How does our garden grow?

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By Sue Cowleyeducational writer and keen gardener.

Over the next three months, Sue Cowley, Chairperson of Stanton Drew and Pensford Pre-school in Somerset reveals how they turned a weedy strip of land into a real garden

Old garden

Stanton Drew and Pensford Pre-school is a committee-run, village playgroup, located in the Chew Valley, an area of green belt just south of Bristol. Our pre-school has been serving the local community for more than 40 years and is based in the Parish Hall, at the centre of the village. The pre-school runs five mornings a week, for children aged two and a half upwards. We currently have 18 children attending the setting. We were really excited when the Parish Hall Committee offered us a small strip of land on which to build a garden for the children. The space runs between the side of the hall building and the wall bordering the road. However, the land is not without its challenges – it’s small and has a tarmac base; as well as being weedy, with an unattractive oil tank at the end.

Why create a garden?

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) guidance states that settings ‘must have access to an outdoor play area’. Although our pre-school has access to an open area, this is basically a patch of bumpy field, and the children have to cross the car park to reach it.

Field

The idea of ‘a garden of our own’, right next to the pre-school building, immediately excited our imaginations.

A garden is the perfect place for children to explore, experiment, and learn about their world through playing in it. One of our staff runs a local plant nursery, and our children already grow plants to take home. But we are looking forward to flowers, fruit and vegetables grown in our own garden. We also want to encourage the children to learn about the wildlife that lives all around us.

Our garden will help us to meet many of the areas of learning and development set out in the EYFS.

In our garden, the children will:

  • explore the world around them, and delight in new experiences
  • develop a sense of care and concern for others, for living things and for the environment
  • learn how to control tools and equipment safely
  • develop an understanding of growth, decay and changes over time
  • understand about the seasons
  • respond using all of their senses.
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