Tag Archives: early years

Sign up for the Falkirk Learning for Sustainability Showcase!

Word cloudFalkirk Council Education Services will hold a Learning for Sustainability Showcase event in Camelon Education Centre on 4th June between 4-5.30pm.

Jane Jackson and Yvonne McBlain are working with colleagues in schools and in the Service Support and Improvement team to make the programme for the event as rich as possible.

So far, we know that Scotdec will be there to share the professional learning they can offer and lots of wonderful resources teachers can use with their pupils. We are thrilled that Anthony Hutcheson, development officer from Education Scotland will welcome everyone AND will be sharing the new LfS professional learning area in Glow. Organisations like Opal, the John Muir Trust, Royal Highland Education Trust are all coming along to share how they can contribute to learning for pupils and for staff. CATCA will be there, and members of the Outdoor Learning Network will show how they have developed learning outwith the classroom.  Wosdec will also attend to help us celebrate the achievements of teachers and pupils taking part in the Global Storyline training programme.

We know that Falkirk teachers and early years officers use the Learning for Sustainability theme across many areas of the curriculum and are pleased to have a growing number of applications to share this work at the showcase. We know there is lots more good practice out there though so please click here for an application form and instructions if you would like to share your work too. The word cloud above shows just how diverse Learning for Sustainability is, and with your help, we are keen to show as wide a range of work as possible. LfS snip

Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to share this year at this event – you can always sign up using code LfS1 in CPD Manager. We would love to see you there to help build a strong and appreciative audience at the event. The more, the merrier – we look forward to seeing you on the 4th June!


Carolyn Sharp, Learning Resource Service, Service & School Improvement Team, Falkirk Council Education Services.  Bookbug provides free book packs to children aged 0-5 years.  During 2013-14 we gifted the following packs to children in the Falkirk Council area;

  •  1576 Bookbug baby packs
  •  1720 Bookbug toddler packs
  •  1767 Bookbug pirate packs
  • 1953 P1 family packs

For more information on the Bookbug programme, please visit the Scottish Book Trust website.

Bookbug logo

Deanburn Nursery Jack Frost Storyline

Yvonne McBlain from Falkirk Education Services curriculum support team is working with the nursery team at Deanburn Primary School on a Jack Frost storyline. Caroline McKay, principal teacher, and Karen Stewart, Senior Early Year’s Officer wanted to explore how the storyline approach could help their children learn about winter in a creative way. The whole nursery team were keen to explore new ways to fit in all of the essentials of planning, assessment, observation and recording of pupil progress.  For the last two weeks Yvonne has supported the team in the nursery for one half day per week. The team have then developed, observed and responded to the children’s interests over the rest of the week in order to evaluate impact on learning and develop next steps. For more information about what has been done so far, click on the documents below.

Click here to see the planned learning for 20.1.14

Click here to see the planned learning for 27.1.14

Click here to see the planned learning for 3.2.14

These simple plans are put into the large-scale floor books where the team are recording how the children use the Jack Frost character to develop their understanding of winter. This story  started the storyline off, and the team intend to use Twitter as one of their ways  to involve parents in the learning.

Physical Education in Early Years

Morag Young and Morag Simpson, PE Lead Officers with Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team delivered a twilight session at St. Andrew’s Primary School for Early Years Practitioners.  This course demonstrated a variety of activities to develop the childrens’ ability to move well, using ideas from the Better Movers, Better Thinkers programme. Practitioners were also shown how to use PE activities to support the development of Numeracy and Literacy and shared ideas on developing the use of themed activity trails to support topic work. There was an opportunity for everyone to discuss resources and share ideas. This was a very practical course and the presenters would like to thank everyone for their enthusiatic participation.

Initial feedback from the session was extremely positive and a selection of comments are shown below:

“Clearly presented, interactive and helpful”

“Excellent workshop, lots of good ideas, enjoyed topic work”

“Really liked the ideas on how to link PE ideas with numeracy and literacy”

“Great course, fab instructions, I really enjoyed this course”

Glenbervie Kindergarden Outdoor Learning

Glenbervie Kindergarden are the latest nursery to embark on Outdoor Learning for their children.  Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer, falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team held a training session for staff on 12th June at Larbert Woods NHS Site.

This session gave staff the opportunity to take part in practical activities as well as discuss any logistic issues they will face in getting the children out to access this exciting space. 

Watch this space for details of their first visit.

Learning Journey Visits

Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer, Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team has been visiting a number of establishments over the last few months to look at Learning Journeys.

The purpose of these visits have been to ascertain how each nursery establishment have implemented Learning Journeys into their practice.  Karen has also been looking at how the evidence in the Journeys link to the planned learning intentions and also how the children’s journeys are having an impact on the planning process. 

There are still some establishments that have not been visited and these will be arranged as soon after the summer holidays as possible.

There will be further training in session 2013/2014 as follows:

Learning Journeys: An introduction  – for newly qualified or appointed staff or teaching staff who have recently taken over the Nursery remit.

Monday 2nd September 2013 – 9am-11am, 1pm-3pm or 4pm-6pm

Learning Journeys: A Year On – Surgeries for all practitioners to discuss the implementation of Learning Journeys in their establishment.

