Our Learning Environment
A safe, welcoming, nurturing and responsive environment is the foundation of a setting that is successful in the support of learning and development of it’s children. A carefully curated learning environment holds the key to a child’s imagination, igniting cognitive, emotional and physical development.
We believe that children should have endless opportunities to express themselves and our open-plan setting allows us to change our layout daily, providing the children with a wealth of ways to learn and explore. We believe that children should be presented with multiple ways of learning through touch, moving, listening and observing, and our setting is designed to encourage these interactions and explorations.
Every day our dedicated team of practitioners work hard to arrange our nursery in different ways to spark and re-ignite the childrens’ imaginations and curiosity as soon as they walk in the door every morning. Whilst we do have key areas of learning that are reflected in some static areas, the equipment, toys and materials presented in each of these areas are changed every day so that the children can explore and engage in learning in different ways.
How do our areas enhance the prime areas of learning:
Each of our dedicated areas are carefully designed so that learning opportunities are embedded within them so that we can follow the childrens’ interests whilst naturally motivating them to engage with each area of learning. The EYFS focusses on three prime areas of learning and a further four specific areas of learning, and we promote these carefully and continually throughout our enabling setting.
- Communication and Language
- Physical Play
- Personal Social and Emotional Development
Additional Areas of Learning:
- Understanding of the World
- Expressive Arts and Design
– Home Corner
Our home corner is designed to give the children a base through which they can explore role-play with their peers, creating an area that supports their development in many key areas of the EYFS such as personal, social and emotional, communication and language, and understanding the world. Imagination is at the core of the Home Corner and we have a large selection of toys that serve as props for the children’s games. We have many play items that you would find in the home such as our wooden play kitchen, play food and drink and plenty of dolls for role-play. Our home corner is the place where a simple table and chairs can be brought to life by the children, one day they choose to throw a ‘family’ dinner party and the next they are running their very own ice cream cafe!
– Construction Zone
Our construction zone offers the children a chance to experiment with building, a key skill that not only teaches children early maths and engineering skills through hands on learning, but also helps them develop a sense of confidence to approach tricky tasks and be proud of their own achievements. Through building tasks children develop their knowledge of shape and space, and construction activities promote critical thinking, problem solving and teaches lessons of cause and effect. The children often work together to build, improving fine motor skills alongside social skills too. From wooden building blocks and construction tools, right through to giant lego towers, you’ll find it all in the Village End construction zone – don’t forget your hard hat!
– Reading & Relaxation Area
Our setting is designed with plenty of areas in which the children can choose to have some quiet time. It is important to offer children the chance to be alone in a busy nursery, and our reading nooks offer comfy and welcoming areas for the children to relax. With squishy beanbags for snuggling up, cosy blankets to wrap up warm and lots of lovely books to read as they wind down, our relaxation areas are the perfect chill out zone. We encourage the children to develop a love of books as soon as they can hold them – even if it’s upside down! By introducing books at a young age, the children will foster an appreciation of books and develop the skills needed to become amazing writers.
In the afternoon you’ll find us practicing yoga and mindfulness in the relaxation area – the children love to learn yoga poses and enjoy our dimmed lights and calming music. Here at Village End we believe it’s important to nurture the body, mind and spirit and our yoga sessions help children to strengthen their physical development as well as learning to regulate their emotions. We ensure to use powerful phrases when we practice our poses, such as “strong like a mountain” and “beautiful like a butterfly” – helping us to instil a strong sense of self-belief in the children and encourage their self-confidence.
– The Den
We have built our very own den here at Village End, designed to encourage the children to use their imaginations and physical skills. The children use the den as a base for role-play games, building up amazingly crafted stories – one day our den is a jungle hut and the next it’s a bus driving to the beach! They discover and explore imaginative language through play in the den, as well as developing their physical skills. The children are able to climb and swing in the den, and they love to imagine they are cheeky monkeys swinging through the trees. Our den is the perfect place to burn off some energy on those wet weather days.
– The Sleep Zone
With our children starting at any age from 18 months old, many need different amount of sleep during their days at Village End. We created our sleep den to encourage children to be able to have a restful break or nap on a super comfortable mattress with their own personal bedding. Our soft orange lighting creates a peaceful ambience for the children to fall asleep in, and our portable speaker allows us to play calming music to further enhance their rest.
