Crescent Under 5s Pre-school in Reading


  1. The playgroup sessions
  2. Prime areas
  3. Specific areas
  4. A balanced approach
  5. Personal, social and emotional development
  6. Language and communication
  7. Physical development
  8. Literacy
  9. Mathematics
  10. Understanding the world
  11. Arts and design
  12. Our aims
  13. What we offer

The playgroup sessions are based on activities based around a series of six webs:

  • Our environment
  • Knowing me, knowing you
  • Creativity
  • Technology
  • People who help us
  • Celebrations

We use these broad based themes to guide us when creating rich and stimulating ‘enabling’ environments for the children. Our aim is that a child’s time spent with us is a positive and rewarding experience.

Home CornerLong, medium and short term plans merge together into a snowball which rolls on for days, weeks or even months depending on how the children are informing our planning. These may involve issues that the children can directly identify with, or may introduce them to new concepts. New experiences are introduced when the children indicate that old ones have run their course. On a daily basis, the short term planning show activities that are in progress, and their focus for the needs of a particular child/children will be noted.

These plans reflect all areas of the following curriculum, and will be differentiated to allow for the different age groupings and abilities of the children taking part in them.

Entries on the planning board will be based on:

  • The unique (strong) child - every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self- assured.
  • Positive relationships – children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and a key carer.
  • Enabling environments – the environment plays a key role in extending and supporting children’s development and learning.

If our setting understands the above concepts, then each child will be:

  • Able to learn and develop –children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates, and all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter-connected.

We will explore all the seven areas of learning and development using planned learning opportunities, some of which are based on a whole setting focus such as ‘Our Environment’ or ‘Creativity’. We ensure that each area of learning is covered every session and consider what we hope the children will achieve in each:

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Prime areas

These are particularly important for the youngest children as they begin to develop responses to the world and people around them.

Throughout the early years practitioners must be alert to any cause for concern about a child’s progress in the prime areas, informed by ongoing formative assessment of the child and by feedback from the parents.

The prime areas are important for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning:

  • Personal, social and emotional development: children develop a positive sense of themselves and respect for others. They develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings and understand appropriate behaviour in groups.
  • Physical development: children have the opportunity to be active and interactive, to develop co-ordination, control and movement. They should also be helped in understanding the importance of physical activity and healthy choices.
  • Communication and language development: giving children the opportunity to speak and listen in a range of situations and to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves.

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Specific areas

We should support children in the 4 specific areas that prepare them for participating successfully in society:Dressing up

  • Literacy: encouraging children to read and write by listening to others reading and being encouraged to begin to read and write themselves, given access to a wide range of reading materials.
  • Mathematics: providing children with opportunities to practice their skills in counting numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems, and describing shapes and measures.
  • Understanding the world: guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore and observe people, places, technology and the environment.
  • Expressive arts and design: supporting children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities for sharing their thoughts and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role play and design and technology.

When laying down our plans within this guiding structure we considered:

  • The various ways in which children learn.
  • Children’s involvement in our daily routines - allowing them to make choices. We realise that these experiences support their learning. We endeavour to focus on our own constructive adult behaviour – listening, talking, setting a good example, and being willing to learn something new.
  • Keeping the curriculum flexible to accommodate child initiated ideas, spontaneous events and extending learning through revisiting activities.
  • How to make a child’s time at playgroup a unique and precious time to be experienced and valued for itself. How to make their early learning a pleasure, and promote their joy in life.
  • Being sensitive to each child’s stage of development so that they can carry their learning forward from the point already reached.
  • Providing a stimulating environment with well presented activities.
  • How children learn on the move as well as sitting down - they can learn outdoors as well as indoors.
  • How to avoid a narrow perspective that makes some parts of our session seem more important for ‘real learning’.
  • Keeping resources flexible i.e. spreading reference books around the setting in appropriate activity spaces, and making writing materials available in different locations.
  • Not fixing activity spaces e.g. The home corner can become a garage, art materials can go outside etc.
  • Giving the children first hand experiences through their senses.
  • Allowing them to experiment and come to conclusions free from the fear of getting things wrong.
  • How to encourage the children to acquire a flexible open ended enquiring approach, so that they will be able to adjust to changing situations and new ideas throughout their lives, and avoid a formal and rigid approach to life.                 
  • How children learn best when starting with what is familiar and what they can do, and going on from there.
  • Providing a high ratio of adults to children.

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A balanced approach

Our planning is informed by the children themselves – their ideas, their interests, target details that we want to find out about individuals, behaviours, personal events etc. We also provide planned learning opportunities some of which concentrate on a whole setting focus based on one of our topic webs.

