Tag Archive for: outdoor play

Inspirational Quotes About Nature in Childhood

Inspirational Quotes about Nature in Childhood

While writing a recent post relating to the benefits of nature in childhood, we came across some profound quotations about the topic. Inspired and, at times, touched by some of these, we decided to gather some of our favourites together for today’s post. We therefore share with you today Inspirational Quotes About Nature in Childhood. We hope you, too, are inspired by them — perhaps enough that you encourage your little one(s) to spend even more time with you outdoors, closer to nature. It’s incredibly good for them. Take a look, bookmark the page, and perhaps even save the quote images to print and display at home.

TIP: Click Ctrl+D on your keyboard to bookmark this post

Some of the quotations are touching, aren’t they? Clearly, many of the great poets, scientists, educators, academics, and scholars recognised the hugely positive impact that nature has on children — and indeed people of all ages. And, as we head towards summer at the time of writing, the weather should soon allow families to spend more time outdoors, so they can reap the many important benefits that nature and outdoor play have to offer. Perhaps start by downloading our free posters for a bird spotting activity, a minibeast activity, or a butterfly spotting session. Children will love to see what (or rather who) they can find in the natural world!

We hope you enjoyed and were inspired by today’s batch of quotations. We’ll publish more quotes relating to childhood in due course, so perhaps click Ctrl+D on your keyboard to bookmark this post or our blog area.

Nature Education at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterChildren at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green are very fortunate to have access, when appropriate, to extensive grounds. These are subdivided into several zones, which include nature and wild areas as well as sensory zones, sand and water play and much, much more. The gardens and outdoor play zones are places where children can explore, discover, and learn in a highly stimulating environment, all under the safe supervision of our nursery practitioners.

Weekday Nursery & Preschool Places Near Wigan

If you would like to explore a possible childcare place in an exceptional Hindley Green nursery near Wigan, please get in touch using one of the options below. We support various Government-funded childcare schemes too, meaning free childcare hours are available for eligible families. Please choose an option to get started:

Little Acorns is a high-quality nursery & preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan. As such, we may also suit families that require childcare services near Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

Discover Minibeasts – A Fun Nature Activity for Children

Discover Minibeasts – A Fun Nature-Based Activity for Children

Today's activity comes with a free A3 poster that families can download to help identify 30 types of creature.Today’s ‘Discover Minibeasts’ post is the third in our series of nature-based activities for children. And, as with the bird spotting and the butterfly spotting activities, this one also comes with a free A3 poster for families to download. Children will be able to use the poster to identify the 30 different species of minibeast that are featured. From ants and aphids to weevils, woodlice and worms, there are some fascinating critters for children to look out for.

Did you know? There are about 25,000 different types of minibeast in the UK!

Minibeast spotting is a great activity that will help to nurture children’s interest in outdoor play and nature — and that’s important. Study after study shows that spending time in nature is hugely beneficial to children of all ages. As well as helping children physically, emotionally and spiritually, nature and outdoor play help them learn new skills and can even improve grades (follow that last bold link for more details). What’s more, it can lead to a life-long love and appreciation of nature and The Great Outdoors, as well as encouraging children to learn about ecological issues like global warming, habitat loss and the need to protect the natural world. Such is the potential power of today’s humble minibeast-spotting activity! With that in mind, why not download our free poster today? It’s completely free and no sign-up of any kind is needed.

Preview of the Free Minibeasts Poster:

Preview of the A3 poster. Click to download it (full instructions can be found below the image).

How to Download the Poster

Simply click the large poster preview image or this link to view/download the high-resolution version (whether you left-click or right-click to download will depend upon your particular browser settings — try both if you’re unsure). The file is less than 3MB in size. You will need Acrobat Reader on your device, which is available free of charge here. When printing out, we recommend using full colour and high-quality settings and paper for the best results. You/your child can alternatively view the poster on screen, e.g. on an iPad or tablet, which will allow you/your child to zoom in for the highest detail.

Given that minibeasts are mostly found outdoors, it’s important for children, especially the very young, to be supervised, for safety purposes. There are many potential dangers outside, so parents or caregivers will need to be vigilant around these when supervising little ones.

Tips for Spotting Minibeasts

Once children are armed with handheld versions of their minibeast posters, they’ll need to work out where best to spot them. The good news is that minibeasts are almost everywhere there are plants, trees and soil. Children can look for the more visible minibeasts like bees, butterflies, caterpillars, moths, ladybirds, aphids and hoverflies simply by looking for flowers and plants, which are a food source for such critters. Other minibeasts like grubs and earthworms may be found within soil and compost, so a little (gentle) digging around may prove fruitful for them — but care will need to be taken not to harm the little creatures. Meanwhile, the best places to find creatures like beetles, woodlice, millipedes and centipedes are generally going to be under things. For example, they may have their homes under piles of leaves, under flower pots, under rotting logs and — the best place of all for minibeasts — in the compost heap!

