Horse play

16th May 2003 at 01:00
Junk materials provide endless inspiration for enhancing play and learning in the early years. We were given a large quantity of long, sturdy cardboard tubes from the fabric department of a store, so we decided to turn them into horses.

The children drew faces on card, which they cut out and attached to the tubes.Then, astride their mounts, they cantered into the playground with appropriate neighs and whinnies to find cardboard-box mangers filled with straw. We provided blocks, frames and planks to build stables and stubby chalks to draw them. There were ribbons for tethering and brushes for grooming, chalked tracks for races and fences for jumping.

The horses grazed on straw and apples. They were stroked, groomed and nuzzled. We rhythmically clip-clopped with our tongues as we banged together bricks or coconut shells. Everyone gave their horse a name that they chalked in its stable.

The police sent a friendly mounted policeman to visit. His horse was watched, fondled, smelled and discussed, while he told us how he cared for it. To the children's delight it lifted its tail and released piles of dung, which we later shovelled up for our vegetable plot.

Later the horses were ridden home - a reminder to parents that junk can have uses and an occasion to reflect on the creativity of foundation stage children when let loose with simple resources at minimal cost.

Gill Tweed, retired from Sherringdale Primary School, London borough of Wandsworth.

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