Blog posts

28 August 2020- Mess, mess and more mess! Childhood is that wonderful time in your life when you can be messy and embrace it. We certainly do at Ambergate! #nobestclothesplease #theywillgetstained

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

27 August 2020- In less than a week we open after the summer holidays, and for the many children who didn’t return since lockdown. We are exceptionally excited to be returning, to be back in our beautiful Ambergate family, and playing with your precious children in the woods, at the hall and wherever else they take us. We know it may be a challenging time for many, and those new or old may struggle with the return to playgroup, and in particular leaving their parents. We know how much it hurts when those tears fall, but trust us to wipe their faces, cuddle them when they need it, to be responsive and as caring and understanding as we could possibly be to help them through their emotions and challenges. We are all exceptionally well experienced in helping children settle, spending time getting to know them, learning their little ways and tuning in to their needs. You are all in safe and caring hands at Playgroup and emotional well-being is always our priority. So on those first days back keep your smiling faces and those lovely waves and kisses goodbye as positive as you can, and if you feel the tears falling then know we all completely understand but we will take the very best care of your little one 🌿 #firstdayback#nurture #childhood #bigsteps #emotionalrollercoaster

Image may contain: 1 person, tree, plant, outdoor and nature, text that says "Ambergate Playgroup"

21 August 2020- *update*

September 2021 is now exceptionally limited for spaces. We urge you to book now to avoid disappointment. Our September 2022 register is also now open, as are the waiting lists for 20/21 and any 21/22 already fully booked sessions. Children can start at any time throughout the year, we just don’t usually have the space until we have some leave us for school. Belper’s outdoor based setting is popular and in high demand!

We are full for the next academic year at Ambergate, with a waiting list running. If you’d like to be added then please let us know. Otherwise we’ve spaces for September 2021 onwards, and will be Forest based on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday all year round. Tuesday and Thursdays will be at the hall, 8am-3pm every day. Tiny babies will be based at the hall for part of their day on Forest Days, 18 months plus join us for the full days 🌸

We take children 6months to age 5 so if you will need childcare from next September, for whatever age group, we strongly advise you book early to avoid disappointment.

We’re proud to be the local setting for outdoor based early education, you’ll be amazed at what our children are capable of, and just how resilient they are.

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature

17 August 2020– It’s so easy to recreate Ambergate experiences at home. A mud kitchen is a brilliant way to enable messy play, mathematical thinking, creativity, sensory exploration, technology, science, investigative play; the list is endless. This mud kitchen has been cleverly built from pallets and bits and bobs, and even connected up to have running water! #mudplay#letthembelittle #mudkitchens #outdoorplay #ideasforhome

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: plant

18 July 2020- Making their toys and resources from scratch is so valuable for children. We could buy a rope ladder and keep it in our kit, but where’s the fun in that? The children used a bow saw, worked as a team and together they made this. Imagine the skills they developed

Image may contain: 1 person, tree, outdoor and nature

17 July 2020- The team behind the magic (minus one who was poorly and our fabulous administrator who keeps us all organised!) The team who make our early years dreams reality, the team who carry heaps of kit into the woods multiple times a week, the team who have put up more tents than a well seasoned camper, the team who find the fun in every single day, and the team who feel so grateful to work at Ambergate, and the team who Ambergate is so grateful to have ❤️ It’s a place of total early years transformation, and whenever we have a new team member join us, it’s always fascinating to watch their eyes open to what children should be experiencing on a wider scale. A fabulous day of virtual tours and Forest skills, finished off with yummy food (thank you @thehurtarmsambergate for our keyworker discount!)

Image may contain: 6 people, tree and outdoor

16 July 2020- Never underestimate a child’s skills and abilities. Here’s one of our three year olds using a bow saw. She’s doing so safely, cooperatively with another person, she’s considering the environment as she goes, developing her physical strength, practicing self awareness and knowing where her body is and concentrating on a task with total intent from beginning to end. This is the type of learning our children should be doing. We should be trusting them to use their enthusiasm to it’s full potential 🌱 She has learnt so much more than just using a bow saw. The best part: the skills are all transferable 🌻

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, child and outdoor

12 July 2020- Imagine this as your place to relax and catch up with your friends? It seems to be that this wall, with the sheep to watch over it, is becoming the hang out spot ❤️

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

9 July 2020- “The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.” – Claude Monet #bigart #monet #inspiration #nature #creativity

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

9 July 2020- Absolutely every part of the Early Years curriculum can be taught outdoors. Planning your provision, and providing children with the right resources is crucial, but it is absolutely possible. They are fully engaged with their environment, often exhibiting higher levels of involvement and wellbeing when outdoors #finemotorskills #eyfs #outdooreducation#whatevertheweather

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, child, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

8 July 2020- Oh how lucky they are; that this is their classroom 🌱#outdoorlearning #markmaking #mudpainting #eyfs #forestschool

Image may contain: one or more people, tree and outdoor

8 July 2020- Why full days in the woods? Why not just a visit during the normal session? Well…. What we love about being in the woods for full days is the resilience our children develop. They build the strength to not only keep trying but also the skills to support each other to succeed. The weather can bring some challenges, it’s not always sunshine and some days are harder than others, but the feeling of achievement gives us the knowledge that we can do it. As practitioners we embrace it and our children astound us. Always ones for a positive outlook we believe a rainy day gives us wonderful puddles and mud is one of our favourite resources! We feel this picture sings with resilience, strength to face the bad weather and forest magic 🌱

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, outdoor and nature

7 July 2020- Who needs play parks when you’ve got ropes and sticks? #outsideisforplay #gettotheforest

Image may contain: 1 person, child and outdoor

7 July 2020- Risky play is an important part of our Forest school practice. Our children are very skilled at taking risks appropriate to themselves. Today we introduced pullies to extend our rope play. They were fascinated with how they work and were soon hoisting bags up into trees. One child asked ‘can you hoist me up a tree?’ Our moto is ‘why not!’. The children problem solved to find a suitable branch and helped tie the knots we needed. We talked the process through and then risk assessed to help keep us safe. Then up the tree they went communicating when they were at the limit of their comfort zone and their friends listening to bring them safely back to the ground #beadventurous #wildchild #staywild #explore #riskyplay#learningthroughplay #eyfs #earlyyears #outdoorpreschool

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

6 July 2020- So how do our children eat in the woods? Well our older children are pretty good at sitting with their lunches on blankets or logs and they will eat quite happily, usually under a tarpaulin if it’s wet. For our younger children we’ve found that they need their waterproofs removing to be more comfortable. When the weather is bad this means eating in our large tent, using camping high chairs or cosy blankets. Developing a why not and positive mindset towards overcoming problems and challenges really helps us to work at being outdoor based. It can be tough, but it is always so worth it ❤️

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, tree and outdoor

5 July 2020- Mixed ages 💫 For many childcare providers the youngest children are often cared for separately in a baby area or room. We do have a safe area for babies, especially for those who aren’t yet mobile or for safe sleep, but we’ve seen huge benefits in having mixed ages wherever possible. Outdoor is no different and with some outside of the box thinking we are able to foster a wonderful learning environment. Our younger children learn so much from the older ones, and our older children learn so much when they are required to think about their younger peers. We’ll go further into how babes in the woods work, but for now enjoy this picture depicting a beautiful bond 🌿🌈 (of course @spottyotter is for all ages!)

