It’s the Perfect Time for Some Children's Gardening Activities!

At the time of publishing this article, many UK children are enjoying National Children’s Gardening Week. At this time of year, the weather is sunnier more often, so it’s the perfect time to involve children in gardening activities. Whether taking part in the event or not, gardening is a fun, educational activity for children — and will also help to make the world a better place! So, if you would like to introduce your child to gardening and all that it has to offer little ones, read on as we tell you about some gardening activity ideas that little ones can take part in now and at any time during the warmer months of the year.

National Children’s Gardening Week

National Children's Gardening Week takes place each year during the 'warm week' beginning right at the end of May.National Children’s Gardening Week takes place each year in the UK during what’s known as the ‘warm week’ beginning right at the end of May. This year (2024) it spans from 25 May to 2 June. However, children can get involved in gardening well outside of those dates*, of course.

The annual gardening event for children started in the north of England but now takes place across the whole Nation and, like the plants and flowers in the gardens, its popularity is growing. Indeed, children are taking part at home, in schools, and at childcare settings like nurseries and preschools. In turn, the initiative itself supports the Greenfingers charity, which provides wonderful gardens and outdoor spaces for children in hospices.

* Children Can Garden Any Time in the Warmer Months

Late spring and the summer months in particular make things much easier for children to learn about gardening as there’s negligible chance of frost occurring. Warmer weather makes gardening easier and less complicated for them because, when it’s warm, there is no need to protect plants and seedlings from adverse weather conditions. What’s more, gardening results are much faster during the warmer months of the year, so even less patient children can remain engaged. That said, patience is something every child will have to learn, so a little waiting for results is a good lesson to learn.

Gardening Activities for Children

There are many fun gardening-related activities for children to do during the warmer months. Here are a few ideas to get children and families started.

Grow with Peter Rabbit Activities

Free "Grow With Peter Rabbit!" activity booklets are available to download.This year (2024), National Children’s Gardening Week has teamed up with The World of Peter Rabbit and is encouraging children and their families to Grow With Peter Rabbit! Free activity booklets for the initiative can be downloaded here.  The dozen or so pages in this year’s activity booklet include 9 gardening-related activity ideas for children to take part in. Activities include anything from growing a windowsill herb garden and creating leaf-print cards to more simple tasks like solving garden-related pictorial puzzles. Download the activity booklet using the bold link above.

Wildflower Growing Activity

The most simple way to sow and locate seeds is to create a wildflower meadow.A quick and easy outdoor activity for children is to sow and grow wildflowers (follow the bold link for much more information about this simple but worthwhile activity). Once growing and flowering, wildflowers will brighten up the garden and also attract important pollinators like bees and butterflies. What’s more, this activity is possible using just flower pots or grow bags on a patio or balcony if you don’t have access to a garden. You can also download our free butterfly reference poster for children here.

Make Simple Bird Feeders

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders.Did you know, there are some incredibly easy ways for children to make home-made bird feeders?  Follow our guide and you’ll soon see how children can make bird feeders from something as simple as a pine cone or even a recycled milk carton. Take a look via the link and get ready to welcome some lovely birds to your patch. Indeed, bird spotting is all part of the fun (download our free bird-spotting poster here).

Composting Activity

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.Composting is another hugely worthwhile activity for children to take part in, even right up into the Autumn. It’s easy and a great way to ecologically dispose of waste like egg shells, vegetable peelings, and garden waste like grass cuttings. What’s more, once complete, the household will have a ready supply of nutrient-rich compost that will enrich and feed flowers and plants in the garden or flower pots on the windowsill.

Minibeast Spotting

The Great Outdoors serves as a natural classroom, with true hands-on learning experiences that provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge.Compost heaps are also wonderful homes for minibeasts, which are also fun and educational for children to spot. Use our previously published free Minibeast Reference Poster to learn how to recognise some of the common minibeasts that might be hiding in gardens, under pots, and in compost heaps around Britain.

Wildlife-Friendly Gardening

Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly (whether in back gardens or smaller spaces like patios and balconies). Ensure children understand that wildlife like bees and other flora and fauna are under threat from nasty chemicals and habitat loss. Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly.So, making a wildlife-friendly garden or area is a very worthwhile activity for children to take part in — and is educational on so many levels. We’ll write a separate post about wildlife-friendly gardening for kids in due courses but, in the mean time, try some of the ideas above or download this free wildlife-friendly activity pack.

Indoor ‘Gardening’ Activities for Kids

The seeds will eventually grow into green cress 'hair', giving the egg people real character!Children can do ‘gardening’ activities indoors too! Get them to try making egg cress heads, for example. It’s an easy, fun activity and children will love the results!

Did you know that children can also grow food from scratch indoors? They’ll love growing microgreens indoors and it can also be done on a windowsill. Not only will it be fun and educational for the children, but they’ll also be able to eat the results! Learn more about growing microgreens indoors here and learn more about the benefits of teaching children to grow food here.

