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Stuck Wellies: prompts and props for getting children unstuck

When pupils at Thameside Primary school in Abingdon were introduced to their learning power, little did they know they were destined for a muddy morning.

Christmas had come and gone, the weather was wet and cold, and the children wanted to be warm and dry in school. But no, staff had spied out some lovely mud 15 minutes walk away – just what they were looking for to introduce children to the idea of getting unstuck.

So everyone was asked to come to school with welly boots and waterproofs (although they forgot to ask for a change of clothing!). During the week every class in the school left their classroom and went for a 15 minutes walk in search of adventure. Everyone walked, or slid, or stamped, or squelched, or got stuck in the mud. And when children got stuck, rather than mount an instant rescue, the other children and staff talked about what it felt like to be stuck; what they needed to do to get unstuck; who or what might be helpful in getting them unstuck; whether they could do this for themselves.

Needless to say – stuck or not stuck – the children loved it. They will never forget the day they learned about being stuck and what to do about it. Their early desperate attempts to use the language included ‘I resilienced myself out of the mud’, and ‘The resilience was with me’. What’s more, the parents liked it too. Despite the fact that one or two Christmas coats had to be put in the washing machine, several parents let the school know how much their child had enjoyed the experience.

9412DA17-6391-487C-9C7D-0EA73BD347C3There was of course a serious point to all this muddiness. The school wanted to introduce children to the big idea of being resilient. Being able to get yourself unstuck whether from muddy paths, tricky numeracy questions, or an argument with a friend is just one part of learning to become resilient. So they capitalised on their good muddy start and bought lots of wellies for the classrooms. Every classroom now has a spotty welly full of numeracy resources and a striped welly full of literacy resources. Strips of laminated card live in each welly, showing good ideas to help the children get themselves unstuck. Children now know where to go for the stuck prompts and more are being added all the time.

Reception class children reinforced their ideas through the well-known Alfie Gets in First by Shirley Hughes.

Yr 2 class followed up their muddy walk with a book related to walks – Places You Will Go by Dr Seuss,

  • How might you introduce pupils to getting themselves unstuck?
  • If muddy walks aren’t your style, what other memorable way could you try?
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