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 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.

Child Benefit: a Complete Guide for Parents/Guardians (2023/24 Edition)

Today’s guide aims to explain everything you ever wanted to know about Child Benefit in the UK. This benefit could be a lifesaver with the current economy and interest rates being what they are. Learn the rules around eligibility, discover how much you can get, and see how many children you can claim for. We’ll also explain what impact your earnings may have, how long you can continue claiming for, and much more. So, if you’re responsible for bringing up a child, take a look!

What Is Child Benefit?

Child Benefit is a financial support scheme designed to help parents and guardians with the costs of raising children.Child Benefit is a financial support scheme, provided by the UK Government, that’s there to assist parents and guardians in covering the costs of raising children. It is an essential part of the social safety net in the United Kingdom and aims to help families with the financial responsibilities that come with bringing up children. Eligible families are free to spend Child Benefit however they like, whether that’s on children’s clothes, food, or something else.

Who is Eligible to Claim Child Benefit?

In the UK, Child Benefit is available to those primarily responsible for raising a child under the age of 16, or under 20 if they’re in approved education or training (N.B. that’s unless they get paid for working 24 or more hours per week instead, begin an apprenticeship, or claim certain benefits themselves).

Child Benefit is usually paid to the person who is primarily “responsible for the child’s care”.

To be eligible, you must be living in the UK, the child you’re claiming for must reside with you, and you must be spending at least the equivalent of the benefit you’ll receive on caring for your child (e.g. through food, clothes, etc.). Up to a certain level, income doesn’t affect eligibility (we’ll explain rules around income later in this guide*) and you do not need to be working. Note also that savings do not affect eligibility. Interestingly, you do not necessarily have to be the child’s parent in order to claim, although only one person can claim for a particular child.

More details about eligibility for Child Benefit can be found here, including some caveats, exceptions and special circumstances.

How Many Children Can You Claim For?

There are no restrictions on the number of children you can claim for, so each child in your care can be covered if you're eligible.You can claim Child Benefit for all of your children who meet the eligibility criteria. It may surprise some to learn that there are no restrictions on the number of children you can claim for (unlike with some other types of Government child support), so each eligible child in your care can be covered under this benefit.

How Much Do You Get?

For the 2023/24 tax year, the rates for Child Benefit have increased to the following levels:

• For the eldest or only child: £24.00 per week;
• For additional children: £15.90 per week for each additional child.

Example:

If you are responsible for looking after 3 eligible children, you will get 1 x £24 per week plus 2 x £15.90 each week. That amounts to £55.80 per week or £2901.60 per annum.

These rates can be a valuable contribution to your family’s finances and provide some relief from the costs associated with raising children. They are usually paid to you monthly, however, you may be able to arrange weekly payments in some circumstances. The money is paid directly to you and can be paid into most types of bank or building society accounts, with the exception of Post Office card accounts and Nationwide Cash Builder accounts with sort code 07 00 30 that are registered in someone else’s name.

* How Do Your Earnings Affect It?

Child Benefit can be affected by your or your partner’s individual income if either of you earns over £50,000 annually.Child Benefit can be affected by your or your partner’s individual income if either of you earns over £50,000 annually. In such cases, you may have to pay a ‘High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge’. This charge gradually reduces your Child Benefit entitlement if your income is between £50,000 and £60,000. Indeed, if your income exceeds £60,000, you’ll likely have to repay the entire amount through this tax charge. We’ll cover more of the detail in the next section below…

Is Child Benefit Subject to Income Tax?

Whether Child Benefit is subject to Income Tax depends on the level of you/your partner’s income:

  • If you or your partner earn less than £50,000 per year, Child Benefit is not subject to Income Tax, i.e. it is tax-free.
  • If you or your partner earn over £50,000 and no more than £60,000 per annum, you will need to repay 1% of your Child Benefit income for every £100 earned over the £50,000 threshold. This is done through a special kind of income tax called the ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’.
  • Because that equates to 10% for every £1000 of Childcare Benefit received, 100% of Childcare Benefit has to be repaid through the special income tax charge if you or your partner’s income reaches the upper (£60,000) threshold.

