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  • The Leaf Hunt

          At Auchlone Nature Kindergarten, as well as many other settings around the world, the changing of the seasons can often capture the imaginations of children. This week at Auchlone the children and staff took part in a leaf hunt to find different types of leaves, observing how the differing colours represent the change in the season. As is encouraged through Claire Warden’s Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach, different children were interested in different topics. Some children were interested in the different vibrant colours, while others wanted to learn about “where leaves went” after they had rotted and disappeared.  A few children discussed how the changing seasons affect leaves: At the end of the adventure all of the leaves were laid out onto a Talkaround Mat to allow children to examine the entire range of different textures, designs and colours. This type of experiential learning is crucial to nurturing a child’s relationship with nature. Manager Danielle Ramsay said “last year we gathered a lot of shades of red, so we will try the colour wheel again next week to see if there are any changes in the leaves.” This continued exploration through nature and the seasons provides valuable learning experiences for children. We look forward to hearing about how the leaves change! Auchlone Nature Kindergarten is based near Crieff, Scotland. Children spend 80% of their time outdoors with the centre practicing Claire Warden philosophies on a daily basis. Every 2nd Thursday is Auchlone Thursday where we discuss what has been happening at Auchlone in recent weeks.  You can visit Auchlone on our Nature Kindergarten Days. Share this blog on Facebook: Share  

  • But what is a Floorbook?

      Share Blog written by Steven Watson. Do you want to write a guest blog? Email Steven for more information.  Welcome to Floorbooks Friday, a blogging session in which we at Mindstretchers will try to answer some of the common questions surrounding Floorbooks as well ideas and tips for their use. Floorbooks are part of the Talking and Thinking Floorbook Approach™ as developed by Claire Warden (1994) in her book Talking and Thinking Floorbooks (3rd ed, 2015). For our first ever Floorbooks Friday we have decided to answer the age old question “but what actually is a Floorbook?” There are many different descriptions and uses of a Floorbook, and as such it can be easy to get confused as to what a Floorbook actually is. We have compiled a list of 4 main definitions of a Floorbook to help you get started on your Floorbooks journey.     A Floorbook is... A child-led learning resource  A key aspect of the Floorbook is that the approach is child-led. Children decide what the flow of the lesson will be depending on what has taken their interest, with adults being able to develop these ideas further. Using what children are interested in to create lessons allows the curriculum to be carried out in an innovative and fun way.     A Floorbook is... A method of developing Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) Floorbooks encourage children to question and be critical of concepts which they hold a personal interest in. By challenging children to create links in their own learning we can develop higher order thinking. Floorbooks are a method of finding out what children know before, during and after a block of structured experiences. They are therefore a great record of showing how HOTS have improved.     A Floorbook is... A Planning Tool Through use of a Floorbook practitioners can create Possible Lines of Development (PLODs) which will allow for future lesson planning. 3D mind mapping and Talking Tubs are often at the centre of a lesson involving floorbooks. From this it is easy for practitioners to see what children are interested in and therefore what future lessons can cover.     A Floorbook is... At the heart of excellent child centered learning When used to their full extent, Floorbooks will be at the heart of your practice through the Talking and Thinking Floorbooks Approach. Children can access a Floorbook whenever they wish to, and floorbooks can be used on as and when is appropriate to create and support lessons. Adopting the approach in your setting will create an environment of listening and encouragement which children will flourish in. You can learn more about Floorbooks at Claire Warden’s “Introduction to Floorbooks” online course. Of course, there are many more definitions, key features and benefits of a Floorbook than just the four listed above. It is also a genuine record of children’s voices, a way to engage with all types of learners, a collaborative project, a source of pride for children, an exhibit to show parents, a Monet of ideas, a piece of art, and much, much more. For a much more in-depth lesson on Floorbooks and how they can benefit your practice, check our training dates to find training near you. Alternatively you can email steph@mindstretchers.co.uk to discuss bespoke training in your setting. Blog by Steven Watson with help from Senior Trainer Kate Hookham.  Do you have an idea for a blog or is there something you’d like discussed? Email steven.watson@mindstretchers.co.uk  Share this blog on Facebook: Share  

