ORIM based projects

ORIM in WF13

Boothroyd Playgroup

Supporting home learning

Led by Sharon Ahmed, Shenaz Zamir and Nazish Shaqat.

‘Wow!’ event

We really wanted to engage all of our parents to come to a ‘Wow!’ event where they would experience playful early literacy activities alongside their children and our practitioners.

Staff would model the early steps to talking about books and playing imaginatively, and parents would also have the opportunity to talk together and observe each other’s readerly behaviours.

We wanted to link outwards into the community so we involved the local librarians and also worked with the local authority community teacher. We used the ORIM framework (PDF, 284KB) to plan the family learning event and made sure that we planned to cover all four of the ORIM strands (PDF, 413KB).

Younger siblings were invited to attend as we knew that this would increase parental attendance. We made sure that we had activities for the younger children too.

Staff were briefed about the key messages to parents and we used the jigsaw of environmental print (PDF, 169KB) and jigsaw of early writing development (PDF, 336KB) to support and to scaffold their discussions with parents.

The setting produced a home learning pack for every child which contained

At the event, each activity was modelled to parents with discussions about what they could do at home. For example, practitioners talked about how bookmarks could be made out of cereal boxes with pictures out of comics or magazines stuck on them.

Reading materials were also scattered across the room and these included comics, non-fiction books, fiction and more examples of environmental print. One child sat with his dad for a long time picking out cars from Autotrader. Parents were encouraged to go home and make shopping lists (PDF, 82KB) to use when they go to the supermarket.

These activities impressed the parents. Some of them have told us that now, when they go out, their children don’t stop spotting and reading signs and logos.

We made a trail sheet of activities (PDF, 203KB) which the parents shared with the children to experience the different reading activities. A ‘Wow!’ board was started where practitioners encouraged the parents to spot their children’s readerly behaviours, such as the child wanting to talk about the book or pointing out things in the pictures. They observed their children playing in role play and small world areas and commented on their skills and how these could be further developed at home.

The parents were so enthusiastic that the one ‘Wow!’ board we had prepared wasn’t big enough. They took over our other displays and, by the end of the morning and afternoon session, there were over one hundred ‘Wows’!

How has this changed our practice?

As practitioners, we have changed our approach to parents. We recognise what parents are doing at home to support their children’s early literacy and we are in a dialogue with them about how to develop this.

In the past it was hard to ensure that all parents contributed to their children’s learning files but now the ‘Wow!’ cards are being used and this shows that the parents are recognisers, as in the following examples:

“We are so proud of Dalyan because sometimes he is quiet but at home now he understands the shopping list and is making marks on the paper to show us what he wants!”

“We are so proud of Qadar because he makes his own stories up by looking at the pictures in the book and he uses expression.”

This way of working involved teamwork and collaboration. We have moved towards more of a focus on home learning, and activities to support the learning at home. It is about parents coming in, talking with us and joining in activities which gives both the practitioners and the parents a chance to learn from one another.

Parents said:

“We both enjoyed today! It has been very interesting and good to be involved with the children’s activities. Watching them learn and play has been really good.”

“I enjoyed today making bookmarks and the children learned many new things like sharing things with other children. In the home corner they made a shopping list.”

“Really had a great learning event. I will now get my child to help me write shopping lists!”

“Had fun meeting the teachers and the parents. It was really exciting and both kids loved playing together. I didn’t think that Saif Safa’s little brother would be active as much but he was! Very happy with this event for parents. I will go home and make sure that she makes the playdough at home.”

Above all, we have used the ORIM framework to inspire our practice. We have seen the results that working in this way have brought and we all now have the ‘ORIM bug’!

Songs and rhymes event

We also put on a family learning event focused around songs, rhymes and the giving out of the Bookstart packs for three year olds. The event was interactive with a focus on stories, songs and rhymes, encouraging readerly behaviours and a clear focus on the modelling of story-telling and singing songs and rhymes with props.

All parents and younger siblings were invited. This was a response to a request from a parent who was interviewed after the previous ORIM event and wanted help with singing songs and rhymes with her child.

Dewsbury Library enabled two development librarians to attend the event to do a story session.

The playgroup produced a songs and rhymes home learning pack for every child including

The day before the event, the deputy manager briefed the staff on the agenda for the event and ensured that all staff members had a role. She also talked to staff about the home learning packs which ensured that staff were clear and consistent in their key messages.

On the day, the librarians did an interactive story, songs and rhymes session and also talked through the contents of the Bookstart pack. The playgroup staff translated to ensure all parents understood. After the story session, two practitioners talked to the parents about the packs and how to use them. They modelled key techniques for singing songs and rhymes using props.

After the event it was arranged that each family would go to their child’s key person to complete parent questionnaires and comment sheets. The setting also made a top 10 rhymes sticker chart and asked all families at the end of the event to identify their favourite rhyme. At the end of the session, the manager gave the home learning packs to the families.

For families who didn’t attend the session, one of the playgroup ORIM staff individually met with the parents and gifted them their home learning packs, ensuring that they understood how to use the resources. They were reminded that they needed to bring the home rhyme sheets back. The playgroup have created a board to display the ‘Songs and rhymes at home’ sheets.

Evaluating impact


The playgroup staff did interviews with parents (Punjabi (MP3, 2.5MB), English (MP3, 4.3MB)) after each event and made feedback forms (PDF, 170KB). The ORIM approach has enabled parents to feel confident in supporting their child’s learning and development within the home learning environment.

The use of the ‘Wow!’ cards has enabled more parents to contribute to their child’s record of achievement. Many of them now understand the importance of their role in supporting their child’s progress. The ‘Wow!’ cards have enabled parents to understand the importance of praise and the positive effect this has a on a child’s confidence and self esteem.

Some children and parents are now asking for extra ‘Wow!’ cards to record things that they have done at home. The ‘Wow!’ cards have been thoroughly embedded in the practice of the setting.

The parents now have regular opportunities to come into the setting for events to support their child’s learning. The setting staff plan to run an ORIM event once a term. The ORIM events undertaken refreshed and supported parents’ knowledge and understanding in how stories, songs and rhymes support children’s learning. These are some of the things parents said (PDF, 186KB) about the first event.

The setting now reaches every parent through the events, individual gifting and interviews. Parents who cannot visit the setting have been interviewed in a telephone conversation. Some hard-to-reach parents are now attending events, even if they don’t stay for the whole thing. These parents are demonstrating through their questionnaires that they value the support they are getting from the playgroup to help their children’s learning.

Parents now come to the manager (who is non-Punjabi speaking) more willingly because they have seen how involved she and her staff have been in the events and how they work together as a team. Parents have been eager to pass things back to the manager such as ‘Wow!’ cards and rhyme sheets, and the home learning activities have provided a stimulus for conversation and educational dialogue about children’s progress.


The children have been listening at home to the CD of songs and rhymes that we made with them. Children are very happy to sing in the setting. They have really enjoyed sharing their learning with the parents and involving them at home. Children are singing with younger siblings and other family members. They are demonstrating readerly behaviours through their play, such as picnics on the magic carpet after the first ORIM event. One of the children from a hard-to-reach family has slightly improved his attendance and he now takes much more of an interest in the books and writing activities.

“We went to Pakistan on the Magic Carpet to visit grandma and grandad and his pet dog and goat”


We have taken a whole staff approach with staff being clear and consistent in their key messages. All staff are very united in recognising the importance of parental involvement and have all been proactive in gaining feedback from parents (see our parent interview questions (PDF, 143KB) following the songs and rhymes event) and continuing to model the approach.

The ORIM framework has provided us with the tools to do many different kinds of activities to involve and engage parents. Staff have been very inspired to embed and continue to do activities and events relating the ORIM framework to prime areas of the revised Early Years Foundation Stage framework (2012).

Staff are much more knowledgeable about readerly behaviours and how to support parents in recognising these.

Staff have also grown in confidence in how they communicate with parents as these practitioners’ reflections on the family literacy event (PDF, 106KB) and the songs and rhymes event (PDF, 104KB) show.

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