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Creating creative learners

Herne Hill School

The staff at Herne Hill School firmly believe that in preparing a child for life the most important years are from ages two to seven. They have found that Outlast blocks can be used to create an environment that invites enquiry and problem-solving, and is both stimulating and calming – promoting creativity and with plenty of opportunities for physical development.


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Herne Hill School is very unique in that it is the largest standalone independent school in the country, focusing exclusively on two to seven year olds, and they developed so much in that time, and they are then ready to conquer the world. And they're the most important years in their lives. When we looked at furnishing our state of the art kindergarten, one of the suggestions was Community Playthings, which I didn't know at the time, and then the more we looked into it, the more it was just like absolutely what we wanted.

How do really young children learn? They're very, very inquisitive. So you need an environment that invites inquiry that is going to facilitate problem solving opportunities and creative thinking.

There needs to be a balance of stimulation and calm. The children need to feel challenged, but at the same time, they need to feel confident to be able to face those challenges independently.

The Outlast equipment is very sympathetic to nature as well. It blends in, its suggestive of nature, so it's a very attractive resource to have outside. It creates lots of opportunities for physical development for young children, which of course, is so important.

Outlast really adds almost another dimension to it and enabling yet more opportunities to construct things, drag them around, slide down, you know, put water and sand into it. And it's just wonderful to see the children come up with craziest ideas that no adult would have thought of.

The Outlast storage unit is perfect for us it can be positioned permanently at the point of play. It allows the children to be able to access resources while they're playing, during play, without having to to and fro back into the classroom or to another storage place somewhere else. The fact that everything is quite low means that the children can access things themselves, taking things out, building structures with the outlast blocks and then being able to put the back themselves as well, which is fantastic.

It's actually very interesting using the Outlast blocks at with loose parts, because we've really seen how much you can develop the children's learning in all of the seven areas of the early years curriculum, depending on what you put out or what the children decide to put out. So, for example, sometimes the Community Playthings Outlast blocks might be used to create something where their role playing. It might be that they're using it to put water down or cars down and thinking about exploring gravity and also might be that they are using them for weighing or talking about shapes or sizes.

So they've been used in a whole host of ways. There's so much learning that's involved with even the packing away. So talking about the fact that the biggest ones need to go at the bottom and then build on that and that it's the circles at the top and then they can link on top of each other.

The beauty of working with Community Playthings apart from the fact that it is physically a very beautiful product and aesthetically very attractive is that it's been designed so superbly well, it's been a very robust products also being made by people who truly are passionate about early learning, who understand the pedagogy of early learning and how young children are best going to access the environment whilst encouraging a very open ended learning.
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Outdoor and nature, Block play
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