The Playgroup is within the Community Centre, right in the centre of the village next to the Library. There is a large room, subdivided into different areas for a range of activities, and an extensive outside space, with the children able to move between as they choose throughout the day.
The indoor space includes a home corner, a reading corner used for carpet time and throughout the day, drawing and painting areas, and multiple other islands throughout filled with rotating activities to keep the children engaged and constantly learning something new.
The outdoor space includes a permanent sandpit, climbing tower with slide and other play equipment, lots of vehicles, a new mud kitchen undercover and a very popular fire engine. This is used all year round with children dressed appropriately for the weather.
Outside space to play
The outside space comes as a surprise to people who don't know Playgroup, and is our favourite area. Hidden at the back of the Community Centre, there is a two level garden, with climbing frames and a big slide, an outdoor kitchen, ride on fire-engine, a large sand-pit, lots of water play, busy boards on the fences, so many ride on vehicles, a construction area, equipment to build obstacle courses and so much more. Children can use the garden as they choose in a free-flow fashion, on any day as long as they are dressed appropriately for the weather.
All children love being outdoors, and there is space for planting and growing, gravel and sand to dig in, and many different options for water play. There are also items for constructing assault courses, dens and whatever their imagination leads them to.
Our sandpit is a very popular area which can be used for lots of different learning opportunities. The children play alongside each other, fill and empty containers, practise taking turns, and investigate , explore and predict the outcomes of their own experiments.
We actively follow our children's interest - if we see an interest we will help children to follow it. If we have a group of children particularly interested in dinosaurs, we might bury several different sized dinosaurs and eggs, which they are excited to discover, and then work together to pair up or sort by size and type.
Children are all encouraged to use the climbing frame to develop their gross motor skills, which also helps them learn about judging and taking risks, and gives them a real sense of achievement as they get stronger and more capable.
The obstacle courses we create together also help with these skills.
When we are indoors.....
Much of the children's day is spent in free play, where they can explore their interests, follow their imagination, enhance their skills and learn to play with other children.
There is always the much loved home corner, a cosy book corner, and a shop. The craft area gives them access to painting, gluing, cutting and different options for mark making.
Playdough is used in many ways, to help children develop their fine motor skills and strengthen their hands as a precursor to being able to hold a pen, as well as bring a great way to be creative and explore how things feel and change.
Islands in the room are changed on a daily basis, and may contain contain coloured rice, or sand, or water, or small world, or tasks for the children to try such as matching and sorting shapes and colours.
During carpet time each day, the children listen and are excited to sing and join in with our Ziggy the Snail song. The children are engaged and fascinated while they wait for their turn to feed Ziggy their chosen leaf.
There are also more adult led activities, exploring specific topics or developing specific skills, all delivered as fun and play for the children. These could be special occasion crafts, cooking, learning about the seasons or about taking care of ourselves.
What happens through the day?
No two days are the same, with different activities planned and different resources available for the children. However, each day follows a similar pattern, giving the children comfort and confidence from the routine.
Upon arrival the children are greeted by the staff and encouraged to self-register, finding their own name to add to the board, and hanging up their bags and coats. There is then plenty of time for free play, which is as child-led as possible, enabled by staff supporting the children to follow their interests.
Mid morning is Carpet Time where the children come together as a group and learn to sit and listen, move and sing action songs, count and learn about words. This is followed by a snack where children are encouraged to be independent, collecting their own plate and cup and selecting what they would like from a choice of drinks, fruits and a biscuit.
After more play, inside and out, the children work together to tidy up and get ready for story time. At 12pm some children leave and the others sit together to eat their packed lunch and talk with the staff.
The afternoon is for children to select the activity of their choice, or sometimes a group activity might be prepared, which could be a topic of the term, crafts or even short trips out to the village. The day ends with another tidy up time, working together to put things away and another story.