child initiated

com·mon·sense \?kä-m?n-?sen(t)s\ adjective  : sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts

People often say that effective risk assessments are the application of common sense. I tend to agree, but, different people have different perceptions based on their differing experience. The questions are then; how do we collect all that sense?  How do we hold it in common so that everyone in a team, organisation or partnership shares the wealth of experience on offer? This is the role, to my mind, of the risk assessment.  The process of collecting all that experience and judgment together to give us a ‘common sense’ of what is possible and how we make it work for the benefit for the participants.

But when children are given the opportunity to direct their own play and learning, then what they are doing could go beyond the collective experience which is recorded in those risk assessments. How do we make judgements then? [..read more..]

When I walk into the woods it’s nice to try and see what invitations there are for the senses; a whiff of wild garlic, dappled light, a splash of yellow woodland flowers, birdsong,  an uncurling frond of bracken, you know, the things that really invite your senses to come alive.

invitations to the woods [..read more..]

Child Led Learning 2Giving control over content and intent of play and learning to children. [..read more..]

Adventure Essentials 1Every year we had make most of our Christmas gifts. My nieces and nephews are getting to an age where we can really really enjoy making stuff for them. I wanted to make a den building adventure kit for my oldest nephew. I had some ideas but I knew the Forest Education Initiative Facebook page would come up with more. They are a real source of inspiration and support for lots of people who work outdoors with children. [..read more..]

forest school, outdoor play, nature, children, doodleI thought I’d share with you a little doodle I had in the last edition of the Forest School Association newsletter. This is based on something that happened with a group I was working with a few years ago.

When you follow the children’s ideas you end up in very interesting places!

Comfort Zone 2

Challenge: moving out of your comfort zone but still being able to function

“So, what makes you feel comfortable?” This was the question I asked a group of seven to nine year olds this week. [..read more..]

Hour of Play 1“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato [..read more..]

Making Weapons 1I am, by nature a peaceful sort. However I often find myself building and making weapons. I do like the satisfaction of seeing a stick shooting off into the distance fired by a home made bow and we have made some constructions (that could best be described as siege engines!) that would fire pebble a good distance. [..read more..]

Climbing Trees 1I have a source of pride to share with you; I was the best tree climber in my street as a child. I was small and skinny and could hold on to thin branches my brother and his friends were too big to handle. [..read more..]

Fire Cooking 1In a recent post a new provocation came from the children. My job when I am in this particular school is to follow the children’s lead and extend their ideas. This can be really exciting, especially as it is a large Foundation Stage with 100+ three to five year-olds. [..read more..]

Making SparksLast night a group of newly qualified reception teachers came to the Foundation Stage Unit where I am doing some work with three to five year-olds. The lead teacher was talking about the ethos of the setting where I work and how the planning is built around the children and following their interests. The effort and energy is put into recording, reflecting and responding rather than planning and preparation and the environment is set up to enable the children to access resources and ideas on whatever level they are at. [..read more..]

Builder's Break 1

Deep play – overcoming fears and apprehension

As the children had their lunch I went up to the treehouse site (if you are new to this project then catch up here and here). I wanted to check things over and see what things looked like without half a dozen small bodies on top of the walls and door frame. A group of girls came out after their lunch and watching them playing in the treehouse distracted me so I didn’t get a chance to get any tools out. [..read more..]

Process to Product 1

Most building sites don’t down tools every time someone finds a worm!

Last week I began a child led project with a foundation stage group of children to build a treehouse. It was a very process oriented project. The children were content to have moved from hammering, sawing and drilling around a table inside, to have moved to hammering, sawing and drilling around a pallet outside. This week however they were very keen to have something that felt like a tree house. To the two wooden pallets and small pile of wood I added some fence posts. [..read more..]

Sunset Tree House 1

A tree house project would interest a lot of the children

After the popularity of the work bench in the Atelier I was reflecting on how we could keep developing our skills with the tools and make a collaborative project. I also wanted to take the work bench outside. [..read more..]

Being known as ‘Lily who plays out for a living’ has some drawbacks…..erm…. I’ll tell you what they are when I think of them…

Excitingly, this winter, I will also be playing indoors too! A wonderful school has invited me into their foundation stage be their provider of springboards, their atelierista, their Lily who plays indoors sometimes too.

We’ll be going to the woods to do some Forest School sessions, carrying on some work we began last Spring but this will be an exciting opportunity to work over a number of terms with a group of children. Indoors and out, in the setting, in the studio, in the woods and in the grounds.

The Foundation Stage is influenced by Reggio Emilia and I will be offering provocations and springboards and seeing where the children want to go with them.

I have started to feel a bit nervous and excited! It’s going to be a new challenge. But where to start? I have so many ideas for provocations I barely know where to begin. There is a part of me that is tempted to start with nothing and see where we end up…. watch this space!

children with sticks

Springboards can be used by a child to take off in any direction!

I have been thinking a lot about springboards this week. Not the swimming pool ones, but a playwork theory that was first described to me by Martin Maudesley; sometimes even if we want to stimulate free play for children, or encourage self directed learning we need to provide a solid starting point – the springboard. This then can be used by the child to take off in any direction. [..read more..]

I was sorting through some files of pictures today when I came across this series of pictures from earlier in the year. I really like that you can see the thought processes that this group of 3 and 4 year olds are working through.
[..read more..]