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Issue #04 | August 2013


PLAY! by FAFU

CONTENT Page

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How did I play? How do I play?

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Little Explorers outdoor pre-school

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The Organic Child – not so much a company – more a cross between a crusade and a vendetta!

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Folk Nepal

fair fun


Lesley

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How did I play? How do I play? By Lesley Romanoff teacher at Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School

In a cooperative, parents own and operate the school. The school’s bylaws outline parental involvement, as well as the teachers’, in school’s governance, on committees, and in the classroom. Our school has a set of rules and regulations and a handbook as support information for what the bylaws simply outline. These documents are crafted and voted in by the membership, which consists of parents and staff.

How did I play? How do I play?

At our school, parents “co-op” in the classroom for up to three hours on a weekly or every other week. We have a 3:1 child/adult ratio in the youngest class and 4:1 in the older classes. Co-opting is in addition to the administrative and fundraising tasks they accomplish outside of school hours. We hold monthly parent education sessions. Teachers write weekly reflections. None of this is optional. Full participation is required. Parents 3


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pay tuition, although it is lower than other private nursery schools in the area. In exchange, they gain work experience, parenting education, a long-lasting understanding of how children learn, and deeply rooted community connections. So far, this sounds like a lot of work and no play—for the adults! We have all formally agreed, from school’s founding in 1942 to this day, that we’ll work together to create the best environment for children that we can imagine and that research

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supports. This means we have to be on the same page as to what that environment will be and we must constantly assess our role in that environment. How did I play? How do I play? These questions are a recurring theme during trainings and in writings. These questions must be asked, answered, and reflected upon. As a team, we establish our strengths and weaknesses in regards to play and this is especially evident for us when we consider what happens outside.

How did I play? How do I play?


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It is true that almost all adults will name outdoor play as they remember their own childhoods. We also often hold memories of play without any adults present. We certainly have the outdoor part covered, but with our high adult to child ratio, we might miss the mark on no adult presence! Each year, a number of children will engage in rough and tumble play or play with familiar themes of “getting”, “trapping”, or “snatching”. During this type of play, it becomes clear how adults played as children by their reactions to it. I often use my own memories of play as an example— I liked small play and I played alone. I did not like to play “big”. Rough and tumble play made and still makes me nervous. I have to overcome this feeling in order to make room for this important and natural play. This admission usually helps pave the way for a conversation about accepting play that is not familiar or comfortable. These essential questions are revisited regularly. It is the only way we, as facilitators of play, can get out of the way so that our children can create their own memories of play. How did I play? How do I play?

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Ma

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Little Explorers outdoor pre-school By Martin Besford

Little Explorers is based at Highway Farm Activity Centre and is run by them. We operate in an Eco friendly Timber building with a back to basics, cosy atmosphere. The building is heated by a log burner and water heated on it. We have a compost toilet and are wrapped internally with carbon zero insulation. We try to offer the best of both worlds with a secure natural indoor space, a stimulating and challenging outdoor, enclosed area for free flow. All surrounded by an acre and a half field for the freedom and exhilaration the natural outdoors has to offer. We take children from 3 years old until they start school and offer the free entitlement funding from the term after your child is 3. We base our EYFS curriculum around the outdoors and nature and are outdoors in all weathers for the majority of the day. 6

A typical day is spent collecting the eggs from the chickens, cooking snack over the camp fire, building dens to story tell in and children initiating their own play and learning. Opportunities are presented through the outdoors in a range of purposeful contexts for children to appreciate and respect nature. Most of our resources are from natural materials found in the local environment. We plant, nurture, harvest and eat vegetables and fruit and incorporate physical opportunities into every day activities. We have also fully adopted the Healthy Early Years Program within our setting. We believe these opportunities give children flexible ways of working with and in nature to develop and learn. Trips to local environments such as the beach, woods or mining heritage add to the learning environment and appreciation of local surroundings.

Little Explorers outdoor pre-school


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We support and encourage children through outdoor learning to develop their emotional confidence and self esteem. Children are also supported and encouraged to manage their own risks and to develop their life skills through using the correct tools for a purpose.

