Mark Making In Reception and other ideas from Hampshire

abc doesBoys Learning, Child Initiated Learning, Environment, Mark Making, Role Play, Talk1 Comment

Sorry for blog absence but as well as my jaunts around the country I also have had a deadline looming for 2 books for Bloomsbury. I am co authoring them with Kirstine Beeley and they are part of the '50 Fantastic things to do with…' range. So I have just finished (HOORAY!) 50 fantastic things to do with Paint and 50 Fantastic things to Squish, Squash and Squeeze. Both coming to a bookshop near you soon!

Anyway, as I said in my previous post I went on a trip to Hampshire to deliver some conferences and work with some settings. These are settings that the LA have already identified as having very good practice and my job is to help them to improve that practice even further. So while I was there I worked with Jodie and Ruth in their joint 2 form entry Reception Class in a pure Infant School and Tim in his Reception class in 2 form entry Primary School (with play group on site).

 I saw lots of really lovely practice but I think I still managed to give them all an ABC Does… a headache by the end of my day with each of them.

Here are only some of the best bits of Jodie and Ruth's set up


This is a plastic garden arch that has been dressed in a bit of red net to create an entrance to an area of provision. Really made you feel like you were going into a new space.

Too many tables? Nowhere to store them? Turn them into little cosy corners! All you need is a bit of MDF a willing caretaker and a rope ladder from IKEA (cut in half). You can go in or under. The children LOVED it.

Here is another one. This one is really snuggly!

Here is a genius idea for carrying comics around to read in your cosy corner. Having said that the children also put in paper and pencils so that they could write and draw. I saw them use these inside and out.


They are Pringle tins covered in wrapping paper/comic covers and then sticky back. Add a wool strap and there you go!

Also really liked the idea of this. It was on the back of a low level cupboard. All the children have got a laminated rectangle with their name on and every day they are encouraged to leave their friends a message or a picture or a smiley face. Sort of EYFS preparation for Face Book!

Jodie and Ruth's School is very near the sea so I wasn't surprised to find this in their outdoor area…

How much fun could you have in that?

Tim shares his planning with the Reception class next door and his outdoor area with them and the pre-school that are on site. The outdoors was a project in itself, so more about that in a later post.

Thought these were worth a quick mention though. Very cheap, very portable and very effective at keeping your resources dry. You can get them from most DIY shops and Garden Centres.


There were lots of examples of challenge in Tim's environment


Now, I must have missed something in the world of Ben 10 as as far as I knew Gwen is his cousin and is not or never has been his girlfriend! This is the sort of activity that needs adult introduction to inspire them to want to come and sort flash cards (something Tim was very good at) otherwise it would become one of those activities where children just walk on by!

Can you guess who his target group might be?

Tim and his parallel teacher made the decision to split their writing areas and have a super hero themed one in one class and a princess themed one in the other (the children have free flow between the two)

This is Super heroes. What I also liked was the photographs of the other males in the school modelling writing – although some clearly think they are trying out for the next series of America's Next Top Model (keeping it fierce Tim, keeping it fierce)!

DSC04227This was Princesses..

Real and Disney!


Thought this was an interesting thing to do with a CD rack some laminated cards, tiny writing and a magnifying glass…

You could colour code the cards for particular groups of children or just make them random. The idea is that you choose a card and read it. They could have secret instructions…challenges…requests…anything


Tim also runs a self service 'snack shack' where children select and prepare their own snack and then wash up and put away afterwards.


Did occur to me that the Bible was an interesting choice of breakfast reading!

DSC04222I have talked a great deal in previous posts about the high level impact of creating personalised alphabet and number lines. Tim has taken SATPIN to the next level!

As with most settings, there was lots to celebrate, lots to think about and lots of ideas for me to share with them about how we could make their practice even better. One of the reasons I love this job so much is because I really do see something new every day. We are all on a journey that should last the length of our entire careers with children. I have yet to find anyone who was got to the end and knows it all.

Am back in Hampshire in the New Year to finish this project and start another one so I will of course share any more nuggets I come across.

For those of you coming to the ABC Does… conference in London on Friday – See you there!


One Comment on “Mark Making In Reception and other ideas from Hampshire”

  1. I’m always inspired when I read here – what great ideas! The only things I wish for…more classroom space (I’ve got oodles outside) and more time so I can put all these wonderful things in to place. Keep them coming though I’m getting known for my bizarre ‘shopping lists’ in the staffroom. Pringles cans will now be added to the request for empty hand soap dispensers!

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