Curriculum Overview – Nursery – Prime Areas

Personal, Social & Emotional Development

Can select and use activities and resources with help.
Welcomes and values praise for what they have done.
Enjoys responsibility of carrying out small tasks.
Is more outgoing towards unfamiliar people and more confident in new social situations.
Confident to talk to other children when playing, and will communicate freely about own home and community.
Shows confidence in asking adults for help.
Aware of own feelings, and knows that some actions and words can hurt others’ feelings.
Begins to accept the needs of others and can take turns and share resources, sometimes with support from others.
Can usually tolerate delay when needs are not immediately met, and understands wishes may not always be met.
Can usually adapt behaviour to different events, social situations and changes in routine.
Can play in a group, extending and elaborating play ideas, e.g. building up a role-play activity with other children.
Initiates play, offering cues to peers to join them.
Keeps play going by responding to what others are saying or doing.
Demonstrates friendly behaviour, initiating conversations and forming good relationships with peers and familiar adults.

Communication & Language

Listens to others one to one or in small groups, when conversation interests them.
Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall.
Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories.
Focusing attention – still listen or do, but can shift own attention.
Is able to follow directions (if not intently focused on own choice of activity).
Understands use of objects (e.g. “What do we use to cut things?’)
Shows understanding of prepositions such as ‘under’, ‘on top’, ‘behind’ by carrying out an action or selecting correct picture.
Responds to simple instructions, e.g. to get or put away an object.
Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.
Beginning to use more complex sentences to link thoughts (e.g. using and, because).
Can retell a simple past event in correct order (e.g. went down slide, hurt finger).
Uses talk to connect ideas, explain what is happening and anticipate what might happen next, recall and relive past experiences.
Questions why things happen and gives explanations. Asks e.g. who, what, when, how.
Uses a range of tenses (e.g. play, playing, will play, played).
Uses intonation, rhythm and phrasing to make the meaning clear to others.
Uses vocabulary focused on objects and people that are of particular importance to them.
Builds up vocabulary that reflects the breadth of their experiences.
Uses talk in pretending that objects stand for something else in play, e.g. ‘This box is my castle.’

Physical Development

Moves freely and with pleasure and confidence in a range of ways, such as slithering, shuffling, rolling, crawling, walking, running, jumping, skipping,
sliding and hopping.
Mounts stairs, steps or climbing equipment using alternate feet.
Walks downstairs, two feet to each step while carrying a small object.
Runs skilfully and negotiates space successfully, adjusting speed or direction to avoid obstacles.
Can stand momentarily on one foot when shown.
Can catch a large ball.
Draws lines and circles using gross motor movements.
Uses one-handed tools and equipment, e.g. makes snips in paper with child scissors.
Holds pencil between thumb and two fingers, no longer using whole-hand grasp.
Holds pencil near point between first two fingers and thumb 12 and uses it with good control.
Can copy some letters, e.g. letters from their name.
Can tell adults when hungry or tired or when they want to rest or play.
Observes the effects of activity on their bodies.
Understands that equipment and tools have to be used safely.
Gains more bowel and bladder control and can attend to toileting needs most of the time themselves. Can usually manage washing and drying hands.
Dresses with help, e.g. puts arms into open-fronted coat or shirt when held up, pulls up own trousers, and pulls up zipper once it is fastened at the bottom


Enjoys rhyming and rhythmic activities. Recognises rhythm in spoken words.
Shows awareness of rhyme and alliteration.
Listens to and joins in with stories and poems, one-to-one and also in small groups.
Joins in with repeated refrains and anticipates key events and phrases in rhymes and stories.
Beginning to be aware of the way stories are structured.
Suggests how the story might end.
Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall.
Describes main story settings, events and principal characters.
Shows interest in illustrations and print in books and print in the environment.
Recognises familiar words and signs such as own name and advertising logos.
Looks at books independently. Handles books carefully.
Knows information can be relayed in the form of print.
Holds books the correct way up and turns pages.
Knows that print carries meaning and, in English, is read from left to right and top to bottom.

Sometimes gives meaning to marks as they draw and paint.
Ascribes meanings to marks that they see in different places


Shape, Space & Measures

  • Shows an interest in shape and space by playing with shapes or making arrangements
    with objects.
  • Shows awareness of similarities of shapes in the environment.
  • Uses positional language.
  • Shows interest in shape by sustained construction activity or by talking about
    shapes or arrangements.
  • Shows interest in shapes in the environment.
  • Uses shapes appropriately for tasks.
  • Beginning to talk about the shapes of everyday objects, • e.g. ‘round’ and ‘tall’

Uses some number names and number language spontaneously.
Uses some number names accurately in play.
Recites numbers in order to 10.
Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set.
Beginning to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper or pictures.
Sometimes matches numeral and quantity correctly.
Shows curiosity about numbers by offering comments or asking questions.
Compares two groups of objects, saying when they have the same number.
Shows an interest in number problems.
Separates a group of three or four objects in different ways, beginning to recognise that the
total is still the same.
Shows an interest in numerals in the environment.
Shows an interest in representing numbers.
Realises not only objects, but anything can be counted, including steps, claps or jumps.

Understanding the World

Shows interest in the lives of people who are familiar to them.
Remembers and talks about significant events in their own experiences.
Recognises and describes special times or events for family or friends.
Shows interest in different occupations and ways of life.
Knows some of the things that make them unique, and can talk about some of the similarities and differences in relation to friends or family.

Comments and asks questions about aspects of their familiar world such as the place where they live or the natural world.
Can talk about some of the things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects.
Talks about why things happen and how things work.
Developing an understanding of growth, decay and changes over time.
Shows care and concern for living things and the environment.
Knows how to operate simple equipment.
Shows an interest in technological toys with knobs or pulleys, or real objects.
Shows skill in making toys work by pressing parts or lifting flaps to achieve effects such as sound, movements or new images.
Knows that information can be retrieved from computers.

Expressive Arts & Design

Enjoys joining in with dancing and ring games. Sings a few familiar songs.
Beginning to move rhythmically. Imitates movement in response to music. Taps out simple repeated rhythms.
Explores and learns how sounds can be changed.
Explores colour and how colours can be changed.
Understands that they can use lines to enclose a space, and then begin to use these shapes to represent objects.
Beginning to be interested in and describe the texture of things.
Uses various construction materials.
Beginning to construct, stacking blocks vertically and horizontally, making enclosures and creating spaces.
Developing preferences for forms of expression.
Uses movement to express feelings. Creates movement in response to music.
Sings to self and makes up simple songs. Makes up rhythms.
Notices what adults do, imitating what is observed and then doing it spontaneously when the adult is not there.
Engages in imaginative role-play based on own first-hand experiences.
Builds stories around toys, e.g. farm animals needing rescue from an armchair ‘cliff’.