Nature and discovery


Play prepares children for life – taking a second look at Froebel’s ideas

In 1880, Froebel, who started the first Kindergarten, wrote: “Play is the highest level of human development in childhood…It gives joy, freedom, contentment, inner and outer rest, peace with the world.”

In early education today, it’s easy for an emphasis on academic standards and meeting requirements to crowd out time to play.

“Now is an opportune time to familiarise ourselves with Froebel’s original ideas, and to use them to challenge inappropriate practices used with our youngest children,” writes Francis Wardle. Read more.

Robin with bread crumbs

Robin eggs hatch in Outlast blocks

Sometimes the best children’s learning takes place unexpectedly and in the most unlikely places. Being flexible with your plans and spaces allows children the chance to make the most of those spontaneous moments that will form lifetime memories and experiences. Last spring, Guildford Nursery School did just this as they cared for children during the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic. Robins nested in their set of Outlast blocks and this turned into a fun and amazing learning experience. “Such a joyful experience during these strange times,” wrote Anna Allen, Early Years Educator at the school.

See her letter and photos of this event here.

Have a beautiful Easter weekend!

girl decorating grass garden

Growing grass from seeds

There’s no better time than spring to introduce the concept of planting seeds and the growth of plants. Growing grass is a hands-on project, and will be easy for young children to carry out with minimal adult support. Look at the dry grass seed first with your group of children. How will these tiny dry grains grow into the lush green grass that covers the ground in your outdoor area? Taking a step back and thinking about this is mind-boggling even for adults, and is a great way to inspire children’s interest in nature.

Once you have grown grass in containers, you can take it a step further and create small grass gardens with the children by adding a few finishing touches. The grass gardens can be taken home as a gift for Easter or simply a spring surprise!

You can find photos that demonstrate the project along with simple instructions here.

Nature items frozen into a disk of ice

Art and science discovery in one

Explore the concept of freezing and melting, liquids and solids with this winter-themed project. Best done in frosty cold weather, here is an activity that can take place entirely outdoors. Children will enjoy creating these ice ornaments and be intrigued with the magical end result. Find instructions and accompanying photos here.
two children building a fairy garden outdoors

Taking small world play outdoors

Childhood is a time of imagination. Every child needs to be given time and space to play out what they envision in their minds. Children’s literature is full of woodland folk – dwarves, elves, fairies, pixies and gnomes. Take these imaginary creatures into your outdoor play and allow children uninterrupted time to build fairy gardens for woodland folk using natural materials. Building a fairy garden will absorb a child’s whole being, maximizing his or her attention span, imagination and creative skills.

Read the whole article here.

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