The Preschool setting
Our Learning Environments
We are lucky to have a large, versatile indoor space which can easily be adapted to meet the needs of our little learners.
Our outdoor spaces are easily accessible throughout the day and are parallel to the neighbouring Primary School's Reception class, which aids the transition to 'Big School'!
As a team, we regularly review our areas, resources and practice to ensure all are suitable and engaging for our current cohort and observe the impact.
We have a purpose-built outdoor area which the children have access to during the day. We have a large enclosed canopied area surrounding the entrance to the Preschool, allowing the children to explore an alternative environment no matter what the weather and to get some fresh air.
In this area, children have access to:
An outdoor kitchen with pots, pans, utensils, and plenty of loose parts e.g., sand, pine cones, shells, pebbles, wooden blocks etc.
A large chalk board, perspex easel and other mark-making materials, including water colours, dabbers, pencils, crayons etc.
Fiction and non-fiction books
Small-world figures, cars, animals etc. and other loose parts e.g., large logs, sticks, and wooden blocks etc.
Update: this area is currently not used by the children due to safety concerns, we are currently fundraising for artificial turf to create a safer, more versatile area.
This area provides children with the opportunity to explore nature and observe growth and change over time. We have grown many fruit, vegetables, and flowers in our raised bed and shared these with our families. Our favourite produce were pumpkins, which we carved in October.
There is a 'Bug Hotel' for our creepy-crawly residents! We often 'rescue' insects and place them safely in the hotel and carefully observe them using magnifying glasses etc.
This area is also equipped with plenty of large loose parts such as tarpaulins, canes, logs, milk crates, wooden planks etc. This supports children to engage in 'risky play' to develop their creativity and critical thinking to create, design, build, role-play and explore their bodies with e.g., balancing, learning to land safely etc..
More information on what 'risky play' is and why it is important in the Early Years can be found here.
This area provides children with the chance to let off some steam! They are free to explore the slide and climbing apparatus on the artificially turfed area. Children enjoy riding tricycles and scooters on the paved areas and greeting our neighbours in Reception class!
The children enjoy our recently created 'garage' equipped with hard hats, tools etc. to spark their imagination and 'fix' their vehicles!
Did you know young children should be physically active for 3 hours per day?
Circle Time area
This area may look plain without toys, but it is a very important aspect of our daily routine and Preschool as a whole. It is our 'hub' and the heart of the Preschool. A simple shake of a tambourine will have the children cheer "Circle Time!" and rush to gather together! We start and end our sessions with a short 5-10 minute Circle Time so as not to disturb the children's very important play.
At the start of each session, we do our daily warm-up with 'good morning beans', followed by singing and signing our 'hello' song, and finished with discussing the day of the week, weather and choosing our 'handy helpers' for snack.
At the end of each session, we read a story together- often relating to a theme of interest to the children.
This area provides children with the opportunity to explore a home environment and act out their experiences with other children. Children have access to many props and real-life, authentic resources to extend their learning and process their thinking.
You can find more information on the importance of role-play here.
This area equally advocates a calm and familiar space for children to relax and unwind independently and with staff. Children enjoy looking at their 'family books' which helps to promote self-regulation if they are feeling various emotions and to talk about their home-life.
A calm and cosy tent with cushions, puppets and books provides a safe, quiet space for children to relax.
This area allows children to control their own learning and extend their play day after day. We have a large selection of favourite small-world toys e.g., animals, dinosaurs, cars, trains etc., along with natural and other loose-parts e.g., pine cones, wooden blocks, artificial grass.
Not sure why we provide loose parts? It is part of our pedagogy to encourage children to self-regulate and lead their own learning using open-ended resources rather than simple toys. Information on loose part play and how you can easily implement it at home can be found here.
We frequently have familiar story books in this area with some objects related to the story for children to refer to and recreate the plot or explore characters in their own way.
Climbing frame area
Children are able to explore their bodies on our indoor climbing A-frame, gym mats, play tunnel and bouncy toys. This area supports the development of gross-motor skills, balance, and coordination.
In line with our curriculum goals, children are encouraged to remove their shoes, and are supported to put them on through adult scaffolding to promote independence.
The children are supported to understand a maximum of 3 children can use the area at one time with the supervision of an adult. A visual timer is often used to help children develop a concept of time and support self-regulation with turn-taking.
Snack-time is not just about feeding hungry tummies. For us, it is a daily ritual and important learning opportunity as part of our curriculum!
We choose our 'handy helpers' at Circle Time who are challenged to write their name, initial or make a mark on the board, depending on their age and developmental stage. We encourage every child to have a turn at being a handy helper over a fortnight.
The children wash their hands with soap and water and help a member of staff to prepare the fruit and vegetables supplied by our families. The children use blunt knives, chopping boards, spoons, colanders and their fingers to wash, peel and chop the snack. This develops their fine-motor skills as well as providing a perfect opportunity to use mathematical language, colour recognition and discuss the importance of healthy eating and 'sometimes' food and oral hygiene.
The children take it in turns to self-serve their snack using tongs or spoons to develop their fine-motor skills and concept of sharing with others- we need to ensure we save some for our friends! They are supported to pour themselves a drink of water or milk and sit alongside a few friends and an adult where conversation and manners are encouraged.
When finished and tummies are full, the children are encouraged to wash their bowl and cup to promote independence and a sense of responsibility.
This area is designed for children to explore creative materials independently as per our curriculum goals. Materials such as pens, dabbers, pencils, water colours, crayons, and chalks etc. are continuously provided along with various papers to encourage mark-making which is essential for early handwriting. We will never force a child to engage in mark-making or writing their name, but we do promote a love of mark-making through fun, play-based exploration alongside adult scaffolding and encouragement.
Here are some tips for supporting your child's mark-making (and early handwriting) at home.