Tag Archive for: outdoor play

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.

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.

Extensive Outdoor Areas & Facilities at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Just one small area of our extensive outdoor play area.We have a huge outdoor area for children at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham. Parents express their surprise when they first see it, regularly commenting that it’s much larger than the outdoor areas of other nurseries and pre-schools in the area. Our extensive outdoor play areas are also packed full of fun, educational play equipment and facilities that our under-five children absolutely adore. That includes areas and facilities set up especially for particular age groups.

Outdoor Facilities & Equipment for Babies

Babies can enjoy sensory toys and equipment, soft play, sand play, water play and even a baby slide. They also have their own baby garden, which is lovely and shaded, to keep them out of direct sun.

Outdoor Equipment for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy equipment like climbing frames, multiple slides along with lots and lots of bikes, trikes, cars and scooters. They even have a basketball area, hoops and lots of footballs for budding soccer players.

Outdoor Facilities for Everyone

We have an extensive grassy area where children can enjoy nature.The outdoor ‘mud kitchen’ is a particular hit with children at the nursery. They can enjoy creating in the sand play and water play areas too. These are fun and educational activities — messy play is important as part of a healthy early years education. Construction activities also happen naturally with the varied facilities and equipment on offer outdoors at the nursery.

Children also have access to a lovely, shaded, grassy area in the amazing garden, where they can get closer to nature and all of the benefits it brings to little ones.

Children at the nursery can also play “parents” with the prams that they can wheel around. Or, there are play tunnels, climbing frames and other exploration type activities for the more adventurous.

Animal Enclosure & Vegetable Patch

We have our own chicken and rabbit enclosure at the Streatham nursery.Interaction with animals and pets is important during the early years. Therefore, children also have access to quite a wide variety of well-kept creatures. For example, the nursery children help to raise chicks and, once matured into chickens, they are moved to the lovely enclosure that the nursery has outside. Rabbits (currently Miffy and Bella) also live outside and children love to help look after them, stroke them and so on. We teach children to treat them with respect, as individuals in their own right. Such lessons are invaluable at this young age.

We also have a wonderful vegetable patch outside for children to enjoy and learn from. Teaching children to look after living plants also gives them many valuable lessons and ending up with vegetables that they’ve grown and can eat is a magical experience for them.

[Having animals at Little Cedars Nursery] “enables children to actively learn about nature and gain hands-on experience of caring for living things.” (Ofsted)

All-Weather Outdoor Activities

The nursery's extensive outdoor areas include both open-air and undercover areas.As you can see from some of the photographs, the nursery’s extensive outdoor areas include both open-air and undercover areas. That means children can play and explore whatever the weather. Outdoor play is good for children, teaching them some things that simply can’t be taught indoors, so it’s wonderful that many of the outdoor facilities can be used all-year-round.

Children Learn Through Play

Children learn primarily through play at Little Cedars Nursery. This has been shown to be by far the best way for under-fives to learn and develop physically during their early years. As well as learning through outdoor games, tasks, nature and the open air environment, children will be quietly improving physical skills outdoors, like balance, coordination and motor skills. They’ll also be gaining strength and fitness through exercise, even if they don’t realise they’re exercising when playing outdoors. That’s just one of the many benefits of outdoor play.

Outdoor Play Supports the EYFS Curriculum Too

Miffy our little rabbit.Outdoor play at Little Cedars Nursery also supports the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum. Learning through outdoor play teaches children so much and in a natural way. Outdoor play supports such areas as communication & language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development and understanding the world. Many such lessons come naturally as children play with one another and interact together via outdoor activities.

A 360° Early Years Learning Experience

The equipment, resources and zones in the outdoor areas are designed to excite, stimulate and engage the children. Specific playing and learning activities and their exact make-up are also guided by early years practitioners at the nursery, along with each child’s “Key Person”. Staff interacting with a child at the nursery.Such staff will continuously identify the individual interests and needs of each child and ensure that the learning and development activities they access will benefit them in the optimum ways. The idea is to further strengthen existing areas where children are strong, while bolstering children’s skills in areas that may require extra focus.

Older children can move freely from indoors to outdoors, under supervision of course, and thereby benefit from the inside facilities and equipment as well as those outdoors. This gives them a well-rounded playing and learning experience at the setting.

Are You Looking for Good Nurseries/Pre-schools in Streatham?

Little Cedars is officially rated by Ofsted as a Good Nursery and pre-school. We’re 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 ProviderLittle Cedars Nursery is officially rated as a good provider of childcare by Ofsted. So, if you’re looking for the best start for your child in the Streatham area, please consider us and — even better — come for a visit. We’d love to show you and your little one around! We are a good nursery and pre-school in Streatham offering high quality childcare services near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown. We’re very near to Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood too, so may be a good solution to your childcare needs if those locations are near you. Click a button below to get started with your application, a nursery tour or simply to ask us a question. We’ll be happy to help.

