Loose Parts Play

It`s been much too long since my last blog!! The start of term is always busy, busy, busy but now things have settled down a little here goes. Over the summer I read a lot about Loose Parts Play and really liked the idea of introducing it to my Year 1 class.

“Loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.

Loose parts can be natural or synthetic. and the idea is that often you will find that children would rather play with materials that they can use and adapt as they please, rather than expensive pieces of play equipment. Encouraging children to use resources as they choose can provide a wider range of opportunities than one that is purely adult led. Children playing with loose parts are using more creativity and imagination and developing more skill and competence than they would playing with most modern plastic toys.” – http://www.readingplay.co.uk/DSC_0325DSC_0326

During our work  on Picasso, which covers art and history during this half term I have started to slowly introduce some loose parts activities to see how they go and had some great results. I did give the suggestion that children could create portraits with the materials on this particular occasion so it wasn’t strictly as opened ended as the theory intends. But it was still a popular activity that kept children concentrated for long periods of time and lead to lots of discussion and opportunities to evaluate and adapt their work. Watch this space for bigger, better, and more creative coming soon.


Sound Experiment – Can you trick your brain?

Phew!! it’s so difficult to find time to blog at this time of year but this one was too good to miss. We are working on Sound at the moment in Science and we have been learning how different sounds are made and how sound gets fainter over distance. This experiment was an enrichment activity that I knew my Year 1 class were going to love. We started by standing in a circle with one person blindfolded in the middle. As I touched someone on the shoulder they would say hello and the child in the middle as to point to where the sound came from.


This was the easy part but still lots of fun. The Science goes like this – Sound hits each ear a little differently. A sound on the right goes directly into the right ear, but it must travel around the head to reach the left ear. The left ear receives that sound an instant later than the right, and the sound in the left ear is a bit softer.Ever since the day we were born, our brains have been learning to use these small differences to locate the sounds we hear. But if you reversed the order of the sounds coming into your ears, would your brain know where the sound was coming from?

We made these ‘mirror ears’, shown in the photograph below, using flexible hose, 2 funnels and some tape. When you hold the ends of the tubes in your ears as shown, they make the sounds from each side go into the opposite ear.

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Then we tried playing the game again, a whole afternoon of fun and giggles. The children loved the fact that when someone made a sound it seemed as though they were on the opposite side and, of course, all good scientists write up their experiments afterwards.

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Africa – Maasai Figure Drawings

Year 1 have now started their work on Africa; my favourite topic of the year. We have begun to learn about the Maasai tribe who live in parts of Kenya and Tanzania. This slide show is a great introduction to looking at appearance and discussing similarities and differences.

Following this we used the lesson plan from the fantastic site Deep Space Sparkle  and the children drew some amazing  representations of Maasai figures using coloured pencils and watercolours. The pack includes examples and pattern sheets, look at the results -WOW!!!!

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Circle Painting

I have been looking forward to trying circle painting with my class since I spotted the idea on Pinterest recently. This was the video that gave me the idea.

This week we gave it a try in the classroom, in small groups, with 5 or 6 children painting at the same time. The children watched the video first to give them the general idea. Ideally I would like to do this outside with the whole class painting at the same time but the weather wasn’t great this week so this was just an  experiment to see if they enjoyed it. It was a  great way to introduce the children to working collaboratively on an art project and, yes, they loved it.

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Their concentration and enthusiasm was amazing and most were reluctant to leave the activity. It was also great to see their shared sense of pride and ownership at the end of the activity. I can’t wait to try this again on a larger scale.


‘Egg-tastic’ Easter Egg Hunt

Firstly, Happy Easter to all of our followers! I thought today was an appropriate time to share some of the ‘egg-tastic’ fun we have had in Early Years.


Moving away from the more commercial chocolate egg hunt, Early Years thoroughly enjoyed a new take on the activity. With the help of the Year 3 Easter bunnies, twenty numbered eggs were hidden in some very creative places around the school grounds. Early Years worked in teams and practised moving safely around school to find them. They looked underneath, inside and on top of objects.


When the children thought they had found all of the eggs, with a little bit of help from Year 3, they ordered them by lining up on the patio.


When we had counted twenty eggs, we all went back to Early Years for a party and cake!


Bee-Bot Software

This week we moved onto using the Bee-Bot Software to continue our coding work. The children had  lots of hands on work with the physical Bee-Bot before we tried programming on screen. We are using Focus on Bee-Bot: Lesson Activities 1.3 from Focus Education and it is a great resource for teaching control, directional language and programming. It can be used on the IWB or on individual laptops.



Initially they found it quite difficult to follow through a series of instructions, especially left and right turns as these were hard to visualise. The program does however let you take this one step at a time and many of the children began to get the hang of it by the end of the afternoon.


Partnerships with Parents and Families

After yesterday’s successful ‘open afternoon’ in Early Years, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my positive experience of good working partnerships with parents and families. After all, the Early Years Foundation Stage tells us that ‘over 70% of children’s lives are spent, not in a setting, but with their family and the wider community’. Therefore, the support of families can play a vital role at all stages of education and we believe that building good home-school links when a child first begins school is vital. At AIS I am lucky enough to work with many fantastic parents and families, whose support is invaluable.

Last half term it was great to have so many parents offer their skills and expertise as part of our ‘People Who Help Us’ topic. The children thoroughly enjoyed visits to a local post office, fire station, dental surgery and police station. Even several weeks later, I continue to receive feedback from families whose children still talk about these visits with excitement and interest.

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As a teacher, it is great to receive positive feedback from parents. At AIS we have been using ‘Wow Moment’ cards with our Early Years families, which recognise special moments captured at home. These moments are added to each individual child’s Learning Journey and help us to plan next steps and provide appropriate resources or experiences. The children are always so proud to show their parents their work and in turn it is so nice to see so many parents so proud of their children.

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I’d like to end my post with a big THANK YOU to all of our parents and I look forward to seeing you all at our next Early Years open afternoon soon!!

Discovering Chromville

Recently I came across this great colouring app that I knew my class were going to love. Chromville is a free app that brings children’s colourings to 3D life using augmented reality and eventually lets them use their creations in on-screen games. You print off the pictures from the site and download the app onto a smartphone or tablet. The children colour the picture and then use the app to scan the picture. The app then recognizes the coloring pages, and brings them to virtual life on the screen, complete with 3D animations incorporating the children’s designs into the story. The children loved this activity and so did I. The only problem was with 5 and 6 year olds it was difficult to keep the tablet still and correctly positioned so it became quite adult intensive. Having said that, we had great fun and I would still recommend it.

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Have a look at this video to see the full process – have a go, it’s great fun!

Bee-Bot and the computing curriculum

As teachers we are enjoying the challenges of the new Computing Curriculum in Primary (Dfe, 2013) . We are gradually adapting our practice to integrate the new objectives but our old favourite Bee-Bot still has a big part to play and is a great way to introduce younger children to algorithms. Year 1 are enjoying creating their own sets of instructions to direct Bee-Bot around the mat. Next week  we will be extending this by using the computer software to complete on screen tasks.

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Ahoy There!! Pirate Ship Art – Year 1

This week we have been working on some artwork connected to our cross curricular topic, “Pirates”. This lesson was adapted from an article on Deep Space Sparkle which is an amazing place to find art ideas for all age groups.

We worked over 2 sessions, firstly to create the sea and then to collage the ships. The first session was guided but the children were given freedom to add details as they wished during the second session. The results were fantastic!

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Creating the sea using different shades of blue and adding texture with plastic combs.

20150205_113759 20150205_113904 (1)The finished pictures were all quite different as children added their own ideas to their work.