15 ways children learn best through play, how it benefits them & why it's important in early childhood.

Play teaches children about each other, themselves, other living things, cause and effect, and the world around them.Watch any infant, toddler or preschooler for just a few minutes and you’ll see that one thing comes naturally to them; play. Indeed, it’s as if they’ve been programmed that way, with the need to play coming instinctively to youngsters, whatever their species. Aside from it simply being great fun, there are a multitude of very good reasons for that — play teaches them an enormous amount about each other, themselves, other living things, cause and effect, and the world around them. It also allows them to learn and fine-tune a whole swathe of new skills as they grow older, play new games, and become more experienced. Add in some careful steering and nurturing during that play from Mum or Dad and they have a real recipe for success. With that in mind, we look today at the key ways in which learning through play profoundly benefits children.

1. Play & Creativity Go Hand-in-Hand

Role-play activities teach children how to use their imaginations and think creatively.Play and creativity go hand-in-hand. Whether making up a new game, role-playing, constructing, or playing in a den, children will naturally create both scenarios and physical items as part of their play. Such activities teach them how to use their imaginations and to be creative — in a myriad of ways.

2. Play Boosts Problem-Solving & Critical Thinking Skills

During play, children will inevitably reach points where a problem needs to be solved or a challenge overcome. Such things will help to stretch children’s minds and stimulate thinking skills to help them invent new ways to do things, solve problems, accomplish tasks, or do something more efficiently. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills will benefit hugely in this way and these are crucial skills for children to learn as they grow older.

3. Play Hones Motor Skills

Children will naturally hone both fine and gross motor skills during play.Different play activities require different types of movement and physical interaction from children. Indeed, this is a fundamental aspect of play. Whether jumping and running with large movements or carefully constructing with small items like building blocks, children will naturally hone both fine and gross motor skills during play. Such physical skills are essential to their ability to navigate and interact with the world around them and, in the most natural of ways, play is at the heart of enhancing those abilities.

4. Play Makes Children Fitter

All that running around, chasing, jumping, hopping and playing games is sure to raise a child’s heart rate and, in time, get them a little out of breath. That’s great exercise, right there, but play makes it fun rather than a chore. And, as we know, exercise is good for us, helping to keep us more fit and healthy. In fact, along with a healthy, balanced, diet, it can even help children to reduce or avoid the prospect of childhood obesity.

5. Play is Good for Children’s Emotional Well-Being

Did you know that the hormone cortisol, which the body releases when under stress, reduces when children play? It just goes to prove that playing makes children happy — after all, it’s great fun — and that’s great for their overall emotional well-being.

6. Play Enhances Cognitive Skills

Playing not only improves physical fitness, motor skills and coordination, but it also improves brain function. After all, play takes a myriad of different forms, each type requiring a different mixture of concentration and cognitive skills to succeed. Play is, indeed, like a good workout for the mind, with every passing minute of play enabling the brain to form countless new connections that will stand a child in good stead through improved skills and knowledge going forward.

7. Play Improves Social Skills

Social skills are also improved through play.Social skills are also improved through play. Children naturally play with other children and, by so doing, will soon pick up social skills as they begin to better understand social protocols that allow them to succeed both as individuals and in groups. Decent manners, saying please and thank you, cooperation, teamwork and closer bonding are all examples of social skills that can benefit through group play. Other examples include conflict resolution, better sharing, negotiation and communication, which we’ll come to next.

8. Play Helps Children Learn to Communicate Better

Play is a great facilitator of communication amongst children.Through all this play, children will be communicating with each other and with any adults that are supervising. As such, play is a great facilitator of communication. Indeed, good communication is essential to most games and, through it, children can cooperate and achieve in ways that will help them in both the short term and into adulthood. Improving communication skills is also a fundamental way to improve success when you think about it.

9. Play Enhances Emotional Intelligence

Play also allows children to see things from one another’s perspectives. Role-play games are a great example and, through such endeavours, children can better understand how their actions might affect others. Through such play opportunities, they’ll learn to have improved empathy, patience, and perception of others. Those are important tools for any individual to master, both as children and as adults.

10. Play Stimulates Children’s Senses

One of the key ways babies and infants learn is through the senses and it’s through play that they often do this. Whether reaching out to touch a soft toy during tummy time, playing with coloured shapes, or progressing to creative play with play dough and suchlike when they’re older, they can learn a lot about the world through the senses during early play. Learn more about The Benefits of Sensory Play for Under-Fives here.

11. Play Makes Sense of Mathematics

Playing can also teach children about mathematics.Mathematics is often embedded into games and pastimes. Children can learn, for example, about adding, subtracting, multiplication and division through games. Even dividing group play into teams requires some fundamental maths to ensure teams are equal in size. Building towers out of blocks is another great example where children can count how many blocks they can stack into a tower before it falls over. They can try to beat their own maximum, or even compete against one another to see who can use the most blocks.

12. Play Teaches Children Real-World Science

Play also teaches children about science and how it applies to the real world around them. Properties of materials are a good example, with children learning to understand the properties of liquids, solids, play dough, gravity, heat and cold, cause and effect, and so on — often through the simple act of playing.

13. Play Teaches Children to Assess Risk

Another great skill that children can learn through play is that of risk assessment. Should they climb further up this tree or is it too dangerous? Should they add another block to their tower construction, or will it tip over? Can they leap across this puddle without getting wet? All such things are great examples of how simple play activities can teach children how to assess risk — and learn from it.

14. Play Educates Children About the World Around Them

By immersing children into widely differing environments, play teaches children about the world around them, and everything within it.Play comes in a vast array of different forms, shapes, and sizes. Through so doing, it introduces children to countless scenarios, situations, and challenges. By immersing children into such widely differing environments, they learn huge amounts about the world around them, and everything within it. Whether it’s newfound knowledge about a new object, material, place, culture, activity, or something else, play is an amazing conduit to new knowledge and the need to learn new skills. Play is the ultimate educator and the incredible thing is that children may be unaware that they’re learning — they’re having too much fun!

15. Play Makes Learning Fun & Natural

All in all, play teaches children a vast amount about the world around them, about themselves, and about others. It also teaches them a myriad of new skills. Incredibly, it makes such learning fun and totally natural. As such, play is an immensely powerful teacher that’s key to the success of every child’s early learning and development.

Children Learn Through Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

The childcare professionals at Little Cedars Nursery understand very well the superpowers of play. That’s why babies, toddlers and preschoolers learn mostly through play and child-led activities at the nursery in Streatham. Through play and a learning and development programme that’s custom-designed for each child, little ones absolutely thrive at Little Cedars, achieving personal bests in every area of the curriculum and personal development. In this way, we ensure they are as school-ready as possible by the time they leave us as they approach the age of five.

Nursery & Preschool Places at a Good Nursery/Preschool in Streatham

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 ProviderWould you like to explore the possibility of your baby or under-five child attending Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham? We’re officially a ‘good provider’ of childcare and early years education and offer a warm, cosy, home-from-home environment where every child thrives and feels valued. We’re also conveniently located if you live or work near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. Get in touch today to get started on your application, to visit, or to find out more:

Autumn Composting Activity for Kids — Leaves, Learning & Fun!

