Robin with bread crumbs

Robin eggs hatch in Outlast blocks

Sometimes the best children’s learning takes place unexpectedly and in the most unlikely places. Being flexible with your plans and spaces allows children the chance to make the most of those spontaneous moments that will form lifetime memories and experiences. Last spring, Guildford Nursery School did just this as they cared for children during the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic. Robins nested in their set of Outlast blocks and this turned into a fun and amazing learning experience. “Such a joyful experience during these strange times,” wrote Anna Allen, Early Years Educator at the school.

See her letter and photos of this event here.

Have a beautiful Easter weekend!

girl decorating grass garden

Growing grass from seeds

There’s no better time than spring to introduce the concept of planting seeds and the growth of plants. Growing grass is a hands-on project, and will be easy for young children to carry out with minimal adult support. Look at the dry grass seed first with your group of children. How will these tiny dry grains grow into the lush green grass that covers the ground in your outdoor area? Taking a step back and thinking about this is mind-boggling even for adults, and is a great way to inspire children’s interest in nature.

Once you have grown grass in containers, you can take it a step further and create small grass gardens with the children by adding a few finishing touches. The grass gardens can be taken home as a gift for Easter or simply a spring surprise!

You can find photos that demonstrate the project along with simple instructions here.

Boy watering plant

Keeping it simple

Early years rooms can be busy, and sometimes even a little chaotic—how can we create peaceful places where focussed play and learning are inevitable? The Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi talks about the importance of simplicity and the appreciation of natural objects. In an early years setting this could be perhaps setting out fewer resources, creating clear space and decorating it in neutral colours, and bringing nature indoors.

“Using ‘simplicity’ as one of the key principles for organising the early years setting can be surprisingly straightforward to put into practice, and it also brings many benefits to children’s well-being and development.”

Read Hilary White’s informative article to see how you can create a calmer environment and spark new interest among your children.

Nature items frozen into a disk of ice

Art and science discovery in one

Explore the concept of freezing and melting, liquids and solids with this winter-themed project. Best done in frosty cold weather, here is an activity that can take place entirely outdoors. Children will enjoy creating these ice ornaments and be intrigued with the magical end result. Find instructions and accompanying photos here.
Child and teacher with mask

The language of caring

No one could have predicted the events that derailed everyone’s plans for 2020. Now, at the start of a new year, the future is still uncertain as we continue to adapt and respond on a daily basis to the volatile movement of a virus.

Fortunately, inspired educators can find learning in just about every circumstance – including the challenges of the last months. The prospect of wearing a mask whilst working with children has been a hurdle many have had to overcome. How can we share our emotions, empathy, and directions with the children in our care with a piece of cloth covering half our face?

Read Carol Garboden Murray’s surprising reflections and revelations on the expressive art of caring.

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