Early Years Explorers: Summary


Key Information

Supervised By: Dr Juliette Wilson-Thomas &  Sean Mitchell (EYFS Leader at The Divine Mercy RC Primary School) in collaboration with the Lab0_6 team at The University of Manres, Spain; Lemkow-Tovias Gabriel, Montserrat Pedreira, Silvia Mampel, Jordi Cantons, Carla Quesada, Imma Brugarolas and Jordi Cantons.

In this project we will be creating and piloting interactive activities to engage children with scientific thinking and investigation from the earliest years.  The project will recognise that very young children are capable actors in observing, exploring and experimenting with the world as they experience it, and that this activity inherently develops their scientific capabilities. Our activities will there seek to scaffold and enhance this natural impulse – creating installations which invite curiosity and exploration, and therefore develop scientific thinking. Our aim is to provide contexts for exploration and observation, and hope that children go away with more questions which they wish to pursue

As an EdLab student, you will take the central role of developing, piloting and refining activities. In doing so, you will work in partnership with Lab 0-6 – a project embedded in the University of Manresa in Spain – which has developed particular expertise in developing these kinds of activities, and have created a science-facility based on these principles. Associate Professor Lemkow-Tovias will offer guidance and input via Skype throughout the project. Locally, you will work with Sean Mitchell, the unit leader of a local Foundation Stage unit which has recently been awarded ‘outstanding’ status by OFSTED. Sean is keen to sustain and expand this excellence through partnership with the academic community. This project is therefore an exciting opportunity to gain international and hands-on experience in early years education which will have lasting impact on local children.

Through this project, you will gain direct experience of science education. You will also explore rights-based approach to early years education, in which children are viewed as important and intelligent agents in their own lives, rather than in terms of their deficits and lack of knowledges. Under these principles, the activities designed, and the approach of adults, is to support and extend the capabilities of children.

This project will particularly appeal to students wishing to work with young children, but does not require any kind of scientific expertise.



Meeting with Ella — Sophie’s EYSci Blog

Myself and Ella met today and came up with a concluding plan. This is a copy of the email we sent to Sean and Mairead; We have met today and have decided on a final plan. Vaguely we are going to be dividing our session into 3 activities which will be: Bug Hunt We want […]

via Meeting with Ella — Sophie’s EYSci Blog

Great ideas, clearly a lot of thought gone into the planning. Outdoor learning is a great focus, lots of interesting reading around “Montessori” practice and how/why the outdoors can and should be used.

Meeting with Ella

Really great ideas here, you clearly have been thinking around what is required. We can flesh out the questions more at the conference on Saturday. Learning outside the classroom is a very powerful teaching tool, Montessori schools have a key element as outdoor learning and it is a useful area to read further on. Well done!

Sophie's EYSci Blog

Myself and Ella met today and came up with a concluding plan.

This is a copy of the email we sent to Sean and Mairead;

We have met today and have decided on a final plan. Vaguely we are going to be dividing our session into 3 activities which will be:

Bug Hunt We want to use the bug hotel and the outdoor forest to capture some bugs for later on. We will need magnifying glasses, containers and something to capture the bugs? Do you think a checklist card would be too much?

Digiscopes We will go indoors for this part. We will get the children to adopt the role of scientists, would it be ok if we borrow the lab coats that the heart group are ordering? We plan on using digiscopes to look closely at the bugs. How many digiscopes would you recommend us to attach to laptops?

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Farewell, And Thanks For All The Fish

Well done to everyone! When I think back to that first conference and look at how far you have all come you should be very proud.

I looked again at the post it notes you all wrote when introducing yourselves and what you wanted out of the project. You have all had practical experience of working in teams to develop, deliver, reflect, refine and rerun your projects with children. You have heard some of the key academic contexts that underpin EYFS and seen them in action.

For those who are thinking of a career in teaching I’m happy to give further advice, for me the free hugs and being called “Miss” 80% of the day are just a couple of the great benefits of being an EYFS teacher!

Full details of your assignments and how to submit are on your Moodle areas. Here’s some key info to remind you of for the first one.

