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Understanding of the world

At North Islington Nursery School our intent is to build upon what children already know and have experience of. We welcome parents and carers sharing their family experiences with us so that we can encourage children to retell and recall experiences and celebrate them. Special profile books enable children to share their experiences through photos.

We begin by ensuring that children have uninterrupted periods of play to explore their immediate environment. Carefully selected resources and provocations are provided so that children are developing a sense of awe and wonder, using all of their senses and ‘questioning’ what is around them. Children are encouraged to transport resources to use for their own intended purposes. The more open ended a resource, the more opportunities there are for problem solving, exploration and challenge.

Although we do not plan through themes or topics, staff find out what children are interested in or use a seasonal approach to teaching. Staff build upon individual interests which often results in large group learning. For example, one child’s interest in trains can quickly become a whole class experience with role play activities, a visit to the train station, making tickets and planning journeys to drawing tube maps and making large scale models.

The learning environments both inside and out provides opportunities for children to make new discoveries. For example, there are purposely placed logs and darkened spaces in each garden for children to hunt for and explore mini beasts. Age appropriate texts, photos and tools enhance this experience.

All children are encouraged to take part in seasonal planting activities and foods grown are always used in cooking activities. Other weekly cooking activities are linked to current interests and reflect what children already know or are finding out about. For example, we will cook with ingredients familiar to a particular child’s cultural background with the support of a family or staff member.

Another example is baking gingerbread cookies when our core book is The Gingerbread Man.

The use of technology is ensured through carefully chosen and age/stage appropriate resources. Children in the nursery class have access to the use of the class computer, printer and interactive whiteboard. Smaller resources are also free for children to use such as torches, stop watches, microphones, CD player and the light box. Staff model how and when the resources are used so that children handle them with care and respect.

It is our aim at North Islington Nursery School to enrich children’s lives with new experiences that widen their understanding of their immediate world. We try to make the most of what London has to offer for young children and will plan short trips linked to seasonal/current learning as much as we possibly can.

When it is not possible to go on outings, we ensure that we invite visiting artists in to the setting such as George the Drummer who leads on African drumming sessions, Safari Pete – a visiting zoo and Theatre Tots who perform traditional and alternative stories for young children.