More Gardening Ideas for Kids

More gardening-related activities for children can be found here. At the bottom of that page, you can also use the ‘older entries’ link to discover even more ideas.

Gardening is also a great way to introduce children to the concept of sustainability, ecological matters, and the need to protect both the environment and the planet as a whole. After all, we only have one planet and our children and grandchildren will eventually be in charge of its stewardship. Find out about some additional sustainable gardening activities that children can take part in here.

Why Gardening is Such a Worthwhile Activity for Children

Gardening will teach children many new skills and new knowledge.The benefits of gardening for children are many and varied and that’s why it’s such a wonderful activity to get them involved in. It will teach children many new skills and new knowledge. It’ll teach them about the circle of life, how to care and be responsible for other living things, and about the importance of looking after the planet. It will also give them an insight into where some food types come from. It is also great fun, will give children a huge sense of achievement, and may even open their eyes to the possibility of careers in horticulture, land management, food production, farming, and the like. And, of course, gardening makes the world a better place in so many ways. Let’s also not forget that being around nature is hugely beneficial to children, but do remember to follow good safety precautions when children are outdoors.

Little Cedars Nursery: First-Class Childcare in Streatham

Looking for the best childcare in Streatham or near Tooting, Furzedown, or Balham?

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars Nursery also appreciates the importance of nature and outdoor play, so often engages children in such activities in our wonderful outdoor spaces. These include our own planting area where children can grow vegetables! The setting is a first-class nursery and preschool in Streatham and may also suit families nearby in Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. A full early years education is available here for babies and under-fives, who are given all the tools and guidance they need to thrive once they leave us to begin at school. Government-funded childcare schemes are supported and the nursery is rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

So, if you’d like to give your baby, toddler, or preschooler the best start in life in the Streatham region, please get in touch today:

 

 

The Power of Sport in Early Childhood

Whether they’re naturally sporty or require a bit of practice, most children enjoy sports of one type or another at some point in their young lives. Some may take to a specific sport right away while others may identify a sport that they see potential in much later on. Two things are certain with sport though: firstly children can only discover a sport they enjoy if they try a few out for size and, secondly, sport of any kind is likely to benefit them in a number of ways. With the latter in mind, today’s article investigates some of the ways that sport benefits children in their early years.

Some of the Benefits of Sport in the Early Years

“Sport has such an incredible power to have a hugely positive impact on children’s lives. It increases their physical and mental well-being, helps them achieve at school and teaches important life skills such as working as a team, developing the confidence to try new things and taking leadership.” (Minister for Sport and Civil Society, 07/19)

Sport Offers Something for Everyone

One of the good things about sport is that it comes in so many different forms. Examples include anything from skateboarding, hockey and water sports to football, table tennis, gymnastics and squash. These examples are all very different and that’s a good thing. Essentially, it means there is generally a sport to suit everyone — it’s just a case of trying out several to see which is the best natural fit. With that goal in mind, encouraging young children to sample a wide range of different sports, ball games and sporty leisure activities is highly recommended. Once a child finds a sporting activity they love, it can potentially open up a whole new world to them.

Levelling the Playing Field

That wide range of different sports is a great leveller. With there being some kind of sport for most children, they’ll have something that gives them enjoyment, a sense of achievement and the feeling that they belong. For those children who previously felt a bit different and perhaps an ‘outsider’, including those with special educational needs, that feeling of belonging is important.

Improving Social & Interpersonal Skills & Communication

The above brings us nicely to another benefit of sport; that of improving social skills. When a child plays a sport with other team members or even opponents, they will naturally learn to improve communication and, through doing so, also hone skills like teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, strategy, and cooperation. These are skills that will stand them in great stead as they grow towards their teenage years and ultimately adulthood.

What’s more, of course, taking part in sports and being part of a team is a fabulous way to make deeper bonds with peers, form long-term friendships, and build an expanding friendship circle. Having decent bonds with others will enrich children’s lives and is a major key to childhood happiness.

Life Skills

It’s also important for children to learn from both success and failure in sports (and in life). Learning skills like good sportsmanship, winning or losing gracefully, resilience, and perseverance are highly useful life skills to master. Similarly, sports and being a part of a team can help instil discipline, responsibility, punctuality, and the importance of playing by the rules. All such skills and lessons will be important and useful throughout life as well as academically.

Cognitive Development

The strategic thinking, communication, teamwork, cooperation and problem-solving aspects of sport will also help children to develop cognitively. As well as being a workout for the body, sports can often also be a workout for the brain. As such, children’s mental agility will also increase. This can only be positive in the classroom and in daily life. Indeed, studies show that memory, concentration and academic performance are all significantly improved when children take part in regular physical activity.

Improving Health, Fitness, Agility & Mobility

Some of the more obvious benefits of taking part in sports, including in the early years, include improved fitness, improved strength and stamina, improved motor skills, and better coordination and balance. All these things will, in turn, improve the lives of children in their daily activities as they grow older.

