Research has shown that being outdoors has a very positive impact on a child’s sense of well-being, making it a natural learning zone for all aspects of a child’s development.
When adults are asked to recall significant moments, or favourite activities from their childhoods, many people talk happily about experiences in an outdoor setting. The magic and endless opportunities of the outdoors, make this area of our nursery an important consideration in the learning needs of young children.
At Child’s Play we hold a strong conviction that children learn best from first hand experiences, especially when they are related to the ‘real’ and ‘natural’ everyday environment. Because of this, we are careful to ensure that all areas of the curriculum are represented outside, as well as inside. In this way we ensure children have equal opportunities to learning no matter where they prefer to spend their time.
We firmly believe that our gardens are areas in which you cannot learn to fail, or fail to learn.
We have two separate gardens, each containing different opportunities for exploration, challenge and fun;
The ‘Bicycle Garden’
The ‘bicycle garden’ (again named by the children) is accessed from one of the main playrooms. We have free access to this garden from 9.45am after morning ‘group time’, until 11.30am when we have ‘circle time’.
In this garden as well as bicycles, scooters and cars, children have the use of tunnels, tyres, balls, bean bags, quoits, ribbons, tools, paper & pencils/crayons/pens, fabric and two giant chalk boards. Additionally they have access to a split level wooden playhouse and an open wooden play structure both of which are themed according to the children’s current interests, or topics that we are following i.e. the topic people that help us, opens possibilities for ambulance bays, Dr’s offices, shops, schools, banks, vets, dentists, libraries, homes etc. their uses only limited by imagination.
The ‘Bouncy Garden’
The ‘bouncy garden’ (named by the children when we first installed the safety play surface) is in use from 3.30pm – following ‘snack time’. This garden has wheelchair friendly ramped accessed from one of the main playrooms
In this garden you will find:
An large wooden climbing frame with a slide and a smaller piece of climbing apparatus. There are also a series of three wooden play houses set back into the trees. The houses are themed in the same way as the buildings in the other garden. In addition there are numerous natural nooks and spaces where children can build dens, or imagine any number of settings around every corner of this garden.
There is a decked area which is fenced in on a slightly raised level. It is set in one of the furthest corners of the garden, built around and under a large sycamore tree which provides shade and softens environmental sounds. We use this area for housing the wormery (providing organic liquid plant food), planting seeds, potting on etc. Some of the fruiting plants; strawberries, blueberries, grapes and herbs are situated on this level and on the surrounding banks/walls. This provides the children with a tranquil area to investigate life cycles and involve themselves in environmental activities.
It is equipped with a large story telling chair, further seating for about twelve children and ample floor space for the remainder of the group. This secluded area provides an ideal story telling area for adult, or child led story sessions, both organised and evolving. Additionally, it is well used by children as a setting for role play activities.
During the summer the shade from the trees covers the bouncy garden in the afternoon, providing some protection from the sun.
Our gardens designs although appearing complete, are forever evolving. Ongoing changes are influenced by research and observation of the children at play; demonstrating how they learn best and why, as well as the ideas that children, staff and families bring from their own experiences, interests and outings.
When the gardens are open we offer the children the opportunity for ‘free flow’ where children can freely choose to play either inside, or outside. This allows them to follow their interests, offering them time to revisit learning and activities at their own pace and build on their skills. One of the greatest benefits being that children tend to feel less restricted outdoors and often feel able to take greater risks such as learning new skills.
We rotate the use of the gardens across the day, as the unique environments and activities foster different skills and investigation.