Foundation Stage

Early years Foundation Stage Two Curriculum Overview

In Reception Year at Lisle Marsden we endeavour to lay foundations that will enable all children to be independent, inquisitive and passionate learners, showing a caring attitude towards others’ and the environment. We provide a safe and stimulating environment indoors and out, allowing children to have fun, develop friendships and learn.

We base our approach on the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ enabling our children to play and explore, actively learning in lots of different ways and developing the skills to think and question critically and creatively.

The characteristics of effective learning describe factors which play a central role in a child’s learning and in becoming an effective learner. They are vital elements of support for the transition process from EYFS to year 1. The characteristics of effective learning run through and underpin all 17 areas of learning and development.

In the children’s final year of the EYFS they are working towards the ‘Early Learning Goals’ (ELG) which encompass our areas of learning: This is a statutory assessment reported to parents and Year One teachers indicating future steps of learning.

The ELGs are detailed below.

Prime areas of learning

Communication and language development

This involves giving children opportunities to speak and listen in a range of situations and to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves.

Listening and attention: children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity.

Understanding: children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.

Speaking: children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.

Physical development

This involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive, and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity, and to make healthy choices in relation to food.

Moving and handling: children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.

Health and self-care: children know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.

Personal, social and emotional development

This involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others, form positive relationships and develop respect for others, develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings, understand appropriate behaviour in groupsand to have confidence in their own abilities.

Self-confidence and self-awareness: children are confident to try new activities, and say why they like some activities more than others. They are confident to speak in a familiar group, will talk about their ideas, and will choose the resources they need for their chosen activities. They say when they do or don’t need help.

Managing feelings and behaviour: children talk about how they and others show feelings, talk about their own and others’ behaviour, and its consequences, and know that some behaviour is unacceptable. They work as part of a group or class, and understand and follow the rules. They adjust their behaviour to different situations, and take changes of routine in their stride.

Making relationships: children play co-operatively, taking turns with others. They take account of one another’s ideas about how to organise their activity. They show sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, and form positive relationships with adults and other children.

Specific areas of learning


This involves encouraging children to read and write, both through listening to others reading, and being encouraged to begin to read and write themselves. Children must be given access to a wide range of reading materials for example books, poems, and other written materials to ignite their interest.

Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.

Writing: children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

With regard to phonics we follow a systematic timetable when teaching children to read and write, using a multi-sensory approach. For more information please see ‘The curriculum – Phonics and Reading’ on our website.

At Lisle Marsden we foster a ‘love’ for reading encouraging children to develop a life-long love of books. We actively involve parents / carers to further extend their involvement with reading to their children.


This involves providing children with opportunities to:

- practise and improve their skills in counting numbers, calculating, simple addition and subtraction problems

- describe shapes, spaces, and measures

Numbers: children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

Shape, space and measures: children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.

Understanding of the world

This involves guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.

People and communities: children talk about past and present events in their own lives and in the lives of family members. They know that other children don’t always enjoy the same things, and are sensitive to this. They know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions.

The world: children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.

Technology: children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes.

Expressive arts and design

This involves supporting children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials. It involves providing children with opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role play, and design and technology.

Exploring and using media and materials: children sing songs, make music and dance, and experiment with ways of changing them. They safely use and explore a variety of materials, tools and techniques, experimenting with colour, design, texture, form and function.

Being imaginative: children use what they have learnt about media and materials in original ways, thinking about uses and purposes. They represent their own ideas, thoughts and feelings through design and technology, art, music, dance, role-play and stories.

By the end of the Reception Year we expect the majority of children to achieve the ‘Early Learning Goals. Some children will make further progress and some may still need to work towards selected goals.

In addition the children are involved in a true Forest School experience visiting our on-site gated woodland area, in small groups over a period of time. This offers the children a breadth of opportunity in a natural outdoor setting. The Forest School ethos promotes independence and confidence, allowing children to fulfil their personal learning enquiries and interests, assessing their own risks and using their own voice to show next steps.

We have a termly themed approach to learning which takes into consideration the children’s interests and ideas. They support the planning process and have a voice for what happens next. This fosters enthusiasm and purposeful learning in the Indoor and Outdoor Classroom.

We love learning about everything. Sam Safaris visited to show us lots of creatures great and small. We learned so much from listening, looking and touching. In our learning areas we then painted and drew them, we moved like them, we made them with clay and playdough. We looked at lots of non-fiction books and labelled them, we made a class animal dictionary and wrote about what we knew about them. We collected data asking which animal everyone preferred. We searched for spiders outside, pretended to be Spiderman / Spidergirl! We counted creatures, added them and subtracted them when they were eaten by their predator… We made bug houses and bug pies in the mud kitchen and bug soup when doubling. We chased them on bikes and bought them in the bug shop. We love fun, playful learning!

 Our learning environment is key to providing the children with purposeful opportunities to learn new things and practice key skills. The areas reflect the children’s interests and passions. We provide opportunities to be creative, solve number problems, write in meaningful contexts, look at, listen to and read books. Take a look at our photo gallery to see more.

There is a strong emphasis on learning through play, both child initiated and planned play. The curriculum is delivered through a combination of whole class activities, adult led focussed activities and child initiated activities. The children are assessed through on-going observations during teacher led and child initiated activities. We compile this information using an online facility called ‘Tapestry’. The children’s wow moments provide a learning journey for their progress and achievements with us. Parents / Carers are key to this process and we encourage their full involvement.  

For further information these links will be useful: