Jan White Natural Play

Natural Play, Natural Growth, in the Early Years


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Playing and Learning Outdoors shortlisted for Nursery World awards

Playing and Learning Outdoors is now in 2nd edition…

Cover of 2nd edition: image by Menna Godfrey

Cover of 2nd edition: image by Menna Godfrey

I’ve been meaning to post about the fact that my little book Playing and Learning Outdoors (Routledge 2008) has now been published in second edition (released Nov 2013).  Without taking anything out, I’ve reviewed the whole text and ensured that it still applies and fully fits my developing philosophy and approach, adding in some of the extra things I’ve learned since then.

I’ve also reviewed the text to take it from focusing on provision for children from 3 to 5 years, to being applicable to provision and practice for children from 3 up to 7 years (also adding in such things as fairy gardens and tinkering).  This is because I’m deeply convinced that this is the right way to offer opportunities for being, playing and learning outside for children in what we used to call ‘Infants’ (doesn’t ‘Key Stage 1’ rather lose sight of the fact that these children are still in the prime of the extraordinary human capacity to PLAY and learn through that playing?)

I’m also more and more convinced that we need to fight for the right of children from 5 to 7 years to do their learning through play, and being able to do that playing in the powerful play/learning environment of the outdoors, supported by educators who know how to work in the outdoors.  I’ve never locked my book into any particular external curriculum because the only ‘curriculum’ that matters, I believe, is that which starts inside each child and which ‘education’ should help to come forward, being satisfying and meaningful for the learner in the process (the Latin roots of the verb ‘to educate” seem to be a nice composite of ‘to nurture’ and ‘to bring forth’).

The main addition to the book is a new chapter, on an area which I have come to realise makes another rich and important ‘ingredient’ of fully nourishing and authentic outdoor provision.  Going Beyond the Gate aims to encourage practitioners to harness the layer of provision that exists around the boundaries of the nursery or centre, as a much-used, familiar and comfortable additional aspect of what they offer to children.  The streets, shops, houses, roads, verges, transport, pavements, people, transport, plants, events, processes, chances and surprises in this layer bring children into meaningful relationship with their locality and community, in a way that is just not possible in even the very best on-site outdoor spaces.

All chapters now have much longer lists of relevant children’s books to support initiation and responses to exploration and play, and many more sources of support for educators for making the most of each ingredient of outdoor provision.  It’s no longer a little book, but I hope that the menu of potential experiences is enticingly expanded and enriched.

So, now that the book has been shortlisted for the staff resources category of this year’s Nursery World Awards, and having seen the fabulous reviews that Julie Mountain and Juliet Robertson penned for the submission, I’m galvanised into letting you know about the new version.  In it’s first edition, well over 5,000 people purchased the book worldwide – I hope this edition continues to inspire and motivate educators to provide the best play and learning experiences young children can have OUTSIDE.

I’ll post the reviews that Julie and Juliet so kindly took the time to write in a following blogpost.

Here's the 1st edition cover: image by Jane Wratten

Here’s the 1st edition cover: image by Jane Wratten

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Articles on Physical Development (part 3)

In December 2011 and then again in April 2012, I contributed to the Nursery World conference on the ‘National EYFS Review: successfully implementing the revised framework‘.  My contribution was looking at Physical Development – why it had become a ‘prime area’ (hooray) and what really effective outdoor provision for physical development would include.

This led to me being asked to write several articles – for Nursery World’s equipment special on Physical Development, published in Spring 2012 (article in a previous post – part 1) and for Early Years Update, published in Summer 2012 (articles in a previous post- part 2).  I’ve also now been invited to write on this subject for Exchange magazine in the USA, published in the May/June 2013 edition (article in this post).

This has become a key part of my work and I’ve become something of a crusader for children’s need to MOVE and BE PHYSICAL.  I’m now facilitating a new Post Graduate Certificate [MA in Education (Early Years), double module 60 credits] in Children’s Physical Development from birth to Seven in collaboration with paediatric physiotherapist Sue Heron of Tatty Bumpkins, at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) in Birmingham.  This will run alongside my double module Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood, which is running again successfully this year.  Both courses start mid-October – contact CREC for further details about the 2014-15 courses.

