young girl on a swing

Qualities that nurture learning

"Surely the greatest reward gained in learning is the satisfaction and enjoyment it brings? I have never been an advocate of rewarding learning with chocolate!", writes Dr Andrew Lockett. "I have never liked the idea of sanctions or withdrawing toys. The ability to use humour, or to redirect children’s attention to new activities often diffuses a difficult situation." Read these interesting reflections from Dr Lockett, a retired teacher and OFSTED inspector.

making paper chains

Deck the halls!

With Christmas approaching, the four-year-olds in my local nursery are full of anticipation as they practice their Christmas play and learn new songs for this special season. Last week they were busy making some festive paper chains to decorate their classroom in between a good deal of very wet play outdoors!

Paper chain making is relatively simple, yet requires incredible concentration and gives those finger muscles a fine-motor workout. As the children glue and stick together the colourful strips of paper, sing-song counting can be heard around the table: “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven…one hundred!" And then they collaborate on the tricky task of attaching their chains together to form really long ones…

Interested in making paper chains with young children in your setting? Instructions here.

personal signature

little girl playing guitar on the floor

Singing new songs

“Singing and music are part of children’s development. We miss opportunities for learning if we rely on singing only a limited number of the good old favourites,” writes Marjorie Ouvry. “Have we an appropriate repertoire up our sleeves?” Here are some helpful tips and ideas.

personal signature

little girl removing or returning carry crate to its shelf

Every moment matters

Much of what occurs in a child’s day may seem trivial or monotonous from an adult’s perspective: going out, coming in; jacket on, jacket off; choosing a toy, putting it away… However, because children live intensely “in the moment”, it is precisely within the context of these seemingly ordinary routines that learning happens.


As early years educators we need to find ways to capture and celebrate the regular rituals in a child’s day and “turn the ordinary into the extraordinary”. To get started, try these ideas from Dr. Sandra Duncan: The power of everyday moments.

personal signature

Two boys doing constructive play outdoors

Justifying constructive play

A couple years ago I worked in a nursery in Australia. The weather was gorgeous and we spent all our time outdoors in a spacious garden kept very tidy so as not to attract snakes and spiders. However, we noticed that our older children just ran around the garden, unable to engage in their play.

One evening we staff put our heads together and realized we needed to make a change. Our garden was too sterile. With a group of dads and other volunteers, we transformed a small grove of shade-trees into a mini adventure playground with logs and woodchips, outdoor blocks and other loose parts. The change in the children’s play was dramatic. They settled down and began to construct things.

“Constructive play is what young children do naturally,” writes Francis Wardle. "It is critically important for young children, and should be encouraged and supported both in the classroom and on the playground."

Wardle has some great ideas on how to encourage and justify constructive play. Read the full article here.

Search or browse our learning library

Filter by topic or type