Autumn colour matching.

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that autumn is my favourite season. It’s something about the colours, the smell, the faint mist in the air in the morning. It brings out the romantic side of me I guess.

It’s also a great opportunity for developing some great maths skills, and a simple way of doing that is matching the colours of leaves. This experience is so simple to organise and best of all it’s FREE!

Yes that’s right I said free and I don’t care who knows it. Now before anyone thinks this idea is original well it isn’t, I’ve seen it done before but it’s worth passing on.

All you need is access to lots of leaves in an abundance of autumnal colours from the garden and some paint shade charts from a DIY store.

These are the sort I mean, free to anybody but do be mindful of others when taking some!

Just let the children match the colours of the leaves to the charts and sort them into shades. You can count them after to see which shade has the most.

Simple, effective and FREE!

Are you excited?

I was yesterday when I heard that Alice Sharpe, an educationalist that I highly respect,  is planning to hold a conference near me next year. I mean I will squeaking with excitement I was that overjoyed.

That got me thinking,  do we have the same excitement in our voices and body language when we are presenting experiences for our children? 

I’m a firm believer that if we demonstrate a real enthusiasm and excitement for what we are doing we can hook the children into participation with great ease and thereby open their minds to greater learning. It’s the same idea when we make things an intriguing mystery by wrapping it up or putting it in a box (see an earlier blog about boxes for more on that) and seeing the excitement on our faces and in our voices brings out the sense of wonder and the children asks themselves the question “what’s got the grown up so excited” and their natural curiosity is engaged full blast. Harness it!

Curriculum or No Curriculum?


OK, this may be a bit controversial but it’s my Blog and I’m allowed!


I was cleaning the bathroom this morning, after returning from a very muddy but fun Parkrun, and a thought entered my head and I’ve not been able to shake it out.

Do our 3 to 5’s actually benefit from working with Curriculum for Excellence or indeed any curriculum? I’m just not sure it’s of any actual benefit. The latest (possibly regurgitated) thinking is that we should follow the children’s interests as this is the key to their learning and I wholeheartedly agree with this. However children can change their minds every 5 minutes and that can make planning with CfE a challenge. You may have sat down in the evening and planned out the most earth shatteringly awesome experience which covers the perfect outcome but when you go to do it the next day nobody is interested – possibly because a certain child has strolled in with the latest Paw Patrol toy (Don’t get me started on that programme either!) and the children are all fascinated how this walking, talking Chase works. Like any good Practitioner you immediately go with the flow but does it fit in with your carefully planned out outcome or are you trying to crowbar their interests to fit?

I remember reading or hearing something about Play being the child’s curriculum and it’s not wrong.  However can you really write a curriculum for Play or can you ring fence Play into a set of outcomes which can be pre-planned and observed? Not really. How about we observe children at play then give them the tools to expand what they are doing and leave curriculum and set outcomes to schools.

Told you it was controversial!

Is outdoor learning best for children?


The photo above is one I took recently of Juliet Robertson who was leading a Messy Maths workshop at Stramash in Fort William. Juliet is an enthusiastic trainer with a passion for outdoor learning and it was a pure joy to have got a place on this workshop even if it did mean an early drive to Fort William.

But back to my original question, is outdoor learning best for children? The answer is simply (but loudly) YES!!!!!

Stop and think about it for a moment, you can plan an activity for your children and it can easily be done inside in a nice controlled way. But it’s not that difficult to take it outside either. Outside you have the benefits of sunshine (very important top up of vitamin D), you have space and you have nature. Children thrive more when given space to problem solve, their learning becomes their property and they control how it goes, with some careful input from practitioners of course.

Having seen how the children in my care react to activities done outside compared with inside I’ve noticed so much more engagement from them. Take a recent gluing and sticking activity. When we did this inside I was lucky if I got 4 children fully engaged with it. However when we took it outside a couple of days later more children wanted to come and take part and stay for longer. So it’s totally beneficial to the children’s engagement and enjoyment of the experiences we offer when they are done outside

This could be a good time to talk about my love of loose parts play but maybe I’ll save it for another post?