– The Art Area
Our art area is a space within the setting that is always changing. With plenty of arts and crafts materials, the children are able to explore their preferences for creative expression whilst exploring the world of mark-making and design. From crayons and paper to paint and playdoh, the children are able to use their imaginations to create anything they can think of.
We offer many adult-led creative activities in the art area too, helping the children to discover and develop new expressive artistic skills. One day you’ll find us painting with ferns as our brushes, and the next you’ll find us casting dinosaur footprints in clay. Whilst we create we play associated music for the children to express their creative feelings through music and movement too; if we’re painting tigers and lions you’ll find us listening to jungle sounds for a fully immersive learning experience.
– Small World Play
We offer the children a tuff tray table each day where our practitioners create small world play opportunities for the children. Whether it be centered around a story such as the Gruffalo with co-ordinating props, or a teeny tiny dinosaur park, the children are offered creative resources to encourage them to create their own make-believe worlds. Our practitioners love to think outside the box and they love to design spectacularly sensory tuff tray set-ups using real-world resources such as bark, grass, leaves and sand.
– The Dress Up Studio
Our collection of dress-up clothes is a hit with the children as they can imagine they are a different character every day of the week! From Firefighters to Superheroes, we’ve got it all. Where else could you be a Princess on Monday, Astronaut on Tuesday, Vet on Wednesday, Builder on Thursday and a Police Officer on Friday?! As the children learn to dress themselves, the role of dress-up helps them develop their self-care abilities, and of course the role-play aspects helps fire up those imaginations and encourages them to build relationships with their peers through play.
– The Montessori Zone
At Village End we bring together the best parts of all types of learning. Our Montessori zone is built to encourage the children to be able to select and enjoy activities by themselves, learning and enjoying a sense of responsibility over the materials and resources. Each activity is set within its own tray, and the children are taught that each activity should be chosen, used and returned for the next person to enjoy. Our Montessori trays encourage the children to be confident and capable learners with an understanding of life skills and responsibility.
The resources presented vary each day and include activities such as wooden rainbow building blocks, stacking and shape sorting challenges and number and colour matching games.
The Great Outdoors
Outdoor Play is essential to children’s learning and development. We have a spacious garden and patio area where we can take our learning outside and enjoy lots of physical play, from learning to ride a trike to enjoying the ‘mud kitchen’. Different sensory experiences such as clay, sand and water play allow them to make and form connections, not just with nature, but with their own emotions.
– The Physical Play Zone
We believe in nurturing a culture of healthy lifestyle choices and we love to educate the children in regard to the importance of keeping active. Our fantastic outdoor space creates an enabling environment for the children to explore their physical development and we make the most of this opportunity everyday. We have lots of sports equipment for the children to enjoy, and we have outdoor play equipment such as slides and obstacles for the children to climb over, under and through. The children enjoy building their own obstacle courses and we have frequent sports days that the children love. Whether it be balancing beanbags on spades or racing round our chalk drawn ‘road’ in our cars, the children love experiencing the great outdoors whatever the weather.
– The Mud Kitchen
In our garden we have our deluxe mud kitchen where the children love to cook up a storm – their speciality is mud cakes of course! Pots, pans and utensils offer themselves as props for role-play and our ‘microwave’ is perfect to cook those pretend creations. The mud kitchen is also home to our gardening equipment, where the children learn about growing their own food. You might find some potatoes growing that need digging up, or some fresh crunchy carrots ready to be harvested for a yummy lunch! Our mini gardeners help us to grow our food and our practitioners love teaching the children where our food comes from.
– The Garage
Here at Village End we’ve got our very own fleet of vehicles for the children to enjoy. We have vehicles suitable for all ages including three wheeled scooters, two wheel scooters, scuttlebugs, double seater tricycles for friends to enjoy, balance bikes and plenty of Little Tykes Cars. We use our outdoor space and vehicles to explore moving in a range of ways, practice steering round obstacles and sharing resources with our friends. You’ll often find us setting up road role-play activities where we teach the children the importance of road safety.
Why does our open plan setting work so well?
Most nurseries are segregated into different age group rooms, but here at Village End we like to do things differently! We believe in the power of mixed aged groups, and our spacious open-plan setting allows the children to fully interact in a free-flow environment.