Image may contain: 2 people, child, outdoor and nature

5 July 2020- Maths is everywhere. We’ve moved away from using set toys for outcomes, but there are some fantastic open ended tools we use throughout. We’ve found numicon to be one of the most versatile tools. It’s flexible, looks inviting and allows for the development of mathematical concepts. Inside our setting the room is set up with different invitations, they can be used in anyway the children would like and everything can be moved around. Watching their busy hands while they play is one of our favourite things to do

Image may contain: indoor

3 July 2020- Many of our resources are things we’ve found, been given, searched charity shops for or even added by the children themselves. We set up provocations in some parts of the room, but there’s no preconceived outcome attached to them. We use cable reels, pallets and random coffee tables found on the side of a road to create spaces. In fact, we’ve only bought a few pieces of furniture in almost 5 years. We just didn’t have the big budget for bespoke nursery furniture, but we wanted to create a different look and so our ethos for repurpose, reuse and recycle really took off. We love our rustic, quirky look. There’s no limitations in working this way, just creative flare required 🌱

Image may contain: 1 person

3 July 2020- Forest School is for all ages. Our babies do all day in the woods too! #naturalchildhood #naturebaby #therightstart

Image may contain: 1 person, grass, child, outdoor and nature

2 July 2020- We’ve come along way in the past almost 5 years. Our setting is a long standing village preschool, where the set up and resources on offer were very different with tables and chairs and toys that required little thought process and imagination. We flipped that all on the head, got rid of a ton of stuff and moved towards open ended, natural and beautiful resources that could be used in so many different ways. We began to ‘in the moment plan’ and focussed on the outdoors. We took our then children to a play park and watched them closely. They used the equipment exactly as an adult intended, waiting patiently for a turn on the swings and spinning on the roundabout. Their behaviour was impeccable but they missed the hill waiting to be rolled down, the sticks waiting to be picked up, the trees to climb and hide in and the dandelion clocks waiting to be blown. Our amazing children needed us to show them how to engage with the natural world, to help them see the possibilities and to feed their inner wild waiting to be set free. We achieved that goal. Now we see children truly at one with nature, and on the pathway we once only dreamed they’d walk 🌿

Image may contain: 1 person, grass, tree, child, plant, outdoor and nature

2 July 2020- We thought we’d introduce ourselves onto a new platform. Follow us on Instagram by following this link: Ambergate on Instagram!

Our mission: to try and spread the ever enchanting word of the true wonders of an outdoor loving, completely child led and inspiring approach to Early Years education. We’re a Derbyshire based Preschool, not too far from the Peak District, for children aged 6 months to 5 years. We believe in children leading their learning, we trust in their abilities to show us the way, and as their constantly responsive educators we scaffold and support them to achieve 🌱 We want to inspire other settings to follow suit, to adopt our ‘Why Not Approach’ and to change the way Early Years and beyond is taught in Britain 💫 We can’t wait to get started 🌳

Image may contain: 1 person, child, tree, outdoor, nature and water

30 June 2020- What a wonderful day in the woods🍃

Lots of creations were made using clay, sticks and wool. The mud kitchen was busy and we even had some barefoot mud walking! The ropes and hammock were really exciting. The children have lots of ideas, they problem solve and think the process through. Today we made a swing, zip line and balancing line. All were the children’s ideas (although we helped a bit with the knots 😉) One child commented it was like going to a play park!

We made a den and built a pretend fire which we cooked noodles on: helping to reinforce the fire rules through play. There was so much fun, we also had lots of conversations about kindness and supporting each other 💚

🍃It’s really amazing to be in the woods for the whole day. It gives us a slower pace to get immersed in everything the woodland offers. I think we will all sleep well tonight! 🌸

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and outdoor
Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and outdoor
Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, child and outdoor
Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

23 June 2020- This week after a long break and a lot of preparation to ensure our children and team are safe we were very excited to reopen Playgroup🌈

At Ambergate Playgroup we believe in an environment rich in awe and wonder and there’s no better place than being in the woods. Full of natural resources and physical opportunities woodland provides the perfect setting to learn through child led play. While our children play under a canopy of green they build a confidence that knows no bounds and resilience which will give them the very best foundations to continue learning🍃

Ambergate Playgroup is as unique as your child. We teach through play using natural resources, creative, sensory and outdoor play. Our skilful practitioners follow the children’s interests offering in the moment learning to promote the highest possible enjoyment and engagement.

We are open during term time for children from 6 months to 5 years. We run weekly Forest School sessions on Monday and Wednesday afternoons for children over 18 months. We still have a few places left for September. Please message us for more information and to register your child😁

Image may contain: 1 person, tree, child, plant, table, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, plant, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 1 person, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor and nature

13 June 2019- We’re back! 👋🏻

We’d taken a social media break while we worked on some important developments within our beautiful preschool. Time to recoup, realign, reenergise and focus on our core values is an important part of our continuous development.

In summary our journey is fairly vast so I’ll share it with you in stages.

Firstly our 🌟under 2s 🌟 provision research proved really helpful and it seems many families are looking for a homely, cosy, attentive and natural based environment for their smallest ones. We feel that our child led ethos, with as much natural and outdoor exposure as possible, is something unique to the local area, and we felt it was a shame that during the most important two years of a child’s life these children were unable to benefit from such an approach. So, we listened, we responded and we are being the change we want to see for our precious children.

Presenting you with our newly designed 🌟Under 2s 🌟 provision at Ambergate Playgroup. We’ve still got a few finishing touches to add; we’re expecting deliveries of our beautiful room dividers and some amazing indoor climbing equipment for toddlers still. We’re also working on some framework to develop the Montessori approach to a floor bed in order to create a gentle and relaxing canopy for the babies.

Our 🌟Under 2s🌟 area will be a small and nurturing environment where key person relationships can be fostered and secure attachments made. Children will have access outside ‘whatever the weather’, go for outings and walks and will access developmentally appropriate forest school type activities such as making nature sound instruments or collecting objects found in the woods. They will be a part of our whole preschool, eating meals together with the 2-5 years children and staff in a family type way.

Each child will be supported for being their own unique self, and as they grow and learn will be able to experience the whole Preschool provision with close support from their key person. Younger, or non mobile babies have the security and safety of a calm dedicated area to ensure they are accessing developmentally appropriate resources.

We hope you are all excited about this wonderful journey ahead. Our children deserve the very best, and being able to offer them access to us from a younger age enables them to begin becoming confident, capable and resilient young people sooner.

If you are interested in our 🌟Under 2s🌟provision please join our open afternoon event where you will be able to chat to us, view our provision and register your interest.