This composting activity teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability and also provides an exciting outdoor activity connecting them with nature.Autumn is a magical time filled with vibrant colours, falling leaves, and a wonderful quality to the air. With rustling leaves covering the ground in a myriad of hues, it’s the perfect season to engage children with the wonders of a composting activity. Composting is fun, worthwhile, and educational. It not only teaches kids about the importance of recycling and sustainability but also provides an exciting outdoor activity that connects them with nature. In today’s article, we’ll explore the joy of composting with an autumn twist, where children can harness the abundance of fallen leaves to create a rich and fertile compost for the garden. Children of all ages will love this nature-based outdoor activity and it’s a win-win in every sense — for children, nature’s flora and fauna, and the garden itself.

Leaves, Learning & Fun!

The Magic of Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves are rather like nature's confetti.Autumn leaves are rather like nature’s confetti and they play a crucial role in composting. Perhaps explain to children how leaves provide essential carbon and nutrients that are key ingredients for a successful compost pile. Encourage them to collect a variety of leaves in different colours and shapes, so this activity becomes a stimulating treasure hunt too.

No garden? No worries; composting needs as little as a corner somewhere and the final product is just as good for indoor plants.

Creating a Compost Bin

Guide children in setting up a compost bin — or it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden.Guide children in setting up a compost bin or, in its most basic form, it could take the form of a simple pile in the garden if you have one. If not, an undisturbed corner somewhere outside will suffice. Emphasise the importance of a balanced mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Leaves are a fantastic source of carbon, balancing out the kitchen scraps and other green materials that you and your child may soon start to add.

Layering the Good Stuff

Help your little one understand the layering process of composting. Start with a layer of autumn leaves, add kitchen scraps like fruit leftovers, vegetable peels, and crushed eggshells, and then sprinkle a bit of soil if you have access to some. Repeat this process, creating a compost ‘lasagna’ that will eventually turn into nutrient-rich soil.

Turning the Pile

Composting is not just a one-time activity; it’s an ongoing process. Show children how turning the compost pile every few weeks helps speed up decomposition. This is a great opportunity for them to get their hands dirty (under supervision) while learning about the science behind composting.

Observing the Changes

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes. Discuss how the compost becomes darker and richer over time. Point out the minibeasts that’ll no doubt move in and, of course, teach them to be gentle around them, to nurture their sense of responsibility and empathy. You can also use composting as an opportunity to talk about the importance of recycling and reducing waste.

Using Compost in the Garden

Once the compost is ready, involve children in spreading it in the garden. Or, if you have no garden or outdoor plant areas, the compost is just as beneficial to indoor potted plants. Explain how the nutrient-rich soil that they have generated will help plants grow strong and healthy. This hands-on experience connects them with the entire cycle of composting, from collecting leaves to seeing the positive impact on plants.

Autumn Composting Activities

While waiting for the compost to develop, children could decorate the compost container through painting, or even do some leaf art!To make composting even more enjoyable, you and the children could incorporate other autumn-themed activities. For example, they could create leaf art while waiting for the compost to develop, they could decorate the compost container through painting, or they could take part in an autumn treasure hunt for different types of leaves and seasonal seeds. This all adds an extra layer of fun to the composting process.

Composting is Fun, Worthwhile & Educational

Composting in autumn is not only a practical way to manage organic waste but also a delightful and educational activity that gets children outdoors and brings them closer to nature — and that is good for them! The vibrant colours of fallen leaves, the earthy smell of compost, and the satisfaction of creating something valuable from nature’s bounty make this experience both educational and enjoyable. So, encourage them to gather those leaves and embark on an autumn composting adventure together!

Your Streatham Nursery & Preschool

High-quality Weekday Childcare in Streatham

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 Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery and preschool in Streatham. As well as providing weekday childcare for children under five, we also provide them with a high-quality early years education. This is all done by childcare professionals in a lovely home-from-home setting away from the busiest part of Streatham, close to Tooting Common, in Aldrington Road. At Little Cedars, we nurture every child so they achieve personal bests in all areas of their learning and development, ensuring they are school-ready by the time they leave us at the age of five. All the main Government-funded childcare schemes are also supported for eligible families.

Get in touch to ask any questions, to arrange a guided visit, or to enrol your child for a childcare place. We can’t wait to meet you and your child!

Little Cedars Day Nursery is based in Streatham, close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Safeguarding Note

Children, particularly the very young, will require adult supervision and oversight when playing or exploring outdoors. Please do your own risk assessments as well as teaching children to be mindful of hazards, stranger danger, health and safety. Our safety tips for outdoor play should help to get you started.

Autumn Treasure Hunt — a Fun Nature-Based Activity for Children

Preview of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet.Autumn is a time of the year when magical colour changes occur across gardens, parks and landscapes. Leaves can be seen in a multitude of different colours before falling along with seeds, ripening fruits and berries. In autumn, nature shows us a wonderful metamorphosis and it’s a time of beautifully crisp air and clear distant views. It’s all incredible to behold and also offers children some unique seasonal activity opportunities.

One such activity is an autumn treasure hunt. Here, children get to explore the outdoors and see if they can spot some natural delights that are only available at this time of year. For example, can they spot a red leaf? How about a purple one… or a multicoloured one? Can they spot an acorn that’s fallen from an oak tree or spot ‘winged’ seeds falling like helicopters from a sycamore tree? Can they find some conkers or sweet chestnuts? And so on. With that in mind, we’ve put together a free reference sheet featuring 20 such items for children to look out for. Children or accompanying adults can print it out, take it along and tick off each item that’s successfully found. The activity could even be the basis of a competition between multiple children, perhaps with a treat or extra sticker for the child that checks off the most.

So, take a look and save the reference sheet by clicking the preview image below — the file is in Acrobat Reader format, so should work on most devices.

Autumn Treasure Hunt Reference Sheet (Click to Download):

Large view of the Autumn Treasure Hunt reference sheet. Click to download and view the Acrobat PDF, then print out.

This activity is great for children because it gets them outdoors, close to nature. And, as we’ve mentioned before, study after study concludes that outdoor play is incredibly important to children and being close to nature has huge benefits for them. However, remember to pay close attention to the safety and well-being of children under your care at all times, especially when playing outdoors — see some examples of things to look out for in the ‘child safety precautions’ box at the end of this article.

We hope you and your child enjoy this wholesome nature-based activity this autumn. It’s a simple but effective way to encourage children to appreciate nature and The Great Outdoors. It’s also a fun way to open their eyes and educate them about the sheer magic of nature and the natural world around them.

A Childcare Nursery for Your Child in Streatham

Are you looking for a high-quality childcare service in Streatham?

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 ProviderThis nature-based activity comes courtesy of the team at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, London SW16. We provide an outstanding early years education and high-quality childcare service for babies and under-fives. We also support free, Government-funded childcare places subject to eligibility and availability.

If you’d like to explore the possibility of your child having a nursery or preschool place at Little Cedars, please get in touch:

Little Cedars may also suit families living or working nearby in Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Child Safety Precautions

As with all outdoor play, it’s important to ensure children are safe and kept out of harm’s way. For example, children, particularly the young, should be accompanied by an adult and supervised at all times. Also, ensure they understand that they should avoid touching anything potentially poisonous like fungi and berries. Even things like conkers are poisonous if eaten. Acorns contain toxic tannins as well as being a potential choking hazard. Parents/adults should therefore ensure that children know not to put anything anywhere near their mouths when foraging or playing outdoors. And, of course, avoid touching the spiky cases of sweet chestnuts because they’re needle-sharp! These are just examples and supervising adults will need to do their own risk assessments before and during any outdoor activity involving children. More safety tips for outdoor play are available here.

