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LEARNING THROUGH PLAY in the early yearsLEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION CONTENTS Introduction 4 Learning Through Dramatic Play 11 Learning Through Sand Play 25 Learning Through Water Play 55 Learning Through Dough and Clay Play 81 Learning Through Table Top Play 93 Learning Through Small World Play 105 Learning Through Construction Play 123 Learning Through Creative Play 153 3LEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION This booklet has been compiled by the Early Years Interboard panel in response to requests by practitioners in Early Years settings for guidelines on provision and progression in play. The methodology and suggested progression in this document is appropriate for the proposed Foundation Stage as recommended by CCEA. It is proposed that teachers will use this resource as a starting point for their own planning. We hope you find it useful. Early Years Interboard Panel Dawn Crosby SEELB Nuala Heaney WELB Una Crossey NEELB Anne McDermott SEELB Liz Crowe BELB Marilyn Warren BELB Clare Devlin SELB 4LEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This resource was designed and compiled by members of the Early Years Interboard Panel. We are particularly grateful to the following teachers for their contribution: Doreen O’Neill – St Joseph’s Nursery Unit SELB Patricia Dunne – St. Eithne’s Primary School WELB Lornette McAlister – Abercorn Primary School SELB Hazel Harris – Gracehill Primary School NEELB We would like to thank the Assistant Senior Education Officers of the five Education and Library Boards for their encouragement and for their financial support. The Interboard Panel is also grateful to officers at CCEA for their technical support in the design and production of the file. Thank you also to those schools who allowed us to include photographs of play sessions: Ballymoney N.S., Black Mountain P.S., Bligh’s Lane N.S., Downpatrick N.S, Dunclug N.S., Glenwood P.S., Kylemore N.S., Magherafelt N.S., Omagh County P.S., St. John the Baptist N.S. and Trinity N.S. Bangor. Finally, a special word of thanks to Lorraine Noble (SEELB) for her endless patience and her faultless word-processing skills. 5LEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION A RATIONALE FOR PLAY Our thinking about play has been influenced over the years by the work of many educationalists, psychologists, researchers and practitioners, and much has been written about how young children learn and how adults can support this learning. In the opening chapter of her book “Early Childhood Education”, Tina Bruce traces this history of research from Rousseau and Kant in the 18th century, the 19th century practitioners like Froebel, Montessori and Steiner, and on through to 20th century thinkers like Piaget, Vygotsky and Bruner. At this point in time our knowledge base is being challenged further by the work of Howard Gardner, Ferre Laevers, Loris Malaguzzi, Chris Athey and others. What has emerged from all of this thinking is a set of common principles to which all early years practitioners can sign up. 6LEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION 10 COMMON PRINCIPLES OF EARLY YEARS EDUCATION 1. The best way to prepare children for their adult life is to give 6. There are times when children are especially able to learn them what they need as children particular things. 2. Children are whole people who have feelings, ideas and 7. What children can do (rather that what they cannot do) is the relationships with others, and who need to be physically, starting point of a child’s education. mentally, morally and spiritually healthy. 8. Imagination, creativity and all kinds of symbolic behaviour 3. Subjects such as mathematics and art cannot be separated; (reading, writing, drawing, dancing, music, mathematical young children learn in an integrated way and not in neat, numbers, algebra, role play and talking) develop and emerge tidy compartments. when conditions are favourable. 4. Children learn best when they are given appropriate 9. Relationships with other people (both adults and children) are responsibility, allowed to make errors, decisions and choices, of central importance in a child’s life. and respected as autonomous learners. 10. Quality education is about three things: the child, the context 5. Self-discipline is emphasised. Indeed, this is the only kind of in which learning takes place, and the knowledge and discipline worth having. Reward systems are very short-term understanding which the child develops and learns. and do not work in the long-term. Children need their efforts Tina Bruce to be valued. These principles underpin our Early Years curriculum and guide our planning. Well-planned and well-resourced play activities which allow for progression in a child’s thinking and understanding can provide the context in which these principles become the reality for all our children. 7LEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION WHAT IS PROGRESSION? Progression in play reflects the observation and assessment of children’s knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to provide developmentally appropriate experiences. Children come to pre school already as skilled learners. Through our observations, assessment and professional - judgement we gain valuable insights into how each one learns best. This information informs our planning to meet the needs of each individual child. Progression in play comes about as a result of a real understanding of the interests, needs and experiences of the child. As practitioners, we need to understand that there must be a progression in the provision of activities to meet the developmental needs of children. 8LEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION THERE ARE 2 STRANDS OF PROGRESSION WHICH IMPACT ON EACH OTHER Strand 1 Strand 2 Progression in Learning Progression in Provision (knowledge & understanding, skills and attitudes) (extending experiences and resources; the adult’s role) Experimental Play There are two important aspects to extending quality play. • Child says “What is this?” – extending the provision • Child plays alone – the nature of the adults’ role e.g. interacting, facilitating • Child plays with little organisation • Child moves material or equipment from one area to another or • Children need help to extend their play. Adults can contribute to the spreads over floor indiscriminately development of abstract thinking, for example, by adding resources • Child builds up and knocks down e.g. construction material and props, by asking open-ended questions and posing exciting • Child explores properties of materials e.g. stacking, balancing, challenges. rolling, pouring, filling, pushing, pulling • Child displays little or no language or conversation related to materials or equipment Making and Doing • Child says “What does this do?” • Child builds recognisable structures with a purpose which are meaningful to them e.g. series of towers, bridges, horizontal and vertical structures (names given to structures) • Parallel play is evident • Child begins to solve problems of balance, shape, distance • Conversation relating to material developing among the children 9LEARNING THROUGH PLAY – INTRODUCTION Strand 1 Strand 2 Progression in Learning Progression in Provision (knowledge & understanding , skills and attitudes) (extending experiences and resources; the adults’ role) Imagining and Thinking The Role of the Adults • Child says “What can I/we do with this?” The adults will facilitate the progression in learning by planning appropriate activities. • Child involved in group planning and organisation They will: • Child builds more complicated structures e.g. roof and windows • Support children in their play • Child uses props, signs, labels • Provide good quality resources • Child uses a variety of resources in an imaginative way • Be aware of the potential learning in all areas of the curriculum • Interest is often maintained for several days • Model skills involved in play • Interact with the children, asking questions and making suggestions to support their learning • Be familiar with key vocabulary – model and support children in their use of key words • Work alongside children, modelling skills and attitudes • Read with children from fiction/non-fiction books, plans, instruction cards etc. • Scribe children’s ideas and thoughts, and display their work • Observe children’s learning and use of the provision • Assess children’s development/progress to inform planning for future learning 10LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY in the early yearsLEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY DRAMATIC PLAY Dramatic Play gives children the opportunity to • Express themselves • Explore language freely • Explore feelings and find out about themselves and others • Develop co-operation, care, consideration and control • Exercise choice and make decisions • Use mathematical language and develop mathematical concepts • Develop a range of motor skills • Use their skills to make the things needed for their play and adapt as necessary • Explore a fantasy world of their own creation 13LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY THE DEVELOPMENT OF DRAMATIC PLAY It used to be thought that children’s dramatic play developed through similar stages to that of other forms of play: • Onlooker • Solitary • Parallel • Co-operative It has been shown that each of these types of play is evident at each stage of development and at some stages more of a particular style will dominate. Children imitate the people around them by recreating scenes from everyday life and acting out familiar roles. From this, imaginative play develops as they develop the ability to incorporate narrative into their play. As they grow, their ability to imagine exerts greater influence on the nature of their play. Their play becomes increasingly complex and the narratives which are created include more characters and episodes. The imaginary world children create enables them to realize in their imagination the