We aim to get out in the fresh air as much as possible- whether it be running in the “dippies” on the common, walk-abouts in the community or to use our outside courtyard. The children love to be outside. But with thanks to our hardworking parent-led committee in 2016 we raised funds to buy new equipment and waterproof clothing and are now offering these new type of sessions as well. The sessions are different to our regular outdoor playtimes as the children enjoy “learning through play” by taking elements of the “forest-school” type of approach. By placing importance on active play in the environment as a natural and primary way that children learn, children can assess risks themselves, solve problems and develop their creativity, whether it be balancing on logs, learning how to move on slippery surfaces, climbing or tying sticks together to make something they chose.

We aim to go out in all weather conditions, welcoming the chance to explore how things smell, feel, sound and look different outside on different days. The children are learning the new routines and self-care skills - taking off shoes and lining them up under their pegs, finding their waterproofs and putting them on before pulling on wellies and then after the session taking them all off again and hanging them up in a tidy fashion- which is no mean feat! There is a wealth of new possibilities for teaching ideas outside but our “outdoor-learning” sessions deliberately have less focus on adult-led activities already set up for the children by allowing more open-ended play time to explore the environment: bugs and plants and experimenting with water, soil, sand and clay: seeing how wet sand acts differently to dry sand, soil becomes mud, and in the rain, how puddles appear and are great for looking at reflections as well as splashing in.

We have enjoyed leaf threading, blackberry painting, colour mixing with dyes and making bird feeders to help feed the pigeons we have seen nesting in our buddleia. In the mud kitchen, the children have made some murky looking “witches pies” out of mixing different ingredients such as lavender, blackberries, carnations and rose petals, sycamore leaves, wild clematis, millet, hazel sticks, fir cones, conkers and chalks. This type of play really supports the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum by looking at differences and similarities between the natural resources, improving fine and gross motor skills by picking, tearing, stirring and crushing the ingredients, by helping to build relationships with peers and adults through role-plays and imaginative games and also building on language skills by introducing and using a range of new and different vocabulary.

We hope to redevelop an area behind the Tabernacle to create a wonderful fenced off “forest-school” area for the children and others to enjoy.