Doodlebugs - Our Chalet
“Our nursery is an Old Church Manse and we are really fortunate to have a large mature garden for our children. Last year we decided to focus on creating an outdoor learning space with what we already had. The idea came from wanting to offer something different from our existing provision in the garden, so it was a bit of an experiment in creating something that was going to get the children involved in playing with different items and ultimately creating their own play resources. It’s been a great project for staff, and it’s been wonderful to watch the children enjoy this space so much too.
The chalet was originally an empty playhouse which, as with most unused spaces at nursery, slowly became a storage area. Our staff used their imaginations and developed this unused empty space from items that were around nursery, their homes and the garden. They brought in unused items and recycled lots of tyres, logs and other natural resources. Watching the area develop was very enjoyable for staff and watching the children enjoy the space encouraged staff to experiment with lots of different products. “Oh, look, I found this in my garage, wouldn’t it be great for the chalet!” is a typical comment.
Cost is minimal if you have a shed or area already in your outdoor space. The chalet is made from wood and we have tried to keep the majority of the resources natural or recycled: pots of moss, clay, sticks, stones, logs, leaves, shells, acorns, and so on. The children make their own resources and enjoy den-building, making bows and arrows, feeding birds, clay-making activities, hanging mobiles, bird-watching and lots and lots of inventing!
We watched a group of children make a hammock for the treehouse with bark and string. They then added a pulley so the hammock moved upstairs and downstairs. We have a tough tray full of sawdust on the floor, the children added tubes for the sawdust to be poured into. They then attached string to the tube and added a stone for weight at the other end and wow! A child made a weighing device! The children have learned so much from this natural play and it is wonderful to see them extending and taking ownership of their own environment."