Learning & Development activities: Our bright idea - Special things we do at home

Nursery children boxed up their interests and experiences for an activity that also produced a captivating display, as Jean Evans hears.

Children at Rainbow Nursery have been developing a sense of self, and discovering more about their personal preferences, through the creation of special boxes reflecting their interests and family activities.

'Each child took home a shoe box to house things that they felt were important to them,' says Sarah Denham, deputy manager and Rainbow Room leader. 'Parents were informed of our aims and asked to help their children to search for suitable items.'

When the children returned with their boxes they were eager to show their items and talk about why they had chosen them. The boxes were used in a large wall display, reflecting the individual and family interests of the children. The EYFS links below were printed and attached to the display.


- Have a sense of personal identity

- Talk freely about their home and community

- Use talk, actions and objects to recall and relive past experiences

- Use vocabulary focused on objects and people that are of particular importance to them

- Remember and talk about significant events in their own experience


Hessian; photographs of children enjoying their chosen home activities and exploring the contents of the boxes; laminated EYFS links and captions based on children's comments; children's boxes; individual items from the boxes, such as maps, menus, tickets, pine cones and ballet shoes


- Information about the project was given to parents, along with a shoebox for each child.

Children collected items on family outings, such as leaflets, maps and tickets, and during favourite activities, such as dance classes and family walks. Parents and children took photographs.

- The children brought in their boxes and took turns to show and talk about the contents. Items were passed around and explored in detail and other children often made links with their own experiences.

- Staff read out key words on menus, tickets, receipts, home-made books and leaflets so that the children became more aware of the importance of print.

- Everyone became involved in the creation of the display. A board was backed with hessian and a discussion was held about how to display the boxes and their contents. Finally, we decided to remove the lids and display the boxes sideways, along with some of their contents. Other items were hung separately - for example, a child's strings of pine cones, a collage picture of a sheep, home-made binoculars and a flower.

- The children decided what they wanted to say about their box contents and we printed their comments and attached them alongside. Photographs and captions were included in remaining spaces.

- Children brought their families to look at their display and recall events that led to the creation of the boxes.

- This project has helped staff to build up a detailed insight into the overall interests of the children, both at nursery and at home, so they can work with parents to plan learning opportunities to extend these interests. How we might do this depends on children's continuing motivation - for example, we could explore different religions following the interest in a child's box about a visit to church, or make our own maps to use both indoors and outdoors following curiosity about the map in a child's box.

Sarah Denham, deputy manager of Rainbow Nursery, Middleston Moor, County Durham, spoke to Jean Evans

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