Understanding the world

Understanding the world is one of the seven areas of the early years foundation stage and is used to develop a child's familiarity with technology and their understanding of geography, people and communities. Children can show this in range of ways including talking about themselves and their family, the similarities and differences between people, observing animals and plants how they differ and how the world around them is different from place to place. They also learn about the range of different technologies in the world and how each one has a specific role or purpose.

Below you will find a range of practical articles and expert features that cover understanding the world to help you develop these skills and overcome challenges you might encounter. For more information on the EYFS you can download latest version of the statutory framework here.

Latest Practical

Understanding the world: Celebrate World Religion Day!

  • Claire Hewson, teacher and education writer, Cambridgeshire

Sunday 20 of January is World Religion Day, which was established to encourage interfaith understanding and mutual tolerance. Here we explore the Jewish festival of Tu B’Shevat.

Down to detail

  • Jenni Clarke

Using magnification to observe tiny objects or discover the patterns in larger ones is a fascinating occupation. Use this as a springboard to create miniature artworks which reflect the natural world.

Connect with nature

  • Kathy Brodie

Being outdoors can be a great adventure, especially at this time of year when there are so many mini-beasts, animals and birds to discover. Kathy Brodie takes her pick of the best resources that can support children’s learning.

Red, white and blue...

  • Ailsa Chapman

Ailsa Chapman reflects on a month that saw her class celebrating the Royal Wedding in a way that encompassed many learning areas. Her next challenge is to complete 52 end-of-term reports.

All creatures

  • Judith Harries

A series on classic picture books would not be complete without Eric Carle. His simple stories and distinctive illustrations exude warmth and provide an invitation to children to explore the natural world.

Impressions of sunflowers

  • Kim Benham

Kim Benham, senior manager at outstanding nursery Sparkles, in Croydon, begins her new monthly column recommending resources and creative themes.

Come into my parlour

  • Ailsa Chapman

Ailsa Chapman reflects on how the warm weather has had a positive impact on learning, providing inspiration for creative activities such as making ice cream parlours using tuff trays.

Latest Features

Extend schemas to make children feel empowered

  • Dr John Siraj- Blatchford is honorary professor at the University of Plymouth and partner of community interest company, SchemaPlay

A project in Walsall highlights how practitioners are successfully building upon children’s favoured schemes and schema to build in new challenges, extend learning and improve EYFS outcomes.

'Parents and carers love to see their little ones raising money to help others,' says Comic Relief's Laura Wilson.

Embrace creative fundraising

  • Laura Wilson, schools and youth team leader at Comic Relief

Taking part in fundraising events creates happy memories for children and tells them that they can play a part in changing the world. There are also lots of ways to link events to learning in the EYFS.

Children enjoy being active outdoors at the Old Station Nursery

Get ready for a fresh start in January

  • Karen Faux

It may come as a shock having to match your energy levels to the children’s when they arrive back after the Christmas break – so lay plans to get them outside and letting off steam, while supporting their learning and physical development.

Celebrate the dark

While adults may complain about the lack of daylight hours and the long, dark nights, for children darkness is mysterious and exciting. Build on their fascination by making it a theme for learning.

Wrap up!

  • Karen Faux

'There's no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate clothing,' as the saying goes. Use children’s colourful winter clothing as a link to many areas of learning.

Children at Chisenhale Primary School in east London (pictured) are also benefitting to a subscription to No>press>play

Living the moment

  • Sal McKeown

Discover how a new resource is helping pre-schoolers to develop a passion for the past with an audio experience that transports them to momentous events such as the Great Fire of London.

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