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-

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.


Spring Time in the Forest

A time for adaptation and growth.


Firstly the weather is neither reliably wet nor reliably dry and the landscape of our setting changes radically depending this. In the warm sunshine we are challenged by harder ground under foot and spend time tending to the juvenile plants we are cultivating . When the rain comes it falls fast and heavy therefore we have been working together to create permanent shelters in which to take respite from the down pours.
I was reminded today of the unshakeable positivity and resilience of our Inspirations children during another heavy rainfall in the woods. Our group happily hid under tarpaulin sheets and sang nursery rhymes before running down newly made streams and of course jumping in every muddy puddle.

"The stream is following us."

Our adventures into Hunger Hills Woods continue to inspire us all and recently we have discovered a new favourite hide out. In our "fairy tree" a local toy shop has installed a skateboard swing which the children love to play on. The surrounding area is equally awe-inspiring with an existing 'twig-wam', a large fallen Rowan tree and a stunning new growth of Beech trees which, since coming into leaf provide a wash of yellow and green light across the glade.
Children have led several enquiries in this beautiful area of the woods, firstly sky gazing through the canopy and spotting different leaf shapes. Then we found a way to measure the circumference of the large Beech (Fairy Tree) and discovered that it is over 120 years old! As well of lots of free and imaginative play, the children also develop their bushcraft skills here, tying up a well loved hammock and creating hides and shelters with tarpaulins and camouflage netting.
Inspired by the ever changing scenery of the woods; watching daffodils, snowdrops and bluebells bloom, we began a project of re-wilding our on-site Forest School setting and are planting as much as we can. The children's passion for plants and gardening has bloomed and our boarders are now bursting with sweet peas, strawberries and tomato plants. Plans are in place for growing potatoes, creating a willow tunnel and planting several fruit trees.
We continue to cultivate a community of independent, inquisitive and intrepid learners, building a deep connection with the natural world and all of its inhabitants - a real privilege and a joy.
- Rachel D

Seekers of Meaning

New Video

Over the last few weeks I have been filming the children as they explore the Art Studio. To read more about our Art studio you can go back to last weeks blog.

The children's current shared interest is construction and building houses from clay, bricks, sticks and blocks. Some of that is captured in our brand new video that you can watch here-


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.

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.

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-  or contact-


Pre-School at Horsforth

Happy New Year to everyone, it sure has been an eventful start to the year as we continue to tackle a pandemic with 3 inches of snow thrown in to test us. But hope and positivity prevails, and we really valued your responses to our previous blog on the little steps we can all take to create a more sustainable year.

We thought we would start the year of blogs by taking a look at our Pre-School Settings across Horsforth and Adel. Currently our Pre-School bubble at Horsforth has closed, so for those affected we are posting daily activities and zooms for the children, you can find all the information you need on Tapestry.

We start by looking back at 2018- the time we implemented the Reggio Approach into our classrooms, changed our name from Dolphins to Inspirations, and rebuilt our entire Pre-School area. This change meant moving the Toddler Room into the old Pre-School room, opening up a second Baby Room, and building a Yurt, Outdoor Class Room and Art Studio on the patch of un-used grass land behind our nursery.

Our Yurt

Flattening the land for our Mongolian Yurt was quite the task, over the spring months of 2018 the changes were finalised and after calling in help from some of our parents, together with Colin the Yurt was erected in just a couple of days. The Yurt is a unique space and feature at Inspirations that provides just one of many learning areas for our Pre-School children. It is a cosy space to warm up in adverse weather and to eat their meals during winter. The yurt is filled with literacy areas, maths areas, open ended resources and books for reading and researching. See more about our Yurt here-

Outdoor Classroom

Our children are predominantly outdoor learners, and our outdoor classroom is a constantly changing space that matches the children's interests and mirrors seasonal changes. Adapting our classroom to match their interests invites our curious young minds to explore and discover, and is the perfect space for them to unleash their creativity.

No Fear of Failure

Throughout our Pre-School areas room Reggio Emilia is of course the guiding principle, and our spaces reflect that. Our Project based approach provides the backbone of their learning, so it is important that our environment and educators support their creative thought process without any fear of failure.

Exciting News

This January are excited to announce a brand new Room Leader for our Pre-School room. Jennie is an experienced Reggio inspired Early Years Educator who over the course of the last 15 years has worked in Dubai, Japan, Angola and Vietnam and has been to Reggio Emilia three times. We’re very excited that she has joined our team and brings her passion for our pedagogy and supporting children through child- led learning. Her email address is if you would like to get in touch.