Spooky Kids' Activities for Halloween: Fun Ideas for 31st October

Children love getting into the spirit of Halloween!The arrival of October means it’s time for children and families to prepare for Halloween! Arriving on the 31st of the month, it’s a firm favourite for any childhood and gives children the opportunity for uniquely spooky fun, games and dressing up. Indeed, Halloween offers a wonderful variety of activities for children to take part in and that’s exactly what we look at in today’s article. Stand by, then, to prepare the household for some spookylicious Halloween activity ideas for kids!

Dress up in Spooky Halloween Costumes

A white bedsheet with two eye-holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully-effective ghost costume.Children adore dressing up for Halloween. The spooky nature of Halloween costumes really appeals to them, especially if they get together with friends and compare outfits on Halloween evening.

A huge range of wonderful Halloween fancy dress costumes is available to purchase. However, your child can have even more fun and potentially save costs by making their own Halloween outfit. It’s both great fun and a wonderfully creative activity. Here are a few ideas but bear in mind, of course, that any fabric cutting should be done by adults or, for older children, under their supervision:

  • A white bedsheet with two eye holes suitably positioned makes for a wonderfully effective ghost costume. Kids will love wearing these and leaping out at unsuspecting family and friends!
  • Black sheets or clothes are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Add pointy hats made from card.Similarly, black sheets are easy to make into witch or wizard outfits. Alternatively, use black clothing and, if it’s no longer being worn for anything else, it can even be given ragged edges for extra effect. Add pointy black hats made of cardboard or paper and the costumes are complete.
  • Clothing that’s no longer needed is a great canvas on which children or parents can paint the bones of the body, so children wearing the costume look like spooky walking skeletons. Some black and white face painting will complete the effect by creating a ‘skull’ face!
  • Home-made spider costumes are also feasible using black clothing, stuffed jumpers (for the body) and extra spider legs made from black tights stuffed and attached to the child’s belt.
  • Similarly, children can dress up as pumpkins simply by using an orange top or t-shirt, suitably decorated in paint so children look like walking, talking Jack-O’-Lanterns!

As you can see, these home-made Halloween outfits are fairly simple to accomplish, without the need for much, if any, expense. This activity is also one that really gets children’s creative juices and a sense of fun flowing.

Display Some Spooky Halloween Decorations

Set the atmosphere with spooky decorations!If you want your child’s Halloween experience to be truly spooktacular, encourage them to decorate the house – whether inside or out – with all manner of ghoulish decorations and ghostly paraphernalia. Home-made spider webs can, of course, be made using string, thread or stretched-out cotton wool. However, such decorations can usually be purchased inexpensively from supermarkets, which typically have cheap Halloween decorations around October each year. Spiders can be home-made by children from wool or black pipe cleaners, or similarly bought commercially along with shop-bought decorations depicting skeletons, ghosts, bats and suchlike. You can also buy LED lights, including strings of lights, that look like Halloween pumpkin lanterns. Such lighting is great for extra atmosphere!

Make Spooky Food & Drink

Children love cooking and decorating biscuits and cookies for Halloween!If your household is carving pumpkins for Halloween this year, perhaps save some of the flesh and use it to make a spookylicious pumpkin soup for the family to eat come Halloween evening time. There are plenty of excellent recipes online and children can help make the soup, under supervision for safety purposes.

Children of all ages also generally love cooking biscuits and cookies, so why not encourage them to make some that are Halloween-themed? Perhaps try ghost-shaped and bat-shaped cookies with decorating in black and white icing (see example).

Drinks can also be themed by children by painting Halloween imagery onto paper cups – it’s another simple Halloween children’s activity that’s both fun and creative.

Supermarkets are also sure to sell Halloween-themed party food, drink and accessories as Halloween approaches, so there’s usually lots for children and families to choose from.

Host a Spooktacular Halloween Party!

Combine the Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party!Children can combine Halloween fancy dress costumes, spooky decorations, and themed food and drink by hosting a Halloween party for friends and family. Such preparations are sure to set up a wonderfully spooky atmosphere in which children will have immense fun comparing outfits and getting into the spirit of the event. Add Halloween-themed games, play ghostly music and take turns to read ghost stories and the evening is sure to be one to remember! It’s also a great conduit through which children can socialise and perhaps grow stronger bonds.

Trick-or-Treating Activity

Children will absolutely love tricking-or-treating and it's sure to result in much giggling and laughter!Take the Halloween activities to an extra level by arranging a group trick-or-treat session, under adult supervision, for children in your street. They will absolutely love this activity and it’s sure to result in much giggling and laughter if it goes as planned. However, be sure to check with each neighbour before the day. In that way, they can opt out if they prefer not to get involved. For those that do take part, most neighbours usually go the ‘treat’ route but be ready for the possibility that a few may opt for the ‘trick’ option, in which scenario the children under your supervision will need to be ready with a fun but harmless trick. Some forethought and creative thinking may be needed there, with care being taken not to allow children to overstep the mark.

Also, be sure to buy suitable sweets or gifts for children who may trick-or-treat and knock on your door (age-appropriate, of course).

Visit a Local Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin patches make great family photo opportunities around Halloween time.Pumpkin patches are often wonderful places for children and families to spend a few hours in the run-up to Halloween. In such places, your little one can explore amongst hundreds of pumpkins and other gourds of different sizes and shapes. And, if they find one they take a liking to, they can usually be purchased to take home, or might even be included in the price if the venue has an entrance fee. Pumpkin patches often also have other Halloween-themed activities at this time of year, whether it’s displays where you can take memorable snaps of your child amongst the pumpkins, wheelbarrow rides for children across a pumpkin field, pop-up refreshments with Halloween-themed food and drink or pumpkin-decorating workshops, they’re always great fun for children. They really help to make Halloween the special time of year that it is.

Pumpkin patches are usually found on farms and agricultural locations, so you may not have one locally if you live in a big city like London. However, some may be a short train, bus or car ride away. Either way, try Googling ‘pumpkin patches near me‘ and see if any of the results throw up a pumpkin patch that’s within reach.

Decorate Pumpkins & Make Jack-O’-Lanterns

Family preparing a Jack-O'-Lantern pumpkin.Once you’ve sourced a suitable pumpkin for your child, it’s time for the really fun part — pumpkin carving and decorating! While the carving part may not be suited to children of a young age (knives are super-dangerous), they can usually help, under supervision, with scooping out the flesh and then, the most fun part of all, decorating. Pumpkins can depict faces, spiders, owls or any spooky imagery you or your little one can imagine. And, even if they may be too young to carve the holes,Examples of carved pumpkin Jack-O'-Lanterns. they can still decorate using paint or markers, or simply enjoy Mum or Dad getting creative on their behalves.

Once ready, the spooky pumpkin(s) are ready to display indoors or out once it gets dark. Adults should supervise if lighting the pumpkins with real-flame tea lights, or better still look out for flickering LED fake candles, which will be the safest option. Children will love looking at these pumpkin lanterns (also known as Jack-O’-Lanterns) glowing in the dark and they will really set the Halloween atmosphere.

The smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers, so there's no need for dangerous carving.TIP: Kids don’t even really need a pumpkin; the smallest of children can decorate oranges or yellow/orange bell peppers! They look really cute and an added bonus is that they avoid the need for any carving.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, London SW16

We hope today’s article gives children and families some good ideas for Halloween this year. These days, it’s simply a wonderful opportunity for children to have fun, socialise and get creative with friends and family. It’s also a unique milestone in the calendar each year and something children can really look forward to.

