Book: Teaching On A Shoestring by @RussellGrigg & Helen Lewis via @CrownHousePub

Published by Crown House Publishing

Teaching on a Shoestring: An A-Z of everyday objects to enthuse and engage children and extend learning in the early years













  • A fantastic list of activities that can be used from everyday objects.
  • Clear explanations of activities, with most objects being recyclable to prevent unnecessary waste.
  • Strongly referenced and inspiring for Early Years practitioners.
  • The use of everyday, inexpensive, objects helps resourcing activities easy and manageable.
  • Great for any EYFS practitioner who wants further inspiration and ideas to support teaching and learning linked to key areas.

Supported by: Crown House Publishing

With educational budgets being squeezed within many jurisdictions, the opportunity to properly resource classrooms often falls to the individuals working within the setting to help enrich the environment for the young learners who enter each day. But the cost of providing enriching experiences does not have to be great, and involving the whole community in providing resources and opportunities can bring many rewards to all those involved.

In their new ‘Teaching on a Shoestring’ book, Russell Grigg and Helen Lewis focus upon 4 C’s (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) for the early years of schooling, but they also acknowledge that some of the resource ideas can also support mathematical development and knowledge and understanding of the world. In fact, the introduction of the book explores some of the crucial questions that need to be asked when using everyday objects, including an exploration of some of the key areas of learning in the early years across the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – as each country has their own specific titles for areas of learning). Also, the author’s justify their thinking in concentrating more so on the 4 C’s as these skills are internationally recognised as essential for children and young people’s development. The foundations for lifelong learning begin in the early years so, the argument goes, early childhood is a critical period in children’s development and education because this is when they are most receptive to interventions that can have a lasting impact. Essentially, the role of the early years’ practitioner is also given attention within the book as the enthusiasm, engagement, challenger, and questioning aspects of the role are given due consideration.

Onwards, the book offers the A-Z of everyday objects that can (and should) be used in the early years’ classroom, with a fantastic range of activities and ideas to help inspire practitioners to offer practical, engaging learning opportunities.

For example, practitioners (and parents) will have seen the value of empty cardboard boxes (large or small) to help open up the imaginations of young people and provide them with stickers, pens and glue, and a whole world is created supporting creativity, communication and collaboration.

To me, what is most admirable about this book, is the sustainability of the objects being used and the activities suggested around them. Each letter opens up opportunities for exploration and learning, and also help fire the imagination of the practitioners being able to use the activities as a starting point. There is not a reliance on plastic products (apart from the Yoghurt pots), and most of the ideas and objects used can be recycled after use, which allows for a learning opportunity within itself. There are also a vast range of activities that can (and should) be taken outside to support outdoor learning (where possible), along with sections of ‘Did you know?’, that can also be used as a teaching and learning point accompanying each object highlighted.

So, is this book for you?

There are a lot of lessons for teaching and learning that can be gained from early years practitioners, who arguably have the balance right in providing real-world, practical ideas for the young people who inspire them each day. With that in mind, this book is perfectly placed for student-teachers (who want to work in the earlier years of education), early years practitioners just starting off in a new role, or more experienced early years practitioners who want to refreshen up their ideas and classrooms. A lot of the ideas and activities collected are referenced towards the back of the book, and these could be the starting point for different ideas in different settings, based on the environment and young people involved.

To conclude, this book is packed full of inspirational, practical and creative ideas that can easily be implemented in any early years classroom. Linking the activities and objects to the key learning areas helps to focus on providing experiences for young learners that are relevant, engaging and encouraging development and key skills. If you are looking to add more practical learning into your classroom without spending your hard-earned money, then this is the book for you.

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About @digicoled 446 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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