Our school is currently working towards the Silver Award and this week our trainer, the lovely Gina of Little Chatters, was in for a day. At the end of the day she did a training session for staff. There were two things which particularly struck me in this week's training session which will inform my planning and practice as I continue on our journey with P4C.
Gina did a fun starter activity with us using a rope which was a full circle and had a knot in it. The starter activity was a game in which one person had to stand in the middle of the circle and it was up to everyone else to work as a team to conceal the knot. At the end the person in the middle had to guess where the knot had ended up. Gina then talked about different ways to use this technique including as a way for each person in an enquiry to have their final words. It is this that I plan to use in some of my enquiries from now on with my 3-4 year olds. They will love it.
This then led me on to thinking about the 4Cs and in particular collaboration, as both of these uses of the knot have a heavy foundation of collaboration. I started to think of all the ways in which we already collaborate during our day in the classroom.
This led me on to thinking about how one of the trickier parts of my enquiries (which is probably the easiest part for older children) is explaining the 4Cs at the start of each session. Caring, Critical, Collaborative and Creative. The words are self explanatory to most people (although I am sure, like me, most of you have suddenly gone blank when asked to give examples or definitions in your own teacher training sessions) however they are not so easily understood for a 3 year old.
So I am taking a new approach. I am going to put four sheets up on my P4C display board which are blank apart from the 4Cs. A sheet for each C. Myself and the other practitioners can then add examples throughout the day of how the children have displayed these skills during their normal play. We can then start using these words more regularly throughout our normal sessions to encourage children to begin to have a broader understanding of what they mean. "I loved listening to you on your superhero adventure. It was really creative when you made a machine to freeze people", "Let's work together to tidy up everyone - let's collaborate", and so on. That way the children will hopefully have a more embedded understanding of what the 4Cs actually mean both in practice and in enquiries by the time they move on through to Reception Class.
The second thing I took away to work on was as a result of a good friend's work in her P4C session this week (which was observed by Gina). This was an enquiry for a group of 4-5 year olds based on Beauty and the Beast and what the meaning of 'beauty' is. This was based largely on examining the characters of Beast and Gaston and a discussion of 'what is beauty?', looking at inner and outer beauty. The planning and session were actually a lot more in depth than I have described here but for my purposes of this post those are the important parts.
The class had a Forrest School session based on ephemeral art planned for the afternoon and, after discussion with Gina, the teacher decided to continue her exploration of 'beauty' through that session. The children first collected things and put them in one of two hoops (I love a good hoop in P4C!). One hoop for 'beautiful' and one for 'not beautiful'. As they found some rubbish during their session this further helped the discussions. Each child was then told to make a piece of ephemeral art that depicted 'beautiful' or 'not beautiful' then the class went around to discuss whether they thought the artist was trying to depict 'beautiful' or 'not beautiful'. Again the session was more in depth than I have described here but you get my point. What I took from hearing about this was two things which will inform my future practice.
1. I need to do more concept work. I do explore concepts then return to them in greater depth at later times but I think that I could do this better. With my age group, in particular, I think I need to drench them in a concept for a short period of time rather than sprinkling them with it throughout the year. I think that next academic year I will chose a concept for each half term and base my enquiries around that concept so that we can really pick apart and examine what that concept means over a shorter but more intense period. I can then refer back to that concept throughout the year.
2. It is perfectly possible to have P4C as a way of working all the time and not just for enquiries. If you have read some of my other posts you will see that I am already a big fan of embedding a P4C approach in every part of teaching and parenting and think that we already instinctively do this but I am only just figuring out HOW to do this in more of a premeditated way. Thanks to the example above and the work and advice of other practitioners in different settings and on P4C forums I am starting to see how this really can be an approach to Early Years practice and this is something I am going to continue to study and work towards in my own classroom.
Have fun with your quests and questions this week all. May the P4C force be with you!
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.