Be Gentle — Encourage Empathy

When supervising children for this minibeast-spotting activity — or any other involving animals and insects — please be sure to teach children about gentleness and empathy. Minibeasts are small and fragile creatures, so ideally should be looked at but not touched or disturbed. Teach children that each is an individual, with its own life, needs and feelings. Minibeasts will also not want to be taken from their homes, wherever those may be. So, please do encourage children to be gentle and kind, just like they’d like to be treated themselves if it were the other way around. Thank you.

Is your toddler frightened of insects like spiders? If so, try naming them, for example, “Simon the Spider”. In this way, children will begin to associate each as an individual, rather than just a scary and nameless critter. This approach can really help!

Discover Minibeasts!

All in all, minibeast spotting is a fun and fascinating activity for children to take part in and is perfect for the spring, summer and autumn seasons. As well as being fun, educational and worthwhile it also raises children’s interest in ecological matters. For example, it may lead children to realise the need to nurture the natural world, the problems associated with harmful pesticides and weedkillers, and the need to leave natural, undisturbed areas for wildlife to flourish. Children will eventually become the stewards of our beloved Planet Earth, so educating them early about looking after the planet is crucial for the existence not only of the flora and fauna, but also for mankind itself.

A Focus on Nature at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterLittle Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is rated as a good childcare provider by Ofsted.The childcare professionals at Little Acorns Nursery know full well how important nature is to children as part of their early years learning and development. That’s why we’re adopting the ‘Hygge’ lifestyle at the setting and plan to introduce Forest School in the future. We ensure children get ample access to outdoor spaces to play, explore and learn in whenever possible. Even indoors, children get access to natural materials and resources.

Do you have a child under five and live in the Hindley Green area, near Wigan, or in a nearby location like Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, or Bolton? If so, Little Acorns Nursery offers a first-class early years education and weekday childcare service that’ll give your little one the very best start in life. We’ll nurture them and do everything we can to help them develop into the very best version of themselves so that they’re fully prepared and ready for school by the time they leave us as they approach the age of five. What’s more, we support Government funding including free childcare schemes for eligible families. Get in touch today to register your child for a nursery/preschool place, book a guided tour of the nursery or ask a question. We’re here to help!

Discover British Birds – A Fun Nature Activity for Children

Discover British Birds – A Fun Nature Activity for Children

Today's nature-based activity comes with a free poster download for children/families to print out and use as a checklist.Today, in a follow-up to the butterfly-spotting activity that we published in May, we bring you a matching bird-spotting activity for children to take part in. The activity will help to nurture children’s interest in birds and nature, which is beneficial to children in a myriad of different ways. It’ll also encourage them to recharge in the fresh air, outdoors, and escape from electronic screens and toys for a while. Outdoor play is important for little ones and many studies have backed this up.

Free Bird Poster

Like before, today’s article comes with a free reference poster for families to download and print out. The poster features 40 different species of bird that can be found in Britain. Most are fairly common, with just a handful that are more shy or seen more rarely. Children, including those under five, can display the A3 poster on their bedroom or nursery wall, or print it out as a smaller hand-out to use as reference when they’re outdoors. The visual reference will allow children to see how many different birds they can spot over the course of a year, we suggest. Supervising adults can help them to learn the bird names too, as we appreciate the youngest may not yet be able to read the names unaided. Take a look at the poster preview below and download it for your child today.

Preview of the Free Bird Poster:

Preview of the free poster download - click to view/download (see instructions panel).

Download Instructions

Depending on your settings, you can usually left- or right-click the image above (or this link) to either open it on screen or save it to your device. Once opened in Acrobat Reader , your child will also be able to view the images large, by zooming in, to get all the fine detail. If printing out, we recommend using high-quality printing paper and the finest colour settings for best results. Print at A3 to use as a poster or A4 to use as hand-outs for your children to take outdoors.

Tips for Spotting Birds

As well as being a fun, nature-based activity, bird spotting can teach children valuable skills like patience, stealth, observation, perseverance, critical thinking and empathy to name just a few. With that in mind, here are some tips that may help children to see more types of birds when taking part in this activity.

