When it comes to our nursery environment, the garden is the apple of our eye. Given our location, we are very fortunate to have such a magnificent and sunny space. Like our rooms, the garden boasts designated learning areas which are resourced for purpose. The garden includes a mark-making area, natural sand-pit and sand kitchen, role play hut, story shack, water wall, climbing frame and slide, baby zone, and a maths area. The garden is also the home of our furriest friend; Bagheera, the rabbit – who the children adore. The garden includes:
- NATURAL, OPEN-ENDED RESOURCES – The garden is designed to maximize the quality of children’s play, from physical challenge to social collaboration. The garden resources expose the children to a variety of materials from rough, wood bark in the log area to cold metal in the sand kitchen. Resources are open-ended to allow children the opportunity to create their own play and challenges in a way that suits their own goals. Sometimes the children use the log slabs to jump to and fro, other times they use them as a surface to draw on. Our garden is free of bikes, scooters, and buggies as these items tend to limit the scope of children’s play as they become engrossed in just pushing them around the garden.
- CALCULATED RISKS AND CHALLENGE – The importance of children learning to manage their own safety and trust in their abilities cannot be underestimated. The garden space has been designed to naturally encourage challenge and entice the children to set goals for themselves such as crawling, running, or walking up the hill, climbing the rock wall or one of our trees, or transporting sand from the kitchen to the pit. Our team’s role is to support and engage children in becoming aware of their own safety and feeling confident that they can achieve the challenges they set for themselves.
- MATHS PATCH – We wanted a dedicated, completely natural space for maths learning in which the children could direct their own play while experiencing shape and number in all its forms. The maths patch is a sectioned off zone located in what was formerly our growing area. This area includes a large scale weaving frame and abacus, child-sized weighing scales, two self-selection sheds for loose parts, a measuring station, wooden cable drum tables and a steadily growing selection of resources. Here they use real equipment which they learn to safely use independently like screws, drills and screwdrivers.
- GROWING AREA – While the bulk of our growing will now be done at the allotment, we believe it is still important for children to have the opportunity to enjoy observing this fascinating process. Plus we want to encourage wildlife and biodiversity. At the back of the garden are three growing beds, which currently have thyme, mint, savoy cabbage, and coriander among others. There is also a herb pyramid, hand-made out of spare palettes, for children to use in sensory as well as cooking activities and honeysuckle growing all over the fence at the back.
- LIVING BIODIVERSE ROOF – Now this is really special. We have recently installed a living roof made from Sedum and planted with 120 bee, butterfly, insect and bird attracting plants. Soon this will be thriving and a haven for wildlife. We have binoculars and steps at the ready for children to uncover a magical world of education and inspiration.
- NURSERY PETS – We have 6 nursery pets, and they are all part of the Young Friends family. They include 4 guinea pigs – two adults and two babies, a beautiful rabbit and a rather wonderful Labrador, Landa. The children groom and cuddle them, learn to respect them and learn all about how to care for living creatures. Children love to go and see them if they are feeling a bit upset, e.g. if their parent/carer has just left or just to while away a bit of calm time sitting in the run cuddling, stroking and watching them. We find this is just as therapeutic as our gardening and other activities.
- LANDA – Landa is so special that we think she deserves her own section. She’s a year old and has the most beautiful temperament. Everyone adores her and she spends a lot of time with the children and team. After her walk in the morning she rests in the office and throughout the day she is collected intermittently by the team who invite her to group times, to be brushed or just to sit with them whilst they read a story. It is widely recognised now that dogs are beneficial to human mood and Landa certainly does that for the children and team alike.