At Willows Montessori we benefit from an extensive and fully secure outdoor area, including two separate gardens and a small allotment at the rear of the nursery.
We have a wide range of equipment and activities and offer children the same opportunities for learning outdoors as we do indoors.
The children from Squirrel Room and Foxes Den share a large outdoor space and children from Foxes Den benefit from free-flow access to the garden. The garden is grassy, with plants, flowers, trees and a willow den (which are great for hiding behind during hide and seek!) We have our pet bunnies, which the children help to care for, and a pond where frogs and newts live. There is a small toddler-sized climbing frame, footbridge, art easel and a willow den. At the bottom of the garden is out fire pit, complete with log seats. This is used during Forest School sessions with the pre-school children, but is also a great area for climbing and balancing for little ones when not in use.
An important aspect of Montessori practice is “care of the environment” and our allotment is a great resource for teaching the children about planting and growing all kinds of plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit. The allotment is tended to by the staff and children from Foxes Den and Badger Room and we have raised beds for growing lettuce, pumpkins, carrots, onions, garlic and other vegetables. We grow strawberries in pots and potatoes in sacks and also grow peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers in our child-sized greenhouse. We have bins for composting and we use everything we grow in our garden, for example making soup with our vegetables and baking crumbles with our fruit.
Badger Room children have free-flow access to their own outdoor space. There is a mud kitchen role-play area and a woodwork bench, where the children are given real hammers, nails, screws and screwdrivers to make their own creations using loose pieces of wood. The garden has a raised fairy garden (which is great for hide and seek!) and we have a raised area of the garden which is a great place to relax on a beanbag with a book. There is a water tray complete with water pump and lots of different equipment for water play. As well as opportunities for free-play, practitioners will invite children to take part in adult-led activities outdoors such as using a parachute, group games and science experiments.