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The Rotation Schema 

The rotation schema encompasses an interest in rolling, spinning, turning and circles. This can include exploring objects that roll, exploring how you roll and turn your own body, as well as mark making in a circular motion. 

Sensory and messy play ideas



Exploring sand, shaving foam and water allows young children to understand how their movements affect different materials. Providing sensory opportunities on a daily basis will give young children the space and time to explore this. 

  • Water: young children can use their hands and fingers to rotate water in a circular way. To extend this activity add wooden spoons, sticks and whisks which will provide a different rotational experience.

  • Shaving foam: young children can roll balls through the foam to explore how different substances affect the rolling motion.

  • Sand: creating a sand play area with lots of hills will further extend young children’s concepts of rotation as they roll from the top of the hills to the bottom and also attempt to roll up the hills to the top. 

Again, all of these ideas can be extended with some simple additions, for example you could add glitter and food colouring to water or shaving foam. Another way to extend these ideas is to combine two or more of the items, for example you could combine sand and paint.

For older children try out some activities that incorporate a rotation schema in line with areas of development as outlined in the Early Years Statutory Framework. 

Expressive art and design ideas

There are lots of items you can add to your creative area to extend children’s rotation schema. Think about the items you have available for children to paint with, print with, to manipulate and to create with.

Painting and creating

Provide paint brushes, felt tips and pencils to allow children to form circular marks. Cylindrical items such as bamboo pieces and conkers can be used for printing. Rollers and rolling pins can also be used to create different types of marks using a circular motion. 


Transient art

Children can create art using an array of circular objects including coasters, pebbles, bamboo pieces, wooden slices and bangles. Transient art allows children to think critically as they change their ideas and form new ones. 

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