We are taking children from 6 months old, however will consider younger children on an individual basis. The general consensus within our research was from 6 months. 💕

No photo description available.
Image may contain: indoor
Image may contain: people sitting

8 February 2019- Playgroup have had an amazing first half term of 2019 so far. Here’s some pictures to see what we’ve been up to 🌿

We’ve focussed on open ended opportunities and provocations, or otherwise known as ‘invitations to play’. Our children are big thinkers and their ideas are always amazing!

#play #provocations #childled #eyfs #naturalchildhood

No photo description available.
Image may contain: 1 person
No photo description available.
Image may contain: 1 person

17 December 2018– There is something so wonderfully magical about Christmas 🎄, and something so wonderfully enchanting about the forest 🌳. Combine the two and you get something that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside

Today we had our Preschool Christmas Dinner 🍽 Of course, we did it Ambergate style and cooked a Christmas dinner on the fire 🔥 It was fantastic, and so lovely to spend the day together in one of our favourite places, all while eating yummy food 🌟

#forestschool #christmas #outdoor #allyearround #eyfs #christmasmagic

Image may contain: one or more people
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, child, tree and outdoor
No photo description available.

7 December 2018– Wow!!! What amazing, super children we have at Ambergate

They learnt a whole musical production, with lines and dancing/actions and never once got tired of practicing (in fact they asked to sing the songs most of the time!)

They belted out their Hallelujah’s in a way that would make Aretha Franklin proud and they moved like it was Broadway

We had a fantastic fair straight after the play. With special thanks to all of the volunteers, donations and suppliers for helping to make the fair run smoothly. Thank you to Morrison’s for providing us with veggie sausages and bread rolls, and to the Tabbenor’s for supplying the pork for our hot pork and stuffing rolls. We couldn’t have done it without you all!

An amazing amount was raised today totally over £630!! This is such a wonderful amount and we are excited to put this money towards making Ambergate even better than it already is ⭐️

Ambergate, you’re a very special place 🌟

Image may contain: 4 people
Image may contain: 5 people
Image may contain: 3 people
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling

29 November 2018– The magic of a group fire 🔥

Laughter, togetherness and warmth 🌟

No photo description available.
Image may contain: 3 people

29 November 2018- No such thing as a bad weather day! Only better days for mud and puddles 🌟

No photo description available.
No photo description available.
No photo description available.

28 November 2018- We don’t think you can ever be too muddy 😁

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
No photo description available.
No photo description available.
No photo description available.

27 November 2018- Autumn truly is a wonderful time of the year 🍂🍁

Our children have fully embraced the outdoor love and with proper layers and clothing we are out ‘whatever the weather’. Luckily we’re pretty good at making warm yummy fire snacks and plenty of hot drinks with our KellyKettle, which means we can be outside for longer.

We would like to say a very big thank you to Cromford Christmas Trees for donating a beautiful tree- the children are loving making their own decorations ‘playgroup style’ 🎅🏼🎄

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling
No photo description available.

10 November 2018- 🌟 All things bright and beautiful 🌟

We love a bit of recycling at Playgroup and often make or find our own resources, which is why we were very excited to receive an overhead projector from a school in Derby. Thank you!

The children haven’t stopped playing with it all week, and it’s possibly one of the best maths based resources we now have. Counting, sorting, patterns, shape features and names, simple division and early concepts of fractions have all been developed ⚡️

No photo description available.
No photo description available.
No photo description available.
No photo description available.

11 October 2018- A very big thank you to everybody who supported us with fundraising last year, particularly the carnival and after party. We have been able to purchase a water play station from Community Playthings with the funds you raised. The children have absolutely loved using it today, so a huge thank you from them too 💦💦💦

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting and table

9 October 2018- Rangoli patterns, stream paddling, tree climbing, cooking, conker maths, train riding and park finding… and it’s only Tuesday 😅

What will the rest of the week hold for us? ⭐️

Image may contain: food
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and food
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, child, outdoor, nature and water

5 October 2018- Autumn is probably our favourite season. So many opportunities 🍂🍁🍄

No photo description available.
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, child, shoes and outdoor
No photo description available.

4 October 2018- We’re always busy at Playgroup 🌟

Giant cling film painting, loose parts play, boxes, a quick snooze, woodwork, making bird feeders, a trip to Carsington Water, cooking, playdough, pretend weddings, flint and steel use, hot chocolate from the KellyKettle, junk model robots and role play with real food (thank goodness for Henry Hoovers!)

#neverstoplearning #play #earlyyears

No photo description available.
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, child and table
No photo description available.

26 September 2018- It was lovely to join Class 1 of Ambergate Primary School in the woods today. We worked in teams to build homes for different woodland animals and creatures. Lovely to see some of our children who left us this year so happy and settled in their new school ❤️


No photo description available.
Image may contain: 1 person, child, plant and outdoor
Image may contain: plant, tree, bird, outdoor and nature

25 September 2018- That moment when you conquer the challenge in front of you 💪🏻#rockclimbing #nevergiveup #resilience

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature

24 September 2018– Autumn is here 🍂 and it is so beautiful in the woods 🍁

A wonderful afternoon of rock climbing, sword and dagger making, fire cooking and hot chocolate drinking 🔥🧗🏼‍♀️🗡☕️

#getoutside #forestschool #allseasons #outdoorpreschool #eyfs#lifeskills #thesechildrencan 💪🏻

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Image may contain: 1 person
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, tree, child, outdoor and nature

19 September 2018- Marvellous soup making today!

We just love being able to get out and about with our fantastic children.


Image may contain: 1 person, standing and food
Image may contain: one or more people and people standing
Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, people standing, child, shoes, stripes and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and food

6 September 2018- 🌟 Construction and engineering 🌟

Our wonderful children are on an amazing learning journey with all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the moment!

It’s fantastic to see so many children excited, enthuasiastic and inquisitive about woodwork, science, engineering and construction. These subjects are so important to embrace and support- we need these children to be our inventors, manufacturers and researchers of the future 👩🏽‍🎓👨🏼‍🎓

We take our role in this seriously and make sure we offer children the opportunities to experience tool use and also to allow them the time to create and evaluate their learning.

🌟Numicon has been a fantastic addition- it’s inspired a love for numbers, counting and measuring
🌟A large supply of loose parts entices all of our children into focussed and purposeful play
🌟Our woodwork area is popular for learning new skills and consolidation
🌟Playdough allows for the opportunity to experiment and be ever resourceful

These activities are available to all of our children, from aged two until the time they go to school- and our new September children are fully embracing this new experience!

#childled #inthemomentplanning #reggioinspired #STEM#raisingthenextgeneration #engineering #mathematics #science#technology #inspirethem #playislearning

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, stripes, table and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, indoor and food
Image may contain: food

3 September 2018- And we’re back!

Fantastic to see such happy children returning or starting with us today. We had a lovely day in our newly decorated hall and garden! It’s made such a difference to the environment and the children love it so much. We all felt so calm and relaxed which is truly a wonderful feeling on the first day back 🍃

We’ve had a bit of a shuffle around, and it’s been interesting watching how the children use the spaces.