Exchange is the magazine produced by the World Forum Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote an on-going global exchange of ideas on the delivery of quality services for young children in diverse settings – over 80 countries are involved.  Exchange is distributed mainly in the USA, however a digital international edition is also available (currently free for the first year’s subscription).

Thanks to Petra Arzberger and parents of children at Children’s Oasis Nurseries in Dubai for their very kind permission to use the great images in this article, taken on my visit there in January 2013.

39 Exchange Somersaults and Spinning p1 copy

39 Exchange Somersaults and Spinning p2 1 copy

39 Exchange Somersaults and Spinning p3 copy

39 Exchange Somersaults and Spinning p4 copy


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Mudlark Finds *5: Woodwork in Early Years Education

Mudlarking is the ancient practice of digging in the mud of the Thames to find treasures.  It still goes on today, uncovering and recovering some amazing artefacts from the life of London city through the centuries.  Click on this link for more information about mudlarking.

images
Futurelab – Projects Archive – Mudlarking in Deptford

With this section of my website, I want to share some of the many wonderful treasures I dig up while researching and supporting outdoor play for children from birth to seven. I hope they inspire you too, and help you to create motivational, meaningful and satisfying outdoor play experiences for all the children you work with.  Mudlark posts will be brief and to the point.

In updating and expanding my book Playing and Learning Outdoors for its second edition (due out 14th Nov 2013), I was very keen to say more about woodwork and encourage its resurgence in early years education.  Having only found an ancient NAEYC publication from 1984, I thought this lack must be symptomatic of woodwork’s disappearance due to the rise in risk aversion we’ve been suffering from…

woodwork book

And then I discovered the wonderful sculptor and woodworker Pete Moorhouse and his Woodworkworks blog site.  Working as artist in residence with Filton Avenue Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Bristol, Pete has also produced a smashing 80 page book called Woodwork in Early Years Education.  Self-published on blurb, each spread has colour images on one side and very comprehensive advice on the other, and I feel it’s well worth the £20 (+£3 p&P) price.

His writing and practice is very pedagogically sound and I especially like how he emphasises that process is what matters, with open-ended exploration being supported rather than ‘projects’.  I think this book will go a long way to helping woodwork resume its rightful place in early childhood education in the UK.  Pete also offers training – I’m looking forward to arranging for some to be offered round my way up north…


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Mudlark Finds *4: The Garden Classroom

Mudlarking is the ancient practice of digging in the mud of the Thames to find treasures.  It still goes on today, uncovering and recovering some amazing artefacts from the life of London city through the centuries.  Click on this link for more information about mudlarking.

images
Futurelab – Projects Archive – Mudlarking in Deptford

With this section of my website, I want to share some of the many wonderful treasures I dig up while researching and supporting outdoor play for children from birth to seven. I hope they inspire you too, and help you to create motivational, meaningful and satisfying outdoor play experiences for all the children you work with.  Mudlark posts will be brief and to the point.

the garden classroom

Mudlark Find Number 4 is a superb ebook from Cathy James at Nurture Store, The Garden Classroom.  Nurture Store is an absolute treasure trove in itself, and I’ll refer to it again in future.  This book is 114 pages of beautiful images and text that make you want to get stuck into gardening with young children straight away.  Watch this little video for a taster.

As we found with Learning through Landscapes’ Growing Upwards project, you don’t have to know anything to make a start with growing – the very best way to work with children is to be genuinely curious and interested, to wonder and discover alongside, and to treat all ‘mistakes’ positively as ways of learning or getting better at something.  Being involved with the year-long Growing Upwards project convinced me that gardening is deeply important for children and remarkably powerful at developing child-led practice for adults, as well as being chock-full of thinking and learning that uncovers the entire curriculum (whatever that might include) and yields interest all through the year (see here for the findings from the project).

The Garden Classroom ebook is available here as an instant pdf download that is delivered by email, and costs $9.99 (approx £5.60) by Paypal.  Cathy also runs an associated Facebook page.


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Articles on Physical Development (part 2)

In December 2011 and then again in April 2012, I contributed to the Nursery World conference on the ‘National EYFS Review: successfully implementing the revised framework‘.  My contribution was looking at Physical Development – why it had become a ‘prime area’ (hooray) and what really effective outdoor provision for physical development would include.

