This pair of full-colour resource books for Early Years practitioners are feely available online from Northern Ireland Curriculum.
1. Learning Outdoors in the Early Years
This 158-pages book was first published in 2005, before Forest Schools really took off. It is a useful resource for learning outdoors immediately outside your setting, rather than in a remote woodland. It is a 3MB download.
2. Learning Through Play in the Early Years
This 163-pages resource book was compiled by the Early Years Interboard panel in response to requests for guidelines on provision and progression in play. It is a 5.2MB download.
Both books are very attractive, with lots of charts and bullet-point lists. They are not textbooks; instead, with their full-colour photographs, they really stimulate your thinking – I became increasingly impatient to try out some of their ideas! I can imagine pages from these books working really well as slides projected onto a wall or screen during staff or volunteer training sessions – just select the pages that correspond with the topics you are covering.
For anyone interested in the academic provenance the above two books, Northern Ireland Curriculum also hosts a collection of research on the Early Years Enriched Curriculum by Queen’s University Belfast, including a very useful literature review of play-based pedagogy.
The approach of UK Playday is a good reason to look at a new MOOC (massive open online course) on Play.
Exploring Play: The Role of Play in Everyday Life, is a seven week long course beginning on 29 September 2014. It aims to help us to think differently about play, and discover why something that is so often taken for granted is actually very important and significant to us all.
The course is offered by the University of Sheffield on the attractive FutureLearn platform, and is led by respected Professor Elizabeth Wood. It requires 4 hours of study time per week, a total of 28 hours overall. The course is free to study, and if required, a Certificate of Participation is available at £25. The course will be of interest if you wish to work or study in the fields of psychology, playwork, childhood studies, play therapy, hospital play, teaching, childcare, or if you just want to better understand your relationship with your own children and your own play.
Before then, UK Playday is Wednesday 6th August this year, with a theme of ‘the Importance of Play’. On Playday thousands of children and their families get out to play at hundreds of community events across the UK. The Playday 2014 website is live, so organisations can start registering their events, and individuals can begin planning their days – there are lots of ways to get involved!
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