The Early Years at Great Rollright
In Early Years, we have a rigorous approach to phonics teaching. Children work together in groups with targeted support. We use ‘Read Write Inc.’ to inform our planning and a large variety of practical activities, both inside and outdoors. Reading books link to the Phonics sounds being taught and library books are chosen to be read for pleasure. In addition to this we practise ‘Dough Disco’ and ‘Squiggle While You Wiggle’, which are fun, physical activities done to music to support children’s gross and fine motor development and ultimately their cursive letter formation.
Mathematics in Early Years at Rollright is based around the Early Years Mastery approach to Mathematics. Children learn through a range of planned and structured play situations, both independent, and supported by teachers as play partners, where there is plenty of scope for exploration. Not a moment is wasted throughout the day, as Maths is emphasised in all aspects of the daily routine e.g. snack-time /lining up etc. Maths through real-life and meaningful experiences, using practical hands-on resources is key here. Mathematics in Early Years at Rollright begins with a short adult-led session linked to teacher assessment. This session will become longer as and when the children are ready, and takes many forms,
e.g. games, songs, number hunts, forest schools challenges, etc.
Maths is everywhere and young children are learning maths all of the time. In provision areas inside and outdoors, children are surrounded by real-life practical maths problems and experience these daily. For example, roleplaying shops and using language related to money; using sticks at forest schools to measure their classmates; sharing toys with their friends; thinking about how they can build a tower without it falling; and pouring a drink and making sure it does not spill.
Through play in Reception, children begin to:
- Acquire new mathematical vocabulary
- Learn number rhymes and songs
- Understand early maths language of measurement, shapes, spaces, positions, early numbers, order and patterns
- Know the sequence of numbers
- Understand positional words (e.g.inside, behind)
- Show an awareness of time
- Be aware of 2D and 3D shapes in the environment
- Solve problems
At Rollright we provide enriching environments for children to apply their mathematical understanding and carry out investigations. There are opportunities for maths in all of our provision areas, some resources include:
- Numbered ducks, jelly numbers and shapes in the water tray
- Sand toys which encourage measurement and construction
- Various sized spoons, pans, cups etc. in the mud kitchen
- Photos/silhouetting to support sorting/matching when tidying up
- Egg timers
- Telephone in the home corner
- Purses, shopping bags and money
- Building roads with 3D shapes in the construction area
Parents as Partners
Working with parents is very important to us. At Rollright, we pride ourselves on our open-door policy and work closely with parents to ensure their children feel safe, happy and flourish in school. They are invited into Reception during the year to celebrate their child’s journey at school. Further ways we strengthen and maintain our parent partnership include:
- A weekly newsletter
- Parent consultation evenings and reports
- Parent Information Evenings (PIE) linked to areas of the curriculum
- Reading diaries are sent home daily where both parents and practitioners can record listening to children read and also write short messages. Children take home and independently change reading books
Tapestry is a secure online Learning Journal we use to record photos, observations and comments, in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, to build up a record of your child’s experiences during their time with us. This system allows us to work with parents and carers to share information and record the children’s play and learning in and outside of the classroom. At Rollright we actively encourage our parents to upload home achievements onto Tapestry, these are celebrated in class throughout the week.
We aim to provide an exciting, stimulating and challenging learning environment that offers high quality opportunities for the children to learn through play, both indoors and outside. We encourage children to play an active role in shaping their own learning experiences. Adults engage in discussion with the children about what they are interested in, which skills they would like to develop further and which resources they need to support their learning. Children are supported to think creatively and imaginatively and explore how resources can be adapted. The environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning. Our resources support child-initiated play; the children are encouraged to choose and access them independently.
Physical play is fundamental to children’s learning as it increases development between nerve cells and the brain. At Rollright we provide children with rich and engaging physical learning opportunities. Their daily play, weekly P.E. and forest schools sessions all help to develop a broad range of skills, including fine and gross motor skills.
Fine motor skills
Provision is set out each day to promote the development of fine motor skills, in order to strengthen neural connections in the brain. Children in our Reception class:
- Draw with pencils, pens, felt tips and crayons
- Cut with scissors
- Paint with a paintbrush and other resources (e.g. fruit)
- Play with small objects such as Lego, beads, farm animals and trains.
- Threading activities
- Use tweezers
- Weave ribbons
- Use pegs
- Manipulate sensory objects, such as play dough
- Daily dough disco and squiggle while you wiggle
- Stir, mix and pour when cooking
- Complete puzzles and jigsaws
- Build with small construction toys
Gross motor skills
Whilst most children naturally develop the ability to run and walk, they require practice and instruction to develop hopping, galloping, sliding, catching, throwing, jumping, kicking, bouncing and striking skills. Purposeful outdoor actives include:
- Obstacle courses
- Pedalling and steering vehicles, e.g. scooters and trikes
- Using tools to dig
- Using the climbing wall
- Crawling through tunnels
- Carrying and building with crates and tyres
- Climbing trees
Health and self-care
We encourage our children to be independent, to look after themselves and their belongings, as well as the resources within the classroom. We actively promote responsibility and critical thinking regarding safety of themselves and others. Children at Rollright also have the opportunity to find out about how to keep their body healthy and what this might look like, as physical development plays a key part in learning about personal health. In Reception we:
- Safely carry and use equipment/toys
- Cook and bake regularly
- Role-play cafes, shops, and restaurants in the mud kitchen
- Create art work using fruit and vegetables
- Discuss how to be healthy
- Wash hands regularly
- Use a knife and fork correctly
- Promote independence (toileting, dressing…)
Communication and language
This is one of the key areas in EYFS. Through effective provision we provide opportunities for children to develop in the three aspects: listening and attention; understanding; and speaking.