If you’re interested in your child joining our Pre-School over 3’s room please take a look at our website and get in touch with

In next weeks blog we will be taking a look at our Pre-School setting over at Adel. In the mean time stay safe in the snow and please do send in any photos you have out exploring the weather. We will select some highlights to share on our social media this weekend.

"We value space to create a handsome environment and its potential to inspire social, affective and cognitive learning. The space is an aquarium that mirrors the ideas and values of the people who live in it" -Loris Malaguzzi


- Nathalie

Taking Care of the Little Things

The year is coming to an end, and this December has been a time to reflect on many things, including our sustainability as a nursery. There are many things we do at Inspirations to be as sustainable possible, not only to save our planet from harm but also because it is essential for human well-being.

With 1 in 6 of the world's species facing extinction, a growing pollution problem, and a pandemic jeopardising the health of loved ones we are reminded how important it is to teach our younger members of society how to help us take care of our planet.

Taking care of the little things helps the big things fall into place.

Children often mirror behaviour of their adults or carers, so what do we do at our nursery to help save the planet?

  • Recycling- We have a recycling bin in all of our rooms and staff room, and in the older rooms we teach the children which bins they can put their rubbish in. Helping them get into the habit of considering which bin things should go into will stay with them in the future.
  • Use less paper- This is a tricky one at nursery as we would never want to limit a child's creativity. Recently we acquired paper from a local company that was scrap and headed for the bin. We also use white boards, blackboards, chalks, digital drawings, and transient art using loose parts. All of these help to reduce the amount of paper waste.
  • Outdoor learning- Our pre-school setting is primarily outdoor, with outdoor play being a huge part of the younger age groups also. "Playing in natural spaces supports a child's sense of self, allowing children to recognise their independence alongside an interdependence and connectedness with their ecological worlds.''
  • Reduce and Reuse- We said goodbye to plastic toys a few years ago, and swapped these for more natural ambiguous resources. We repurpose old cable reels throughout, and will always aim to acquire our resources second hand or from SCRAP.

Read more about where we shop-


  • Wormery Composting- The children in pre-school take great pleasure in putting their wasted fruit and veg into our wormery. About a third of household waste is organic, so by recycling this as compost we are reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.
  • Water Play- We teach our children that water is a precious resource and that it should be used wisely and reused where possible. To support this we discourage water play from the sinks and taps and instead use purpose build water basins for them to explore water in, and use this to water the garden after use.
  • Growing Fruit and Veg- We grow fruit and veg from potatoes to strawberries, our children can learn the pleasure and reward from growing their own food at nursery.
  • Care for living things- From bee hotels to worm houses, from night-cams capturing local wild life to having our own nursery dog, it is instilled in our children from a young age to treat all of our insects and wild life and with love, care and respect.

Striving to Improve

There's still so much more we want to do at Inspirations to be sustainable and are constantly growing and developing. We are currently in the process of building a nature reserve with a pond behind our yurt- updates to follow.

Please share with us how you at a home or in a nursery setting help to create a a more sustainable environment, maybe you can inspire us here at Inspirations. This Christmas why not consider second hand books or toys or gifting experiences rather than material possessions.

That's a wrap

As we wrap up our blogs for 2020; the year we will always remember, let's make sure we wrap only with paper that can be recycled with brown paper tape, and remember that taking care of our environment will help us build a brighter 2021 for ourselves and our little ones.




Loose Parts In A Basket For Learning

Loose Parts

Why do we use loose parts?

Loose parts are a significant segment of our ethos at Inspirations Nurseries. Before moving away from conventional toys, we did a lot of research into the benefits of using loose parts. Several education pedagogies use loose parts. Reggio Emilia and loose parts complement each other well; we use both at Inspirations. Both philosophies support open ended play using natural resources, imagination, and creativity. When children are given opportunities to engage in free play with little adult direction, they are able to explore freely with creativity and expression, because there are no limitations or expectations.

Loose Parts Basket from the Hedgehog Babyroom

What are Loose Parts?

Loose parts are open ended materials that can be moved around, designed, and redesigned. They create opportunities to use our imaginations and discover new ideas. Conventional toys are fixed for the one purpose they were made for, whereas loose parts are open ended and can be used for a variety of things. A plastic car can only be a car. A stick could be a magic wand or a person or you could use a number of them to make a house… the possibilities are endless. Ask any parent how long their children will play with the cardboard box a toy comes in on their birthdays. Loose parts can be found anywhere. How many of us remember going to the beach and collecting shells and stones and making patterns with them? You can find loose parts in the house, in the garden or on a walk. Loose parts include both manufactured and natural resources. These can include stones, pinecones, rings, balls, blocks, boxes, leaves and even nuts and bolts.

