Literacy

Heuristic play

What is heuristic play?

According to the Oxford dictionary, “heuristic” means helping to find out or discover; proceeding by trial and error. It stems from the same root as Eureka – “I found it!”

In the early years classic, People under Three, Elinor Goldschmied and Sonia Jackson coined the term heuristic play, to explain how to provide a more structured opportunity for this kind of activity. Heuristic play “consists of offering a group of children, for a defined period of time in a controlled environment, a large number of different kinds of objects and receptacles with which they play freely without adult intervention”. It is particularly useful for children in their second year who often seem unwilling to engage in any activity for more than a few minutes.

Interested in running heuristic play sessions in your setting? Read this.

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sharing books in the book corner

The book corner

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” –  Dr Seuss

 

Books have a tremendous influence on many areas of learning. They can introduce themes of friendship, diversity, and overcoming challenge, thus helping to develop character. They can expand children’s knowledge of the world, other people, cultures and traditions, or they can introduce imaginary themes. Here's how the book corner can fulfil many of the EYFS learning and development requirements.

 

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children and adult sharing storybook on outlast benches outdoors

Encouraging literacy in children with SEN

A child's first experiences with books and stories, paper and crayons build the foundation for language, reading and writing.

 

“Teaching language and literacy via the use of books demands the highest quality teaching. This in turn requires knowledge, insight and curiosity about how children learn and develop alongside their unique interests and needs,” writes Kathryn Solly. Kathryn explains how children with SEN can become inspired about books and reading.

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two children telling stories together

Once upon a time…

“Stories are a powerful learning tool. Compelling research links the number of stories read to a child with their future success,” writes Kate Shelley.

“But there’s another side to stories that we don’t discuss as much: the amazing benefits of helping your children to become creative storytellers.” Find out more

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play and creative writing

How play leads to creative writing

There is a Teaching School I love to visit near Birmingham for children with special needs. It is an exceptionally warm and caring place. During my last visit, staff explained that creative writing is incredibly difficult for their students who face a double hurdle: their physical challenges and their play deficit. Their disabilities have prevented the day-to-day play that is part and parcel of most youngsters' lives. If you've never played with objects and with friends, how can you play with words and ideas?


Their observation should give us pause to appreciate what play does for all children. Donald Winnicott believed creativity is what gives life meaning, and he said, "Perhaps it is only in playing that the child is free to be creative." He viewed play as the forerunner of art, sport, hobbies, conversation and humour. I believe it is also the forerunner of creative writing.

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