We allow children to learn to make decisions, solve problems and grow in confidence in their own abilities outdoors and realise they need plenty of time to investigate their outdoor environment purposefully. They make predictions about what may happen based on their previous play experiences and test out these ideas and theories.

At Little Explorers Outdoor pre-school, our key messages are: The outdoor environment has unique characteristics and features to assist in the learning process. Our Outdoor learning has a positive impact on children’s well-being and development. Children need the support of attentive and engaged adults who are enthusiastic about the outdoors and understand the importance of outdoor learning.

Little Explorers outdoor pre-school

Outdoor learning is enhanced by an environment that is richly resourced with play materials that can be adapted and used in different ways. An approach to outdoor learning that considers experiences rather than equipment and places. Children are at the centre of the provision being made. Our statistic show that children, in particular boys and children with delay in communication have made significant improvements through learning in the outdoors.

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Our outdoor environment is where children can come into contact with the ever changing systems of nature and the four elements. It is the dynamic world of living and non-living things that endlessly interact through time and space. The seasonal changes and differing weather conditions provide children with a sense of time and place and offer endless investigation possibilities. Research suggests that if children do not have significant contact with the natural world in their early years then they can become afraid of it, disconnected from it or ‘biophobic’. Very topical at present.

Our outdoor environment offers more freedom and space to move, and inspires different movement from that indoors. This is vital for young children to develop their coordination, build muscle mass and experiment with moving their bodies. When outdoors, children have the freedom to explore and develop their physical boundaries, to take risks and to discover the real world with all their senses. This has huge positive effects on the children’s self esteem and confidence. Outside can be liberating; children have room to be active, noisy, messy and work on a large scale. Outside is dynamic; you cannot predict what might happen and as such it provides opportunities to experience and develop emotions, what they feel like and how to deal with them. Young children’s basic need for well-being and involvement, and their urge to explore and make sense of the world, is developed through high quality play in an outdoor environment. Young children need all of the adults around them to value and enjoy the

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Little Explorers outdoor pre-school


PLAY! by FAFU

outdoors themselves in order to feel safe and secure outside. Attitude, understanding and positive thinking are important as well as skills to use the outdoor space to make the most of what the space has to offer. Our adults are role models for children and display qualities that we would like young children to develop; enquiry, motivation, willingness to try and a positive attitude. The outdoors clearly matches and supports the 3 main characteristics of learning of the new EYFS without even trying to or indeed plan for. Children cannot fail at exploring, only flourish with enquiry. Little Explorers outdoor pre-school

Sometimes adults struggle to see their role outdoors. However, the role of the adult outside should be much the same as the role of the adult inside; to scaffold learning, observe and record. Children should be encouraged to make their own choices and lead their own learning with appropriate support from an understanding adult. Through observation, adults should have a deep understanding of how individual children learn best, their interests and personal motivations and are therefore able to offer appropriate individualised support to them.

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Some ideas for open-ended resources that we use are: Different sized and shaped logs, poles, sticks, wood shapes Blocks, crates, tyres Natural items – sand, water, leaves, stones, bark chip, earth, mud, clay, rock, shells, seeds Ropes and string of different sizes and lengths Different coloured, textured and sizes fabric, cloth, tarpaulins At Little Explorers our Outdoor learning is enhanced by an environment that is richly resourced with play materials that can be adapted and used in different ways. Open-ended play resources that are non prescriptive can be used in an imaginative way, with the children using them to fit the play that they are working through at the time, rather than the play materials dictating the play. Materials that can be adapted to meet the children’s needs will be most effective. Many resources can be found in the natural world and others fairly cheaply. There is a huge amount of study that supports the negative impact of what we call “plastic..... un-fantastic”. The bright colours over stimulate, confuse and block learning. 10

Mallets, pegs, clothes pegs Pulleys Baskets, bags, buckets, watering cans, containers Pipes of different shapes and lengths Chalks, charcoal, crayons, pens, pencils, brushes with water, paints, large paper or fabric, rollers Tools for digging, planting and caring for plants Tools and benches for woodwork and making Nets, bug pots & brushes, magnifiers, binoculars, trays, tanks

