Conference Reminder – Perspectives on Play

Our 10th conference will be taking place on Saturday 22nd September 2018, from 10am-4pm at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh’s George Street.

90% of tickets have now been sold and ticket sales close on the 8th of September.
If you are planning to come and have not yet purchased your ticket, please do so soon as it looks like we might sell out.

Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite.

Eventbrite - Edinburgh Froebel Conference: Gifts for our Future 10: Perspectives on Play 

For more information on the conference speakers, see the post below.

Edinburgh Froebel Network Conference: Gifts for Our Future 10: Perspectives on Play

Saturday 22nd September 2018, 10am-4pm

We are excited to announce details of our tenth conference which will take place at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh’s George Street.

Perspectives on Play

‘At this age play is never trivial; it is serious and deeply significant.It needs to be cherished and encouraged by the parents for in his free choice of play a child reveals the future life of his mind to anyone who has insight into human nature’  Froebel in Lilley 1967:84

Conference welcome from Professor Tina Bruce CBE, Author and Early Years Specialist

Keynote speakers;

Creativity and Creative Thinking – Dr Sue Robson, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Roehampton Play

Play Culture in a Changing World re-visited – Marjatta Kalliala, Professor, University of Helsinki, Finland

Locating Play Today – Suzanne Flannery Quinn, Senior Lecturer of Early Childhood Studies, University of Roehampton, Froebel College

Eventbrite - Edinburgh Froebel Conference: Gifts for our Future 10: Perspectives on Play 

Calling all previous students of the Edinburgh Froebel Course

Dear Froebelians

As you may know, Jane (Whinnett) and I are involved in developing a Froebel Masters. We are currently putting the paperwork together for the University board; we wondered if you would be interested in writing a testimonial (you can decide on the word length) on the impact the Froebel Course has had on your practice and whether or not you would see any value in the development of a Froebel Masters.  Unfortunately time is of the essence as the University board sits quite soon -at this board (scheduled for the first week in March) they will decide whether to pursue the Froebel Masters or not.

Please send your testimonial to
Hope you can help

Lynn McNair (and Jane)

Froebel and the Occupation of Woodwork by Pete Moorhouse

Pete Moorhouse, who last year led an inspiring Saturday Seminar for the Network on the topic of woodwork, has kindly shared with us, this very interesting article that he has written about Froebel and the occupation of woodwork which you can download as a pdf.

His new book “Learning Through Woodwork; Introducing Creative Woodwork in the Early Years.” Is available now from all good booksellers.

Save the Date! Edinburgh Froebel Network Conference on Saturday 22nd September 2018. 

Edinburgh Froebel Network’s 10th Conference, Gifts for our Future, will take place on Saturday 22nd September 2018 at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. We are currently finalising the programme and more details will be available soon.

Saturday Seminar 13th January 2018 – Players & Storytellers

Just a reminder that our Players & Storytellers Seminar takes place this Saturday (13th January 2018) at the Scottish Storytelling Centre. The day runs from 9:30 until 3:45 and costs £10.

There are only around 30 tickets left, so if you would like to attend, please book directly with the Storytelling Centre by phone, 0131 556 9579, or in person, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR. Opening hours, Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12-6pm.

For details of the programme please see the blog post below.


Saturday Seminar 13th January 2018: Players and Storytellers – Practitioner Research Projects

The Edinburgh Froebel Network Saturday Seminar, Players and Storytellers; practitioner research projects funded by the Froebel Trust and presented at our recent conference, will take place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Saturday 13th January 2018. The day runs from 9:30 until 3:45 and costs £10. Please book directly with the Scottish Storytelling Centre (details at the bottom of this post).

Seminar Programme


Sharon Imray – “Goldilocks eated the three bears … yuk!”

Chris McCormick and Shauna McIntosh – “The Story of our Stories” or “How Cameron House Climbed the Magic Beanstalk”


Alison Hawkins and Moira Whitelaw – “Stories Here, Stories There, Stories Actually Everywhere”

Rhian Ferguson – “Children’s Narratives: a look at the importance of listening to, facilitating and nurturing pretend play and storytelling in an early years setting to support children’s literacy development”.

12:00 – 1:00

Lynda Bardai – “A Bag Full of Stories – an Adventure with Props”

Rosemary Welensky and Lucy Macfarlane – “Woodland Stories and Adventures”

1:00-1:30 Break


Elaine Fullerton – “Fix Fix Fix – Olav is Stuck – supporting children to tell the story that they really want to tell”

Deirdre Armstrong – “Superheroes and imaginative play: are we losing opportunities for our children?”


Catriona Gill – “Players and Storytellers: Supporting Writing in Primary One”

Teresa Bolger – “Rescue Knight Coming! …. And follow me, follow me and now we are out of the cage. Embodied Adventures Exploring the Literacy of Movement within a Wild Natural Place”

You will find more information on the content of the presentations here Saturday Seminar Programme Players & Storytellers 13th January 2018


Please book direct with the Storytelling Centre by phone, 0131 556 9579, or in person, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR.

Opening hours, Monday – Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 12-6pm (Closed 24/25/26/27/31 December and 1/2 January)

Reflections on Dr Lynn McNair’s Keynote at Froebel: Gifts for Our Future 9 by John Dagger

Before hearing Lynn speak at the Gifts for Our Future conference, I had been pre-warned that the content of her presentation might be upsetting.  The title ‘Rules, Rules, Rules, and We’re Not Allowed to Skip’ had already set transition alarm bells ringing and I was not expecting to be uplifted!