More info on Assignment #1

Video-based submissions. – A link to your your submissions of creative pieces should be uploaded in a Word document to Turn it in. This may be a link to a public Adobe Spark video or YouTube video or equivalent. Make sure this link is public. Just because you can see doesn’t mean we can. Log out of your account or check the link in another browser, or better still email it to someone else to check it is visible to your markers.

Alternative format submissions. It’s good to check that your suggested format is suitable with your project supervisor in a tutorial and that you it really does meet the Learning Outcomes of the unit. If it can be in a format Turn it In accepts, then great. If your assignment takes an alternative format, please upload a photograph in a Word Document, which gives  evidence of timely submission and contact Mick Chesterman (m.chesterman@mmu.ac.uk) to arrange to drop off any physical submission.


Additional Workshops
Two additional workshops available for support in these final stage. Book on please, but if it’s full come along anyway!

Support Workshop for Project-based Assignments 


This workshop will take the form of a guided discussion on how best to approach writing up project based work and then give you direct help via targeted feedback. By the end of the session you will have a concrete plan for completing your assignment.

Support Workshop for Video / Podcast based Assignment

Creating video assignments / podcasts is an assessment tool which helps students to develop transferable skills. To allow students to build their skills in this area this workshop will also take a hands on approach to the use of two specific multimedia tools, Adobe Spark and Powerpoint .

Project Coordinator’s Reflections

I’ve reflected on the project process we have been through and it’s been a great learning journey when comparing teaching 4 year olds compared to University students!

I wouldn’t see a mobile phone in my class ever but then again I’m not sure how many of you would respond to stickers as well. What is clear is that the fundamentals of teaching are much the same, plan “lessons” at a level that engage, keep the learning open and achievable, where possible create opportunities for “peer / team” working and have an experienced “teacher” available to support learning along the way.

Well done, most of you have now planned, ran activities at Brooks, reflected on them and then re-ran them at TDM so you have plenty of learning and experiences to draw upon for your final submission.

If you need any help just contact me and below is the information that Mark shared at the last conference.

The following online resources address assessment

–          This one is an overview of the assessment requirements of the unit

–          This one talks about the common assessment that ALL the students will complete

–          And this is an exemplar.

If you are doing a 30 credit version of the unit and need to complete an extra assessment here is the briefing:




Final Version of our Project

Great reflections from a successful activity. I certainly agree that the children’s engagement and enjoyment would rate high on the scales and this is a testament to how you planned, changed and then led / support the learning. Where children are and who they are with can also affect learning, think of it as adults, if you feel safe and with friends you are more open to learn, but if on your own and in an unfamiliar setting then you will be more concerned about other things, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs would help explain why this.

Early Years Explorers

Today, we finally did our project at The Divine Mercy Primary School. We arrived there around 10:15, whilst Sean was still teaching the children. We delivered our project around a half an hour later, and the results were incredible. First of all, we decided to lay out the paintings and materials differently compared to last time. Instead of putting them all in one tray on a side, we decided to spread out the materials and the paints around the white paper roll, which we decided to use again as it was a success last time. In fact, we decided not give out individual papers, as children barely used them and we proved that they could work all together in the same paper without any conflict or sharing issues. We also put some paint in the paper before the kids entered the class, which poses the following question: did this encourage them…

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Activity practice run

Congratulations! The open ended nature of your activity enabled children of different ages and abilities to enjoy and engage with your activity. The fact that you had spent time in planning it beforehand created this opportunity, differentiation is a key element of teaching. Also the fact you planned an open-ended activity allowed the children to explore and learn without fear of getting it wrong.

EDLAB: Early Years Explorers

On the 21st of February, we undertook a ‘practice run’ of our project activities. I was particularly interested in how the children were going to undertake our activity due to it being seen as a ‘simple’ activity.

We set out our activity on the floor using a variety of resources like:

  • 2 big water trays
  • Aprons
  • Variety of resources such as nature equipment like wood, sticks, leaves etc
  • Plastercene

To begin with we was not going to use plastercene as we wanted it to be themed based, however after a discussion with Sean we decided to include it and see how the children use it. The idea of the plastercene was based on if children were to make difference things out if it, would each thing they make differ from each other regarding sinking and floating.

Having the water trays  on the floor is far more beneficial for children’s engagement…

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