We also:

  • Ensure that activities take place in a variety of settings: in circles, at tables, on the floor and out of doors. We plan for our outside space as carefully as for the playroom, and have a written plan for this area that includes all the areas of learning.
  • Present activities in changing and varied ways so that the children remain interested and find their experiences new and thought provoking.
  • Ensure a balance between fast physical games and calm seated games.
  • Try to include all the children’s interests, needs and strengths.
  • Select activities to cater for a variety of group sizes and for individuals.

To ensure a balanced approach for each child, we keep a record of the experiences of each individual child. We also bear in mind that words of encouragement will boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence.

In our planning we include references and resource details /adult roles/ evaluations of activities and how the children interacted with them.

The next setting to carry on the foundation stage with the child will be informed of their progress to date via:

A transfer record, next steps, a profile where appropriate, the CLL monitoring tool, end of term assessments and the observations, photos and work samples that have been the record of that child’s achievements.

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The developmental matters and early learning goals for personal, social and emotional development – a prime learning area

These state that by the end of the foundation stage, most children will be able to:Story Corner

  • Have the confidence to try new activities, initiate ideas and speak in a familiar group.
  • To form good relationships with adults and peers.

We try and help them to settle confidently and join in, making friends and working with other children and adults. We praise, encourage and suggest alternatives, helping them to accept suggestions, and be proud of their achievements.

  • To maintain attention, concentrate and sit quietly when appropriate.

We offer activities that give opportunities for working alone and as part of a group. We encourage the child to accept help when needed, but to show initiative and perseverance. We look for concentration times when looking, listening, thinking and doing.

  • Continue to be interested, excited and motivated to learn.

We plan stimulating and exciting activities and provide interesting and varied resources. We allow the children to inform the planning and provide opportunities for them to solve problems.

  • To dress and undress independently and manage their own personal hygiene.
  • To select and use activities and resources independently.

We provide free play to allow the children to become independent in choosing their activities. We encourage them in their self help skills – dressing, undressing, toileting, washing hands, eating and drinking.  

  • Have a developing awareness of their own needs, views and feelings, and be sensitive to the needs, views and feelings of others.
  • Have a developing respect for their own culture and beliefs, and those of other people.

We discuss a variety of cultures and try to foster respect for the beliefs of others. We help the children understand the views and feelings of others, and provide activities where they can show concern for each other and be helpful.

  • Work as part of a group, taking turns and sharing fairly, understanding that there need to be agreed ways of behaving so that people (adults and peers) can work together harmoniously.
  • Understand what is right and wrong and why.
  • Respond to significant experiences, showing a range of feelings when appropriate.
  • Consider the consequences of their words and actions for themselves and others.

We help the children handle their emotions appropriately. Group activities are planned to enable them share and take turns. We talk to them about the rights and wrongs of their actions especially if they hurt another, or damage another person’s property. We organise activities that inform the children about their local surroundings and environment. We try and give them respect for living things – animals, plant life and the natural world, helping them to see what effect their behaviour has on themselves and others.

  • Understand that people have different needs, views, cultures and beliefs, which need to be treated with respect.
  • Understand that they can expect others to treat their needs, views, cultures and beliefs with respect.

We look for approaches that we can use to cover all aspects of personal, social and emotional behaviour and talk to the children about these issues in meaningful conversations. We study other cultures through festivals whenever appropriate.

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The developmental matters and early learning goals for language and communication - a prime learning area

These state that by the end of the foundation stage, most children will be able to:Garden 1


  • Speak in small and large groups with confidence.
  • Speak and exchange ideas with peers and with known adults with confidence.

Staff will participate in the children’s role play, supporting their imagination and use of language – using longer sentences and correct grammar and intonation. We talk to them as they work, about what they are doing, their drawings, their families and where they have been. We support children whose first language is not English, and show them in various ways that we value their home language involving parents when possible. 

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The developmental matters and early learning goals for physical development - a prime learning area

These state that by the end of the foundation stage most children will be able to use:

Gross motor skills:

  • Move with confidence, imagination and in safety.
    Space is allowed within the playroom for free movement, use of large equipment, dance and movement to music. Our planning allows the children to re-inforce their skills through practise.
  • Move with control and co-ordination.
    We give the children plenty of opportunities to dance, move to music, mime, make appropriate movements to action rhymes, to run and jump in a safe environment.
  • Show an awareness of space, of themselves and of others.
    Our outdoor play space includes the garden, the playground and the playing field. We also use the school hall once a week for a P.E. session. We use a varied approach to the use of outdoor space – bicycles, scooters, parachute, balls, and hoops. The children receive plenty of support as they obtain a sense of spatial awareness and co-ordination.
  • Travel around, under, over and through balancing and climbing equipment.
    We ensure opportunities for use of gymnastic equipment – different styles of climbing frame, our caterpillar, the playground equipment and shipwreck courses.