Nature & Its Incredible Importance to Children

Nature is incredibly beneficial to children.It’s amazing how much nature benefits children, particularly in their early years when they’re finding out about the world around them — and also learning about themselves. There have been many studies into the importance of nature, to youngsters in particular, and the studies all reach a similar conclusion — nature is incredibly important and beneficial to children. Today we’ll explore the topic and learn why children should regularly access the natural world.

Multiple studies show that nature is incredibly important and beneficial to children.

Nature’s Benefits for Children, Particularly in their Early Years

So, let’s take a look at some of the many benefits of nature to children, especially in their early years.

Time spent in nature, even for just a short time, has been shown to restore children’s cognitive abilities, improve attention spans and boost mental resilience. Studies even showed this to be the case when just a view of nature was available from the classroom. For this reason, experts have suggested that education settings will benefit children more if they are made into more ‘green’ environments in terms of there being flowers, grass and trees nearby.

Another study showed that test results from children were improved after they’d spent time in a woodland environment. Improvements were seen in both accuracy and speed of answers. That’s an amazing result, when you think about it!

Stress is reduced through exposure to a natural environment.Stress is also reduced on both a mental and physiological level through exposure to a natural environment. In studies, stress hormone and blood pressure levels both improved after exposure to nature, helping children both physically and emotionally. Nature seems to be a great way to recharge children’s batteries and lower stress and anxiety, as well as improving attention, engagement and academic performance. That includes improvements in important skills like reading, writing and mathematics.

In a further study from the U.S. in 2019, children growing up around more natural surroundings were — incredibly — found to have improved earnings potential. They even put a figure on it, being almost $30k more in earnings over the course of their lifetimes, simply because they grew up closer to nature.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The list of additional benefits to children, associated with being around nature, includes:

  • Improvements in general fitness, motor skills (both fine and gross) and coordination. Children are usually extremely active and engaged when out in nature and such exercise is very good for them.
  • A better quality of sleep after spending time out in nature.
  • Children discover new skills like leadership, problem-solving, teamwork and even risk-assessment.Improved social skills and even wider circles of friends due to the opportunities offered through outdoor play and adventure.
  • Playing out in and around nature will often also help children discover new skills like leadership, problem-solving, teamwork and even risk-assessment.
  • Creativity also gets a massive boost from nature as children experience different activities, objects, materials and opportunities to allow let their imaginations run riot.
  • Nature is also a feast for the senses, so sensory opportunities are enormous in such environments. These can teach children so much, but should obviously only be undertaken under close adult supervision.
  • Children’s feelings of empathy are also often enhanced through contact with nature. With all of the flora and fauna around, children will soon learn to care more about the wellbeing of other living things.
  • Nature can also encourage children to think on a much deeper level then their usual play allows. For example, they may start to think about about creation, life, their place in the world, their impact on the planet and ultimately about what’s really important.
  • Children who spend time in nature often live greener lifestyles.The new skills, knowledge and freedom that nature gives children also helps them to become more self-confident and independent individuals.
  • Children who spend time around nature also often go on to have greener lifestyles, to protect the planet that they’ve come to appreciate.
  • Many also go on to have lifelong appreciations for the Great Outdoors, its incredible array of environments, plants, trees, insects and animals.

Nature is a great gift and children should be given every opportunity to explore it, learn from it and enjoy everything it has to offer, both spiritually and physically.

Nature for Children in Streatham & Tooting

Little Cedars Nursery has some wonderful facilities for the children. These include an area where they can grow vegetables and also a small animal enclosure, each representing a great way to introduce children to nature on a smaller scale.

We’re also fortunate to be located just a stone’s throw away from large open spaces including Streatham Common, Tooting Common and Tooting Bec Common.

Even in built-up cities like London, immersion in nature is possible e.g. through parks & commons.Even in built-up cities like London, immersion in nature is possible via gardens, parks, commons or, if you’re lucky to have them near you, nature reserves and nature gardens. There are many of these dotted around London, including several not far from our Streatham nursery. So, whether they visit with parents, carers or as part of an outing organised by Little Cedars Nursery, children can benefit from everything that nature has to offer, virtually on their doorstep. With everything it has to offer them, nature is thoroughly recommended for children (and adults) of all ages.

Looking for Good Nurseries or Pre-schools in Streatham?

Little Cedars is a wonderful nursery & pre-school in Streatham, offering high quality childcare services 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.Nature has so much to teach children.If you’re searching for the best nurseries or pre-schools in Streatham, do take a look at Little Cedars Nursery. We’d love to show you and your child around and offer a high quality childcare service for babies and children aged up to five. The nursery is very near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common and Furzedown. It is also close to Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Tooting Common, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may be convenient if you live or work in any of those locations.

Please choose your preferred contact method below to apply for a nursery place, book a tour or ask any questions — we’ll be very happy to help: