The Magic of Glow - by Catherine L Clark

Posted by Laura Porter on 17/06/22 11:35 AM


Underpinning, Enhancing and Enriching the Learning

From my experience, early years educators from around the globe are on an eager and constant quest to foster and facilitate exciting learning opportunities and provocations. We are intent on ensuring that the experiences delight, engage, enrich and nurture. It is a pursuit to find the potential for joy, to see the smiles and cultivate a sense of awe and wonder. Part of this mission involves finding resource materials that act as mighty catalysts. Who knows where today’s experience will lead to or how it will influence their future paths and choices? We must not underestimate how wondrous learning experiences may generate mighty memories and may have a deep and lasting impact. How many times have you heard a famous person talking about how a teacher, a lesson or an experience in their education made a profound impact upon them?

Not all treasures sparkle, indeed a humble cardboard box holds the potential to be something magnificent. There are however some treasures that do indeed gleam and shine and for many children offering resources that are captivating, perhaps mystifying, absorbing and even amazing, might just be the stimulus they need. We want to give children engaging, magical, memorable experiences. It is also imperative to provide materials that are open-ended, versatile, inviting, pedagogically aligned, safe and accessible.
This is where I want to draw your attention to the TTS Glow Collection, a range that children can interact with in a plethora of ways and utilise a host of skills and experiences all of which are heightened by the subtle ingredient of technology. The children themselves can literally light up their learning. I have observed the look of amazement on children’s faces as the objects radiated a glow, how they solved the conundrum of how it worked and how they could make choices and create marvellous creations. I have seen children dance around with the cylinders, make them into transient art patterns and then post and position them into structures. The glowing spheres have been rolled down channels, hidden under sheer scarves and voiles, pushed back and forth to a partner, utilised to make marks and all with a subtle radiating light to add that extra element. It was so rewarding to see the children’s faces as they walked in to see a collection of resources that could offer exciting possibilities. They were eager to experiment, explore and discover. For some it was such a huge surprise that these blocks, rings, cylinders, etc. could all be transformed by their actions and could burst into a dramatic light.
We recognise that the world is changing in a rapid way and that children today have differing experiences from those of only a few years ago. The pedagogy may remain constant but we need to be agile to adapt and draw on new methods and approaches whilst still holding firm onto our educational core values.

Catherine-Clark4 Today’s children are immersed in technology in their homes, their cars, in shops and in the street. They will see it as the norm that a device can talk to someone around the world or talk to who is at their door; that they can instruct a box in the kitchen to play a song, switch on the heating or tell them the ingredients for their meal.
By incorporating technology, it may add extra facets, extra qualities and experiences to children’s play. I must stress however, it is about carefully selected resources and providing quality opportunities. It is not just about visual effects but creating a love of learning, a sense of discovery, a resilience and a context where skills can be nurtured and interests cultivated. It is about a blend of materials and approaches. Technology does not have to dominate, but it can help underpin the learning.

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These Light up Learning items can help young children make vital connections, to learn about cause and effect and encourage them to make discoveries and hypotheses. There is an added sense of challenge and the child may need to persevere and be tenacious, all qualities we wish to encourage.
So often, technology polarises views, probably because it is such a generic term and the thought of young children being passively engaged by screens may be conjured up. Blocks are a staple in any early years setting. Imagine your construction area full of all kinds of building materials in different weights, shapes, sizes and properties. Imagine then adding a resource that is equally relevant to building, stacking, loose parts play, roleplay, but this item magically glows. The child needs to manipulate the block and learn about how to make it work in certain ways. I ponder if I had been building a castle that such blocks may have played a huge part in my fairy tale scenes. The children can create glowing spaceships, time machines, road structures, mighty towers and so much more.

We want imaginations to soar.

If we look at the blocks, cylinders, spheres, rings, etc. it becomes apparent how fundamental skills and schematic behaviours align with how they can be utilised. Some roll, can be stacked, transported, enclosed, lined up, used symbolically to represent something else and so much more.

Imagine walking into a room which was full of items that softly illuminated their surroundings and the child could actually interact with them rather than merely observing them.

They become immersed and directly involved with the play and they are creating their own sense of awe and wonder.

As an educational resource creator and being somewhat of a magpie, I collect, curate and I am influenced by the wonderful children, educators and designers I meet, the theories I read and approaches I experience. I am also motivated by inspiring and thought-provoking resources. Finding a gem that is going to capture a child’s interest or provoke an exciting response is so rewarding. We may see it as one thing but a child will embrace it in a wholly inspirational and innovative new way. We recognise that we may provide the resource but they become the architect of play. We have the potential to literally light up children’s learning whilst being certain in the knowledge that they are securing key skills and laying firm foundations, all with that extra bit of sparkle.

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The author:
Catherine L Clark

Catherine Clark is the Early Years New Product Development Director and in house educationalist at TTS. She has researched, investigated and developed over a thousand early years specifically designed resources during her fifteen years working for the company. Many of her ideas have won recognition and awards nationally and internationally.


Topics: Teaching Philosophies, Early Childhood Education Centre, Child Development