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Practical makes perfect;Primary

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY SERIES. Small World PlayJunk Materials. By Barbara J Leach

ART amp; CRAFT. Construction Play. By Chris Head. Scholastic pound;8.99 each

Infant teachers have to be endlessly inventive if they are to develop structured play activities to support learning for three to five-year-olds. They not only have to think about learning outcomes, they also have to organise the resources, set up tasks and arrange grouping and assess learning, as well as consider safety issues.

If you are weary of spending your Sunday evenings thinking up yet more ways of using cereal boxes, this series will provide some relief. It contains structured play activities for three to five-year-olds, based on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's recommended areas of learning for under fives.

The books are extremely practical, with activities clearly described and grouped into areas such as language and literacy and physical development.

Shoelaces are always a big issue in the infant classroom, so why not make a game of learning to tie them? One of the activities in Junk Materials suggests dressing up in garments with a variety of fastenings, with a game of "musical clothes" as an extension activity. Although the activity may be rather anarchic, children will enjoy working together to make a "coat of many colours" sticking feathers, sweet papers and tinsel on to an old coat.

Each book has an initial section explaining the approach, with guidelines on such issues as health and safety and links with home. There are photocopiableactivities for each learning area in the back of the book.

The introduction invites us to use the book as we would a recipe book, adding our own personal touches and ideas.

Used in this way, the Learning through Play series will provide a rich and varied diet of activities in the reception and infant classroom. Forthcoming titles include Outdoor Play and Table Top Games.

Nicola Jones is an English and special needs teacher

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