Another Perspective on the Planning Cycle

Topic Progress:

The Early Years Learning Framework (2010) from Australia suggests that the planning cycle should emerge from a particular context involving an observation and evolve with plans, actions and reflections. Click on each component to reveal more.


  • What learning is taking place?
  • How is it meaningful?
  • What strengths or skills are evident?
  • What interests are emerging?


  • What other learning is possible?
  • What can we learn together?
  • How can families and community members be involved?
  • How will children be supported to learn and develop?
  • How can plans be made for individuals and for the group?
  • What short term plans can be made?
  • What long term plans can be made?


  • Put your plans into action
  • Enact the plan with intentionality and respect for diversity


  • Reflect on the implementation of your plans.
  • What have you noticed?
  • Critically reflect on how the children and their families have benefited.

As early learning teachers observe children engaged in outdoor play experiences they can use this format for planning.

Open your heart, mind, and your eyes.

What is your response to the children’s outdoor play?
What touches you?
What do you notice?
What are you curious about?
What leaves you eager to learn more about?
What theories do you have?

Take the child’s perspective.

What do you think the child or children were trying to figure out?
What theories are the children testing?
How are the children working together?
Are the children building on each other’s ideas, perspectives and contributions?

Deepening the experience

What can you do to support the children to see their own and each other’s ideas?
What might you do to invite the children to take a different perspective? Another’s perspective?
What might you do to deepen relationships between children, their families and their environment?

Another possible format to use involves identifying the program focus and creating a plan of ideas, suggestions and possibilities.

Program focus: __________________________________

Date the program began: ___________________________

Program ideas, suggestions and possibilities (include children and families): ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ideas to support ongoing project/investigation/inquiries: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Resources/Materials: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Planning is important. There are times that you will plan spontaneously by building on a teachable moment. Even so, you should have a plan. The quality of children’s outdoor experiences will be enhanced when you intentionally plan. With plans, you think purposely about resources and materials. You also consider the people and the place. Who are you planning for? Where will you implement your plan? Consider the photo below and imagine that you captured this on a Friday afternoon. You had put out a few boards in the playground but two children had taken one of the boards and created a bridge. While one child walked across the bridge, the other child was jumping up and down on the plank. Why? What was he experiencing? Based on this photo what could you provide on Monday in the outdoor play environment to support the children’s interests? What are the possibilities for a long-term investigation? Add your thoughts to the comment box.


  1. Michelle Davis

    Adding in more things to balance on would be so fun. Also what about something to make a teeter totter out of? Maybe some big rocks and other lengths of wood. Different widths. Something else to balance on would be great.

  2. Christine Norman

    I think children love to test their balance. They often are climbing up on and balancing on different materials and structures around the outdoor play space.
    Some materials that could be added the following week could be more logs, tree stumps, planks and boards for balancing. The children could be invited to create their own balance beams. You could also add balance boards, wobbly stones, etc.

  3. Angela George

    bridges, balance, science-physics, freedom(jumping), sound, feel of the wind in his hair, what he can see,

  4. Angela George

    a rock, a ball, big spools for turning into a teeter totter; more planks and blocks with tires and stumps and maybe some superhero capes to extend the play because if one bridge is good then more bridges are better.

  5. Jasmine Park

    Children experience making a balance and jumping. I would add more boards, milk crates and a bench beside their construction. I will observe how they expand their play with new materials. (They may build the same thing or expand it as an obstacle course.)

  6. Jennifer Yarmish

    I would add wider and narrower boards to see if the children decided to test the different widths. I would also try a different material underneath the boards (straw, running water etc) to see if the children still showed the same interest in the boards or if they were interested in the actual concept of the bridge and/or what’s under it. It would take further observation questioning to determine what exactly fascinated them about the bouncing process.

  7. Nikki Littlechild

    I would add different lengths of boards and different heights that they can be placed. They are testing balance, coordination and the feel of jumping and landing on something that isn’t completely stable. This would also provide opportunity for a loose parts exploration with what happens with children or items on either side of the plank of wood to add balancing and weight exploration as well. This could continue into exploring to find things such as bridges, scales and although not natural, teeter totters.

  8. Hilary Geddes

    i think the children are testing their balnce, coordination and building skills. There are many oppurtunities for adding more materials in which the children can expand on this creative idea

  9. Heather Diewert

    As I look at the child jumping on the plank, I can imagine they are experiencing the vibration and bounce back from the board, almost like a trampoline.
    I think it could be a great provocation to add more boards and blocks, and loose parts to create varying heights and widths. It would be interesting to see if they placed the parts on the boards to see if they experimented with what the parts do when placed on the boards as they jump.

  10. Pamela Casorso

    the child jumping might be testing how high he can jump, how fast he can do it, how long he can do it, I would add heavier boards, smaller boards and a tree stump and a rope

  11. Carrie Maclellan 

    I would add more building and balancing materials, more wood planks with different widths and different things he could place the beams on for support.

  12. Heather Brekkaas

    The child jumping was possibly feeling the vibrations, or taking a risk and seeing if they could jump and land on the board again. I would add more boards and building materials to see what they could create.

  13. Anna Mary McKenney

    hula hoops to encourage jumping and they are easy for the children to move. Large stumps to add space and have children work on depth perception and gross motor skills like balance. A blue or green tarp could also be used to imagine water or grass or lava to spark some curiosity

  14. Rachelle Gregoire

    I would add more boards and maybe a round log or branch. Maybe stuffed animals to walk over, or create a bridge for. Maybe a sheet to create something else.

  15. Dana Wilson

    Based on this photo what could you provide on Monday in the outdoor play environment to support the children’s interests? What are the possibilities for a long-term investigation?

    The child jumping could have been exploring what their body is capable of doing. They may have been exploring the feeling involved with jumping on something that is suspended in the air. I would provide more materials that let the child explore balancing and jumping on different surfaces, and from different heights. For long term investigation I would consider adding materials that encourage learning about building, construction and body awareness in regards to moving across bridges and other platforms.

  16. Lindsey Cooper

    Based on the photo, you could provide more planks to explore what it may feel like to jump on two boards versus just one. You could offer rope or wood slices to extend the child’s learning.

  17. Krista Ambrose

    I think I would add a few more boards and some stumps of different heights to make more bridges. I would allow the children to walk on it or roll cars on it the boards were on an angle. A long term investigation about bridges could evolve. This could even be a trip to a bridge to see cars going over it.

  18. Amanda Funk

    I would could consider the group of children and how they are using the material. I would try to scaffold their learning based on interest and inquiry.

  19. Jody Anderson

    Why? What was he experiencing? Based on this photo what could you provide on Monday in the outdoor play environment to support the children’s interests? What are the possibilities for a long-term investigation?
    Perhaps the boy was testing out how his jumps were affecting the board, what sounds did it make, how did it move, how hi would it bounce him back up, what result did his actions take on his peer who was balancing near him? Did it create movement in the leaves below him?
    I would add more planks and stumps, maybe a mini trampoline if it is allowed in the program, I woud add loose parts like stuffed animals, or a collection of loose parts with varying weights so the children could bounce while seeing what happens to the objects. I would add different types of wood planks some more flexible than others.

  20. Bonnie Willson

    I believe the boy is enjoying the bounciness of the plank, and how it vibrates as he bounces up and down. I also believe he is experimenting with risky play, and testing his balancing skills. I would like to add more stumps and blocks so other children could build bridges and jump. I would also like to add things like tires, other pieces of stacking wood and perhaps different lengths of plywood to allow the children to experiment with different types and sizes of materials.

  21. Prabhulata Immaraju

    I think they are challenging their own strengths and that of each other. They are thinking of ways they can use the plank in different ways. I’d provide tires,stumps n other trucks etc to add to the play area and see what they would use and how the play changes or expands with other materials available.

  22. Angel Huang

    Why? What was he experiencing?
    maybe the boy is wondering how high can he jumps without falling or breaking the board. or the vibrations coming up to his feet and why isn’t that happening when he is jumping on the ground.
    Based on this photo what could you provide on Monday in the outdoor play environment to support the children’s interests?
    On Monday I would add more boards with different sizes and maybe put on big stomps for them to try to stack up and put the board to balance the board in the middle.

    what at are the possibilities fora long-term investigation?
    in a long term investigation, maybe we can look at how people build a bridge or how can we test out their physical limits, jumping with both legs or hoping with one foot or try how to balance on different designs of constructions which they built.

  23. Mikaela Reyes

    I would add on more boards and blanks of different sizes (length, width, and height) as well as other materials for bridge construction as a test balloon. Doing so will spark children’s interest in exploring body movements and vibrations as well as building their own bridges in different ways.

  24. Ruth Novak

    I think they were trying to use the planks as a trampoline. Maybe adding some more planks can help keep the balance right. He is trying to feel what can happen when he is jumping. When walking across, it focusing on balance like a balance beam.

  25. Betty-Ann Ryz

    Adding in more boards and more materials to raise the boards to possibly create ore bridges that connect to this one.

  26. Erin Lihou

    You could add another plank and have them each be a one way board. That way more than one child could use the boards for balancing or jumping without risking injury to a child

  27. Amanda Christison

    As some others have commented, I too would leave the same materials out as I have learned from experience that the children will revisit it again and again and may use it the same or differently. It’s very interesting as an educator to watch how the children use the same materials as each day passes and what unfolds in their learning journey. I would add some stumps so that maybe they can create their own teeter totter with the planks, maybe they are testing how their body balances and stays stable? I would add some loose parts, maybe pipes or something that can roll and perhaps they can test their theories on gravity as well. From there they could build some ramps or wherever their interests take them, the possibilities are endless.

  28. Mizuho Kashiwagi

    I would like to add hula-hoops and some jumping ropes to see if the children can explore their curiosity from different perspectives.

  29. Joanne Falk

    I would add more boards to the playground so that more children could play with them as well as walking/balancing on the boards. The children would enjoy being able to bounce on the boards and the feeling of the vibration as they bounce. Making a longer trail of boards for the children to walk on and having them make another path/trail.

  30. Kimberley Thompson

    Add two bigger stumps and a plank of wood on top of the stumps to make a balancing beam or something to jump off of.

  31. Kathryn Armstrong

    He could be jumping to test his own competence and balance, if so I would add more planks and different platforms. Creating a rope bridge would be interesting to see if it is balance that has intrigued him. He may also be interested in height so adding in different levels of platforms would also lead to further observations of what he is thinking.

  32. Shannon Stewart

    On Monday, ensure you provide the same materials so that he can revisit. Then, I would add more boards of different sizes. Could he be exploring the flex in the board?

  33. Jessica Garner

    I imagine the child jumping may have been noticing how the long plank flexed and bounced with his motions. To support this exploration on Monday, I might provide the planks again, along with other planks of varying lengths and objects that the boards might be placed between, such as logs, tires, or milk crates.

  34. Nikki Meyer

    A variety of other boards and planks of varying length and width, along with some blocks or materials to support the planks. For longer term investigation I would look at other possibilities for jumping and balancing.

  35. Alison Rinas

    I would provide more boards of various lengths to allow children to explore and build – to see if they would change direction or would they continue.

  36. Andrea Preissl

    On Monday I would add more boards and of different lengths. I think it could have good potential for a long term investigation. It may not be the boards specifically but the balancing and jumping, which could lead to the interest in other gross motor skills.

  37. Svetlana Babikova

    I believe the child is jumping on the plank and trying to balance while he is jumping. To extend his interest in balance, jumping I would provide logs and put them apart that he can jump from one log to another.

  38. Kamaldeep Sidhu

    I think child is thinking to jump over the board and also how high and long he can jump. I would like to provide tree stumps,boards,plank to test and observe their limits

  39. Janice Duncan

    The child may be testing the material to see what happens when he jumps on it, is it flexible? there are many possibilities which is easier to ascertain when one is present at the time vs looking at a photo.
    Based on what I know I would offer the same materials again on Monday and watch to see what the child/ren do with the materials and what they say and then make further decisions.

  40. Nadira Ramnauth

    The child could have been trying out his strength. I think he was trying to see if the plank would break if he jumped on it. I will add more planks of different sizes and lengths, construction tools, measuring tapes, and safety gears at my centre. We can add skipping ropes, leaves and set up tires for the children to explore jumping. Providing children with materials to expand their play ideas will help them with their cognitive development. Children develop social interaction skills and problem solving skills when working together.

  41. Caroline Driedger

    Not being present to observe other factors that could lead to the child jumping i would go to he has masted the bridge walking and is engaging in a touch of risky play, i think i would need to add risky play factors to the area or add materials that the child can add on his own. I feel that reflection after this needs to happen.

  42. Lucie Theroret

    the child jumping might be testing how high he can jump how fast he can do it how long he can do it I will ad heavier board smaller board tree stump and rope

  43. Kathy Barnhart

    It’s hard to say exactly what is happening for the child but I might think about how it feels and perhaps there isa sound that he is making. The other child is watching and may join in or may be trying to do something else which might cause a little problem-solving and negotiation. I think I would make sure this activity is still set up for them and perhaps add a few more boards and tires for the children to construct bridges and ramps. I might also think about the sounds that these boards might make and experiment a bit myself.

  44. Alphonsine Hategekimana

    The boy is trying out his balance. He jumps to see if he can jump over the board and how higher he could be. On Monday, I will try to put some boards, milk crates, tires and other materials that may intrigue his curiosity.

  45. Deborah Fehr

    The boy is challenging what he can do. Can I stay on? Can I jump higher? What would happen if I jump higher/more? What would happen if I jump off? Can I break the board? In order to help him discover the answers to his questions, I would want to ensure that these same materials be available on Monday. I would also add other possibilities as in more boards or different thicknesses and widths, more items that the boards can be attached to, such as milk crates, tables, stumps etc. And then I would again observe.

  46. Heather Howard

    The child who was jumping was possibly exploring the movement and flexible board underneath. Would they be wondering if it would break or perhaps when it would break? I would likely provide some more planks and stumps or higher platforms to experiment with a bit more height. Having some time over the weekend to reflect is allowing the educator to plan, act and reflect further in the reflective cycle.

