Using natural resources has long been part of the Montessori and Steiner philosophies and some mainstream early years provisions were already starting to emulate this practice. The recent popularity of Forest Schools demonstrates how practitioners recognise the benefits of offering children open-ended activities using natural resources. Not all settings are fortunate enough to have access to a forest or indeed have staff who are Forest School trained, but it is possible to create naturalistic playspaces. Without specialist training practitioners will learn easy ways to develop their children's understanding of how to grow plants, use tools, construct dens and shelters and explore transient art.
The activities in this book offer opportunities for open-ended play while the children are off exploring nature and the great outdoors. Here Kate Bass and Jane Vella, busy Early Year practitioners, share with you some of their favourite resources, with ideas from how to enhance your `mud kitchen' to developing narrative and exciting opportunities to develop creativity while enriching children's language and communication.
Jane Vella and Kate Bass have both worked with young children in various settings for over 20 years each. They have a longstanding interest and expertise in the language and conceptual development of young children. Even though they spend a great deal of time and energy delivering training to a range of Local Authorities and schools across London, they are first and foremost practitioners. Working daily in an Early Years setting, they are, of course, accustomed to assessing children's individual needs and devising and implementing learning opportunities to extend their skills, knowledge and understanding. They then review and refine both the process and content of the learning in the light of their children's reactions and progress. The activities in their books are therefore thoroughly tried and tested so they hope you find them as useful as all their colleagues and co-workers do!