Notes for Early Years Staff
Introduction for nursery staff
This website has been designed for children aged between 3 and 6. It sets out to offer flexibility and choice. It makes suggestions, provokes thinking and encourages children to develop their play in real and active contexts. Most importantly it is designed to be enjoyable, amusing and entertaining.
The web site is designed to enhance play and experience within real and active contexts rather than to replace it. The best learning experiences capture children's excitement, curiosity and appetite for more.
Each of the sequences follows a similar pattern and is based around a context that will be familiar to most children. However the child is the architect of the experience and each of the sequences can be used in different ways according to the choices the child makes.
Children can opt out at any time and we suggest that up to15 minutes engagement with this programme at any one time is long enough for children at this stage. Bite- sized involvement is supported and encouraged- a few minutes at a time. The Owl icon (see below) helps to encourage children to move away and try another activity.
The appropriate use of ICT tailored to the individual experiences of young children can enhance and support learning and understanding. In this age of rapidly developing technologies many young children are confident and skilled computer users before they come to nursery whilst others may not have developed an interest or confidence in using this medium. This site supports individualised pace and challenge and provides opportunities for children to engage at their own level. The child can control when to move forward or switch the focus or return to an area to interact with again.
Role of the adult
This website is designed to be used by children interacting with other children and with adults. Adults play an important role in extending the learning opportunities both within the computer experience and away from it- providing resources to enable children to explore and discover in real contexts around the nursery and interacting to question, promote curiosity and extend thinking and understanding. Sitting alongside children while they are engaged with the site will provide a valuable insight to enable adults to understand the child's experience and perspectives and to find ways to extend and support learning in other contexts. Adults need to be sensitive to the needs of the child and time and ensure that their interventions are timely and appropriate. By giving just enough support helps to build confidence and the child's sense of control and mastery. This programme is designed to respond to children's initiative- they can point and click and then see what happens before making another decision.
As with all technology, adults need to be aware of the health and safety aspects of young children using computers. The computer screen should be at an appropriate height and there should be chairs arranged for collaboration and communication and to allow other children to watch and gain confidence.
The theme areas contained within the site are useful planning devices and can be used as a springboard for other areas of interest that arise from the children's initiatives and responses.
Links with the curriculum
The site has been developed to support the Curriculum Framework for Children 3-5 across each of the 5 areas, Language and Communication, Emotional, Personal and Social Development, Expressive and Aesthetic Development, Physical Development and Movement and Knowledge and Understanding of the World. The approach is holistic with experiences interlinked and interwoven across the curriculum elements. There are themes across the story boards, for example the wellington boots appear in all the story boards. This helps children to connect and consolidate their learning and arouses their interest.
There are opportunities for children to engage with print and narrative and crucially the website has been developed to promote communication and interaction between children and their peers and adults.
The site reflects the developing thinking and guidance around A Curriculum for Excellence. A key principle within A Curriculum for Excellence is to promote continuity across the nursery and early primary experience and this site has been designed for use across these settings.
The web site and the learning opportunities arising from children's interaction with it match the values, purposes and principles and the aspiration that all children should to be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
Children as Successful Learners
- Make choices and decisions about the direction to take their own learning
- Develop awareness of written language
- Understand different ways to communicate and represent ideas
- Develop concepts of science, technology and maths
- Explore new contexts and materials
- Make use of technology for learning
- Test and extend learning across a range of play and activity contexts
- Learn collaboratively and co-operatively with other children and adults
- Develop understandings, skills and knowledge across contexts and environment
- Make use of observation and evaluation skills
Children as Confident Individuals
- Enjoy active play indoors and outdoors
- Sense of well being and pleasure in nature and the world around us
- Take initiative to develop own interests and curiosity
- Talk about learning, share what has been discovered, what might happen next
- Contribute ideas, suggestions and opinions
- Express feelings, needs and preferences
- Puzzle and problem solve
- Experience success and satisfaction
Children as Responsible Citizens
- Learn to take care of self and others when using technology
- Help to plan and organise own learning
- Persevere in the face of challenge
- Become increasingly independent and self sufficient, able to seek help or support when needed
- Learn to share and take turns
Children as Effective Contributors
- Communicate using a variety of medium, including ICT
- Cooperate and collaborate with others
- Devise plans and strategies
- Follow through plans and work through challenges
- Use own initiative and creativity
- Listen to and respond to instructions
These notes can also be read in conjunction with national advice about ICT in the Early Years. Early Learning Forward Thinking: The Policy Framework for ICT in Early Years was published by the Scottish Executive in 2003. This emphasises the importance of broad and balanced experiences for children to promote their all round learning and development across all areas of the curriculum.
