The Learning Environment
We have a wide range of resources that we use to set up an exciting and engaging learning environment to encourage the children to want to get involved and therefore learn through their play. The classroom is set up in a way to support a range of play types to help to engage children to play and learn holistically. All of our equipment is easily accessible for the children and the equipment is clearly labelled to make it easier for children to tidy away and develop their independence in doing so.
In the Home Corner children engage in imaginative play, with a cooker and kitchen utensils, which include several items from other cultures as well as their own.
This Home Corner is often transformed to fit in with the current topic. If the topic was Pets it might be a vets practice; for doctors it might be a doctors surgery.
We also have small-scale models such as cars, a farmhouse and animals, a dolls house and railway trains, a garage and a zoo, a fire station, hospital and medical equipment.
As the children act out imaginary situations they learn to co-operate with one another and respect each other’s feelings.
The children explore and experiment with construction toys of all types, making towers, roads and bridges with wooden bricks, and their own ‘futuristic’ means of transport with Duplo, Mobilo and Rotella.
Through painting, drawing, cutting and sticking, printing, collage and sewing the children learn about colour, texture and patterns. They discover the properties of different materials and develop dexterity and self-expression.
They create their own models with cardboard boxes and tubes. Commonly known as Junk Modelling, this teaches an important appreciation of 3-dimensional shape.
We read the children stories, in groups and individually. They have access to books that they can look at and ‘read’ for themselves. We teach them songs, poems and nursery rhymes.
Problem Solving & Reasoning
We play board games such as Number Lotto, Dominoes, Spot the Difference and Compare Bears.
The children learn mathematical concepts such as counting, comparing, ordering and selecting. They also learn to understand rules such as taking turns. The children do puzzles of increasing levels of difficulty. We provide them with beads and pegboards and mosaics to give them practice in making patterns and copying sequences.
Puzzles help children to develop pre-reading skills as they observe and recall details in pictures and symbols. They learn to tackle problems with concentration and perseverance.
Interest / Letter Table
Each week we introduce 1 letter of the alphabet. Children bring in items that begin with the sound of this letter and add them to the Letter Table. Each item on display is then discussed sometime during the morning.
This table changes according to the current topic or time of the year. For instance, during the spring and summer months the children delight in watching tadpoles change to frogs. They can also look at and handle stick insects and sometimes they can even watch caterpillars making their cocoons, getting ready to become butterflies.
Sand and Water
In the water tray we have a water mill, water pumps, pouring bottles. The sand tray provides buckets and spades and moulds for ‘mud pies’. As the children play with sand and water they develop concepts of solids and liquids, volume, flow, absorption etc. It is also a soothing and relaxing experience that stimulates small muscle development as they pour, mould and manipulate.
Playdough and Clay
We provide several different types of playdough: flexi-, runny-, scented- and sticky-playdough. The children use their hands to squeeze and mould it, or use tools to cut, roll and shape it.
Clay is much harder to work so children add water to make it softer. They play with the clay and sometimes make sculptures to paint and colour and take home.
We have cooking sessions where children get the opportunity of cooking biscuits, baking potatoes, or making their own sandwiches.
Physical play gives children the opportunity for energy release. Body and spatial awareness improve running, climbing and balancing skills. We provide bikes, scooters, climbing and balancing apparatus. They also use small equipment such as hoops, beanbags, balls and skittles.
Music and Movement
Children take great delight in music and rhythm. We have a selection of musical instruments such as chime bars, tambourines, drums, maracas, shakers and clappers. They learn to copy or create different patterns, speeds and rhythms. They also use body sounds such as clapping and stamping.
We encourage any parents with musical skills and talents to entertain the children with live music and songs. We also use CDs so the children can experience many different types of music and play games such as ‘Musical Chairs’.
We often use the Internet, to help the children reinforce various aspects of their learning. For instance…
How many spots on the ladybird?
General everyday activities are also important. The children learn to put on, take off, and hang up their coats; to do up buttons and buckles; to wash their hands after messy activities, or before snack time or after using the toilet.