  • 5 Brilliant Reasons to Send Your Child to Camp

    Throughout the year Mindstretchers offers a number of camps during school holidays to give children the opportunity to fully engage with nature for a week. From wood whittling and fire starting to tool tinkering and home-made cooking, awesome adventures and amazing memories will stay with children long after camp has ended. This award winning programme will be sure to give your child the best school holiday ever. The dates for our next camp are: Oct 17th 2016 – Oct 21st 2016. There are still places available! Camp is for anyone between the ages of 5 and 12 and is held at Fowlis Wester near Crieff. It is run between 9.30am and 3.00pm by our trainers with support from Auchlone Nature Kindergarten staff. Children are able to attend for as many or as few days as you wish. There may be a discount available for multiple bookings. Please get in touch to check the availability of individual days. Additional days can be booked for your child during camp depending on current bookings.   Studies have shown that outdoor play and learning is incredibly beneficial to a child’s upbringing. Not only is it physically and emotionally healthy, but it helps to develop key life skills.   Our camp is outside for the entire week, allowing your child to get as close to nature as possible. We believe that the best experiences and lessons are found in the natural world. Sending your child to camp will allow their relationship with nature to grow and flourish.       To help fit camp into your schedule we try to run camp during as many school holidays as possible. You can be certain that your children will spend their holiday having one of the greatest learning experiences possible while learning to love nature.   To fit it into your schedule and holiday plans, children are able to attend as many or as few days as they wish. We are flexible to your needs.       Camp activities are completely led by children, with staff providing support rather than directing. We give your child the tools and encouragement to explore at their own speed. This approach allows children to embrace risk assessment and management.   We wholeheartedly believe that the best way to encourage learning is to allow children to inspire themselves through nature play.   Whether your child wants to cook on an open fire, play in muddy water or learn how to weave wool; we will support them in their activity and learning.       For many, this will be the first time they cook their own food on an open fire or whittle wood for use in tool creation. These experiences will last a life time.   Camp allows children to experience nature like never before. By facilitating these new experiences we can be sure that children have an incredibly exciting and fun week while also improving their learning.   Camp makes for brilliant memories that they will share with their friends and families for weeks.       Attending will help your child develop self esteem and independence in a number of ways.   Camp attracts a diverse range of children from a variety of backgrounds and ages. They will undoubtedly make new friends throughout the week. It’s a fantastic opportunity to help develop social skills.   Campers are encouraged to play and learn at their own speed. They will leave with their head held high every day having had a blast and achieved a lot.   GENERAL INFORMATION: Time: 9.30am – 3.00pm Location: Fowlis Wester (10 minute drive from Crieff, Scotland) What you need to bring: Packed lunch, water bottle, waterproofs, spare clothes, warm clothes/sun hat and sun cream depending on time of year. For more details and bookings please email camp@mindstretchers.co.uk  

  • Engage, Reflect and Record! You need a Floorbook®.

      Floorbooks are a staple tool used in much of our work at Mindstretchers. A simple product, but highly effective. Floorbooks are a genuine record of the child’s thinking.Children's ideas and thoughts are recorded without re-framing or interpretation so that they are a genuine record of their thinking. "When children give a response to a question or contribute an idea that is far removed from the rest of the group thinking, the idea should be recorded as evidence of contribution, but not engagement." Claire Warden Floorbooks stimulate the child’s interest. Record open ended questions that are created in response to an interest from the children. The questions are posed as part of a conversation and are designed to stimulate thought rather than test knowledge. "The flow of reflective talk is critical to the process, to create a partnership of exploration and discovery. Question and answer sessions create a completely different atmosphere. Questions are almost philosophical, such as I wonder what would happen if..?" Claire Warden Floorbooks adapt to different learning styles.The adult can scribe for the children to release some from the pressure of secretarial skills during a small group experience; individuals can record their idea in a pictorial form, or writing on a thinking bubble. Floorbooks collate child-centre ideas.They should be used to analyse the starting points for learning that children are suggesting, rather than adults thinking up random "activities" for children to "do". Responsive planning should be at the root of learning. "If we are going to consult children then we should be prepared to change our thinking and actions as a result of it." Claire Warden Floorbooks are always availableJoint ownership should give children the right to revisit their thinking whenever they wish. "There has to be feedback loop to the children so that they know that the process of consultation is actually changing something. In practice this approach has lead to a child centred curriculum, that is based on evidence collated in a child centred way. A feature that many centres felt is being edged out by paperwork demands." Claire Warden Buy a Floorbook, Talking Tub or Talkaround Mat Floorbooks Online Courses Floorbooks Courses Share this blog on Facebook: Share  

  • Our Staff Appraisals 2016

      Share This week the children at Auchlone Nature Kindergarten have been discussing their teachers. We all sat down on our “Talkaround-Mat” and laid out photos of the Auchlone staff. The children began by discussing the different staff members and we recorded their words in our Floorbook. Finally, the children drew pictures of the staff. The children and staff found the experience engaging, rewarding and fun! Dialogue from the children. Annie's AppraisalFG - Cause she has a smiley face.DH - I like aunty neen cause she has long hair.MK - Caue she likes too eat everyone!DR - Eats all the children. Gail's AppraisalFK - She gives me wireDR - Cause she is funnyMK - Tie up materialMS - She looks after everyone Mona's AppraisalMK - She looks after the childrenDR - Cause shes goodFG - she helps me make my bookCP/MMP - Building. she plays in the sandpit with us! Jessica's AppraisalMMP/ DR - KindHC/ DH - GoodFG - She helps me make my stuff.CP - She's nice Dannie's Appraisal CP - She plays with Rosie and makes sure Rosie is okFG - She brings me in when I am upsetDR - She is niceCP - She looked after me when I hurt my kneeDH - She’s lovely Share this blog to Facebook: Share  

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