  • Try different locations and a variety of natural environments, including at different times of the year (spring to autumn). Your child will see different types of birds by using this approach. Please note, however, that we have not included waterfowl in our poster, although may keep that option up our sleeves for a future poster/activity.
  • Teach children to keep movements and sound minimal when they’re waiting for birds to come to a particular spot, so the birds are not frightened away.
  • If moving, for example through a forest, moving quietly and stealthily will ensure that children will see more types of birds. Care even over each footstep will help if it means that children will avoid making a ‘crack’ because they stepped on a twig. Such an approach will also help them hone their balance and gross motor skills, as well as make the activity feel more exciting.
  • Attracting birds with the right kinds of bird food will help with this activity. In gardens, ‘peanut cakes’, suet seed balls, sunflower ‘hearts’ (seeds with the outer husk removed) and, sparingly, grated Cheddar cheese are always popular.
  • The use of binoculars or monoculars will help spot birds further away. For safety, children should use them only under adult supervision and avoid pointing them towards the sun and other bright objects.
  • Teach children to also listen out for the various bird calls, as those can give away the location and even type of birds.
  • Encourage children to develop a ‘keen eye’, i.e. good observational skills that are proactive as well as reactive.

Why This Activity is Important

As well as being fun, educational and beneficial to children through time spent in nature, bird-spotting helps to draw children’s attention to the plight of birds, other wild creatures and the natural environment. Sadly, the number of birds has dropped by nearly 60% in the UK since 1979. The population of house sparrows alone has declined by almost 22 million in the last 57 years. The Chief Executive of the RSPB stated the following after 2023’s Big Garden Birdwatch:

“The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the startling declines of some of our once common birds…
We are in a nature and climate emergency and we’ve lost 38 million birds from our skies in the last 50 years.”

Nature activities like butterfly-spotting, bird-spotting, country walks and outdoor play around nature will help foster children’s interest in the Great Outdoors and the simple pleasures associated with spending time in the natural environment. That alone is very good for both body and soul. In parallel, though, such activities are also likely to encourage an interest in ecology, conservation, reversing habitat loss, and eco-friendly lifestyles. All of these benefit the world itself. Moreover, such interests often last a lifetime. So, this simple type of children’s activity can have a real domino effect.

Nature-Based Activities for Under-5s at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterLittle Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green is rated as a good childcare provider by Ofsted.Because spending time around nature is so important, the team at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green ensure that children get good access to nature, nature-based activities and even natural materials. This approach is backed up by our adoption of Hygge’ at the setting and plans to introduce Forest School. These, together with our first-class approach to early years childcare, give babies, toddlers and preschoolers a great start in life, giving them all the tools to absolutely thrive. As well as that, we also support all Government-funded childcare places for eligible families.

Why not register your little one for a childcare place at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green, near Wigan? Get in touch using a button below and we’ll be happy to show you and your little one around, answer questions and register them for a nursery place.

Little Acorns is a high-quality nursery & preschool in Hindley Green, near Wigan. We are also nearby to Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester, so may also suit families living or working in those locations.

Safety & Well-Being

Before we sign off from this post, we should mention the topic of safety and well-being for children. Vigilance around these is critical and seldom more crucial than when children are spending time outdoors. Children, especially the very young, should therefore be closely supervised by a responsible adult at all times, paying special attention to hazards including ponds and water sources of any kind, poisonous plants, toxic chemicals (weedkiller, pest killer etc.), trip hazards, nasty drops and uneven ground, sources of germs, barbed wire and other sharp objects, roads, railways and traffic, potential allergens, choking hazards, stranger danger, risks around becoming lost, and so on. Parents/adults will need to constantly watch out for potential risks and teach children to do so too. This list is not exhaustive, so do your research/assessments.

Discover British Butterflies: A Fun Nature Activity for Children

Discover British Butterflies: A Fun Nature Activity for Children

Nature is hugely beneficial for children, so it's good to encourage them to get outdoors and search out these incredibly beautiful creatures.Today’s exciting blog post encourages families to explore the wonders of nature and embark on a delightful butterfly-spotting adventure! Butterflies are simply beautiful creatures and their amazing colours and patterns are sure to appeal to little ones. With that in mind, we have prepared a visually appealing and informative A3 poster featuring 36 British butterflies, which you can download for free and print out. So, why not get the family ready to step outside, immerse yourselves in nature, and create cherished memories as you observe these enchanting creatures in their natural habitat? The poster gives visual reference and also ensures you have a lasting memento of this unique experience. Over time, this poster and nature-based activity will help you and your little one learn to identify these diverse and important little pollinators. As we reported before, nature is hugely beneficial for children, so it’s good to encourage them to get outdoors and search out these incredible little beings. Let’s take a look and dive into the fascinating world of butterflies together…

Butterfly Poster Preview:

Free A3 British Butterflies poster to download or print.

