We first started our Nature Project in 2017. We began phasing out structured shop-bought equipment after many observations of children and realising children benefit so much more from open ended natural resources. Our Reggio Emilia areas were born. Since then the natural theme has taken over. And the results have been magical – children use their imaginations as they investigate the natural world around them and the infinite resources it has to offer. As time went on and our climate crises became ever more prevalent it became an instinctive to marry an education about the planet they were learning about and looking after it. Using the natural world without looking after it seemed almost selfish. Over time we have guided our wonderful team and the children within it to think and breath the environment and we are so proud to watch our children turn into responsible little people that will grow into responsible adults. We believe all settings should be teaching this respect for the world around us.

Our Nature Kids Project is something that forms the heart of everything we do here at Young Friends Nursery and Nature School. We just love nature – sea and land and this forms structure and content to the children’s days. Whether it be learning about looking after the ocean on our regular Beach Cleans and at ‘Beach School’, on our frequent nature walks and scavenger hunts or at our large allotment plot at the Weald – we are always learning about nature, the seasons and biodiversity and how to look after ourselves and our planet.The various sections of this menu describe all of our Nature Kids Projects. We think its fab and so do our children. We hope you do too.

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We call our allotment at The Weald our ‘Nature Plot’, and it is one of the most unique features of our nursery and a vital aspect to our Nature Kids Project.

Many nurseries of course dip their toes into a bit of growing, but we are currently the only one in our area with a large offsite fully fledged allotment. We believe the process of actively taking part in growing our food is an essential skill for our future generations.

We have an ‘Allotment Coordinator’ – Alex, who looks after the plot with Louise (the owner of the nursery) and creates wonderful activities with the team that tie in with their development and the EYFS. He is passionate about gardening and teaching our lucky children about the wonders of nature. He drives the children there and back in our nursery minibus and is loved by both the team and children.

As part of their routines, children in our two eldest groups, the Baboons and Gorillas – spend a half day (winter) and a full day (Spring and Summer), every fortnight, learning all about not only growing, but mother nature in general. Our Gibbons do their own growing at nursery and often help ‘starting off’ seedlings to take up there. Soon they will be able to spend whole sessions there but it is important children are fully mobile due to the slightly more demanding terrain.

We have now planted garlic, onions and shallots, brocolli, peas, cauliflower, leeks, sprouts and potatoes and broad beans. Next we will be starting off kale, tomatoes, rocket, lettuce, cucumber and courgettes and more (updated beginning of March 2019).

We have a flower garden to look beautiful but also to attract butterflies and bees. We have a pond with frogs (and tadpoles!) which also serves as a bee and bird bath. In the same area we have a  bird house, wild bird feeding station and and hedgehog shelters. This is us not only doing our little bit for biodiversity and conservation but teaching the children all about it.

We also have an outdoor classroom, bug hotel, herb and fruit gardens and more. It’s their time away from the regular nursery week, and plays a major part in establishing a love for nature and the environment. The children take pride from growing their own for the Nursery kitchen and cooking activities, and learn about planting, weeding, composting, native wildlife and biodiversity, and recycling. They also do ‘Forest School’ inspired activities. However, often they just play.

The children begin to understand the importance of reusing and recycling as they collect water from the rain butt and put waste into the compost bin.

The children are encouraged to be hands on with everything; collecting wild flowers to press and make collages and add to our nursery Reggio Emilia areas, pull weeds, water, plant and talk about the local wildlife. There is an allotment shop run by Pete and Mo, and a few friendly dogs (on leads) who stop by our plot for a mingle.  The children are often invited to other plots too to pick fruit from orchards etc.  There is a constant open invitation to our parents/carers to come and spend the day with us.

We are also using the allotment for focused biodiversity projects, particularly our dwindling bee population. Our Young Friends children learn about the importance of all our creatures, great and small. The children have such an amazing time when they go up and they learn not just to dig and make a mess but to enjoy and know about growing for life, and appreciating and contributing to the planet’s well-being.

Our Nature Plot is a truly special place and it is hard to do the benefits of such rich outdoor experiences without seeing it for yourself.




We have achieved the first two parts and are about to complete the final part (The Green Flag) of the Eco Schools Award. The EcoSchools Green Flag is an internationally recognised award for excellence in environmental action and learning.

We are excited to say that we are getting together with Hove Junior School to do a beach clean with the year six’s – these are the Eco Reps for the school. The children are really excited about being able to spend time with our young children in such a productive way and the school and ourselves are planning to continue this Eco collaboration in years to come with future year 6’s. We hope to take this same idea to other schools too to spread the eco-word.

