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Curiosity Approach

Curiosity is natural…

Children make it special

Why is important?

We embarked on curiosity approach journey because as we researched and began to quickly fall in love with everything it stands for.

Children’s natural curiosity, awe and wonder for life and the wonderful world around them is enhanced and allowed to be stretched, creating the ‘thinkers and doers’ of the future.

We have rich environments, full of open-ended resources, authentic items, and loose parts. We have removed ‘toys’ which have a set purpose and can limit play. By replacing toys with these open-ended resources, we allow our children the freedom and creativity to problem solve, use their imaginations and extend their play in any way they choose.

A stick is not just a stick….to a child it can be a wand, sword, potion mixer, paint brush, spade, the imagination, and creativity has no limit.

We aim to teach children ‘how’ to think rather than ‘what’ to think. This means typical ‘toys’ are gone and replaced by ‘loose parts’ and ‘open ended’ resources.

We have a ‘continuous provision’ which is based on our children’s individual next steps. This is available all day every day, inside and outside to provide children opportunities to achieve and also to extend their play. This is full of purposely chosen items to inspire children, enable play opportunities, practice, and perfect age-appropriate skills, whilst gaining confidence, independence and accessing opportunities across the whole Early Years Foundation Stage.

We then support this by setting up ‘invitations to play and provocations. These may introduce children to new ideas, concepts, skills, processes or resources. But are very different to ‘activities’ which have a set outcome. An invitation or provocation although set up with an ‘intention’ is open ended and can be accessed and played with in any way the child chooses.

We believe through accessing this well planned and highly inviting and stimulating environment through play children learn at their own pace, in a happy confident way and will thrive.

Children are born with a natural curiosity. They want to do, they want to discover, explore for themselves, use their senses, be active participants and in charge of their own learning.

What we offer at ABC provides children with the time and skills they require to become confident, independent, and capable learners.

Children have many, many years ahead of them of formal learning. We set the foundations, so they are ready to take on these challenges. Not by being mini schools, but by embracing the opportunities and experiences children truly need in their early years from birth to 5 years.

Why are we implementing it?

Loose parts and open-ended resources

We have found that loose parts and open-ended resources make for better learning and play experiences.

An open-ended resource is basically the opposite of a toy; it does not have a set purpose and cannot be completed. It is, as the title says, ‘open ended’.

A loose part is absolutely anything, large or small; it is an open-ended resource that can be:

  • Constructed
  • Taken apart
  • Collected
  • Sorted
  • Combined with other materials

The list is endless!

Large loose parts are used in play for:

  • Construction
  • Balancing
  • Art
  • Building dens or enclosures
  • Stacking and lifting
  • Climbing and reaching
  • Problem solving
  • Working together

Again, the list is endless as is the learning taking place as children play.

Because loose parts and open-ended resources aren’t purposely made toys for children the materials, textures and weights are all allowing children so many more experiences than just their typical smooth shiny plastic.

The sensory experiences and the managing of risks if items may be breakable or if a stick may be sharp enhance the play and learning so much further.

Naturally curious

By exchanging our toys for open-ended or loose part items, children’s natural curiosity grows. Children naturally have to use their imaginations more and their creativity can come alive as all limits are taken away.

Throughout their day children are continually problem solving and decision making. They are constantly trialling ideas, being creative, building on ideas, working together and putting thought into their play experiences.

Their play suddenly has no limits; instead of just a choice between the dressing up outfits purchased, they can create any character they want to be. The same item can be a police officer, a princess, a road worker, a racing car driver or a chef, the only limit is the child’s imagination.

Loose parts at ABC

Our nursery shelves are full of small loose parts.

As well as developing children’s vital fine motor skills here are just some examples of how these items are also used daily:

  • Art
  • In playdough
  • Mark making
  • Following lines
  • Collecting and sorting
  • Making patterns and comparisons
  • As food in the home corner for pouring or mixing
  • Filling and emptying
  • Transporting
  • In sand and water
  • Any other way the child chooses

Children cover the whole Early Years Foundation Stage, every single area of development, at their own level, with these loose parts. They are not made to come and sit down or take part in activities an adult has chosen. They are leading their own learning as they play.

The children’s play is fun filled and open ended; the children have little to no idea of just how many new skills they are practicing and all of the hidden learning that is taking place as they busy themselves with their play.

Children also learn to respect items and their nursery; if loose parts are not put back after use then they soon run out.

We learn to collect bottle tops, ring pulls, recycle and put everything to good use. Jars become paint pots, sticks and leaves collected for sticking and painting, no cardboard box gets past our construction area!

The vocabulary children are exposed to also increases as the items available are so vast that they learn new words to describe them.

Why Play is important

Our setting and plan of activities it is all about play as a development stage on every one of the children in our care. This is vital for their social, emotional, cognitive and physical development to become proactive citizens of the world.


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