Our environment is a warm, welcoming and exciting place for children, parents and educators. In every area, interesting objects and activities invite closer observation and deeper thinking. Each key group has their own ‘home’ area but can access all parts of the learning environment every session. The connections between the learning areas compliment each other, for example growing produce in the garden to bring to the cafe or art work in the Studio inspired by storytelling in the Piazza. In our recent work with The International Bateson Institute, the researchers commented on how dynamic the learning was when children took their ideas from one space to another; sharing their ideas with others in a new setting allowed rich possibilities for exploration.
Our wellbeing café offers children the opportunity to be involved in the preparation and eating of healthy food. Recently we have made houmous, healthy smoothies, vegetable wraps, and roasted squash as well as learning how to use a variety of tools and techniques. Throughout the year we use the Café space to introduce food from other cultures and celebrate festivals and special events.
The beautiful new studio provides a creative space for painting, drawing, clay, collage, music and movement as well as research. Interesting, natural objects are offered as provocations and are explored closely under the microscope, supporting children’s deeper enquiries. These change daily as children bring their found “treasures” into the space and make connections to the world around them. The projector and screen offer a chance to extend familiar stories or to communicate new ideas and theories.
The piazza is a community space where the whole school can come together to tell stories, sing, dance and celebrate. It is also used for large scale construction such as building blocks to create Rapunzel’s tower or junk modelling an ice castle! The space changes and adapts to children’s interests and needs and once a week we all enjoy a sing along while Trina plays her accordian!
The lab is home to our specialist Montessori maths resources and practical life activities. Children learn through sensorial experiences and begin to make sense of their culture as they develop skills through everyday practical tasks. The practical life activities are presented on individual trays allowing the children to make independent choices. The trays offer various real life items allowing the children to develop their fine motor skills through using tools which can be found in the home. Children are naturally interested in real everyday objects. Using the Montessori maths materials children begin to follow concrete concepts which lead onto the abstract. The resources are ‘self-correcting’ enabling the children to use the materials independently therefore giving them a real sense of achievement.
We have two large sandpits, one of which is covered and provides an interesting variety of resources such as small world play, containers for exploring capacity (or cooking sand pies!) and tubes for investigating gravity. The other sandpit is outdoors and is known as the ‘Beach Sand’. It is often home to our family of dinosaurs and provides a good place for storytelling and role play. On the playground children explore scientific concepts by using pipes, ramps and cars and also build large scale constructions as well as developing their movement skills.
Here, the children learn about the ecology of plants and wildlife. They often help to harvest produce from the garden and bring it into the cafe to share with the school community. Any peelings then go straight into our hot compost bin and back on the garden! We also have a wildlife area, bug hotel and willow shelter which can be used as a space for story telling or quiet reflection.
The cabin is a space which changes frequently depending on children’s interests or our current project. It may be the Three Bears’ Cottage in the woods, an exploration space providing binoculars, bug catchers and magnifying glasses or an outdoor art studio filled with lavender flowers.
The jungle is a bamboo forest where children can explore tunnels, bridges, secret pathways and find the giant’s chair. There is even a boat which can be used for adventures on the high seas or when a quick getaway is needed! It is a great place for being with friends and celebrating friendships.