A Nursery Place for Your Baby, Toddler or Preschooler in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school 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 ProviderTrust your weekday childcare to a ‘Good Provider’ (it’s official!). We are a high-quality nursery and preschool located in Streatham, London SW16, offering a first-class early years education and childcare service to babies, toddlers and preschoolers under five. We may also suit if you’re located in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood. What’s more, we support free childcare through various Government schemes, making childcare more affordable for eligible families.

Request a place for your child, a tour, or more information below — we look forward to hearing from you:

The Power of Outdoor Play in Early Childhood

Outdoor play is one of the cornerstones of childhood learning and development and has an immense number of benefits.In today’s guide, we take a close look at the incredible importance of outdoor play for children, including those under five. Outdoor play isn’t just about fun; it’s one of the cornerstones of childhood learning and development and has an immense number of benefits for little ones. So, in this comprehensive article, we’ll explore why outdoor play is so essential for our youngsters and how its effects can be transformative. Let’s take a look…

Safety First!

Before we set off on our outdoor adventure, though, let’s put safety first. Outdoor play should always be supervised, especially for young children. Ensuring a safe environment is paramount. With that in mind, we invite you to explore our top tips for outdoor safety for children, which are designed to help supervising adults keep children secure while they explore and learn in The Great Outdoors.

Adventure Awaits Outdoors!

For children, the outdoors represents a magical place where fun, exploration and real adventure can take place.For children, the outdoors represents a magical place where fun, exploration and real adventure can take place. Picture a world where a simple stick can become a wizard’s wand, or a puddle can transform into a treasure-filled lagoon, and you’ll soon understand how exciting the outdoors can be for children. Indeed, outdoor play is the realm of limitless imagination. It offers children a vast canvas in which to immerse themselves into adventures, fostering creativity and igniting their instinctive curiosity.

Learning Through Exploration

The outdoors serves as a natural classroom where hands-on learning experiences provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge.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. Whether it’s identifying birds, navigating outdoor climbing equipment at the nursery, or discovering minibeasts, the world outside really is a superb teacher.

Physical Benefits of Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is a powerful catalyst for physical development. Activities like climbing, running, and jumping help children build stronger bodies. It enhances fitness, fine-tunes motor skills, and improves balance and coordination. These physical skills are real foundations for a healthy, active life.

Mental Well-being

A wealth of studies has illuminated the positive impact of outdoor play on children’s mental health. It reduces stress, anxiety, and depression and thereby goes a long way in promoting overall well-being. The calming, positive influence of nature and the opportunity to disconnect from screens and social media all contribute to a happier, healthier mindset in children of all ages.

Outdoor Play & the EYFS

Outdoor play also seamlessly aligns with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, another key cornerstone of early learning and development. It can potentially support all prime and key areas of the EYFS, especially aiding children in communication and language, physical development, personal, social, and emotional development, and understanding the world.

A Feast for the Senses

Outdoor play engages all the senses and sensory stimulation is particularly important during children's early years.Outdoor play engages all the senses and sensory stimulation is particularly important during children’s early years. That’s a time when millions of new pathways form in the brain with every interaction. From the vibrant colours of flowers to the feel of grass underfoot, children’s senses come alive in the outdoors, especially close to nature. Beyond the five main senses, proprioception (awareness of body position) and vestibular senses (balance and spatial orientation) also play a crucial role during outdoor play.

Screen-Free Zone

In today’s digital age, outdoor play offers a refreshing break from screens like TVs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. It encourages children to be more active and explore the real world. Outdoor play also fosters an interest in a healthier lifestyle that has less screen time and more physical activity. Such a balance is essential for overall well-being, health and fitness and may even contribute to a reduction in rates of obesity in children.

Natural Learning

When they’re playing outside, children will effortlessly learn about nature, the seasons, different types of flora and fauna, and how the environment functions.The outdoors serves as an exceptional classroom. When they’re playing outside, children effortlessly absorb knowledge about the world around them. In the open air, they will naturally learn about nature, seasons, different types of flora and fauna, and how the environment functions. It is true learning through discovery.

Social Bonds

Outdoor play is a catalyst for social interaction too. During outdoor play, children make new friends, strengthen existing friendships, and learn valuable social skills like sharing, cooperation, teamwork and conflict resolution. Such skills are the very building blocks of positive relationships and will stand children in good stead as they grow older.

Communication Skills

Communication skills absolutely flourish outdoors. Whether it’s narrating their imaginative adventures or engaging in conversations with peers, children will refine their communication skills in totally natural ways. Building on communication skills enhances their ability to express themselves effectively, builds confidence and is a key tool for their very survival when you think about it.

Cultivating Creativity

The outdoors gives children a myriad of opportunities for creative play.The open spaces of the outdoors also serve as a wonderful canvas for creativity. Children’s imaginations run wild outdoors as they invent games, stories, and art inspired by the natural world. Outdoor play encourages them to think in new, innovative, ways and to truly embrace their creative potential.

Risk Assessment

Outdoor play also empowers children to assess risks independently. While playing outdoors, they will learn to make decisions, evaluate situations, and take calculated risks, all of which will help prepare them for life’s challenges.

Building Confidence

As children master outdoor activities, their self-esteem, self-confidence, and independence will soon begin to flourish. Such qualities are vital for their overall growth, happiness and indeed future success.

Preparing for School…

All the benefits of outdoor play combine to help prepare children for the transition to school. The skills and lessons that outdoor play has taught them will help them enter formal education equipped with the social, cognitive, and physical skills they need to absolutely thrive.

…& Into Adulthood

Outdoor play is so much more than a childhood pastime; it represents a series of natural stepping stones in a child’s journey towards adulthood. The skills, knowledge, and well-being children gain from outdoor play will serve as the very foundations that will help them throughout their lives.

Outdoor Play at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Our childcare practitioners ensure that children are given every opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of outdoor activities that nurture learning, growth, curiosity, and resilience.At Little Cedars Nursery, we really understand the profound impact that outdoor play has on early childhood development. With that in mind, our childcare practitioners ensure that children are given every opportunity to immerse themselves in a wide range of outdoor activities that help to nurture every child’s learning, growth, curiosity, and resilience. And let’s not forget one more important factor about outdoor play — it’s simply immense fun for children! As such, it is a perfect way to facilitate learning in the most natural way of all — through play.

Childcare Places at Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school 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 ProviderAs a parent or guardian of a baby or child under five, you’ll naturally want to find the best nursery or preschool in your area, and Little Cedars certainly ticks all the boxes for childcare in the Streatham area. We are rated officially as a ‘Good Provider’ of childcare and early years education by Ofsted, so you know your child will be in good hands. We’re also convenient to families living/working in the following areas nearby: Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

To request a childcare place for your child, a guided tour, or answers to any questions you might have, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help:

 

Outdoor Safety for Kids — Top Tips for Parents

Outdoors, the fresh air, unstructured exploration, sensory-rich experiences, and social interactions contribute significantly to their holistic growth.As parents and caregivers, we understand the incredible value of outdoor play in our children’s development. The fresh air, unstructured exploration, sensory-rich experiences, and social interactions contribute significantly to their holistic growth. However, while we encourage outdoor adventures, safety must remain our top priority. With that in mind, this article provides some essential tips and precautions that will help to safeguard children during outdoor play. The suggestions can be used as a checklist, but parents/caregivers should use it only as a starting point and do their own risk assessments.