We believe that a mixed age nursery creates a family of learners who both care for and support each other. We believe that younger children can learn a wealth of skills from older children through watching their behaviour and play, and the older children love to help teach the younger children the ways of the world, acting as both mentors and a support network.
Our open plan setting even extends to our kitchen! We are lucky to have a large hatch through to our kitchen so that the children can watch their healthy meals and snacks being freshly prepared. We are able to discuss the health benefits of the foods we serve whilst preparing them while also extending our healthy ethos beyond the kitchen and into the wider setting.
All of our activities are designed with children of all ages in mind, and by carrying out mixed-aged group activities we can encourage the younger children to observe the positive behaviour of the older children and teach them by example. The older children love to help the younger ones reach their goals, and our open-plan setting allows amazing relationships to form.
Our Themes And The Learning Environment
We create a long-term educational plan for Village End each academic year and we deliver themed weeks and months to nurture the childrens’ knowledge of specific subjects. Throughout each theme we extend the childrens’ learning in every way possible. We create whole worlds within our four walls, with our staff creatively designing and decorating our space to reflect our theme. We think about all of the senses, incorparating touch, smell, and even taste with our cooking activities. We believe that the learning environment is a 360 degree experience and our team lovingly ensures even the tiniest details are thought about.
A Typical Day
Whilst no two days are ever the same at Village End, we follow a generalised structure to allow the children to get used to routine and anticipated events and help prepare them for the more structured day they will experience at school.
8am – 9am
Children begin to arrive and a nutricious breakfast is offered. The children can choose from cereals, bread, fresh fruit and plenty of milk and water. The children are encouraged to serve themselves to develop their self-care skills. Once the children have finished their breakfast, they love to explore the nursery and discover the new toys and resources provided each day.
9am – 9:30am
Circle Time. The children join us to sit as a group and welcome all of our friends to the nusery for the day. We sing, dance and explore how we feel in these sessions. Circle time helps the children to build strong relationships with their peers, and helps develop their confidence in a group situation. Circle time encourages their personal, social and emotional development, especially self-esteem. Circle time also promotes speaking and listening skills, and by learning to sit in a calm group activity the children are already preparing for the behavioural expectations of ‘big school’.
Tidy Up Time. We believe in teaching the children the power of teamwork and the art of responsibility, and the children love to help us tidy the nursery. We work together as a whole, with all of the teachers and children placing toys back in their place. We encourage and praise each other, promoting positive reinforcement and self-belief.
Snack Time. The children wash their hands and join their friends for their snack at our dining table. The children are encouraged to have their daily milk to help their bones grow big and strong.
Focus Activity. Each day we provide a focus activity for our children as a whole group. This could be anything you could dream of! From safaris through the jungle to our very own bear hunt, we work as a teaching team to create immersive and engaging activities in which the children can use their imaginations. Our focus activities are recorded on Tapestry each day in the online learning journals so that parents/carers can see all of the fun things the children have been up to!
Outside Time/Free Play. We are very lucky to have an amazing outdoor space and we allow the children to explore the setting as a free-flow environment no matter the weather. We have wetsuits for rainy days, and we encourage parents to provide us with a pair of wellies for puddle splashing! With a fleet of vehicles and plenty of outdoor toys, the children love to explore the garden. Should the children choose to stay inside, they are able to explore the nursery and follow their own interest.
Storytime. We all come together to read a story with our friends and enjoy a calming book before we settle down for lunch. The children really enjoy storytime, and this helps to develop their listening and attention skills.
Lunchtime. The children wash their hands and join their friends at the dining table for a delicious freshly prepared meal or packed lunch. The children are encouraged to clear their plates and cups when they have finished to help them develop their self-care skills and they love the responsibility of this task.
Freeplay. The children are encouraged to follow their own interests during the afternoon and create role-play games with their friends and you’ll find our practitioners enjoying spending 1-2-1 time with their key-children during our afternoons too. The staff follow the childrens’ interests whether this be an improptu disco, an afternoon meditation or action packed physical games in the garden.
Our afternoon snack is freshly prepared and served at 2:00pm, with a healthy dinner being served at 4:30pm. Our menus rotate bi-weekly.