Playful approaches to science fair testing tracey regan stranmillis university college
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Playful Approaches to Science: Fair Testing Tracey Regan – Stranmillis University College

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Playful Approaches to Science: Fair TestingTracey Regan – Stranmillis University College

The concept of fair testing was introduced using a combination of role play and ICT (wiki). The children are introduced to Santa’s head elf (‘Superelf’ the teacher). Using the scenario that Santa and his elves are sick and there is a backlog of toys that need to be made. Santa sends audio messages to the children which are then implemented by Superelf.

This poster describes a scheme of work based upon the topic of toys and how the concept of fair testing was introduced.

  • Children will actively seek an adults company and therefore it is vital that the adult gets involved with the child’s play. (DCSF 2009)

Opportunities for sorting and classifying materials in order to carry out a fair test. Using the child’s prior knowledge to encourage the individual child’s creativity and imagination (CCEA 2007).

  • Challenges to this project include:

  • The amount of content covered in such a short period of time, ideally some lessons would have been covered over 2 or 3 days instead of the 2/3 hours.

  • Ensuring that the adults role within the role play did not over dominate they play (Ishiggaki & Lin 1999) or flatten the play with too many inane questions (DCSF 2009)

Examples of cross curricularity and pupil engagement:


Time should also be given to the all important tea break!


Bronström. S., (1996) Frame play with 6 year old children. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 4:1, 89-102.

CCEA (2007) Northern Ireland Curriculum. Belfast. CCEA.

  • DCSF (2009) The National Strategies | Early Years Learning, Playing and Interacting – Good practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage. Nottingham, DCSF Publications

  • Harlen W., Macro C., Reed K., and Schilling M., (2003) Making Progress in Primary Science. London. RoutledgeFalmer

  • Hendy & Toon cited in Kitson. N., (2010) ‘Children’s fantasy role play – why adults should join in’ in Moyles J. R., (Ed) The Excellence of Play (3rd Ed). Berkshire. Open University Press

  • Keenan, T., & Evans, S., 2010, 2nd Edition, An Introduction to Child Development, Sage Publications Limited, London.

  • Wenham. M., and Ovens. P., (2010) (3rd Ed) Understanding Primary Science. London. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Using their fine motor skills to test their product.

Whilst encouraging their literacy and communication skills to decide on a design for their teddy. The children were using their thinking and personal capability skills to decide which teddy was the softest and which teddy was the hardest.

After a class vote – The Winner!!

Playful Approaches to Science

Playful Approaches to science

Playful Approaches to Science

Playful approaches to science

  • Extended learning – children made toys at home.

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