What are Ambiguous Resources

Have you ever made a car or a rocket from a cardboard box? We most definitely have. A saying we hear a lot is “they play with the box, more than the toys inside”.

At Inspirations, we have also witnessed this, and observed that children gain a lot of skills from this type of play. The children ‘making something out of nothing’ is teaching them to be resourceful and imaginative.

Remember the Fairy Liquid Advert?

I always remember the fairy liquid advert, the little boy waited weeks and weeks for the empty bottle so he could create a rocket with it. It doesn’t stop at just creating artwork. You can reuse many things to make for other uses which we will talk about a little later in this blog.

At Inspirations, we use loose parts (see previous blog) https://inspirationsnurseries.co.uk/news-and-blog/loose-parts/

The purpose of them, is that they are so versatile and allow the children to make whatever they wish. A plastic car is only a plastic car, whereas a stick could be a magic wand or a person or wherever your imagination will take you. Below is a pizza the children made using magnets, glass gems and wooden hoops.

It is the same when reusing resources to make something else with the added bonus that we are recycling an item, instead of throwing it away. We like to do this with a lot of items, including household items. For example we use old disused microwaves and toasters for the children to use during role play. Using ‘real’ items ensures the children learn to respect things too. If a child drops or throws a plastic cup, there is no consequence that comes from it. Whereas, if they dropped a glass, it would smash, they learn from it and realise they can no longer play with it. This changes their mind set and makes our resources more valued.

In the art studio, they use glass pots that were dessert pots for paint. We use a lot of apple crates, wooden palettes, and cable reels for our equipment. These are valuable pieces of equipment for us as well as excellent large loose parts for the children to use when being creative.

We also reuse tyres for large loose parts or even as planters or a sand pit. The babies have reused bicycle wheels to support the rotation schema- please see our ‘being two, what are schemas’ blog. We reuse bottles and create sensory bottles in the baby and toddler room. The preschoolers have reused bottles and empty cartons of oat milk for planting.

Lollypop Stick Castle
Cardboard Puppet Show

 

This is just another valuable learning opportunity for the children to gain the skills to reuse things, rather than adding to the waste on Earth. We get a lot of our equipment from SCRAP (scrap creative reuse Arts Project Ltd) as we have spoken about in our ‘make something out of nothing’ blog. We also rely on the practitioners collecting and then our wonderful families donating things that they think we can reuse. Car boot sales and charity shops are a great find for getting things to reuse.

https://inspirationsnurseries.co.uk/news-and-blog/ambiguous-resources/

Next time you want to throw something away, have a little think if you could reuse it for something else. Perhaps it will inspire the next project here at Inspirations.

Kayleigh

 


School Leavers Event

We are doing things a little different this summer due to Covid-19. We have made the decision to cancel our usual summer party, and instead have an event just for the School Leavers.

We will be allocating free tickets to keep track of numbers and create bubbles if restrictions aren't fully eased.  For this reason will we also be doing a bring your own picnic where your children can eat with their friends on the school field.
There will be a graduation ceremony with certificates and a graduation photoshoot with hat and gown with our Photographer Nathalie working freelance with the option to buy the images later. 
We look forward to seeing as many of our school leavers there as possible to enjoy this special afternoon together regardless of rain or shine.

'Into the Woods' Song Recording

Music is one of life's biggest pleasures, and at Inspirations singing, instruments, and music is a part of our daily schedule loved by the staff and children alike. From Boogie Mites, to Singing Sam to drumming and ukulele, we ensure our children are exposed to as much music time as possible and it is one of the many languages they use to express themselves and learn.

This year for the Walk of Art we recorded a song as part of the Soundscape.

If you're local to Horsforth you may be familiar with Hunger Hills Woods, and the little wooden Owl that perches as you enter, near the stream. He has become a big part of our forest school adventures so I wrote a song for the children around the idea of greeting Mr Owl as they enter the woods.

If you were unable to catch our song at the Walk of Art this year here it is...

Into The Woods- Sung by the Children of Inspirations

If you would like a copy of this song please let me know by email on nathalie@inspirationsnurseries.co.uk.

As most of you know, our Pre-School bubble has collapsed, so look out for activities and Zoom invitations on Tapestry and we look forward to seeing you all back on Monday 19th July.

Lyrics

Into the woods we go
To lose our mind our body and soul
As we leave our world behind
What might we find?
Mr Owl I see you, hurray
Good afternoon May we enter today
There’s beauty here we’d love to share
We tread lightly with care
We hear the wind through the trees and it whispers hello,
We see the leaves change from brown onto green and yellow,
Every day’s a new day in the forest we know,
Ooo ooo Oo oo 
Out of the woods we go
To lose our mind our body and soul
As we leave our world behind
What might we find?
Mr Owl I see you, hurray
Good afternoon may we leave today
There’s beauty here we loved to share
We tread lightly with care
We hear the wind through the trees and it whispers hello
We see the leaves change from brown onto green and yellow
Every day’s a new day in the forest we know
Ooo ooo Oo oo

-Nathalie


Walking together in the forest

Summer Solstice

It was the longest day of the year on Monday, also known as Summer Solstice. A day we weren't going to allow to slip past us without making the very best of it.

