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Nature to Nurture – Our Adventures at Croxteth Our Adventures at Croxteth Full view

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.

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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.

We have mainly focused on the three prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) this month, Physical development, Personal, Social and Emotional development and Communication and Language. We have done a lot of things to support children’s physical development this month as we recognise that developing a solid core and upper arm strength, will ultimately help children develop their fine manipulation skills, which then lead to good handwriting skills. We have broadened their vocabulary by drawing their attention to the world around them and repeating it as we explore the park. One parent had commented:
“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”!
We have also made sure that children feel emotionally safe and have developed good positive relationships with the children we have then watched how they have done this with each other. One example was of a child giving another child a worry pebble when they were sad. I’d used the idea to help settle a child who needed adult support, but also wanted to play with her friends. I found a smooth black pebble and gave it magical powers and said that it will take your worries away if you rubbed it. She was then able to keep hold of the pebble and then play with the other children.
Our key children have been chosen from where the children have naturally gravitated, but because there is just myself and Adam at the moment we both have equally good relationships with the children.Nature to Nurture 4
We have also been to the farm and we were lucky enough to be taken into the pen with the piglets. The children really enjoyed letting the piglets sniff and chew their wellies and they were delighted that they could pet them.

 

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.

An interesting observation  was made during one session, one of the children found two dinosaurs that had been left over from one of my parent and toddler sessions and it was the only time that children were arguing over who had the dinosaurs. We have very limited resources and we’ve found that the children are having to be more creative and imaginative because of the lack of resources. Children are not as possessive about things as there is an abundance of natural things for them to play with.Nature to Nurture 2
The children have got to experience many things this month, there are lots of things that I have not been able to share as there is just too many. But we look forward to sharing our many adventures with you each month.


Julie White


Written by Gather

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