This covers comprehension, word reading and writing. Books and reading are at the heart of our practice and we read to the children every day at story time. A selection of books is available throughout the nursery. We don’t teach reading directly as children are all at different stages, but we may introduce letters and sounds, which are a pre-requisite to learning to read, when children are interested and ready. Early writing skills are encouraged in many areas of the nursery. Children make marks with crayons, paint, pencils and other tools perhaps in the sand, soil, dough and clay. Children need to go through these stages before they are able to control a pencil well enough to “write” a letter/number (so even if it looks like scribble, it is part of the process).
When you show your child “writing”, make sure it is predominantly “lower case” letters eg. a, b, c, d, e, f, g etc. not CAPITALS. Also, use letter sounds not names.
This encompasses number and numerical patterns, as well as learning of shape, space and measures. We provide opportunities for mathematical experiences in comparison, counting, cardinality, composition, spatial awareness, shape, pattern and measures. Children are learning holistically, following their interest and not in a direct maths lesson, although we do often enjoy maths activities at adult-led Group Time. Some activities may be in the home corner, sand, water, construction or book area, in fact most areas in the nursery. They need lots of first hand experiences of handling equipment to grasp mathematical concepts, and also of using language to support this. Mathematics is happening all the time in young children’s lives, eg. out shopping, in the car, at home, in the café. Make it fun for them.
Understanding the World
This looks at past and present, people, culture and communities and the natural world. It also involves learning about and using technology. Children have opportunities to experiment and investigate throughout the nursery both indoors and outside. Children can discuss their past and what they remember – we use artefacts and resources to show history in a simple way. We use the immediate environment as well as further afield; we discuss weather, countries, maps, other cultures etc. We use our wonderful outdoor environment to learn about the natural world, using our own home grown fruit and vegetables to cook and bake. We use our cob oven and real fire to enjoy outdoor cooking.
We have a selection of ICT equipment. ICT is about learning to control equipment as well as using computers. Children will have the opportunity to use a wide range, including microphones, recorders and robotic toys.
Expressive Arts and Design
This involves creating with materials as well as being imaginative and expressive. We encourage children to create with materials, as well as explore and use media and materials, and to use their imagination. We offer opportunities to paint, write, draw, use clay and make models etc. A range of experiences are offered using different materials and tools eg. crayons, pencils, paint, glue, paper, scissors, pens, clay, junk boxes. Children can explore and create something which is unique to them. This is a very satisfying experience. It is the process that is important and will not always result in a recognisable finished product. Ask a child about their art work and they will explain their ideas! It is important they use their own imagination in their pictures, designs and models.
Music and drama involve listening to different sounds, making sounds, singing rhymes, songs and pretending to be different characters. Most children enjoy role play and we also use music, rhymes, stories and puppets to stimulate children to sing, dance or act out roles in the home corner. We regularly turn our play frame into different areas such as a café, shop, hospital, hairdressers or vets etc. We also create different role play scenarios outside eg. garage, building site, nature reserve and many more!
In nursery many activities are cross-curricular eg. sand play may be related to:
Maths skills – weighing, matching shapes, volume, problem solving.
Science – discovering the properties of dry sand, what it feels like, how it pours, what happens if you add water?
Language development – learning new words and ideas related to sand and equipment, talking about sand.
PSE – enjoying being in the sand, remembering the beach, working in a team
Physical – lifting heavy buckets full of sand (gross motor) or mark making with a stick in a dry sand (fine motor)
Outside play provides exciting opportunities to develop all areas of learning and the learning goals within these. The children are encouraged to use the garden and resources with a high level of independence.
We see outside as a classroom in itself and will take the children out in all types of weather. We enjoy a wide range of gardening activities. We have several allotment beds where we grow vegetables to use in cooking. We also have planters for flowers and soil beds near the Mud Kitchen. We are so lucky to have our Woodland Area where we do special Forest School activities. This large area of the garden has different zones of wild flowers, wooded area, fruit trees, bird table and bath, boulders, trees to climb and even a campsite area with logs and sometimes a real fire! The area has been developed further to support a woodland learning programme. We now have a brand new outdoor classroom to enhance our woodland learning, which we call The Cabin.
Why is outdoor play so important?
During a child’s time in nursery they play outside as often as possible. We feel this is an important part of their nursery experience for the following reasons:
- Many children prefer playing outside and as a result they show greater levels of involvement and motivation when learning new skills and concepts across the whole curriculum.
- Young children learn by being physically active and the outside environment allows greater space and freedom to do this.
- Changing society prevents regular opportunities for children to play outdoors and our garden can help.
- There is a substantial increase in childhood obesity and asthma nationally, which physical activity can address.
- Being outdoors, especially in nature, is good for mental health.