Understanding the world: Hair raising!

Whether children have experienced a visit to the hairdresser, or had their hair cut at home, they will all enjoy hairdresser role-play. Through this they will grasp the practical and social sides of hairdressing.

Role-play: Play in the EYFS by Judith Harries (Practical Pre-School Books)
Hugh Shampoo by Karen George (OUP Oxford Publishing)
Freddie has a haircut by Nicola Smee (Orchard Books) Shows both girls and boys getting haircuts and male and female hairdressers
Need a Trim Jim by Kaye Umansky (Red Fox Publishing)

  • Key learning points
    Children learn about the work of hairdressers and hair salons.
    They learn that there are both similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.
    Children practice small movement manipulation skills such as those used for brushing, clipping hair slides and plaiting.
    They learn vocabulary associated with hair.
  • Key vocabulary
    Plaiting, hairstyle, blow drying, wavy, hair stylist, hair salon, customer, hair rollers, curling tongs
  • Playing and exploring
    Children investigate the role of a hairdresser
    They try out the role of a hairdresser, discovering both the practical and social sides of working in a hair salon
    They have a go at brushing and styling hair

Create a role-play hairdressing salon for dolls
Some good props to include: Empty shampoo and conditioner bottles; combs and brushes; pray bottles; towels; old hair dryers – with the leads cut off for safety; cash register and play money; notepad and pencil; old shower hose; magazine rack, magazines and comics.

Set up your hair salon as a home corner activity with dolls as customers – letting children loose on each other’s hair can cause lots of tangles and pulls.

Have lots of long haired dolls for this activity, maybe getting a few extras from a local charity shop – If you get enough you can let children have a go at cutting their hair using play scissors. Try to include a diverse selection of dolls, although it’s harder to nd dolls with for example, ginger or afro hair. If you can get any of those children’s hair styling heads they would be great here.

Supply lots of hair slides, hairbands and assorted hair accessories together with brushes, combs and play mirrors. Show children how to plait, make pony tails and top knots etc., so they can have a go too.

If you have an easel style chalkboard, you can use this
for your ‘Salon Open’ sign. Include a table and chair for your receptionist, together with pencils and pads and play telephone. If possible, include a couple of chairs to act as your waiting area and any little touches to make your salon look more authentic such as a few hair style magazines for customers to look at while waiting and a couple of wall posters showing hair styles.

Do encourage lots of conversation throughout the activity as you would expect in a hair salon, and encourage polite

conversation from your receptionist and cashier, helping children with the right things to say, such as; ‘That will be ten pounds please, would you like to come again next week?’

It’s an idea to create a simple hairdressing kit containing an assortment of hairdressing objects which can be brought out as a quick mini-activity. Include a couple of brushes and combs, hair slides and clips, headbands, play mirrors, play scissors etc. You might also like to include some make up brushes and washed out cosmetic pots, such as skin creams and blusher.

Active learning
Children concentrate on skills such as learning to plait
They persevere to get the result they are after
They enjoy a sense of achievement when they have completed the hair style!

Learning to plait
Teaching children how to plait is much easier when using these DIY plaiting boards. Plaiting or braiding is a tricky skill, so let children take turns at working together with an adult who can lead the activity, showing children where to place the wool – a great adult/child collaborative project.

You will need:
Strong cardboard – about A4 size works well; wool – chunky types are best here; strong tape. Cut a sturdy length of cardboard to use as your base board. Cut six lengths of wool per plait, to divide into three sections, just a little longer than the length of your board – any longer and the wool tends to get tangled. Fix wool to the board with strong tape such as electrical tape.

You can use a drawing pin or Blu Tack to x your board to a table top to make it more secure before showing children how to plait. Allow children to take turns at having a go themselves with adult assistance. Introduce the use of ‘left’ and ‘right’ while plaiting.

Creating and thinking critically
Children explore the idea that everyone’s hair and hairstyle is unique
They are shown that everyone changes hairstyles at some point in their life and that hair can physically change – making links with others
Children exercise choice and consider others when it comes to hair styles

Involve your parents
Continue the theme of hairdressing and hairstyles by creating a hairstyle wall in your setting. Ask parents and carers – and staff – if anyone would like to bringing a photo of themselves at a time when they had a very different hair style, maybe back when they were a child or teenager and the funnier the better, no mullet or shaggy perm will be classed too shameful for the wall. I’ve seen this done in a London based pre-school with parents being more than willing to share their pictures of themselves in their punk days with blue and pink spikes and dads – now being very thin on top – bringing in photos of their once long shoulder length hair. Parents and children loved
to see the photos and it was a real practical way to show children how an individual’s hair style changes over time.

Also, ask if any parents would like to come in to share any interesting or funny hair related stories. Maybe they once cut their own hair when they were a child or have stories about working in a hair salon or can share some photos of themselves which show a whole timeline of diverse hairstyles from child to adult.

Also, during circle or sharing times ask children if they would like to share any stories about going to a hairdresser for a haircut, or maybe they accompanied a mum or dad – did they like it? Did the hairdresser brush the cut hair away with a tickly brush?...

Keep a section of your hairstyle wall for pictures of hairstyles from across the world, showing for example; traditional Japanese Geisha Hairstyles, traditional Croatian plaits, Native American beaded hairstyles and African head wraps. Look for instances of children using hair related vocabulary while playing – showing an understanding of specific role-related words.

Craft table
Blow-paint hair pictures
You will need: Plastic drinking straws – piercing a small hole near the top stops paint being sucked up; pots of watery paint in various colours; paint droppers or teaspoons; white paper; drawing pencils and colouring crayons or pencils.
Start by asking children to draw and colour a portrait of themselves minus hair half way down their sheet of paper, saving the top half for hair. Show children how to transfer a little paint from the pot to the hairline of their portrait using a paint dropper or teaspoon. Demonstrate how to blow through a straw to create long spidery lengths of multi-coloured hair. For younger children, have some face shapes ready drawn so they can just concentrate on the paint blowing. We also cut out some paper bows and flowers so children could decorate their hairstyles.

EYFS Early Learning Goals
By having a go at plaiting and following instructions when making blow paint pictures, as well as talking about experiences of going to a hairdressing salon and listening to the experiences of others, children will be meeting the Communication and Language goal: Understanding: ‘Children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer “how” and “why” questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events. You could also focus on Physical Development: Moving and Handling: Children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.

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