Monday 5 March 2012

Elizabeth Jarman CFS- Bags for Practitioners Review

As many of you know I am a busy mummy to 2 children aged 4yrs & 20 months. I'm also a full-time childminder, I have always been creative from when I was a child and love exploring and building new exciting dens with my son. Not only as a childminder but as a parent I think it's really important for children to have the time and space to explore and use their imagination. Today I have a review for you from Elizabeth Jarman, Elizabeth has produced the Communication Friendly Spaces Toolkit for practitioners and now specialises in improving learning environments.

Now as a parent that may sound a little scary, so if you are thinking WHAT? Then don't panic or be put off, Elizabeth has produced a series of bags and books which show and demonstrate to you how you can make Communicating Friendly Spaces with your child/ren at home or wherever you like to have fun. These bags are brilliant to use indoors and outdoors. The materials which come in the bag is very inspirational. I have the Childminders Bag and from using the materials and resources from the bag and by reading the book it has given me so many ideas on how we could extend the bag further. I have been putting the bag to good use with my childminding children but also my own children.

The contents of the bag:

Blue camo netting / waterproof sheeting different ‘fixing ties’/ a really soft fleece/ two torches / two jute trays /a padded fluffy mat.

The bag also includes a copy of Elizabeth Jarman’s award winning book A Place to Talk at My Childminder’s.


This morning we made a bug trail and used the camouflage material and the black clips and clipped them in place and used a child's plastic table to make a canopy. Once I showed my son he said we could make a bug trail and so he then set about arranging his bugs on top of the canopy and underneath. He used the jute trays to store the bugs in and the torch which came with the bag.


My son exploring the bug trail using his torch!


I recently joined a local scrap store near my home which enables us to go as many times as we like for year and fill a carrier bag with scraps. These scraps could be materials, strips of netting, plastic lids, cardboard tubing etc. The fun thing about the store is the changing variety, So after using the CFS bag when I saw this amazing blue netting I knew straight away we could use this to create another CFS area indoors and outdoors. Another fun factor about these CFS bags is the HUGE amount of communication you can develop and build with your child. My son loved emptying the contents of the bag and designing 'his' space which he visualised. We had such a lovely conversation about what he wanted to make and how he was going to do it, then when we visited the scrap store he was able to remember and visualise the fun spaces we had made. He was then looking at the resources and materials and using his imagination to say we could use them for this of that.

Then the following day we decided to extended the bug idea and we used the material we found at the scrap store and then made a totally different Communicating Friendly Space. Can you see the pattern now? You just need an area where you can turn into a friendly space for children, a corner with some cushions and books or a place where you can hang some drapes and place some natural objects such as a treasure basket. The great thing about CFS there is no right or wrong you can make them as you and your child/ren want. A Place To Talk At my childminders is a great resource for childminders and has lots of great ideas and advice. Elizabeth Jarman also has a selection of other CFS bags such as- A bag for families, Outside, inspiring boys and more options.. I would love to see the Outside CFS bag, especially with spring/summer arriving soon this would be a great bag for practitioners and parents. I think I could do with getting more of the clamps, these are so easy and safe to use and encourage the children to use.

I just love this next image and everything about it...

So why don't you have a go today? A blanket, a cardboard box, a fleece or even some tarpaulin- the possiblities are endless so have a go. You could even surprise your child and see the look on their faces when they explore their new space! I love making these CFS for my children and letting them find them!

You can visit the website for lots more advice and information and also follow them on twitter fo updates.

Thanks for reading!




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