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Deconstructed role play

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by colorado, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. colorado

    colorado New commenter

    Thanks, Msz

    What do you do about wall displays? We have one large board, partly at child height and one small board at child height-thinking of covering as much as I can with plain paper for mark making. We've always linked these displays to the role play theme in the past but not sure what to do for multi-purpose role play!

  2. I am probably going to use this approach in one, of my two, role play areas next term. I wondered the same about the display and have decided to use it to display photos of the childrens work and maybe exaples of their mark making etc.
    Still pondering what I might do with the window by that area that I usually paint to fit with the theme, not sure I am brave enough to allow free use of paint for the children on the window!!
  3. We developed this way of working 15 years ago in one of the Brent Nursery Schools. There was a greater freedom and perhaps also a deeper nursery school tradition of observing play and it was obvious that the 'staged ' roleplay to cover certain planned objectives had limited success - eg post office, doctors surgery etc. ALthough it allowed for beautiful planning of intentions and supposed outcomes - and is still considered valid in many nursery and reception classes - largely in primary schools BUT any observation of the children at 'play' revealed that their purposes, their combinations of materials according to the dyncamics of their play and the general flow of their imaginations did not match the adults neartly planned outcomes.

    However with a more open-ended approach with multiple sets of resources -even with less defined more open -ended resources as in the Waldorf schools.- children's play deepened, changed direction, rose and fell as it should, - prerequisites are also time, space, materials and understanding by those who run / evaluate/ inspect these. The EYFS guidance was intended to try to enshrine those understandings however it has become side-tracked, bogged down and an easy victim to those who would use this against it to plead for a 'return' to some age where teaching was more directed by the teacher- something which is as subtle as the change of emphasis you are exploring. CHildren's play and children's own displays are the real language of learning, the grammar of change, the vocabulary of the creative impulse writ large- yet it is a language which even today after many years of the EYFS is as unintellgible to many - including those who would inspect for it. So well done for revisiting the basic truths of early years teaching - teach to the child.

  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    We stopped doing "displays" as in those whole boards covered in a themed adult initiated pictures or whole class large murals (a la Belair books) and create "instant" displays of children's indepenent work, sometimes linked to themes, often just celebrating what a child has done. Pictures and writing are displayed "hot off the press" and changed frequently ... no double mounting and backing display boards required as all boards are painted the same colour as the walls (we also went down CFS route) so it isn't time consuming. For role play I often gave out huge sheets of paper for the children to draw their own scenery/background as it developed or attached a roll to the wall.

  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Why not it washes off [​IMG]

  6. great ideas Msz, and would that many who are under the tyranny of the double mounted- themed displays have a chance to read what you are doing. I do the same, I find using those changing, more ephemeral displays as a background to a dialogue with children about similarities and differences, observations and opinions and about learning in general is a far richer hunting ground for teaching to childrens real efforts and preoccupations rather than the co-ordinated display and it frees up tme to actually 'teach' (observe, listen, clarify, explain, instruct, extend etc.) children rather than mount incessantly. Rather like a studio where work in progress is reflected on not as a finished article but as a step on the way to the next attempt to represent. Thanks. Cheers.
  7. I often leave my role-play area 'blank' - maybe with some mark making materials and a few generic 'props' in there and see what the children do with it, adding things as a theme begins to emerge. I've not thought about doing it this way before however, and think it's a great idea, I'm definitely going to give it a go.

    With displays I've started to just link them to areas, putting up whatever work the children have done in that area as it happens, or photos of them working in that area. For example our 'construction wall' has their plans and labels with photos of the models, on the writing wall the children add any work they've done at the writing table - I've put some string along there with pegs so children can put up their own work, and we have a 'gallery' behing the creative area. I do sometimes still do themed displays, but am moving away from this.
    Thanks for the ideas!
  8. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Gosh, I never realised that role play in reception classes was not "deconstructed" as you call it. As a parent I have always found "constructed" role play a complete disaster. Children do not want to do whatever you have contrived for very long whatsoever, they just make a mess, and then you've got to think up the next idea. But if they just have cardboard boxes, or nothing, or fetch what they need for whatever they have thought up, or pretend they have it when they haven't, or make it from cardboard and string, it can go on for days.
    I remember years ago, before I had children of my own, being taken a huge tour of private day nurseries, LA day nurseries, and school nursery classes. I remember looking in amazement in the role play corner of an LA day nursery (the most boring children's setting I have ever walked into in my entire life - it was like the early years equivalent of an old people's home - both the staff and the children looked like they couldn't stay awake a minute longer) which was choc full of hairdressers' role play down to curlers, tongs,a dryer to sit under, etc etc. Just how much money had been spent on all this rather tedious stuff that they weren't going to play with for very long and that didn't lend itself to any other use?