Straight back to the woods also- and my goodness it was a good feeling to be back in one of our favourite places with some of our favourite little people 🌟

A huge thank you to Central England Co-op and their team of volunteers who decorated our hall, and also to National Grid and their team of volunteers who gave our garden a make over. You’re all wonderful!

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table and indoor
No photo description available.
Image may contain: 1 person, eating, sitting, table, child, food and indoor

16 July 2018- Yoga is 🧘🏽‍♂️🧘🏼‍♀️ quite possibly one of our children’s favourite things to do at the moment!

They relax, rest and reenergise for the next part of their Playgroup day (and they are also improving each day too!)

Mindfulness is so important for our young children. We have an important role to fulfil as early educators; to make sure our young children know how to manage their own wellbeing and to value the importance of self care 💙

Our children love the outdoors so much 🌿 so today we practiced with our new yoga mats while looking out over a lake 🦆🌳 under the canopy of trees and listening to the birds around us. Mindfulness and yoga in the great outdoors: perfect! 🌈

A very special thank you to The Daisy Foundation Derby Central and North and Amber Valley for their donation of yoga mats. As you can see they are already loved by the children 💙

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, grass, outdoor, nature and water
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, child, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and nature

11 July 2018- Today we celebrated our wonderful children who leave us this year to start school 🌟

They truly are the most wonderful and inspiring group of children. Most of them have been with us throughout our entire journey in becoming what we are today, and one even shares the same start date as myself. These children have led us on an amazing journey, they’ve made us better people and they’ve impacted on each of our lives in such a magical way. They’ve become stronger and more resilient than you could ever imagine they’d be, and their passion, enthusiasm and persistent, unrelenting zest for life is admirable and something to be celebrated. These children leave a legacy; to love the outdoors, to never be afraid to have your own ideas and to live each day like it’s the best you’ll ever have 🌿🌱

Class of 2018, you are so very loved, and will be so very missed. Go and take on the world, just as you’re destined to do 💫

No photo description available.
No photo description available.

27 June 2018– Yes to growing our own super veggies 💪🏻

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, plant, flower, outdoor and nature

21 June 2018- Some pictures from our recent fun ☀️

Vegetable garden planting/harvesting, discovering we can climb up to see over the fence, rope swings in the woods, watering our flowers, finding elder flowers in the park, making our own instruments and trying a saxophone and didgeridoo, observing our caterpillars and going on a subsequent bug hunt, bouquet wrapping and charcoal making on the fire, hollowing our elder and making our own woodland pencils, forest exploring, bike washing, parachute games at the park, a walk to Ambergate School to collect children who had spent the morning there for their school transition, a special day breakfast in celebration of Fathers Day and all those who look after the children/provide them with fun and laughter, mud potion mixing, sprinkler loving and numicon games learning our numbers, one more/less than and simple addition. And all child led, in the moment, and without an ounce of unnecessary planning paperwork 🙈

Our fabulous children, showing us that each and every day is truly special 🌟

Image may contain: 1 person
No photo description available.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, child, outdoor and nature

7 June 2018- 🌱 Mindfulness, relaxation and reflection 🌱

As adults we are all too aware of the stresses, challenges and pressures of life. Book shelves are bursting with self help and life changing manuals to try and tempt us to make positive changes as we all strive for the goal of balance, happiness and calmness but what about our children? Childhood mental health difficulties are on the rise, and the pressures of our world are sure to be largely responsible for this. Teaching young children how to care for their well-being is vital, and it could have a big impact on their future.

We cannot avoid some parts of our children’s busy lives, not to mention just how tiring learning really is when you’re young, but we can be proactive in giving them time to reflect, pause and be peaceful.

We’ve introduced relaxation and mindfulness after lunch and the impact is wonderful to see. The children really are calmer and more content. Physically their body language changes, rid of any worries or anxieties they carry on their shoulders (particularly those children in the bizarre limbo of waiting to start school in September), but they also radiate emotional strength, nourished by their rest.

Our children deserve a bit of “me time” too, in-fact they thrive on it 🌈

We play calm music (pan pipes, piano, traditional Chinese music etc) and a member of staff talks calmly to the children, teaching them breathing techniques, and helping the children to imagine tranquil places while using props to enhance the sensory experience. We then do some quiet stretching or simple yoga poses to finish 🧘🏽‍♀️

#relaxation #mindfulness #childhood #reflection #eyfs#childmentalhealth #wellbeing

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting
Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting
Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting

7 June 2018- Exploring, learning, experimenting, questioning, testing, predicting, reflecting, experiencing, feeling, watching, listening, touching, enhancing, developing, curiosity, affirming, imagination, cooperation, communication, challenge, flexibility…

The above are just a small example of what our fantastic little people do and achieve through play.

Never underestimate the power of play.

Image may contain: plant, flower, shoes, outdoor and nature

6 June 2018- A few pictures from our recent fun. We’re getting adventurous with our climbing, making more challenging constructions. We found tadpoles in the stream at the woods, have shown an interest in scents, colour mixing and perfumes, escaped hot lava taking over the garden and treated a casualty who fell into it. We called an ambulance, carried them into the hospital on a stretcher, checked for breathing and responsiveness and put the casualty into the recovery position.

We’ve been away on an aeroplane, with pilot and co pilot taking us through some turbulence and had an air hostess spill tea everywhere. We played bare foot in the sprinkler and the mud pit, made a snake a home, investigated the re-vamped continuous provision cooking area, made a birds nest, climbed some huge trees, swung from branches, found caterpillars, swung high in the hammock and drove a Mario car in the woods.

We are always so busy, we never stop learning and are always up for a challenge!

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, child and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, child, outdoor, water and nature
No photo description available.

21 May 2018- Stick people created by our fantastic children this afternoon 🌳

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

18 May 2018- 🌳National Outdoor Classroom Day Thursday 17th May 2018 🌳

Yesterday we spent another whole day in the forest to celebrate and promote Outdoor Classrooms, and the importance of getting children outside, without the constraints of walls or ceilings. We were also joined by some parents to celebrate the day with us. The impact on the children is immeasurable, as a team we are still in awe over the effect the forest has on the children, their wellbeing and their love for exploratory play ☺️

So how do we do it? How on earth do we get into a forest, with everything we are required to take, with a group of children and large amounts of equipment? 🧐 Aside from being superheroes, we’ve a few tricks up our sleeves that make things possible 👑

To help others with getting their childcare setting outside for longer periods of time, we’ve tried to answer some of the common questions we are asked.

🌟How do you managing toileting/personal needs in the forest?

We use a pop up camping toilet tent, with a portable potty inside, wipes, rubbish bag and portable changing mat for those in nappies. Hand washing is by a jerry can with tap, a bar of soap and kitchen roll for drying hands.

🌟How do you manage food/snacks/drinks in the forest?

