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A stimulating and enriching exterior that inspires children's curiosity as well as exceptional physical and creative experiences

Making changes to have a positive impact on the children’s learning and development whilst encourage more engaged play.

Two children outdoors using a big mental pan to make mud pies

Information about the setting

Cylch Meithrin Coed Duon is a Welsh-medium setting based in the grounds of Blackwood Comprehensive School. It is registered to take up to 19 Children ranging from two to four years of age. The majority of the children come from English speaking homes and are immersed in the Welsh language while attending. The setting currently has seven members of staff, and is open term time only, Monday – Friday 9.15 – 11.45.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

Despite the outdoor area being of a reasonable size, it felt crowded with undefined areas and large plastic play equipment. Outdoor play was unstructured and practitioners did not feel that the children were getting quality learning and development opportunities outdoors. In preparation for the new curriculum, they wanted to embed gardening to provide quality stimulating provision outdoors, where the children could learn and develop to their full potential.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

Practitioners observed the children in the area and how they used the space. Some children did not appear to be engaging in high quality and purposeful play, and therefore practitioners wanted to improve the area to engage all children. They completed a monitoring form highlighting what was working well and what they wanted to change. They fed this information into the setting’s self-evaluation and improvement plan to ensure that any actions highlighted were completed.

Practitioners thought carefully about what items they wanted to include in the area and used money from the EYDG grant to purchase gardening items, large play equipment and authentic resources. They also set up clear areas of provision to include a shop and mud kitchen, an outdoor shed where children could access den building equipment, and woodworking. Also set out was an area for physical play, where children could ride their bikes and access climbing and balancing equipment. Practitioners improved the log circle area by cutting back the overgrown trees, and providing new benches and a book rack, making the area more attractive for the children and providing a calmer area where the children could practise storytelling. Practitioners also added a den, with provision for two children at a time, that provides a quiet area where children can relax and play peacefully. A dedicated gardening area was also added, with raised beds, planters, potting table a mini greenhouse and gardening tools where flowers and vegetables could be planted. A table and bench were added, where children could sit to rest. The outdoor spaces created offer a range of stimulating opportunities for children to explore, investigate and engage in high quality play, helping to create a sense of awe and wonder.

What impact has this work had on provision and children’s standards?

The changes have had a positive impact on the children’s learning and development, The children can choose which areas they want to play in and are more engaged in their play. Play is more purposeful; the outdoor area is much calmer and the children have more opportunity to develop and embed their skills. The outdoor area provides a holistic approach to learning where children have the opportunity to develop all skills through a range of activities and equipment.