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  • 5 Ways to Help Kinaesthetic Children Learn

      “Kinaesthetic learners learn by experiencing in a practical way, through doing, moving and touching.” Call & Featherstone (2010) Kinaesthetic children learn through movement, both small and large scale. The Floorbook Approach developed by Claire Warden suggest different ways to facilitate learning for these children, by helping children: Work on the Talking and Thinking Tree as they move around during a session. Share thinking on consultation boards when they are outside. Share ideas on large outdoor Talking and Thinking Trees so they can run to and from the tree, gathering objects from around the nursery or outside. Share their ideas as they walk or crawl around the Talkaround Mat. Engage with 3D Talking Tubs so they can handle objects and talk at the same time.   What is a Talking and Thinking Tree? Through working with young children, and those that respond to movement based learning, Claire Warden felt there was a need to create a way for children to share their ideas whilst being on the move. The Talking and Thinking Tree can be an artificial tree or a real one. Its purpose is to focus the children on a point so that gathering their ideas becomes a physical, active process rather than a sedentary one.   Four reasons to use a Talking and Thinking Tree: Visualisation can boost the brain’s ability to remember information. Affirmation provided by the feedback loop of putting objects on a tree encourages children to share. The Talking and Thinking Tree focuses children in visual, kinaesthetic and sensorial ways. The accompanying talk stimulates the auditory sense. Children’s ideas can be sorted along physical ‘lines of thought’ to make planning more coherent. Any new strategy stimulates interest from a group of children. At first the interest takes over the thinking. Gradually as the novelty wears off children integrate the strategies into the main play room. The feeling of achievement must be powerful, since often reluctant writers will create leaf after leaf just to hang them on the tree. The feedback loop is immediate and encourages them to keep on recording their thinking. Children have a great ability to develop an understanding of the world around them; they will share it in a way that makes sense to them which is often not in the language or style the adults use.  The Talking and Thinking Tree is a strategy that allows kinaesthetic children to engage in learning at any stage of education.   If you would like to find out more about using Talking and Thinking Trees in your setting, Claire Warden is covering this topic in her next webinar on Thursday 7th December. From setting up the tree to using the leaves to explore lines of thought, Claire will explain the process from start to finish.  Find out more…    

