‘There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing’!
It has been proven that children thrive when given plentiful access to stimulating outdoor environments. They learn best through involvement in play activities that are meaningful to them and build on their current knowledge, curiosity, enthusiasms and interests.
By learning outside the classroom, we support the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting their sense of well-being. We will give them ‘hands-on’ contact with the natural world, enabling them to see, hear, taste, touch and smell the world around them.
We use our RULER technique throughout the outdoor learning as it offers great opportunities for the children to talk about how things make them feel such as brave, proud, anxious or cooperative. As they encounter new experiences and by ‘giving things a go’ taking risks, not giving up and being proud of their achievements the children build enormous resilience and self-confidence.
Part of the outdoor learning ensures that we instil a sense of responsibility in the children for their environment and sustainability, discussing how we look after the natural world around us and discussing aspects like recycling, use of plastics, saving energy, collecting water, making composting stations and encouraging wildlife (making hedgehog houses, wild bee houses and bird feeders).
A short walk from the classroom is our own Forest School, situated at the top of the farm in a glorious spot with its own fire pit, bug hotel, climbing frames and an indoor area for particular activities.
For more information about the principles of Forest School https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/what-is-forest-school/
Our Forest School-Trained Leader will guide the children through their outdoor topics and activities, covering all 7 areas of learning. They will explore their environment, experiment, solve problems and experience opportunities to develop their imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness! Children will often be less inhibited outside and more willing to join in with activities.
As part of their Forest School experience your child will learn to take risks safely, learning that failure is an opportunity to try again!
They will cover a wide and varied outdoor curriculum including the following: understanding the changing seasons and weather patterns; growing their own flowers; tending to the vegetable and herb gardens; exploring the habitats of animals, birds and insects; doing science experiments such as floating and sinking; making fairy potions; nature walks and treasure hunts; story-telling and role play with ‘The Story Chest’; orientation activities; printing; rubbings; foraging; cooking; Wind Walks; making art and craft; sharing, empathising, counting, matching and sequencing; alphabet games, letters and sounds; sensory play; wind chimes; mud pies; making spiders webs; Rain Walks; bug hotels; mud slides and mud pits; camp building; tree climbing; building and construction; writing; mark-making; whittling and woodwork; making fires and sitting round the fire pit singing songs!
On The Farm
Every week we take the children on a Tractor and Trailer Adventure around the farm. One of the most exhilarating adventures is to the stream where they learn to explore safely, to experiment with water activities and do some climbing up and down the path using the rope! The children love these outings in the specially converted farm trailer, when they have the opportunity to get out and explore nature close up and to see the change in seasons; take in the wildlife and farm animals around them; the trees as they change; and begin to understand growth cycles of crops from seed to harvest and to know about the farm machinery around them.
With a high teacher/child ratio the children are under strict supervision throughout.
Animals on the Farm
At The Willow On The Farm Nursery we think it is important the children encounter and feel comfortable with the farm animals and we certainly have a few of those for them to get to know!
Our cows, Daisy, Lavender, Buttercup and Dandelion and Billy the Bull! The horses Josie and Libby with foal, Free Spirit, and Spirit the pony which the children groom regularly.
There is also Bessie the sheep dog, Percy the cat, 11 chickens, the geese – Ding, Dong, Merrily, Harold and Madge and Lemon the gosling. Ozzy and Eddie are the guinea pigs, Piggy the hamster, and over summer we have resident lambs Cuthbert and Clarence, which the children bottle feed!
There are plenty of resident Swallows in our school shed and minibeasts in Forest School! Not forgetting our yearly hatchlings of chicks and caterpillars metamorphosing into butterflies!
Using our RULER skills, the children learn to respect and take great care of our animals within their environments. They collect the chickens’ eggs safely, feeding and watering them and cleaning out the runs. They make sure the guinea pigs and hamster are cleaned out and fed, the cows have hard feed and that the pony is groomed. By instilling this sense of nurture, the children understand the importance of empathy, responsibility and compassion when caring for those dependent and more vulnerable than ourselves.