things that cannot be realized in reality. Fantasy play contributes to children’s creativity and imagination and should be encouraged. Adapted from ‘Supporting Creativity and Imagination in the Early Years’ by Bernadette Duffy 14LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY RELEVANT LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT Language development runs through all dramatic play activities. Talking and listening skills developed through dramatic play form the narratives which are the basis of reading and writing. Opportunities to develop reading and writing occur within meaningful contexts in a role play area. In role play situations children can experiment with the language they have acquired as well as new vocabulary they are introduced to in school. Specific vocabulary and use of language is dependent on the type of imaginative play offered to the children. 15LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY RESOURCES Home Corner KITCHEN LIVING ROOM BEDROOM kitchen furniture e.g. sink, cooker, cupboard, table, sofa beds chairs, fridge, microwave, dishwasher, rubber gloves, chair cots cups, saucers, cutlery, pots, spice rack, vacuum T.V. bed clothes cleaner, pans, cooking/baking utensils, timer, clock, video dolls ice-cube tray, vases, tablecloth, towels, cloths, iron magazine rack sets of dolls’ clothes and ironing board, rubber gloves, dusters, brush and paintings all purpose clothing with velcro fastenings dustpan, broom, kettle, apron, toaster, variety of ornaments hats containers, shopping basket, bags, lunch boxes, real flowers lengths of material food or play materials representing food, notice cushions cloaks board, writing implements, recipe books, shopping newspapers hangers list, first aid kit, hot water bottle, flowers, postcards cat dressing table dog mirror telephone and directories jewellery plants handbags T.V. shoes guides variety of scarves books mirror telephone and address book catalogues family photos, puppets (for use with TV) 16LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY RESOURCES RESTAURANT/CAFÉ TAKE-AWAY FLOWER SHOP POST OFFICE name of café flowers – made by children using paper, card, post box signs within café –opening times cellophane, found materials post office uniform table shop signs – opening times signs chair dried flowers leaflets and forms – tax, passport, TV licence table cloth commercially produced flowers – paper, silk, envelopes, paper, pens kitchen cooking equipment plastic cards cups, plates, cutlery real flowers and plants stamps straws oasis labels flowers shopping baskets wrapping paper recipe books catalogues parcels of various sizes, weights, cash register cash register, money scales pictures of food price lists telephone food – made of dough, foam, commercially produced telephone stampers and stamp pad food order book till and money board for dish of the day cards – large, small, message cards savings books order pads –pens/pencils wrapping paper foreign currency, stamps napkins posters mailbag place mats buckets maps menu plastic vases money plant sprayers carrier bags flower pots phone ribbons pressed flowers 17LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY RESOURCES HOSPITAL/HEALTH CENTRE TRAVEL AGENTS/HOLIDAYS GARDEN CENTRE doctor/nurse uniform desk seeds, seed packets for flowers, vegetables, fruit ambulance driver’s uniform/ambulance telephone bulbs doctor’s bag/rubber gloves holiday posters, destinations, planes, boats herbs dolls passports seed trays beds/bedclothes postcards lolly sticks bandages/cotton wool stamps flower pots plasters tickets variety of flowers/plants, paper, silk, plastic, made by medicine bottles, spoons suitcases/backpacks the children syringes summer clothes/winter clothes foliage stethoscopes sunglasses tools – trowels, forks, spades, rakes thermometers buckets, spades, sunhats, rubber rings, beach watering cans, water spray old X-ray pictures ball, goggles, fishing net lawn mower old plaster casts picnic rug and equipment soil, compost, grow bags crutches bird table scales water feature height measures logs waiting area garden furniture telephone counter, till, money, phone note pad/prescriptions gardening magazines and catalogues clipboard, get well cards story and reference books re. gardening, growing reference books about the body posters/charts appointment book files 18LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY DRAMATIC PLAY Personal, Social & Emotional Development Creative/Aesthetic Development • co-operate, take turns and initiate role-play • use imagination to develop ‘stories’ in the role play area • develop confidence, self-esteem, self-control in re-enacting real life situations • introduce the language of colour and texture through the use of, and introduction of different types of material • learn how to work independently and access the resources they need • encourage children to create and design their own menus, diaries, pictures, • learn how to work as part of a group e.g. taking on different roles in a group price