  9. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    It's all part of the high quality learning environment that we have to create. Complete with laminated signs and labels and photos.
    Like we all love to play in the Bank, don't we? No? Well now then.
    Whatabout the Travel Agents? Or the Vets? Don't we all have immediate access to piles of detritus just for the creation of such role play areas. (Not Sweeney Todd's Pie Shop, The Old Curiousity Shop, or even Winnie the Witch's Garden in Winter) Three Bears. Wolf House. Pig's Cottages. Etc. The Builders - complete with pulleys and scaffolding, maps and tools?
    If you ever go to Halifax Eureka museum ( not I - it's Nestle run) you will see all this kind of thing done to the nth level - a mini size kitchen with oodles of mini size food and what not - in the days when I did go, I loved to see it trashed truly by hundreds of children.
    We are under pressure to window dress our provision including the role play areas. And yet, Laevers says, our English nurseries are in danger of becoming sterile places with limited learning opportunities because of our need to prove the quality of the learning environment.
    Children can and do, play with anything. They make dens and bed, picnics and houses from whatever they can find. But then we go and label it. Laminate and label it. Dearie me.
  10. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    To the poster who said they had to justify doing their roleplay differently to SMT ----- why is this? Do they have a strong argument that the way they want you to do it now is much better? If not, why do you have to provide them with research on it when it sounds like commonsense?
    Maybe you could do a bit of both from time to time if they are so very cautious? What other minutiae do they get involved with - these do not sound like SMT concerns to me? You mean a primary school headteacher is bothered about exactly how you do your roleplay?

  11. In reply to Mystery10, the SLT in my school regularly walk around the school and pop into classes to see what is going on and personally I think this is an excellent use of their time. I think they should be showing their face around the school and will often talk to the children about what they are doing and praise children for work they are producing at the time. When they come to the early years they will often ask why we have put out an activity or talk to the children to see what they are getting out of an activity. Something that ensures that I am planning from children's interests and moving their learning on. In regards to role play, our boroughs EYs team provided training on role play and encouraging writing in EY and a member of the SLT attended this, so when asked I would like to be able to explain why this method works or research that shows it works.
  12. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    Well that sounds good. But I guess what I was thinking was why you feel you have to provide evidence that the "new" role play method might work, but you don't feel that you have to provide evidence that the current role play method you are using works - you could just keep it the same and no-one would ask. It makes changing things even harder work if you have to explain all your changes, it's an incentive to stay the same.
  13. We have a mixed reception /year one class, and for the last 2 terms been working hard at providing a stimulating exciting role play area for the children. Firstly, this has taken a lot of time and organisation.. and then heart break! They just have not played, learnt, worked.. in it at all. Even with some adult support. We have struggled for a while.. thinking "this is what we must do!"
    But this holiday we have decided to remove it and provide an open ended role play area. We had a delivery before the end of term in 2 big boxes.. plan to have baskets / boxes with hats, capes, a few dolls, bags, clip boards, pencils, pens, etc. I like the idea of an earlier poster who suggested a back drop that the children can draw on to share what they have decided the area will be. Staff, will need to be prepared, maybe to 'find' required items to support the choices the children have made.. but I can only see positive learning coming from this.
    In our nursery the Early Years Support Teacher was against this, and a compromise for her was to provide a book for the children which had prepared role play area pictures in it.. for them to get ideas. I personally feel the children will have much better ideas that us adults will ever have!
    I am looking forward to seeing what happens in there.. lots of observation moments I am sure!
  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I hope she paid for the book out of her own money!!

  15. I tried this last year and got told 'it wasn's iinspiring for 5 year olds'. Argued my case and got moved out of FS int KS2.
  16. I'm trying to plan out some ideas for upping writing opportunities in my Nursery class. The idea of de-constructed role play appeals but all those writing props and prompts (registers, shopping lists etc) which admittedly weren't that inspiring would become redundant to be replaced by what? I've come up with 'large paper on wall; clip boards' so far. Any ideas MOST gratefully received.
  17. missjivebunny

    missjivebunny New commenter

    Our current cohort of children go and get the writing materials that they want from other areas of the provision. With previous cohorts that have been reluctant writers unless the materials are right under their noses, I've just put in one our our portable mark-making boxes, and the shopping lists etc still happened.
  18. Thanks; we have 'busy boxes' too (portable trugs with writing stuff in). My class are just very reluctant writers! But it's reassuring that so many people are giving it a go and I did look on ABC blog today where there was a lot of mark making going on albeit on the cardboard boxes etc.
  19. nellyfuf two really good posts , witty, pithy and straight to the point- thanks
  20. I don't think we will ever change it! My own children loved playing dogs, children in the nursery and reception love playing dogs and when I visited an early years setting in Ypsilanti what were the children playing...yes dogs!
    I wonder if it is a developmental stage missed out on DM?

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