Spring Term 2019
As I have talked about before, being able to get out into the natural world around us gives the children first hand experiences of changes of the season as well as growth, decay, time, as we observe the living world that we share. We try to visit the same places and record the changes each month, as we have been doing looking at trees as they change.
As we start the Spring term we have also started regular visits to the pond. Our January visit was a chilly one and icy enough to have frozen the water on the surface of the pond. This allows us to talk about how water freezes and what makes it melt again (all sorts of talk about moving atoms, the sound of cracking ice, what lies beneath the ice..). Where does a walk to the pond fit into the EYFS framework? Pretty much everywhere as we talk, discover new words; we grow resilience, we use physical skills, we learn about science, nature. We talk about shapes, size, length, height; we use imagination in describing what we see…in fact the list really is endless. This is why a 10 minute walk is the best preparation for school you could do
Autumn Term 2018
Maths and nature
Who would have thought an icy walk or cooking cheesy wraps over an open fire was a maths lesson? You would if you were a Little Star. Finding different shape pieces of ice allows us to not only talk about the effects of the weather and changes in state to and from ice as the temperature drops or gets warmer but also about whether the pieces are a triangle, square, or rectangle. Some have been neither!
Other visits to the woods have been a swinging good time!
Nature’s treasure basket
There have been many different “buzz words” and trends in Early Years, from heuristic play to loose part, and one such trend has been for “treasure baskets” which present young children with a variety of explorative items, usually neatly organised into “wooden” or “natural” collections. However what better way is there to really experience the treasure of natural materials than actually being out in nature itself, to tangibly feel changes in texture and form. Leaf walks are arguably far more valuable than being presented with a basket full of adult constructed and chosen “treasures”. I could again qualify the learning experiences of a day out in the Autumn leaves (and pouring down rain!), but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
Autumn is my favourite time of the year to be outside with the children. I think it the most visually educational as the children see changes happening almost weekly with the colour of leaves changing and discovering new and different things in the hedgerows from blackberries to conkers. We’ve been having leafy walks and collected conkers to use back at nursery to explore our creativity with conker rolling, leaf printing as well as many visits to the woods. There really is no better way to appreciate the changing of seasons.
We have also discovered wildlife that have shared the woods with us, not only beetles and woodlice under the logs but finding a frog and a toad was a delight and the children were able to examine the creatures up close and personal!
Being out in the woods or countryside isn’t just about appreciating nature but also the environment offers a certain freedom for the children: freedom to run, to be loud, to be creative as they turn a tree trunk into a train or a shop. Ideas and story comes alive as we really can trip trap over rickety bridges or look for the Gruffalo. There is space to play as a large group or to take a moment to be by yourself. There are no prescribed ways of doing things; no right or wrong answers. Play offers physical as well as mental challenge. We listen: to each other, to the birds or the wind in the trees. We play.