An active lifestyle and regular active play during sports sessions will also help children maintain healthy bones, muscles, and even weight. With childhood obesity rates now at alarming levels, sport is a simple, fun, and easy activity that will help in the fight against such an important issue.

“The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that children do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day, yet just 20% of boys and even fewer girls (14%), are meeting this target, despite 95% of children saying that they enjoy being active.” (Public Health England)

Better Sleep

There’s nothing quite like the exertion of physical energy to tire little ones out. Letting them play sports, ball games and run around is therefore a sure-fire way to help them sleep well at night and, if applicable, during daytime naps. And, as we know, high-quality sleep is incredibly important for children and adults alike, allowing the body and mind to recharge in many different ways.

Sports Activities are Great Fun!

Let’s not forget the most obvious but perhaps overlooked benefit of sports — they are great fun for children. Running, playing in teams, and getting involved in a wide variety of energetic activities etc. are an intrinsic part of any happy childhood. Sports allow children to play in incredibly active ways, often over wide spaces that give them a feeling of immense fun and freedom.

Good for Mental Health & Well-Being

Letting off steam through sport and active play will also act as a healthy stress-buster. Letting loose on a sports field and running free will lift spirits and help children shake off any anxiety they may have felt in the classroom or at home. As children’s sporting skills improve over time, they will also get a better sense of self-esteem, accomplishment, and confidence. These, too, are important for their mental health and well-being.

“Evidence shows that children and young people who are more active have more confidence, higher self-esteem, less anxiety and stress and better social skills – attributes that can help them deal with the challenges they face in daily life. Positive attitudes towards physical activity have also been associated with children being happier.” (Public Health England)

A Possible Career in Sport

Those children who excel at or learn deeply from sport also get additional opportunities from the activity; a possible career in sport. Opportunities include anything from coaching and physiotherapy to places in professional teams that get featured on TV and radio. And, of course, the most talented may even end up winning gold at the Olympics! Indeed, many of the sports stars that we hear about began their interest at a young age. The career potential of sport is simply immense.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

High-Quality Childcare Near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Streatham boasts many opportunities for sport as children grow. From sports clubs, an ice skating rink, and the world-class Crystal Palace sports and athletics complex, to the famous football stadium at Selhurst Park, many centres for sport are located just a stone’s throw from our Streatham nursery. For children who get into sports at an early age, such venues offer incredible opportunities for both leisure and even possible future careers. Given some encouragement and the right opportunities, perhaps even some of our own little ones could end up as future sporting stars!

If you would like to explore a possible nursery or preschool place for your child at Little Cedars Nursery, please get in touch today. You can apply for a place, request a guided visit, or ask any questions using the options below:

10 Ways to Boost Learning Through Play at Home

Children learn and benefit in a huge number of ways when they play.As we previously reported, children learn and benefit in a huge number of ways when they play. Improvements to motor skills, critical thinking, fitness levels, creativity, social skills and emotional intelligence are just a few known benefits. Indeed, play is accepted to be the very best way for children to learn, particularly in their early years. Furthermore, when play is coupled with a deep parental involvement in a child’s education, the benefits can be truly profound. With all that in mind, we follow up today with 10 easy ways for parents to boost children’s learning through play at home.

1. Set Aside a Dedicated Play Space at Home

Optimise the success of indoor play by setting aside a dedicated and safe play area or room for your child.One of the ways you can optimise the success of any indoor play is to set aside a dedicated and safe play area or room for your child. Here, you can ensure that children have the space and tools available for stimulating play when needed, and quieter play at other times. Age-appropriate toys, books, and equipment are, of course, the first prerequisite for such an area. However, you may also consider other elements such as a quiet storytelling/reading corner, a play den or teepee, a relaxation area with cushions and blankets, a creative section with art and craft supplies, a play kitchen or play tools section, and so on. Giving your child such a space is sure to encourage them to immerse themselves in their play activities. And, as we know, children learn best through play.

2. Play Proactively & Interactively With Your Child

Getting proactively involved in some play activities may boost your child's imagination through the scenarios and ideas you introduce.As well as giving children the tools for imaginative and educational play at home, your proactive input will also boost the benefits they receive from such activities. So, get involved, lead them sometimes and at other times let them lead. They’ll discover and learn more in this way. Ask and answer questions, encourage them to be creative in their thinking and physical approach and highlight aspects and elements that they may not otherwise have been aware of. Such an approach can teach children so much. It may well also deepen the bond between you.

3. Role-Play Together

There are many types of play at home that can involve role-play, which is a powerful tool for learning.There are many types of play at home that can involve role-play, which is a powerful tool for learning. Role-play allows children to immerse themselves deeply into the game, story, or scenario they are acting out. As such it greatly boosts young imaginations and stimulates creativity skills. So, encourage such activities as dressing up in costumes, acting, and putting on pretend voices to embody characters. You and your child can take this a step further through the setting up of play equipment or props to create a new play scenario, for example, a play den, cave, pretend kitchen, or castle. Children will have immense fun whilst also learning huge amounts from such creative and imaginative activities.

