At this inner city pre-school setting, the work of Friedrich Froebel underpins all practice. Froebel advocated outdoor play provision as essential for children’s learning and development. He also believed that children learn best through spontaneous child-centred play, and that they should be surrounded by kindness, understanding and beauty. The focus is on providing “free, joyful, sensory rich, adventurous play in the natural world.” The centre has won “Best Nursery in Britain Award” from the magazine Nursery World.
This inner city school has secured funding to ensure its newly built premises will have Britain’s first natural play environment within its grounds. The playground will allow the children to connect with the natural environment; create their own play; increase levels of activity and develop their social and interpersonal skills. Instead of the usual tarmac, the children will have grass-covered hills; trees in which to climb and to pick fruit from; boulders to clamber over; mazes to hide in; scramble nets; long grass to attract wild-life; and willow rooms in which to play and learn.
Mindstretchers Nature Kindergartens
Claire Warden and Nikki Buchan founded their education consultancy business back in 1996. From the outset, there was a focus on outdoor play, which over the years has continued to strengthen. In early 2007, Mindstretchers opened its Whistlebrae Nature Kindergarten in Braco, Perthshire. Eighteen months later, Auchlone Nature Kindergarten was established for children living in Crieff. The woodland areas are beside the designated outdoor areas. Mindstretchers also have a great supply of natural and sustainably sourced resources which make a refreshing change from plastic toys.
Nurture through Nature Project, Aberdeen City and Camphill Rudolf Steiner
This project is an excellent example of partnership working between a local authority and partner provider. Every week nursery aged children from very deprived areas of Aberdeen spend an afternoon in sensory exploration of the woodland area and natural outdoor space at Camphill. Some of these children have never experienced playing in and with a puddle! The project has been hugely successful. Further details from Terri Harrison
Dr Simon Beames, Edinburgh University Outdoor Education Department has developed an interesting programme of work for upper primary and secondary school children aimed at getting children to take local journeys to learn about the people and place they live. It is very pupil-led and therefore some activities may involve exploration of local natural spaces or not!
The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery
This nursery for 2-5 year olds opened in September 2004. It was established by Cathy Bache, a former primary and drama teacher, who works full-time with the children. The children meet in the village park in the morning and collectively walk up to the woods. There is a choice of gathering places in the woods, with shelters and even a woodstove to keep the children warm in colder weathers.
Since the 1960’s, Ardroy has facilitated the development of children and adults in a stunning mountain setting. Kayaking in pristine lochs, climbing mountains and learning bush skills in woodland provide life-changing experiences. In response to current social issues, a Healthy Mind and Body programme was developed and has been very successful to date. Groups learn about themselves, their emotions and health through adventurous activities, active reviewing and simple time spent in beautiful places. Ardroy staff have noted that participants have increased self esteem, improved emotional intelligence and a more positive outlook on when they leave the Centre. This then aids them in regaining a healthier relationship with themselves and the environment.
Let us know what you are doing in Scotland and beyond and we can add on here if relevant.