Spontaneous learning

Robins nest in Outlast blocks

Children at Guildford Nursery School watched the nesting process take place right in their setting, as robins nested in Outlast blocks. Imagine all that the children learned as they observed the robins building their nest, laying eggs, hatching chicks and feeding their young. Spring offers dozens of opportunities for spontaneous learning experiences, whether it be flowers opening, the first green buds appearing on branches, the arrival of the first butterfly or life cycles such as tadpoles turning into frogs and eggs hatching into baby birds. Allowing time to follow a child’s interest in nature takes patience and may even disrupt your plans for the day, but will be rewarded by enthusiastic and truly child-led learning.

Read this letter from Guildford Nursery School and Family Centre:

robin with bread crumbs

Dear Community Playthings,

We are a maintained nursery school in Guildford and have been looking after children during the coronavirus. We have enjoyed watching a family of robins building their nest inside an Outlast block which is positioned with others right near the door in a very busy and rather noisy space! They actually attempted to nest in several different holes but settled for one.

robin nesting in Outlast block

Over the next couple of weeks they laid eggs and the chicks hatched. There were children running all around the blocks and some were actually being used to build with (we were careful not to disturb the nest).

robin, Outlast, sign: Robin nesting!

The children watched as the chicks were fed. The robins were so busy!

Some of the children built a bird hide from Community blocks so that they could watch without disturbing the birds.

Such a joyful experience during these strange times.

Anna Allen

Early years educator

Guildford Nursery School and Family Centre


This spring there will be more such opportunities for spontaneous learning. Look out for them and enjoy them with the children you care for.

Girl with butterfly on finger