4. Read Interactively Together

Interactive storytelling and reading are great ways to boost children's engagement, imaginations and creativity.Role-playing can also be brought into time spent reading with your child. Reading with a child is hugely beneficial to them, so reading with them in interactive ways is to be encouraged. Indeed, studies show that reading with a child during their early years boosts language skills by the equivalent of 8 months and, to a significant degree, it can also level the educational playing field for children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Note that we say read ‘with’ children not ‘to’ them here. Interactively reading with your child is the key here as it engages them more fully so that its benefits can be felt by the child for the long term. So, next time you read with your under-five child, ensure you get them involved and encourage them to immerse themselves in the story or scenario. Let them ask questions or guess what will happen next, and make it fun through role-playing of the characters and suchlike. Reading with children really is worth its weight in gold!

5. Limit Time Spent Using Screens

Playing teaches children so much about the world around them.While electronic screens have their occasional place in the education and entertainment of families, it’s healthy to ensure your child has regular screen-free time. Partaking in active play at home — rather than staring inactively at a screen — can only be a good thing, in so many ways. Social skills will be better when children are actively involved in physical play with others. Motor skills and fitness will also benefit. Creativity levels will go through the roof too when children play in real life. They will also learn so much about the world, everything around them and the endless possibilities available to them by playing in the real world. Ensuring children get access to such benefits and opportunities by switching off smartphones, TVs, tablets and game consoles is something every parent can easily do for their child. Doing so will allow for more traditional play, which will enrich their lives in an infinite number of ways.

6. Use Toys That Allow Open-Ended Play

Open-ended play is the type that young children will usually learn the most from.Toys that allow open-ended play are the toys that young children will usually learn the most from. For example, allowing your child to play with building blocks and materials for arts and crafts will let your child’s imagination run riot. Through these, they will be able to create an infinite range of scenarios and possibilities. Dolls and action figures are also good examples that will allow children to immerse themselves in open-ended play, with you there to help expand those possibilities, scenarios and learning opportunities even further.

7. Allow Your Child to Take the Lead

The avoidance of over-structured games and play scenarios will also allow your child to take the lead. Children learn in different ways and at different paces to each other, so allowing them to guide the direction of play will also allow them to play and learn at their own unique pace. It will also allow them to tailor their play to their own particular interests, which will also ensure their engagement is optimised. Your involvement, however, can help your child avoid missed learning opportunities and perhaps some scenarios that they may not have thought of themselves, so it’s a fine balance.

8. Facilitate Social Play

Group play allows children to learn social skills like cooperation, teamwork, leadership, sharing and conflict resolution.It doesn’t have to be just you and your child playing. Siblings and your child’s peers can also be encouraged to join in. Consider inviting your little one’s friends to your home or local park for a play date. Getting your child’s friends and peers together for group play will allow your child to learn and hone social skills like cooperation, teamwork, leadership, sharing and potentially even conflict resolution. And, with you there to oversee the group session, you can be sure that home play will be fulfilling, organised, fair and rewarding for all who take part.

9. Encourage Outdoor Play Too

You can facilitate learning through play outdoors too.Remember that you can facilitate learning through play outdoors with your child too. Whether in the garden, park or countryside, playing outdoors gives children a vast number of learning opportunities — and it’s great fun! By accompanying children outdoors, they can naturally explore and discover — and enjoy doing so in ways that are much more free than when playing indoors. Outdoor play is a feast for the senses, it will encourage the honing of physical skills like balance, coordination, motor skills and strength as well as fitness. Playing in the natural world is also incredibly good for children’s mental well-being and holistic development. Learn more about the benefits of outdoor play and the importance of nature to children by following the bold links.

10. Celebrate Your Child’s Achievements Together

Use the power of positive reinforcement to take your child’s enjoyment of home play to the next level. Giving positive feedback to your child when they accomplish a task or achieve something new will greatly encourage them. It’ll give them a sense of achievement, boost confidence, and let them know they’re doing well and are on the right path. What’s more, it’ll encourage them to play to learn more.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider

The concepts above are, of course, also the types of approaches we use at Little Cedars to boost the learning of children under five in our childcare setting. We are a high-quality nursery and preschool in Streatham in South West London, near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. We also support many of the Government-funded free childcare schemes and are rated as a Good Provider by Ofsted.

Contact us today to explore a possible nursery/preschool place for your child at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham:

 

Exploring Spring with Children Under 5

Paying attention when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the seasons.At Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, one of the activities we do with children around this time of year is to explore the season of spring. Spring is a wonderful antidote to the cold, winter months as new shoots begin to sprout from the soil, flowers start to reappear, birds begin to return from warmer climes and there are early indications of warmer weather ahead. Paying attention to such things when spring arrives can teach children a great deal about the world around them, nature, and the impact of the various seasons. It’s also a free, fascinating, and educational activity that parents/guardians can do with children. Families can, for example, explore the signs of spring in the garden, out on walks, in local parks, and in the countryside. With that in mind, today’s article looks at the type of things children and families can look out for during the season of spring.

When is Spring?

According to the meteorological calendar, spring arrives on the 1st of March and ends on the 31st of May every year. As such, it keeps things very simple, synchronising spring with a standard calendar’s full months of March, April and May.

According to the astronomical calendar, however, spring for 2024 arrives on the 20th of March and will end on the 20th of June, although exact dates can vary a little from year to year. To explain, the astronomical calendar is based on the position of our planet’s elliptical orbit around the sun and involves the tilt of the Earth. Using that alternative timeline, spring begins on the ‘vernal’ (spring) equinox, which is a day of equal length to the ‘autumnal’ equinox later in the year.

Things Children Can Look Out For in Spring

Spring is such a vibrant and exciting season that there are lots of things children and families can look out for. Here are a few suggestions to start things off:

Baby Farm Animals

Meeting spring lambs or calves is always a huge hit with children.As every child knows, young lambs are an absolute delight. They’re incredibly cute and the way they play, group together with fellow lambs, and happily jump into the air is simply adorable! Although timing varies from farm to farm, most newborn lambs arrive during early spring — typically in March — with others arriving in April, particularly if they’re in UK areas further north where it can be colder. At Little Cedars Nursery, we try to ensure children get to meet some spring lambs or calves each year and it’s always a huge hit with the children.

Frogspawn

Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds.Another huge hit with children in spring is the appearance of frogspawn in ponds. Children will love watching the little eggs change over time, their contents growing from tiny black dots into creatures that have obvious legs, tails and heads. And, once they emerge from the eggs, the tadpoles continue to delight little ones as they gradually develop into tiny frogs. It’s a wonderfully magical thing for children to witness in spring and is also hugely educational.

Sprouting Snowdrops

Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives.Snowdrops are one of the very first plants to reappear when spring arrives. They’re pretty little plants with slender green leaves and flowers that, as their name suggests, resemble delicate drops of snow. Young children will love that! Look out for them in gardens, parks, forests and hedgerows. Each plant generally forms a ‘bunch’ of around ten stems and they reappear every year. Warn children to look but not touch, though, as they are poisonous if eaten.

Shooting Daffodils

Daffodil shoots begin to appear in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden.Another of the earliest plants to appear in the year is daffodils. Their shoots begin to appear through the soil in February and, once spring arrives in March, their flowers will brighten up any garden, lawn, forest or flower bed right into May. Once daffodils are in bloom, you also know other plants will soon follow. So, they’re a great sign of the changing season for children to look out for, and a signal that gloomy winter is now over and summer is not far away.

Daffodil flowers come in many different forms, with different coloured ‘trumpet’ style blooms including yellow, white, orange and indeed mixtures of those colours. Perhaps encourage children to see how many different types they can spot when out and about — many residential gardens will have daffodils growing, so this activity can be done in towns and cities as well as in more rural areas. As with snowdrops, though, daffodils are poisonous if consumed, so children should again look and admire them rather than pick them.

Bumblebees

Once they know they're peaceful creatures, children will generally love bumblebees.Bumblebees are amongst the cutest of garden visitors and many children will naturally love them, particularly once they’ve realised how adorable they are with their velvety bodies, sweet faces and attractive markings. They’re also peaceful little creatures, many of whom don’t even have a sting, who simply want to go about their business of collecting nectar from flowers. Bumblebees start to reappear in the spring — because flowers are also reappearing after being dormant over the winter months. They then become more and more populous as the months become warmer and can be seen right into autumn.

There are many types of bees in the UK and all types are incredibly important to both nature and humans; it’s mainly bees that pollinate flowers so more flowers, plants, trees and indeed crops can grow. Because of this — and their cuteness — bees are a wonderful thing to encourage little ones to look out for and learn from. If there were no bees, the human race would be in big trouble and they also therefore represent a great way to introduce children to the concept of looking after nature, conservation, and green matters.

It’s important, too, to ensure children respect them by admiring but not interfering with them. Like children, they have their own lives and have feelings too. Bees can teach children so much!

Songbirds

Robins are beautiful to listen to.The return of many of the UK’s favourite birds is another wonderful sign that spring has arrived and winter is over. While some birds, including robins, may stay during winter, others will have migrated to warmer places, perhaps thousands of miles away. Once they return to the UK, children will be able to watch out for them and listen out for more birdsong. Early mornings and sunsets are great times to hear them, particularly when the weather is calm, meaning their sounds travel more clearly. For example, tiny wrens have an incredible and very melodic set of sounds. Robins are also beautiful to listen to. Thrushes sometimes sing at the tops of trees at dusk too, and that’s also wonderful to hear. Encourage children to watch and listen out for other birds too, for example, blackbirds, starlings, doves, blue tits, great tits and occasionally more rarely-seen birds like goldcrests.

Birds are fascinating creatures for children to learn about and spring is a fabulous time to start to see them as they return to gardens, parks, and the countryside. Download our free bird identification poster to get your child started.

Pussy Willow Buds

The soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit with children.Buds on trees and bushes can also be an interesting natural phenomenon for children to look out for in spring. Many are quite beautiful if you take the time to have a close look. Young children are indeed fascinated by several types of tree buds in early spring and perhaps the most attractive one to them is pussy willow. For them, the soft, fur-like buds of the pussy willow are an instant hit and something that really draws their attention. They really do feel furry and it’s almost as if they’re little creatures or kittens paws — quite a magical thing for any child to look out for in spring!

Catkins

Catkins are also fascinating for children, especially the youngest.Catkins are also fascinating. Their little dangling fronds almost look like yellow caterpillars, so this is another type of spring occurrence to draw children’s attention to. From such attention, they can be taught lessons about pollen, seeds, nectar and the circle of life.

We hope this starter guide to exploring spring with children and under-fives has given families food for thought. There is so much to see, hear, touch (when safe) and smell in spring and it’s a great time to encourage children to start spending more time outdoors, weather permitting. Getting children interested in nature and spending time in the natural environment is incredibly important to them and has a huge number of benefits — some quite astounding in fact. Learn more about the benefits of nature in childhood here.

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham

High-quality childcare in Streatham, close to Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery and preschool located in Streatham in Southwest London (SW16). We offer a complete early years education for babies, toddlers and preschoolers aged under five. We support many Government-funded schemes for free childcare too and are rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

If you’d like the best weekday childcare for babies and children under five, contact Little Cedars Nursery today:

Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham is also suitably located for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Common, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

With World Wildlife Day falling on the 3rd of March and Spring virtually upon us, we thought it was a great time to produce another free wildlife poster for children and families to download. This one features 20 wild British* land mammals that children will love! Using the poster, they can learn to identify the animals shown and perhaps look out for them when out and about over the coming months and years. It’s a handy reference tool that can be used to get to know their furry neighbours, whether in local parks, on trips to the countryside, or whilst on holiday. While some creatures like grey squirrels are common to see, some of the others shown are more shy — but that just makes it more exciting when they are finally spotted!

Many of Britain's wild mammals are stunningly beautiful and children often have a natural interest in them.Getting children interested in nature, and spending time around it, is extremely good for them as we’ve reported before — the benefits of nature to children are simply huge. Today’s focus on British mammals will not only be a good way to encourage an interest in some of Britain’s wonderful creatures but may also help them understand more about the need to support conservation efforts and protect wildlife. It’s a great way to foster empathy in little ones too. We’ll tell you more about World Wildlife Day shortly but first, grab yourself and your children the free mammals poster — the creatures shown are stunningly beautiful and kids are bound to love displaying the poster.

Download, print out and feel free to share this British Wild Mammals poster. Click the bold blue link or the preview image below and save to your hard drive. Once opened in Acrobat Reader and printed out, children can see if they can learn the different animal names and even spot some of the beautiful creatures over coming years while outside, in the countryside, or on holiday.

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

United Nations World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day - 3 MarchWorld Wildlife Day celebrates the world’s flora and fauna. It happens on the 3rd of March each year and is a way to raise awareness of the need to protect nature. That can be achieved by reducing harmful emissions, pollution, habitat loss, and the loss of biodiversity. By introducing children to the beautiful wildlife around them, children will naturally be more empathetic towards other creatures and even progress to learning about conservation matters and the impact of humans on the planet. In this way, little ones can grow into young stewards of the planet and have an active interest in protecting it going forward. Get them started today by downloading our free Wild Mammals poster — who knows where it could lead!

Parents, teachers and early years practitioners can learn more about the United Nations World Wildlife Day here.

Other Free Wildlife Posters Children Can Download

Don’t forget that this is just one in a series of several wildlife/nature-related posters. All of them are free, shareable, and will be both fun and educational for children. Choose from today’s British Mammals poster above, our British Birds poster, Minibeasts poster, or Butterflies poster. Follow the links for more details and the free downloads.

Exceptional Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars: a high-quality childcare nursery in Streatham, London, SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe love nature and all the benefits it brings to children, so we’re lucky to be located close to Tooting Common at Little Cedars Day Nursery (Streatham, SW16). We also encourage children to get involved in planting and growing in our own garden at the setting as nature teaches them so much. It’s all part of the early years learning and development programme at the setting.

Contact Little Cedars Nursery today and explore the possibility of a nursery/preschool place for your child in Streatham:

Based in Streatham, Little Cedars Nursery may also suit your little one if you are looking for a high-quality nursery or preschool near Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

* By ‘British’ we mean mammals that can be found and seen in Britain. We are keeping things simple for little ones but appreciate, of course, that some of the animals featured were not originally indigenous to Britain. Examples include the Muntjac Deer (originally from China) and the grey squirrel (originally from North America). Even some red squirrels that we see in parts of Britain may be descendants of some that were imported to boost our own declining populations. We also appreciate that there are several sub-species not shown, e.g. several types of mouse, shrew, vole and others. That, again, is to keep things simple for little ones.

