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EYFS: Park enquiry

Introduction

This activity develops children’s early understanding and experience of place, starting with a place they know and noticing features of the environment both natural and man-made. This activity also encourages children to think about how places make them feel and why.

Links to Understanding the world

  • Support children to make sense of their physical world and community.
  • Build on children’s personal experiences to develop knowledge.
  • Notice similarities and differences in the world around them.
  • Visit places in their local community.

Links to other areas of the EYFS

  • Being imaginative.
  • Physical development.

Starting points

You will need:

  • To decide on a local park or play area to use as your focus for this enquiry (use photographs of the park, or arrange a walk to visit).
  • Junk modelling materials.

Activity idea: ‘Park enquiry’

Introduce the park you have chosen for your study. Collect children’s ideas about this place: is it somewhere they know well, or it is a new place to them?

Show some photographs of the park and explore together:

  • What is there to do in this place?
  • Who has made this place?
  • Why do people go there?

Can you spot any of these features?

  • Play equipment?
  • Picnic table?
  • Benches?
  • Bins?
  • Car park?
  • Paths?

Look at a map to find out how far is this place from your school. View the map using mapping software to see it from an aerial perspective – can you see anything new?

If possible, you could organise a walk to visit the space. If you are able to do this, collect photographs to remember what this place is like.

What do the children think makes a park a good place to visit? Make a shared list of all the ideas.

Use prompt questions such as:

  • What would you like to do there?
  • How would you get there?
  • Is there somewhere to sit?
  • Can I walk my dog there?
  • Is there space to run around?
  • Could I ride a bicycle at the park?
  • Is there somewhere shady to sit?
  • Are there trees and flowers?
  • Where would I put rubbish?

Once children have had time to explore the park and collect these ideas, children can create their own mini place using junk modelling materials. Use a cardboard box as a base, and let the children fill it with their ideas. It is not important how it looks – just that the children can express their ideas about places they enjoy.

Once these are finished, they can be added to shelves in your small world or book area to display, play with and create opportunities for talk.

How to make this successful

  • This activity builds on knowledge children will have gained during their Reception year about where they live.
  • Some children might like to work collaboratively, while others will prefer to create their own place.
  • Model curiosity about places, to encourage interest in why this place is here and how it was made.

Ideas to build on knowledge

  • Extend the enquiry by asking someone from the local council to talk to the children about how parks are built and maintained.
  • Extend the enquiry by asking older children about their favourite places.

This Teaching Resource was written for the Geographical Association by Sarah Sprake.

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