  • 5 Talking Tubs to Start Your Year

    Blog written by Steven Watson. If you would like to write a guest blog please email Steven.  If you work at a nursery or school in the UK you will likely be going back into your practice after a well-deserved break. A Talking Tub can be the perfect way to begin your year, as they will give children a way to talk about their summer holidays while giving the practitioner a way to identify any new child interests that have developed over the summer period. The best talking tubs are created from previously identified child interests, but there a number of great topics that you can cover at the beginning of a year using a tub. Talking Tubs are a key part of the Floorbooks approach that will allow you to identify and explore child interests. A Talking Tub is a box filled with a variety of objects about a specific subject. A practitioner will then allow children to take each item out one at a time and fully examine the objects, giving them time to investigate and discuss each object. If a child is particularly excited about an object, the practitioner will then be able to create an activity about that specific subject. For example, at Auchlone we identified an interest in medieval knights from conversations between a number of the children. We then filled our talking tub with a range of items, including a model castle, a few toy weapons, different types of fabric and photos of knights in different types of armour and clothing. From this, we found that a number of the children were interested in the clothing that the knights would wear, and then we began creating our own medieval outfits. Here are our suggestions for a talking tub to kickstart your year, with suggestions as to what you can fill your tub with: Summer Holidays A good topic to begin with is the summer holidays, and what children did during them. Many children return to the setting with a lot of excitement about what they have done over their time away, and a talking tub will allow you as the practitioner to channel that energy. Including items such as miniature airplanes, sand, pictures of the sea, a spade, a small home, a family and different articles of summer clothing can be a good way to learn about what children did over the period. It is likely that children will have developed a number of new interests to explore during their time away. You should try to create as diverse a talking tub as possible, including any experiences you know that the children had. If you a number of your children went on ski holidays, include photos of snow and mountains. A talking tub which is personalised to children will put any new children at ease. Transitions At the end of June 2017 Cults Nursery completed a lovely talking tub about their children's feelings on leaving nursery and starting primary school. If you are with children who are just beginning nursery or primary school, a talking tub can be the perfect way to put any fears at ease. Create an open forum to address some of the fears as well as the exciting things that nursery/school can provide for them. After a month or so this topic can be revisited so that children can discuss how they have found the transition, and will allow them to see that they have been able to conquer their fears.  Autumn/Seasons Depending on when you go back, it may be the perfect time to discuss the changing seasons as we move into Autumn. Autumn is an incredibly colourful month with many learning opportunities. Children are fascinated by Autumn due to the dramatic changes that they can see in trees, and practitioners can use this fascination to create great experiences for children. In your talking tub you can include leaves of different colours, different types of trees, photos of forests, a thermometer, pictures or models of different types of animals, and different types of fabric/clothing. Autumn is a great time to explore different colours through dye making, which is a great activity for measuring and art. Local/National culture Exploring a topic which children hold dear to them and may see as part of themselves is a great way to set them at ease at the beginning of a new term. An investigation into local or national culture is a great way to explore what children have in common with each other and to celebrate their differences. This topic can be expanded to discuss diversity and different cultures from around the world. This can be a particularly good topic during the transition from early years to primary and can encourage shyer children to talk about themselves. The objects that you fill your tub with may vary, from flags and clothing, to photographs of local festivals and events. Some settings choose to begin with a talking tub about the nursery or school to help children feel like they are a part of the setting and to help them feel comfortable moving forward. Risk At Auchlone Nature Kindergarten, we begin every new term with a talking tub about fire. As a fully outdoor nature kindergarten, fire is an integral part of our practice which we use for both cooking as well as heat. A lot of children who join us at Auchlone have never made their own fires before, and some have never had access to the flame from a BBQ before. By filling a talking tub with fire related objects, we can discuss the risks surrounding fire and teach children how to safely risk assess any situation involving fire. We are able to discuss safe distances around the fire pit, how to light a fire and what they should do if they have any concerns. This also lets us talk about the benefits of fire such as creating charcoal for art and being able to cook food, We fill our talking tub with wood, charcoal, ash, wooden figures of fire, a flashlight, a fire blanket, photos of the fire pit and the fire hut and some pre-cooked snacks. This wide range of items lets us look at what fire provides while also giving us many opportunities to discuss all of the risks involved.  What topics will you be discussing in your first few weeks? What talking tubs have you used recently and what did you fill them with? Let us know. Blog written by Steven Watson. If you have any questions or would like to write a guest blog, please email steven.watson@mindstretchers.co.uk.    

