Daily, Unique EYFS Outdoor Provision, without Breaking your Back!
Children at Lanivet Under Fives Pre-School are now enjoying and benefitting from a new, varied and stimulating outdoor environment, which alters every day! The dedicated staff are still smiling and relaxed, the children are happy and excited. So how are they achieving this amazing balance between maintaining a manageable workload for the staff, but still providing inspirational, quality play experiences for their little ones? What’s their secret?
Well, their children are now happily and freely exploring their stunning, free-standing, adventure play equipment which has been specially designed for little legs. This exciting, new, timber Little Movers Range is available in 2 sizes, ideal for nurseries, pre-schools and reception classes; this enables Foundations Stage practitioners to choose the ideal equipment to perfectly match their space and children. As a preschool, Lanivet selected the smallest scale equipment and has not looked back.
Just like many pre-schools, their play area is an irregular shape, includes corners and is of limited size, so space is a premium. That’s what makes Little Movers wooden, miniature, adventure trail equipment the perfect solution for their unique play space; they can maximize the equipment available to their children each day, providing regular challenge and variety, whilst still allowing space for children to flow freely, run and explore.
What makes free-standing equipment particularly special, is its portability. Specifically designed to be easy for 2 adults to move around, the Lanivet Pre-School staff have already discovered its benefits. They’ve been able to effectively move the equipment daily, weekly, or even during a session. Practitioners can get creative and even arrange the equipment, so that it has a specific focus, be it travelling, balancing, jumping or climbing or a bit of everything. What’s for sure is the kids are certainly very enthusiastic and keen to get going, exploring their lovely natural timber equipment, every minute of the day!
On a recent visit to see how they were getting on with their new miniature adventure play equipment, staff and children both enthused about how they could create a huge variety of interesting and exciting layouts. One child delighted in telling us her favourite shape was “when they make it like a star!” Another whispered that he loved the “mountains and tunnels” as he liked to jump and hide! It was great to witness how easy the equipment was to move, as staff rearranged the pathways, following the interests of the children as the day progressed. The children were certainly enthusiastic, sharing their own favourite playground design ideas, including a dinosaur canyon, a fairy tree, a tiger’s den and a pirate’s lookout!
Designed to be lightweight and manageable, Little Movers Early Years adventure equipment can even be moved out of the way and stored in small-sized sheds. If the Nursery or EYFS setting is in a particularly accessible or vulnerable area, staff can benefit from the added security by safely locking the equipment away, whilst sessions are not on. This is a great relief to many schools during school holidays, as they know their equipment will be safe; one less thing for school leaders to worry about! The mobile nature of the equipment also allows smaller settings to move equipment to the side of a play space, so it can be rotated in and out of active play. Lanivet Pre-School were able to put away most of their equipment into sheds, leaving their play space clear whenever they need a larger, open space.
Everyone in education knows how tight budgets have become right now. Each piece of Little Movers equipment has an economical price and one great benefit is that each unit can be purchased individually. This means that a nursery or reception team can order equipment in phases, gradually building up an extensive equipment range over time. Individual active play obstacles like The Early Years Zig-Zag Balance Beam or the Early Years Step Challenge are now realistically obtainable by fundraising efforts, and parents and governors can have a clear vision of the target for funds. The achievability of purchasing new EYFS equipment in phases also means EYFS practitioners do not have to wait years for huge funding pots to be raised, allowing the current cohort to gain immediately from any improvement plans. Lanivet Pre-School benefitted from the National Lottery funding, as their management team put in a successful bid, knowing how much outdoor play equipment would improve the opportunities for youngsters within their whole community.
Active, challenging adventure play builds children’s confidence in their journey to become autonomous learners. The Early Years Scramble Bridge, Early Years Up and Over Climber and Rock Ramp Climber are just a few example pieces from the Little Movers Range that encourage children to become more resilient, determined and independent. Whilst at Lanivet, we witnessed admirable enthusiasm and determination from children intent on completing their journey across the Early Years Balance Walk. Many embraced the additional challenge of the Early Years Sloped Balance Walk; there was no stopping them!
A great way to teach little ones about shape, space and positional language, active play provides real-life examples of mathematics that the children can relate to. During one visit to a local nursery, we saw adults skilfully use climbing opportunities to reinforce the language of movement when children naturally clambered ‘over, under, through, across, around and beneath’ equipment during their independent play. Children were enjoying counting the steps and bars and intuitively noticed and described the shapes they were playing around. One timid girl shyly pointed out the triangles and squares hiding in the Stretch and Scramble Climber. It was evident that active play was naturally reinforcing maths concepts within this outstanding, outdoor learning environment.