Is Child Benefit Affected by Universal Credit?

No, child benefit is not affected by anything you receive through Universal Credit. As separate schemes in their own right, each is paid independently of the other.

Can Child Benefit Contribute Towards Your State Pension?

Child Benefit will count towards your state pension National Insurance (NI) contributions if the child you are claiming for is under 12 and you are either not in work or do not have sufficient earnings for NI contributions. However, should you not need the NI State Pension credits yourself, you may be able to ask for them to be transferred to your partner/spouse in some circumstances.

How Do You Claim Child Benefit?

Child Benefit can be claimed online or via downloadable paper forms.Claiming Child Benefit is a straightforward process:

  • You can apply online through the official Government website. Fill out the necessary details and submit the form, and you should start receiving your payments within a few weeks. Learn more about how to claim online and what information you’ll need by watching this video.
  • Alternatively, you can use a physical claim form. Two versions of the form exist: a CH2 form to use if you are claiming for up to two children and a CH2 (CS) form for any children in addition to those. Use the bold links to download and print out the forms if you decide to go with the ‘paper’ option.

Tip!

Payments can only be backdated by 3 months. It’s therefore wise to make any claim before your child reaches the age of 3 months.

How Long Can You Claim For?

You can usually claim this benefit until your child reaches the age of 16. However, if your child continues in approved education or training, you can still receive this benefit until they turn 20. As we said before, that’s unless they are paid for working 24 hours or more per week instead of their education or training.

Child Benefit is a crucial source of financial support, helping to ease the financial burden of raising children for eligible families. Be mindful of the income thresholds that may affect your entitlement, and ensure you claim it promptly to access the full value of this funding. Also, keep in mind that Government policies and rates may change over time, so it’s advisable to check the official Government website links above for the most up-to-date information on Child Benefit.

A Nursery Place for Your Child at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, London SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle 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.

At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, SW16, we are mindful of the significant costs associated with bringing up a child. We therefore support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families. Parents/guardians can also rest assured that we’ll give babies, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life, in a warm, nurturing environment. And, as Ofsted agree, we are a good nursery and early years provider.

If you’d like to register your child for a nursery place, ask us a question or arrange a tour of the nursery/preschool with your little one, please get in touch — we’ll be delighted to help.

Our childcare service is based in Streatham near Tooting Common and the A214. As such, it is also conveniently located for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

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.

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.

The Progress Check at 2 – it's purpose, who & what are involved, etc.

At Little Cedars Nursery, we understand the importance of monitoring growth in children’s learning and development and ensuring they are reaching their full potential. With that in mind, today’s article is a detailed guide to the Progress Check at Two. An essential milestone in children’s early development, the assessment leads to profound benefits for young children. So, today, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the Progress Check at Two, its purpose, what to expect, and how parents* can actively participate.

The Purpose of the Progress Check at 2

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a comprehensive evaluation conducted for children who have reached the age of two. This assessment, completed prior to their third birthday, examines their progress across various essential areas of their learning and development journey. Its primary aim is to identify any areas where additional support or intervention1 may be needed. By closely monitoring children’s progress, early years providers can tailor their approach to meet each child’s unique needs and thereby ensure children’s optimum growth and success.

1. In cases where specific educational needs or disabilities are identified, a collaboration between the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and relevant health professionals or specialists will be built into the support plan that’s tailored to the child’s requirements.

The Significance of the Age of 2

The age of two is a pivotal period in a child’s development. It is during this stage that a child’s progress in learning, speech, language, cognitive abilities, physical growth, and social-emotional development becomes increasingly clear. Ensuring that each area is developing optimally at this early stage will have long-term benefits for the child, so it is important to confirm that everything is on track. A solid foundation for the child’s long-term growth and success can then be built.

