Early Years Summit 2018

Early Years Summit 2018  pexels-photo.jpg


I have just finished watching the first of many interviews from the 2018 early years summit, organised by Kathy Brodie. The summit is a week-long FREE online CPD extravaganza for all things relating to outdoor play and learning, consisting of daily interviews with a range of experts. It is rare that CPD is given freely these days much less by experts such as these, so sign up while you can! https://www.earlyyearssummit.com/

I have just finished watching interviews with Juliet Robertson (Creative Star/I’m a teacher get me outside here!) and Julie Ann White who founded Nature to Nurture and won Nursery World’s pre-school of the year.

I was lucky enough to participate in a training session with Juliet, a few years ago. She exudes passion for teaching outdoors and I came away buzzing with ideas for teaching across the curriculum.  I have been an avid follower of her blog ever since.  During the interview, Juliet made some really interesting links between early exploratory experiences, such as crawling into confined spaces and how this informs later understanding of mathematical concepts such as geometry. There is far less information about teaching maths outside than for any other curriculum area, so it was great that her interview had maths as the focus.

I hadn’t come across Nature to Nurture before and am now keen to know much more as Julie Ann’s pedagogy goes against the perceived wisdom that children are most alert earlier in the day when literacy and maths are usually taught.  She asserts that children need to be physically active during the morning as this develops core stability and supports the development of listening and attention later in the day.  Her work on sensory input and stimulation for children with additional needs was fascinating as was the development of a resource free environment to better enable imagination and creativity.

These are only two of the many experts that will be speaking during the summit this week.  I can’t wait to find out more!








Is it worth the risk?

Using a saw

Is it worth the risk?

I have been working with a school, in Kingston, recently who have decided to start using real tools such as hammers, with the children. They have some concerns around this, one of them being how to introduce this to parents given the fact that some have already complained about children being outside when it is cold!

I have always ensured that risk-taking was addressed at all new parent meetings, particularly when showing prospective parents around the school! Forewarned is forearmed as they say!  During the tour of the school,  I would point out children using real tools, show them how safely and sensibly they were using them and explain how they were introduced but, more importantly, I would explain the benefits. The reasons why children needed these opportunities.

Outdoor learning at it’s best!

Outdoor learning at it’s best!


I came across an amazing film clip on Facebook recently of the first nursery in the UK,  that operates completely outdoors.

Dandelion Education received outstanding in all areas by Ofsted and won Nursery World’s, Nursery of the Year award in 2017.

Led by two qualified teachers, the Norfolk nursery caters for children aged 2-8 years during both term time and holidays.  They have combined Philosophy for Children and Forest School to create a holistic approach to learning that centres on the child.

Using loose materials in the snow

Using loose materials in the snow

The ‘Beast from the East’ finally arrived here in London, this morning, after a few flurries of snow yesterday. We woke up to find everything covered in a blanket of snow.  The best snow is the most unexpected, I always think, as it creates the greatest excitement amongst children who cannot wait to get outside!  This is particularly true in areas, like London, that receive little, if any snow, each year.

I am working at a school in Kingston tomorrow and cannot wait to get outside to play in the snow myself!.  I have asked the teachers to organise lots of resources ready for me to work with them and the children to provide them with lots of ideas , across the curriculum, for working in the snow!  I have asked for sticks, shells, stones, pebbles, feathers, paint and a variety of paint brushes.  The number of materials that can be used is almost endless but as I have limited time with them, I thought this would give them a start!

I shall also be bringing some items with me such as picture frames and some wooden bed slats which I shall give the children to see what they can do with them. Giving the children some loose parts encourages them to think of different ways of combining and using different materials. I cannot wait to see what happens!

Why don’t you take your class outside to create some masterpieces in the snow?



Using natural materials outside

IMG_0254Using natural materials outside

I had a great day working with some school direct students today.  I challenged them to make something for mother’s day with natural materials which they had to collect from outside.   It never ceases to amaze me how everyone produces something so entirely different…….and that’s exactly why I love working with loose materials. Whether natural or man-made they are so flexible, offer so many opportunities and different ways of working…. in 2 and 3d.

Look at how students from a previous course arrange leaves on a skewer!  There are so many ways in which you can challenge children with just this one activity. You can challenge them to make a repeating pattern, order leaves from large to small/small to large or order them by shades of colour – light to dark or vice versa. These are just a few, there are many, many more.