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Gallery 3

    © Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

Redcliffe Children's Centre and Maintained Nursery

Autumn 2012

David's Message

Communication and meaning making are highly significant aspects of semiotics and young children benefit from using their graphics to communicate personal ideas in authentic and personally meaningful contexts.

David was playing on the hill; wanting to stop another child pushing him he asked his teacher to write ‘Help me go on the hill – Romy is stopping me’. He showed the sign to Romy but as the play pushing continued, David decided to write his own message, using his own marks to convey what he wanted to say. This time both David’s spoken words and his written message had the desired effect and their play continued without incident.

Making meanings in play: drawing, maps and writing - attaching meanings.

August 2012

These lovely examples shows how observations of children’s rich play can reveal their personal interests and knowledge, which in turn, can inform pedagogy.

Timothy - 3 years 11 months: ‘Rockets and trains’

‘This is the space shuttle. The space station is here - the rocket blasts off!’ Timothy drew a slender vertical form and made large circular movements with his pen to show this in action, following this by drawing further rocket-like shapes beside his original. Later he drew a circle that he divided into smaller compartments, with a line bisecting the shape. He wrote in each space, using letters that are in his name.

Pointing to various features he explained, ‘This is my house - this is at Bristol. This is Harry’s house – Harry is my friend. I think this is little London. This is little London bridge, this is Victoria Park.’ His teacher asked if her house was there and Timothy replied, ‘Oh, sorry about that, but it’s on the other side [perhaps drawing on his knowledge of a globe], so you cannot see.’ Pointing to a much smaller circle above this he added, ‘This is the moon, the moon is very small, the earth is bigger.’

Timothy then turned to another sketch he was in the process of drawing, which showed a long narrow rectangle across the width of the paper. Above it were 3 circles and inside each were abstract symbols, each attached to a long vertical line in the manner of a traffic sign. Referring to the two figures he had drawn beside them, Timothy explained, ‘These are the bus stops here. That’s my Dad, that’s my Mum at the bus stops’.

Inside the narrow box beneath he added a long tube shape with circles extending along its length, ‘Over here, this is the underground train. They have lights inside, tow lights. It goes through the tunnel.’ To illustrate his point Timothy drew a series of short horizontal lines to show the rays of light at the end of his train.

His final drawing consisted of an enclosed arc filled with black pen and with a circular enclosure on top: ‘These are the tunnels. It is very dark but there’s a light on top’ he explained.

Making meanings in pretence, imagination and role-play: including gestures and actions; speech and vocal sounds; found and made artefacts; drawing, maps and writing.

July 2012

Sameeha’s trampoline

At this age children explore their cultural knowledge holistically rather than treating mathematics as something they address separately.

The mathematics: numbers for ages

Commenting on her drawing, Sameeha said ‘That’s trampoline and it’s wet ‘cos it’s been raining. That’s in case they fall off.’ She wrote a series of numerals ‘3’ explaining ‘Cos they have to be three, ‘cos I’m three. This is the chair in case they get tired. My mummy’s thirty three, no - thirty six.’

Sameeha added green pen marks, ‘That’s a green trampoline for my brother. Only girls allowed on this one and boys on this one.’ She then went on to explain other features she’d drawn, ‘These are all the clouds and all the rain falling to the ground. It’s snowing now. It snowed yesterday. My mummy said it will snow tomorrow.’

In their play and graphics young children draw on their personal cultural knowledge. Here Sameeha included references to her experiences of playing on a trampoline, the rain and snow, her knowledge of ages in her family and imagined different cultural ‘rules’ for boys and girls.

Written number and quantities:
numerals as labels

Spring 2012

A ‘cash point’ in the forest

Children aged 3 years 7 months – 4 years 0 months

The mathematics: numbers and counting; pin number codes; money: withdrawing money from a cash point; debit cards; ‘buying ice creams from a machine; using a pre-loaded card to watch TV.

Making meanings in pretence and imagination: early explorations with marks for writing. Taxonomy
We had arrived at an interesting cluster of fallen trees in the forest; one part had a hollow space where children could stand either side. Ayman had looked through and saw potential for it to be a place to get ‘cash’ other children bought into his idea and they were using pieces of bark to represent cards to fit said after entering his piece of bark into the a slot.

Samira had added to this by using pieces of ivy to exchange through the hollow as ice creams. Children would come up to the machine asking for cash or ice cream then go off to other parts of woods, later returning, rather like a real cash machine!

Later, Cordelia was keen to try out the popular cash machine for herself “I want a go” she declared. “How many money you want, put your card in there and I can get your money”. “I have to put the special numbers in first...4, 5,6,7, 8 four moneys please” Phoebe said “Okay, I’ll just get them... here you go, thank you bye”. Cordelia exchanged pieces of leaf and bark through the hollow in the trunk.

The children had been asking for pieces of their teacher’s notepad and this seemed to change the function of the machine for Cordelia “your passports can come out, put your card in there and give me your passport” (piece of paper). “I need a pen” Cordelia said and the teacher gave her one and she wrote all over the piece of paper “this is your passport, I have to put it in here” (slot in the tree trunk) “it’s to let people test it otherwise it will be squashed and it wouldn’t work. If you don’t get a passport need a passport ticket”. Phoebe came back hearing the familiar context of passports (they have both got passports for an upcoming holiday to Paris). “I need five passports please” Phoebe asked Cordelia “okay, give me your passport” (paper) again she wrote on the paper, “I need to test it so that it works”.

Cordelia then transformed the meanings attached to this hollow space “it a television on holiday...put your card in there to make it work on holiday TV” Cayden put his piece of bark into the slot and Cordelia preceded to dance around so that she could be seen by Cayden on the other side. ”I’m on TV look at me.’ as Antoni took the card out Cordelia said “It stopped now”, then walked away so that she was no longer on TV. Antoni put the ‘card’ back in and Cordelia continued to dance around “It’s a funny programme” Antoni said and they all laughed.


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