Lynn began by grounding the audience in some important Froebelian principles, with ‘discipline being a non-issue in a well conceived educational programme’ jumping out at me in particular.  I have worked for many years in the early stages, and mostly in P1.  More recently I have been practicing in Nursery and the topics of discipline, rewards and self directions are ones I have discussed with colleagues often, especially those still in P1.

It wasn’t very long before Lynn was talking about Golden Time, and the sun and cloud charts that are used with this reward and sanctions system.  My heart sank.  I had used these in my classes.  I thought I had used them well.

I had read about Golden Time many, many years ago, and it had made sense to me at the time.  Everyone else was using it . . . but I had never taken the time to really ask myself “WHY?”  Why do I need this idea of punishment – of loss – of being ‘bad’ or ‘naughty?’  And, more importantly why didn’t the nursery need this system?

In my latter years in P1 I’d like to hope that the system wasn’t really being used – It was just ‘there’.  I had moved on to a much more play based curriculum and interdisciplinary method of teaching and learning.  But it was still there.  In the background.  Looming. . .

It upsets me to think of the pressure I had most likely and unwittingly placed upon my learners.  I have heard first hand, from ex pupils currently in P1 visiting my nursery of how they view the sun and the clouds.  One girl was telling me just a few weeks ago how she worries about a boy in her class who is always on the black cloud.  Knowing the wee lad in question makes me wonder how well he understands the rules of his new environment.  English is an additional language for him, and I suspect he may be finding new routines difficult to understand.

Lynn touched on EAL in her presentation mirroring my thoughts, before moving onto classification.

I made my peace with ‘PIPS’ many years ago (A baseline and end of year assessment tool used in every P1 in Scotland).  They had to be done.  Simple as that, so I made them a game.  I have never ‘taught to the test’ and agree with Lynn who noted that ‘this type of pedagogy celebrates rote learning, memorising and high-stakes testing, while it produces an atmosphere of child passivity and teacher routinisation.’  Froebelian practitioners embrace freedom from rote learning as it opens the door to understanding, and, as I have always championed, all learning has to start from where the learner is.

Lynn then turned her attention to how the curriculum is designed in many Primary settings.  How it can often be a ‘top down’ controlled system, closely aligned with corporate power and military values.  She shared with the audience the words of a P1 explaining how they felt about ‘groups’ and how good or bad a child is at learning in relation to these.  John Hattie’s research would certainly support the child’s question as to why they were even being grouped in the first place.  I was very lucky in my final year as a class teacher to have been in a school which recognised the power of mixed ability learning, of collaborative learning and of challenged based, skill focused learning.   In that last year I even took the plunge and had no groupings in my class.  Everyone made progress.  I was happier, and I hope the children were too.

Lynn concluded by focusing on the transition process and how children view their own school readiness.  Her words have made me reflect on the transition policy we have in place in my current setting, and as Lynn noted, it is probably well intended – but possibly not well enacted.

Lynn’s presentation has already caused much dialogue between myself and colleagues within and beyond my setting.

Lynn’s presentation, although difficult to hear, has held a mirror up to every practitioner involved in transition.

We have been challenged.

We have been challenged to consider new possibilities and to focus on play.

I plan on rising to the challenge.


John Dagger

Head Teacher,

Mount Esk Nursery School

Froebel: Gifts for Our Future 9 – Graphic Record

Those who attended the Froebel: Gifts for Our Future 9 Conference in October, may remember Albi Taylor, busily working away at the back of the hall creating a record of the proceedings.

We are delighted to be able to share this wonderful record of the day with you now.


More about Albi’s work can be found on her website here.

Conference Review by Alison Hawkins

What an amazing and inspirational Froebel conference took place in Edinburgh yesterday. It was attended by 320 delegates, plus behind the scene stalwarts who beavered away to provide an interesting, thought provoking agenda. It was opened with a précis of the history of Froebel’s influence across our nation and the important message that our Froebelian Practice is essential in countering the somewhat utilitarianism of the current educational climate. We were implored to continue our reflective practice and stick with our philosophy – now backed by the evidence of neuroscience. It was stated that Froebelians provide nurturing environments indoors and out which allow children to develop and to be their own person with their own voice.

Dr Lynn McNair then gave an account of her PhD research ‘Rules, rules, rules and we’re not allowed to skip’. More than one person was moved to tears as she described (in a rapid romp through) her findings, punctuated by the quotes of children and their families – illustrating the contrast between early years’ settings and P1….though there was acknowledgement of the ‘change that is afoot’. I have witnessed so often the exact scenarios she articulated as ‘past pupils’ visit and bemoan the lack of play, choices and opportunities to decision-make at school.

Jane Dyke then took the floor and we heard an entertaining and uplifting account of the history and development of ‘Yellow Dot’ nurseries. Jane, after meeting Edinburgh Froebelians and Prof Tina Bruce, embarked on turning the whole ethos of her nursery chain around into settings which properly serve children, enrich their daily lives and provide love and attention as would be found in a child’s home. What I thought was particularly helpful to many was Jane’s repeated comment that nothing was turned round overnight, and that they remain on a journey. For those endeavouring to alter practice (perhaps ‘fighting’ to alter practice) this was a reassuring model.

In the afternoon workshops resulting from a two year story-telling research project, were held. Practitioners – sponsored by the Froebel Trust – had set out to discover ‘what impact has story telling on language development in early years?’. Ten presentations were given which summed up the paths in which the research had gone in various settings, and gave illustrations of the methodology used, and the outcomes.

It is certainly also worth mentioning the coffee and pastries plus the delicious vegetarian lunch which punctuated the day!

I was very proud to have Wester Coates Nursery School so well represented!