Yester Primary School Nursery Class
Yester Primary School's Shoe Shop
This was a bit of a mixed project: we included learning about size and measurement, implemented an Elves and Shoemaker house, with a shoe shop attached. This linked in with restrictions being lifted, and many children talking about needing feet measured and new shoes.
My role as senior practitioner is to implement planned activities and experiences for our children which they can relate to, whether it's a child's choice, a provocation, experience or an observation.
We have a very small team at Yester, we are currently in 2 cohort groups, with a maximum of 15 on a Monday and Tuesday and 15 children on a Wednesday and Thursday. Planning is something I rate myself highly for as I'm not only planning for two very different cohorts but also looking at age and stage and asking: what can a 3/4/5 year old do and where are they in their development, what do they require from play and learning experiences?
My team is small: myself and a nursery practitioner, both full time. We sit at the beginning of a term and look at planning a wider picture then we look at a more discreet plan for the in-the-moment ideas, thoughts and observations.
Size and measurement came from provocation from staff as we hadn't quite assessed the children on this so we planned items in the playroom to support this. The concept took off with lots of discussions among children and ideas of how to take things forward. We believe in asking the children their thoughts on what they know and what they would like to explore as this helps with the wider picture of planning.
One of the provocations was the story "Elves and Shoemaker", we read this to them and asked what could we do.
"We could make shoes and do foot printing", said a child.
The adult asked if they would like a house that the Elves could make the shoes?
"And a shoe shop!" said another child - this is where it all started.
My role with my planning was to factor this in and to link to the CfE areas suited. Then to collate resources to implement the necessary changes.
As stated above, I have 3/4/5 year olds all at very different stages, however they all get something very different from role play depending on engagement, communication and imagination.
We discussed with the children what sort of things would we require in a shoe shop and had lots of ideas bouncing back and forward with discussion about how they would need to go to the real shops once they opened, as feet have grown. We discussed items such as the till, pennies, swipe card, pens, clip boards, chairs, measuring tape. One child said that they had foot measurers at home and mum kindly brought them in for us to borrow.
"Maybe a cup of tea and coffee and cakes for the customers?" - ideas like this demonstrated really good thinking and planning from the children.
This linked with so many areas of CfE. Our main focus was on Numeracy and Maths, considering size and being able to use language in size and comparison. Not only was this going on in this area but throughout inside and out as we have a very interdisciplinary approach. Outside we were using blocks, bricks and tapes to measure ourselves, items and sticks.
Our main story focus was "The Smartest Giant in the Town". Children used language relating to size and rhyme, this fitted in with many Literacy outcomes, exploring patterns of sounds and language. We also had a Three Bears cottage in our role play area, linking to events and characters in Literacy and through expressive arts we did Drama. Listening, taking turns, choice, understanding and linking learning covered many LIT experiences and outcomes.
We created our very own village "Gifford" again linking to MNU/size however this promoted language, HWB, keeping safe in our community, linked to GIRFEC SHANNARI Indicators and our school approach of being Resilient.
How can we be responsible citizens in our community, keep safe, include and respect each other?
These were the conversations staff were approaching with the children and again linking to our shop. What shops can we see in our community?
"A Co-op with a money hole in the wall", said a child.
"There's Hogg's shop - I get sweeties from there, sometimes I get an ice cream", commented another.
Initially when it was set up, we discussed the rules of the areas, and what was available, how to be a good friend and take responsibility in the area and look after our toys, this links in with all of the above CfE.
We set the Elves house up, then the shoe shop next to it with all the children's and our ideas and resources in place.
The children were so keen to get stuck in, we used a 15 minute timer as initially everyone wanted to play there but we limited it to 6 at a time. "This makes it fair", said a child.
Role play, imagination and language skills were being demonstrated. Children were co-operating and sharing ideas, they seem to just get into their own roles naturally: someone on the till, someone measuring shoes, 'elves' cutting out material, sewing and ironing, it worked really well.
Of course the children play and take their own journey in areas so it was nice to see naturally and authentically how this developed from the start. At times, they asked for other things to be added, like phones, note pads, shopping trolleys, shoes, boots and slippers. They had lots of ideas.
By observing how the children linked their own experiences from visiting a shoe shop, using language, working together, sharing ideas, and by linking it to all the planned learning experiences and outcomes, staff were able to gain an insight to what the children know about sizes and the linking it to knowledge of the story.
It was very effective and children help set it up each day, taking responsibility whilst being safe and it's still a popular area to play in.
They also shared their learning at home - some parents commented to staff that they had heard about the shop and asked if we needed anything.
Children are presently engaging really well with this and love the aspect of using the till and money so we may move onto explore money within numeracy and set up a slightly varied shop or do more citizenship work. We will continue to observe the children. Sometimes we have a cake and candy shop or a greengrocers when we look at money and this might be something we would do to help the children understand. We have in the past made items and charged parents a small amount to allow the children the experience of play whilst using real money. Although now the children usually will say, "I use a card to swipe".
All resources will be used in very different ways across the terms but for just now we are just all loving our shoe shop.
No, we had everything required.
Some parents contributed resources and we had someone make words in French and English as signs for our Elves' house.
When planning, really think about what the children will get out of it: what will be the challenges for mixed ages? From too many resources, to too few, get a balance. Implement rules; keep it fair and engage children from planning stages right through as they can be responsible for their play.
Link to CfE areas, there are many links across the board. We usually focus on at least one of LIT, HWB and MNU and observe play, making changes when necessary. Be flexible and allow children to make choices, risk assess and be overall responsible, whilst having fun.
It helps to get staff involved too in the beginning to show and guide the children how to play and what is good play. Help them to make links with what they already know as our children come up with so many ideas. Tune in to their creativity.
Record findings and observations and be able to take varied directions depending on how play is going. Always share with parents all the good learning opportunities the children have experienced and record each child's own learning in their personal plans or 'all about me' books. Self-evaluate and keep a record in the floor book - we always place lots of things in ours and look back with the children or share with parents. This is also really good to show when you have Care Inspections or ES visits.
Morag Waterston Senior Early Years Practitioner