In line with our learning theme in Autumn – Animals in autumn – we ventured out one blustery morning to the local green space at the Civic centre to see what we could find.
John has found a bird house on the grass. “Its fallen out the tree” he says urgently to the other children. They all crowd around the small birdhouse. Grace prods it with a stick, turning it sideways and says “There’s no eggs!” The children decide to ‘fix’ the house, brushing off the soil and carefully shaking strands of grass out of the bird house. With Laura’s help they place it back on a branch in the tree. The children begin chattering amongst themselves about the difference between our homes (‘made from walls and bricks’ says John) and animal habitats, building upon their understanding of the world from one another
“But what about the rabbits?” asks Megan, “they can’t reach the tree because they don’t have wings…where will they sleep?”. Negotiating a plan amongst themselves, the children decide to build a shelter for the rabbits, hedgehogs and squirrels. “The shiny beetles can share with them too” points out Grace. They children get set to work, foraging through the grounds on their hands and knees for branches and soft leaves. They cooperate well working as a group, sharing suggestions on where the best ‘non spiky’ twigs may be and demonstrating their competence in learning how to manage risks and problem solving.
Since the nest needed ‘medium’ twigs only, the children utilise their mathematical skills carefully estimating the size of the twigs and snapping them carefully to the correct size. The task grounds are filled with open-ended resources – pebbles, slates, conker shells, and cherry stones – all of which stimulate the children’s imaginations, giving them plenty to talk about as they work. The younger children run happily amongst them. Joe – seventeen months – toddles around chattering excitedly, picking up random leaves and throwing them up in the air, using his sensory skills to explore.
The twigs have been placed in a circular shape, the stones and slates placed carefully inside and a wide array of different coloured leaves softly layered on top – the nest is complete!
At our city centre venue, we use the city library space as a ‘base’ to explore from. We take the children out each day, as we believe that outdoor play is a core element to play experiences that we offer from there- even though we do not have our own outdoor play space. Being outdoors gives the children the freedom to use their creativity to immerse in spontaneous play, and the physical play aspect (running and climbing) ensures daily exercise, whilst increasing a heightened sense of emotional well being!