Download Instructions

Depending on your settings, left-clicking the image above — or this link — will usually open it directly on screen, where you can see the images and zoom in on all the lovely detail. Alternatively, try right-clicking to save the file to your hard drive and then open it manually in Acrobat Reader . Print out the file to good quality A3 paper or ‘reduce to fit’ to print at A4.

Explore the Great Outdoors With Respect

Now that you have your poster, it’s time to venture outdoors with your little ones and seek out these beautiful butterflies. Whether you have a garden, a local park, or access to nature reserves and countryside, these locations often provide excellent opportunities for butterfly sightings. Teach children to have keen eyes and perhaps take along a camera, smartphone or magnifying glass for a closer look. Encourage them to keep track of the butterflies they encounter by marking or ticking the corresponding species on their poster. Perhaps take note of the date and location of each sighting, so you can go back again if you find a busy butterfly spot.

Remember, though, that butterflies are incredibly fragile little individuals that are peacefully going about their business. So, teach your children to respect them and not to touch or attempt to catch them — encourage children to observe, appreciate and enjoy their unique beauty.

Why This Activity is Important

Butterflies and other pollinators have experienced a significant decline in the UK over recent years, highlighting the importance of encouraging children to appreciate and respect nature. According to studies, butterfly populations have declined by approximately 40% in the past four decades, with certain species facing an even more alarming decline. These statistics serve as a wake-up call that emphasises the urgent need to protect and restore habitats that support these beautiful creatures.

Children can be a part of that. Engaging children in nature not only benefits them directly, but it also nurtures their sense of wonder and curiosity. Importantly, though, it also instils in them a deep appreciation for the environment and its inhabitants. By embarking on butterfly-spotting adventures and immersing themselves in the natural world, children will develop a sense of empathy for other creatures. They will begin to understand the interconnectedness of ecosystems and recognise the importance of preserving habitats for the survival of butterflies and other wildlife. Let’s inspire a love for butterflies and the natural world and foster a generation that cherishes and safeguards the rich biodiversity that sustains us all.

Nature for Under-Fives at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterWe fully appreciate the importance and enormous benefits of introducing young children to nature at Little Acorns Nursery. Indeed, it’s one of the many reasons we’ve adopted the Hygge approach to early years childcare, and are introducing Forest School to the setting. So, if you would like your baby, toddler or preschooler to enjoy the very best childcare and early years education, register them for a childcare place at Little Acorns Nursery in Hindley Green, near Wigan. We’d be happy to show you around too, so you can see how well your child fits in. What’s more; we support free Government-funded childcare places for eligible families, so get in touch using an option below.

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is at Hindley Green, near Wigan, close to Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.

The Benefits & Importance of Nature to Children in Early Childhood

The Benefits & Importance of Nature to Children in Early Childhood

Exposure to natural environments can have a profound impact on a child's physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development.As parents, we all want the best for our children. We strive to provide them with a nurturing and stimulating environment that supports their growth and development. However, in today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook the importance of nature in our children’s lives.

Nature has long been recognised for its therapeutic and restorative effects on humans, and this is especially true for children in their early years. Exposure to natural environments can have a profound impact on a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development.

In this article today, we will explore the benefits of nature to children’s development, provide practical tips on how to incorporate nature into a child’s life and discuss the importance of nature education in early childhood. We hope to inspire parents and caregivers to embrace nature as a fundamental part of a child’s upbringing, and to recognise its immense value in shaping their future.

“Nature play in early childhood has been found to enhance the development of sensory, motor, and cognitive skills, as well as creativity and imagination.” (International Journal of Play)

The Benefits of Nature to Children’s Development

Nature and exposure to natural environments can have a significant and multifaceted range of benefits for children. This is particularly true when it’s introduced early in their lives, because research shows that early childhood is a critical period for brain development and learning. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the benefits that nature can bring to little ones.

There are many benefits of nature to children’s learning and development.

Improved Physical Health & Healthier Habits

Spending time in nature can promote physical activity and healthy habits, thereby reducing unhealthy sedentary behaviour and potentially even reducing the risk of obesity. Outdoor play and exploration can also help children to develop gross motor skills, coordination, balance, and agility. Exposure to natural light and fresh air is also known to boost the immune system and thereby help overall health.