  • Ideas for Talking Tubs: Winter and Summer

      Welcome to Floorbooks Friday, a blogging session in which we at Mindstretchers will try to answer some of the common questions surrounding Floorbooks as well ideas and tips for their use. Floorbooks are part of the Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach™ as developed by Claire Warden (1994) in her book Talking and Thinking Floorbooks (3rd ed, 2015). Last week we launched our TES Resources Shop (where we provide downloadable talking tub planners and lesson plans.) Since then we’ve had a lot of requests for more information about talking tubs. When I first got to grips with Talking Tubs it was quite daunting to try and think of items to fill one with, especially if they are based on an unexpected Possible Line of Development (PLOD.) However, with experience and experimentation you can quickly become an expert talking tubs user. In a 0-11 setting, seasons can be great themes for learning and lend themselves well to PLODs. Depending on where you are in the world, you’re either going into Winter or Summer. To help you get started with a seasonal talking tub, we’ve come up with ideas for both a winter and a summer tub.  Both are from previous PLODs developed at Auchlone Nature Kindergarten. Talking Tubs work best when based on PLODs: when a child shows an interest in a particular topic (such as birds) a talking tub can be used in conjunction with a Floorbook to create a really valuable learning experience which is linked to the curriculum. In selecting your items you should consider what will create discussion and stimulate interest for children. You should avoid filling a tub for the sake of filling a tub: as with many things, it is the quality of the items rather than the quantity. You also do not want to overload children with ideas.  Winter Talking Tub (find a general Winter talking tub planner here) On a cold winter’s day at Auchlone Nature Kindergarten the children were mesmerized when snow began to fall in between the trees. The team decided it was a great opportunity to create a talking tub on snow and ice to teach about changing temperatures and how nature adapts. The tubs were filled with the following items (examples of open ended questions which a practitioner can ask to generate discussion are included): A photo of Auchlone covered in snow from the day discussion started: why is snow cold, where does snow come from and how is it made, how does weather work? A photo of ice (after the investigation the children went out to look for actual ice which they couldn’t find due to the increase in temperature): where does ice come from and where does it go, what do fish do if they’re under the ice, why is ice slippery?   Model igloo: why don’t igloos melt, who builds igloos, where and why are igloos built, why don’t they use bricks or sticks instead of ice, how do people stay warm inside an igloo Thermometer: why is summer warm and winter cold, how do weather forecasters know what the weather will be? Thermometers are currently on sale at our shop.  Brown and white fur (said to be from a rabbit): what do animals do in winter, why do rabbits change colour, what colours do animals change to? Pine Cones and acorns: why do trees make pine cones, why do squirrels bury nuts and seeds? Hibernation Den (a small basket filled with leaves, sticks, a small piece of fabric and other materials. It is designed to look like a bed where an animal could sleep): where do animals go during winter, why do they sleep for so long, why don’t they get hungry? Summer Items (find a general Summer talking tub planner here) A group of children were discussing what they were going to be doing over the summer holidays. It was clear that some of them were very excited by the idea of getting to go to a warm beach. The staff decided this interest in beaches was a good theme to create discussion. The tubs were filled with the following items (examples of open ended questions which a practitioner can ask to generate discussion are included): Fishing line and lures: why do things float, what do fish eat, how do we get food? Parasol: why do parasols make shade, why do we need shade? Model and photos of fish: how do fish breath underwater, how do fish swim, why do fish have scales? Treasure (coins, assorted gemstones and metals): why are objects buried, how long are objects buried for, how deep can we dig underground? Photos of waves: where do waves come from, why is the sea salty, where do waves go, Seashells: what creates seashells, what pushes them up onto the beach? Model ship and fabric: how do ships float, how do sailors know where they are going, what materials work as sails? Driftwood: why does wood float, what can you build with the wood, would driftwood be good for making a fire? Tub of sand: why are things buried under the sand, why does sand feel soft, how did sand get to the beach? General Tips: A practitioner needs to be creative and think about items which children can easily identify as representing a specific topic. For example, in our Beaches talking tub a bucket was too big so the practitioner picked a small spade to represent the activity. Instead of drift wood, sticks from nearby trees were collected. Larger objects can also be brought in, but to utilize the talking tub they need to be small enough to pass around and grip. In our examples we carefully chose items to appeal to a range of learning styles. The animal fur and the tub of sand were to allow children to really run their hands through the objects and let them feel them. The photographs allow more visual learners to connect with the object and think about it. To get the most out of your talking tub you should try and appeal to as many learning styles as possible. Almost anything can arise as a PLOD. We need to encourage children to create their own learning links, and help to support this learning. For instance, the driftwood might cause a child to remember their dog playing with wood on the beach. This could lead to a discussion and investigation into dogs which the practitioner wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. As a practitioner you must be open, ask open ended questions, and be prepared to adventure into the unknown with your children. If you are looking for specific talking tub planners, we now provide them on our TES store. We have a planner for winter and for summer (as well as a special bundle of all 4 seasons) to help you get started and begin generating ideas. Want to know more about Talking Tubs? Come on our Provocations for Thinking: Talking Tubs course or email steph@mindstretchers.co.uk for information about booking it in your setting.   What would you fill a winter animals and beach tub with? Let us know in the comments on Facebook. You can also join our Floorbooks Facebook group! Blog written by Steven Watson. Is there a topic you would like discussed in a future blog or do you have feedback on this one? Email steven.watson@mindstretchers.co.uk Share this blog on Facebook: Share

  • How Floorbooks can re-engage children

    Floorbooks are a part of the Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach® as developed by Claire Warden (1994), and discussed in Claire's book Talking and Thinking Floorbooks (3rd ed, 2015). Floorbooks are a child-led approach to documentation and planning which give children a place to write down or draw their thoughts about a topic, or for an adult to write down accurate child voices. The Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach can be adopted by any educator working with 0-11 year olds. A common problem for educators is trying to re-engage with children who have lost interest either in a specific topic or in occasionally in many topics. Floorbooks are often cited as a useful tool to re-engage children, but why? Here are 5 reasons why Floorbooks are seen as a useful re-engagement tool. #1 Learning is entirely based on child interests Lesson plans can be created from themes which children show an interest in. By following up on Possible Lines of Development (PLODs) and really listening to what children are saying a practitioner can ensure that any learning is of real interest to children. Instead of getting children to learn through abstract examples that they may not understand or that they have no interest in, we can teach complex subjects such as flight or engineering through every day interests like birds and boxes. Both adults and children are much more engaged when learning about something they genuinely want to learn about, and we should be trying to include such interests in every day learning. Not only will this engage them but it can greatly boost their confidence with oral and writing skills as well as their creativity.  #2 They cater to all learning styles Everybody has a dominant learning style, whether it is Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic. Floorbooks allow us to appeal to all kinds of learners. Visual learners will benefit from being able to write down their thoughts or by creating small and personal diagrams on the Floorbook. Auditory learners will benefit from group discussions around a Talkaround Mat about the learners, and will be able to create links in their learning through such discussions. Talking Tubs encourage children to pass around objects and really get a feel for a variety of objects related to the wider topic, appealing to Kinesthetic learners. The voice of the child is always evidenced in the Floorbook through writing or recordings alongside photos and drawings which show active engagement. If the evidence shows that a particular child hasn’t been engaging much then the practitioner can adjust their style to re-engage with a particular child. #3 Multiple ongoing themes A Floorbook is not limited to one topic: a good Floorbook should flow like a river down the learning interests of children. At Auchlone Nature Kindergarten near Crieff, we recently completed a Floorbook which started about medieval knights. From knights, discussion began about the types of clothing they would wear and how it differs from clothing today. After identifying a real interest from the children we were able to create a learning experience about clothing, which alerted us to a further interest around colours and dyes. While investigating dyes, we included a mathematics activities about litres and mixtures. Without using the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach we may never have discovered a child interest and the learning may have stopped at medieval knights. A child may not be interested in the current topic, but the Floorbook approach will allow you to follow different lines of enquiry at the same time with different groups of children. A Floorbook about birds may have two different activities going at the same time: one group may be investigating eggs and lifecycles whereas another group may choose to investigate nests, habitats and structures. By really listening to children and giving them the freedom and the confidence to lead their own learning we can keep them engaged. #4 Empowered Learners The child-led nature of Floorbooks means that children become proactive learners very quickly. Whenever I visit Auchlone, it is immediately clear how confident children can become from engaging with the approach on the daily basis. We should view children as young authors and illustrators: a Floorbook simply gives them a canvas to express their ideas and imagination. A key part of the Floorbook is that we allow children a sense of ownership over it. All of the children sign or mark the inner cover in some way, reinforcing the idea that they are taking ownership of their own learning. They will be able to take pride in their learning because of the Floorbook that they have helped to create, and revisiting their Floorbook in the future will help to develop new links in their learning. Letting children take direct control of their learning through following up on PLODs and asking open ended questions will not only improve confidence but will also inspire children. #5 They are informative and fun Play is such a key part of every child’s upbringing and education. In discussing all of the ways that children are engaged by Floorbooks, it can be easy to forget that they work so well because children genuinely enjoy creating them. The entire Floorbook approach appeals to a child's expressive side. We don't force a Floorbook upon any child, but instead provide it as an optional way to express themselves. Many children struggle under heavily structured and formalised learning. An informal approach, even if it isn't adopted every day, can make learning seem like less of a lesson and more like a fun activity. My biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to use the Floorbooks approach to engage children is this: be enthusiastic; be passionate; be committed to child-led learning, and be supportive to boost child confidence levels. By really understanding and believing in the ethos behind the approach you will be able to re-engage with children. You can join our Floorbooks Facebook Group or visit our website to find out more about the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach. Blog written by Steven Watson.   Do you have an idea or topic you would like discussed in a blog? Email steven.watson@mindstretchers.co.uk with your sugesstions and feedback.  Share this blog on Facebook: Share

  • But what is a Floorbook?

