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Alistair enjoyed a successful 10 year career as the Head Teacher of three-form entry Infant School and Early Years Unit in Cheshire. Alongside his headship he established a successful consultancy career specialising in the education of children in the Early Years. Find out more information about Alistair's consultancy portfolio at
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Just to let you know that I am moving my blog to Wordpress from it's current home on Typepad My blog address is staying as simply... See you over... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at abc does has moved to
Hi Courtney If the children can't read the challenge then the adults will often record it onto a talking tin. You will see them in the photographs above. Alistair
I love a bit of mud play, there is SO much scope for learning and enjoyment. Last year I did a post about creating your own mud kitchen - you... Continue reading
Hi D.B. Thanks for your comment. I can completely see where you are coming from. Working with young and immature children is challenging enough, but working with children who are going through emotional or physical turmoil on top of that adds a whole other dimension. Fee and I fostered for many years when our boys were younger so I can really empathise with some children's need to 'normalise' their environment by upsetting or destroying it, as that is all they know. Most of the settings that I do sustained work with are in areas or high social deprivation and often have a high proportion of children with English as an additional language. What you are describing sounds a lot like them. The setting where these photographs were taken is one such setting in the middle of Salford, Manchester. It is near the end of the third term in Reception now and many of the children have made amazing progress socially, emotionally and linguistically, meaning that they can access these resources . The 'majority' of them will now treat the resources with respect. In settings where the children are particularly challenging, then I still use lots of provocations, but they would be introduced during small group time, and not left out in CP for the reasons that you stated. In a setting like that, where children don't cope well emotionally with long sessions of free choice like CP then you are far more likely to break the provision more often and have more regular small group time. I would then build up the CP sessions slowly over time as the children became more able to cope with level of freedom and choice. I know how frustrating it can be when children mistreat the resources you have carefully chosen and worked so hard to create. I also appreciate that you acknowledge the fact that these are complex children and it is not their fault, but these are the children that need this sort of experience the most as they probably don't get it elsewhere. Don't lose heart! It is a really difficult and often relentless job that you and your team are doing. Even though it might not always feel like it, you will be making a HUGE difference to the children in your care. If there is anything you think that I can help you with, then don't hesitate to drop me a line at and I will do my best to sort you out. Stick with it! Alistair
I love the term ‘provocations for learning’, as I think that it encapsulates what our Continuous Provision and indeed our wider environment both indoors and out should be about. How... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2014 at abc does has moved to
Hi R It really depends what your focus is in your Literacy sessions. If you are leading the session and are 'teaching' then use any good text that you know will engage the children. It can literally be anything. You can link that text to children's interests, seasons, celebrations or a concept/theme that you are focussing on in your direct teaching sessions. Good Luck! Alistair
Toggle Commented Jun 27, 2014 on Planning at abc does has moved to
I really do enjoy and ABC Does conference day. We always make sure that we have good venues, good food and some great training! Someone emailed me recently to say... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2014 at abc does has moved to
Hi Gill - you have got to love a bulldog clip! See below for where to get your hooks. Alistair
Hi Gail - You will find them on Ebay, see above comment. Alistair
Hi Michele. I get mine from Ebay. I just search 'magnetic hooks'. They are not really cheap, but they last forever! Alistair
In the days before every classroom had a computer, never mind an iPad per child, schools were full of weird and wonderful contraptions to help to make your life more... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2014 at abc does has moved to
Hi Rob. If you are using OLP's then you won't be withdrawing groups to work on an 'activity' during CP sessions. I could be that you are trying to do both and that is where your difficulty is coming from. You would do any direct teaching at the beginning or end of a CP session and then during the CP all of the adults need to be in the play with the children observing, challenging, engaging and delivering (OLP's). I use Dough Gym and Funky Fingers sessions to get children moving if they have been sitting for any period of time, so often after a whole class carpet session. If you can get your hands on a copy of Continuous Provision in the Early Years there is a timetable in there that lots of settings I work with have used/adapted. Let me know how you get on.
Hi Hettie. When you come across an issue like this with challenge, it is often to do with the type of challenge that you are asking the children to do. If the challenge itself isn't very engaging then they are not motivated to go and do it. You can also try incentivising your challenges like Peter (below). That usually works a treat. If adults are also working OLP's in Continuous Provision then they too should be encouraging children to do their challenges whilst they move through the CP. Fingers crossed you can get it up and running again, because when it works well it can have significant impact. Good Luck!
Hi Peter. Good idea to use wrist bands.The planning for your direct teaches, OLP and challenges should be less than you were doing previously. Are you still preparing planning that you don't really use in your day to day. Sounds like you need a paperwork audit!
This week I have been spending my time on the Wirral as part of a three year project that I am doing with the Local Authority. Each year there are... Continue reading
Hi Richard You WON! Can you send me your postal address and I will get the box sent out. Alistair
Happy half term one and all! I really cannot believe where this year has gone. One more half term to go and that will be it! This week I am... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2014 at abc does has moved to
Hi Elsa - I know that feeling well. It might seem like a bit of an uphill climb at the moment, but it will be worth it when you get everything sorted. The frustrating thing is that 'good' change on the scale that you are talking about takes time. If you overload your team too much then they are likely to burn out or stage a walk out! To be really effective with OLP, you have to be confident to go into play and deliver an objective over a number of levels. It is worth starting slowly and giving every member of staff the same OLP sheet and letting them get used to the idea and see just how easy (and enjoyable) it is. As you are only delivering one objective, you will have to mix this with activity led learning. Once they are more confident then you can start to give each member of staff their own objective to work on. Good luck - pace yourself! Alistair
Hi Kimberley It all depends which aspects of Nursery practice that you are looking at. I have got a couple of books about children's learning and Continuous Provision that might give you a starting point. Have a look on the books tab at the top of the page. You can buy them from any good bookshop! Alistair
Last week I found myself at the TTS 'Time for Two's' Conference in Manchester. I was delivering a Keynote and a couple of workshops alongside Alice Sharpe amongst others. It... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2014 at abc does has moved to
Hi Norma. Thanks for getting in touch. I am really glad that you enjoyed the conference and that is made some sense! Your mark making sounds great- keep up the good work! Alistair
This is an Understanding the World activity that I guarantee you and your children will LOVE! All you need is some laminating pouches, an iron, an ironing board, some A4... Continue reading
Hi Emma - I am sure that will be fine. Pin away!
If you haven't come across Creative Star Learning, then it is a definite to add to your blog list. It is hosted by the lovely Juliet Robertson who has some... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2014 at abc does has moved to
Go for it Charlie! I am sure Ofsted will love it! Alistair