Saturday Seminar – Woodwork

On Saturday 3rd June, we held our third Saturday Seminar which explored woodwork as a Froebelian occupation.

The seminar was led by Pete Moorhouse, an Artist Educator and Early Years Consultant who has extensive experience of working with young children on woodwork. Pete’s practice has been very much influenced by Froebel’s principles. He is passionate about hands and minds working together and encouraging creativity. He has been trying to get schools all over the country to reintroduce woodwork, and is always looking for opportunities to spread the word about the wonders of creative woodwork for early years children.

Pete talked to us about the history of woodwork with children which can certainly be traced at least as far back as Froebel. By the turn of the nineteenth century, almost all schools provided woodwork for children and it was an integral part of early years pedagogy. Both the Rachel McMillan Open Air Nursery School and Susan Isaac’s the Maltings House School incorporated woodwork areas. By the 1950’s and 60’s schools were turning away from woodwork and by the 1980’s and 90’s it was almost completely gone from nurseries due to a culture of litigation and fear of risk.

However, woodwork empowers children, it builds confidence and gives children a sense of agency. It covers most areas of the curriculum and supports children to think critically and solve problems.

Not having a woodwork area means that children miss out on important experiences including the opportunity to assess and manage risk.

Pete then introduced us to the tools that were most appropriate to use with children and we explored how to use them.

We had lots of opportunities to give it a go and create our own objects.

Seminar feedback

“A workshop not to be missed! So many tips and tricks to ensure working with wood and tools is a successful and fulfilling experience for children. Great to have the opportunity for the practical experience too – very therapeutic!”

“[I] now have more confidence in the use of tools and how to introduce these to the children. I was reminded of how many learning opportunities are supported through woodwork.”

“[It’s] given me a great insight into the possibilities at the woodwork bench and how we can extend what we are already doing.”

“Having attended this session with hardly any woodwork experience, I am leaving inspired, confident and excited to develop the skill, knowledge and practice of woodwork with the children, staff and families.”

“The light bulb moment has to be the sanding board, so simple yet so effective.”

“I can’t wait to set our woodwork bench set up and get going!”
Pete Moorhouse’s website can be found here.

Pete’s book Woodwork in the Early Years, can be found here as a downloadable pdf or ordered as a print copy.


Wee Builders @ the National Galleries of Scotland

The Edinburgh Froebel Network is supporting the Wee Builders project at the National Galleries of Scotland, which aims to welcome more children and families to the Galleries. The Network is lending sets of mini unit blocks for children to use to build their own creations in the Scottish National Gallery, inspired by the art around them.


Saturday Seminar – Schema

On the 27th May we held our second Saturday Seminar which explored how understanding children’s schema, supports mark making and early literacy.

The seminar was led by Stella Louis, an accredited Froebel travelling tutor who has been involved in extensive work on sharing knowledge and understanding of young children’s schemas with parents.

The seminar focused on helping practitioners to use schema theory to analyse children’s symbolic representations and plan next steps to better understand the links between, symbolic representation, mark marking, thinking and emergent writing.

Books about Schema

Stella described how schema are life long, cross cultural and travel over space and time. Stella challenged us to identify drawings by a young child, prehistoric art or art from another culture. It was a challenge!

Examples of radial schemas – who drew them?

Feedback from participants included

“[I now have] a much deeper understanding of observation interconnections and the vital role the adult plays in supporting schematic behaviour.”

“Keen to continue to develop my knowledge of schema and share with colleagues the huge emotional importance of schemas and the importance to children’s development.”

“As a team [we’re going to] look at quality of observations, planning and resources to support and extend.”

“So much to take away from today. This will influence future staff meetings.”

“I will carefully consider my observation and would like to support others at work to do the same – considering SIGNIFICANT learning and how to develop concepts behind particular schemas.”

“[I] valued the opportunity to revisit this subject in some depth and to be inspired by Stella. Will now work on staff development.”

“I hope to spread my knowledge of schemas with my team and adapt my observations.”


Stella Louis is an early years consultant who has worked as a nursery nurse, nursery manager, DCE course coordinator and Early Years Training coordinator. She wrote her first book in 2008 on understanding children’s schemas and has had articles published in Nursery World and Early Education. 

Stella has developed a sustained interest in working with parents and is involved in research on sharing knowledge and understanding of young children’s schemas with parents. Stella is currently studying for a Doctorate in Education and is a Froebelian-trained travelling tutor, working in the UK and in South Africa in an initiative funded by the Froebel Trust.

Edinburgh Froebel Network Saturday Seminars are supported by the Froebel Trust.