t seem to understand or be able to control themselves) but on the other hand they can’t deal with any structured activities for more than 10 minutes (it’s year one!). No outdoor area sadly so no chance to run off steam and it’s really starting to affect the quality of the experience for the rest of the class.
    My only TA is a one to one for another child and she’s only part time. Whilst he doesn’t need her all the time, he doesn’t get as much out of things when she isn’t with him and I feel like I shouldn’t take her away from him too often (already she has to change the reading books twice a week and deal with another child’s IEP time everyday) so I can’t put her in to support these children during free play. I have to take guided activities quite a lot of the time as at the other end of the scale I have some very bright children and some impossible targets to meet. The upshot of it is that there has to be some time when these children are playing by themselves and then problems occur, I’d be interested to hear how you deal with such things, although I suspect having the extra staff helps a lot!

  3. Ken
    As I am sure you can see from my posts ‘fun’ is always top of the agenda. It is my aim for the children to think that everything we do in school is ‘just for fun’ – that is how you get high levels of engagement. But, if you really want to take children forward in their learning and meet their individual needs your assessment radar is always switched on. Everything they say and do tells you something about what they know and what they need to learn. The more evidence you can collect of this knowledge the better.
    When you work in a team you need to share what you know so that everyone can work towards the same goals. When there is so much happening with so many children you often forget to mention something important – so you record it when it happens and build a rich bank of evidence to confirm your judgements.
    There should be room in your curriculum for planned and spontaneous play but you should take every opportunity to collect information that will help you to progress children’s learning regardless of the activity. If not you risk creating a ‘chocolate box’ setting where it all looks great but there is little substance or rigour to the experiences on offer which can make attainment questionable.

  4. Enjoy your blog but you do seem very hung up on assessment all the time. More often then not its simply great to enjoy an activity ‘just because its fun’, without trying to assess outcomes.

  5. I actually laughed out loud at this post – maybe you are actually quite funny!!!
    Can’t believe you have a baby Kylie, can’t believe she is in ‘baby prison’ and it’s Sinitta with an ‘i’ not sanitta. That’s it. (the little girl who can’t be bothered to listen needs a book contract…)

  6. Oh dear!!!! I have tears streaming down my face, I have laughed so much!!! This reminds me of my very first teaching practise; I was in a posh school not far from our teaching college, (you know the one!), and it was my very first observation by the college tutor. I was reading the story at the end of the day, and we had about five minutes before home time so we began to sing. I must have been nervous, as I quickly exhausted my repetoire of nursery rhymes and songs by Barney the Dinosaur, so I asked the children if anyone would like to come to the front and sing a song for us all. Thus, the tutor and I were serenaded by a 4 yr old with a version of “Like A Virgin” that would have done Madonna proud!
    Jane; I thought of Monsters Inc, too, as soon as I read about the doors. I also thought of Jim Morrison, but quickly put that thought to the back of my mind. “Light(ing) My Fire” in the Nursery playground would not be appropriate, due to H&S restrictions.
    Alistair; like the idea of adding texture to your playdough with vomit…I’d not thought of that one.

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