Always Keep an Eye Out

Let’s start with the most obvious; while outdoor play is a wonderful way for children to learn and grow, constant supervision is crucial. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your child, guiding them away from potential hazards and ensuring their safety at all times.

Set Boundaries and Rules

Ensure boundaries for outdoor play areas are understood by children under your care.Boundaries create a sense of security. Ensure boundaries are understood and that play areas have clear markers. Guide children to understand and respect these boundaries to reduce the risk of children wandering away — and potentially becoming lost.

Be Mindful of Traffic Risks

The bustling world outside may often involve traffic hazards that demand our utmost attention when children are under our care. To mitigate this risk, play areas are best located away from access to busy streets, ensuring that children are shielded from the dangers of passing vehicles. Drives where vehicles are parked are also best avoided.

Teach Stranger Safety

Outdoor play can bring encounters with unfamiliar faces. Teach your child about stranger danger and the importance of staying close only to trusted adults. Clear guidelines should be established in regard to possible interactions with strangers.

Stay Clear of Water Dangers

Ensure that play areas are far from water bodies, and when near any water source, always provide direct and continuous supervision.Children are naturally drawn to water, but it can pose significant risks. Ensure that play areas are far from water bodies, and when near any water source, always provide direct and continuous supervision. Even shallow water can be dangerous for little ones.

Mind the Terrain

Outdoor terrain can be uneven, and young children are prone to trips and falls. Before allowing your child to play, scan the area for potential trip hazards and clear them away. Teach your child to navigate uneven ground carefully.

Climbing Structures & Fall Prevention

It's important to teach children a safe approach to climbing.Although they’re young, children want to explore and will naturally want to climb as they get older. It’s therefore important to teach children a safe approach to climbing. This should include emphasising the importance of staying within safe heights to prevent falls, assisting with climbing technique and, of course, risk-assessing what they should and shouldn’t attempt to climb in the first place.

Sharp Objects & Tools

Children are naturally drawn to exploring their surroundings, which includes investigating potentially dangerous items. Therefore thoroughly inspect new play areas to remove sharp objects, tools, or equipment that could harm curious hands.

Beware Choking Hazards

Children’s natural curiosity when exploring may often lead them to want to put objects in their mouths. This can obviously be extremely dangerous, so ensure vigilance at all times. Inspect play areas to remove small items that could pose choking hazards, ensuring a safe space for our little ones to explore.

Flora & Fauna Hazards

Educate your child about the dangers of poisonous plants and fungi or insects that could harm them. Encourage them not to touch or eat anything unfamiliar.While exploring nature is exciting, it’s essential to be aware of potential dangers. Educate your child about the dangers of poisonous plants and fungi or insects that could harm them. Encourage them not to touch or eat anything unfamiliar.

Animal Encounters

Nature’s wonders may include encounters with wildlife. While we might cherish these experiences, we should take precautions to ensure outdoor spaces are free from potentially harmful creatures and educate children on respectful interactions with animals.

Hygiene and Sanitation

Promote hygiene by teaching children the importance of cleanliness during and after outdoor play.Outdoor exploration sometimes involves contact with dirt and mud. Promote hygiene by ensuring handwashing facilities are readily available and teaching children the importance of cleanliness after outdoor play.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Proper attire is crucial for outdoor play. Dress your child in weather-appropriate clothing, including hats and sunscreen for sun protection. When the weather becomes colder, layering of clothing will help to keep children warm in comfort.

Be Prepared for Changing Weather

Weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before outdoor playtime. Be prepared with a store of sunscreen when it’s sunny and raincoats or extra layers for when it turns cold and rainy. Suspend play during lightning storms or extreme weather conditions. Be mindful of slipping hazards when it’s wet.

Hydration and Breaks

Outdoor play can be physically demanding, so be sure your child stays hydrated. Provide breaks for rest and water to prevent exhaustion.

Allergen Awareness

Some children may have allergies triggered by outdoor elements. If your child is affected, be sure to maintain an allergen-free environment by regularly cleaning and inspecting play areas and educating friends and relatives about allergy management around your child.

Fire Safety Awareness

Children must be educated about the potential dangers of fire and be supervised during fire-related activities.Campfire stories can be delightful and intriguing for children, but we must always prioritise fire safety. If you decide to expose them to it, children must be educated about the potential dangers of fire and always supervised during any fire-related activities. Fostering a responsible understanding around fire safety is paramount.

Foster a Love for Nature

Encourage your child to appreciate and respect nature. Teach them to observe wildlife from a safe distance and not to disturb animals or their habitats. This helps to keep children and wildlife safe.

In Summary

As parents and caregivers, our priority is the safety and well-being of our children. By using these essential starting points, you can help ensure that your child’s outdoor play is not only fun and educational but also safe and secure. At Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham, we share your commitment to providing a safe environment for outdoor exploration. Our dedicated staff, thoughtfully designed play areas, and safety-conscious practices further enhance  the outdoor experiences of children under our care. Together, therefore, we can create enduring memories of outdoor adventures that are as secure as they are captivating, enriching and fun for our little ones.

Little Cedars Nursery: High-Quality Childcare in Streatham

A Childcare Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & pre-school 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 ProviderIf you are looking for the best nurseries or preschools in the Streatham area, do consider Little Cedars. We offer an outstanding weekday childcare service for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers under five. We’re also conveniently close to those living or working in Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

To apply for a childcare place, arrange a guided tour of the setting, or ask us any questions, please simply choose an option to contact us below:

Also: See Our Indoor Safety Guide

The above is a useful companion article to our earlier guide, 20 Ways to Childproof Your Home, which concentrates mostly on indoor safety. Click the bold blue link for more information.

Free Minibeast-Spotting Activity & Poster for Children

Today's minibeast-spotting activity is part of a series of nature-based children's activities that come with a free poster!Today’s minibeast-spotting activity is the third in a series of nature-based children’s activities and, like the others, comes with a free poster. As with the bird-spotting activity and butterfly-spotting poster, children can display this new minibeasts poster on their bedroom/nursery wall, or print it out for reference when they’re spotting minibeasts outdoors. This is another fun and educational nature-based activity and, as we know, spending time in nature is hugely beneficial to children, including the very young.

The minibeasts poster will help children identify 30 critters that are commonly seen in gardens, country walks, city parks and anywhere there are flowers, plants, trees or soil. Children can explore, under supervision*, to see how many of the creatures they can discover. To help record this, there are tick boxes that children can use to mark which ones they’ve so far spotted. Why not see how many they can identify over the summer and autumn? The poster is sized at A3 but can also be printed out smaller, e.g. at A4. It can also be viewed large, on screen, for glorious colour and detail.

Free Minibeasts Poster

Download our free minibeasts poster for children to find and identify.

Download Instructions

Left- or right-click the large image above to view the high-resolution poster or download it to your hard drive. Once downloaded, you can view it on a screen (Acrobat Reader required) and zoom in for the best detail. If printing out, print using high-quality printing paper for the best results. Print at A3 (full size) or reduce to fit if you are printing smaller, e.g. at A4. Smaller print-outs may be useful for children to take outdoors as visual reference.

Minibeasts

Minibeasts are essentially small creatures and insects that are commonly found in gardens or around plants, flowers, trees, compost heaps and soil. Some, like bumble bees, hoverflies and ladybirds, can be seen in flight or visiting flowers and plants. Others, like twig caterpillars, are harder to spot because they really do look like twigs. Minibeasts like woodlice and beetles may be found around rotting leaves, compost heaps, rotting wood and perhaps living under flowerpots. Earthworms and grubs may also be lurking in places like compost heaps.

