To play is to learn and grow

We are very proud of our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum which is informed by my (Rachel's) career as an artist and curator. Every day we create a different, highly creative, adult-led ‘invitation to play' for the children to explore. These invitations, and our curriculum plans, are based upon the socio- cultural British calendar; this enables learning about seasons, the environment and British cultural festivals.  We embed the EYFS 7 areas of learning, the Characteristics of Effective Learning, British Values, and modern citizenship (cultural capital) into all aspects of Jellybeans' creative planning. 

Our model is informed by cultural theorists Maria Montessori, Rudolph Steiner and Nicholas Bourriaud, more details below. 


Everyone worked hard at decorating their creations in our Sandcastle Competition, using starfish, driftwood, shells and sandcastle flags.


For our Fairy Tale theme,  we read Three Little Pigs and asked the children to build houses out of pet bedding straw and also paper straws. 'I'll huff and puff and blow your house down!'


We re-created blue, sparkly ocean- themed elements of Julia Donaldson's The Singing Mermaid using pipe cleaners, milk bottle tops, pompoms and pearl garlands for the children to thread, scoop, pinch and sort.


A rustic Teddy Bear's Picnic For National Picnic Month and Love Parks Week. The children dressed up for the occasion and brought their teddies in for tin can tombola, hula hoop and parachute games.


We used pinecones, sticks, wood rings, plastic bones, vegetables and eggs, and tea set items to create a Gruffalo 'Owl Cafe'. The children enjoyed weighing various food items on our vintage scales and we talked about shape,  size and measure.


As part of our On the Farm programme,  we hosted a Live Petting Zoo in our garden and the children enjoyed holding and feeding the rabbit, tortoise and chicks. The turkey was huge!


Our method

N. Bourriaud, Relational Art (2008) inspired:
Our methodology is mainly relational. Our curriculum activities focus on process; on the learning that happens in 'the doing’ or ‘the making’ of the activity. The children might not produce lovely, neat handprint paintings for their relatives. However, it is the child’s critical thinking, their agency; the relation between the child and their objects/materials, and the relation between the different children, that is important in play at Jellybeans. In addition, our play happens in one mixed age group of children, meaning that ideas, play techniques and behaviours are modelled across the group. 

Montessori and Steiner Waldorf inspired: 
'Play is the work of the child' Maria Montessori (1870-1952). 


'In order to become true educators, the essential thing is to be able to see the truly aesthetic element, to bring an artistic quality into our tasks,  such as the creation of play materials' Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Play, then, is partly an aesthetic concern. And if play is work, real work surely needs the right tools. At Jellybeans, as per Montessori, we consider the utility of play materials as work tools; incorporating daily tasks into play, building responsibility for tools (toys), and encouraging open-ended exploration to develop the children’s critical and creative development. Practical life skills, real world practicality, is also at the heart of the EYFS. Hence, we use real doctors equipment in the doctors bag, real outfits to dress up in, real food in our activities as well as real cutlery and weighing scales in our play kitchen. In line with both Montessori and Steiner Waldorf education models, we also try to keep our environment neutral - not too many posters, noise, plastic toys or distracting clutter.

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