The Preschool settings sits within the village Primary School, next to the Year R classrooms, which supports a smooth transition from Preschool to school when the time comes.

There is an indoor classroom and also a secure fenced outdoor space next to the external space used by the Year R children.

There is a focus on uninterrupted time to play and explore, priority is given to opportunities for children to develop their own ideas, and the variety and quality of the experiences make Overton Preschool a fun, caring and exciting place to be.

The great outdoors

The children are outside every day throughout the year, dressed appropriately for the weather, both in the preschool garden and in the primary school grounds.

This could be in the woods, enjoying Circle time using natural resources as props or den building, learning to ride bikes and scooters on the school playground, developing physical skills on the trim trail,  or using the playing fields for sports like sack races and setting up our own assault courses to practice on.

The preschool garden includes a sandpit, lawn, a covered area with an outdoor kitchen, space to grow plants, and water play. More than anything, all these spaces offer children uninterrupted time to explore, play and learn.  

In the Outdoor Kitchen

When the children are busy in our mud kitchen they are doing so much more than just playing. 

They are cutting, sieving, chopping, pouring and measuring. It's an opportunity to develop and use mathematical language and concepts - more, less, counting, shapes and size. 

They  are able to explore textures, sounds and smells, and extend their understanding of cause and effect using mud, herbs, water, grass, and even use vegetables, salad and pumpkins, which we have grown together from seed in our garden. They are imitating grown ups by using cooking utensils and creating recipes for their role play. They are developing friendships by expanding their social skills, taking turns and sharing, and talking to each other about what they are doing and what is happening.

Exploring the Woods

We love to take the children into the woods in the school grounds,  talking abut what we see and what we find.

This could be exploring the seasons, noticing the trees changing, the weather changing, what smells different.  We spend time just listening to what we can hear.  This is also a great place to learn about judging risk, as most children like to climb the trees.

Dens are a favourite, and we talk to the children about how we could build a den, who could live in the den, where would be a good place to build a den and then start building one, using the children's ideas to answer: How can we build it? What do we need to use?, and encouraging children to work together to find the right sticks and figure out how to transport sticks safely.

Once the den is built, this inevitably leads to conversation about building dens for animals, and what homes animals live in.

We look at and talk about the plants, animals and insects that we see, following the children's interest and follow up what we have learned once we are back in the classroom.

Using the Sandpit

This is more than just sand - it is a place of experiment and discovery.

One of the favourite activities is making a volcano, which is a great way to extend and support a child's interest in this topic. Together we research volcanoes, talking about what the children already know about volcanoes… What shape might it be?  How might it smell and feel? Do you think it is hot or cold?  We can also learn about state changes from liquid to solid.

The children can then build a mountain using sand, and together we talk about eruptions… How are we going to make ours erupt?  What happens when it has erupted? How does a volcano become extinct?

When we add our ingredients to make the eruption the children can predict what might happen, then watch what happens, and afterwards discuss what has happened…Was it what we predicted? How could we change next time we make one?

At other times the children can just enjoy uninterrupted child-led play and learning to work together to create tracks and mini worlds. 

Wherever possible we like to follow the children's interests and let them free-flow from inside to outside.

This might mean we take the bikes and scooters up to the playground to practise using them safely, or creating an assault course using the tyres, and the children have to balance to avoid the sharks! We can play hide and seek or create treasure hunts or turn the gazebo into a building site or cafe.

 

Circle time is moved outside some days, and this means we can use natural resources as props as we explore the nature all around us.  We can use the trim trail to practice our gross motor skills and balance, or create our own obstacle courses. We sometimes hold a mini sports day where the children can enjoy different sorts of races and challenges.

 

Being able to use the 10 acres of school grounds is just amazing for all the children.

 A real favourite of all the children are the big magnetic shapes. 

Not only are they great fun, but also spark lots of mathematical conversations, about shapes and sizes. 

They are a great way for the children to use their imagination, and develop problem solving skills, predicting what shapes they need and how big they could build their creation.

The children are always so proud of what they have built.

In the classroom

 

Inside there is a home corner and shop, a reading corner, drawing and painting areas, and multiple other islands throughout filled with rotating activities to keep the children engaged and constantly learning something new. The room is filled with stimulating resources relevant to children’s interest.

 

The children's time is split between child led and adult initiated activities. Activities can follow a theme which could be linked to the EYFS curriculm such as "All about me" or focussing on seasonal topics and changes in the world around us.

Every day the children take part in a dough gym session. This uses playdough to strengthen the muscles in their hands, and also develops their gross motor skills and co-ordinations as they move to the music. 

Circle time is another activity for all the children together, and each day a different theme is chosen, with a story, turn taking activities and a chance for every child to talk in front of the group if they choose.

Mark making, the precursor to writing, is encouraged in a wide variety of ways, and there is always children in the art corner, creating masterpieces for the walls and to bring home.

The story corner is a comfy calm space that children can choose to use  at any time, to cuddle up and listen to a story or look through a book by themselves.

There are several "stations" set up in the room with toys and other activities, which change daily to always grab the children's interest, and ensure there is always  something new and exciting, even for the children who attend every day.

 Overton C of E Primary School

 

Being situated within the school grounds and next to the Reception classrooms means that Preschool is ideally placed to make the transition to school as painless as possible. We use the school grounds and playgrounds for a variety of activities, including the reception garden on occasion.

We have good relationships with the Reception class teachers, sharing information in both directions to make transition a smooth process. We watch school productions, are the audience for the dress rehearsal of the school nativity play, and Year R sometimes come to watch our performances too. We even have our own race on Sports Day.

Knowing the routines of school means that we can prepare the children well - for example we make the time for eating lunch the same so that children can practice getting finished in time - it is these little changes that can make a huge difference to a small child at school for the first time.

© 2020 by Overton Playgroup. Photos courtesy of Overton Photography Club - John Hodge and Amanda Hepburn

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