We carry a cool bag containing everything we need to serve, prepare and maintain food hygiene requirements. A lot of our snacks are cooked on a fire, so we usually take food already prepped or chopped for the children to then make their snack. We do not have access to fresh drinking water at our forest site, so we carry in bottles of water, and take cups for the children. The children usually bring their own bottle of water also. We can boil water using our Kelly Kettle fairly quickly, so warm water for hand washing can be topped up. Sometimes we cook lunch over the fire, and other times children bring their own packed lunch.

🌟What about if children want a rest?

We always have a story tent, for those who would like to sit quietly and relax, as well as a hammock for the children to lie down in.

🌟How do you manage in extreme weather?

We have a group storm shelter for poor weather, or for if we need to warm up. The shelter goes up like a parachute, and can fit a large group of children and adults inside. It does get hot inside quickly, and sometimes we will use it for eating lunch or snack inside so that we don’t get cold while staying still. We also carry emergency bivvy bags to ensure we are able to keep warm should we need to, such as if someone was injured. Children also have a kit list, to ensure they are wearing the right clothing, and we do make sure every child is properly equipped.

🌟What do you take with you into the forest?

Our kit is fairly extensive, and we are constantly updating it and adding resources, much to our dismay when we try to pack it onto the trolley! For fire we take fire gloves, fire blanket, flint and steels, kindling and other natural items to use as tinder, we also take any cooking equipment we may need such as a tripod and dutch oven, but this depends on what we are cooking that day. Our first aid kit contains burns gels and dressings also.

We also take pop tents, books, portable potty/tent, hand washing equipment, tarpaulins, ropes, hammocks, mallets, pegs, wool, scissors, paper, pens, wall paper, paint, magnifying glasses, loppers, bow saw, clay, string, mud kitchen pots and utensils, a garden trolley, sheath knives, rigger gloves, spare clothes and boots etc and anything else that springs to mind on the day. With these open ended resources we are free to follow lots of different ideas and activities.

🌟How do the children cope with being outside all day?

Amazingly! It is not without practice- some children need to build up to it, but because our children go regularly they are confident and happy in the woods, they know when to rest and when to run around, their behaviour is brilliant and we all have a wonderful time.

🌟Do you have your own forest site?

No we don’t- we use public woodland where we have permission to light fires in certain areas. We manage boundaries by insisting children must always be able to see an adult, and play statues when dogs and owners are near to us. Most dog walkers put their dogs on leads when they see us, but some do not so we have taught the children that dogs don’t want to play if we aren’t fun, and so we play statues until they decide to move along. Some members of the public are very interested to see what we are doing, we embrace the opportunity to share the benefits of outdoor learning with them and to promote the opportunities for children.

🌟🌟So, what’s stopping you? Start small, build it up, and you will soon see just how wonderful it is to spend the day in the forest with your little ones.🌟🌟

#nationaloutdoorclassroomday #forest #outdoorlearning#aclassroomwithoutwalls

Image may contain: 2 people, grass, tree, plant, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, shoes, outdoor and food

16 May 2018- A royal tea party today 🇬🇧🤴🏻

The children are really into ‘getting married’ at the moment which is always good fun for the staff to join in with 👰🏻

Image may contain: 2 people

15 May 2018- A few pictures from our time over the last week or so ☀️

We had a couple of children perform a gig for us in the garden 🎸, painted union jack flags ready for our royal tea tomorrow 🇬🇧, listened to stories in the woods, cooked vegetable kebabs (yum yum) 🥒🍅, explored shadow and reflections with the old projector (thank goodness for church halls!), decorated cakes we made 🍰, paddled and splashed in a beautiful stream, picked our spinach we had grown and bagged it up to sell (we made £10 to contribute towards buying new seeds) and had much more fun on the cricket field 🤸🏻‍♂️

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting
Image may contain: outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, child and outdoor

8 May 2018- A beautiful day in Ambergate ☀️ Bare foot and grass stained knees (just the way it should be) 👣

Image may contain: one or more people, grass, outdoor and nature

3 May 2018- Some of our recent fun over the past week or two 🌳

We’ve had fun in the forest and Bluebell Woods, made a selfie frame 📷, found bugs 🐌, mixed potions , swung on rope swings, had a picnic lunch at the cricket field with balls, hoops, hurdles, parachutes and cones (and wide open space!)🤸🏻‍♂️🎾 We’ve climbed mossy rocks, hidden in dens, spent the day at a different fire site in the woods and eaten lunch straight from the Dutch oven 🔥 We’ve used bow saws to cut wood, found a bottle and written a message to put inside it, painted on bark, climbed and chased in the garden, made a height chart and measured each other 📝 played the piano, watched our vegetables grow, re-potted our accidental sunflowers 🌻baked, sung songs and made climbing frame dens.

And all of this is only a tiny snippet of our recent, deep level learning. All of these moments are child led, empowering and amazing for the children to experience. We love the journey our little people take us on each and every day 💕

#aclassroomwithoutwalls #childhood #messyplay#playistheworkofchildhood #earlyyearsmatter #curiosityaweandwonder#risktaking #toolsandfire #childled

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor, nature and food
Image may contain: one or more people, child, plant, outdoor and nature

30 April 2018- Our classroom for the day 🌱

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and nature

18 April 2018- Some woodland fun this week 🌿

Our KellyKettle is our best friend at the moment. It means we don’t have to go to a specific site (a fair walk) to make a fire, and instead hot chocolate and a little snack can be whipped up in seconds wherever we find ourselves 😀

Image may contain: 1 person
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, child and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, child, outdoor and food

10 April 2018- Playing our part in encouraging both girls and boys to engage with STEM subjects 👍🏻 Encouraging our girls (and boys!) to be anyone they want to be, to play with what they want (no girls/boys toys here) and to build a boat called Neptune to sail across the park puddle if they want to 🌟 You never know, one of them could grow up to be a marine architect one day 💪🏻

Neptune was lovingly constructed after a conversation with us grown ups and the children saying they would like to see the puddle at the park 💦Seizing an opportunity to extend their learning while they were so engaged and empowered led us to access every area of the EYFS curriculum multiple times over. We learnt new skills, experimented with materials, checked what floated and what sank to make sure Neptune would stay above the water and then followed up with our architecture straight away by suiting up and taking her for her maiden voyage right in that wonderfully engaging and involved moment 🌊 We didn’t wait until tomorrow, or next week, we did it there and then and wow it was brilliant ⛵️

9 April 2018- We’re back from Easter break, ready for the Summer term ☀️

Back with our lovely children, in our lovely forest, having a lovely time 🌿

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, shoes, table, plant, outdoor and nature

29 March 2018- 🌟Quality interactions🌟

We use a system of planning called In The Moment Planning, otherwise known as child led. As part of this, quality interactions between the educators and the children are essential, and knowing when to interact and how is a key element to this.

As a team we use a huge amount of skill and knowledge in understanding our roles as interacting or interfering 🌸

Within the scenario pictured below is an excellent example of one of our educators using her skills to support the children through making a dice.