Fine motor skills:

  • Use a range of small and large equipment.

We have an extensive range of equipment that allows us to make choices and vary what we provide for the children.

Handle tools, objects, construction equipment and malleable materials safely and with increasing control.

Sand, water and other malleable materials are provided for developing physical dexterity in pouring, moulding and using tools. Our children work with table top toys such as pegboards, jigsaws, bead threading, construction sets and sewing to develop their hand-eye co- ordination. The tools for all activities, from drawing and collage to woodwork and cooking allow for increasing dexterity and skill, and we provide the environment where the use of tools can be practised in safety.

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The developmental matters and early learning goals for literacy - a specific area of learning

These state that by the end of the foundation stage most children will be able to take part in:


  1. Sit quietly in a group and listen attentively.
  2. Listen to and follow verbal instructions.
  3. Listen to and respond to nursery rhymes, stories and poems.

Story times are carefully planned to enthral and involve the children. At all activities the children are encouraged to listen to and accept verbal instructions. Sometimes, during story time we have a language resource table for small groups – activities include stories in other languages and board games. 

Crescent Under 5 Long Terms Plans


  1. Follow the direction of print.
  2. Understand how a book works.
  3. Respond to print with confidence.
  4. Learn the sounds of letters.

Our staff encourage the love of books by reading and sharing books with individuals as well as small and large groups. The children are encouraged to talk about pictures, and are helped to work out how the book ‘works’ – beginning /end/ how the eye follows the text etc. By choosing appropriate activities, we help the children acquire the ability to identify different shapes and sounds. Books are placed around the playroom for reference purposes and the book corner is made an appealing place to go.


  1. Use pictures to show a meaning.
  2. Develop a positive attitude to writing.
  3. Form the letters of their name.

We provide a variety of mark making tools. Using these helps a child with hand / eye co-ordination. We encourage them to hold them correctly, control them and follow a direction with their eye. We talk about the uses of words when written down – stories, lists, recording, advertising and signs etc. and encourage ‘pretend’ writing and the writing of their own name on their work.

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The developmental matters and early learning goals for mathematics - a specific area of learning

These state that by the end of the foundation stage most children will be able to:

  • Compare, sort, match, order, sequence and count using every day objects.

We provide activities for making comparisons in weight, length, capacity and volume. The children order by size and start to sequence events. Matching and sorting help the children use number language such as more, fewer and the same.

  • Recognise and use numbers to 10 and are familiar with larger numbers from their every day lives.

We do lots of counting, and look at the numbers all around us in every day life. The children will be helped to read and write and use numerals.

  • Recognise and create patterns.

Children can do this through music and movement. We help them make, copy and describe patterns, giving them shape tiles, beads, threading, sand and sand toys, painting and printing for pattern making.

  • Use mathematical language such as circle, in front of, bigger than and more to describe shape, position, size and quantity.

We provide opportunities for exploring shapes. We encourage the children to use positional language when, for example using the dolls house – up/down/back/front etc. A large selection of jigsaw puzzles are available and spatial awareness is developed through movement sessions and handling objects.

  • Begin to use their developing mathematical understanding to solve practical problems.

Our staff look for opportunities where practical situations such as model making and ‘How many do we need’ enable us to talk about and solve mathematical problems. 

  • Understand and record numbers through practical activities, and begin to show awareness of number operations such as addition and subtraction using the language involved.

Adults in the group ensure that conversations occur that will encourage the children to be aware of number e.g. if we have 6 children at the milk table and 5 biscuits – how many more biscuits will we need?  We record results of activities such as ‘What is our favourite animal?’ with pictures, making tally marks and writing numerals.

  • Become familiar with number rhymes, songs, stories, counting games and activities.

We sing action and number songs, tell stories that involve numbers and play lots of counting games.

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The developmental matters and early learning goals for understanding the world - a specific area of learning

These state that by the end of the foundation stage most children will be able:

  • Talk about where they live, their environment, their families and past and present events in their own lives.Crescent Under 5 Long Terms Plans

The children are encouraged through meaningful conversations to talk about these things, one to one, in small groups and in large story time groups. In this way we can think about local geography, the child’s own role within the family, new babies, history, other cultures etc.  Small world play and role-play will encourage children to talk about themselves and their families.

We try to help them develop a sense of the passage of time.