Key Areas of Focus

The Progress Check at 2 concentrates on children’s progress primarily in the three ‘prime’ areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. These are:

  1. Communication and Language,
  2. Physical Development, and
  3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

However, those involved in conducting the assessment often also evaluate children’s progress in the remaining four ‘specific’ areas of the EYFS curriculum. These are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and lastly Expressive Arts and Design.

Preparing Children for School

Initiating the Progress Check at 2 and providing early support increases the likelihood of children overcoming developmental challenges before starting school. This proactive approach prevents setbacks during this crucial period in children’s lives. Without such intervention, children may face difficulties at the beginning of their educational journey, potentially hindering their overall growth and learning long into the future. Without a doubt, the Progress Check at 2 is vital in facilitating a smooth transition into school and fostering children’s long-term success.

Who is Involved?

The Progress Check at 2 is a collaborative effort between a child’s early years childcare provider, their parents and, if applicable, their health visitor and any external professionals that may be involved in the child’s early years learning and development.

The Role of Parents in the Progress Check at 2

The importance of parental involvement during a child’s early years education cannot be overstated. Such involvement is particularly invaluable to early years educators and childcare providers during the progress check. Ultimately, it is also crucially important to the child being assessed. Parents are therefore encouraged to share any observations or concerns that they may have regarding their child’s development. Their insights, combined with those of the child’s childcare/early years provider and those of any external professionals (if applicable), create a holistic picture of a child’s growth and progress. It thereby enables providers like Little Cedars Nursery to organise tailored support to address children’s specific needs most effectively.

The Report

Following the assessment, parents will receive a written summary of the report. This outlines their child’s achievements, strengths, and any areas for further development. The report serves as a valuable tool that allows all involved parties to track a child’s progress over time and to devise a plan of action to support their individual growth trajectory. It also serves as a basis for ongoing communication and collaboration between the childcare/early years provider and the child’s family.

To Sum Up

The Progress Check at 2 is a significant milestone in every child’s early development journey. At Little Cedars Nursery, we are committed to fostering a supportive and engaging environment that nurtures each child’s unique abilities. By actively participating in the progress check process, parents are ensuring that their child receives the necessary support and resources to absolutely flourish. Together, we can help children reach their full potential and prepare them for a successful educational journey ahead.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is a ‘Good Provider’ of Childcare & Early Years Education in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle 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.

Little Cedars is a good nursery — and that’s official, says OfstedOur nursery and preschool are in Streatham, SW16 but are also conveniently close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. We may therefore suit families living or working in those locations.

At Little Cedars Nursery free childcare is available as all Government childcare funding schemes are supported for eligible families (follow the bold links for more information).

Please choose a button below if you’d like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask a question or arrange a guided tour to see how well your child would fit in. We’ll be delighted to help!

A Clarification:

The ‘Progress Check at 2’  is Different to the ‘2-Year Review’ — but they’re Intertwined

As well as the ‘Progress Check at 2’, there is another, related assessment called the ‘2-Year Review’. Although both occur around the same age, they each serve distinct purposes. In contrast to the Progress Check at 2, the 2-Year Review is more about the child’s health and well-being. It is undertaken by healthcare professionals such as health visitors and assesses overall health. This includes things like immunisation status, physical and mental development, well-being, and parental support. Although separate, the two reviews share overlapping areas and, for that reason, are often conducted simultaneously. The result is thereby a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s development at this key age.

* To avoid repetition in this article and for the sake of brevity, the term ‘parents’ is used as a placeholder for parents, guardians or caregivers.

Free Butterfly-Spotting Activity Poster for Children.

See high resolution detail when you zoom in on the butterfly images in the poster. Following on from our bird-spotting article and poster published in March, we now bring you a matching butterfly-spotting activity. Butterflies are both beautiful and adorable. As such, children will love them and will enjoy spending time around them during this activity. Like before, it comes with another free poster for children to print out, display, learn from and enjoy. Butterfly spotting is another wonderful way to get children outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and benefit from everything that nature has to offer.