Summer Solstice occurs when one of the Earth's Poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun, and so naturally we spent the whole day outdoors.

Usually for our Pre-Schoolers our Forest School sessions come back to the Yurt for lunch, before taking another group session in the afternoon. But this Wednesday we took lunch with us and spent the whole day in the forest.

It was beautiful.

Its amazing to see how the environment shapes behaviour and guides play. Spending the whole day in the woods allowed the children the freedom of both space and time without us having to cut short their explorations.

As we entered the woods a little boy at the front ran ahead, I was just about to call him back when I realised he was running to a particular tree simply to wrap his arms around it.

Nature Appreciation

As he held this embrace it occurred to me that this boy was excited to be reunited with a tree, and how wonderful that is.

How often do we remember to be thankful for plants and trees growing around us? I sure learnt something in that moment.

 

They needed this time.

They had their lunch beneath the trees, played in the hammock and rope swing, collected sticks to create dens, made their own books and explored at their own pace. At the end of the day we played in the long grass, and finished with a Nature Appreciation Story.

Then we headed back to nursery much dirtier, but calmer, wiser and more thankful of the world around us.

'Hello friends, I can see all of the sunshine in you'


Litter Picking in Horsforth with our Nursery Children

Little Litter Pickers

It was during one of our daily Forest School trips that one of our Pre-School children expressed disappointment at finding litter on the ground. We decided to order some litter pickers and set out on an adventure to clean up Horsforth.

At least once a week now a small group set off around Horsforth with Litter Pickers and a bag, collecting every item of trash they see along the way. So far we have met some wonderful people who stop and thank the children. It's a wonderful way of getting exercise, meeting our locals and helping our community.

Watch the video here-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5N-yULXVwjk

We're proud of our children for noticing the world around them and caring about the place they live. Would you like to help make Horsforth a cleaner place? Check out the Horsforth Litter Pickers group on facebook.

 


Toddler's Forest School Garden

Measured Risks and The Great Outdoors

Getting outdoors could not be more important right now, and the health benefits that come with it are not only beneficial but fundamental to our wellbeing. But are the youngest members of our society getting enough outdoor adventurous play? Recent studies suggest not. 85% of parents admit they would like their children to have more adventure, whilst 44% admit they played outside more as a child then their own children do. Indeed this is a sign of the times and sometimes children miss out on these opportunities due to safety worries.

At Inspirations you can rest assured that your children are getting more than their fair share of outdoor play. Our outdoor areas are of equal, if not more importance to our indoor spaces. The 2-3 age group is where our children are first introduced to a designated forest school area in addition to their outdoor area.

Our toddler room garden is an extension of their classroom, filled with repurposed objects and areas that support the many types of schemas as mentioned in the previous blog. There are balancing beams, planks, crates, small world areas to support interests, and many more. It is here we make use of the larger loose parts and ambiguous resources such as milk crates, planks and go kart wheels. We have an open doors policy so in all weathers our toddlers have access to the outdoors.

Raising Confident Learners

Not all children have easy access to nature, so it's important we offer this space from a young age. But why is it important for young children to experience adventurous play?

In 2019 we gained planning permission to extend our toddler room garden and build a Forest School Area. This zone is opened up with increased staffing and introduces the children to more adventurous play, with tracks, steps, netting, hills and trees to explore and climb.

Providing this access opens up valuable experiences they may not get elsewhere. As their brains are forming, growing and changing every minute these measured risks they are exposed to supports healthy boundaries and emotional and physical development. This purpose built area means children are using core muscles, with hills to mount and areas to climb. The uneven ground tests and strengthens their vestibular balance skills and coordination.

Whilst children navigate this recently developed area we encourage them to safely create their own boundaries, trial ways of movement, and learn to just keep trying. Instead of suggesting how to use the area, we as educators will avoid giving direction but instead ask open ended questions. 'I wonder where you'll go next?' or 'wow that looked really hard, and you didn't give up'.  By focusing on questions and observations rather than just praise and direction we are building our toddlers inner confidence that sets them up for life.

By creating dens between the trees, growing lavender and scaling balance beams, having this little taste of adventure prepares our toddlers for Forest School when they move to Pre-school ....and beyond.

