Early Childhood Hub

Guided play: Supporting and modelling effective communication


This video shows practitioners supporting young children’s learning at Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre in east London, a maintained nursery school for children aged two, three and four. The setting works closely with parents and carers and is fully inclusive, with a number of places prioritised for children who have special educational needs and disabilities. As you watch the video, consider how the practitioner supports high-quality interactions to support children’s learning. Specifically:

  • Notice how the practitioner supports play by encouraging imaginative role-play. Consider how she engages children’s questions to draw them in and values their opinions, modelling listening to others and valuing their opinions
  • Consider how the practitioner carefully changes how they communicate. Where needed, she supports her speech with signs, but also uses complex mathematical language such as ‘cuboid’ and ‘cylinder’.


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The excavators are helping to construct. Help. 


Oh, lots of building… oh no. Help. 

[child speaking] 

[child’s name], how can you help? That’s OK. We can put your helmet back on. Your helmet back on. Yeah. There we are. The goat needs help, [child’s name]. 


Help. It’s stuck on the top. Ah, look! [child’s name] has used the block like a lift. But I don’t think [child’s name] wanted it like that. [child’s name], how are you going to help the goat? 

I want to make a tower. 

Oh, [child’s name] stop and listen to [child’s name].


[child’s name], we still need your help. The goat is stuck, and you said, let’s make a tower. 

That’s a great idea to get the goat down. Let’s see. 

[children speaking] 

The goat is about to fall, [child’s name]. Quick help. Help. It’s wobbly. Oh. 

[children speaking] 

[child’s name] is calling you. Hey, come on. 

[children speaking] 

[child’s name], look. [child’s name], look. 

[children speaking] 

And down the lift. Yay. 

[child speaking]… but the taller tower… 

A tall tower? You’d like to make a tall tower? 

Yes. And it can help the goat.

  1. So, if you hold your goat on the plank, then me and [child’s name], we can make a tall tower. [child’s name] would like the goat to get down by a tall tower. 

Thank you. And should I put this one on top? Just balance that on top. 

The goat is up there still. 

It’s getting taller. 

[child speaking]

And another one. Oh, let’s balance that on top. One more

[children speaking] 

How has your plank moved? [laughter] Oh, the tower has fallen. 

[children speaking] 

Oh no. 



Castle? You’d like us to build a castle? Yeah? 

[children speaking] 

[child’s name], [child’s name], did you hear what [child’s name] said? She doesn’t want the lift. She would like us to make a castle. 

What’s that? 

They’re poppyseeds. She would like us to make a castle. Yeah, should we make a castle for the goat? 


Shall we make a castle? Right. Let’s move that. Let’s think how we can make a castle. [child’s name], we’ve got some cylinders. 

[children speaking] 

Can we put that cuboid there… we’re coming. We’re building the castle. We need to make a castle for the goat. Could you help? That’s how we’re going to get the goat down. 

[child speaking]… I will make a tall one.

[child’s name] is going to help to make a tall castle. We’ve got lots of different blocks. You can use your truck to help to make the castle. We’ve got some blocks here. Here we are. You’ve got some cuboids and you’ve got some… there’s a cylinder. 

Let’s see what we can make. Remember, castles are big and grand. Yep, let’s add that. Where could we put that one? OK. And I’m going to put this on top. 

More? [child’s name]… Oh, stop. I Can see you’re all helping to catch the goat, but you’re also hurting yourselves. 

OK? We need to work together. That’s OK, put that one… We need to work together. Let’s build a castle. Let’s have a think. How will our castle look like? [child’s name]? 

It’s a big one. So, [child’s name], you’re using the cylinder. And daddy is also coming. He’s going up the castle. 

Right here. 

Right on top. 

No, it’s too high. More high. Stay high. 

We need to build it… we need to make it higher. [child’s name], let’s add that cylinder. Where could you put that? 

[children speaking] Help me.

I got you.

Daddy’s falling. Oh no! We’ve got two problems. We have a goat that’s stuck. Daddy’s trying to help the goat. [children speaking]

It’s gone even higher. Come on, let’s keep building.

Oh, it’s even higher. How are we going to get it down?

It’s higher, higher, higher, higher. 

What could daddy do? 

[children speaking] 

Oh, wait. Everybody stop and listen to [child’s name]. We’re shouting and it’s super loud. [child’s name]? 

[child speaking] 

And another goat. It’s crashing. 

[child speaking]… Grandma. 

Grandma has come to help. Oh, first daddy helped but he could not get the goat down. Now grandma has come to help. More goats. Oh, here they come. 


It keeps getting higher… and higher.

Higher, higher.

And higher and higher.

No, no, no. [children speaking]

She’s making it super high. I wonder how we’re going to get it down?

[laughter] Super high. How are we going to get it down? Maybe we need another idea. [child’s name], are you OK? 

Maybe we need another idea. [child’s name]. So we’ve got a big problem. [child’s name], I want you to stop now and have a think. We’ve got a big problem. Our castle’s getting taller but the goat is also going higher. 

Now, I want us to think. How can we get the goat down? Because every time we build, so does the goat. It goes higher on the plank.

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