This time around, we showcase 36 beautiful butterflies that can be seen in many parts of Britain. Indeed, that was one of the main criteria we used when deciding which butterflies to include. Having said that, some of the butterflies will be more common than others and we really don’t expect every child to spot all 36 butterflies that are featured — although it’s possible if they’re patient and adventurous! It’s a lovely challenge for children, though, and spotting such beautiful creatures may begin to instil in them an appreciation of nature and all the amazing creatures within it. That would be a good thing because nature is more under threat than ever and children of today will eventually become custodians of Britain’s phenomenal natural environment. Nature will also benefit children in many profound ways, including spiritually and even academically.

Free Butterfly Poster

Identify 36 different British Butterflies using our free A3 reference poster — it's educational and fun for children.

Download Instructions

View the poster in the greatest detail onscreen by clicking the big image above or, with some web browsers, you may need to first download it by right-clicking and then saving. Then view it in Acrobat Reader, which is available free. From Acrobat, print out the poster at full size (A3) or choose ‘reduce to fit’ if your printer is only A4. We recommend using high-quality printing paper and the highest settings for the best results, glorious colour, and the finest detail.

Attract butterflies by putting out fruit wedges — they love the sugary taste of ripe oranges, grapefruits, nectarines, bananas, strawberries and apples!

Shown on the poster are some of the more commonly-known butterflies like Large Whites, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells. However, children may also spot some lesser-known butterflies like Purple Emperors, Orange Tips, Green Hairstreaks and Adonis Blues. Butterflies have wonderful names, don’t they? Parents can help younger children with names, as we don’t expect them to be able to read them all if they’re very young. The young will also need supervising outdoors, of course, for their safety.

Look but Don’t Touch the Butterflies

For the poster, we’ve chosen the butterflies most likely to be found widely in the UK. This is a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.We must also add that children should be encouraged to ‘look but don’t touch’ as butterflies are very delicate creatures. Children should not try to touch or catch them — they are best left in peace as every one of them is a little individual that simply wants to go about his or her day. They’re wonderful to watch, though, and our free poster should help children and adults identify many of the different types. Perhaps see how many different species can be spotted over the course of a year. Take photos too, and compare them with friends! Some butterflies visit gardens, floral window boxes and parks while others may only be found in wilder locations in the countryside. This activity is therefore a great excuse for families to get out and explore The Great Outdoors! Recording the date and location of each butterfly spotted will also help families work out where the best butterfly-spotting locations are for next time.

Fun fact: Butterflies have taste buds on their feet!

Butterflies are In Decline

Sadly, many butterflies are in decline, with studies reporting a 40% drop in populations in recent decades. That’s really sad, so it’s imperative that they and their precious habitats are not unduly disturbed. Therefore, please do take care. If anything, habitats need to be restored and greater protections put in place. Raising awareness of the plight of butterflies and other creatures in decline, like bees and birds, is therefore something that’s also important for children to be aware of. After all, as they grow older, they will eventually take over stewardship of the natural world and can help to steer decision-makers to improve things if they’ve developed a deep-seated interest in nature by the time they become adults.

The Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly CountWith that in mind, why not take this activity a step further and get involved in the UK’s annual Big Butterfly Count? For 2023, it takes place between Friday the 14th of July and Sunday the 6th of August, which is when most butterflies are at their adult stage. All it takes is 15 minutes and children will love being little ‘citizen scientists’! The activity can be done in gardens, parks, school grounds or out in the countryside. Taking part will give children a real opportunity to help with butterfly conservation.

Learn more about the Big Butterfly Count here. The page includes links to a free smartphone app that will help you/your children during the butterfly counting activity.

A Fun, Educational & Worthwhile Activity for Children

We hope families and children enjoy their butterfly-spotting activities and use our free poster to learn the names. In this way, they can get to recognise some of the different types of butterflies when they spot them when out and about. It’s a fascinating activity and butterflies are both amazingly beautiful and incredibly endearing. As pollinators, they’re extremely important too and represent a barometer for the health of the natural world. Learning more about butterflies and nature is therefore incredibly important and beneficial for children — and ultimately for the planet. So, we encourage children to dive into this activity at the earliest opportunity. Have fun, be gentle and stay safe.

Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, 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 ProviderLittle Cedars is a high-quality nursery/preschool in Streatham SW16, providing childcare excellence for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under 5 years of age. If you’re looking for a good nursery or preschool for your child, arrange a free tour with us and we’ll show you and your little one around. You’ll be able to get answers to any questions you have and also you’ll see how well your child fits in. Ours is a lovely, welcoming, home-from-home environment where the very best is brought out of every child under our care, so your child will be in good hands. As well as looking after them while parents work or recharge, every child receives an excellent early years education and is prepared for a great start once they leave us to start school. Please choose a button to contact us today, arrange a guided tour or to apply for a place for your child; we’ll be happy to help.

Little Cedars Nursery: high-quality childcare services in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is located in Streatham, just a stone’s throw from Tooting Common and the A214. As well as suiting those families in Streatham and Tooting, we may also be conveniently located for those looking for a nursery or preschool near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or 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.

The Blossom Parent App (Rough Guide)

Staying on top of children’s activities, nappy changes, meals, and developmental milestones can be a challenge for parents when they happen away from home at the child’s childcare nursery. At Little Cedars, however, we use the Blossom app to take care of all of this. The mobile phone app is designed to help make things easier for parents by providing real-time updates on children’s activities and progress, as well as providing a convenient platform for communication between parent and childcare provider. In today’s guide, we’ll take a closer look at the Blossom app, its benefits, and how it can be used to bolster the partnership between childcare providers and parents.

“A window into your child’s time at nursery. Accessible from anywhere. Anytime.”

The Blossom Parent App - example screens.

Features & Benefits of the Blossom App

The Blossom app is fully-featured and provides a wide range of benefits for parents and ultimately their children. Let’s take a look at some of the features and benefits you can expect:

Blossom Allows you to Stay Connected with your Child’s Activities

Blossom allows you to see and celebrate your child's achievements, developmental progress and milestones.With the Blossom app, you can get real-time updates on your child’s activities at nursery/pre-school, including nappy changes, meals, naps, and developmental moments. You can also view photos and videos of your child’s day, helping you feel connected to your child even when you’re not there.

It Helps you Celebrate your Child’s Achievements & Share Developmental Milestones

Blossom allows you to see and celebrate your child’s achievements, developmental progress and milestones, including new skills they’ve learned, special projects they’ve completed, and social interactions they’ve had with their peers. The app also allows you to take photos and feed back to the nursery about progress achieved at home. This is a great way to keep them up-to-date too, while your child is away from their care.

“View your child’s golden moments and formative reports to see how they are blossoming.”

Seamless & Instant Communication with your Childcare Provider

The app provides a convenient platform for 2-way communication with your childcare provider, enabling you to ask questions, provide updates, and receive feedback in real-time. This is particularly useful, for example, if you are going to be late dropping your children off, late picking them up, or if they are unwell.

A Strong Childcare Provider/Parent Partnership

Building a strong partnership between parents and childcare providers is a crucial part of building strong early years foundations for any child. The Blossom parent app makes this natural and easy. It even includes suggestions for activities that can be undertaken with children at home, all explained step by step.

“Through Blossom we track and understand your child’s learning more effectively and build strong, trusting parent partnerships.”

Blossom Provides Flexibility

With the Blossom app, you can rest assured that you're always up-to-date on your child's activities.The Blossom app also provides a useful mechanism for booking non-standard childcare sessions that fall outside of your child’s usual days and hours. With the app, you simply request a particular session and the childcare provider will see your request and let you know whether it’s approved.

It Gives Parents Peace of Mind

With the Blossom app, you can rest assured that you’re always up-to-date on your child’s activities, and can quickly and easily get in touch with your childcare provider if needed. This provides unrivalled peace of mind for parents, particularly if they feel anxious about leaving their child in someone else’s care.