Little Explorers outdoor pre-school


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Our approach to outdoor learning considers experiences rather than equipment, places, and puts our children at the centre of the provision being made. The process of learning taking place in our individual children is the focus of our provision, not the products made or equipment available. All children are unique and have different interests and skills. As such, it is not appropriate for all children to be asked to make a particular item or do a certain activity, as it may not be developmentally appropriate to that particular individual or may not fit in with their current schemata of the world. Good outdoor provision does not rely on expensive equipment. Good provision comes from making the Little Explorers outdoor pre-school

most of the space and resources you have combined with a positive, enthusiastic and engaged attitude from adults. Together these facilitate meaningful learning experiences for the young children in your care that will vitally support their holistic development. Little Explorers outdoor environment provides opportunities for first hand experiences of life processes. Growing plants, caring for them and eating fruit and vegetables that have been grown from seeds is a satisfying experience that develops understanding of the world we live in. Even the smallest of outdoor areas can be used to grow plants in containers. When growing with children, we have found that, it’s 11


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a good idea to have a separate digging area available for children to practice with tools and techniques (for example, digging and raking), to avoid the vegetable beds getting damaged. Sensory plants will encourage children to explore with all their senses. Considerations for our environment When we were considering, as a team, our learning environments, we looked at the following considerations, · Appropriate Clothing · Appropriate Storage · Variety of Surfaces · The Four Elements & weather · Natural Spaces · Growing Spaces · Active Spaces · Reflective Spaces · Creative Spaces · Social Space 12

These then had to be closely linked with three main characteristic of learning taken from the EYFS and link with the children’s ideas leading from the centre. It proved a tricky combination but we found that actually when we truly listened to the children: observed them without adult intention and followed their lead; it actually became easier and a completely natural way for our outside space to develop into the amazing space we have now. Little Explorers outdoor pre-school


....or anything your child wants to become!

POPPY Leikur

IMYNDA Leikur

Get your outfit here www.fafuplay.com

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The Organic Child

– not so much a company – more a cross between a crusade and a vendetta!

By Tom Shea In writing this I would share with you that I regard myself as a person who looks for actions over words and believes that a picture says a thousand words. I am an “agent entreprovaracateur”, (a cross between and agent provocateur, and entrepreneur and a provoker) not normally a writer! However, I am so concerned that as a world we continue to look at the black or white when we live in shades of grey. ‘We’ are not right, they are not wrong. Collectively we all need to be clear that improvement needs to be made AND recognise that what we do with and for the very youngest 14

children is not just important, it is an imperative and we can change black, white AND grey to beautiful colours. I am an evangelist of the knowledge that our brains develop to almost 90% by the age of four – so as a society we big people need to focus all our efforts on the new born. If we do this effectively, that it well, their generation will be substantially better prepared for life and enabled to achieve their full potential. To fail them at this age is an act bordering on the criminal and, sadly, the early years sector society has not always lived up to that challenge. This needs to change.

The Organic Child – not so much a company – more a cross between a crusade and a vendetta!


To m

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I advocate that ‘play’ is the fundamental life blood of being, not just learning; that the ultimate deprivation of play leads to death, not a sadness of being; and from this knowledge believe play deprivation causes permanent damage and that negative ‘play’ is as damaging as deprivation. As a sector and worldwide profession, we are slowly growing, from a caterpillar of being a ‘service’ of babysitters, to becoming a cocoon of a ‘profession’ where pedagogical butterflies can emerge to join all of the butterflies already doing it flutterbying is the order of the day. Our children need the very best opportunities. They deserve a professional workforce who can combine the sparkle of childhood with the understanding of brain development. We do not need sweeping generalisations, massive commercialisation or a growth in education. We need resources that actually enhance practice and potential, not just commercially exploit our

limited budgets. We need to be clear that we will not tolerate; bad practice, bad products, poor training, exploitation, inappropriateness and greed. We will embrace the natural, the adventurous, the challenging, the innovative and the best – not necessarily the most expensive or the latest technology. We need to develop the argument that countries which commence the journey into more formal educational methods start to at 6 or 7 years of age, develop quicker, better and more skilfully than cramming at four, five or even six. That said the most successful of these systems still retain a strong foundation in play and creativity. We need to ensure that risk and challenge combine with safety and that “killing 99% of household germs” may just discourage immune systems.

The Organic Child – not so much a company – more a cross between a crusade and a vendetta!

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As I begin the last part of life (I feel somewhere between 5 and 23 years old BUT in grown up years I am 60) I am trying to build up a network of people and resources that actually do good. Awkward about people seeing us a people selling products – we don’t push hard enough to get our products out there (all help gratefully received) but maintain the quality and economy of lots of things. We are ethically based by instinct and design – we don’t exploit people, we are honest, so we tell you what you need not what we have (and often we don’t have what you want but know someone who does). We do it with quality and integrity.

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Almost everything we do is openended and can be used by children in a million ways (ask them, not me, to name them!) So many of the things we do are interconnected and prove that we not only preach – we practice as well and most of what we do has arrived from our work with children... All of the ‘products’ arrive and arise from our philosophies and our facilities... Child First is five day nurseries in very different way and in very different settings; that all welcome visitors and do everything from duck raising to forest nursery to organic food – but all in a very interesting way – the staff teams are exceptional.

The Organic Child – not so much a company – more a cross between a crusade and a vendetta!


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The Bunk Cot combines self managed opportunities for children – with children able to chill out and sleep without big people intervening. Naturally Learning is a growing company which embraces all that is good in child development – with its own nurseries. Fafu is a company using child design and beautiful fair trade materials, manufacturing to create what some would call “dressing up clothes” but that is a bit like calling truffles mushrooms... and Fafu is segueing in and around other things.

Imynda is a cross between training, dance, movement, wings, faeries, parachute cloaks, learning – but most importantly about how we influence and improve brain development with very young children. Fafu have designed and made their resources

Dragonswood builds with wood... for children and others... it’s not about swings and roundabouts or furniture – it’s about playing and space and natural timber. The Organic Child – not so much a company – more a cross between a crusade and a vendetta!

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If you want to join or find out more – email tom@theorganicchild.co.uk

Rokkaplay is a small but growing Cornish Company with a most innovative designed piece of open ended equipment. Sound Children combine amazing musical expert artists – who have created training and encouraging resources with real instruments for real children.

Elska – a really inspirational performer from the Island of Elska an imagination place that understands children, understands childhood and is set to change Elska from a performer, songwriter artist to a worldwide place and character – and wait until you hear and see her on video – and hear the synergy with Fafu. Check out you tube and i tunes.... And the philosophy of joining The Organic Child is that you want understand and respect what children need and are happy to share it... oh and that you can share the ethical approach to life...

Tom and The Organic Child

And Mother Nurture – an organic play person who is growing slowly into a ‘sourcer’ (or a sorcerer?) of innovative and exciting child led organic resources. 18

The Organic Child – not so much a company – more a cross between a crusade and a vendetta!


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Folk Nepal Fafu is on a mission to bring more joy and prosperity to all children so that they can grow and develop at their own pace. We do that by developing open ended products that inspire play based learning but we also do it by choosing to only work with Fair Trade producers. We are passionate and determined to bring Nepalese children more stability and opportunities by providing jobs for their parents and scholarships for them. We collaborate on this project with our producer, Folk Nepal, who has important experience in implementing change in rural communities. Folk Nepal

So! How are we going to do it? We decided to build a simple model so that we, the producer and you! (our customer) can follow our impact in an easy and transparent way! For every product we sell we can send a child to school for a day and for every pack sold we can send a child to school for a week. Help us change the world! 19


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by FAFU

by FAFU

by FAFU

Issue #03 | June 2013

Issue #01 | September 2012

Issue #02 | Novem ber 2012

UK tel. 020 3603 3857 | IS tel. 546 0745 | fafu@fafuplay.com | www.fafuplay.com

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