5 Ways to Engage Parents in the EYFS

1. Reading Morning

Every Monday morning my parents come into class from 8.50 – 9.10am to read and play reading games with their children. It gives me the opportunity to mill about and model how to segment and blend to read, amongst other reading skills.  It has been very successful and always sets the day off to a great start!

We put out a selection of fiction and non-fiction books, guided reading texts and reading games such as Bingo and Treasure & Trash.  We also put a reading game on the interactive whiteboard and class computer.

5 ways to engage parents

image2. Maths Morning

We have recently started to alternate our reading mornings with maths mornings. We have seen amazing results with progression in reading and phonics, but numeracy doesn’t seem to have as high a profile.

We set out a selection of board games, number ordering activities,  counting and number recognition activities, games on the computer and Numicon activities.

image3. Online Learning Journals

This is another amazing way to engage with parents. Tapestry has a function which allows parents to respond to observations as well as upload their own observations from home.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

A teacher's perspective on Tapestry Rockmyclassroom.com

4. Mystery Reader

image My TA came back from a course with this fab idea, which we implemented immediately.  Every week or couple of weeks a parent will sign up to be our mystery reader.  They can choose to either read a story or talk about their jobs or their culture.  So far we have had several stories in English, one in Urdu, a mum in to talk about Channukah, an Auntie in to play the violin and a dad in to talk about his work as a builder, complete with his tool box!  

The exciting thing is that we keep it top secret, so that their child has no idea they are coming in. When I get word from the office that our mystery reader has arrived the children sit down and cover their eyes. They then count down from 10 and when they open their eyes the mystery reader is sitting in my chair.

The look on their child’s face is priceless and something I always try to catch on camera. It has been such a success; the children love it and the parents are continually signing up.

5. Parent Volunteers

If they are willing and you are comfortable having parents in your class, get them in and get them involved! They are such an amazing resource and quickly understand and learn about how their children learn through play.

Do you have any other fab ideas for getting parents involved in your EYFS setting? If so, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you 🙂

 

 

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Superhero Ideas for the Early Years

I started off this topic with a letter addressed to Reception. It was from the Joker to say that he had kidnapped all of the small world superhero characters.  The children were outraged and I feigned serious distress!  We hadn’t set anything on the tables that morning because we wanted to see what the children would come up with.   A few of them suggested building a trap to catch the Joker.

I jumped on this idea suggesting that the children work together to plan and design a trap and that we could then go outside and build them. To say that there was a writing buzz is an understatement.  Almost every single child wanted to design a trap. Some worked alone and others worked together, drawing and writing on big sheets of sugar paper.

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The children used a variety of materials outdoors to build their traps…

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Some of the girls chose to remain indoors and made a trap using the small wooden blocks. They explained that the red pom poms were bombs – terrifying!imageThe following day the Joker delivered another note, taunting the class, explaining that their traps hadn’t worked and that he was still at large.  He told them to look out for signs saying ‘superhero challenge’ around the setting.  If the children were able to complete the challenges he would begin to return a few of the superheroes each day.  

These challenges lasted over a period of about 2 weeks and appeared indoors and out, some times popping up on the interactive whiteboard during phonics and others in their home learning folders.  Below are some pictures of the various challenges. 

Shoot the Baddies

Outside the kids found one of the signs on the side of the shed along with some pictures of various baddies with tricky words superimposed on top.  Their task here was to shout out the tricky word and then shoot the baddie with a gun from Poundland.

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Free the Superheroes

At the funky fingers table their task was to free the superheroes who had been tied up (threaded).

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Unlocking Padlocks

Each padlock had a number to 20 written on it.  The keys all had tags attached with instructions ‘1 less than ….’ The children had to find the padlock that was one less than the number on the key.  The children absolutely loved this activity and were queuing up to have a turn!

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Doubling Salad

Another challenge was for the children to make a superhero salad.  They had to pick their favourite ingredient, choose between 1-5 pieces and then double the portion.

I used polystyrene plates from Poundland and thought they were a great visual aid for teaching the concept of doubling.

They put one set of ingredients in one side of the plate and then the equivalent amount in the other side, hence calculating the double. They then counted how many pieces altogether into the central compartment.

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For the more able children I had them record their answers on a recipe sheet.

EYFS superhero ideas

Potion Making

Later in the week we also set out potion making ingredients in the mud kitchen, along with some writing frames.  We used strong scented items such as ginger, lemon and herbs under the premise that the strong smell would help to keep the Joker at bay.  They absolutely loved it as you can see from the photos below…

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Superhero Role Play

We also developed a superhero den indoors.  We kept it relatively simple with a dark tent, lots of superhero books, torches, writing frames and some craft supplies for costume making. 