-Nathalie

Inside the Art Studio

The Art Studio

Every morning and afternoon our Pre-Schoolers choose where they want to spend their time, between the Yurt/Outdoor Classroom, Forest School or the Art Studio. There is a quaint pebbled path that leads us behind the Yurt, past the new pond and up to this purpose built creative space, but this isn't just any art classroom, we do things a little differently here. http://simonr30.sg-host.com/the-art-room/

Why do we have an Art Studio?

Of course creativity is woven throughout every aspect of our learning at Inspirations, there are mark making tools, paints and clay accessible in all areas, so why do we need an additional separate creative space? The Art Studio, (referred to as an Atelier in the Reggio culture) is so much more than just an Art Room. It is its own separate space for the children to own, re-purpose and re-visit week after week, and is set out to foster self discovery.

100 Languages of Learning

It is a space for smaller groups of children to branch off, be heard, share ideas, and develop the confidence to be leaders of their own research and learning. It is an environment that plays host to books, materials and tools that support the 100 ways of learning with the support of myself as the Atelierista. It is a space where children proceed through their inquiry to reach their hypothesis though guided experiments, mixed media, play, music, light and shadow, sculpture and dramatic play. A space for them to give meaning to, give identity to, and in turn put them selves and their ideas into context within the world they live in.

The walls of the Art Studio are a canvas, a projector screen, an art exhibition and a metaphorical mirror reflecting the evolving learning journey of our children. Through photos and quotes of the children's voice on the wall the children can see where their ideas started,  where they are now, and by reading back the children's own words they see that their inputs are recorded, valued and remembered.

It's also important to note that the Atelierista is not an art teacher, rather, an Artist who knows the potential of art materials and children, and the limitless possibilities when these are combined.

Beautiful Mistakes

In the Art Studio the children are not afraid  to try new things, because fear of failure doesn't exist. How can it exist in a place where mistakes are simply learning opportunities. A fallen glue pot can become an art project in its self, and a drawing gone wrong can inspire new ideas. One project that stands out began when a child wiped up spilt watercolour paint from the floor with a baby wipe and watched as the colours soaked through the wipe. He then decided to add baby wipes to a canvas, the 'dirty' baby wipes themselves then becoming the art.

Seekers of Meaning

As constant seekers of meaning, our children are making sense of the world around them with everything they do, and our Art studio is one section of our pre-school that fosters this.

This week we will be filming inside the Art Studio to see their explorations brought to life, this short film will be shared on You Tube next week.

- Nathalie

 


Child-directed learning at our Adel Pre School

Pre-School at Adel

Are you longing to peer into the future, catch a glimpse of normality resuming once again? I think we can agree this is going on longer than we initially imagined, but here we are.  We are still in this together, and we hope during these times of increased social distancing you can still maintain social connections online, just like those in this news story that brought a smile to our faces. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-55732174

So we start this blog by asking, how are you, and what are you grateful for? We are grateful to have our Inspirations Nurseries families that continue to bring a sense of community.

Last week our blog focused on our Horsforth Pre-School, so this week we hand over to Deborah our manager at Adel to talk about our other Inspirations Nursery only 10 minutes away.

Welcome to Adel

At Adel we take children from the age of three, to starting school. Like Horsforth, we follow the Reggio Emilia Approach, which comprises of loose parts, mirrors and reflection, natural resources and investigation of up-cycled and recycled trinkets and materials.

Our setting is within the grounds of Adel St John the Baptist Primary School which is surrounded by beautiful woods and trees. There’s a well-equipped natural garden with a climbing wall, workbench, piano, mud kitchen and bikes. We have the use of the super large playing field and the conservation area which we use twice weekly for Forest School.

Our planning involves the outdoors as much as indoors and the children can choose where they would like to play.
Inside we have a very spacious room with areas to promote learning wherever the children choose to be.

Set Out to Inspire

The aim of our pre-school environments is to inspire the children to want to explore and learn. We have a maths, literacy, construction, small world, home and creative area of which all have natural resources for the children to explore and a wide range of loose parts to promote maths, communication, imagination and problem solving.

After observing the children’s common interests, we plan as a team to add resources and challenges to the areas and talk to the children about what they know and what they want to know, and how they would like to learn.

The children’s key worker also plans for their key children’s individual interests to support and provide opportunities to progress in all areas of development. As we are a pre-school we encourage independence and all skills necessary for school readiness, such as being able to express their own needs, listen to others and stories, separate from their carer, independent self-care, and understanding of British Values which encourages respect for ourselves and others.

Phonic, Spanish and Creativity

We teach phonics which is differentiated to meet and challenge each child’s individual ability. At Adel we also introduce Spanish to the children; an introduction to languages through songs, games and activities promoting enthusiasm with learning languages later in school. We also have our own Atelierista who comes in 3 times a week to deepen creative projects in smaller groups.

Throughout both our Pre-School settings we support your children in becoming strong independent learners, enabling them to think critically and outside the box. Their use of imagination and their understanding of the world, alongside their ability to problem solve, will stand them out from the crowd and give them a head start in life.

