Thinking Frames in the EYFS

I remember having an excellent discussion during my NPQH around an activity to design the worst CPD ever. The opportunity to share ideas about different professional development we had all experienced over the course of our teaching careers brought out the full gamut of emotions. It also made me step back and be thankful that this career does put education and development at the centre of our profession. As we flipped the question later, we then had to ask: how do we make it effective, engaging and practical? That’s tricky to answer!

How we can successfully implement these tools into EYFS was the focus of our last Drive Team meeting. Thinking Frames can be used with objects and images as well as text with all age groups and across all subject areas. They help create more space in working memory as students can visualise and see their thinking clearly reflected back to them e.g. sequencing the key events and then being able to prioritise key moments. Our growing understanding of the Science of Learning and particularly of neuroplasticity, the malleability of the human brain to change in response to input of new and repeated information, reinforces the impact of Thinking Frames as a tool. They capitalise on the brain’s capacity to prioritise visual information. Online Drive Team Meeting This term’s online Drive Team meeting examined the use and variety of ways to successfully embed Thinking Frames into Early Years practice. Lorna Gardiner led the discussion about ways they can be used to support the Early Years framework. It got us all thinking about some of the Early Learning Goals and how the use of Thinking Frames can be used to scaffold independence and develop language, communication and thinking. Who would have thought that a Tuff tray or a plastic hoop could create an ideal frame by providing the ‘lens through which to examine their thinking’.

Ideas for successful implementation

The aim with any tool is to get them into the hands of students, the fact that a thinking frame could be any size and tactile makes them brilliantly adaptable for the Early Years. Using physical objects, whether dragged in from the playground or picked up within the classroom is a great way to get started and allows the teacher to model the thinking process that supports the specific frame in hand. Learning is meant to be fun! Play underpins the EYFS. It also underpins learning and all aspects of children’s development. Through play, children develop language skills, their emotions and creativity, social and intellectual skills. Handing over a physical frame, tuff tray or painting a frame in the playground allows children to rehearse what they have learnt and play around with their thinking.

Huge thanks to Laura Hinde (Bickley Primary, Kent) and Carolyn Morrison (Ashgrove Primary, NI) for sharing examples of Thinking Frames from their own classroom practice and how they have implemented these into the curriculum along with other creative ideas. Having the opportunity to share creative ways to use Thinking Frames in the curriculum is the very reason we host our termly Drive Team meetings. These tools can be utilised by children in the Early Years to scaffold thinking and learning with increasing confidence, skill and dexterity. The same way their use of physical tools for multiple everyday tasks can be developed, leading to independence.

Our Digital Thinking Frames – exclusive to TSN Premium Members enable pupil’s to create their own frames for homework or on digital devices. Their work can be stored in the cloud or on individual devices and are compatible with both Microsoft and Google school platforms.
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