The Early Years Tunnel was a real hit with the children, successfully increasing physical activity and stimulating young minds. Children excitedly shared with me that they were tunnelling through planets, discovering aliens in funny underpants on the other side! It was certainly wonderful to see children so confidently sharing ideas together. The tunnel had created a hub of chatter, aiding the development of communication and social skills. The children were also helping and encouraging each other on their other adventures across the Early Years Ladder Stepper and Leap Logs, holding hands and supporting each other along the way.
Constructed from tactile materials, such as beautiful, smooth timber and sturdy, steel re-enforced ropes, it was not surprising that children were interested in feeling the wood and examining the joints. By playing on and around well-designed and carefully constructed play equipment, children will naturally absorb ways the materials interconnect and observe a variety of materials serving different purposes, all experiences that reinforce their personal knowledge and understanding of the world around them. They can feel the effects of gravity as they jump and experience the force of friction as they slide through a tunnel, all great foundations improving their understanding of forces in the world of science and design technology.
Active play supports children’s physical development, improving and strengthening their gross motor skills. Alongside climbing, balancing and jumping, Trackways provide the opportunity for children to exercise by riding and scooting along on bikes, trikes and scooters. Colourful, rubber Wetpour provides a perfect, versatile safety surfacing for any EYFS area and a trackway can be easily incorporated into the design. This enables portable Little Movers equipment to be arranged around the edge or in the centre of the trackway. With a low fall height, and no need to be installed into the ground, Little Movers can also be placed on most playground surfacing, including grass or tarmac, making it an ideal, simple and cost-effective solution for many play spaces. The installation of a Timber Baby Bridge adds additional fun to your trackway, where children can learn about different surfaces, acceleration and the effects of slopes, as they play.
Alongside active play, mobile messy play can also be a way to ring the changes in your EYFS outdoor area. The cheerful, practical Beach Box Combo provides high quality, portable sand and water opportunities, where the children can develop their fine motor skills, imaginations, social and creative skills. Staff can easily move the trays around to suit the space required that day. A firm favourite with the children is muddy, exploratory play and the Mini Mud Kitchen provides a portable option, which can be moved around the EYFS space to create a change of scene, whenever required. A Living Wall Planter Bay provides an ideal mobile growing space, where children can easily plant in the removable troughs and then enjoy picking home-grown greenery and colourful petals to mix in with their magic, messy potions! A great way to integrate STEM learning into Early Years education!
Mobile Mark Making
One of the staff’s favourite pieces of equipment is the Free-standing Chalkboard and Magnetic Whiteboard. Their portable nature is helping to increase opportunities for the children to engage in spontaneous mark making, during their busy, outdoor play. The pupils enjoyed showing us their pictures and mark making, making us smile. Designed at the perfect height for little arms to reach, there had been no limits to their creativity! The moveable boards can be carefully placed around the EYFS outdoors area, linking to the specific outdoor play opportunities on offer that day. It’s also possible to easily relocate them both during the sessions, ensuring continuous provision of a mark making space where children can have a go at recording their thoughts and ideas.
An ideal portable playhouse, which creates a stunning space to play, is the popular timber Outdoor Teepee. It creates the best, cosy little den for children to gather to socialise, rest, learn or play. Whether providing an enticing, outdoor book corner or creating an unusual, magical, undercover space where children can play, learners love to let their imaginations run wild and free under its natural eaves and can even peek out at the world through its clever porthole! With no need for installation into the ground, this unusual play hut enables your EYFS outdoor area to be switched around with the help of 4 adults. The addition of a fun hut can encourage increased communication within any outdoor play space.
During our visit, the delightful Lanivet children enjoyed their fruit and listened to a fun story under their shelter. Complete with a table, base and roof, the Undercover Picnic Bench has limitless uses for learning, socialising, playing as well as taking a rest or having a tasty snack. With 4 adults, and available with or without a base, this useful roofed picnic bench can also be moved around to different parts of an outdoor play space, if ever required. This is important, as it means staff maintain free reign over the whole of their outdoor area to create varied and interesting continuous outdoor provision for their little ones.
Fluid Free Flow
So, with our extensive Early Years Collection and fantastic Little Movers Range already proving popular in EYFS Playground across the country and maximising quality free-flow opportunities outside, what endless play-based possibilities could your EYFS outdoors offer? How could you make the most of your outdoor provision and make it a magical area for you and your children to discover and explore? Schoolscapes are leading experts in transforming play spaces, so why not let us help you make your ideas for change a reality, rather than remain hopes and dreams?