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Sheila Ebbutt is managing director and Carole Skinner is development manager of BEAM Education, an organisation dedicated to promoting the teaching and learning of mathematics as interesting, challenging and enjoyable (tel: 020 7684 3323, Counter culture

Mind and body * The importance of outdoor play: balance, health, emotional well-being, literacy, accessing the curriculum Obstacle course

The 'key person' approach to nursery care needs greater recognition, says Peter Elfer, as he explains its importance for very young children

Linda Thornton lead officer of Cornwall EYDCP Pat Telfer Brunton chairman of Cornwall EYDCP

Think of safety and efficiency when you put away your D&T tools and materials To make the most of D&T, children need free and easy access to appropriate tools, instruments and materials. They need to know where to find resources - and where to replace them. Organisation and storage of D&T resources in an early years setting should aim to support a child's independent learning, while ensuring their safety, and working within the confines of a limited space and budget.

Iain is programme leader for Early Childhood Studies at the University of Derby and author of guides to design and technology in the early years. He also provides training workshops and can be contacted on IainMacB @ Material world

The tools and resources you need to have on hand for D&T work are surprisingly basic and simple - the most important thing is that they offer progression in learning Children should have planned and properly supported access to a range of tools, materials and components for D&T work. The range should be comprehensive rather than extensive. What is important is that there is a progression in the way resources are introduced.

EARLY EXPERIENCES To plan effective D&T activities, practitioners need first to acknowledge the experiences that children bring with them to the early years setting, their stage of development and their rapid development in a period when most children demonstrate a capacity for learning at a speed which may never be reached again.

Word for word * The importance of books

As soon as babies are born they explore the world around them using all of their senses. Children are often surrounded by plastic and other man-made materials; by introducing natural materials you can encourage their interest in the natural world and awareness of their surroundings and the outside world.

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