The owl icon
The Owl Icon is an important feature serving two key purposes- (1) to encourage children to move away from the computer and apply their learning within a real context and also to provide help and encouragement when needed. The Owl Icon appears after 5 minutes and the child can choose to engage with him or ignore him in which case he disappears and will return again every 5 minutes. (2) If the child is having difficulty knowing what to do, they can click on the owl and it will show them what to do.
Music and dance
The programme makes use of music and dance as a means of expression of feelings and emotions. The child can play with the music on screen and also make the characters dance to express how they are feeling. The music can be played by staff and used to support children's movement and dance to provide opportunities for children to express their moods and feelings.
In one section of the site the children can make a puppet dance. There is happy, sad and cross music to dance to. You can hear the music by clicking on one of the following:-
The story is all about the weather. The beginning and end of each story is the same for every visit but the content varies to match with each new context the child chooses. The stories can be used for discussion and sharing at other times and as a context for other activities and experiences. There is also a transcript of the story.
Story transcript: The Weather
Audio in blue
Images in red
Narrator: What's the weather like where you are today? Here is a story all about
(a) Image : The two children are in the indoor room. She is holding a postcard with a sunny picture on it. The boy is holding a ball. It's grey looking outside the window.
Girl: Look Auntie Anne has sent us a postcard.
(b) Image: Sunny postcard
Auntie Ann: Hi there. It lovely and warm here. Having a lovely time. Love Auntie Ann.
(c) Image: Girl looks miserable.
Girl: Sighs (miserably) I wish I was there.
(d) Image: Boy looks happy.
Boy: Cheer up! It won't be long before we go on holiday.
(a) Image: Close up of boy looking sad inside room we can see clouds outside.
(b) Image: Boy looking miserable with scarf on.
Boy: I don't like when it's windy. Mum always makes me wear a scarf.
(c) Image: Close up of girl smiling with kite in background.
Girl: Yes.but we'll be able to fly our new kite.
(a) Image: Rain is falling outside.
(b) Image: Girl looks fed up.
Girl: Do you think we can still go outside?
(c) Image: The boy is smiling .
Boy: Yes. Put on your wellies.
(d) Image: Boy jumping in puddle.
Boy: I love puddles! + sfx splash
(a) Image: The sun is shining.
(b) Image: The girl is smiling in the sunshine.
Girl : I love the sun.
(c) Image: Boy enjoying sunshine.
Boy: Yes (phew) but it's very hot.
(d) Image: Picture of ice cubes.
Girl: Let's ask for water with ice. I love that! + sfx ice clinking in glass.
Looking close section
(a) Image: Tree with drips of rain falling from it.
(b) Image: The girl looks fed up.
Girl: I'm fed up. What are you doing?
(c) Image: The boy is smiling holding a magnifying glass.
Boy: Come over here.
(d) Image: Close up of drip of water looking like it has a rainbow pattern inside it.
Boy: It looks like some of the raindrops have caught rainbows.
(a) Image: Dark clouds pass over the sky.
(b) Image: The boy looks fed up.
Boy: (sigh) I'm fed up with this weather.
(c) Image: Girl smiling with puppet looking happy.
Girl: My puppet dancing will cheer you up.
Wet day section
(a) Image: Out of the window it's snowing.
(b) Image: Girl looks miserable.
Girl: Snow always makes my fingers sting.
(c) Image: Boy looks delighted. Snowman being built topped off with a carrot for a nose.
Boy: Do you think we have a carrot for my snowman's nose?
Dark room section
(a) Image: It's getting quite dark outside not quite night time.
(b) Image: Girl looks fed up.
Girl: It's really dark outside.
(c) Image: Boy looks delighted
Boy: GreatI'll get my torch.
(d) Image: Torch beam picking out a toy.
Boy: We can go exploring.
(a) Image: Outside the window there are icicles .and small snow flakes fall.
(b) Image: Girl looks miserable.
Girl: It's icy cold outside now. I don't like ice.
(c) Image: Boy looks delighted.
Boy: You'll like this kind of ice.
(d) Image: We see an ice lolly.
Girl: Yes you're right!
