Early years

nursery gym

Celebrating success

Babies practice so many skills on the Nursery Gym. They are pleased with each achievement, and especially pleased when they can share it with a responsive adult.

Kai, just a year old, pulled himself laboriously up the steps, babbling all the way. At the top he gave a loud shout, and smiled rapturously at his caregiver. Moments of frustration that give way to victory are always worth celebrating.

Watch the Nursery Gym in action at Pen Green.

Woodworking

Woodwork at St. Werburgh's Nursery School

Liz Jenkins, Head teacher of St. Werburgh's Park Nursery School in Bristol, believes in giving her children varied opportunities for creative self-expression and exploration. In this interview, she tells how woodworking sessions with artist and educator Pete Moorhouse have added "another element of richness" to the setting.

Watch the interview and see more pictures of the setting here.     

seaside

Summer scavenging

I have been enjoying a beautiful book, I Love Forest School by Martin Pace, owner and director of Reflections Nursery. It's full of pictures and detailed observations of children's explorations at Forest School and (a new idea to me) Beach School.

If your children don't have those opportunities, can you bring Forest School to them? Summer offers chances to collect the natural materials, be they seashells or pine cones, that enhance construction, craft or role play areas. Children and staff can help gather these resources, which then provide a springboard for discussion about where they were found, what kind of tree the pine cone grew on, or what kind of animal lived in the shell.

Even without trips to the woods, your setting can develop what Martin Pace calls 'lively connections' between indoors and out.

Hear more from Martin Pace and link to his book here.

The Chocolate Machine

Summer at last!

Summer at last! Soon children will be heading out of classrooms to enjoy the outdoors. 

What other environment offers such opportunities for creativity – and such freedom to make a mess? With a bit of imagination, the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy this clip, and have a great summer!

summer walk

Encouraging children's innate sense of curiosity

Olivia is fascinated by nature. At six months, she was watching leaves in the wind. At two, our walks came to a standstill every time she spotted an ant. At four, she has questions about everything we see. (Yesterday it was, "Why do worms like puddles?")

A child's innate curiosity is the basis for life-long learning. We can encourage it best by sharing their questions and fascination rather than knowing all the answers.

In the words of biologist Rachel Carson: "If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

P.S. For a thought-provoking summer read and some good ideas, have a look at Richard Louv's book Last Child in The Woods. Read about it here, available from Amazon UK

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