Be Kind

With all these creatures, children should be taught to be careful not to unduly disturb or harm them. They’re very delicate indeed, and children should avoid manhandling them, accidentally treading on them and suchlike. Respect and empathy towards other creatures are wonderful things to teach children, so supervising adults are encouraged to explain how the minibeasts are living beings, with their own feelings, desires and the right to live in peace. Indeed, instilling such beliefs into children will help them be more aware of the need to protect the environment and Planet Earth as a whole. This activity may also be a great way to introduce children to the joys of outdoor play and being close to nature.

A Fun & Educational Nature-Based Activity for Children

So, have fun and stay safe*. Many great lessons can be learned by seeing and learning from the natural world, so get out today with your little one(s) and see how many types of minibeast you can each spot. Perhaps take some photos on a smartphone too!

Little Cedars: a High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Streatham 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 ProviderOfsted rates Little Cedars as a good provider of early years education and childcare, so you know your baby, toddler or preschooler will be in safe hands. We’re a childcare nursery/preschool in Streatham, London SW16, and give under-fives the very best start in life in a kind, caring home-from-home environment. If you’d like us to bring out the very best in your child and give them a flying start before they reach school age, please get in touch:

Our nursery is based in Streatham, close to Tooting Common and the A214. Our location means we may also be suited to families who require high-quality childcare in and around Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

*Child Safety

Please be mindful of the possible dangers associated with playing outdoors. Children, especially the very young, should be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult at all times. Vigilance should be shown around all dangers. These include, but are not limited to, things like stranger danger, bodies of water, trip hazards, possible drops in ground levels, things that can sting, possible toxins, poisonous plants and fungi, choking hazards, sharp objects, traffic, wildlife protecting their young, and so on. Risk assessments should be made on continually and it’s wise to educate children about all such risks. Learn more safety tips for outdoor play here.

Sowing & Growing Wildflowers - A Nature-Based Activity for Kids

This nature-based activity benefits the children taking part, the natural environment, pollinators like bees and butterflies and even humanity as a whole.In today’s guide, we outline a simple but powerful nature-based activity that will be both fun and educational for children and under-fives. This one is all about how to sow wildflower seeds. Once growing, these will bring beauty and wonder to any setting. The activity will also complement our recent Butterfly-Spotting Activity for Kids as it should result in exactly that kind of little visitor to the child’s world — along with bees, insects, hoverflies, damselflies, and possibly even dragonflies and birds. Sowing and growing wildflowers really is very simple and the results will be beneficial in a multitude of ways. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to approach this excellent children’s activity and learn why it’s so worthwhile.

The Benefits of This Nature-Based Activity

This type of nature-based activity benefits everyone and everything, including the children taking part, the natural environment, little pollinators like bees and butterflies and even humanity as a whole. Let’s take a quick look at some of those benefits:

  • Growing wildflowers is a fun and educational activity for children, including under-fives.Children benefit very much from spending time in nature, as we outlined in our article entitled “Nature & Its Incredible Importance to Children” last year. There is an incredible array of benefits associated with spending time in nature, so click the bold blue link above to learn more if you haven’t already read that enlightening article.
  • The activity will not only be fun for children, but it will also be educational. It’ll teach them about the circle of life, reproduction, care of the environment, care of and empathy for living things and also they will learn new skills and interests. It could even lead to a life-long hobby or career!
  • The wildflowers themselves will, of course, benefit as it gives them a home and somewhere to propagate/reproduce.
  • Pollinators like bees, butterflies and other insects will enjoy feeding on the pollen found in the wildflowers once they bloom. Pollen is absolutely essential to their survival.
  • The pollinators are thus called because they pollinate both the wildflowers and other plants and crops. By pollinating them, it allows them to reproduce new generations. That’s essential to the natural world and all the creatures in it. Crop reproduction is also, of course, essential to our own survival.

Choosing Seeds With Your Child

Children can help with the wildflower selection process and may enjoy doing so. There are several factors that may help children decide which to grow and parents can help steer children if needed. Factors may include:

  • You can choose which wildflowers your child will grow using various factors like colour, style and whether the wildflowers will attract pollinators.Colour(s) — Children can help decide whether to grow wildflowers of just one colour, a limited 2- or 3-colour palette or perhaps multiple colours. If parents have an existing colour theme in their garden or plant area, they may wish to point children in a particular direction, so as to keep that colour theme going.
  • Type and style — Children may also take a shine to a particular type of wildflower. A good example might be poppies, which mostly have the same style of flower but are available in different sizes and colours.
  • Compatibility with wildlife — Choosing wildflowers is a great opportunity to teach children that their choices have real-world effects on nature and the environment. For example, nudging children towards wildflowers that are pollinator-friendly, i.e. attracting creatures like bees and butterflies, is a great lesson to give them. It also adds an extra facet to the entire activity as they will later benefit from being able to see such adorable visitors coming to their wildflowers.
  • Cost and availability — Cost and availability are additional factors as some wildflower seeds may be harder or more expensive to obtain than others. Again, parents/caregivers can explain such factors to children and it will teach them further valuable lessons.

Where to Get Seeds for Your Child

There are several places to obtain wildflower seeds and they need not cost much, if any, money:

  • There are several places to obtain wildflower seeds and they need not cost much, if any, money.Free wildflower seeds can be harvested from existing wildflowers — either from your own wildflowers if you have them, or from those found in the wild along hedgerows and similar (N.B. only do so in moderation and for personal use). Timing will, of course, be critical because seeds will only be available at certain times of the year, i.e. when the wildflowers have “gone to seed” at the end of their flowering period.
  • Seed swap schemes may also be available in your neighbourhood or, if not, perhaps a scheme could be started amongst friends or with other parents at your child’s nursery or school.
  • Free or almost free seeds can sometimes be available from charities, organisations and even commercially if you get the timing right. Try a Google search for “free wildflower seeds UK” and you may be pleasantly surprised by the number of sources that will happily send you free wildflower seeds for your child to grow. Others, like Just Bee Honey, will send you free wildflower seeds if you cover the cost of postage (some simple terms apply).
  • Commercially-sold wildflower seeds are also, of course, readily available to buy from local outlets, supermarkets and online. If searching online, perhaps try a search query like “wildflower seeds for children” or “bee-friendly wildflower seeds for kids” or similar. You will be met with lots of options to choose from, so filtering down to pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds and those that are suitable for children to grow will help to narrow down the huge range of choices.

Safety First

This type of activity should be supervised by a responsible adult, paying particular care regarding hazards (e.g. ponds), potentially poisonous plants/seeds, and hygiene (e.g. contaminated soil, germs, etc.). Adults can also consider teaching children about the identification and mitigation of such dangers during the activity. They will thereby also learn about self-care, personal hygiene, risk assessment and suchlike. Children and adults should wash hands etc. with soap and water following completion of this activity. Learn more safety tips for children here.

The Activity — Instructions

Once you have obtained seeds, the rest is very easy and children will enjoy and learn from taking part in the various activities involved.