Step 1: Educator recognised an opportunity to teach during a learning moment by supporting a few children to make a dice that they wanted (they had asked for one, but we didn’t have one large enough). Our educator suggested they make one

Step 2: Educator supported the children to find a cube shaped box

Step 3: Educator gently questioned and listened to the children in how they would like their dice to look (picture one)

Step 4: She followed and supported their suggestion. Adding commentary, explanation, I wonder questioning and modelling new skills

Step 5: She was able to sit back, recognising the children had learnt a new skill and were competently taking lead in their learning together (picture two)

Step 6: Our educator again supported their ideas in how they would like the dice to look once made. She supported the idea of adding dots, and helped with some mathematical aspects (again teaching in the moment)

Step 7: Our educator steps back completely as the engaged children finish their learning journey with the dice and then go on to use it for a game independently (picture three)

I’m so proud to have a team who recognise and respond to the needs of the children and who can support and model some amazing teaching 🥇

Image may contain: 1 person
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people

25 March 2018- Finally, someone is listening! Let’s hope that we are listened to further and early years settings can receive the funding needed in order to run. Please keep supporting us while we fight for your children’s right to quality early education.

It is awful that the funding rates have been based on research 5 years out of date. Since then we’ve seen increases in rent, wages, pension contributions, inflation of resources… the list is endless. We receive £4 per hour for 3-4 year olds and this is not enough to meet our costs. Our parents are incredibly supportive and for this we thank you all so much, but this isn’t right. We shouldn’t have to rely on parental support in order to provide children with the experiences that we do.

Be the change you want to see 🌟

Further information over on Champagne Nurseries Lemonade Funding page 🍾

24 March 2018– A wonderful morning doing our Sponsored Welly Waddle 🌳

Thank you to everybody who made it a success, have a wonderful Easter all 🐣

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, tree, plant, outdoor and nature
No photo description available.
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing, child, tree, sky, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

23 March 2018- Perfume, potions and botanicals 🌸🌺🌼

(Yes that’s real glass with fine china cups and saucers and no, nothing was broken or damaged)

#authenticresources #thankgoodnessforchurchkitchens #reggioinspired

Image may contain: plant, table, drink, coffee cup, flower and indoor

22 March 2018- 🌟 Loose parts 🌟

We’ve taken a huge leap this half term and have sold/recycled/given away almost all of our plastic toys (eeeek!)

Our key reason behind this move:
🌟The children didn’t play with it!

We have lots of open ended resources available, and we found those were the ones being played with. Lack of space and also our responsive way of working meant reevaluating our environment to suit our children’s needs… And so came about the decision to get shot of the plastic, enhance our open ended provision and embrace all things loose parts.

Today we received the first part of our Loose Parts order with Stepping Stones. Stepping Stones are a local stay and play parent and child group who do wonderful things all with open ended, child led play. They are not for profit, and both Kerry and Cate who run the group do not take a wage. To raise vital funds for Stepping Stones they make beautiful kits of resources at incredible prices for home, pre schools or just because. We are so happy with our order and the children have loved taking their play to the next level today.

If you’d like to get in touch with Stepping Stones please message them via their Facebook group

#looseparts #getridoftheplastic #thinkersanddoers #criticalthinking#playingandexploring #activelylearning #eyfs #childled #reggioinspired

21 March 2018- Some photos from the last week 💦

We’ve been out and about, where we found a vole who was no more 🐭We used a stick to gently turn it over to have a good look- which sparked some interesting conversations around life cycles.

We’ve melted snow on a fire 🔥, played hide and seek around a beautiful tree 🌳, checked the Dragons Den for footprints in the snow ❄️, made a lot of mess in the mud pit 🍰, splashed in puddles 💦, built dens in the woods in the rain and made balancing courses with planks of wood and reels 💪🏻.

And the best bit? All of this happened through child led learning with no pre planned adult led activities- such an empowering way to work (for children and staff!) 🌟

Image may contain: one or more people, stripes and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, tree, sky, outdoor and nature
No photo description available.

8 March 2018- The first picture was taken by one of our children who told us they “want to take pictures to print and keep on my shelf with my special leaves”. I really love it, it shows the journey through the woods from their perspective, and the sense of belonging as part of the group really stands out too 🌳

We had been making elder wood bead necklaces. They joy when she realised she had removed all of the pith successfully is wonderful

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, child, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, tree, child, plant, outdoor, nature and close-upImage may contain: one or more people, hat and outdoor

6 March 2018- *Play spaces*

Recently we noticed a lack in the use of fabrics to create spaces in our setting. It was something we always used to do, and would experiment with frequently, but due to being a pack away setting we just ran out of time/forgot/were busy making something else fantastic etc. So, a little kick back on track and we’ve started to reintroduce it 💥

Here we have two very simple examples, the use of sticks and cardboard tubes are used to prop up a curtain over the creative area, and a bent cardboard tube to create an archway. The sheet the children decorated as part of our Chinese New Year celebrations is draped over the top and tied on. We are a setting who recycle, repurpose and reuse whatever we can, we don’t have big fancy budgets, and my heart often aches when I see the beautifully kitted out nurseries with their purpose built furniture. That being said- I wouldn’t change our ‘look’ for anything. We love being a bit quirky- using things the children wouldn’t normally play with, and offering something a bit different to families 🌈

Why do we create these play spaces?
Since adding a simple overhead drape the creative area has been used by more boys- now that’s always a reason to celebrate
Adding archways and drapes adds a sense of magic, and makes children feel the environment is theirs to explore
It stays calmer- giving softer ceilings and smaller areas
We incorporate the Communication Friendly Spaces approach- by making spaces to maximise communication (Elizabeth Jarman)

You don’t need much to create wonderful play spaces for your children, be imaginative, use what you have, reflect and keep on moving forwards. Keep being fantastic 💪

Image may contain: one or more people and indoor
No automatic alt text available.

6 March 2018– Come and join us for our ‘Sponsored Welly Waddle’ at Shining Cliff woods. We will be starting and finishing at the bottom of Shining Cliff, at the back of St Anne’s Church, just across the bridge on Holly Lane. We will be walking a circular numbered route, around the woods (with a few challenges along the way) and then returning to Playgroup to collect a certificate and prize.
At Playgroup we will have the following from 10am onwards:

Cake stall
Craft for the children
Egg rolling competition

Please could we have donations of cakes/baked goodies and tombola prizes. These can start arriving at Playgroup any time from now. You will need to bring a hard boiled egg, wrapped and clingfilm and named with permanent marker for our egg rolling competition. Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

Friendly dogs on a lead are welcome on the Welly Waddle as well as siblings/friends/family etc.

Please be considerate parking in the area- Devonshire Street gets very busy and is a private road. The garage are very accommodating for parking, and there is plenty on the A6. Please leave parking on Devonshire Street for those who need it due to mobility, disabilities and new babies.

