Technology

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.

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boys fighting over a toddle box

Teaching compassion

Learning how to interact positively with others is a vital developmental task of early childhood. However, many teachers are reporting a worrying increase in social problems such as bullying, lack of problem-solving skills, and anti-social behaviour.

 

Current trends, such as the increase of media and technology in the lives of young children, combined with fewer opportunities for play and interaction with others, are feeding this widespread problem which Diane Levin has characterized as “Compassion Deficit Disorder”.

 

No, this is not another label to slap on children’s behavioural difficulties. Rather, it is an indictment on a society where childhood is not valued and supported. It is vital that children have real life, meaningful experiences right from the start that help them to learn compassion and empathy. Parents and educators are in a unique position to curb this damaging trend. Read Diane Levin’s article.

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little boy sawing at the workbench accompanied by a practitioner

Working with wood in the early years

“Anyone who has witnessed young children tinkering away with tools in the woodworking area will know just how magical it can be,” writes Pete Moorhouse. However, despite the magic, many educators are afraid of the perceived risks involved in woodworking and the workbench has all but disappeared from many early years settings. Can this be remedied before we raise a generation of children who have never used a real tool in their life?

 

From his years of experience, Pete shares insights on the value of working with wood. The deep concentration, empowerment, and pride visible in the face of a child constructing with real tools will win over any sceptics. Read more.

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forest school bridge

Lessons from a forest school

Pupils at a forest school in Sussex were given the challenge to construct a bridge over a stream using only materials they could find in the woods. They tackled this task with enthusiasm, working in teams to discover what worked and what didn't. Each resulting bridge was unique. Being cold and wet seemed only to heighten the children's determination and their sense of triumph when they achieved their goal.

These students may not have realised they were having a lesson in physics and an introduction to engineering. Nor did they realise they were demonstrating Froebel's point that when children are intrinsically motivated they have amazing perseverance. What they did know is that they solved some very real problems through trial and error, and that they had loads of fun in spite of wind and weather!

Boy at workbench

Understanding how boys learn

With four brothers and three sons, I've always been fascinated by boys' learning. Many teachers have observed that four- and five-year-old boys find it particularly difficult to sit still for long stretches of time. They need lots of vigorous outdoor play. Tricky fine-motor skills like holding a pencil or cutting with scissors become easier after large-motor action.

Men who recall their own childhood can support lads in appropriate ways – but men are scarce in early years. So the rest of us must do our best to understand all the children we work with. Boys often learn best through hands-on activities with real tools. If we focus on their strengths, we can provide what each child needs to feel happy and competent.

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