Staff in the Red Room at the Childcare Centre, Darlington College, make use of all available space to encourage children to work independently. This includes utilising the backs and sides of storage units as well as screens and wallboards.
Planned learning intentions
To select and use activities and resources independently To show interest by sustained construction activity or by talking about shapes or arrangements To join construction pieces together to build and balance Resources
* Storage unit or screen * brightly coloured backing paper * contrasting border roll * digital camera * paper * computer * printer * range of construction equipment * sticky-backed plastic
Step by step
* Play with children in the construction area, building simple models from a range of construction equipment such as Duplo or Mobilo.
* Explain that you are going to take photographs of some of the models and display them on the back of a storage unit or screen in the area so that the children can try to recreate them.
* Invite children to help you to choose a selection of models with contrasting colours and shapes and photograph them individually against a clear coloured background, such as a red chair.
* Print out enlarged colour versions of the photographs on A4 paper.
* Think of an appropriate question about each one to encourage children to make more detailed observations, for example, 'How many Sticklebricks will you need to make this model?' or 'How many red Lego bricks are in this model?' Type out the questions in large lettering along with a main caption, 'What can you build?', and print them.
* Back the storage unit or screen with the backing paper and attach the border. Glue on the printed photographs with their associated questions alongside and cover the whole display with sticky-backed plastic.
* Encourage the children to play freely, building models of their choice and trying to recreate those on the display. Visit regularly to make your own models, read out the questions and draw attention to colour, size, shape and pattern.
* Change the display regularly, asking children for suggestions about what to include.
Dionne Sheehan is a senior early years practitioner in the Red Room at The Childcare Centre, Darlington College. She spoke to Jean Evans