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What is Imagination Playroom?
What we do?
Murrayburn’s Imagination Playroom is part of the school’s 2020 vision of improvements to create engaging environments which promote nurture and learning. The school’s Personal Equity Funding was used for resources with assistance from Facilities Management to fund the decoration elements. The space, originally a library, has been converted to create a playroom for the early years of the school intended to soften the transition into primary 1 from nursery supporting free flow play opportunities, and allow children to make smooth transitions between play areas. Elements such as forest nurseries, Biophilic Design, best ergonomic practice, brain development research and attachment theory, which are all applied to CEC Early Years settings, were considered in this refurbishment. Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights on the Child highlights the importance of free play, and play is the most important focus for learning. In this setting, the reduction of tables and chairs support active learning, curiosity, inquiry and creativity. There is no ‘front of room’ orientation with flexible and highly configurable furniture. Real timber, and resources adding to the magical calm nurturing environment. This space has also been filled with blocks for the children to interact with enhancing the rich experience in the room. Early engagement with the children led to a space incorporating some of their wishes such as blocks and wigwams. This exciting play environment promotes creativity, imagination, flexibility and the opportunity for children to move. Pupils with Additionsl Support L earning from the school’s language & communication classes equally enjoy using this inclusive space. The nook, wigwams and playhouse provide a comforting place if a child wants some time out. Children & young people that benefit from the project Approximately 200 children can benefit from the space in a variety of ways. The Primary 1 pupils have regular, daily experience of the play space, the P7 pupils have experience in a ‘buddy’ capacity to support the younger children and thus develop transferrable skills, the Language Class children in the younger classes have access to the space.
Approximately 200 children can benefit from the space in a variety of ways. The Primary 1 pupils have regular, daily experience of the play space, the P7 pupils have experience in a ‘buddy’ capacity to support the younger children and thus develop transferrable skills, the Language Class children in the younger classes have access to the space.
The room is continually used during the school day for small groups of children and entire classes. As the room organically changes, there will be capacity for parent play sessions and workshops.
A small group of P6 pupils were given the task of designing a play space. They were given opportunities to look at pictures of early years settings, learning spaces and outdoor environments. The small group then created some sketches including all the elements they felt were crucial. They focussed particularly on the need for break out spaces through the use of wigwams, and also they were very interested in the block play opportunities. The ideas from these designs formed the basis for initial discussions about the room design. The P6 children then became buddies as P7s and were involved in setting up the space, supporting play, sharing reading experiences, modelling play, using questioning and extending their own understanding of Play as Learning. The Primary 1 children, staff and parents were consulted throughout the process and offered feedback.
The play opportunities offered within this space are an extension and progression from those you would find in a nursery setting. The room is responsive to the overall Primary 1 planning. The play experiences are based around curiosity, thinking skills, problem solving an creativity. The children and staff work together to extend learning. Block Play permeates the space. This allows children to create continually – starting with cars, castles, buses but extending to toilet mechanisms, furniture for the play house space, mirror play, symmetry and nook building. The play experiences have evolved across the academic session, being responsive the needs of the cohort of children. Motor skills, literacy and numeracy across learning; and health and wellbeing form the basis for the play in the environment. The adults respond to the children in terms of interest and support. Early Literacy Skills are promoted through shared stories, rhyming, puppet play, mirrored sounds, story stones. In numeracy, conservation of number is supported through a range of child led opportunities.
The play space allows early integration from language class pupils. In order to ensure that the youngest Language Class pupils also have early play experiences in a nurturing environment, the children from these classes have regular opportunities to access this room. Primarily the children would come in pairs or a small group. Over time opportunities for integrating with mainstream peers have been planned. These sessions are responsive to the needs of the children and are flexible to ensure the needs of pupils are met in a supportive and nurturing way.
Why we do it?
The play space has had an enormous impact on the Primary 1 pupils and staff. The children have guaranteed time in the environment on a daily basis. Using prior evidence of Primary 1, the children had limited creative play opportunities and there was a need for development work on Early Literacy Skills. The play space along with the staff team, have allowed a very responsive, exciting and innovative approach to learning in Primary 1. The children were encouraged from the outset to use the play space. Over time, the environment has been planned to respond to the needs and developmental milestones of the children. The room is staffed by an Early Years Practitioner. The Primary 1 teachers have had more focussed time with small groups in the classroom and thus have been able to differentiate, respond to and extend the children’s learning further. Parents have been delighted with the use of the room and the positive dialogue they can have with their children about the experiences they have had. Overall, the learning environment has played a significant role (as the 3rd teacher in the room) in ensuring that learning in Primary 1 is appropriately challenging, creative, imaginative, inspiring and most importantly instils a love of learning from the outset.