4 March 2018– Whatever the weather ❄️🌈🌧☀️💨

Image may contain: one or more people and text

28 February 2018– We felt very privileged to be having fun in the snow with our children today ❄️

It dawned on us that they are so young, and that it’s easy to forget that they may not have experienced snow very often. What lucky people we are, to be able to share such precious moments as they grow up and experience the wonders of the world 🌍

#outside #whatevertheweather #snow #memories #weloveourjobs

Image may contain: one or more people, snow, child and outdoor

15 February 2018– Trees 🌳 sunshine ☀️and little people 🌸 … a perfect combination 💖

Image may contain: people standing, tree, outdoor and nature

13 February 2018– Woodland fun with our Little People 🌲

Dragons eggs, wild painting, meaningful writing and cinnamon apple baking at Basecamp yesterday.

Take risks, embrace the outdoors and love every moment 🌳

Image may contain: tree, shoes, plant, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: outdoor
Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people and child

9 February 2018- Joy, sheer joy. Become a ‘why not’ setting and embrace your children. Be there and in the here and now. Live every moment.

This photo was taken back in late September when they days were still warm. A trip to the park turned into a puddle diving mission. The simple act of emptying his muddy welly brought on this beautiful smile 🌸

Image may contain: one or more people, grass, outdoor and nature

7 February 2018- Our children are the centre of everything we do at Ambergate. They inspire us, and lead us into some amazing experiences, which is why we allow them to lead the sessions. This means no pre planned activities, and for staff less paperwork! We operate using something called ‘In The Moment Planning’ (ITMP), which we have adapted over two years to fit with our unique pre school.

So, how does it work? How does it meet the requirements of the EYFS? And how does it go down with the big old ‘O’ that we all know to be Ofsted?

Step 1: Using ITMP takes skilled and knowledgable staff, who must have a thorough understanding of the children they are looking after and of child development.

Step 2: We observe what a child is doing

Step 3: We assess where they are at within their learning (any schemas, what do they already know etc)

Step 4: We quickly plan what we could do to develop their learning

Step 5: We carry out our super quick thinking plan (this is the teaching). This could be by commenting, modelling, I wonder questions, suggestions, providing a resource etc.

Step 6: Back to step 2!

Next steps in learning are met immediately. For example, showing an interest in transporting water is met by adding different tubes and pipes straight away, instead of being pre planned for another day. This means higher levels of learning happen because the child is deeply interested with what they are doing, whereas they may not have been interested in this the next time they come, so the learning moment would have been lost. This meets the requirements of the EYFS to help individual children achieve, develop and learn through their own unique and empowering way.

So how do we keep records of our teaching for Ofsted? Well, individual observations go on to Tapestry for parents (an online learning journal) but our teachable moments also go on to our planning boards (pictured below). This clearly demonstrates that meaningful interaction and teaching has taken place.

Once all of our boards are full we start to remove the oldest of the three and add them to our learning journal floor books which are available to the children at all times. Having a visual planning record system like we do appears to be beneficial to the children, as they can revisit their learning at any time.

These ‘teachable moments’, as we call them, have led us on some amazing adventures with our little people. They exhibit extremely high levels of engagement and well being through being able to drive their own learning 🌟

#childledlearning #inthemomentplanning #ITMP #earlyyears #wellbeing#empowerment #unique #aweandwonder

No automatic alt text available.
No automatic alt text available.

5 February 2018– Busy little people in the woods this afternoon. A real fascination with string, a swinging motion and rope. All explored through stick wrapping, frame making, bridge making and hammocks. We also ate our lunch in the emergency shelter, what with sitting still in the cold to eat. My goodness it kept us warm and cosy! Muddy camouflage modelled by myself and Fiona- the children did their own too!

No automatic alt text available.
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, hat, tree, child, sky, outdoor and nature

3 February 2018- Sometimes you’ve just got to lay back, close your eyes and relax in the Winter sunshine 🌳☀️

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor

1 February 2018- Happiness is… eating a biscuit on the way back from the woods 💖🌿

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting

31 January 2018– A question I am often asked is how we get out and about so often and so easily… well, it’s mostly our ‘why not policy’ stance on outings, and our passion for helping children to learn through their own ideas and interests that gives us the drive and enthusiasm to just ‘go with the flow’, but we do have a few tricks up our sleeves!

Before starting it’s important to have risk assessments in place. Because our outings can be to just about anywhere we have specific risk assessments for things like travelling on buses or trains, and the immediate local area, but we then also have dynamic risk assessments which can be applied to a variety of different places. This eradicates the need for lengthy pre-visits, and means we can get out as soon as the moment arises, and without the need to pre-plan.

Once the paperwork is in place it’s on to the good stuff! We have high expectations with regards to behaviour and by doing so we set clear boundaries and expectations before we leave. Secondly, we go out so often that it’s now second nature to the children, so we don’t need to remind them of the processes often, practice makes perfect after all! And finally, we have an array of resources that help us get from A to B such as walkodiles, a 6 seater pushable ‘bus’, back pack reins and slings. Ratios is a hot topic in relation to outings, and it’s important that staff are confident and comfortable with what you decide. We do not have set outings ratios, as we go by the children’s needs and experience instead. Some days two members of staff are able to take 12 children out (age 3+) with ease, other days 12 children may take three staff etc. It’s all about keeping the little people safe, so go with what works for you (but the tools we use really are fab!).

The slings are a relatively new addition and we would like to thank Derby Sling Library for all their help and support in finding the perfect sling for us. It’s already well used and loved- as modelled by the little one enjoying his ride to the woods today!

We hope by reading this that other settings feel more inspired and perhaps more confident to get out and about with their children, it really is a wonderful experience for the children and staff. No one likes cabin fever after all 😉

*Just to add that we use slings because we do go quite far and often on rough ground where a pushchair will not go. Sometimes children can’t walk that far due to special needs, age and ability, and sometimes we take it with us, just in case. In all cases we do what works for us and the children, and love the extra freedom we have. For those unfamiliar with carrying, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it 😜*

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

23 January 2018- We’re always looking at ways to improve the experience for the children, and so continually reflect on our practice in order to do this. We’ve identified a bit of a gap in mathematics, and so have been thinking of ways that we can give this area a boost 🏆

We already successfully run self service playdough and also creative areas, and so we’ve now introduced self service baking in order to develop our skills further 🥣 Because this area is so new, we have introduced it with plain vanilla sponge, and a washing up area. We will then build upon it gradually, and eventually we want to develop different flavour options (e.g adding fruit, flavouring sugar with botanicals and adding a decoration stage). For now, our fabulous children are enjoying accessing this area as it is 🍰

Today was the first go with this in place, and our little star featured in the video made two cupcakes. One she placed on a plate to eat, and the other in a food bag to take home. While sitting eating, she cut it up and gave a piece to a nearby friend who was busy playing. Such kindness, and what a sociable area this is proving to be already 💖

A few notes:
🌟Our ingredients are all dairy free due to us having children with milk allergies
🌟We cook our cakes in the microwave because it is very quick, perfect for cakes being eaten straight away, and doesn’t take very long to cool down for excited little people
🌟As part of choosing to bake, they are also choosing to clean up after themselves-soap is provided in a pump (a great hand strength building resource) and they then place everything back, ready for the next person
🌟They have to ask a grown up to use this area- especially while this is so new, we don’t want it getting mixed with the playdough by accident!

