Our second blog on experiential learning and a reflection of this last year (March 2021)
31st March, how are we here already, I need to get a bit more organised than leaving the blog to the last day of the month! Today as I sit here, the sun is shining and we have our double doors open in the office, it really is amazing in March to be able to do this and have the sun shining in, hearing the laughter and fun of children playing in the garden - if only this sunshine would last over the Easter weekend!
March has been a month of lots of wonderful learning experiences with lambing time on the farm and having the incubator with eggs hatching into chicks also. Experiential learning in the early years is so important, children learn the best through positive experiences and interactions, resulting in high levels of engagement. It has been wonderful to see the awe and wonder when some children have been lucky enough to see lambs being born, or having a stroke of a lamb and discussing the texture and helping bottle feed one of our cade lambs Farmer Brian is looking after. Regular trips to the farmyard have given the children the opportunity to develop their vocabulary from these new experiences, ask questions and learn new facts and spot numbers on the lambs and sheep backs. They have learnt facts such as a red number means that sheep has one lamb and a blue number means that sheep has two lambs. For the younger children it has been great to see their self-confidence develop as they build up the confidence to reach out and touch the lamb when they were initially unsure, as well as help make sense of the world around them, I doubt there are any babies here who doesn't know what animal a 'baabaa' belongs to!
The chicks have also coincided with this new life interest of Spring time. Children have been able to observe the eggs in the incubator and some even saw an egg crack and a chick emerge. We have all enjoyed seeing them grow from these tiny chicks and moved into a box with chick feed crumb and water, under a heat lamp. It has been wonderful to see children so enthused and run straight to the pen when they have got home from school for our after school club. They have now been moved to an outside shed in the farmyard and the children are still able to continue to visit them there. With the success of doing this, Charlotte was able to source some more eggs and we are doing a second batch whilst we have the incubator, this time it is based in Toddlers. This morning Laura in toddlers told me a funny story which I thought I would share - she said they made scrambled egg yesterday over the fire on Forest School for snack and the children were all worried they were the eggs from the incubator! The eggs are really causing a lot of fascination with the toddlers and we will await the hatching!
We have also enjoyed seeing the woods spring to life as we have observed the changes in seasons, seeing new leaves shoot and spotting primroses, pussy willow and catkins, which I always call lambs tails for their similarities. I do think Spring is my favourite time of year, so much hope and new life.
March has also been a time of reflection as I am sure it has for all of you reading this. It is so hard to believe we have still been in lockdown this month, one year since the first lockdown began. We are thankful all of our staff and families have remained healthy and feel stronger than ever with the journey we have gone on. The support we have had from everyone has been amazing and as the manager I couldn't be prouder of the GWF family we have. This week I have organised a staff treat for Easter giving bunches of daffodils, sunflower seeds and chocolates to our fantastic team, none of what we have achieved couldn't have been without being so united and dedicated to the service we provide for our families. Our parents have been wonderful keeping up with the ever changing government procedures we have had to implement. I am thankful for the wonderful facilities and environments we offer here, but without our community of staff and parents being behind us, we wouldn't be who are today, we couldn't have gone on this journey without being a team and we are grateful for this.