The first Outdoors and Active workshop was hosted by Edith Kerrison Nursery and Children’s Centre, where the garden enables children to explore and test their bodies using built and natural features to create physical challenges. Deputy Headteacher Jo Aylett took our group on a tour of the large and varied outdoor space. A covered transition area immediately outside of the rooms is richly resourced with loose parts such as hollow blocks, sofas, art and craft materials, small world resources and a mud kitchen, creating small, personal spaces for children to relax and collaborate in.
By contrast, the main garden is extensive and uncluttered and provides opportunities for running, rolling, ball games, parachute play and games that help children become ‘puffed out’. Children are able to range freely all over the space, choosing construction or gardening or sand play or transporting, as the fancy takes them. Using heavy, awkwardly shaped or wheeled equipment – such as wheelbarrows, tools and trolleys - helps young children at Edith Kerrison develop an awareness of the extent of their own bodies and a sense of how their bodies can then operate within a space.
Jo says, “Our two years olds spend the most time outside, where their progress in gaining control of their bodies and movements is very clear. The outdoors gives them far greater challenge in terms of balance and co-ordination and the opportunities it gives for big movements and more boisterous play.”
The Nursery provides good quality outdoor clothing meaning that the weather never prevents children getting active and physical every day. The other crucial component, explains Jo, is “enabling adults that truly understand the importance of physical play for children, giving children the ability to get messy, to jump in and out and over puddles and to climb, crawl, slide, jump, spin and swing – gaining stronger muscles and bodies in the process.”
This case study was first published in Nursery World magazine, October 2016