Making Snow…and other Early Years Practice.

abc doesChild Initiated Learning, Continuous Provision, Planning and Assessment3 Comments

Just thought you might like to share some of the sorts of practice that I have been looking at over the past couple of weeks. Last week I popped to Coventry to work with Nicki  and the Early Years team at Joseph Cash Primary school. 

The school has 60 Reception children who work in one open plan space (with a small work room next to the loos!) and a Nursery class who have their own space but share an outside area.

I was working with Nicki on the further implementation of objective led planning and looking at their current systems for recording all of their other bits of planning – plus a bit of outdoor evaluation thrown in for good measure.

There were lots of displays that were linked to teaching and learning. They had been annotated really well so that it was clear to see engagement, planning and purpose through what was on the wall.

The work for this display was produced as a result of children working on their physical dexterity during their daily intervention.


it went up the wall and across the ceiling, there was so much of it. Although the higher the display the less likely the children are to engage with it, I did come across a group of children who were lying on the floor looking up at the ceiling and picking out animal shapes that they could see in the squiggles. They were there for a while and found lots!


Some nice illustrations of process


and annotations. I also really liked these as another way of creating a number line.

IMG_1978I imagine you would get a lot of volunteers if they knew that they were going to go and photocopy their hands! Just make sure you do it when the Secretary is out of the office!

Within the provision Nicki has been looking at leveling in response to assessment so, there were three different types of construction available


not to mention the large scale construction on the carpet.


When you have planned for different levels within an area and all of the adults working in your space know what the differentiation is, when they are moving through your space it is easy for them to support children and redirect them if they are using inappropriate resources.

The Reception day has two long sessions of Continuous Provision punctuated by focused teaching in groups and a physical intervention. The children are also grouped for this activity. On the day I visited the groups were:

Making marks on a large scale


Practising early cutting skills by snipping/fringing with appropriate scissors


Picking up pompoms with pegs (even the pegs are differentiated, some being harder to squeeze than others)


and tying tricky knots.


Outside of the adult directed activities there was plenty to explore and discover in the environment, especially in the aptly name 'Hmmmm, this looks interesting' area where the children were deconstructing old computers and key boards with great interest.




It was evident from the walls that observations and children's interests were key to shaping the environment and the planning.




Alongside some dough in the malleable materials area there was a nice big tray of PVA which was great for supporting gross motor movement and pattern making as well as more fine motor dexterity and mark making.


The best thing about a tray of PVA is that when your hands are covered you can clap them together and make snow. As you clap, little strands of PVA float up into the air and then come down again like stringy snow. If you bang a flat hand on the tray repeatedly you get the same effect, it is just noisier!


As part of her weekly planning process Nicki has an A4 sheet which is split into boxes. Each box has the title of an area of the provision. Nicki records in the box any areas that have been enhanced and says why. This was a really useful tool for me when I was looking at the provision and a great record for the setting of how they are responding to the needs and interests of children. With a relatively small 'tweak' this overview could also show which areas had a skill enhancement and how that skill was split into high, mid and low level.

Even though, like everyone, Nicki is very much on a journey of improvement there was lots of great examples of quality learning for us to celebrate before we got down to planning ways forward. I really enjoyed my day Nicki, thank you for inviting me.


3 Comments on “Making Snow…and other Early Years Practice.”

  1. We put a builders tray of PVA glue out for mark making last week. The children loved it. It was mainly used for name writing and smiley face drawing (their choice) and was fantastic.

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