  • Show an awareness of the purpose of some of the features of the area in which they live.

By talking, drawing, collage, art work and local visits, we can help the children understand the features of their immediate locality. We explore and recognise features of living things, objects and events in the natural and made world and look closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change.

The staff discuss with the children the seasons and the weather, observing changes that occur. The natural world is observed (plants and animals) and our garden is a valuable resource. Made objects are discussed – what is it for, could it have been made any other way, does it do the job it was meant to?

  • Talk about their observations, sometimes recording them and ask questions to gain information about why things happen and how things work.

We strive to interest the children in a wide range of interesting and challenging activities and try to  respond positively if they initiate an activity. Our staff talk to the children about what they have done and results are recorded – in pictorial form, as charts, displays, scrapbooks, in photographs or as categories e.g. sink and float.

  • Explore and select materials and equipment and use skills such as cutting, joining, folding and building for a variety of purposes.

Construction toys with wheels are used to understand how things move, and blocks allow them to build and design for a purpose laying the foundations for developing scientific understanding. We provide a wide range of resources, materials and tools, and make things for a variety of purposes. Sand and water provide opportunities to experiment with materials, exploring how and why things work.

  • Use technology where appropriate to support their learning.

The playgroup uses technology such as tape recorders, tills, telephones, electronic toys and has a computer.

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The developmental matters and early learning goals for expressive arts and design - a specific area of learning

These state that by the end of the foundation stage, most children will be able to:

  • Explore colour, texture, shape, space and form in two and three dimensions.

We provide varied collage, printing and painting activities, and experiment with new media and colour mixing.  Construction toys allow the children to explore the shape, texture, form etc. of the bricks / pieces. Reclaimed materials, fabrics, wood etc. are all employed to create new objects, and materials such as clay, sand are used for reshaping.Crescent Under 5 Long Terms Plans

  • Recognise and explore how sounds can be changed, sing simple songs from memory, recognise repeated sounds and sound patterns and match movements to music.

We listen to and identify sounds using sound cassettes and a wide selection of musical instruments. Physical activities will incorporate acting out roles, moving the body, marching and singing to music. We look at cultural traditions in dance and music, and make musical instruments.

  • Respond in a variety of ways to what they see, taste, hear, smell, and feel.

Sensory development  –  experiencing materials and equipment through their senses.  We provide as many opportunities as possible to compare different textures, tastes and smells -  nice and nasty, we listen to sounds and music, and look at things with appreciation.

  • Use their imagination in art and design, music, dance, imaginative play, role play and stories.

The home corner will be set up in variety of ways to allow for use of the imagination, and the acting out of feelings. Open ended play situations in which the children take the lead, allow them to play out their own play ideas and explore their feelings. Miniature play and the use of puppets also allow emotional feelings to be played out and released. Adults will talk through ideas allowing creativity to develop and flourish. Displays show that the children’s work is valued.

  • Express and communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings by using a widening range of materials, suitable tools, imaginative and role play, movement, designing and making, and a variety of songs and musical instruments.

We provide as wide a range as possible of malleable materials, art and craft materials, textures and tools, musical instruments, mark making tools, dressing up clothes, puppets, construction toys etc. own games. We encourage children to listen to music and look at art critically, learning to know what they like and dislike.

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Our aims are

  • Enhance the development and education of children in safe, secure, rich and stimulating (enabling) environments.
  • Ensure equality of opportunity for all children and families.
  • Meet the intellectual, physical, emotional and social needs of the children whilst taking into account the ages and stages of development of each child, and providing appropriate challenges where necessary.
  • Assist each child in reaching his or her full potential by allowing them to inform our planning, and by providing experiences that they can directly identify with, or may introduce them to new concepts.
  • Extend their understanding and thinking, by building on what they already know and can do.
  • Monitor each child’s development to ensure that they are making progress, and that difficulties are identified and addressed.
  • Involve parents by encouraging them to help within the sessions, or with the management of the playgroup.

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We offer

  • A high ratio of adults to children.
  • A carefully planned curriculum based on the Early Years Foundation stage.
  • Well planned learning opportunities using some that focus on a whole setting focus based around any one of a series of topic webs. We will allow each child to inform our planning, and our emphasis will be on personalised learning.
  • Each child fun and friendship with other children and adults.
  • Stimulating play that provides challenges and allows children to learn with enjoyment.
  • Opportunities for children to learn to respect and value all people.
  • A stimulating environment where children can build friendships and learn to be  happy and confident individuals.
  • Opportunities for you and your family to be involved in the activities of the playgroup, and in your child’s progress.

Click here to download the Development Guidance by Early Education

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