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Queenswell Infant & Nursery School

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Understanding the World

Understanding the World


It is important to us that all children have the opportunity to make sense of the world around them through first hand experiences. This includes their physical world as well as their community. Children begin to gain an understanding of the past, and present by exploring the lives of themselves and those around them. We are a culturally diverse school and we aim to educate children about and celebrate what is important to the children and families that we serve. Our physical environment at Queenswell allows children to connect with nature through our Environmental Education and Forest School approach. These first-hand experiences help to enrich and widen the children’s vocabulary, supporting communication and Language; and later reading comprehension as well.


We provide a culturally, socially, technologically and ecologically diverse environment. This includes:


  • providing a broad selection of stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems
  • globes and maps in every class
  • Forest School approach to learning across the curriculum
  • Our onsite environmental features including pond, meadow and wooded areas.
  • A range of off-site visits such as parks, museums and places of worship
  • Celebrating a range of religious and cultural practices throughout the year.
  • Planned visitors from important members of society such as Fire fighters, police officers, dentist, nurses.
  • Continuous provision that makes the most of the weather as a learning resource and using this to support learning around seasons.
  • Continuous provision that reflects that cultural diversity of the children
  • Continuous provision that includes use of technological toys or devices

Pre-School                                        →

Nursery                                            →


Past and Present
  • Adults to notice and comment on changes over time e.g. if a child has new haircut or starts wearing glasses; plants growing or seasons changing.
  • Children begin to make sense of their own life story – Spend time with children talking about photos and memories.
  • Provide opportunities for children to explore artefacts, stories, pictures from the past.
  • Offer opportunities for children to begin to organise events using basic chronology, recognising that things happened before they were born (e.g. using a time line)



  • Compare and contrast characters from stories, and non-fiction including figures from the past.
People, Culture and Communities
  • Help children make connections between features of their families and other families e.g. talk about similarities and differences.
  • Invite different people from a range of occupations – plan and introduce new related vocabulary. Consider opportunities to challenge gender and other stereotypes.
  • Name and describe people who are familiar within the community e.g. doctors, teachers, police (people who help us).
  • Talk about own experiences with different people
  • Model positive attitudes about differences between people including race and religion. Have resources that reflect many differences.
  • Ensure resources reflect diversity of modern Britain
  • Celebrate and value cultural, religious, community events and experiences of the children in the class throughout the year.
  • Circle times to share pictures and talk about own family (‘All about me’ books).
  • Encourage children to ask each other questions about their families.
  • Trips to places of worship
  • Talk to children about going on journeys – e.g. going to granny’s house, going to the shop in a car, going on a Bear hunt!
  • Provide books, displays, globes of the world to encourage children to talk about different places around the world.
  • Draw information from a simple map
  • Talk about immediate/local environment including name of road, town in which our school is located – children understand that our school is in Whetstone, which is part of London.
  • Opportunities to draw maps from imaginary story settings as well as local environment.



