We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen is one of my personal favourites when it comes to picture books and works with all ages. Here are some possible activities and enquiries.
Julia Donaldson is a firm favourite in most Early Years classrooms. Here are some possible enquiries and activities.
During pantomime season it is a great time to explore some traditional tales.
Traditional Tales (Pantomime season)
Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg
Each Peach Pear Plum is a timeless picture book classic from the bestselling illustrator/author team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, creators of Peepo!. Each beautifully illustrated page encourages young children to interact with the picture to find the next fairy tale and nursery rhyme character.
Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr Seuss
My favourite picture book of all time. From fun times and triumphs to lurches and slumps, Dr. Seuss takes an entertaining look at the adventures that life may have in store for us.
Llama Llama Red Pyjama by Anna Dewdney
The story of a little llama who doesn't want to go to bed without mummy
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
A gentle tale of three baby owls reassures young children that Mummy will always come home. Three baby owls, Sarah, Percy and Bill, wake up one night in their hole in a tree to find that their mother has gone. So they sit on a branch and wait... Darkness gathers and the owls grow anxious, wondering when their mother will return.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published by Frederick Warne in 1902 and endures as Beatrix Potter's most popular and well-loved tale. It tells the story of a very mischievous rabbit and the trouble he encounters in Mr McGregor's vegetable garden!
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Sometimes, when you love someone very, very much, you want to find a way of describing how much you treasure them. But, as Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare discover, love is not always an easy thing to measure.
The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
A firm Early Years favourite when exploring minibeast, life cycles, art or food. The Hungry Caterpillar follows the main character from egg to butterfly.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Once there was a little tree ... and she loved a little boy.
So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk ... and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave. This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.
Handa's Surprise by Eileen Browne
This is the story of Handa, who's part of the Luo tribe in south-west Kenya. Handa decides to take seven pieces of delicious fruit to her friend, Akeyo, who lives in the neighbouring village. But as Handa wonders, I wonder what fruit Akeyo will like best?, a series of sneaky animals steal something from Handa's basket, which she's carrying on her head... When Handa reaches Akeyo, will she have anything left to offer her friend?
These are two great books if you are looking at challenging stereotypes, whether gender expectations (Princess Smartypants) or looks (Prince Cinders).
Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
Princess Smartypants does not want to get married. She enjoys being a Ms. But being a rich and pretty princess means that all the princes want her to be their Mrs. Find out how Princess Smartypants fights to preserve her independence in this hilarious fairy-tale-with-a-difference.
Prince Cinders by Babette Cole
Prince Cinders leads a very hard life. Bullied by his three hairy brothers about his less-than-perfect looks, he spends all his time cleaning and tidying up after them. One Saturday night Prince Cinders' luck changes as a small, dirty fairy falls down the chimney and promises that his wishes shall come true. Not all the fairy's spells turn out as planned in this zany twist of a traditional story
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is a lovely story for your own wild things.
One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him 'Wild Thing' and sends him to bed without his supper.
That night a forest begins to grow in Max's room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins! But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all.
Where the Wild Things Are offers a great collection of enquiry questions.
With almost 100 characters you can easily choose the ones which best fit your enquiry. Along with the enquiries that you could do which are specific to a certain character or story you could also try the following enquiries.
Who would be a worse friend… or …
Who would you like most at your birthday party? … or …?
Who would be the best in an emergency?
Would you rather be … or …
Who would you like to cook with …. or …?
For a full list of the Mr Men and Little Miss series you can look here
What a perfect area to embrace Philosophy for Children! In fact we do it every time we read a story. As Early Years practitioners it is already in us to become philosophers when reading a story book. In Reading (30 – 50 months) we ask children to make up their own story endings. What better was to philosophise?
Reading Early Learning Goals
1. Children read and understand simple sentences.
2. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately.
3. They read some common irregular words.
4. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
Areas to Explore
For older reception children – can they choose between the written statements to vote?
When given a short sentence or word can children read them and place them in the correct place? E.g. see the activity “sorting animals”. This activity is done with toy animals but could, instead, be done with animals written on pieces of card
Give children short sentences written on card. Ask each child to read their statement out and have the group vote on whether they agree or disagree e.g. ‘dogs are cute’
Writing Early Learning Goals
1. Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds.
2. They also write some irregular common words.
3. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others.
4. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
Areas to Explore
Ask children to write their answer to open questions.
Ask them to write a question they would like to discuss
Have the children write down the community rules or 4Cs using their phonetic knowledge
This is a nice one to end on and, much like metaphysics and ethics, one which sits nicely in the Early Years. Philosophy of aesthetics is all about the arts. It dances through Literacy, Expressive Arts and Design and Physical Development.
It revels in the beauty of life, both the natural world and the man made one. It is all about the creation and appreciation of beauty in all it’s forms and is multisensory. It is equally at home outdoors as you cloud watch, pick up and appreciate autumn leaves, watch a ladybird, wonder at a spider’s web or decide which your favourite flower is; as it is indoors as you listen to music from some of the greatest composers, explore which sort of beat or dance brings you the greatest happiness or most calm and squish your fingers through every texture a typical pre-school messy area has to offer.
Here are some ways to introduce the philosophy of aesthetics to your classroom.
· Look at three famous paintings. Which do you like best and why?
· Listen to different pieces of music. How do they make you feel?
· How and why does music make us feel things?
· Do you like to listen to music with your eyes closed or open?
· What is beauty? It natural beauty or man made beauty the best?
· What is the point of ephemeral art?
· Are sculptures better than paintings because you can feel them?
· Is a painting done by a famous painter more important than a painting done by someone in our class?
· Can maths be beautiful?
This branch of philosophy looks at how we can know things are logically correct based on good reasoning. It is a useful branch to tackle things such as fundamentalism or separating fake news from real news. It also helps to prepare pre-teens to navigate the pitfalls of social media.
This branch also works well with mathematics and with reading comprehension (or rather, for our age group, listening to stories, recalling them and being able to infer things from what we have heard and seen). Some questions which may be used in this area are;
· If X and Y say that they saw Z do something does that mean that Z really did that thing?
· How many different ways can you make 6? (This could mean using number bonds, using items, using fingers, using movements, making it from playdough, etc)
· What is a number?
· What happened in this book?
· From looking at the pictures what can you work out about X character? What do you think they would do if… What makes you think that?
· How do you know if someone is telling you the truth?
· Is 2 and 2 more always 4?
· Is 0 the lowest number? Can you take something away from 0? How can you have less than 0 apples?
Miss Magical Mess is a pre-school teacher and P4C Level 2B facilitator. After a shaky start as a P4C facilitator (P4C with 3 year olds... are you kidding?) Miss Magical Mess created her own approach to P4C and enquiry model and is now a big fan.