To include the children further in our environmental crusade we have an ‘Eco Committee’ which meets once per week with a group of preschoolers to talk about what we are doing for the environment and discuss any new ideas that they/we might have

This eco committee is also in charge of ensuring daily recycling by the team and children and that all nursery floor power – lights, computers etc. are turned off for one hour after lunch each day. They walk around the nursery in a group turning everything off and talking about why. This further embeds the importance of energy saving to the children and staff.

Each nursery room has its’ own growing area and the children look after the plants in these. They are mainly succulents so they can’t go far wrong!

We love composting! We compost at our allotment and make mulch out of our leaves and fallen petals at nursery. Nothing is wasted.

Each room has a food caddy and so does the kitchen. They keep all fresh food waste and it is put into a cool box weekly to take up to the allotment compost area. This will be used when it is ready to make our fruit and veg grow beautifully.

Each month, or sometimes every two months if the project is really rich, our team takes an area of environmental concern and focuses on fun informative projects of their choice that will benefit the environment and include and educate the children. These areas are taken from the Eco Schools guidelines. We discuss these in our monthly staff meetings before they begin. They are

  • Marine
  • Biodiversity
  • Energy
  • Litter
  • Waste
  • Water
  • SchoolGrounds
  • Healthy Living
  • Transport
  • Global Citizenship

So, for example, at the moment the whole nursery is focusing on biodiversity with a focus on the plight of insects. We are reading bee stories, have a visit from a bee keeper in the diary, are sprucing up our bug hotel and learning all about the different bugs, building a wormery and much more.  These projects are so brilliantly educational for the children and exciting for the team too.

We focus with the children throughout the year on environmental events such as Earth Day, Water Day, Switch off fortnight, Waste Week. We have an eco-calendar which we go by for the year.

We also create our own focus weeks and invite parents and professionals to come in and talk/do activities with the children – like Ocean Awareness Week.

A year or so ago we started thinking about the impact educational establishments and in particular nurseries are having on the environment. The use of single use plastics really started to bother me and so did lots of research and started to cut them out.

We no longer use:

  • Glitter and sequins – these
  • Baby Wipes. We use soft flannels for faces and bottoms with oil to keep those bottoms and faces super soft
  • Plastic bibs. Ours are eco-friendly silicone ones
  • Shoe covers. We use heavy duty ones that are kept for a long time
  • Nappy sacks – our families purchase washable cotton waterproof bags for wet and dirty clothes
  • Plastic straws – we use reusable ones if the team want them for bubble blowing or artwork
  • Disposable Nappies. This has been a very big change
  • We use silicone bibs not plastic ones
  • Plastic crockery – cups, bowls and plates – have all been replaced by stainless steel
  • We no longer buy any plastic equipment for the nursery – we use all natural or biodegradable materials to educate the children
  • We have replaced all notice boards with cork/wooden/natural versions
  • We don’t laminate paper any more we use picture frames if we need a message to be weather proof
  • We don’t use poly pockets (slippery fish) – we use an old-fashioned hole punch instead!
  • Paper towels – they can’t be recycled
  • Pritt sticks and Velcro
  • Cellotape – masking tape used instead
  • We use recycled eco ones.
  • We use powder paints instead of squeezy paints that contain latex and are used up quickly causing a wastage of packaging
  • We don’t use throw away latex gloves, instead we use heavy duty ones that the staff wash thoroughly after each use
  • We don’t use throw away aprons. Heavy duty ones are washed after each use
  • We used recycled paper in our printer and for artwork
  • Kettle for staff. Eco water heater and cooler keeps water warm so no need for energy wastage. We also have a water cooler
  • Printer has been changed for low energy low carbon low waste option
  • We use fully biodegradable bin liners
  • We compost all the food waste we can
  • We use rechargeable batteries – no longer buy single use ones
  • We don’t use tissues to wipe noses. Instead we use soft bamboo wipes with oil – these are washed and are far kinder to snotty or encrusted faces
  • We have energy saving led bulbs throughout the nursery

We are incredibly proud of our garden cabin which has been completely covered in a biodiverse Sedum Living Roof System. It contains well over 100 different plant species to create biodiversity within an urban landscape. This is a new addition to our beautiful garden and we are excited to be able to watch it mature and attract wildlife over the coming months and years.  Green roofs improve air quality and provide habitation for wildlife. We will be watching it with anticipation with the children as it develops.