Karen Taggart’s Play Project

Using interactive setting tours to put play at the heart of family learning.

Karen Taggart
Working Party Member
Primary Teacher

Interactive Setting Tours

For my project I plan to inform our parents and carers of the importance of play using a virtual tour. I will use hyperlinks in images of our play spaces and provision to share our learning and record the voice of the child. Whenever a parent/carer clicks on a hyperlink they will be able to find out more about the types of play that are likely to take place and the skills that are developed through this. They will also be able to watch slideshows of our children’s play and I can share websites I think may be helpful if they would like more information.  I will use the play pedagogy toolkit and Play Types toolkit to enable visual storytelling and add context to images. The tour will be shared with current parents and carers, and prospective new families to aid transition from their early learning settings into our primary school.

There is a vital need to connect research, practice and policy to meet the play needs of children and young people, families and communities.

 

David Whitebread

What format will your communication take?

Using Thinglink I will share photos of our play spaces. These will include links to helpful resources and explanations as to the benefits to children and skills which may be developed in each area of our play spaces.

What content will your communication have?

Each page of the virtual tour will contain photos of our play spaces. Hyperlinks will link photos of play examples in this area . These will be annotated using  the Play Scotland play types toolkit  to describe what children are likely to  gain from  this space and what  skills and disposition they may develop.  There will also be comments from pupils in Primary 1 and links to websites that may be useful.  Here recognising  that spaces are a priority as shown in the Realising the Ambition document .

Project Progress

The first stage in the project is to photograph the different spaces in our P1 learning zone and upload this to thinklink to create a virtual tour. Photos and information would be added. This will be done in collaboration with the senior management team and Pupil Support assistants as well as the pupil voice.

The virtual tour will be posted on social media which will allow others to access and share the resource. 

Below is a link to the virtual tour.  There may be changes made to it as it evolves due to our spaces, current practice or feedback from others.

Next Steps

I will then engage with our current families to ask them to evaluate the virtual tour as to whether it increases their knowledge of our play spaces. I will also consult with families who would like more information about placing their chid/children at our school  using the tour to create conversation about our setting.


Covid-19 Caveat

Covid was the main reason I got involved with Sharing the Ambition as I was unable to invite families into the setting and wanted to still share what was happening. The initial tour explained how play is learning by linking to the Play Scotland Play Types toolkit.

During lockdown and remote learning I was able to refer to the play toolkit to still encourage learning through play at home. Our activities were shared through Thinglink and Microsoft Teams where families had a couple of set things to do each day and suggestions for play activities. As children shared their  personal play choices in their individual One Note notebooks I was able to pull together examples of different types of play to share on the following weeks thinglink or in our Proud Cloud Channel.

As Lockdown went on I then shared our virtual tour through our school website and social media during enrolment week to inform new or prospective parents about the types of learning a child would typically experience at our school.


Project Progress

The project has gone as expected except I was unable to use my own class for all observations. This wasn’t to the detriment of the project however as in the P1-3 hub I was able to see the benefit of play for older children. One P3 child even commented that they missed using the loose parts they had used in P1 and P2. On return to school full time P3 now have more access to loose parts play.

Throughout lockdown I gave a daily message and these would always include a play based approach to activities the families could engage with, and they could refer to the virtual tour to find out the benefits of each play type should they choose to.

Playing and learning outdoors is life-enhancing. It promotes mental, social and emotional wellbeing by helping to reduce stress, increase self-esteem and confidence, develop emotional resilience, and build children and young people’s confidence in their own capabilities and ability to manage risks and deal with uncertainty.”

Scotland’s Outdoor Play & Learning Coalition Position Statement

The project virtual tour has been shared with the Northern Alliance Play framework and The Moray Play Strategy as examples of how to share learning spaces with families in a virtual way.


Pupil Voice

I learn a lot when I play you know, And I play lots, like a real lot so I must learn lots too

J, P1 Pupil

The children in my class have been very open about their play and their play jobs (adult led play activities).  They realise their play is considered important. A large part of this has been the use of Adventure Island by Greg Bottrill which was used in the class before lockdown and continued in lockdown with adventures from the Magic Teapot.

So much so that the children insisted the magic teapot came back to school with its secret code words and passwords, which all give discussion for literacy or numeracy.

Adventure Island also allowed for the connection between school and home with children sharing their adventures of the Crazy Cats, Minpins and  Bog Babies etc. During ‘Live meets’ the children were keen to share who they had seen that week and were writing messages to the characters.  

On returning back to school I continued to use Thinglink to share the children’s learning with their families by photographing their floor books.

When we embrace play in an educational sense, we    create something called co-play and this can hold the key to the connection to learning that children can feel and deserve.”

Greg Bottril

Family Feedback

In a short survey conducted in February parents answered they were confident about their knowledge of different types of play. Here are some comments.

“My child thoroughly enjoys going to school as it is a fun place to be, I believe this is due to the play learning ethos that the school has for the P1.”

“I think it’s wonderful that my child is able to learn so much through play as he can be very energetic and doesn’t like to sit in one place for too long.”

My child is very hands on and enjoys learning through play. It helps to keep him engaged with his learning.

The Virtual Tour has had over 850 interactions. Many of these were during the enrolment fortnight. We are not clear of the impact this has had on our enrolment figures yet as all placing requests are not final yet. 

The tour and Sharing the Ambition project has helped develop  links with the early learning setting as they have received all the family flyers and given the opportunity to feedback. Some parents who are considering deferring their child have said that the tour has helped them with their decision as they hadn’t realised how much learning occurred in a child’s play.

University students who are now able to start placement have commented that the project and tour were useful in helping them begin their placement as they could see what was happening, how spaces were used and the emphasis play has in our setting.


Next Steps

The Thinglink virtual tour is going to be enhanced to make it more usable with less pages so will have panoramic or 360 annotated images. I will now be able to record the pupil’s voice with videos of them explaining their play in each area or what they enjoy playing with. I believe this will give a more personal account of the play at our setting. It will also give families a chance to further discuss play with their own child.

“Observation, documentation, assessment and planning are most effective when they are matched to the needs of the child. In order to achieve this we need to understand children’s thinking, through considering all the ways in which they communicate. The Floorbook approach provides tools for practitioners to listen to children, to open up conversations and to document their thinking, in order to create progression and challenge their thinking.”

Clare warden

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