This led to me being asked to write several articles – for Nursery World’s equipment special on Physical Development, published in Spring 2012 (article in previous post) and for Early Years Update, published in Summer 2012 (2 paired articles in this post).  I’ve also now been invited to write on this subject for Exchange magazine in the USA (part 3 to follow).

This has become a key part of my work and I’ve become something of a crusader for children’s need to MOVE and BE PHYSICAL.  I’m going to be facilitating a new Post Graduate Certificate [MA in Education (Early Years), double module 60 credits] in Children’s Physical Development from birth to Seven in collaboration with paediatric physiotherapist Sue Heron of Tatty Bumpkins, at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) in Birmingham.  This will run alongside my module Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood which ran successfully this year.  Both courses start mid-October – contact CREC for further details.

Early Years Update is published monthly and is available by subscription from Optimus Education.

37 EYU Physical Development in the Revised EYFS p1 copy

37 EYU Physical Development in the Revised EYFS p2 copy

38 EYU Creating an Enabling Outdoor Environment for Physical Development p1 copy

38 EYU Creating an enabling Outdoor Environment for Physical Development p2 copy


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Articles on Physical Development (part 1)

In December 2011 and then again in April 2012, I contributed to the Nursery World conference on the ‘National EYFS Review: successfully implementing the revised framework‘.  My contribution was looking at Physical Development – why it had become a ‘prime area’ (hooray) and what really effective outdoor provision for physical development would include.

This led to me being asked to write several articles – for Nursery World’s equipment special on Physical Development, published in Spring 2012 (article in this post) and for Early Years Update, published in Summer 2012 (articles in next post).  I’ve also now been invited to write on this subject for Exchange magazine in the USA (part 3 to follow).

This has become a key part of my work and I’ve become something of a crusader for children’s need to MOVE and BE PHYSICAL.  I’m going to be facilitating a new Post Graduate Certificate (MA in Education [Early Years], double module 60 credits) in Children’s Physical Development from Birth to Seven in collaboration with paediatric physiotherapist Sue Heron of Tatty Bumpkins, at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) in Birmingham.  This will run alongside my module Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood which ran successfully this year.  Both courses start mid-October – contact CREC for further details.

Nursery Equipment 28th May 2012: Introduction –  Action Points by Jan White can be found on the Nursery World archives website – search under the title of the article.

35 NW Action Points p1 copy

35 NW Action Points p2 copy


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Mudlark Finds *2: Forest Childcare Association

Mudlarking is the ancient practice of digging in the mud of the Thames to find treasures.  It still goes on today, uncovering and recovering some amazing artefacts from the life of London city through the centuries.  Click on this link for more information about mudlarking.

images
Futurelab – Projects Archive – Mudlarking in Deptford

With this section of my website, I want to share some of the many wonderful treasures I dig up while researching and supporting outdoor play for children from birth to seven. I hope they inspire you too, and help you to create motivational, meaningful and satisfying outdoor play experiences for all the children you work with.  Mudlark posts will be brief and to the point.

Mudlark Find Number 2 is a great new initiative and resource, The Forest Childcare Association created by Kay Woods of Kids To Go, that is designed to encourage and support home-based childcare practitioners and settings to get out and make the most of their local environment, especially the more nature-filled locations.  This is such a good idea!  Kay has provided a really thoughtful, well-researched and comprehensive membership pack, consisting of an introductory booklet, business tools, self certification and a booklet of 50 crafts and activities for forest childcare – all written in a down-to-earth style that is very accessible.  Membership is a realistic £15 and all transactions are done simply online.

Forest Childcafre Association screen shot

Kay makes the case that embedding this as a core part of your provision is a sound business enhancement that parents will choose for their children.  She is a passionate advocate for connecting young children with the nature in their locality and using this as the great learning resource that it is, and clearly has lots of personal experience and expertise in this area.  In the forthcoming second edition of my book, Playing and Learning Outdoors (due out in Nov 2013), I have added a seventh ingredient for high quality outdoor provision – that of harnessing the locality and community immediately around your setting.  So this resource resonates strongly with my new campaign to reclaim the streets for young children and harness this as a super-rich additional layer of everyday outdoor provision!