Endless Possibilities

For outdoor play, we provide a variety of large loose parts such as tyres of different sizes, milk crates, planks of wood, cable reels etc. In our baby rooms, we use a variety of loose parts to support schemas; we use things like curtain rings to hang on mug trees, balls to post through holes, tyres to encourage rolling. Toddlers can then use slightly smaller loose parts such as pebbles to create patterns and smaller wood slices for counting. Preschool are able to use more intricate loose parts such as beads, small tiles and items they find on forest school.

The founder of the Reggio Emilia Philosophy said...

  “Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colours”.



See loose parts in action in our Pre-School room here-


All photos from Inspirations Nursery

Number Frames

Resources – chalk, spring finds, or alternatively pens and paper


Draw 10 grids of 10 boxes and number them 1 to 10. Add the amount of items to match the corresponding numbers into the boxes.

If your child is working on numbers to 5 just draw 5 boxes, similarly if your child is working beyond 10 add more larger boxes.


Intent- Learning Goals

Maths – Numbers

30-50 months

  • Uses some number names and number language spontaneously.
  • Uses some number names accurately in play.
  • Recites numbers in order to 10.
  • Knows that numbers identify how many objects are in a set.
  • Beginning to represent numbers using fingers, marks on paper or pictures.
  • Sometimes matches numeral and quantity correctly.
  • Shows curiosity about numbers by offering comments or asking questions.
  • Shows an interest in number problems.
  • Shows an interest in numerals in the environment.
  • Shows an interest in representing numbers.

40-60 months

  • Recognise some numerals of personal significance.
  • Recognises numerals 1 to 5+
  • Counts up to three or four objects by saying one number name for each item.
  • Counts actions or objects which cannot be moved.
  • Counts objects to 10 and beginning to count beyond 10.
  • Counts out up to six objects from a larger group.
  • Selects the correct numeral to represent 1 to 5, then 1 to 10 objects.
  • Counts an irregular arrangement of up to ten objects.
  • Estimates how many objects they can see and checks by counting them.
  • Uses the language of ‘more’ and ‘fewer’ to compare two sets of objects.
  • Says the number that is one more than a given number.
  • Records, using marks that they can interpret and explain.
  • Begins to identify own mathematical problems based on own interests and fascinations.



A game of making a leaf man at Inspirations Nurseries

Make your own Leaf Man

Resources: Leaves, paper, glue,


Lots of children have been sharing their leaf play and discoveries with us. We hope you enjoyed our Leaf Man story read by Nicola, you can find it here-

Go for a walk and look for Autumn leaves and have a go at making your own Leaf Man, don't forget to ask your children some questions along the way. Below we have listen the criteria of learning development this activity meets. 

  • What does Leaf Man look like?
  • Who will you make?
  • What will you need?
  • What could you use to make their face?

Intent – Learning Goals

Moving and Handling

22-36 months

  • Shows control in holding and using jugs to pour, hammers, books and mark-making tools.
  • Beginning to use three fingers

30-50 months

  • Uses one-handed tools and equipment

40-60 months

  • Uses simple tools to effect changes to materials.
  • Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control.


22-36 months

  • Has some favourite stories, rhymes, songs, poems or jingles

30-50 months

  • Describes main story settings, events and principal characters.
  • Shows interest in illustrations and print in books and print in the environment.

40-60 months

  • Uses vocabulary and forms of speech that are increasingly influenced by their experiences of books.
  • Enjoys an increasing range of books.

Being Imaginative

22-36 months

  • Beginning to use representation to communicate, e.g. drawing a line and saying ‘That’s me.’

30-50 months

  • Captures experiences and responses with a range of media, such as music, dance and paint and other materials or words.

40-60 months

  • Create simple representations of events, people and objects.

Exploring and using media and materials

30-50 months

  • Joins construction pieces together to build and balance.
  • Realises tools can be used for a purpose.

40-60 months

  • Understands that different media can be combined to create new effects.
  • Manipulates materials to achieve a planned effect.
  • Constructs with a purpose in mind, using a variety of resources.
  • Uses simple tools and techniques competently and appropriately.
  • Selects appropriate resources and adapts work where necessary.
  • Selects tools and techniques needed to shape, assemble and join materials they are using.