Views & Opinion

“Dinosaurs are real”, said Alex

Comment by ALICIA BLANCO-BAY Early Years Consultant


These are the stories we should be using to inspire future Early Years practitioners, and teachers at any level for that matter, who are eager to connect with children (or learners of any age). Stories that turn magic moments into real learning opportunities if we know how to fly with the children we work with.

‘ ‘That thing called child-initiated learning’ That thing called child-initiated learning’

Although the compliance agenda has created pressures with the ‘box ticking’ exercises we have to complete as Early Yea today, weMUST remember that connecting with c the top of our agenda.

hildren should be at rs professionals

It is possible to support learning whilst focussing on children’s interests.What makes this kind of learning so wonderful is that it helps children acquire skills for life. Any normal day can turn into a magical learning opportunity which can (and should) be used to support children developmentally.

This is where I begin to tell you how I know that dinosaur eggs are real.

dinosaurs were real, and not knowing they were dried out squashes, made the learning so much more powerful. He made it his

responsibility to look after these eggs and be ready for when the baby dinosaurs arrived.

This is the type of child-initiated learning that can help children thrive because it brings all the areas of learning together. Alex felt responsible for these eggs and it became his job to make sure they were kept warm and safe. He carried them and handled them with care at all times (Personal, Social & Emotional Development/ Physical development). He discussed with his mum what they could do to make sure they were in

Vie ws & Op inio n

a nice place ready to hatch (Communication & Language). Alex observed the peculiar shape of these eggs and counted how many of them he had (Mathematics). He also began to question how the eggs had ended in the allotment and how long they might have been there (Understanding theWorld). The creation of this story in which he took the role of ‘dinosaur egg carer’ was a role-play opportunity to learn about dinosaurs (Expressive Arts & Design).

After a few days waiting for the eggs to hatch, something happened during the night that mad this whole experience an event Alex will certainly never forget. He got up one morning to find that one of the eggs had hatched and there was a gift with a message from mummy dinosaur on the floor thanking Alex for looking after the eggs so well. To his surprise he then found photographic evidence that showed how mummy dinosaur had come to his house to take baby dinosaur to a safe place. Alex understood why the baby dinosaur needed to be with his mummy and decided to write a letter (Literacy) thanking mummy dinosaur for his gift.


gardening gloves on and off he went to explore his a otment with his mum.What happened at the allotment turned the following few

be forgotten’ experience.

Amongst a few weeds, a wild rhubarb patch and a beautiful plum tree, Alex discovered

something he had only ever seen before in books. “He had dinosaur eggs in his allotment!”

Alex decided he had to look

after these eggs until they hatched and without hesitation he said to his mum they had to take them home. You could just say that this was another five-year-old boy playing but it was more than that. This was Alex believing that

, 20 www April 2019 2019

It was another average weekend for Alex. He put his wellies and his ll

days into a ‘never to weekend and the

Take this as a totally spontaneous moment that made child-initiated learning truly powerful and keep alive to the possibility of impromptu learning, because it truly is all around us if we did but recognise it .

If youwould like to discuss Early Yearswith Alicia, she can be contacted via

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