Claire is a nursery teacher who runs the Instagram account @seahorseclassyfs1 where she shares early years teaching ideas and creative ways to make learning fun. In this guest post, she's giving you some ideas of how to incorporate sensory learning into the home and classroom using the example of a lesson about Easter.
Finally Spring has sprung and Easter is on its way. Educators in schools and homes will most likely be preparing for Easter and perhaps reading the Easter story from the Bible. Before I tell you about my Easter story idea let me tell you a bit about myself.
I am an Early Years teacher and have been working with preschool children for over 20 years in various different roles in nurseries and schools within the mainstream and special needs sector. Before Pinterest and Instagram I needed to find my own new ideas to inspire the children. After working with children with complex needs I developed a passion for using sensory and hands-on resources for learning.
Each time I choose a book to use with the children, I read it through and decide how this can be represented through objects of reference or sensory media. Some easy things to try based on the book or theme you choose are making things with the children, using puppets or toys you have around the environment or pretending to be the story's characters. The idea I am going to share is by no means just for the Easter story, it can be adapted for any story that has key events or characters as the story unfolds. The children can help you collect items to fit into bags or boxes or it can be a surprise as the story unfolds.
Ok, so let me explain how. The school I teach in is a C of E Academy but as it is a very multicultural school, I use persona dolls to explore different religions. I have a doll called Elizabeth who is a Christian and comes to share her experiences with us and the stories from the Bible. We explain it is what Elizabeth believes and help children to learn about other people's beliefs and religions. Elizabeth comes to school with a box or bag of items for us to explore.
I have a set of graded nesting boxes and these are perfect for storytelling. I add one small object into each box that shows the next part of a story and build in action songs and Makaton to involve the children more. I label each box with a number then encourage the children to help put them in order. I explain how these boxes have special symbols inside that will help us to remember what happens in the Easter story. For younger children you can make a number line to help match the numbered boxes to it. For the Easter story, I just use The Lion's Children's Bible that is appropriate for preschool children.
For each part of the story, I encourage the children to open the next box, we find out what is inside and if it helps remind us about the next part of the story. It works best if they have some understanding of the story but it is not essential. For this story, each part has a song. As I am no musician, I often just make up songs using traditional tunes with repetition to allow them to join in. By adding songs and actions to a story, you add another dimension and method for children to understand.
Active learning is more fun! I have also found children learn better through repetition and songs. This activity not only develops Literacy pre-reading skills but also extends their vocabulary, explores maths with sizes and number order, knowledge and understanding of religions and festivals, creativity using songs, physical development using actions large or small and listening and attention skills. By using resources that link with books, you can inspire children to have a love of books and reading. I hope you enjoy bringing your stories to life! You can find more of my ideas on my Instagram page @seahorseclasseyfs1.