lists, posters, leaflets, cards such as shopkeeper and customer • make items for role-play e.g. playdough, buns, cakes, biscuits for shop, junk • express individuality and own personality through imaginative play materials for sandwiches, burgers, meals for cafe • use language of social interaction • learn to have respect for others’ ideas and accommodate these in role play • help to tidy up at the end of the session • show initiative when developing ideas in the role play area e.g. deciding to make signs for the shop • reflect on feelings as part of role play e.g. hospital • use role play to act out their own joys, concerns Physical Development Knowledge and Appreciation of the • develop fine motor skills and co-ordination through manipulating real tools Environment such as whisks, telephones, key boards • create role-play areas based on knowledge about their local environment, • develop co-ordination through fastenings on clothes, pouring tea from tea pots homes and cultures e.g. supermarket, library, chemist, farm house, seaside, setting table, dressing dolls hospital, clinic, doctors surgery, nursery school • develop awareness of space available in role-play area and how to share that • talk about their families in relation to events in role-play space with others • re-enact special occasions e.g. wedding, birthday party, Christmas • relate the work of people in the local community to role play e.g. visit to the fire station, farm, building site, post office 19LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY DRAMATIC PLAY Early Experiences in Science & Technology Language Development • explore and recognise features of living things e.g. through hospital, vets, • talk about what different people do in role-play situations garden centre role-play • talk in the language of different roles e.g. shopkeeper, mummy, Little Red Riding • explore and recognise feature of how things work through garage, toy shop Hood role-play • role-play nursery rhymes, stories • explore and select materials and equipment appropriate to the role-play • use language to plan and create real-life or imaginary situations • develop scientific skills, knowledge and concepts through role-play – topics may • develop the language of dialogue e.g. listen to and respond to what other include babies, holes, wheels children/adults say • use technology e.g. a shopping till, calculator • extend vocabulary associated with imaginary/role-play e.g. hospital, airport, • select appropriate materials to make models e.g. wheeled vehicles, prams, artists studio, garden centre furniture etc., for use in role-play area • have access to related books fact/fiction in role-play area • develop skills of cutting, folding, joining • develop writing skills e.g. writing shopping lists, prescriptions, Get Well cards, record sheets, forms, bills, leaflets, menus, letters • develop ICT skills through office role-play – telephones, keyboards, photocopier, computer Early Mathematical Experiences • explore various mathematical concepts related to money, capacity, size, weight, one-to-one correspondence • use language related to all of the above e.g. how much, full, empty, need more/less, heavy, light • problem solve through imaginative play e.g. how much money will I need for this item? How many cups will I need for the family? • develop concept of time in house play – breakfast, dinner, bed-time, time in doctors surgery. Refer to clocks, watches • order, sort, match in role-play area 20LEARNING THROUGH DRAMATIC PLAY DRAMATIC PLAY POSSIBLE INTENDED ACTIVITIES PROGRESSION PROVISION EXPERIENCES OUTCOMES • social interaction • basic home play provision. • basic home corner – kitchen, • cooking utensils, pots, pans, – build relationships dressing up clothes crockery, kettle, toaster, teapot, – co-operation • add new equipment gradually tablecloth, empty food – take turns, join in on a theme e.g. babies, • kitchen utensils containers, dough – share cleaning, pets. • introduce real food, food from • cleaning equipment – rubber • tidy up and care for equipment • sensitive intervention of adult different cultures gloves, dusters, dustpan and in role play, providing a role brush, mop, empty carton of • make choices and decisions model for actions and • introduce familiar scenarios in washing powder develop curiosity language development home corner – birthday, baby’s bath, new pet, Christmas • dressing up clothes, phones, • develop language – using • encourage children reluctant mirrors, posters, recipe books, familiar and newly introduced to get involved notebook, pencils, pens, dolls vocabulary prams, baby bottles, baby food, baby clothes • develop communication and negotiation skills • children may provide appropriate materials from • express emotions and feelings home e.g. party hats, decorations • develop manipulative skills using small equipment 21 Experimental Play Imitative play – to be able to play in a familiar environment and adopt a role that reflects own experience e.g. mummy, daddy, boy, girl, baby

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