Gardening teaches children valuable skills
All our nurseries have an allotment, we find that it is of vital importance that children learn and appreciate where healthy food comes from , how it is grown and the effect it has on our bodies. Gardening also helps to teach our children about healthy living and healthy eating, with children more willing to try new vegetables and fruits knowing that they have grown them themselves.
As the children’s primary educators we encourage parents to get involved in our allotment project for the children to take more interest and pride knowing that their parents are involved.
A recent study states: “Nurseries which integrate gardens into the curriculum are developing children who are much more responsive to the challenges of adult life".
Please read the full story at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/10427338.stm
For more information on allotments and gardening in nurseries, please see: http://grub4life.org.uk/search/
Our Kitchen Supervisor has a vested interest in our allotments together with the chefs which are involved from the moment we plant the seeds to the hand- picking of the vegetables & fruits and then through the cooking process with the children. Children finally get to eat with great pleasure and pride their own produce. We also have the luxury to be able to pick what we need for our daily menus.
Our Mud Kitchens
Alongside our allotments we also have great mud kitchens which are great fun and a way for children to get creative and messy without any inhibitions and also allowing them to get involved with role play by pretending to cook with real cooking utensils and copious amounts of lovely messy mud. For this reason we do ask for children to have a spare set of clothes at the nursery and also not to attend in expensive clothing.
We at Peques understand the importance of giving our children a chance to explore and having a Mud Kitchen just adds to the range of opportunities for them to experiment and exercise their creativity.
In our busy lives with less gardens available in the new builds or simple due to living in London and not having a garden, children loose out in free play in a nature-rich environment and so Mud kitchens are invaluable.
Why are MUD KITCHENS important?:
Creative expression and invention - mud can be anything you want it to be?!
Problem solving opportunities – e.g. how to make soup thin or thick, how to make mud meatballs stick together?
Endless role play possibilities - e.g. let’s cook dinner, let’s have a restaurant, let’s feed the baby, you be the baby etc…
Stress reduction - being outdoors in nature helps children relax
Building stronger immune systems - research indicates that some exposure to dirt helps build resistance to bad bacteria
Getting closer to nature - soil, stones, sand, and growing plants (understanding and leading to care for our planet)
Our teachers have themselves witnessed that the mud kitchens are particularly beneficial to kinaesthetic learners, who learn by doing.
These are the main 8 REASONS for Peques to HAVE A MUD KITCHEN
Gross motor skills
As with all forms of outdoor play, mud play enhances gross motor skills. As the child handles materials and works around the mud station they carry mud from one place to another or balance full pots of water, lifting and pouring containers, stirring and scooping with utensils moving around exploring and being generally quite active.
Free play or Open ended play
This encourages for creativity and imagination. Mud kitchens and Mud stations are child led activities and allow self-soothing that becomes a somewhat therapeutic and relaxing event where the child can connect to the outdoors with the freedom to let their mind wonder wherever it wishes to. Free play allows children to develop their independence and confidence to play within their own limits, in any way they feel comfortable.
Life Role Play
Mud kitchens gives children the chance to develop real skills using real life instruments, working in a real kitchen, working with real resources (even though its done in a role play way they're not plastic utensils!?) this leads to learning real consequences and learning through exploration and experimentation. Whether they are role playing being a mummy, chef, making a mud soup or just enjoying splattering mud and making a mess everywhere they are utilising natural materials.
A mud kitchen gives children a good opportunity to practise cooking skills (like mum and dad) as well as self-care skills in the kitchen by pretending with them. For example cooking with the handles facing away, holding the handle of the pot as they stir it, pretending to always turn of the stove or oven, hot surfaces, packing away the dishes, serving etc.
This can also extend to after play tidy up by making sure they tidy and pack away, washing the things ready for next time, washing their hands after and putting dirty clothes in the wash when they're done…..
Eye - hand coordination
Mud kitchens provide good practise of eye hand coordination and help further develop the neural pathways ( http://www.brains.org/path.htm ) responsible for these movements. So while scooping, mixing, pouring, carrying pots full or mud, transferring materials and serving up mud, children are increasing their eye hand coordination and through moving around the different weighted materials, balancing them and having steady control of them, they are strengthening all those important muscles that are still growing.
Stimulation of the Senses while engaged in play
Sensory stimulation is a necessary part of brain development. Children can listen to outdoor nature sounds such as water and mud slopping, birds and so on. Tactile stimulation through touch and the different feelings of dirt, pebbles, sticks, water, mud, and the different textures. Seeing how materials mix, mash, transform, squish, pour and so on through different methods of play.
Creativity and Imagination
Free mud play leads to creativity. After all Mud is an art medium. We've all heard of mud pies but have you ever tried mud painting? Through the freedom of free play and utilising rich coloured mud a child's imagination develops as they role play, story tell, chat away in their own creative world, create things and make things, pretend real life scenarios and so on.
Self-care knowledge can be expanding on as the child plays with mud in many ways. To begin with, if it is an outside area like ours, you can first inspect the area for creepy crawlies or spiders, ask them to tell a parent or grown up if they see any and remove sticks from the play area.
Cause and effect
In outdoor free play, is how a child learns through experimentation and observation. For example, bark chips float to the surface and so forth, the large pebbles don't fit through the funnel, the mud blocks the sink, dirty and water makes mud, mud settles at the bottom of the pot etc…