Continuous Provision – What Is It and Where to Begin?
22nd March 2023
Share this entry:
Continuous provision is for all children to explore freely as active learners. They can make their own choices and develop their learning, even in the absence of an adult. It should encourage children to play and explore in a number of ways, providing there are high-quality resources available. Here are my top picks for continuous provision in the learning environment.
When implementing your continuous provision offering, the first thing to look at and make changes to is the storage and how children can access the space independently. Baskets or wooden crates on low level shelving and storage units are ideal. Children can see the resources clearly and can select what they need without the help of an adult, which could interrupt their play flow. Additionally, labelling the baskets will help with both their selection and tidying up.
Resources that are not limited to one purpose will allow children to use them in their own way. Examples of loose parts are peg dolls, cardboard tubes, wooden discs, cork pieces, sticks of various sizes, building blocks, pebbles, and the list can go on. The idea is that loose parts are open-ended resources which can be used holistically to encourage learning and development across all curriculum areas.
Tyres, pipes, tubing and wooden planks are all great additions to continuous provision. Children need opportunities to build in bigger scale – to build out or to build up – and to explore in larger spaces. Our children have made pirate ships to walk the plank, they have made an airplane that’s off on an adventure and they have used the tyres and pipes as additions to water play, among so much more. We got all these pieces for free from local businesses, parents and even from other people’s rubbish! Ask for donations in your community.
Crates and bricks provide endless opportunities. Have you ever noticed how children love to build things that are taller than themselves? Some crates can click into place to connect and can be used to build towers or skyscrapers, as props for role play, for making steps, and so much more. Sponge bricks are incredibly realistic but using real bricks will encourage children to manage their own safety while developing their spatial awareness and understanding of measurements and shape. What’s more, the children will love them!
Give a child a magnifying glass or torch and watch their level of curiosity increase. Children see things that adults miss all the time and when they have other tools to help them see things up close, they spot very small details and question what they have found. It also gives them the opportunity to learn from each other, explore together and share their knowledge. Becoming a spy or a detective, looking for key items or clues around the environment always sparks their inquisitiveness. Hunting for mini beasts is also a firm favourite. This could be extended by introducing texts such as ‘Yucky Worms’ by Vivian French or Sam Boughton’s ‘The Extraordinary Gardener’ to explore growing and gardening concepts.
Rain water acts as a great addition to an outdoor area and we usually have lots of it! Provide materials and tools that will encourage scientific experimenting such as measuring tapes to measure puddles, powder paint to explore colour mixing, child-sized brooms to move the water to the drain, paintbrushes and rollers to ‘paint’ external surfaces, etc. See the weather as an opportunity to learn outside, rather than an obstacle to it. Having a range of items accessible for the children will encourage independence; allowing you to observe, question and enhance learning as the key role of the adult.
- Less is more! Keep it minimal to avoid overwhelm. Children are incredibly resourceful when given the opportunity. Watch what they can do independently with access to high quality resources
- It doesn’t have to cost a lot! Be imaginative when building your open-ended resources. Jumble sales, second-hand shops and things destined for the bins can actually come in useful, providing they are safe for purpose
- Involve the children! Observing their play, including them in your discussions and listening to their wishes will provide excellent insights as to the gaps in your environment and what to add next to enhance their learning
Have fun building the continuous provision in your environment! It will transform how the children play, learn and progress. For further guidance, have a look at my Instagram
Send your questions to my email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to advise further.
Why attend Childcare & Education Expo?
Join over 2,500 like-minded individuals from the early years & primary sector who are dedicated to improving their practice and their education settings.
Attend educational seminars and panel discussions to credit your CPD
Meet the experts to have your questions answered
Receive fantastic onsite offers and discounts
Experience expert-led informative hands-on workshops
Network with peers and industry players
Pick up hundreds of new products, resources, ideas and services
And most of all, enjoy a great day out with your colleagues