Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Supporting children's critical thinking

Conversation cards from Laura Henry

Laura Henry from the Laura Henry Consultancy kindly sent us some question prompt cards for use with our childminded children recently… thank you Laura!

The little box contains 48 cards which have been written to promote ‘Confident Talkers – Conversations for Early Years’.

The aim of the cards is to ‘create conversation for families, schools and organisations’ and ‘assist children to think critically' – linking learning to the characteristics of effective teaching and learning.

I promised Laura that I would blog about the cards once I had used them with the children. We have 4 children in our childminding provision who we think will most benefit from using the cards at the moment – they are aged between 3 and 6 years old.

The cards are colour coded in different groups – you can either work through each colour one after the other or you can mix them up depending on how you want to use them with the children. You might find it useful to spend time looking through the cards before you introduce them to the children so you get to know the type of questions they suggest and think about how you might use them depending on different children’s ages and developmental stages.

Using the cards…

The cards can be used as part of planned or spontaneous play and during one-to-one and group language games to prompt conversation. We chat to children throughout the day and plan a time every day to have a proper conversation with the children – it’s not a ‘circle time’ like they have in school but it is a similar type of session when a practitioner is totally dedicated to a group of children without having to respond to distractions. We are often sitting together at the table eating lunch or tea.

We decided to plan some of our conversation sessions based on the ‘confident talkers’ cards, choosing questions which prompted children to carefully consider their answers … of course, we ask open-ended questions every day during our play but the cards added a different dimension because the children could choose a card each from the pile and then answer the question. The younger children listened to the older ones first and were then keen to join in.

We also thought about when the cards might be useful … and have started choosing a card or two and challenging ourselves to include the open question prompt during children’s play sessions.

You can buy the cards here.

Note - 10% of sales from the cards will be donated to charity. The charity supports young people in Laura’s home country of St Lucia.