2Problem Solving Through Play Any narrow conceptualisation of play fails to do justice to the powerful contribution play makes, and ensures that play continues to be 'probably one of the least understood aspectsof an early educator's work'.(Tina Bruce, Developing Learning in Early Childhood, 0-8 years, Paul Chapman, 2004)
3problem-solving approach The value of aproblem-solving approachIt uses multiple brain pathwayswhich integrate information, using different sensory stimulationand builds new knowledge and understanding.It provides opportunities for lifelong learning:communicationworking with othersimproving own learning and performanceproblem solvinginformation-processing skillsreasoning skillsenquiry skillscreative thinking skills
4Key Principles of Problem Solving Activities Introduction of questioning techniques which improve thinking skillsGiving pupils choiceDeveloping independent learnersDeveloping behaviours of Effective Learners:motivationcreativityenjoyment of learningability to concentrateorganisationpersistenceKey principles of this project encourage all the relevant purposes of the curriculum. Encourage all the skills associated with cross curricular problem solving.
5problem solving approach fit into today’s curriculum? Where does theproblem solving approachfit into today’s curriculum?A CURRICULUM FOR EXCELLENCESuccessful learnersenthusiasm and motivation for learningConfident individualsachieve success in different areas of activityResponsible citizensrespect for othersEffective contributorsapply critical thinking, create and develop, solve problemsIn light of documentation looking at ways of developing continuity in terms o the learning environment. Taking on board where the child is coming from, how they learn best and what they have learned.
6Background:Our project this year was to address continuity and progression from nursery to primary 1, looking at methodology, principles and practices. We introduced children to problem solving through play experiences, building on their prior learning. We have worked with two primary schools, Kildrum Primary and Rochsolloch Primary and their associated nurseries, Kildrum Nursery Centre and Rochsolloch Nursery Class.Intended Project Outcomes:Raising and developing awareness amongst school staff as to the benefits of children approachingproblem solving through play.Delivering targets through a problem solving approach.Developing and extending children's knowledge of problem solving activities through play.Strengthening liaison between nursery and school settings.Development of the Project:These two schools approached the challenge of addressing problem solving through playin different ways.Kildrum Primary set up active learning problem solving sessions, lasting one hour four days aweek. At most of the activities an adult was present, with key questions that had been previouslyplanned by the class teacher. The Leuven Involvement Scale was introduced as an evaluation tool.Rochsolloch Primary set learning areas similar to the nursery environment and provided challengeswhich encouraged cross curricular problem solving for one hour, four days a week. During thesesessions the teacher and one other adult helper was in the class. Monitoring and evaluation wascarried out by the class teacher on a rotational basis.
7Resource requirements Time When Who Determine success criteria Planning:Resource requirementsTimeWhenWhoDetermine success criteriaImplementation:Launch and auditAnalysis of audit and identification of staff involvedInvolving pupils and generating evidencePractice in Action:Review of current practiceIdentification of milestones for the projectInclusion of practical and classroom based activitiesAttention to the needs and inclusion of pupils with special needs.
8Benefits of the programme: Increased liaison between early years establishments and primaryschoolsPromoting thinking skills within the classroom environment.Collaborative group activities in which children can communicatein a variety of waysProblem-solving activities that encourage reasoning and enquiry.Open-ended activities with more than one ‘right’ answer.Activities which accommodate multiple intelligences.Activities in which both genders participate freely
9Teachers visited associated nursery settings and discussed how resources and language in problem solving activities were used and developed within the nursery. Information about the children’s prior learning was then built upon. The use of problem solving language, reflective investigating, thinking, reasoning and justifying skills was extended and encouragedExamples of problem solving language being developed:I think…..I could try…..I wonder what would happen if…….Maybe we could……..Allow children to explore, find out , create within a contextualised environment which links with their own experiences. Makes learning more relevant, and meaningful.Encourage children to reflect on their own learning and use appropriate language which will extend their learning. Use open ended questions. Avoid situations where there is only a right and wrong answer. Children my have a different take on a learning situation – allow them to develop their own ideas and support them in explaining and/or justifying their decisions.Ensure activities are open, and also that they have a variety of resources.Children should not be limited by adults perceptions of a task. Adults should e scaffolding learning offering support model new language.
10Progression & Continuity from Nursery to Primary Evidence of best practice from across the authority was collated and willbe shared by way of guidelines being distributed to all establishments.Issues addressed were as follows:Continuity and progression of learning and teaching environments,methods and styles.Continuity and progression of problem solving language.Methods used to share information about children’s prior learning.Resources available and how they are used within establishments.Transition practices throughout the year.
11Problem Solving through play encouraged children to: Learn something newShare ideasWork togetherConcentrate on a taskTidy up carefullyReport back and question confidently
12Prompts can be used to encourage children to reflect and report back Did you listen to your groups ideas?Did you talk to your group about your ideas?Did you try out some ideas to solvethe problem?
