Following the Children’s Interests by @ElamJessica

Stop and observe your pupils

It’s very early days with my new Year 1 class. We’ve had a lovely couple of weeks where I’ve been trying to really get to know my children and their interests.

Over the Summer I changed the layout of my classroom to accommodate the crafting frenzy that took place on transition day last term. So far this has been very successful as children now have continuous access to a range of materials as well as the space they need to create.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Jess Elam and published with kind permission.

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On Friday I stood and watched a group of children work together to create a kitchen out of cable reels brooms and chairs. They then proceeded to take water from the water tray and dig up soil from the base of a near-by tree. Voila! We now had a mud kitchen in our outdoor area. The excitement grew and grew as more children joined and contributed their ideas. Finally, the group all became completely engrossed making George’s Marvellous Medicine; purely by chance, this book was in my drawer and the day was finished with delightful giggles at Dahl’s description of Grandma  with her small puckered up mouth like a dog’s bottom!

Over the weekend I was thinking of all the different learning that took place that afternoon during that one child led activity. Children were: thinking creatively; problem-solving; collaborating; persevering; measuring; describing; sharing and more! I decided to encourage this play further and spent my Sunday afternoon foraging in the forest with my 5-year-old for natural materials (dead ferns, sticks, acorns etc.) to enhance my provision. I also ‘borrowed’ the lunchbox trolley from Year 2 and placed a range of utensils, scales and interesting metal containers on it to provide options for children to extend their play and learning.

If I’m honest, my usual priorities at this time of year include developing routines, behaviour management, formal assessment and getting to know my children through All About Me booklets and Show and Tells. In my fourth year of teaching Year 1, I now have a new priority… to stop and watch. I’ve learnt far more about my children’s interests, needs and stages of development just from this and I wish I had done more sooner!

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