Our outdoor environment
Ensuring children are given the opportunity to explore and play outdoors every day is an essential part of their development. Outdoor play promotes a healthy lifestyle and stimulates positive interaction with others. It also encourages creativity and imaginative play alongside developing a child’s physical skills, both fine and gross motor, such as using tools/equipment, climbing, balance and co-ordination.
We are very lucky to benefit from large, spacious, safe undercover outdoor play areas at the front and back of the nursery, which are fully equipped with age-appropriate resources and activities for all the children in our care to enjoy, explore and experiment with. They are split into 4 areas, one for each room including our after school club.
All 4 rooms have direct access to their own outdoor play area
Hedgehogs (0 – 2 years)
The outdoor space is split into 2 areas for Hedgehogs children, one for the younger, non walkers, providing a safe area for them to explore with foam matting and shaded from weather providing physical activities as well as a selection of small treasure baskets and heuristic/sensory items to explore. The second area is a larger space for the more mobile/able toddlers with bigger and more challenging equipment.
In both areas we provide larger and more physical activities than inside, such as sandpit, an activity centre, play kitchen, a rocker, water play, small slide, balancing beams, a see-saw and soft play blocks, tyres and cable reels to encourage climbing, coordination and balance.
We have a 6 seater ‘turtle bus’ and some pushchairs as well as some reigns for our nearby field walks. The children enjoy picnic snacks, rolling down the small hills of grass, pointing to farm machinery and any animals we see on route as well as looking for bugs in mud or jumping in puddles!
Bunnies (2 – 3 years)
The undercover area for the Bunnies children leads from their base room straight out into the sand play kitchen with floor sandpit. This then leads onto an artificial grassed area which is for the more challenging, physical activities, such as wooden boat, a double slide/den, soft play and a bark area with diggers and climbing apparatus. We also have loose parts play with items such as balance beams, cable reels, crates, wooden planks, tyres, pipes and guttering where children can work together to build structures, dens, using their imagination and inventiveness whilst problem-solving and negotiating with others.
Children also benefit from a story space full of books and cosy cushions and a play zone for small world and construction activities.
Through a small gate children can then explore a hard surfaced area for activities such as balance bikes, pedal cars (and a petrol station to fill up their bikes!) large scale drawing with chalk and water wall/play.
Foxes (3-5 years)
The children spend a great deal of time outside. Foxes children benefit from a large astroturf area, a bark pit and a hard standing surface which means we can provide a huge variety of activities including, a water wall and potion station, slides, tunnel, balancing beams, a den and large wooden boat as well as a sand pit shed and kitchen where anything and everything is made, from a cup of tea to a mud pie!
A book nook, drawing equipment and painting station means children who want time out from the physical activities, can explore their other interests too.
Imagination skills at this age for children are growing day by day. We use loose parts in our play to extend these skills so children can build structures to enhance play further outdoors. Examples of loose parts are, cable reels, crates, wooden planks, tyres, pipes, steering wheels, flags, dressing up, telescopes and guttering.
Indoor activities are bought outside to extend play, rather than stop play when children move from inside to outside and back again.
Playground (All children 2+)
An enclosed tarmacked playground is also used at pre-set times of the day (when not being used for our busy pick up and drop off times). The playground is used for the more energetic and larger activities such as football, tennis/ball skills, skipping, bowling, ride on cars, scooters, bikes, parachute, team/circle games, dance and running/moving around in a number of ways. It can also be used for large-scale chalking and water painting on the ground.
This playground is shared by the whole setting, (for children over 2 years old) one group at a time, eg Bunnies, Foxes or Nature Zone, taking it in turns.
Walks (All children)
We are in a fortunate position, being situated in the countryside so going for walks is a must to explore our natural surroundings. Children explore the nearby fields where they run around, play, blow dandelion seeds, explore objects they have found on their walk, build dens or structures out of branches, sticks and leaves, we go on bug hunts, listen out for sounds in the environment and name these, find treasure through scavenger hunts and enjoy a rest after all the fun, having a snack/picnic before returning to nursery.