Teach the Importance of Timing

Timing is an important factor because you/your child will need to plan and know when the wildflower plants and flowers will actually appear. Apart from over winter, wildflower seeds will typically take between 60 and 80 days to grow and begin blooming. Start sowing no earlier in the year than March. Mid-to-late March is good as spring will arrive around the third week of that month here in the UK and it will therefore be nicer for children outdoors. Your child can sow seeds as late in the year as mid-October or even early November if there is no snow or frost, but they should be aware that planting the seeds that late in the year mean that they will not grow until spring of the following year.

If they want to attract the most butterflies to their flowers, then a good time to sow seeds is mid-May as peak butterfly time is 60 to 80 days later.

Choosing a Location to Sow the Seeds

Wildflower seeds can be sown in flower beds, pots, containers, window boxes or indeed on lawns if a ‘wildflower meadow’ type scene is preferred. The following guidelines for sowing should help but also read any specific instructions on seed packets if these have been purchased.

Simple Option:

Sowing a Wildflower ‘Meadow’

The most simple way to sow and locate seeds is to create a wildflower meadow.Sowing seeds on existing lawns that you/your child want as a wildflower meadow is simply a case of scattering seeds on the lawn, ideally spaced out in such a way that they don’t have to compete with each other once they start growing. Then ensure that the area of lawn is kept moist by either rain or, if there is no rain, regular sprinkling from a watering can fitted with a sprinkling head (a.k.a. ‘rose head’). Children may need to remind adults not to cut the lawn thereafter, of course!

Advanced Option:

Sowing in Soil – Just 6 Easy Steps

For sowing in locations where there is soil rather than grass, a little preparation will be required.

  1. Identify your intended spot, whether that’s an area in an existing garden flower bed, flower pots or containers, window boxes or grow bags on a patio or balcony. A fairly sunny spot is recommended.
  2. Ensure the soil is free of weeds. Children can help with weeding, if necessary, so long as they have guidance from an adult and are mindful of safety and hygiene considerations.
  3. The top inch or two of soil should be loosened, for example, using a rake if it’s a flower bed.
  4. Help your child to sprinkle seeds evenly so they’re not spaced too close to one another, otherwise, they’ll have to compete once they start growing. Sprinkling carefully from a height will help, e.g. by raising an arm, and/or simply sprinkling one pinch at a time with care.
  5. Once scattered, it’s best to ensure the seeds are embedded in the soil otherwise they could be blown away or even eaten by wildlife. Therefore the soil can be patted down so it’s no longer loose. This will help keep seeds in place.
  6. Lastly, your child will need to be reminded to keep the area moist through regular watering, while taking care not to over-water.

Then wait for nature’s magic to happen!

Wait and Watch Out for the Wildflowers

Children will love seeing bees, butterflies, and other insects visiting their home-grown wildflowers.Children will love it once the wildflowers begin to grow and later bloom. They’ll also love seeing bees, butterflies, and other insects visiting and the results of the activity may indeed give them a great sense of accomplishment. The whole process and the results are quite magical when you think about it.

Don’t Forget — the Final Step for Children

Once the wildflowers are past the prime of their flowering stage, remind children to look out for the appearance of seeds and seed pods. You can either teach your child to leave these to self-seed for next year or help them to safely harvest the seeds. These can be stored somewhere safe and dry, ready to repeat the entire process next time.

All in all, this nature-based activity is a perfect way to demonstrate the circle of life to children.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Childcare Service in Streatham, Southwest London

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 you have found this nature-based activity useful and of interest to your little one. Little Cedars Nursery represents an outstanding choice for weekday childcare, offering a high-quality early years education for babies and children under five. We are a nursery, as well as a preschool, in Streatham, in Southwest London, so may suit families with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. We nurture all children under our care so that, by the time they leave us, they have become the very best versions of themselves and are as ‘school-ready’ as they can possibly be. We also support all Government-funded free childcare schemes.

Why not arrange a guided visit with your child, so you can see the setting in action? Ask us questions, see how your little one fits in and, if you like the nursery/preschool, we’d love you to apply for a place for your child. Please select a button to get started:

While Little Cedars Nursery is based in Streatham, it’s also conveniently close for families in and around Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Bird Feeders: a Creative ‘Nature’ Activity for Kids

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is to help them make bird feeders.A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders. There are many ways to approach this creative, fun activity and it’s sure to result in lots of our feathered friends visiting. Birds are delightful creatures that are simply a joy to see and hear. They will also greatly appreciate the extra food, particularly at times of the year when it’s more scarce or when they have little mouths to feed. So, this is an activity that’s a win for everyone! Some birds may even become regulars if the food is topped up. In fact, we’ve given some of our own visiting birds names as they now come every day and even stare through the window at us when food needs topping up! With all this in mind, today, we take a look at some of the simple ways children can make home-made bird feeders to encourage birds to visit. Take a look and see how easy and creative the activity can be.

The Quickest & Most Simple Bird Feeder

The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is an apple feeder.The fastest and easiest bird feeder for children/families to make is simply an apple. This can either be hung with string from a tree branch, bush, or similar, or the apple can be ‘spiked’ on the pointy end of a tree branch, a strong twig or something like a bamboo pole embedded in the ground (so long as it’s tall enough to keep birds safe* from predators). Easy! We suggest stripping some of the apple skin off to expose the flesh. Apples are a particular favourite of blackbirds and bluetits, amongst others.

Tip!

Don’t worry if birds do not come right away after you’ve put out your bird feeder. Birds and most wild animals are suspicious of any changes, so it may take a few days before they learn to trust the new feeder.

Monkey Nut Chains

Monkey nuts can be threaded into chains as a bird feeder suspended between branches of a tree.This is also a very easy bird feeder for children/families to make. All you need is some string and some monkey nuts* (peanuts still in their outer husk). A supervising adult will need to make some small holes in one end of each husk and then string can be threaded through to form a kind of chain (like a necklace). Monkey nuts can be threaded on to form the right length and then this can be tied between the branches of a tree, or similar. See our note about safely locating* them, though.

Home-made Seed Cakes

Home-made seed cakes are both easy and fun for children to make.Home-made seed cakes are another type of bird feeder that is both easy and fun for children to make. Basically, they consist of lots of seeds mixed into a ‘cake’ made from either suet* or lard*. The seeds are mixed in when the lard or suet is melted, so parents/adults will need to help with that part as it’s done by heating it in a saucepan. Once melted, the seeds can be added and mixed in. Once cool enough to be safe, the children can take over to make most of the feeders. First, a piece of string can be tied from the centre of the base of something like a flower pot or yoghurt pot (parents should make the hole, if needed). Then the child can mould the seed cake into the pots, or other similar plastic containers. Once cooled, the seed cakes will harden and can then be suspended from the branches of a tree, bush, fence post or under the eaves of a house or outbuilding. Bluetits, great tits, starlings and robins will usually be the first to try out the new cakes.

A Word About Seeds & Cheese

Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders.Your choice of seeds directly affects the success – or otherwise – of your bird feeders. While many commercially-available seed mixtures contain several different types of seed, we have found that birds ignore some of them, so they go to waste. Our own bird feeders have been far more popular when they use more sunflower ‘hearts’ (the sunflowers without the other case) and less of the wheat and barley type seeds. Crushed peanuts* are also popular, but see our notes below about the safety of both baby birds and children when it comes to nuts.

TIP: birds like robins, starlings, wrens, dunnocks and blackbirds also adore grated (mild) Cheddar cheese, but ensure you only put out a little at a time. Don’t give them too much because, although they love it, it should only be given as an occasional treat, not a main meal. It’s also important never to let it go mouldy; mould can kill birds, which is also a reason never to give them blue or veined cheese.

