Saturday, 13 September 2014

Its spring, get outside!

It's finally spring! I have been so excited to finally have a few sunny days where I can get outside with the children and do a bit of work on our outdoor environment. For months and months we have been staring out a window at a patch of dirt which once was a lovely patch of green grass. It was driving me mad! We have a bad drainage issue and every time we try and grow grass it quickly turns into a mud patch which of course has its benefits when your a toddler! But as much as we love our puddles we finally decided to try create a sensory garden for our children so naturally the second we made this decision plants were brought and I was excitedly mapping out the garden while toddlers sneakily moved each plant when my back was turned. Honestly, I am not a gardener, I have no idea what i'm doing so i'm really hoping all these plants don't die.

I really believe that if children are invited to take part and have a little ownership over their environment that they are far more likely to respect and care for it. With this thinking in mind, we created this garden alongside the children and took the time to talk about the process and the living things we were working with such as worms and plants...

We have found so many worms! Its been really awesome to see the children becoming aware that there is life underneath the ground. They have been so respectful and caring towards every living creature we have found on our little journey. They know that they need to live in the mud with all our new plants.

It was really important for me that all the children had an opportunity to be involved in the garden. Even our youngest baby, R (6 months) was able to be involved, sitting amongst it all, kicking and feeling the new plants. I can't wait to see him crawling through the garden this summer!

So here it is, the very nearly, mostly finished garden...

It was really important to me to create a garden that challenged all the children in my classroom including 'crawlers', the 'just walkers' and the 'runners'. The mound in the middle and the stepping stones have created that challenge! Now our children can experience different terrain and slope while engrossed in nature!

As you can see, the drainage issue hasn't been completely resolved but the puddles provide nice little habitats for our dinosaurs!

This space used to be completely unutilized, it was just a retaining wall. Jess who has recently started a new adventure came up with the idea to allow the children to access this area by putting a ladder up to it and installing a fence. The children now have a space where they can feel they are away from teachers which is so important. It has been amazing!

I am proud that we have utilized our small outdoor space in way that immerses children in nature, providing them with opportunities to connect with and experience the natural world.

"We need to allow children to develop their biophilia, 
their love for the Earth, before we ask them to 
academically learn about nature and become guardians 
of it" - Department of Conservation (2011)