National Storytelling Week (27 Jan - 4 Feb 2024) — a fun & beneficial activity for children & families.

The annual activity is a great opportunity for children and families to get creative and to entertain one another through the sharing of stories.Children and families, get ready for National Storytelling Week! For 2024, storytelling in the UK is officially celebrated from Saturday the 27th of January to Sunday the 4th of February. It’s a great opportunity for children and families to get creative and to entertain one another through the sharing of stories.

Storytelling is an ancient and important tradition across the globe and one that has many benefits for both the storyteller and the listener. As such, it’s something that should be encouraged amongst children of any age. Today, we take a closer look at some of those benefits and suggest ways that both kids and families can make the most of this wonderful, free activity.

Storytelling: the Perfect Antidote to Wintery Days

Through storytelling, children can be transported to different locations, situations and climates, all in the blink of an eye.National Storytelling Week couldn’t come at a better time of year. As many across the UK have witnessed in recent weeks, January brings with it cold days, dull skies, and wintery weather. Even the daylight hours are short, limiting the number of activities children can undertake outdoors. With storytelling, however, families can be transported to any number of different locations, situations and climates, all in the blink of an eye. Indeed, storytelling can take children to places and scenarios that would simply not be possible in real life. Such is the power of this art form and the human imagination.

Some Benefits of Taking Part in National Storytelling Week

Whether storytelling is a simple verbal activity or dramatised in some way through acting or the use of props, it can be highly entertaining and captivating. There are also a significant number of additional benefits for both the storyteller and the listener, including:

  • Storytelling offers a significant number of benefits to both the storyteller and the listener.Stories stimulate imaginations;
  • Storytelling enhances creativity;
  • By showing what it’s like to be someone or even something else, stories nurture empathy;
  • Storytelling can be a great way to relax;
  • Storytelling helps to expand vocabulary and literacy;
  • Storytelling helps to improve children’s speech and listening skills;
  • Stories can be a great way to share new facts;
  • Stories open up new worlds to children;
  • Stories are a great vehicle for escapism, which is important, especially to those who have had a challenging day;
  • Storytelling activities can even lead to careers involving writing or other creative jobs;
  • Last but not least, storytelling is simply great fun!

So, all in all, there’s every reason for children and families to get involved in National Storytelling Week from Saturday the 27th of January to Sunday the 4th of February 2024. However, don’t stop there … storytelling is worthwhile any time of year!

How to Enhance Children’s Storytelling Sessions

If you’re an adult overseeing a storytelling session with children, perhaps start them off by telling them a short story yourself to get the ball rolling. They can learn from your example and then take turns to tell their story to the group. Making up brand new stories is beneficial (it will promote greater creativity) but it’s also OK for the youngest children to be influenced by existing stories they’re familiar with if they initially struggle to create something from scratch.

Setting aside a storytelling corner or niche will encourage children to tell stories and to read.Another great way to help children create new stories is to encourage them to be inspired by objects around them. For example, a teddy bear, toy character, or picture nearby may inspire them. This can be taken further by providing children with a basket of such props, for example, a toy animal, pine cone, toy crown, goblet, apple, and a rock. A ‘story scrapbook’ can be used by children in a similar way. Such things can significantly help children to become more creative and generate storyline ideas, sequencing, and plot twists.

Try encouraging questions and interaction from children who are listening. This will help to get them more involved and immersed in the storyline.

Another creative approach is to let them influence how the story should unfold by making suggestions along the way.

Hand or finger puppets can also be excellent, immersive tools to bring stories to life. Adding in some acting will add an extra layer of drama and entertainment to stories too, so encourage this. It can be taken to many different levels, perhaps with the use of different voices and accents, fancy dress to look like a character, introducing props and so on.

Why not set up a storytelling corner or nook? This can be used all year round and should be a quiet, comfortable space. Perhaps scatter cushions, blankets, and soft toys, and add fairly lights, props and, for young actors-in-the-making, costumes. A bespoke storytelling corner is sure to encourage children to come back to the activity throughout the year.

Such approaches are a recipe for a very entertaining, captivating and immersive storytelling session, which children will love! It’ll get them thinking deeply, stir their creative juices, boost their imaginations, and allow them to enter a different and magical reality for a short time. They’ll learn more about the world and gain improvements to skills like empathy and literacy along the way. Through the simple activity of storytelling, both the listener and storyteller will benefit in a myriad of ways. So — get children involved this National Storytelling Week and watch them blossom!

Little Cedars: Your Streatham Nursery & Preschool

A High-Quality Nursery in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good Provider

Are you searching for the perfect nursery or preschool for your child in or near Streatham? Little Cedars Day Nursery offers a high-quality home-from-home environment where babies, toddlers and preschoolers absolutely thrive. Rated as a Good Provider of childcare and early years education by Ofsted, Little Cedars represents a wonderful choice for families looking for the very best fit for their little ones. We also support a raft of free childcare funding schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.