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder.All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*.Another type of bird feeder that is both fun and easy to make is a pine cone feeder. All you need is a big pine cone, ideally with the cone splines open, a birdseed mixture and either peanut butter*, suet* or lard*. All your child needs to do is paste the peanut butter (or suet or lard that’s been safely warmed to soften it) all over the pine cone, including into the open splines. Then the whole thing can be rolled over your seed mixture, so the seeds stick all over the pine cone. Once complete, the pine cone feeder can be hung with a piece of string in an appropriate place outside. Even better: hang several together so the birds can’t miss them. The birds will love pecking them when they’re hungry.

Carton Bird Feeders

Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative.Bird feeders made from recycled cartons can be great fun, fairly easy and can be quite creative. All you need is an empty milk or juice carton, by which we mean the card ‘Tetra Pak’ type, plus some bird seed/food and some string. Parents will need to help younger children safely attach the string to the tops of the cartons and cut flaps/openings into the sides of the carton. These can be folded down, as shown in the photo, and suspended outside somewhere suitable for the birds. For extra creative fun, children can first paint patterns, designs or even faces on the cartons. This type of bird feeder is great because it not only holds the bird food but also potentially gives birds somewhere safe to land while feeding. As they were originally for holding liquid, they can alternatively be used to hold drinking water for birds — or perhaps children can make one for food and another for drinking water.

Plastic Bottle Bird Feeders

Clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water.Children can get creative with how they use plastic bottles to feed birds.In a similar way, clear plastic bottles can be used as bird feeders or for water. The same approach can be used but flaps are not advised as they’re trickier for children to fold and also plastic bottles will have sharper edges than the carton approach above. So, this particular type of bird feeder needs extra supervision from a parent or adult. Take a look at the photos to see what’s possible, though. One photo (the first small image at the start of this article) even shows a plastic spoon that’s used as a landing platform and seed dispenser, all in one. Once finished, plastic bottle feeders tend to last a long time, so long as they’re regularly cleaned and refilled.

*Bird Safety & Well-being

Peanut butter, if used, should be free of salt, sugar and flavouring. During breeding season (Mar-Aug) it should be smooth, so it’s safe for baby birds.Peanuts and monkey nuts, if used, should be unroasted and clear of any fungus (break open the outer husk/check the nut surface). Do not touch or use if present.Suet, if used, should be beef suet i.e. from cows. It should be hard and crumbly, not soft and squeezable. Other suets may not be safe for birds.
Lard, if used, should be pure lard. It should remain hard even in warmer weather and should not be squeezable. It is unsafe for birds if it melts in the sun.Locating your bird feeder is important. To keep birds safe from predators, site at least 1.5m above ground and under the overhang of trees/bushes or eaves.Change bird drinking water and clean bird feeders regularly to avoid spreading disease or bacteria amongst the birds. See RSPB guidelines, available here.

**Child Hygiene & Safety

  • Supervise Children

    Children should be supervised by a responsible adult to keep them safe from harm e.g. from sharp tools like scissors and knives and choking hazards like nuts and string.

  • Encourage Good Hygiene

    Encourage children to maintain good hygiene. They should wash hands with soap and water after touching bird feeders, suet, lard, seeds etc. and/or wear rubber gloves.

  • Be Allergy Aware

    Ensure your child is not allergic to any of the bird food before coming into contact with it, e.g. peanuts, seeds, etc.

This article was brought to you by Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham. We hope that it was useful and that you and your little one(s) enjoy the suggested activities.

Little Cedars: a First Class Nursery & Preschool in Streatham

Little Cedars is a great choice for families looking for high-quality childcare in Streatham or near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury or 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 ProviderAre you searching for the best nursery or preschool for your child in Streatham? Let us show you and your little one around and we’re sure you’ll soon see how well they would fit in. We offer children under five the very best start in life in a well-equipped, expertly staffed, home-from-home environment.

Apply for a nursery place, book a tour or get answers to any questions by selecting an option below:

Little Cedars may also be conveniently located if you are looking for nurseries/preschools near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

Free Bird-Spotting Activity Poster for Children

The high resolution bird images show great detail if you zoom in.Spring arrives in the UK on 20th March, according to the meteorological calendar. As well as plants beginning to shoot, daffodils flowering and trees starting to bud, an increased number of wild birds can now be seen too. While a few overwintered here in England, many will have spent winter abroad, where it’s warmer, and only begin to return to the UK once spring begins. So, come springtime, more and more varieties of birds can be spotted — and that’s what today’s post is all about. To encourage children to appreciate, enjoy and learn from nature, we have put together a bird identifier poster that children and parents can download for free, print out to A3 or A4, or view on screen in beautiful high resolution. It highlights 37 species of bird that are popular in England, which children can try to spot as the days and weeks go by. Children can perhaps tick off each type of bird that they spot. With a little help from parents for the youngest children, this activity is a great way to teach them the different bird names and help them to recognise the different types as time goes by. It’s also a great children’s pastime that will encourage them to really appreciate nature. The A3 poster is free to download and share — simply click the preview image below to save or view it in Acrobat PDF format. Enlarge on screen for extra detail or simply print out as large as you can. Children will love this activity and feel a real sense of achievement as they learn more about these wonderful, feathered visitors.

Free A3 Bird Identifier Poster Download:

British Birds Identifier — Free A3 reference poster of the most popular birds — for Children.

Nature is So Good for Children

One of life’s great pleasures is the natural world and nature is something that’s beneficial to children in many profound ways (click the bold link to learn more). Children, including those under five, should be encouraged to spend time around nature, outdoors in the fresh air, whether that’s in the countryside, a park or in a garden (all under adult supervision, of course). Our bird-spotting poster is a great way to encourage them to get outside and take a close look at their natural surroundings. And, of course, putting out home-made bird feeders somewhere suitable will help. We’ll cover that topic in a future post as it’s also great fun for little ones.

37 Types of Bird are Featured

We’ve selected our favourite birds from hundreds of species that visit the UK. This is a Long-tailed Tit.We’ve selected our favourite birds from the hundreds of species that visit the UK each year. There was no way to fit in all of them, so we’ve picked out the most common visitors to our own gardens and nearby parks. In addition, we also added a few extra birds that would be great for children to keep a lookout for, despite a few being shy. Owls are around, for instance, coming out mostly at night. However, barn owls can be seen before dark if you know where to look (the sound of owls hooting or screeching is a dead giveaway). Buzzards, Red Kites and Sparrowhawks are more likely to be seen in the sky overhead, so we’ve shown images where their distinctive silhouettes can give their species away to the onlooker.

We have not yet included waterfowl, ducks, geese, herons, gulls and suchlike in this first bird collection, but may follow up with a second poster if this one proves popular. Let us know what you think!

More Ways for Children to Identify Birds

With a little bit of help from an adult, there are additional, fun ways for children to identify birds in the UK too, all courtesy of the wonderful R.S.P.B. Take a look at some of their bird identification tools available online:

Looking for Good Nurseries or Preschools in Streatham?

Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery & preschool in Streatham, offering high-quality childcare services 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 ProviderAre you looking for the best nursery or preschool in Streatham? We’d love to show you and your child around Little Cedars Nursery if so. We provide high-quality weekday childcare and a rich early years education for babies and under-fives. Our nursery/preschool is also convenient if your family is near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

To apply for a nursery place, book a guided tour or ask a question, please get in touch using an option below: