Plan-do –Review


Plan-do –Review at Millies and Sparkles Pre-Schools
Now, I wish I did a bit more of this in my day to day life to be honest, but hopefully Millies and Sparkles are helping the next generation to do get into this habit. After our annual group training on using pedagogy effectively in the setting, we were drawn to the HIghScope approach of Plan-Do-Review. It takes a bit of getting your head round, especially if you like the room to look set up and ready to go. All our resources for the day are stowed under the table, or still in the cupboards ready to get out.

HighScope say..
“…Within this broad framework, …. HighScope has unique features that differentiate it from other early childhood programs. One is the daily plan-do-review sequence. Research shows that planning and reviewing are the two components of the program day most positively and significantly associated with children’s scores on measures of developmental progress.” (
It is a well researched long term pedagogy with longitudinal studies that show that children have more academic success and go on to further education, adults who have been exposed to the process in their early learning are happier, have better career prospects and are more socially responsible and independent.

How do we do it?
When your starting it needs a bit of preparation. You will want to buy some pegs and plastic baskets, notebooks etc. As you can see here, We’re ready!


Children are divided into groups of 5-8 children, preferably at the same table every day so children know where to go in the morning. We have linked these with key worker groups. In the basket are pictures of main areas of activity, and staff gather props to put in the basket from each area, to show the children some of the activities or types of activities they can do (or they may suggest an activity they want to do). Through a listening and talking process. The children tell us one or two of the things they want to do. They “write” what they are going to do and peg it to the card or basket. Quick note here, you may also want to write a brief note of what they want to do too for later. Then the children follow the routine you probably follow daily of free play etc. the children help to set up their learning environment giving them some control as to what activities come out. They actually enjoy setting up and being part of the process.

At the end of the morning the children gather in their groups again at the same table with the same practitioner. The children are asked if they did what they planned? Some children don’t do what they planned, one boy said he didn’t play with the water because he didn’t realise the trains were out, so he played with those instead. The discussion is brief at both ends of the morning but meaningful.

What we have found:
Children get to know where to go in the morning when they come in, it kind of gives a cleaner start. Parents have commented that children (even those who have been with us a while) are more quickly settled. The discussion is lively and children share control of what they do. They have a plan! The discussion at the end teaches children how to talk about their day. Parents have commented that when they ask them what have they done at Pre-School, they no longer say “nothing” but talk about activities, who they played with and show more pride in what they have done.
One parents says, “To me it seems a much calmer way to start the day. H seems to have settled into the new routine easily, which is always a good sign. I think that if this had been the routine when H started at Millies then perhaps it might not have been as overwhelming for him. I also think it creates an instant contact with the children’s key worker, which is lovely.”
A member of staff evaluates saying, “I have noticed it has built some new friendships. A couple of the children are leaving the tables together and setting of to their choice of activity.”
It takes a bit of a leap of faith to start the process, and I’d say talking to and preparing parents for the change will help the smooth transition of routine. We love it at Millies and Sparkles!!
A huge thank you to Futureworks for providing our training and to Debbie Sawh who freely gave of her time to support us implementing the process.

Evolution of an art activity

MY team will verify that craft is not my favourite place to be, however I do quite enjoy it when I’m there. I think my “control freak” personality panics as I forget to roll sleeves up, children wipe their face with paint or glue their friend with tissue paper!

This activity was inspired by a website, apologies, can’t remember which one. Foam shaped stickers are stuck to old Hot Chocolate tins or similar, paint applied and polled onto paper.


Can you spot the problem yet? Two things. One, you need a bigger paint container so that you can roll the paint on. Secondly, once the container/tube started rolling on the paper it was difficult to stop! Sorry no more photos, but I was to busy problem solving with the children how we could sort it out. Bit of sustained shared thinking. We have a lovely roll of lining paper just right for this job.

Note for the future, look out decorating paint trays, and maybe try this to put the rollers in initially. This could be great in the builders tray lined with paper. Maybe get the children to work as a team tipping the builders tray with the rollers going freestyle around the tray with the help of my lovely team.

What if I fall…



This is is so inspirational for me. Fairy, superhero, child or early years practitioner/trainer, we feel we might fall when we really need to find out ..what if we fly? We all find ourselves falling from time to time, or stumble while we perfect a new skill (it’s taken me four months to get the hang of tweeting!) but a lot of the time, most of us fly.

