Gradual Admission

Gradual Admission

September brings a new year at school in England, which means lots of children beginning their year in a new class. In my school, Nursery and Reception have have what we call a ‘Gradual Admission’ period – time for the adults and children to get to know each other in smaller groups and time to settle into new routines.

The classroom is set up ready to (hopefully) excite & inspire.

These are some of the things we have enjoyed over the last couple of weeks…


Self-Registration Stones

In previous years the children have had a shaped, coloured name card for their self-registration. Inspired by images on Pinterest over the last couple of years, I have finally got round to sorting out stones for them instead. They have really enjoyed choosing their own stone out of a collection…

Name stones - from Rachel (",)


Finger Gym

This was great fun! Colanders, pipe-cleaners and beads. The children threaded the pipe-cleaners through the holes (not so easy for some!) & there was an additional challenge of threading beads onto the pipe-cleaners for those who wished to try it.

Pipe-cleaners, beads and colanders on the Finger Gym from Rachel (",)

Pipe-cleaners, beads and colanders on the Finger Gym from Rachel (",)

We have also had a simple pegs & boards activity in a different area of the classroom…

Simple pegs and boards... from Rachel (",)

The natural geoboards were out for a short time too…

Geoboards... from Rachel (",)

Fine-motor geoboard fun - from Rachel (",)


Discovery Table

Last year you may remember us exploring ‘beach finds’ in two different ways (here and here)

Ways of exploring Beach Finds - from Rachel (",)

They prompted lots of discussions about holidays and as I knew some of my new class would be visiting the beach in the summer, I was hoping for similar conversations with the children when I set up this table. My ‘Early Starters’ (I have 5 children who have been with me since January) enjoyed making transient art pictures, but the new children preferred to just look at, & touch the shells…

Exploring shells... from Rachel (",)


Small World

Very simple set-ups as the children learn to access the shelves without tipping everything in!

Simple small world set-up with wild animals - from Rachel (",)

These animals ended up on the train track (I think they escaped) & we spotted that they looked really interesting on the mirror…

Animals escape from the zoo... from Rachel (",)

Animals escape from the zoo... from Rachel (",)

Fairies then moved into the small world…

Simple fairy play... from Rachel (",)



We have simply had sand in a tub with a selection of different sized scoops, spoons & bowls…

Exploring sand with differentiated tools... from Rachel (",)

In case you were wondering if they kept it in the tray…

Exploring sand with differentiated tools... the aftermath! - from Rachel (",)

Some of it even ended up on the snack table! Looks like Postman Pat is enjoying himself… 😉

Snack table... from Rachel (",)



Silicone cake cases, glass nuggets & larger numbered glass nuggets (made by adding stickers & varnish to the back). The Early Starters had a go at matching nuggets to numbers, but the new children just made cakes…

Cake cases, nuggets and numbered nuggets on the homemade lightbox... from Rachel (",)

We also explored laminated sweet papers and cellophane numbers…

Laminated sweet papers and cellophane numbers on the homemade lightbox - from Rachel (",)



Just coloured, bubbly water so far, but I’ve introduced new ‘real’ items to explore the water with & am hoping that it will encourage them not to leave them in the water try in a huge pile…

Water shelves... from Rachel (",)


Play Dough

Simple dough to begin with. The children learn to access the shelves with continuous provision before I add enhancements to the table…

Play dough shelves and simple dough from Rachel (",)



Really simple sorting & counting…

Simple sorting and counting from Rachel (",)

The children also enjoyed playing with numbers, compare bears, stones and the game board. I just wanted to observe what they would do with them..

Bears, stones and the game board... from Rachel (",)


(Pretend) Face Painting

When the children came for their visit before the summer holiday, we had this activity set out. I shared it (& how it was made) on my Facebook Page here, but not here on the blog.

Pretend Face Painting - from Rachel (",)

It is not real paint, just nail varnish painted into a cheap painting palette, & the children absolutely love pretending to paint each other’s faces, nails etc. Postman Pat got in on the act again!

Pretend Face Painting... from Rachel (",)


The children begin to come in, in their normal groupings next week so we shall see how we get on…


Thanks for reading!

Rachel (“,)


  1. We do a gradual admission too, it’s been great as we have really got to know the children, they haven’t felt too overwhelmed by the amount of children there and we have spent a lot of time getting to know them and modelling use of the provision. Like you we have started with similar activities actually. Ours have shown an interest in shells from their holiday experience and my transient art shells ended up being sold in the role play holiday shop, that was originally the home corner window! Beautiful resources as ever, thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Rachel! It’s lovely, but exhausting! I’ll be glad when they are all properly settled 😉

  2. Hi Rachel, I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered your wonderful blog. Thank you for all the super ideas. Going to get my caretaker straight onto the natural geoboards! I have been trawling the internet for months looking for wooden sorting dishes putting in all sorts of different key words e.g. Wooden sorting bowl/wooden section dish/wooden compartment dish etc etc! Can you please put me out of my misery and tell me where you got yours!! Anyway, thank you again for the inspiration. Not sure if you’ve done a blog post on your planning, but would love to see how you do that. Many thanks, Alison X

    • Awe, thanks for the lovely comments Alison!
      My bowls are from a mixture of eBay, charity shops & relatives. You just have to keep your eyes peeled. Sorry I have no magic answer!
      My planning is quite fluid. I try to follow objective-led planning (although I am still getting my head round it), as suggested by Alistair Bryce Clegg. We follow the children’s interests as much as possible rather than topics – although I do often focus on a book for the week, which can mean the areas have a ‘theme feel’. At the beginning of a week I never know what I’ll be doing the following week, which I feel is far less rigid & is much more meaningful for the children 🙂

  3. Love all of your centres. they are so beautiful. We are just starting to follow the children’s interests in our kindergarten classrooms. I really like the variety of colours in your play dough areas. Do you make your own play dough and if so, what is your recipe. I always make my own dough but the colours are never all that vibrant.

  4. Beautiful classroom and resources. I am a Montessori Teacher, very inspired by Reggio and so trying to integrate Reggio into my Montessori Class. I have been trying to see how to document the planning and learning and came across your page. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Tara 🙂

  5. Thank you for the inspiration! Your invitations have got me thinking of equipment in new ways (teddy bear counters on a checkers board) Very cool 🙂

    • You’re very welcome, Natalie! 😀

  6. Hi Rachel
    I have really enjoyed browsing your ideas – you certainly offer your children an incredibly rich learning experience. It makes me so glad to see your following and the comments different practitioners make about your work – perhaps creativity has not been completely lost in education after all!
    I am putting on a maths exhibition at our Early Years Training and Resource Base in Bradford next month but I don’t have enough table space for all the ideas I would like to promote. Would you mind me using some of your photographs, please? I would acknowledge your work, of course. It just means I can support people more and make it more worth while if they visit. Let me know! Thanks
    Rachel Jacobs, Education Consultant and Director Leading Children Ltd & Leading Children Imagine Ltd.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Thank you for your lovely comment about my work 🙂
      I am happy for you to use my photographs as long as it is clear with each one that they are from this blog. Occasionally I post photos to my Facebook page or Instagram account that don’t make it to my blog and so I would appreciate a mention of these too.

      Enjoy the rest of the Christmas period.
      – Rachel (“,)

      • Thanks

        Have a great New Year!

        Rachel Jacobs

        • Thank you Rachel, you too! 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.