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

Well versed

Rhyme is a fantastic medium for inspiring children to engage with narrative and develop vocabulary. Get into your own poetry rhythm by checking out these activities.

Understanding the world: Time to grow

When spring is sprung, it's time to introduce children to some elementary gardening skills. Learning about life cycles and taking responsibility for growing plants will give them an enormous sense of achievement.

Understanding the world: Natural symmetry

When a child is excited by something they identify in the natural world, there is a valuable opportunity to seize the moment and extend learning. Jenni Clarke explains how the adult can prompt and support without taking over.

Understanding the world: To the lighthouse

Mr Grinling is probably one of the most famous lighthouse keepers in the world, brought to life by Ronda Armitage in her series of classic children's books. There are lots of ways to use them to explore peoples' occupations and life-styles.

Literacy: Cold calling

Where Snowflakes Fall by Claire Freedman is a picture book that explores the beauty of the polar regions and is perfect for inspiring children to create role-play scenarios that will lay the foundation for early writing.

Understanding the world: In character

Use the January birthday of author A A Milne to explore the world of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and more by going on a walk and identifying hidey-holes where these characters could find a home.

Understanding the world: Swirl by swirl

Give children time to explore patterns in nature and develop their ability to appreciate and identify shape and design. Learning is maximised when it is led by children as part of in the moment planning, explains Jenni Clarke.

Latest Features

Focus: Outdoor learning

Audit your space and take a fresh view on how to optimise its potential.

Things to do on a rainy afternoon

A rainy day in doors doesn’t have to mean a day stuck in front of the TV or computer. There are lots of activities to keep children occupied – and still learning. Painting, baking, and other arts and crafts are just some of the great ways to boost their creativity. Here are some activities that are perfect for wet weather days.

Forest school: Working its magic

Maureen Lee describes how a study visit to Denmark has inspired a group of practitioners to take their forest school practice to the next level and use it as a springboard for important research.

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