When learning environments are centred round children’s interests, the children focus on activities for a longer period of time and engage in quality conversation.
The role-play area is an incredibly important part of the Early Years classroom. Children step out of the ‘real world’ or choose to replicate experiences and interests in everyday life. Providing props and dressing up clothes will enable children to immerse themselves completely, which will encourage storytelling and narratives to occur. At Rollright we always have a ‘home corner’, which we enhance regularly. We then create further role-play opportunities linked to the children’s interests. Adults skilfully join in with the children’s role-play to model good communication skills and scaffold learning. We further support speaking/listening skills by-
- Using/making puppets and performing in our puppet theatre to an audience
- Audio CD and headphones for songs and stories
- Story time and circle time
Children’s interests inspire our small world provision. It is a very effective area to observe Communication and Language. Storytelling occurs here as children develop a narrative within their play and interactions; through open ended questioning adults encourage conversation and negotiation between the children.
There are also lots of opportunities for construction and writing to take place. As children begin to be engaged in an activity for longer their involvement is increased, resulting in their learning being extended.
Circle time/Show and Tell
Circle Time is a valuable opportunity for the whole class to share ideas in a welcoming environment. In Reception, we talk a lot about our feelings and how we can influence others’ feelings too. Children are expected to show great listening and communication skills whilst exploring ideas. The children can be very open and show confidence in doing this.
We love reading in Reception! Our home time story is often the highlight of the day; we all sit together and share a broad range of books. Children bring in their favourite stories from home and share these with their friends and we often discover new books we love. Throughout the classroom, both inside and outside, children are exposed to a variety of reading opportunities to promote the development of reading and early phonic knowledge:
- Cosy reading corner with a variety of books inside the classroom
- Our enticing story shed outside
- Character role-play
- Parent helpers come in to listen to individual children read
- Guided reading sessions through Read, Write Inc. with a member of staff
- Key words around the classroom
- Labelled resources
- Digging for hidden letters in the sand/water/mud/construction pit
- Building towers using multilink cubes with letters on range of provision areas
Writing in Reception is fun! Whenever possible, it is linked to what the children are doing, therefore it purposeful to them. As a result, they independently choose to write as part of their play. They may be making birthday cards; party invites; get well soon notes; and shopping lists. Our writing area is full of exciting resources for children to use.
- Pencils, pens, felt tips and crayons
- Scissors, glue, rubbers, whole punch, sharpeners, rulers
- Envelopes, cards, post-its, books, stickers, clipboards
- Blank paper and card
Writing isn’t just confined to the writing area, but is built into all areas of provision. Following the children’s interests ensures that we are always thinking of new and innovative ways to make writing more appealing and enticing to children. Writing throughout provision areas can be encouraged by:
- Providing chunky chalks and paints for outside, large scale writing is always fun
- Covering the underneath of a table with paper so children can write upside down (just like astronauts in space)
- Clipboards in the construction area for drawing models and labelling them
- Large rolls of paper and writing tools laid out on the floor
- Writing resources displayed on a shelf outside, so children can grab them whenever they need to
- Writing in different textures such as sand and glitter
Expressive Art and Design
Expressive Arts and Design (EAD) is one of the four specific areas of learning in the EYFS framework. It involves supporting children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. It also provides opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play and design and technology. Children’s learning and development in this area will be enhanced through enabling environments that are resourced appropriately. Children can then access these independently and they will often choose to work collaboratively on creative projects. Setting up materials that can be self-selected promotes independence from adults and also provides children with time to practice cutting and joining skills, plus investigate whether different materials are fit for their purpose. As they develop they will use and explore a variety of materials, experimenting with colour, design, texture, shape and form. The outdoor area provides the perfect opportunity for children to explore sound, rhythm and movement. Playing music outdoors, along with streamers, wands and ribbons, encourages children to move rhythmically and to match their movements to music.
Sensory play, which is highlighted by Piaget as being one of the four critical stages of development, provides children with experiences of all five senses that are critical to brain development. Through the creations of neural connections, circuits are formed that help children to form habits, memories and consciousness. Children process information through their senses and learn through exploring these. At Rollright, sensory play is unstructured and open-ended; it is the purest sense of exploratory learning. By giving children the opportunity to investigate materials, they are able to develop their cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skills. Learning is always fun and can be very messy in Reception! Through sensory exploration and play, children experience different textures, tastes, smells, as well as providing them with opportunities to play and share with others too.
In Reception we provide children with opportunities to explore and investigate a range of technology. In provision areas, children can access telephones, cameras, CD players, a shopping till and torches. Opportunities for children to develop key digit skills using appropriate software are of paramount importance too. Children have access to chromebooks and can access a range of phonics and numeracy games as well as apps which link to Expressive Art and Design, Physical Development and Communication and Language. They also use bee-bots (programmable toys) in order to direct them around a course.
Forest schools supports the holistic development of a child through:
- Health and fitness – being active in an outdoor, natural environment
- Increased emotional wellbeing
- Social development – communicating and negotiating with peers and adults to solve problems and share experiences
- Gaining knowledge and understanding – multi-sensory, real life learning
- Individual learning – children learning and their own pace and following their own interests
Forest schools provides opportunities for children to observe changes in the seasons, weather and growth. There are opportunities to find out about wildlife, develop their imagination using natural materials and be creative.