Science

Outlast ramps

What happens when you add ramps?

"To myself I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me.”
– Sir Isaac Newton

Rollercoasters, slides, water chutes, why are they so fun? Perhaps humans are programmed to experiment with gravity. There are Isaac Newtons in every nursery, waiting to discover (and be discovered).

Add Outlast ramps to your block set and see what happens.


Baby exploring

Babies are scientists

Science is about making and testing hypotheses. This is what infants do all the time! They are continually experimenting and asking “What if” in actions rather than words. The first time a baby knocks a cup from the highchair, it’s an accident. Next time, it’s on purpose to check if the falling cup will cause the same intriguing splash on the floor and the same exciting noise from mum!

As long as these little investigators are surrounded by interesting things and as long as they feel secure, they will continue to investigate and learn. Their active brains have a lot to process. No wonder they sleep so soundly at the end of the day.

Go-cart

The school where go-carts form the core of the curriculum

Dozens of go-carts were the last thing I expected to find when visiting Trimdon Grange Nursery and Infant School. From the outside the school looked quite ordinary, but stepping inside I was confronted with go-carts constructed from scraps of wood, cardboard and salvaged pram or scooter wheels. The go-cart race next week will be attended by most of the community at this ex-mining village near Durham.

The Head, Catherine Worton, explained how these go-carts formed the core of the curriculum last term for Year 1 and 2. Children experienced how properties of various materials serve particular needs (Science). They learned about wheel and axle mechanisms and electrical circuits (Design technology). The project included instructional and explanatory writing (English) plus measurement of distance and time (Maths). Learning dispositions deepened: motivation, perseverance, and the success of using real tools to achieve satisfying results.

Doesn't it make you want to go back to school?

block play reflection

Block play reflection

The longer I observe children and blocks, the more respect I gain. This lad for example is experimenting in ways I never dreamed of – and definitely learning about symmetry and geometry in the process.

Too often blocks are viewed as a "toy" to be left behind when children move to primary school. In fact, this is the age when youngsters are becoming most deeply involved! I've seen six-year-olds invent fabulous narratives with blocks and watched a twelve-year-old achieve architectural feats.

If you want to foster creative imagination, literacy, and hands-on learning of maths, physics and design, allow your children ample time with blocks. Then observe the truth of Einstein's words that "Play is the highest form of research."

Sand and water play

Why children should play in school

John Coe, chairman of National Association for Primary Education, recently described a visit he’d just made to a school. Two 11-year-olds had been assigned to tour him round the building. Approaching the Reception classroom the children became visibly eager, hurrying their pace. On entering, they made a beeline for the Sand and Water table where they showed John all they could achieve with hosepipes and pulleys – talking excitedly all the while.

John told me, “The children were intelligent Year 6 pupils. Their spontaneous move to play like four-year-olds is a powerful indication of the denial of the inclination to play (and learn) which is characteristic of too many test-driven schools.”

Motivation levels are high during play. Remember Vygotsky’s words about a child at play being “a head taller than himself.” Schools would do well to include play as a natural part of their curriculum. The learning potential is tremendous.

Click here to download Play and the revised EYFS, our guide to how children’s play naturally fulfils the revised EYFS.

Search or browse our learning library

Filter by topic or type