Wednesday 11th September, Wednesday 18th September and Wednesday 9th October – 4pm-6pm

These session will be held at Camelon Education Centre – further details will be issued to CPD Co-ordinators shortly.

Wallacestone Wanderers – Nursery Outdoor Learning

Wallacestone Nursery are about to embark on an Outdoor Learning Project.  The children will be visiting Lionthorn Estate on a regular basis with effect from 29th May 2013. 

Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer, Falkirk Council Education Services Curriculum Support Team, facilitated two parent information sessions to advise parents of this new venture. (see presentation)

This is part of Early Years Officer, Heather Cochrane’s  Start Right Project and she has lead this initiative and will share her report with colleagues as part of this professional development programme.  She is still looking for funding to purchase all-in-one weather suits for the children.

“Here are some of the comments from parents after the information session:- 

“My child will really enjoy this experience and I think it will really help her confidence and problem solving skills.  Looks like it will be great fun.”

“My son will gain more confidence and understanding of risks and outdoor.  I think this will be very good for my child, as he does not get to take risks with me as much as he could.  He will thoroughly enjoy himself.”

“Very enthusiastic.  I work as an Ecologist and really feel this area of learning could be introduced at an early age.  Gives them an alternative classroom with a whole different range of skills to learn.”

“Very interested and excited – I think my son will get a lot from outdoor learning experiences, in terms of physical activity, confidence-building, risk assessment and social interactions.  Also, might encourage us as a family to spend more time out of doors too!”

Watch this space for photos and videos of the Wallacestone Wanderers first trip!

Airth Nursery Class – Larbert NHS Site

Airth Nursery Class have also embarked on the Outdoor Learning Early Years Project.  They are visiting the Larbert NHS Woodland Site on a regular basis.  A group of 10 children are off-site every week on a Tuesday for the full nursery session.  Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer, Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team, visited the group on 30th April.

 It was clear that the children are becoming more confident in this new exciting environment and they were able to explain to Karen what they like to do in the woods and where they like to explore.

During the session, it was clear to see that the children are experiencing a wide range of Curriculum for Excellence Outcomes and Experiences for example:-

The children noticed that there were more ‘flowers’ (daffodils and dandelions) than their previous visit.  They are discussing and examining the changes that have occurred since they were last here.   (I explore and discover the interesting features of my local environment to develop an awareness of the world around me.  SOC 0-07a

 On the walk to the woods, one child decided to count the dandelions at the side of the path.  (I am developing a sense of size and amount by observing, using and communicating with other about things in the world around me.  MNU 0-01a).  She discovered that there were “80 dandelions!”

It was one of the few sunny days that we experience in Scotland and the children noticed that their shadows were cast onto the path.  They asked the question “why is my shadow in front of me but when I turn around it is still there?”   This began a conversation about where the sun was in the sky and how this has created the shadow there.  Later on in the session, when the sun had moved, the children recalled this discussion and noticed that “my shadow has now moved to the side of me”  (By observing and recording the sun and moon at various times, I can describe their patterns of movement and changes over time SCN 1-06a). 

We then went for a walk around the pond.  The children were keen to feed the ducks and tried to attract them over to them.  Where the children were standing was very mucky and the children commented that they should move to another spot as the ducks would not come over in the muck.  We discussed that we might have to be a bit quieter as they may be scared of us. 

At the water the children also explored a variety of objects and whether they would sink or float and which object made the biggest splash!

Throughout all these child directed activities they are developing a curiosity and understanding of their environment and their place in the living, material and physical world.

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St Andrew’s Nursery Class – Outdoor Learning

St Andrew’s Nursery Class are the latest nursery to embark on the Outdoor Learning Project.  Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer, Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team, has supported staff, pupils and parents in the development of this programme.

Having met with staff and identified a site within Callendar Park, Karen met with parents to offer an information session (click here for presentation).  Some of the staff also visited another nursery to see how they ran their outdoor sessions as part of the preparation to getting off-site. 

The main aim of the project is to give children the opportunity to explore and play in the natural environment, using it as a stimulus for learning.  The children are actively encouraged to self-assess the risks and challenge themselves in this new exciting environment.  During the first session, the children took part in a number of activites:-

Measuring – children used a variety of materials to measure their hand, arm, leg and height and compare the sizes.  (I have experimented with everyday items as units of measure to investigate and compare sizes and amounts in my environment, sharing my findings with others – MNU 0-11a).

Sorting and Matching – the children found a variety of objects and brought them back to camp.  They were then involved in the discussion how to categorise these – this became a detailed discussion as some children were wishing alternative categories.  “I want to put the green leaf in the green pile and not with the other brown leaves”.  The children also discussed at great length how to sort the varying sizes of sticks and how to tell the difference between a stick and a twig.  (I can match objects, and sort using my own and others’ criteria, sharing my ideas with others – MNU 0-20b).

It was then decided that the children would go exploring to see what else we could find.  A group of children found a huge puddle that ran all the way under the bridge and had a fantastic time splashing and playing the water – they were very wet!!  We also found frog spawn at the side of the water which has brought to life the Spring/Life Cycle Topic they are currently investigating in nursery.

A great first session in the woods!

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