Sarah Shakleton & Kirsten Rennie’s Play Project

Using a combination of online platforms to put play at the heart of family learning.

Sarah Shackleton
Working Party Member
Primary Teacher
Kirsten Rennie
Working Party Member
Principal Teacher

Online Platforms

Our aim is to continue to use online platforms to improve our parental engagement by supporting parents and families to interact with their child’s learning through play experiences at home. We plan to develop our use of a virtual classroom to share and support ideas for playing at home. 

By engaging parents and families in play activities at home or out and about in the community, we hope each child and their parents or carers are recognised as experts in their own experiences. Building parental confidence around developing playful experiences at home should also help parents to observe significant or ‘wow’ moments in their child’s learning journey and celebrate the role they have played in this. 

We understand the need to support parents with their own development of digital skills that will allow them to access a range of online resources (e.g. videos/ links) that will support play at home. Careful consideration will also be placed on developing parents’ knowledge of play types and how to develop playful spaces (environments, experiences and interactions) at home. 

What format will your communication take?

We will continue to communicate with our families using our Learning Journeys and daily photos/ observations of play. However, we will also communicate using our new virtual classroom. Our virtual classroom will be updated on a regular basis, sharing ideas for playing together at home. This will include videos and photos of play experiences their child has participated in throughout the week and how these can easily be replicated with everyday materials at home.

What content will your communication have?

Play experiences shared will link what children have been learning about in our ELC with ideas of how they can extend their child’s learning through play experiences at home. Information will also be shared about different types of play and how families can support these at home and  when out and about in our local community. We aim to share ideas for playing together at home and support parents/ carers with their understanding of how these experiences will have an impact on their child’s learning and development. 

the Learning Journey template

Project Progress

Currently, we have been using Seesaw as an online platform to share learning experiences from our Early Level Class with parents and families on a regular basis. We share a mixture of observations of child-led, adult-led and adult-initiated play. Every fortnight, we share a ‘Learning Journey’, consisting of an observation, links to learning and development, next steps and ideas for learning at home. We also have a section for parents/ carers to add play experiences from home (however, many of our parents lack the confidence to share home experiences, as they are unsure how this links to learning and development). We are gradually moving from a paper to online format for  sharing learning journeys with parents/ carers.

Next Steps

The project’s next steps are to:

  • Carrying out parent, child and practitioner surveys to gather baseline information about confidence around play and digital skills.
  • Compile the information gathered to understand what is important to our children, their families and practitioners when it comes to supporting learning through play at home.
  • To develop our virtual classroom with resources that will best support our families develop and engage with meaningful play experiences at home
  • To support families to connect with our virtual classroom through videos and face to face guidance (where we can, within Covid guidelines)
  • Trial the use of our virtual classroom alongside learning journeys and sharing observations on a daily basis. 
  • Measure the impact of our project through surveys/ conversations with children, families and practitioners and engagement in the ‘Learning through play at home’ section in Learning Journeys.

Covid-19 Caveat

Since our initial blog we have returned to remote, online learning and have therefore been busy developing and exploring our new virtual playroom. This most recent has given us a push to get our virtual playroom up and running at the same time as continuously developing it.

Due to not physically speaking to our parents and families on a regular basis, we have used phone calls and family surveys to find out what is working for our families. What has been helpful? What have they used in our virtual playroom and what would they like to see more of? We gathered this information on a Jamboard.

In order to to cope with Covid, we have had to work closely as a team, reflecting on how best to support our families to play at home, making changes to our Virtual Playroom on a regular basis and developing ‘how to’ guides to help with access issues.

Project Progress

“It is essential that we develop positive relationships with parents and carers and work closely alongside them and value their contribution. Understanding the complexities, diversities and cultural differences of individual families and how this can impact each child is essential. 

Realising the Ambition

Developing our Virtual Playroom has been a great experience for all our Early Level Staff who have worked together to develop ideas around how the virtual playroom will look and what ideas will be included to support play at home.  Getting it off the ground was a little tricky as we were met by a few barriers getting it out to all our families as not all of them had accessed our Google Classroom. However, we now have it up and running with staff taking on different key areas and updating these on a weekly basis. We have been able to adjust some of the activities we are sharing to suit all our families and children after conversations with them during their weekly check in. Our playroom currently has differentiated ideas for play that are developmentally appropriate for our children and families. 

In our virtual playroom each staff member has an area including; numeracy, literacy, creative play, health and well-being and  daily Primary 1 ‘Rainbow Challenges’. As well as these key areas we have our parents notice board, a sensory room, playroom and a story corner. 

Pupil Voice

We developed an online floorbook to gather pupil voice and feedback from our children during our period of remote learning.

Photos and comments sent in on Seesaw and Google Classroom helped us to reflect on what play ideas had been most useful to our families and were having a positive impact on learning and development.

Family Feedback

Alongside developing our Virtual Playroom, we have sent out family surveys and have had an individual phone conversation with every family, finding out what is working, what has been useful, what families are using and what families would like to more of in our Virtual Playroom.

All families have been able to access the Virtual Playroom.

8 out of 20 families (40%) have responded to our survey so far.

Parents mentioned that they liked our stories and simple play ideas and would like some further ideas for play such as sensory play.

We will continue to further develop our virtual playroom using feedback from families.

Staff Feedback

Initially, each practitioner added a slide with play ideas once a week. Practitioners mentioned that they enjoyed this and felt it gave them ownership over an aspect of the Virtual Playroom.

However, as time went on, practitioners wanted to find out if parents were using the play ideas they were adding or if they were looking for something different, spurring us on to look for feedback from families.

Practitioners wanted to ensure they were putting their time and effort into something that was truly useful for our families.

Next Steps

  • To continue gathering and reflecting on information from our surveys to help us understand what is important to our families when it comes to supporting learning through play at home.
  • To use this information to improve our virtual playroom. 
  • To ‘re-launch’ our new and improved Virtual Playroom, using feedback from children and families.
  • Measure the impact of our project through surveys/ conversations with children, families and practitioners.
  • Measure if ideas for playing at home are having a positive impact on engagement in the ‘Learning through play at home’ section in our Learning Journeys.

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