Important Information About Your Child

The app provides for a profile for each child, where you can view and update their personal information, such as their name, date of birth, likes, dislikes and any allergies. The latter is particularly crucial reference for the childcare provider when it’s time to provide food or snacks.

Useful Information About Parents

The app also provides a profile for parents, where you can view and update your personal information, including your contact details and emergency contacts. Should your child become ill, these will be invaluable to childcare staff and will ultimately aid the well-being of your child.

The app also allows you to view and pay invoices from your childcare provider from within the app, and keep track of your payment receipts.Convenient Payment & Invoicing

The app also allows you to view and pay invoices from your childcare provider from within the app, and keep track of your payment receipts. This makes it easy to manage your childcare payments and keep track of your finances.

Getting Started With the Blossom App

Getting started with the Blossom app is easy and it is available for download for both iOS and Android devices*. Simply go to the App Store or Google Play Store as appropriate for your device, search for “Blossom Parent App”, and download the app to your device. Be sure that it’s the one shown in our preview image.

The Blossom Parent App (shown for IOS). Download links are available for IOS and Android later in this article.

*Blossom also allows for updates via email for those without smartphones.

Connect With Your Childcare Provider

You’ll need to enter your email address and connect with your childcare provider through the app. If you cannot, check with your nursery/childcare provider that they have registered you for an account and ensure you are entering the email address associated with that account. Once you’ve set up your account and connected with your childcare provider, you can start using the app.

Set Up Your Profiles

When you first join the app, you’ll need to set up a profile for your child. This will include information such as their name, date of birth, and any allergies or medical conditions. Make sure this information is accurate and up-to-date so that your childcare provider has all the necessary information to care optimally for your child.

Also, ensure that you fill in the information relating to you, the parent(s), so that the childcare provider knows your contact information. Make sure you also include contact information for any emergency contacts.

Set Your Preferred Permissions

The app provides permissions settings that allow you to control who can access your child’s profile, information, photos and videos. Rest assured that security has been built into the Blossom parent app, including password encryption and compliance with both OFSTED and the Data Protection Act.

Use Daily & Check Often

Once set up, you can use the Blossom parent app to check for daily updates about your child’s activities, progress and developmental milestones. You’ll be able to use it to communicate with your childcare provider in real-time and feed back to one another. You’ll be able to ask questions, stay connected, receive updates as they happen, pay invoices and so much more. You’ll soon wonder how you ever managed without it!

Whether you’re a new parent just starting out with a childcare provider, or a seasoned parent looking for a more convenient and effective way to stay connected, the Blossom app is an excellent tool. By making the most of its features, you can ensure that you’re always up-to-date on your child’s activities and progress, and can communicate with your childcare provider easily and efficiently.

“By creating higher quality observations and linking them to the EYFS framework we track and monitor children’s progress enabling a greater understanding of your child’s learning and development.”

Download the App

Download the Blossom app today and start enjoying the benefits of this powerful tool for parents. (Download on IOS here or download on Android here).

Information Leaflet

If you’re interested in learning more about the Blossom app, its features, and how it can benefit you and your child, download the Blossom Parent Guide (Acrobat PDF) here. You can also ask your childcare provider to register you for an account, linked to them.

Connect With Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A ‘Good Provider’ of High-Quality Childcare in Streatham, SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle 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. Get in touch with Little Cedars Nursery if we look after your child and have not yet connected with you via the Blossom parent app. It really is a game-changer and will benefit you, your child, and us as your childcare provider — it’s a win-win-win!

If you are living or working in the Streatham area and require high-quality childcare for your baby, toddler, or under-five child, why not bring them along for a guided tour? You can meet our childcare professionals, ask us any questions and see the wonderful setting and facilities. Alternatively, simply register your child for a nursery/preschool place and we’ll be delighted to welcome you and your little one. Please choose a button below to get in contact or to register.

Little Cedars is officially a good nursery, which is located in Streatham, SW16. We’re also near Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton, so may suit you if you live or work nearby. We support free childcare for eligible families through the various Government childcare funding schemes for under-fives.