The day nursery of the Raeden Centre in Aberdeen, better known to staff and parents as 'Room 1', caters for children aged three years and under who have been diagnosed as having special needs. Because of the varying difficulties and development levels of the children, the staff of Room 1 spend a lot of time carefully planning activities to ensure that children are able to participate fully and reach their full potential. Recent inspiration came from a Nursery World mini-topic about Mrs Mopple's Washing Line.
Our staff decided to organise a project in the playroom based on the book and adapt the suggestions made in Nursery World to suit our children.
First we looked at how we could tell the story to the children, bearing in mind that many of them have very poor comprehension and concentration spans. We decided to bring the story to life by acting it out. To do this, we:
* made each of the animal's heads, attached them to garden sticks, placed them in pots and 'scattered' them in a corner as if they were in a field.
* hung a mini washing line outside the house corner, where Mrs Mopple lived.
* placed a fan behind the washing line, which was operated by a staff member to represent the wind.
* recorded the phrase 'blow wind blow' on to a Big Mack switch, which children unable to talk pressed to activate at the appropriate times in the story.
* made a set of Mrs Mopple's clothes and attached Velcro to them, so when the wind blew them off the washing line they could land and stick on the animals which also had Velcro attached to them.
* A member of staff dressed up as Mrs Mopple with black tights, red dress, apron and a shower cap turned inside out!
Next we planned some activities related to the theme.
* We covered our nursery ceiling in washing lines and the children made collages on drawings of Mrs Mopple's clothes, which were then hung on to the washing lines with clothes pegs.
* The children collaged a big picture of Mrs Mopple, which we put on the wall.
* The children decorated animal outlines using various techniques such as sponge painting.
* We turned the water tray into a washing tub, washed clothes and hung them out to dry.
* One staff member composed a Mrs Mopple song, which we sang after reading the story. We talked about animal noises and carried on the singing with 'Old Macdonald Had a Farm'.
* Mrs Mopple's Washing Line by Anita Hewett and Robert Broomfield (Red Fox Mini Treasures, 1.25)
* The mini topic about Mrs Mopple appeared in Nursery World, 20/27 December 2001, p20.