  • Learn about similarities and differences between life in this country and life in other countries – reflect the countries that children in our school have personal links with
The Natural World
  • Explore materials with different properties, including natural materials inside and outside.
  • Provide interesting natural environments for children to explore freely outdoors.
  • Experiment with a range of different materials e.g. provide children with opportunities to change materials from one state to another (cooking, melting ice cubes); explore materials that float/sink; making shadows/explore transparency of materials.
  • Children to have regular access to outdoor play and exploration
  • Hands on outdoor experiences using senses (touch, smell)
  • All children encouraged to have welly boots and puddle suits at school so they can fully experience a range of outdoor weather
  • Observe, interact with and comment on natural processes such as:
  • ice melting,
  • a sound causing a vibration,
  • light casting a shadow,
  • a magnet attracting an object,
  • a boat floating on water
  • Changes of state through cooking experiences
  • Real life experiences involving exploration of natural phenomena such as standing in the rain with wellies and splashing, walking through tall grass.
  • Make collections of natural materials to investigate and talk about with similarities and differences e.g. contrasting pieces of bark, different types of leaves or rocks.
  • Plan for and introduce new vocabulary, encouraging children to use it to discuss their findings and ideas.
  • Make observations, draw pictures of the natural world including animals and plants (use key words to label parts e.g. stem, leaf, roots or tail, feathers, fur)
  • Encourage children to describe what they see, hear and feel whist outside including names of some plants and animals
  • Notice and comment on similarities and differences.
  • Allow children to take supported risks – Risk management (see Forest School policy)
  • Recognise that some environments are different to where they live – use of non-fictions texts to explore different natural environments
  • Encourage children’s exploration, curiosity, appreciation and respect for living things – e.g. looking for minibeasts, planting and growing, collecting natural items while out walking.
  • Plant seeds/bulbs and care for growing plants – observe growth and decay over time
  • First hand scientific explorations of animal life cycles, such as caterpillars or chick eggs.
  • Draw children’s attention to weather and seasonal features
  • Develop growing areas of the garden – e.g. potato patch
  • Document the development of frog life cycle using pond in outdoor area – establish rules and ways of caring for them.
How things work
  • Provide mechanical equipment for children to investigate, make links and connections in relation to cause and effect e.g. wind-up toys, pulleys (transporting), sets of cogs.
  • Children to explore and talk about different forces that they can feel – e.g. exploring magnets, bending materials - plan and introduce new vocabulary
  • Use a range of technological programmable toys such as bee-bots
  • Children learn about online safety – suitable websites, what to do if you see something online that you don’t like, what info not to share (www.thinkyouknow resources)


Early Learning Goals: *(only to be used as assessment point at end of reception year)

Past and Present: Talk about the lives of the people around them and their roles in society. Know some similarities and differences between things in the past and now, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class. Understand the past through settings, characters and events encountered in books read in class and storytelling.

People, culture and communities: Describe their immediate environment using knowledge from observation, discussion, stories, non-fiction texts and maps. Know some similarities and differences between different religious and cultural communities in this country, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class. Explain some similarities and differences between life in this country, drawing on knowledge from stories, non-fiction texts, when appropriate, maps.

The natural world: Explore the natural world around them, making observations and drawing pictures of animals and plants. Know some similarities and differences between the natural world around them and contrasting environments, drawing on their experiences and what has been read in class. Understand some important processes and changes in their natural world around them, including the seasons and changing states of matter.


Curricular goals:

Pre-school: Children show curiosity about the world around them and enjoy new experiences.

Nursery: Children show an interest in the world around them through a range of experiences to explore and discover, particularly during outdoor learning. They are keen to find things out for themselves through trial and error and enjoy the process of discovery as much as the end result. Children talk about themselves and those closest to them (including events that have happened in the past) and show positive attitudes towards the diversity of the local community.

Reception: Children are confident and excited to engage with the real world. They use newly learnt vocabulary to make sense of and talk about the world around them. Children have developed positive attitudes towards the world around them including people and communities. They have sensitivity towards the impact of varying factors on the natural world and the need to live sustainable lives.


Moving on to KS1 – Links to National Curriculum: History, geography, science, environment and forest schools, RE, computing, DT, PSHE

By the end of EYFS children should know and sometimes use vocabulary such as:


Cooking and Nutrition

Change, melt, cook


Living in the wider world

Different, similar, names of people who help us e.g. doctor, police, firefighter, teacher


Programming and computer science

Bee-bot, forward, backward, turn

Online Safety

Online safety, website


Beliefs and belonging

Some words relating to religion relevant to children in the class – e.g. Christian, Muslim, Jewish


Celebration, some names of celebrations relevant to children in class e.g. Eid, Hannukah, Christmas

Special places

Some names of places of worship relevant to children in that class e.g. church, synagogue, mosque

Environmental Education and Forest School

Learning about the environment

Seasons, autumn, spring, summer, winter, change



leaf, stem, roots


Lifecycle, related stages of lifecycle of animals such as frogs, chicks/ducks, butterfly, (e.g. egg, chrysalis, caterpillar, butterfly), various animal names  

Everyday materials

Magnet, float, sink, melt, ice

Seasonal changes

Seasons, autumn, spring, summer, winter, change, weather


Locational and place knowledge

Map, various names of countries relevant to children in the class, London, Whetstone

Human and physical geography

Season, weather


Chronological understanding

past, now, similar, different