Making models

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By Jenni Tavenerearly years teacher and writer

Create models of castles, palace grounds and a cottage made of sweets to use with small-world characters

children playing with clay

Modelling area

Set up a modelling area with malleable materials such as dough, clay, papier mâché and plaster for the children to recreate fairytale buildings and floor plans for small-world play. Ensure that the area has sufficient space for the children to operate freely and safely.

Provide hand-washing facilities, aprons and washable mats or tables. Label a display table ‘Work in progress’ so that unfinished models can be stored easily by the children and retrieved at a later time or date.

Encourage the children to set out the appropriate tools and materials before each model-making activity and encourage them to help clear up afterwards. Display commercial posters or pictures featuring fairytale buildings, scenes and characters around the modelling area.

Exhibit the children’s finished models nearby with bold labels stating the name of the modeller and the title of the work. Display a range of fairytale picture books and provide fairytale story CDs to encourage listening skills and prompt imagination.

Suggested resources

Spacious area; modelling materials such as dough, clay, papier mâché and plaster of Paris; modelling tools such as blunt knives, shaped cutters, pattern-making tools, scraping tools, sponges and so on; hand-washing facilities; aprons; washable mats or tables; cleaning equipment; display table; commercial posters and pictures of fairytale buildings; fairytale story books and CDs; CD player.

1 The giant’s castle

Make a model of a fairytale castle or tower

Knowledge and Understanding of the World

Designing and Making

Development matters: investigate various construction materials (30-50 months); construct with a purpose in mind, using a variety of resources (40-60 months).

Early learning goal: build and construct with a wide range of objects, selecting appropriate resources and adapting their work where necessary.

What you need

Group size: small groups.

Fairytale stories that involve a castle or tower, for example, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ (First Favourite Tales series, Ladybird) or ‘Rapunzel’ (Ladybird Tales series, Ladybird); salt dough; tall tubes or cardboard boxes; modelling tools such as a blunt knife, cutters and scrapers; pictures of real or imaginary castles and towers showing features such as doors, windows, turrets, gargoyles and portcullis; small-world characters.

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