Gerbil traps and Gun Play in Foundation Stage!

abc doesBoys Learning, Child Initiated Learning, Creativity, Mark Making, Weapon and Superhero Play3 Comments


Walked in today, switched on the light and there she was – just looking at me. She let me walk right up to her, bend over and then VAMOOSH! She was off! I then sat in the talk area for 20 mins while both of the missing gerbils scurried around me, even sniffing my hand. But as soon as I moved as much as an eyebrow…they were gone!

In the end I constructed a tunnel of cardboard boxes along the skirting board and herded them into a corner where I could get them!

So after half an hour of hoofing around they were all back in the telly!

When the children got in they were full of it so I decided to go with my first instinct and offer them the opportunity to design a ' gerbil catcher '!

The boys were really keen and most of them ended up working together to make a collaberative design.


There was an entrance and some fruit for them to eat including an apple and a banana. There was also somewhere for them to dig. The other boys added lots of tubes and a ladder (the blue lines in the picture). They spent about half an hour in total on it and the language and higher order thinking was really good.

The girls enjoyed talking about it, but fewer of them actually went on to produce anything. As often happens, one child produced something WAY beyond my expectation of her ability.

She worked alone at the workshop for quite a while.



and then produced this…


So much thought had gone into every aspect of it. For a child who does not usually produce a great deal it was a huge self esteem boost.

One girl drew a picture that was quite random and so I did the usual ' that looks like a brilliant gerbil catcher, tell me all about it '. After a suitable pause and a look of disdain she said ' it's a cat ' and walked off. They never fail to make you chuckle!

Meanwhile at ' Boot Camp '. Things are progressing really well. We have almost eradicated the antisocial, disruptive play in the outdoor area. Because it is now confined to one space the children are investing far more time and energy in creating ' game play ' rather than just chasing. There is negotiation and discussion as well as some arguments over who gets the best guns! My feeling on that is that children will never learn how to resolve an argument if they are not allowed to have one!

Here are some photographs from today. Some are blurred and some heads are chopped off to ensure anonymity – not just because I cant take a photograph!

We were experiencing children hitting each other with the swords even though we had made clear our policy on no body contact. To combat this trend one of our staff gave the children fencing lessons. Stressing that the more skill you had the less body contact there would be. It worked a treat – we will just have to see if they remember.

What is important with an area like this is that you set ground rules and stick to them. No second chances, If you break the rule you are out – end of!



 We have added bread crates, cardbord boxes and tarpaulins and will keep adding more bits once they have become familiar with what is there already.

Diner served waffles today made in Mrs C's waffle machine (one of my TA's). You can see just how popular they were. All of us decided we had to add a waffle maker to out Christmas list!


In Ellesmere Port tomorrow delivering training all day for the LA. Will of course miss my little cherubs but will be glad of the rest!


3 Comments on “Gerbil traps and Gun Play in Foundation Stage!”

  1. I am really keen to set up a combat zone/boot camp in our playground. Do you perhaps have some guideline on the rules and regulations you have in agreement with the kids?

  2. I’m so envious of all your lovely resources! I wish I could work in your setting!! If only I had even a quarter of your lovely resources and all that space..! Where did you get the lovely large roles of paper from?

  3. I was just thinking today at work that you hadn’t mentioned the diner for a long time and lo and behold there it is!
    Your outdoor area for the boys’ play looks really good I just wish I had the space (and support of the school) to do something like this as my boys were obsessed with being policemen and ‘baddies’ and shooting each other. I’ve had to fall in line with the ‘no guns’ policy of the school, although I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a relief that they have actually complied with this because I actually dislike the impression this gives that a policeman’s job is to shoot people! (Yes I have explained this to them and the police have been in to visit – although the visit was what set off the play!) We’re going down the investigative route now with it which at least gets the mark making going and the girls involved as they like looking for ‘clues’!

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