(e) Image: Girl and boy licking lollies.
Audio: The both laugh & sfx slurpy licking lollies. + sfx hoot.
End of story.
The contexts and how to use them
There are 4 main contexts each supported by story boards, narration and key text labels. The 4 contexts are:
- Looking Closer
- Wet Day
- Moods and Feelings
- In a Dark Room
This is designed to promote the child's curiosity in investigating objects more closely. The child can identify the object of most interest and then use a telescope or magnifying glass to have a closer look. This activity can be supported within the nursery by providing interest tables with a number of fascinating objects and encouraging children to look for objects around the nursery something shiny and round. Outdoors provides lots of opportunities to extend this- Can you see a long, thin leaf? or A wriggly insect? Magnifying boxes, glasses, kaleidoscopes and telescopes, nets, coloured see through plastic and gauze all enhance the excitement of the experience.
Developing keen observation skills within natural, everyday contexts supports children's abilities to discriminate between characteristics, to notice difference and similarities and to recognise patterns, shapes, sizes and features. These are important skills to support emergent print awareness, writing and maths. In addition such skills support children's sense of wonder and fascination in the world around them and their curiosity to discover more.
Most children are fascinated by the dark and we can all remember from our own childhoods waking at night and seeing something familiar look quite different in silhouette or shadow. Dark hidey holes that children can explore with torches or flashlights can have endless possibilities to extend imagination, curiosity and excitement. These can be developed indoors and outdoors. Some nurseries have evening activities for parents and children (a garden party or a treasure hunt) to allow children the opportunity to see and explore the nursery garden outside at night when it is dark.
Concepts of dark and light and shade and shadow are key parts of developing awareness of science and technology concepts.
Moods and feelings
Encouraging children to understand their moods and feelings and those of others is an important aspect of developing emotional, personal and social confidence. Talking to children about how they are feeling, naming and describing emotions such as cross, grumpy, happy, funny in everyday, natural contexts helps them to understand their own feelings. Helping other children to cheer up or comforting someone when they have fallen or become hurt develops empathy and supports relationships. Supporting children's sense of humour is vital- children who can laugh at themselves and see the fun and humour around them have learned an important aspect of resilience and confidence.
Young children's moods and feelings are most likely to be expressed in actions and providing opportunities for children to express themselves in a range of ways is important. However the way we express our feelings is as unique as we are and we cannot always predict how a child will express a feeling. Remember this is not only an individual aspect of human behaviour but it can also be deeply personal. Not all children will be ready to express feelings or moods and therefore adults need to be highly sensitive to this.
Scottish weather tends to be wet- a lot! This context is about encouraging children to enjoy the fun of being out in the rain, splashing in puddles, sliding on wet grass and licking the rain drops from their noses. In particular it provides a useful vehicle for thinking about Knowledge and Understanding of the World. There are endless ways that rain and wet weather can be used as contexts for children's learning. Video footage and photographs of children enjoying guddling in mud and puddles can provide useful stimuli for talk- How did that feel? How come you weren't all wet? What's Elsie doing there?
The current emphasis on encouraging children to be more active, depends on us all ensuring that weather is never a barrier to playing outside. Ensuring that children are dressed appropriately is vital- wellies, rain hats and jackets. Find ways to make use of puddles- to float paper boats or splash in or watch light up as the sun comes round (hopefully). Painting with rain water and mud or sand, perhaps on a larger scale than usual is exciting and might encourage reluctant artists to get involved.
A Wise Old Owl.
A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why aren't we all like that wise old bird?
The North Wind Doth Blow
The north wind doth blow
And we shall have snow
And what the robin do then?
He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
It's Raining, It's Pouring
It's raining, it's pouring
The old man is snoring
He bumped his head
And went to bed
And couldn't get up in the morning.
Rain, Rain Go Away
Rain, rain, go away
Come again another day
All the children want to play
Rain, rain, go away
Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
And never went there again.
Insey Winsey spider
Insey Winsey spider
Climbed up the water spout;
Down came the rain
And washed poor Insey out;
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain;
And Insey Winsey spider
Climbed up the spout again.
Rock-a- Bye Baby
Rock- a- bye baby on the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks the baby will fall
Down will come baby, cradle and all
Wee Willie Winkie
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town
Up the stairs and down the stairs in his nightie gown
Knocking on the windows, rattling at the gate
Are all the children in their beds?
It's past 8 o'clock