£10,000 pays for play as nursery looks outdoors

Dromore Nursery School is £10,000 the richer in outdoor play equipment after a cash boost from the Big Lottery Award Scheme.

Monday, 10th March 2014, 6:24 pm

Excited children looked on as the new equipment was recently installed in the nursery’s outdoor classroom.

It was in june last year that principal Mrs Sharon Beattie submitted a funding bid in service to the school’s policy for outdoor teaching and its commitment to an Eco-school approach. She said of the end result: “I am thrilled with the award and the work of O’Rourke Play Equipment who custom made and fitted all of the equipment.

“The children and staff have been very excited as they have watched these plans take shape; now it is time to explore, investigate and try everything out and I mean both the children and the staff.”

The principal said she believed free child-led and child-initiated play in the outdoors was the bedrock of deep learning.

“Some will say that parents do not want their children outdoors getting wet and dirty,” she said. “Getting parents on board involves having a convincing argument, grounded in research, about why children need to play outdoors.

“The great outdoors is a wonderful leveller. Often children who find indoor learning daunting thrive outdoors – particularly boys, who have a deep biological need to be out and about being physically active.”

There were benefits to be had, said Mrs Beattie, in terms of literacy, mathematics, social interaction, health and wellbeing.

“We were awarded the grant to further develop the sensory aspect of our outdoor classroom,” she said. “We have introduced a sensory water-wall, fuelled by natural rainwater. We have developed a hearing trail with a variety of large musical instruments.

“To develop and support the children’s listening skills we now have a solid oak storyteller’s chair and seating area to develop the children’s imagination and creativity.

“In the wildlife garden we have placed a ‘Bug Hotel’ and natural wooden investigation table and chairs and we have developed an area close to the boundary with the local park with a variety of telescopes, binoculars, periscopes and magnifying glasses.”