  47. Laura Mcintosh

    I think the child may be seeing how durable the board is and seeing if it moves when he moves. If I was to plan off of this for next week I would include various sizes of boards for the children could further explore, I would also add heavier materials for the could test them on the boards.

  48. Patricia Lynch-Staunton

    Based on this photo what could you provide on Monday in the outdoor play environment to support the children’s interests? What are the possibilities for a long-term investigation?
    These children may be investigating tension. The board does not exhibit a tension point where it meets the platform, but it certainly does in the centre. What contributes to tension; weight, distance, density of the material? Where else do children expoerience tension? Does balance matter?

    I would set up an invitation for Monday to see if the children are interested in exploring any of these concepts, probably with their bodies – a hammock made of stretchy fabric, a small trampoline, thicker and narrower boards with cinder bricks, a display board depicting other sources of tension.

  49. Lorraine Kok

    On Monday I would provide some tree stumps and other boards, I the child jumping is testing his limits to see what he can actually do with his body.

  50. Jaclyn Geiger

    Great photo of risk taking! Maybe one child is investigating through balancing & taking courageous steps. while the onlooker is possibly gathering more information to take their own try.
    I could see potential additional elements included with more plans and varying sizes of objects to build off of. Long term ideas could be giving the learners specific missions for their creative minds to problem solve.

  51. Randi Robertson

    I think that he is trying to jump to see how high he can jump. On the following monday i would bring more boards, planks, in all different shapes and sizes and allow the kids to use them and be creative with them.

  52. Nicole Morrell

    The child was experiencing using his imagination and creativity as well as was taking safe risks. On Monday I would make sure those boards were out again as well as maybe some milk crates so that he could raise the boards a little higher off the ground and try to walk along them if that was something that he thought of.

  53. Ai Paul

    The child jumping is testing out the board (how durable, stable, strong), how high he can jump and balance before falling off from the board, how his motion affects the board to vibrate. If he is interested in the jumping aspect, then I could add a trampoline. If he is interested in the balance, then I could bring more boards with different width. If he is interested in the vibration, then I could bring different materials (plastics, metals, fabric, woods) to try and feel different vibrations.

  54. Christine Villeneuve

    I wonder if, as he walked across the board, felt some of the give of the board, and started small bounces up to full jumps. I wonder what other materials I could add to the space to encourage more experimentation. I would like to ask other educators their thoughts and opinions on what they would like to do to scaffold the learning. For the long term, I wonder if adding square wood blocks, round wood blocks, various planks of different materials and sizes, and ropes to watch what children will do with them.

  55. Carli Olson

    The first thing I think about when looking at the photo is thinking the child is jumping on and off testing his balance and seeing if he can jump back on.

  56. Romy Ralph

    The child jumping is challenging himself and taking a risk as he jumps and feels the board vibrate. I think I would put out some more planks and maybe some tires and wood rounds to see what the children may try to build or bounce on.

  57. Daniela Rodriguez

    I would create a whole path for the children to jump and cross over. But I would let them accommodate something if they think it could contribute more to their entertainment and overall experience.

  58. Kim Hoey

    On the Monday day I could provide some wider boards. Maybe some wood blocks…..
    long term learning could be building or ramps and speed with different things.

  59. Susanne Saunders

    the jumping child is he jumping up and over or jumping on. the other child is trying to get their balance to start walking.

  60. Laurie Millions

    I Believe the child jumping was trying to see how high he could jump. the second child coming onto the board is trying to see if she can balance on the board and maybe jump at her end.
    On Monday I could provide some more boards(Different sizes and textures of boards)

  61. Charmee Penner

    When I look at the photo and think on what the child could possibly be exploring I think 1) Motion – how high can I jump from the ground alone, versus the assistance from the bridge 2) Vibration – feeling the board tremble with each jump 3) Motion Blur/Landscape change with motion – how the world changes to a blur with rapid movement

  62. Taylor Aichelberger

    The child jumping on the board may have been experiencing the vibrations from the movement of the board, or testing the structural integrity of the bridge, or feeling his weight coming down onto the plank. I would potentially expand of this play by adding further construction and loose parts materials as a test balloon to help determine the children’s specific interests and see if others would join into the exploration as well. A long term investigation might include learning more about bridges, balance, jumping or design and construction.

  63. Jessica Popp

    There are two initial ideas that come to mind; 1. the child bouncing might be experiencing vibrations, how can we explore the concept of vibration and how it travels through the board from one end to another. 2. The child is exploring what her body can do on the board, jumping. Providing other cues, what other body movements can the children do on the board. Ie, walking backwards, twisting, swooping her legs and body. The weekend, provides scaffolding activities, knowing the children would help us to determine the direction of the activity.