      Share Blog written by Steven Watson. Do you want to write a guest blog? Email Steven for more information.  Welcome to Floorbooks Friday, a blogging session in which we at Mindstretchers will try to answer some of the common questions surrounding Floorbooks as well ideas and tips for their use. Floorbooks are part of the Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach™ as developed by Claire Warden (1994) in her book Talking and Thinking Floorbooks (3rd ed, 2015). For our first ever Floorbooks Friday we have decided to answer the age old question “but what actually is a Floorbook?” There are many different descriptions and uses of a Floorbook, and as such it can be easy to get confused as to what a Floorbook actually is. We have compiled a list of 4 main definitions of a Floorbook to help you get started on your Floorbooks journey.     A Floorbook is... A child-led learning resource  A key aspect of the Floorbook is that the approach is child-led. Children decide what the flow of the lesson will be depending on what has taken their interest, with adults being able to develop these ideas further. Using what children are interested in to create lessons allows the curriculum to be carried out in an innovative and fun way.     A Floorbook is... A method of developing Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) Floorbooks encourage children to question and be critical of concepts which they hold a personal interest in. By challenging children to create links in their own learning we can develop higher order thinking. Floorbooks are a method of finding out what children know before, during and after a block of structured experiences. They are therefore a great record of showing how HOTS have improved.     A Floorbook is... A Planning Tool Through use of a Floorbook practitioners can create Possible Lines of Development (PLODs) which will allow for future lesson planning. 3D mind mapping and Talking Tubs are often at the centre of a lesson involving floorbooks. From this it is easy for practitioners to see what children are interested in and therefore what future lessons can cover.     A Floorbook is... At the heart of excellent child centered learning When used to their full extent, Floorbooks will be at the heart of your practice through the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach. Children can access a Floorbook whenever they wish to, and floorbooks can be used on as and when is appropriate to create and support lessons. Adopting the approach in your setting will create an environment of listening and encouragement which children will flourish in. You can learn more about Floorbooks at Claire Warden’s “Introduction to Floorbooks” online course. Of course, there are many more definitions, key features and benefits of a Floorbook than just the four listed above. It is also a genuine record of children’s voices, a way to engage with all types of learners, a collaborative project, a source of pride for children, an exhibit to show parents, a Monet of ideas, a piece of art, and much, much more. For a much more in-depth lesson on Floorbooks and how they can benefit your practice, check our training dates to find training near you. Alternatively you can email steph@mindstretchers.co.uk to discuss bespoke training in your setting. Blog by Steven Watson with help from Senior Trainer Kate Hookham.  Do you have an idea for a blog or is there something you’d like discussed? Email steven.watson@mindstretchers.co.uk  Share this blog on Facebook: Share  

  • Engage, Reflect and Record! You need a Floorbook®.

      Floorbooks are a staple tool used in much of our work at Mindstretchers. A simple product, but highly effective. Floorbooks are a genuine record of the child’s thinking.Children's ideas and thoughts are recorded without re-framing or interpretation so that they are a genuine record of their thinking. "When children give a response to a question or contribute an idea that is far removed from the rest of the group thinking, the idea should be recorded as evidence of contribution, but not engagement." Claire Warden Floorbooks stimulate the child’s interest. Record open ended questions that are created in response to an interest from the children. The questions are posed as part of a conversation and are designed to stimulate thought rather than test knowledge. "The flow of reflective talk is critical to the process, to create a partnership of exploration and discovery. Question and answer sessions create a completely different atmosphere. Questions are almost philosophical, such as I wonder what would happen if..?" Claire Warden Floorbooks adapt to different learning styles.The adult can scribe for the children to release some from the pressure of secretarial skills during a small group experience; individuals can record their idea in a pictorial form, or writing on a thinking bubble. Floorbooks collate child-centre ideas.They should be used to analyse the starting points for learning that children are suggesting, rather than adults thinking up random "activities" for children to "do". Responsive planning should be at the root of learning. "If we are going to consult children then we should be prepared to change our thinking and actions as a result of it." Claire Warden Floorbooks are always availableJoint ownership should give children the right to revisit their thinking whenever they wish. "There has to be feedback loop to the children so that they know that the process of consultation is actually changing something. In practice this approach has lead to a child centred curriculum, that is based on evidence collated in a child centred way. A feature that many centres felt is being edged out by paperwork demands." Claire Warden Buy a Floorbook, Talking Tub or Talkaround Mat Floorbooks Online Courses Floorbooks Courses Share this blog on Facebook: Share  

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