Enhanced Cognitive Development

Nature can provide a rich sensory environment that stimulates the brain and enhances cognitive function. Studies show that exposure to natural settings has been shown to improve attention span, memory, and problem-solving skills as well as boost creativity, imagination, and curiosity. In addition, by learning about the natural world, children can develop a deeper understanding of science, maths, and other subjects.

Reduced Stress & Improved Emotional Well-Being

Spending time in natural environments can often reduce stress and anxiety in both children and adults. Nature provides a calming and soothing atmosphere that promotes a more positive mood. Self-esteem, confidence, and emotional regulation are also known to be improved by exposure to green spaces and natural settings.

Increased Creativity & Imagination

Outdoor exploration and discovery can foster a real sense of wonder and awe in children. The natural beauty and diversity of nature can also spark creativity and encourage artistic expression in children. Indeed, it can represent an endless source of inspiration for imaginative play.

Better Social Skills & Relationships

Nature is a wonderful setting for social interaction and play. It can provide many opportunities for children to learn new skills, including collaboration, cooperation, teamwork and communication. By encouraging critical thinking, outdoor activities also promote problem-solving skills. Exposure to nature can also improve empathy, compassion, and respect for others and the environment. It’s also a wonderful leveller.

Nature Education Fosters Environmental Awareness & Stewardship

By learning about the natural environment, children can develop a sense of environmental awareness and stewardship. This can encourage them to take action to protect the environment and promote sustainability.

“Exposure to nature has a restorative effect on cognitive function, particularly attention and memory. Children with ADHD have shown significant improvement in concentration after spending time in nature.” (Journal of Attention Disorders)

How to Incorporate Nature into Your Child’s Life

Integrating nature into your child’s life doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. There are many simple and practical ways to expose your child to the benefits of the natural world. Here are some ideas:

  • There are many simple and practical ways to expose your child to the benefits of the natural world.Make time for outdoor play — set aside regular time for outdoor play and exploration. This can include visits to local parks, nature reserves, or your own back garden.
  • Encourage outdoor activities — encourage your child to engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, gardening, and camping (under suitable adult supervision, of course, especially when children are very young). Such activities can provide opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, and exposure to nature.
  • Take nature walks — go for walks with children in natural settings such as forests, beaches, or hills. Use this time to explore and learn about the natural environment and its wonderful inhabitants.
  • Plant a garden — planting a garden can provide a hands-on learning experience for children, as well as a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. It can also encourage healthy eating habits and an appreciation for nature’s beauty. If you have no garden, grow bags can be used on a patio, or pots can be used on balconies and windowsills.
  • Bring nature indoors — incorporate natural elements into your home, such as potted plants, natural materials like wood or stone, or even nature-themed murals and pictures. The Hygge lifestyle also embraces this approach, hence having adopted Hygge at Little Acorns Nursery.
  • Limit screen time — reduce the amount of time your child spends in front of electronic screens and encourage more outdoor activities and play, supervised as appropriate of course.
  • Get involved in nature-related organisations, clubs or groups — consider joining one of these or volunteering for environmental conservation or nature education projects. This can provide opportunities for your child to learn more about nature and develop a sense of environmental stewardship.

By incorporating nature into your child’s life in these and other ways, you can help them develop a lifelong love and appreciation for the natural world that will last a lifetime.

We hope that this article has inspired you to incorporate nature into your child’s life and consider the benefits of nature education in their early childhood.

“Nature exposure in early childhood is associated with multiple cognitive benefits including enhanced cognitive functioning, increased creativity, improved academic performance, and decreased attentional deficits.” (Frontiers in Psychology)

Our Approach to Nature Education at Little Acorns Nursery, Hindley Green

At Little Acorns Nursery, we believe in the importance of nature in children’s lives. So, we provide a rich and stimulating environment that includes plenty of opportunities for outdoor play and nature education. Our adoption of the Hygge lifestyle, extensive outdoor grounds with natural areas for children to explore, and plans to introduce Forest School in the future are all part of this. If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about our approach to education and how it embraces nature, please get in touch.

Weekday Nursery & Preschool Places in Hindley Green, near Wigan

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School in Hindley Green, near Wigan, Bolton & ManchesterLittle Acorns provides an exceptionally high standard of weekday childcare at our Hindley Green nursery and preschool, near Wigan. We support all Government childcare funding schemes, including free hours for eligible families. Do get in touch if you would like to register your child for a place, get a guided tour with your little one or if you have any questions.

Little Acorns Nursery & pre-school is located in Hindley Green, near Wigan, and may also be convenient to those in Bickershaw, Leigh, Atherton, Westhoughton, Ince-in-Makerfield, Platt Bridge, Tyldesley, Bolton and Greater Manchester.