The secure garden area of the Craigholme School Nursery is not only a place where children can run, play games and use their imagination but is a valuable teaching area for the staff. We can teach the children to count leaves or worms just as easily as using a mathematical resource, indoors.
We also have a large stock of bikes, chariots, scooters and outdoor pedal toys which help the children develop their gross motor skills. Staff at Craigholme Nursery recognise that outdoor play is an intrinsic part of a young child’s development. We are outside every day irrespective of the weather.
The garden has many mature shrubs and trees providing the children areas for den-making, climbing trees and exploring. The ‘mud kitchen’ is loved by the children and has pots, bowls and spoons where they can make ‘potions’ and ‘cakes’ etc.
Many natural items such as wood blocks, fir cones and sticks can also be found in the garden. Children use these in their imaginative games - sometimes the wood blocks are seats, tracks or camp fires. The resources have as many uses as the children can imagine.
The garden also has a wildlife and allotment area which is home to four guinea pigs - Barry, James, Bubble and Squeak - whose birthday we celebrate with the children in May.
There is also a pond area, which was teaming with frogspawn last year. We observed the frogspawn in the outdoor pond and also in the indoor tank and compared the growth of the two. We discovered that the frogspawn indoors grew faster due to the warmer conditions. The children watched in awe as the frogspawn developed into tadpoles, grew legs and developed eventually into frogs. This type of real-life learning added real depth to the children’s knowledge of frogs and they came daily to see how they were changing, often bringing their parents and teaching them about the process. Children are always accompanied by a member of staff when entering the pond area.
We encourage the children to look after the wildlife in the garden and have made ‘houses’ for the minibeasts that live in the garden.
We have bird feeders and a bird bath and can watch from the downstairs playroom windows.
We also have recycled tyres which we use for a variety of purposes including growing flowers and vegetables. Some of the vegetables including cabbages, spinach and peas are grown for the guinea pigs to eat. We grew rhubarb, which the children stewed and had with custard, and potatoes which we cooked and ate warm with melted butter, yum! Again this type of real life experience is invaluable in teaching children where food comes from, how long it takes to grow and what we can do with it once it has been harvested.