P4C in the Early Years Foundation Stage

Catherine Lawrence, Windhill21, Hertfordshire

At Windhill21, P4C lessons are accessed once a week within our Early Years setting. These lessons are planned for based on the needs and interests of the children, but are also designed to be flexible. Here are just some examples of a few different sessions I have run with my Reception class.

Focusing on the needs of the children

As a class teacher, I wanted to bring up the subject of bravery, as there were a number of children struggling to find their voice at this time. As a starter activity, children had to decide which animals they thought might be brave and which they thought were more cowardly. They placed their ideas on a scale in the middle of the carpet, from most brave to least brave. We then watched a video depicting a story called The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright. Children discussed the story and many changed their minds. Discussion turned to thinking about what it meant to be brave for them as individuals. Children also questioned whether you can ‘look’ brave, or be brave all the time, sharing ideas such as “I don’t think bravery looks like anything, I think it’s inside you“. Following this, children were invited to draw a picture of ‘Bravery’ during their CIP. Many children chose to draw a brave animal or a situation that required bravery, like climbing to the top of play equipment. This session was successful in getting children to question themselves and each other, and throughout the week children were keen to tell me about their experiences of daily bravery!

Creating a ‘hook’

The clock from Hickory Dickory Dock was left broken yesterday afternoon, as it appears someone has taken the number 1 off the face. As the clock couldn’t strike 1, the poor little mouse has not been able to climb down all night.

Following this news bulletin, children looked for evidence to try and solve this “whodunit” mystery! After concluding that it must have been Humpty Dumpty (as egg shell was found at the scene), children had to decide what would be a suitable punishment. Suggestions were quite severe before one child suggested that Humpty might have done it by accident. This enquiry went on to explore the reasons behind the crime, whether saying sorry is enough, or even whether or not the mouse might decide Humpty’s fate. This enquiry was engaging, fuelled with enthusiasm and held invaluable learning opportunities.

Building upon a stimulus throughout the week

During one of our weekly Forest school sessions, I showed the children a little house I had made for my brand new pet spider. This followed on from reading the story, Argh Spiderby Lydia Monks. Initially, many of the children were horrified that I had a spider as a pet; it was very hard to believe for some! However, after posing the question “well what is a pet then?” the children eagerly came up with their own criteria for what classes as a pet. Some children were open minded at the prospect of an eight legged friend (“as long as it was in a cage”), whilst others disagreed, saying that pets had to be cuddly. This sparked a follow up activity later in child initiated play (CIP), where children had to sort pictures of animals into a Venn diagram made using large hoops on the floor. For children that were able to read, I provided additional cards that had descriptive words (such as ‘fluffy’ and ‘slimy’) that children could add to the diagram. This is an example of how I use an original stimulus and delve deeper using different activities and environments.

Comment from Nick Chandley, SAPERE Trainer: Catherine, it’s so lovely to see you exploring P4C so creatively with your class, also bringing in elements of the recent Level 2 courses you attended. I remember other participants on the courses being really interested in such things as ‘playful ponder’ so it’s equally lovely to see that you’ve taken the time to write up some of your sessions to share with others. I really like too how you quite naturally turn playful activities into something substantive to discuss. Keep us all posted with progress!

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