Nature to Nurture – Our Adventures at Croxteth
I had an image in my head of what it would be like working in this type of environment and it’s turned out exactly how I imagined it. What an incredible month we have had.
Croxteth Country Park is hundred’s of years old, it has a 500 year old stately home, a walled garden where organic produce is grown, it has a farm, an equestrian centre and Myerscough college deliver courses around Horticulture, Floral design, Arboriculture, plus many more which are focused on the outdoors. As part of our educational programmes, we wanted to incorporate as many of these things for the children to experience, as well as woodland play and forest school. The park has extensive grounds, from woodland to meadows, large lawned areas and ponds. It is through exploration of the park that children will become familiar with different habitats. The intention is that the children who come to our setting will gain a deep love for the outdoors from a young age in the hope that they will care and respect it later on.
We start the day walking into camp, we hang our backpacks on the hanging tree, they then select their names and peg it on the name tree and we then start registration. This is an opportunity for us to ask how the children are feeling and see from their reaction whether they may need a little more support settling into the session. We also encourage the children to observe how others are feeling so that they can look after each other.
We then tell the children that we need to make sure our play space is safe and that they need to risk assess the site for themselves, this is so they know how to keep safe in the woods. We ask them to look out for dog poo, litter, broken glass and also that the red and white tape which surrounds the site, is still up. Every session we reinforce the importance of not going past the red and white tape and what dangers may be on the other side.
For the first few weeks we wanted to show the children exactly what was in the park so that they could become familiar with it, but also choose where they may like to go. They have done so well, as some sessions we have been walking between 1 and 2 miles and they still run around site when we get back. We also do things like, playing football, sliding down the ice house, rolling down hills, climbing trees and riding balance bikes.
“My little girl over the weekend has made me beech nut coffee, spotted loads of leaves and conkers, and has been really adventurous on the climbing frame in the park, I’m so pleased that this nursery has brought out something so positive long may it continue”!
As well as the farm we visited the walled garden and the lovely gardener said we could help ourselves to the produce. We dug up potatoes and carrots from the ground, each child pulled up their own carrot and searched for their potato. We picked kale and onions and garlic, we saw giant pumpkins, cabbages and green beans and children really got a sense of where food comes from.
The children gave the produce to their parents when we returned to site and I was amazed to see all the photos posted in our secret facebook group of the meals that had been created from what the children picked.
As well as exploring this beautiful park we have of course allowed the children the freedom to play in the woods with their peers. It took about 3 weeks for the children to settle into this, all they wanted to do initially was run round and play games like hide and seek and monsters. The running around however is good for them as it helps to develop their vestibular development and supports balance and co-ordination. As we moved into week 4 the children began to play more imaginatively with each other and find little spaces away from adults to play.