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The topic of superheroes always captivates the children.  We got some fabulous writing and independent learning over the few weeks we ran it.  Even now they blame anything that gets broken, or goes missing, on the Joker 🙂

Challenging Outdoor Activities for Boys

Every morning as soon as we leave the carpet and the doors to outside open, my boys take off at 100mph and would happily spend the rest of the day chasing each other around the setting like maniacs, with their k-nex guns in tow.  Obviously doing this all day, every day is not very conducive to learning and so we constantly have to try to think of other ways to engage and challenge them that will give them just as much of a thrill.

Last week 2 activities I came up with had them, to my amazement, enthralled for hours. Hooray 🙂

Water beads and guttering challenge

Last week was too cold for water play outside, so we put some blue water beads in the water tray instead. The boys were enjoying hurtling them down a single piece of guttering from the water tray into the tuff spot below.

Water bead challenge

I moved the tuff spot further away, put out the guttering stands and more pieces of guttering and set them a challenge – to move the water beads from the water tray to the tuff spot, using the pieces of guttering, without spilling any.  

This perhaps doesn’t sound overly challenging but it really flummoxed my kids! It took them a good 20minutes to work out how to 1. Slant the guttering to make the beads roll and; 2. How to link the pieces of guttering together.

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Once they achieved this, more experimentation ensued; slanting the guttering higher/lower to make the beads travel faster/slower.

Water bead challenges- move the beads along the guttering without dropping any

imageIt had the children, particularly the boys, captivated.  It was a great one to stand back and observe because of all the wonderful active learning and problem solving happening.

Car Race

The following day the boys were getting a bit lairy indoors with the cars, whizzing them up and down the classroom at break neck speed, so I directed them outside to the guttering. Again it took them some time to position the guttering correctly, but when they got it in place, boy was engagement high! They absolutely loved hurtling them down the ramp and seeing whose travelled furthest. Originally I had positioned a measuring stick at the bottom of the ramp, but them remembered something I’d seen on Pinterest and added numbers to a piece of guttering. Of course they became even more competitive whilst learning to recognise numbers amongst lots of other skills. 👍

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Please excuse the minging rug! We replaced our indoor rug and temporarily used our old one outdoors until it was well and truly destroyed! The children enjoyed building on it with the community bricks and pretending it was a bedroom/living room. 

 

Santa’s Workshop 🎅

Wow! What a whirlwind week: Christmas concert practice madness, a new role play area and a jaunt to Cardiff to see my hero, ABCdoes, in action.  The biggest event of the week, however, was the arrival of the ‘Elf on the Shelf’ all the way from the North Pole!

The children were busy reading and playing games with their parents during my weekly reading morning when suddenly my head teacher burst through the door with a very fancy looking parcel. She explained that she had heard a jingle outside and when she looked out the window she saw a parcel sitting on the doorstep. Lo and behold, it was addressed to Reception!

I asked the children to come and sit down and told the parents that they could either head on home/to work, or stay for the grand opening. All of them stayed, camera phones in hand! The two special helpers opened the parcel which is when I appeared to suddenly realise who it was.  I explained that this was the elf who had visited my class the year before. The children were SO excited. Their wee faces were a picture!

imageParents then left and I read the story to the children. I did a quick brainstorm about what we could call him, but on getting suggestions like baby, mummy and dog elf (😂), I decided that they had been at the carpet for too long and suggested that they write their ideas down for me! I also explained that my TA would need some helpers to clear out the school role play area and that if they had any suggestions about what we could turn it into, to write it down.

Well, to say there was a writing buzz is an understatement. The boys wanted to make sure that nobody would touch the elf (because of the resulting loss of magic) and so were keen to write warning signs. They then independently accessed paper and started attempting to write a shopping list of things we might need for what they had decided the new role play area should be – Santa’s workshop.  Meanwhile in the role play area my TA had a group of girls writing suggestions on the board about what we could turn it into…

By the end of the day I had a huge pile of shopping lists left on my chair! After the children left school for the day I cranked on the ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas’ album and started to decorate the class and make Santa’s workshop. Both my TA and I ended up staying until 7pm because we got so carried away!

The next day the children were absolutely itching to get into the workshop. I had given my TA an EAD role play objective for the week so she stayed in the role play area with the children all week modelling language and the processes involved. There are so many skills to be developed in that one little area:

You might have noticed the postbox outside the workshop. It was for the rest of the class to post their Christmas wish lists. I set out 3 Smyths catalogues on the table along with some glues and pens and suggested that they cut out all the things they would like and have a go at writing a label underneath. The table was absolutely crammed and was equally popular amongst both boys and girls. Once they had finished the elves would check the post box and have a go at making the requested toy!

I also made sure to include lots of writing frames in Santa’s workshop – notebooks, writing frames from Twinkl, pound shop cards and envelopes, gift tags and some fancy pens!

The children absolutely adore their new role play area and I am getting such a high level of engagement and attainment.  I would highly recommend that if you do have a Santa’s workshop in your class, plan for an adult to spend a few days in it modelling play possibilities and developing children’s skills.

I’ll leave you now with a few elf on the shelf pictures from the week…

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