13Kildrum Primary Cumbernauld Strengths:More active learning is taking place.Children are encouraged to use a wider variety of resources.Signing up for activities allow children to make independent choices & allow the teacher to track and monitor which areas the children were involved in.Children enjoy the experience that active learning is providing.Children are becoming more confident particularly with other adults.The use of problem solving language is being developed.
14During an interim report session the following points were discussed and would be monitored during following play sessions.Activities were found to be more adult-led. Child-initiated play would be developed allowing more exploration and investigation by the children.Group sizing would be addressed as it was found that smaller groups gave better results.Reporting back sessions would be developed to allow quality feedback from groups and individuals. More time would be spent on children’s questioning skills.Learning areas, within the class setting would be looked at, in order for them to become a permanent feature within the classroom. This was felt to be a contributing factor to the sustainability of the project.
15through active learning Kildrum PrimaryProblem Solvingthrough active learningInventors & InventionsChallengeImagine teapots have not been invented yet.What could you use instead of a teapot?How many different materials can you use? What materials aregood for a teapot? How many different shapes can you use?Which shapes are good for a teapot? Which shapes aregood for pouring?
16Children have theopportunity toinvestigate andexperiment with aselection of resourcesInitial discussion takesplace to establish priorlearning and knowledge.Children reportback to peers andteacher on theirfindings.After group discussionthe children have theopportunity to test theirtheories.During this session supportwas given by a primary 7 pupil.
17Kildrum Primary Teacher Comments Elaine Cliff “We are pleased how this initiative is developing – pupils love the “hands on” approach.”“Pupils are more focused and settled in the afternoons”“Great opportunities for pupil / pupil to pupil / adult interaction.”“Good assessment and recording of learning via oral, practical, audio video and photographic evidence.”“The pupils have enjoyed and been actively involved throughout this process, but as teachers we feel it was the process that enabled us to disengaged from the “jumping through hoops” product based curriculum. We now feel confident we are providing appropriate activelearning opportunities where pupils can engage in their own and others learning.”Elaine Cliff
18Rochsolloch Primary Airdrie Strengths:All activities were class based.Children had time to explore and investigate.Good range of activities were provided.Good links with forward planning were made.Reporting back sessions were developing well. Children became more confident giving feedback and in their questioning skills.Positive feed back was given from the children and teacher.
19Rochsolloch PrimaryAirdrieDuring an interim report session the following points were discussed and would be monitored during following play sessions.Areas to be developed:Problem solving language to be developedObservation and assessment being used to inform future planningChild initiated playWorking towards increasing children’s choice of methodology in tasks.
20Developed areas within the classroom environment The teacher in Primary 1 looked at the availability of space within the classroom and reorganised areas to allow learning bays to be created; role play, cosy corner, construction area. Group tables are used during play sessions and trolleys containing resources are located nearby to allow children easy access to them.Role playCosy cornerLanguage areaCreative areaComputer AreaConstruction areaMathematics areaLanguage area
21Julie Christie Rochsolloch Primary Teacher Quotes “For at least an hour every day children are able to learn solely throughplay activities. We try to allow the children time, space and choice so thatthey can complete their tasks in a way that they want to. Mistakes and triumphs are reported back to the class so that everyone can learn from them.”“Without being able to name each problem solving strategy, the children have had experience of all of them, and are learning when and how to use each one.”“For me the best part of this year is that for at least an hour every day I get the opportunity to really talk with my pupils. I love that every child in my class gets the opportunity to shine every day and their successes arerecognised and praised by all.”“The learning taking place is more valuable, more worthwhile and less stressful than ever before.”“I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a worthwhile project.”Julie Christie
22Why we chose play as a vehicle for learning in problem solving activities: It makes learning fun.It helps children to develop theories and their own thinking. It is the start of self-directed learning.It fosters independence and self-esteem.It recognises the different needs of individual children totest boundaries and responds positively to that need.It often involves open-ended outcomes.It provides opportunities for children to develop at their own rate throughchallenging progressive play.It provides a secure, stimulating environment which will allow for thedevelopment of the whole child.It helps children to develop social skills e.g. co-operation, sharing, taking turnsand teamwork.It allows children to consolidate concepts and make connections across all areas of the curriculum.We can support children’s development and learning, directly and indirectly,when play is used as a vehicle for learning.It allows the children to discover the properties of materials and resourceswhich lead to the formation of mathematical and scientific concepts.It organises life's experiences and involves working out and negotiatingwhat these mean.
23SustainabilityLocal Authority guidelines, for continuity and progression from early years establishments to primary school, have now been prepared and will be distributed to all establishments throughout the authority.A DVD has been compiled for staff development, which will be distributed to every primary school.Leaflets and a DVD have been compiled, for parents, to promote the value of play in children’s learning.Literacy through play will be addressed next near, as a pilot within a cluster of schools, through a Learning & Teaching initiative.The sharing of best practice will continue across the authority.