Thursday, 9 April 2015

Creative displays

A few weeks ago we went through a pretty frustrating 'mocksted.' It turned out to be a very superficial walk around by a few 'senior' staff from our local authority and they didn't actually look at any of the things we expected.  Their main focus was about our displays.  I've been working on displays for a while now because they're just not engaging for the children or parents. 

So... What to do!? Well the first thing we tried was to make the backgrounds as 'washing out' or 'neutral' as possible. 

See this video which was shared by a friend of our school. A head shows about his Y5 classroom and his displays are 'neutral'.

It looked the part but the children's work on it wasn't being displayed very effectively. We tried displaying speech bubbles of what the children were saying next to photos and snippets of the EYFS typed out and displayed.

Next I stumbled across this post on ABC does [click for his twitter]:  [click here]

If you're not familiar with Alistair he is an Early Years consultant. He has some really lovely ideas and has other books out (although a bit pricey) that are apparently quite good. 

Looking through this post I realised I had some of the basic ideas in place but I needed to tweak some of it slightly.

Initially I thought about what I needed to display. Our feedback from the 'mocksted' was that they want to see children completing activities with remarks about speech.  We'd started doing this but it wasn't standing out as much as I would have liked. 

We also needed to think about displaying both the work and a photo of the child 'doing' the work (where appropriate).  Once we merged ABC's ideas into what they were looking for we ended up with:

Full display
Now when displaying we always ensure we have: 
1) The child's work to display (or a large colourful photograph if it won't display easily) - this draws your eye if it is the colourful objects. 
2) A photograph of the child in black and white (mounted on white to emphasise them) 
3) A caption of what they said in a speech bubble (taken at the time of making the work where possible - though sometimes its good to be retrospective so they describe what they did).  + Their name.
4) A linked statement taken from the Characteristics of effective learning (Development matters 2012)

Its also important to try and display work where ever possible. The plaster eggs which the worked so hard at are actually displayed in the wallet on the wall for them to see. We can take them out and look at them again if we want. 

We extended this by hanging some of the work done during our first week of loose play from our ceiling.  We used one of the branches which was covered in wool. Its high up so difficult for the children to see directly but they ALL looked up at it on the first day.  (Thanks again to ABC - he does love dragging branches into his setting.)

(the faces are much clearer in person but I had to make them darker, but trust me B&W works!)

Where next?

We really need to experiment with the different backgrounds. Hessian fabric is fine but it usually sheds dust easily and our display boards are not appropriate to have bare. We've tried brown paper but it doesn't seem to work as well as the black.  I'm hoping that white might work well (on the go) but also thinking about different materials such as netting - we'll see and I'll keep you posted. 

As we expand our loose parts play I am hoping to use a lot more of the play on displays rather than just 'work.' I think photographs of them 'doing' rather than the finished result is more beneficial to our children (inspiring) and to our parents (accountability? pleasure from seeing their child's work?)  

[ One parent did take a photo of their child on display to share with her sister because she thought it looked so effective. ]

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