Acorns Pre-school, Christian Malford has a wonderful self-contained garden with an outdoor classroom and is situated adjoining Malford Meadow and within a short walk of a private wooded area to which we have been given access.
Amanda Wilcox, one of our play leaders, is qualified as a Level 3 Forest School leader and Paula Jenkins is qualified to Level 1 Forest School. All our staff are passionate about the importance of free flow play, children learning about boundaries and safety through experience and spending as much time as possible outside.
Consequently Acorns has a strong focus on outdoor learning. The children are able to go outside whenever they want throughout the day where they take part in both child initiated play and adult led activities. The garden has fantastic facilities which support so many different types of play – an outdoor classroom that can be used in all weather, water play and a mud kitchen, a spider web to climb on, a safe pond area, a willow wigwam, raised beds, a playhouse, a climbing frame and a paved area which is fantastic for ride-ons.
In addition in the garden, we have many bits and pieces (tunnels, tubes, tyres etc) that the children can access themselves to spark their imagination and create their own play. This equipment is based on the loose parts theory, more information can be found on this theory here.
Throughout the week the children are given the opportunity to visit Malford Meadow where they begin to learn about their environment, the seasons and taking responsibility for their own safety. These experiences are based on the Forest School Concept.
Forest School is an innovative approach to outdoor play and learning which originated in Scandinavia. It promotes sensory child-led outdoor play, encouraging and stimulating curiosity and absorption. It has been found to build self confidence and self esteem and combine freedom with responsibility. There is lots of information on the internet about about Forest School. This is a link to some media coverage of Bridgewater College who brought Forest School to the UK.
Here at Acorns the children have the opportunity to participate in a ‘Wilderness day’ every week where they spend most of the day in the woods. Each term the ‘Wilderness day’ is alternated to ensure all our children have the opportunity to take part. This allows them to take the skills learnt during the rest of the week and explore a new area. They make their own Soda bread for their snack (a typical Forest School activity) and will drink hot chocolate made on a fire, build shelters and start to learn about nature.
Take a look at Acorns in Pictures to see the children enjoying everything we do.