If you love our nursery as much as we do, have any questions or are interested in joining us check out more on the website here-http://simonr30.sg-host.com/our-settings/adel/  or contact- deborah@inspirationsnurseries.co.uk

 


Learning about the World at our Leeds Nursery

Let's Save The Planet

The difficulties faced globally over the past year make it easier to forget the hot topics of the year before. Looking back over the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 and remembering the pictures of those red-hot raging fires across Australia, of animals desperately trying to escape the flames, family homes burning and men and women fighting through the smoke and heat futilely trying to combat the flames. It all seems such a long time ago and, in some ways, no longer imposes on us the horror they once did.

The World Has Changed

A pandemic has hit and, in many ways, has made the fires seem further away, maybe not so important, and impactful on our conscience as they once were.

In this distance between one global disaster and another, we have hopefully managed to enjoy, at times, a slower pace of life, we have had the enjoyment of our gardens, our local nature reserve, woodland, park or beach. We have clung to our outdoor spaces seeking the peace, tranquillity and escapism that being outdoors offers us. We have in a sense returned to nature and for many it has soothed troubled souls and helped those many people struggling with their mental health.

You may also have watched the new David Attenborough series EXTINCTION. Within the series he suggests we are currently in what will be the sixth mass extinction of planet Earth with a million species at risk. Our biodiversity is in crisis and he goes so far to say that this lack of biodiversity will, in the future cause more major pandemics and disease amongst the human race.

It is all very overwhelming, daunting, and somewhat scary if you think too deeply or for too long. However, burying our head in the sand will not save our planet. We must do what we can, all we can.

Here at Inspirations, we are naturally, through our ethos of outside learning, Forest school and loose parts play, inspiring our children to appreciate our natural environment, forging a love of nature with a deep-seated respect, and understanding for it. They, with our support and commitment to their futures will turn this all around. They are the generation who will aspire to and ultimately achieve a purely ‘green’ way of living. It is a challenge Children of Inspirations will be well equipped to meet! Read more about our culture and ethos here- http://simonr30.sg-host.com/our-culture/

As parents of the future generation

Like all households and businesses, Inspirations are struggling to maintain our promises to reduce single use items, the pandemic has seen an end to that for now. It does therefore become even more important to do what we can in other areas, like composting, shopping local, not buying plastic covered fruit and veg, walking or cycling where we can. Lots of little things, if we are all joining in, help to make a big difference. They the baby steps we, the parents of the future generation, can do to make it possible for them to take the giant leaps required to save the planet.

2020 is almost over and as we say goodbye to the year that has taught us so much about what is important, I fervently hope and pray that 2021 is happier, healthier and of course more sustainable…

-Nicola

BBC iPlayer - Extinction: The Facts


Learning through Light

The Reggio approach (as outlined in our previous blog) puts children at the centre of their own learning. The ethos is based around a hands on approach to learning, with art, materials, and loose parts used to create learning opportunities and encourage critical thinking; but one thing we haven't touched upon much is the use of light as a material.

If you explore our rooms at inspirations, or the photography on our Instagram and website you will see there are projectors, light boxes, and sensory dark dens throughout all of our spaces from the Baby Rooms up to Pre-School.

Why do we use light and shadow?

In the younger rooms the use of light cubes, fairy lights and projectors invite children to expand their natural curiosity and encourage babies to engage and remain focused for a longer period of time. As well as having a calming affect, this sensory experience also provides a different perspective, allowing the child to develop creative and critical thinking.

In the Toddler and Pre-School rooms we use over head projectors, torches and mirrors to allow the children to deepen their knowledge and understanding of light and space. Have you ever witnessed the first time a child acknowledged their own shadow?

Seeing their reaction just highlights the  sense of magic and wonder that comes with light play. In the Reggio Approach we talk about natural objects a lot, and sun light alone is a completely free resource that should be utilised to support learning. Light and shadow can be a source of intrigue as children notice the way in which light changes the way things look. It gives the child the opportunity to witness the illumination of things around them, predict patterns, test their ideas and develop new concepts.

We set up a camera in our baby rooms to see how they interact with light, you can watch the video here-

https://youtu.be/VdVQmPwN8Bs

 

At home why not set up an activity for your child based around lights, shadows or reflection using mirrors, we would love to be tagged in a photo of your activity on tapestry, Instagram or Facebook. 

“light and certain light phenomena are central protagonists and highlight the extent to which expressiveness and beauty can accompany an understanding of scientific thinking.” - Vecci (Reggio Atelierista)

For more reading on this topic you can find 'Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia: Exploring the Role and Potential of Ateliers in Early Childhood Education (Contesting Early Childhood)DF' on amazon. 

- Nathalie (Atelierista)