And when you get really determined it's amazing what can happen!
Starting at the right side, we did have a metal (quite unattractive) run for the bunny when he came outside. It was a few years old and was beginning to warp out of shape and just a bit of a pain really. So with the help from my lovely Sister in Law we picked up this new cage! It has been around the block a few times, in fact we had Popcorn in it a year or so ago, then it went to my Mother in Law for her Guinea Pigs, but before all that my Sister in Law (Pip) had it for Chickens!!! It's been shared around and much loved!
So it's back with us now for Popcorn, it's not a massive space but it is plenty big enough for him during the day. He actually sleeps inside anyway so it's just for fresh air during the day! Once the children go home he will come out and have a run around the garden freely so it's more to keep him from being trodden on than to really keep him contained!!
Then the more important bit; whatever you want to call it, mud pie kitchen, outdoor kitchen, whatever; my new defined messy/creative play area!!! I'm so in love with it already, even though it's not quite done yet.
My amazing amazing wife made this wooden kitchen unit, made up from old pallets (donated by one of my families). I had been looking at various designs on Facebook, links on Pinterest etc so sort of knew what I wanted. Georgia did a fantastic job of not just putting this one together, but also a second one for Pip over at Worms Eye View!!!
An old cable reel got for £2 from a reclaimed wood/recycling yard
The green unit on the wall is actually a draw from our old bed!
The paving slabs were donated by Pip, she had them around her Chicken run in her garden. Unfortunately both chickens passed away last week and so she has been having a clear out and sort of her garden too! Because I am next the the school and we have clay soil, we get all the run off rain water from the playground, it just doesn't go anywhere so the garden gets so boggy!! These paving slabs, just to raise that area up a bit were great. Then when it does get all muddy I can just hose it all down! I am still considering if the whole area needs paving (but that can get slippy), or bark chips, or something...it's not quite right yet
A chalk board panel on the side of the rabbit run! (another Learning & Development area covered!)
Straw bale was donated by a mum/family at the farm just up the road and lots of logs from the local park. A large willow tree was cut down a few months ago, leaving a huge pile of logs. the pile has been gradually going down as people have been grabbing them!! (and you can just see Popcorn heading off out for an explore round the garden!!)
Lots of other bits for the children to explore, bargain bits found at the car boot today, the blue bucket under the wooden unit has all sorts of jugs, pots, bowls, baking tray, muffin tray, tubes and funnels for water play. There are also a couple of drain pipes in the corner for water/rolling balls/cars etc. There is a pot of mud, stones, conkers, pine cones, natural chalks (found at the woods and collected by the children in the Easter Holidays). The coconut shells I just hung up and thought they could make music, they could be bowls or cups or anything the children can think of!
But I said I wasn't done!! As much as I like the open feel of it, from my experience if you are going to have messy play it's best to set out a visually defined area to contain it!! That is why there are various logs, plant pots and the straw bale set up as they are for now.
However, I do want the area to be more clearly defined. The logs will no doubt be rolled around, plant pots moved and before you know it I have wet mud EVERYWHERE. So, my inspiration came from our trip to an amazing local outdoor learning center we visited during the Easter holidays;
Behind my lovely nephew playing in their (very definitely) muddy area is a beautiful, natural, low level fence. PERFECT!!! So that is my plan to create a simple woven boundary fence, it will be kept relatively low. I just need to find a few stakes and then get weaving!!!
Another bargain find at the car boot today, and just as a bit of fun and an invitation to play. If the children look closely enough, in the flower beds around the garden a war is beginning....
I'm also currently working on a Fairy Garden but I'll keep that for a later post (or when the moss is more settled in and growing!). I'm also already aware that mathematics is really not my strong point. Whether I'm not great at providing opportunities, or actually I'm just not good at recognising it when it is already there, I'm not entirely sure. But I will be doing some research of how I can introduce a bit more maths to this area!
My garden now covers:
Physical Development - Scooping, pouring from various containers. Manipulating small world figures. Climbing/balancing on wooden logs.
Personal, Social & Emotional - Playing with and alongside others. Taking turns with resources and working co-operatively.
Communication & Language - Descriptive role play and small world play. Speaking with peers.
Literacy - Mark making on the chalk board, there are also a number of laminated sheets around the garden for things to look out for!
Mathematics - Scooping and measuring.
Understanding the World - Using natural and man made materials
Expressive Arts & Design - Creative role play and small world play. Using different media and materials in play. Being creative with different/new resources.