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  • The Talking and Thinking Floorbook® Approach with Claire Warden

      Transcript below. For more information about The Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach® you can read Claire's book "Talking and Thinking Floorbooks" or join her for an online webinar. One of the questions I'm asked a lot about the Floorbook Approach is "is there a set sequence?" Like any methodology I would argue that you have to be responsive to what your children need on that particular day. But as a general rule, what you would tend to have is the first part of that cycle which is about noticing: it's about observing and seeing what children are doing and saying to you. So that becomes your starting point; it tells you where your journey is going to go. Then what you do is you have your Talking Tub; your Talking Tub is there to guide the conversation. It's not going to dictate or show children how to do things: it is going to provocate dialogue. Through those conversations with that talking tub at group time, or just generally in the main play environment, you start to hear more in-depth reflections. Then what you do is you write down those reflections - they go into the Floorbook and we write down verbatim, what children are talking to us about. We photograph their enquiries - both in the general and in the epistemic play environment, but also within the child and adult conversations. Then what you do is you have to analyse those voices because there will be so many. You analyse them to create the PLOD - the Possible Line of Direction or Development. In that, what you are saying is "we are going do this, or the activity", but you must always put on the PLOD why you're doing it. I'm going to do this because I'm going to learn this. I'm going to provide hammers and cloths in order to explore the place of chlorophyll in plants. By looking at the learning attached to the activity it means that we can get this much clearer connection for children. When we've done that, it's all very nice and you might stop at that point. But if you are going to use a Floorbook for planning and for documentation of that planning, then what you need to do at the back of your Floorbook is to have a 2D mind map which is called the Learning Journey. As you write those PLODs and tick and date them to say that they've been done, what you then do is transfer that into the line of enquiry map (the learning journey map) at the back of the book. This lets you say "if you want any information on what we did about plant dyes, find it on page 31." It is almost like an index to your Floorbook. For planning requirements in this country, Scotland, and in many other countries there is a curriculum. And the curriculum really is there to help people understand the breadth and balance of the experiences that children need to explore within a certain age frame. So what we do with ours is rather than cutting up that curriculum at the very beginning and "creating activities", we would say at the back of the Floorbook "these are all the outcomes" and then we tick them and page number/date them to say "we feel we have addressed this outcome through the experiences that you can see in this Floorbook."  All of that process takes time. People say "well how long does a Floorbook last?" Well it could last 3 weeks and then what happens is the interest dies away. Rather than stopping it completely, you just let it sit for a while and then you may find that that interest reemerges later. At this point, you would go back to the original Floorbook, date the page to show that gap, but then write and carry on the learning journey as it develops from that point. There is a lot of detail that comes into the Floorbook approach, but as an overview I would hold onto that use of the Floorbook to provoke conversation. The writing down, the language and the communication of the child in whichever way they communicate with you. Always think back about "what are we learning here?" and "what are the things that I can really help children to explore and develop?" There is a progression in thinking, and that is what makes the difference between a Floorbook and a learning journal or a scrapbook.  For more information about The Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach® you can read Claire's book "Talking and Thinking Floorbooks" or join her for an online webinar.

  • 5 Fantastic Ideas for Talking Tubs

    If you work at a nursery or school in the UK you will likely be back in your practice after a well-deserved break.  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. 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.   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. A Talking Tub will allow you to channel that energy. Including items such as: miniature airplanes sand pictures of the sea a spade a small home a family summer clothing 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 know a number of 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 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 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: safe distances around the fire pit how to light a fire 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 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.   If you'd like to learn more about creating Talking Tubs, book a place on our upcoming Talking Tubs training course or download our recorded webinar on the topic.  We also sell Talking Tubs for you to fill in your setting.     

  • Floorbooks in a Gaidhlig Medium Setting: A tool for promoting language

    In this week's guest blog Chrissie Ford from Balivanich School talks about her experiences of using the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach to develop both the Gaelic and English languages. Would you like your blog to feature on our website? Email enquiries@mindstretchers.co.uk.  We are based in a nursery which has two baby rooms (1-3 years) as well as two 3-5 rooms (one each Gaelic and English).  We have tried lots of different approaches to our planning but found it challenging, especially with our 1-3 rooms. Not only are they just learning to use language but some children were coming into the Gaelic room having never been exposed to the language before.  As we use the total immersion approach we found that the children were struggling a little with the language when they hadn't been used to hearing it. After attending Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Level 1 training with Mindstretchers we decided to introduce the approach and test it out. We realised early on that the children were not able to add many ideas due to the language barrier so we began to use a book as a centre focus in order to introduce basic language and give them the tools to develop their oral skills. We also try to follow the same book in both our baby rooms so that we are able to share ideas and as well as enable the children in the English room to learn some Gaelic.  Generally we use a book that we have in the Scottish Book Trust Bookbug bags as they are printed in both Gaelic and English.  Combining a story and a Floorbook in this way proved to be really useful in developing the oracy of both languages. Previously we have read: “We’re going on a bear hunt”/ “Tha sinn a dol a shireadh mathan” “Ten Little Pirates”/ “Na deich spuinnich beaga” As an introduction, we spend time reading the book to the children for a few days while creating a Talking Tub based on the book. We note down any comments that the children make during the reading and add these to our tub. After the first couple of readings, we find that the children have usually picked up one or two Gaelic words; we tell them that they are correct for any English words that they recognised and then repeat the word in Gaelic to support this. When we introduce the talking tub, we pass around the objects and observe how the children investigate them, what they do with them and anything they say about them. This is the information we use to expand our planning; follow the children’s interests to introduce and support child led activities. We record all the information in the Floorbook and anything specific to the child is recorded in their individual Family Books. An extra part to our planning is that at the beginning we go through the book we are using and we make a note of some of the words we would like to focus on by using the 3 tiers table from Highland Council’s Emergent Literacy approach.  This contains words we know the child knows (tier one), words we would like them to learn during the story (tier 2) and words that are more difficult and therefore ‘bonus words’ if they do learn them (tier 3).  We share this with the parents and each child has one in their home diary to allow parents to help us with their child’s learning. We also put one of these into individual Family Books and highlight the words the child is able to say/understand and date beside each one to allow parents to see progress, making the Family Book a good home link. I would say that developing Gaelic through using the Floorbooks has definitely been successful.  We have noticed that as we generally develop their learning using a book focus, they have specific sections of the book that they show interest in and from there it is easy for us as staff to be able to hone in and put a much deeper emphasis on that part of their learning and understanding.  We have also found that they are much more able to link learning from book to book and they quite often recall things that they learned in the past to what they are doing in the present.  We have certainly seen the use of language develop much faster than it used to and we think this is down to using the Floorbook to concentrate on the direction the children take us. It has been great to use in conjunction with the aforementioned Emerging Literacy approach.  Both approaches have tied in very well together especially with the age of the children we work with. Working with the same book focus in both the English and Gaelic rooms has developed the language really well amongst other children in both rooms; they are now becoming bilingual through linking words in the story together both in Gaelic and in English. I hope that this helps give a bit of inspiration into how we use Talking and Thinking Floorbooks and gives you some ideas as to how you can develop additional languages through Floorbooks. Would you like to know more about the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach? Join Claire Warden for a live webinar or listen in to one of our pre-recorded webinars and improve your use of Floorbooks. Guest blog written by Chrissie Ford from Balivanich School. Would you like your blog to feature on our website? Email enquiries@mindstretchers.co.uk.

  • 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…    

  • 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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