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: Beautiful butterflies

Butterflies will enjoy a national day of celebration on March 14. Make it a date for children to explore their characteristics and habitats with the help of resources available from the Wildlife Trusts. It's a great excuse to get outdoors and study nature.

Understanding the world: Banging on

What could be more fun than making your own musical instruments? Start with these simple ideas using recycled objects to inspire children's love of music and appreciation of how sounds are made.

Understanding the world: From trash to treasure

What goes on at your local recycling centre is often a subject of fascination for children. Karen Hart suggests ways to build on this curiosity with activities which will help them to understand the importance of managing waste and recycling unwanted objects.

Understanding the world: Breathe easy

Air pollution is one of the most complex aspects of the environmental crisis facing our planet. It's hard not to feel overwhelmed by its seriousness; what can we do to make a difference, and how can we address such a difficult issue with young children?

Understanding the World: Chain reaction

The first in this ‘little scientist’ series explores the nature of chemistry and outlines some simple but exciting experiments, which will ignite children's curiosity and encourage them to make predictions based on what they see.

Steps to clean living

Hilary White kicks off a new series exploring how early years settings can make practical changes to become eco-friendly, while creating a dynamic environment for children to learn about conservation.

Understanding the World: Bangs and bubbles

Children are naturally inquisitive about the world and they will always be excited by hands-on science. These simple experiments devised by Claire Hewson are designed to ignite children's curiosity, wonderment and sense of discovery.

Latest Features

Born into a digital world

With some children accessing technology for disproportionate amounts of time at home, how important is it for settings to try to combat the negative effects of screen-time?

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.

A trip to remember

If pitched at the right level, a trip to a historical or cultural location can be just as valuable in the early years as it is for pupils further up the school, as we found on our trip to Hampton Court Palace, says Elaine Booth, teacher at Latchmere School in Kingston-upon-Thames.

Feed the birds!

As the weather gets colder and resources become scarcer, birds have to make every minute count when it comes to finding food. Teach children how they can help them to survive during the winter and fuel their fascination for the natural world.

Loving the darkness

While winter’s lack of daylight hours and long, dark evenings may make most of us feel like hibernating, consider ways in which you can explore the excitement of darkness with children.

Tuff decisions

Ailsa Chapman re-visits that stalwart of early years resourcing – the tuff tray, and suggests ways to extend its scope, with a range of imaginative ideas that children can take in any direction.

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