It’s all about risk taking with children, without taking risks children wouldn’t develop skills, not only physical skills like climbing, balancing, but the risk of all activities children do. If we let the children lead activities and engage in Sustained Shared Thinking (great book by Kathie Brodie by the same title, on Amazon) to help children move to the unknown limits of learning then we will have our flyers. We have to help those who think they are going to fall to believe they can fly. Let’s boost  self-esteem and build children’s  confidence.

“All children both need and want to take risks in order to explore limits, venture into new experiences and develop their capacities, from a very young age and from their earliest play experiences. Children would never learn to walk, climb stairs or ride a bicycle unless they were strongly motivated to respond to challenges involving a risk of injury. The Play Forum’s Position Statement is focused more on play equipment and playgrounds, but the message is relevant to children’s play in a much broader context too. Play and risk go hand-in-hand. If we are to truly value play then we must also value risk.”

So let’s fly!

Tweet Tweet

Ok, it’s a corny title, but I have tried to do Twitter for years and always given up. I think because for friendship messages Facebook works better for me. After going on a course delivered by Laura Henry (, CEO NEyTCO) she made a fleeting remark to another delegate who was following her on Twitter. Idea bubble suddenly floats above my head! Try again because it may help me keep up to date with local and national childcare issues and support my role as provider for two Pre-Schools. It has taken a while to “join in”, I was mostly observing for the first two months. The temptation to join in the weekly @EYTalking professional chat (Tuesday evenings 8.00-9.00 pm) finally became to great and I jumped in. Love the very lively topical conversations which is a great source of personal professional development. I’m not saying I’m great at this new skill but I feel so much better networking with good people in Early Years, sharing thoughts and ideas and seeing what’s current. Laura Henry….thank you!

Some activities just have the lot!

Some activities really do hit the spot for all areas of learning, letting the children explore and initiate their own learning.  It’s fascinating to watch and I feel lucky to be a part of the process. My teams are always thinking of what they can use to inspire our children and when I arrived at one of my settings this morning I could help feeling “OH yeah! This is going to be great!



We we often mix seeds or beans but pure seeds so tactile, so inviting. But what will the children do with these?



First a muscle work out for those fingers. Nothing like a pair of tweezers to challenge us! These were tricky to pick up, a bit of a test for the best of us!

One child fills a jar, and it becomes a musical shaker as we sing a few rhymes. Some one offers me a pot as my breakfast with a spoon carefully ensconced from the home corner. Delicious!

So we have brought what we need to the tray to set our challenges and fun, but as a final twist, and I don’t see this one coming..


Apparently it’s a muddy puddle!

Evolution of an activity

Activities are brilliant if you let them evolve. Starting an activity tempts the children in. The table is simple, we have flour and chocolate powder creatively displayed as a smiley face.



It it doesn’t stay like that for long..

imageCurious fingers can’t help but make marks and it’s not to long before it looks like this



The  children use their hand and fingers to make patterns and abstract drawings. The smell of cocoa powder fills our noses as we all enjoy using this media to develop early writing skills, feeling the silky flour mixture.

This isn’t where the activity stops…what can we add to this to change it up. Water!


A puddle initially. Children sprinkle the flour and chocolate powder mix onto the puddle. The conversation extend to ” it’s snowing” the flour floats on top before it absorbs into the water and the children watch the change with awe. By the way, they are all covered in flour! Now, what shall we do next? Hmmm



We we have props. Bob the Builder has joined us plus a few diggers and lorries. Stories are created by the children. The activity throughout the whole day has been so popular, so much learning has taken place in this small area. It has been interactive, it has taken the children’s lead and their imagination. We’ve drawn in it, written in it, mixed it with other ingredients, added toys and thoroughly enjoyed our evolving learning environment.

“The garden’s a bit dirty”

….said a prospective parent. I could see what she means.


It it is rather dirty in the garden. But as you can see, the children love it! This delicious naturalistic stew is made from a simple recipe using leaves, bark and swept up dirt from the path. You will need a shovel, a broom an old saucepan and a spade in order to get the correct consistency. A few magic ingredients of exploration imagination and conversation, and the value of a dirty garden becomes crystal clear!