Our Streatham childcare nursery may also suit families living nearby in Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

A Guide to January's Big Garden Birdwatch – Children Get Ready!

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in.Parents and children, don’t miss this year’s incredibly important birdwatching activity for the RSPB — and the planet — which occurs from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th January. The Big Garden Birdwatch only takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in. It’s a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time in and around nature. And, as we’ve reported before, nature is extremely good for children! In today’s post, we explain how easy it is to get your little ones involved and why taking part is a win-win-win for families, birds and nature.

What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?

The Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 and happens annually. It is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world, each year attracting hundreds of thousands of participants up and down the length of the UK. 9.1 million birds were reported in last year’s count.

In essence, people get involved simply by choosing an outdoor patch, and then counting birds that land there during the course of an hour. They then report their findings to the RSPB. We’ll cover a bit more detail on how to go about that later in this article.

Why Does the Big Garden Birdwatch Matter?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time closer to nature.Monitoring populations of bird species every year allows the RSPB and other conservation organisations to see how the various types of garden birds are faring. Whether or not they’re doing well will be a barometer of the state of nature itself as well as that of the individual bird populations. If the RSPB and other conservation organisations can see a problem, they can then mobilise to try to do something about it. Likewise, if they see a particular bird species doing well, they can learn from that and better understand what measures are helping that particular bird population to thrive.

Nature is also incredibly good for children, helping them cognitively, academically, spiritually, mentally, socially, creatively and physically. Spending time in nature has also been shown to improve test results, lower stress levels and even improve earning potential. Learn more about the amazing benefits of nature to children here or, better still, get them involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January!

What Sort of Discoveries Has the Annual Big Garden Birdwatch Uncovered?

Each year, the Big Garden Birdwatch uncovers intriguing and useful data about how bird species in the UK are faring. For example:

  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began in 1979.In 2023, the bird species spotted the most was the House Sparrow, followed by the Blue Tit in second place, Starling in third, Wood Pigeon in fourth and Blackbird in fifth.
  • Despite that, historical data from the count shows that even House Sparrow numbers have significantly declined — by 57% — since the count began in 1979.
  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began.
  • Indeed, during the last 6 decades, data suggests that bird populations in the UK have dropped by over 38 million, a huge and worrying number.

How Families & Children Can Take Part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

There are 4 simple steps required to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January:

  1. Register free, via the RSPB website. By registering you'll get a free guide to taking part and visual reference for identifying different birds.By registering you’ll also get a free guide to taking part in the event, which includes visual reference to the birds to look out for, as well as other perks like a discount on bird food and other bird feeding supplies available from the RSPB’s online shop.
  2. Choose a suitable outdoor patch to monitor during the survey event. It could be your garden, patio, local park, or even a view from a balcony will do.
  3. Between Friday 26 and Sunday 28 January 2024, count how many birds of each species, actually land in your patch during the hour’s monitoring.
  4. Once complete, confirm the biggest number of each bird species that has landed at any one time to the RSPB, along with the location of your patch. Please still confirm your findings even if you saw no birds land at all. Make your submissions online here between 26 January and 18 February 2024.

Children can take part individually or as part of a group. They can also undertake more than one birdwatching hour, and submit more than one set of results, so long as they do so from a different location (‘patch’) in each case. The RSPB guide gives more details about each step, so do ensure you visit the RSPB’s Big Garden Watch web area to get familiar with what’s required and to access your free guide.

Keen to Attract More Birds for Your Count?

A great spotted woodpecker visiting a garden bird feeder.If you’re keen to attract as many birds as possible to your Garden Birdwatch count, the RSPB has you covered. As well as providing useful tips on how to attract birds on their website, they also offer those taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch a 15% discount on bird food and easy-to-clean bird feeders from their online shop. Delivery is also free to participants. Follow the bold links for more information.*

* (Details are given in good faith and are understood to be correct at the time of going to press. However, 3rd party offers are beyond our control and, as such, may be subject to change without notice).

Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham

High-Quality Childcare in Streatham, London, SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe hope your little ones have fun getting involved in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch — they’re sure to enjoy the nature-based activity as they take their first step towards becoming little citizen scientists. It’s hugely worthwhile for the birds and ecology and, as we know at Little Cedars Day Nursery, nature is hugely beneficial to children too.

If you are looking for high-quality childcare services in or near Streatham, do consider Little Cedars Day Nursery. Ofsted rates us as a good provider of early years education and childcare and we represent a wonderful start to children’s early years. We bring out the very best in every child and prepare them well to ensure readiness for school when they leave us around the age of five. We support various childcare funding schemes too, making our childcare service even more affordable for eligible families.

To request a place for your child at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, or to find out more, please get in touch using one of the following options:

Our Streatham nursery and preschool is close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit families in those nearby locations.