22 January 2018- A wonderful woods session this afternoon. The children are visibly showing an increase in confidence in the new area, and are all happily engaged and excited by what the session holds for them.

Today it was rope ladders (amazing strength building), fire cooking, map reading, bouldering, mud sliding, snow playing and stick weaving frame making fun 🌳

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, child and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, plant and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

20 January 2018- So wonderfully true 🌟 The key to success is play- so let’s give our youngest children the very best start.

Our next generation of doers, thinkers and dreamers 🌳

#letthemplay #reallearning #childhood #lifeskills

16 January 2018- We had a wet woods session yesterday afternoon! 💦🌪

During these sessions we take a small group of children, with a high adult to child ratio, and are entirely based in the woods 🌳 We take everything with us we could possibly need- including water and soap for hand washing, toileting means, shelter, equipment for warmth and a variety of resources we can use for just about anything. As part of these sessions we make sure the children have something to take home, this is to create a strong link between home and the forest, and so children have something to talk about in sharing with their families, as part of the reflection process 🏡

This week we battled the elements to create name badges, as well as making fire pizza and drinking delicious hot chocolate. One of our children was absolutely convinced he could cut through a large tree with a tiny saw- and you know what? He very nearly managed- and then it broke in two 🙈 The determination and commitment to his project was so strong, that we are really proud of the level of self confidence he displayed in trying so hard 💪🏻

#outdoorlearning #risktaking #tools #whatevertheweather#determination #resilience #skillsforlife

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: tree, grass, sky, outdoor and nature
No automatic alt text available.

11 January 2018-  We had such a wonderful afternoon with the children who continue to amaze us full of their enthusiasm for exploration and adventure! We took the train to Cromford where we bought duck food from the wildlife shop, fed some hungry ducks, ran through fields, found sticks we liked, played hide and seek, drank delicious hot chocolate, and then caught the bus back to Playgroup 🚊

One of our children could tell us all about Cromford, and what they had done there before with their family. Others remembered previous journeys we had taken on buses or trains, and others observed with a quiet eagerness, ready to explore where we had found ourselves.

It’s amazing being able to get out and about with the children, they learn so much and because we do it so often their behaviour is outstanding. They know and understand the expectations and measures in place to keep everybody safe and so we are able to go a little further afield.

We did have a little giggle when they all ran for the trees- they really do love the woods!

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor, water and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, grass, sky, tree, child, outdoor and nature

9 January 2018- Our forest session was fantastic!

We had so much fun exploring a new area of the woods; where we looked at the different trees and plants, climbed on funny branches, poked ice puddles with measuring sticks to see how deep they were, played ‘musical mushrooms’ with sticks and cooked a delicious snack on our fire 🔥

It was a biting 0c, but dressed properly, we hardly noticed the cold, and made sure we kept on moving. We have found some interesting places we would like to visit again to explore further.

We make sure that we teach the children our “no picking and licking rule”, and that fungi can only be touched with a stick. While in the forest we love to give them the freedom to explore, but use boundary flags to mark out our area and they must also always be within sight of an adult. By giving them this responsibility they learn to manage self regulation, without us being ‘Negative Nelly’s’ and constantly having to call them back. Behaviour, social skills, empathy and communication develops at such astounding level while outside in the forest, and with the sense of belonging the children have as part of the group, they grow to have such strong connections with their natural world.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, tree, shoes, child, outdoor and nature

4 January 2018- **Gun/weapon/superhero play**

“Eeek guns” I hear you say, as the images of weapon wielding children cross your minds 😱 Well, hopefully we can convince you of the benefits of this type of play by delving a little deeper into our stance on gun play and the ins and outs of this field we are navigating.

It’s no secret to say that most children like gun/superhero/goodie/baddie play, and that it can get out of hand, which is why in many preschools/schools/nurseries and even households we find ourselves saying “we don’t play with guns here” or the like, and sadly ban it. But what if we were to consider what we are actually teaching our children and what they are really trying to explore with this type of play?

A few facts about weapon/superhero play:
🌟Children use this type of play to explore right from wrong
🌟It’s physically exerting- children need to move
🌟They are not learning to ‘kill’ or harm
🌟It does not lead to a violent child or adult as they grow up
🌟It is an amazing imaginative play experience- by developing play acting skills
🌟Children know what is real and what is pretend
🌟It is confidence boosting- by perhaps taking on a different persona
🌟It builds a sense of belonging- by being a part of a group
🌟It develops negotiation and cooperation skills

How we manage gun play:
🌟We do not use replica toy guns- these often look very similar to the real thing, and instead we develop cognitive skills by making guns or props with recycling/resources (like in the picture)
🌟A consent rule- only play with those wanting to take part
🌟No shooting at faces or people (if this upsets them)
🌟No hurting people or living creature or causing any damage

Many children are exposed to guns in their everyday lives, there’s little getting away from that. Children learn through play, and they use play to make sense of their world. This is just one method that children use to develop their understanding. Many children are also in positions where guns are the norm for them, such as parents being in the armed forces, parents who take part in gun sport and not to mention the news or papers that feature guns almost daily.

Weapon play is a common interest of many children, while it is easy to watch from the sideline and intervene when ever deemed necessary, this can create a negative association to the type of play. The best option is to dive on in and be a part of it. That way you can direct and scaffold where you would like the learning to go, in a positive way, by following the children’s interests. You will see a different side to some of your wonderful children, and will realise that by entering their world of play, it’s really not that bad after all 👍🏻

Lots of further reading available on Mr Google 📚


Image may contain: one or more people and indoor

2 January 2018- There’s exciting times ahead for us at Ambergate Playgroup. We’ve responded to parent feedback, and after consultation, will be offering a Breakfast Club every weekday 8am-9am. Booking is essential (via email/text/change of hours form) 🥪

We are also opening our first ‘outdoor’ session on Monday afternoons. We will be outdoors what ever the weather, all year round and based in Shining Cliff woods. We’ll be cooking our snack on a fire each session, and will have everything with us to keep us warm and dry, ready to enjoy the forest within our unique session 🌳

I’m sure you will all agree this is a huge, positive step for us at Ambergate. It was only two years ago that we opened for our first afternoon session, as it had always remained mornings only for many years. We’re growing together, and are looking forward to the many more magical moments that we have with the children we are so lucky to share each day with. Here’s to 2018, and more fun 🎉

Image may contain: food

14 December 2017– With the cold snap we’ve just had there are some very hungry birds out there ☃️

One of the children had the fantastic idea to make bird food! A frantic dash around, and ta da, the staff managed to gather enough of the right things to make yoghurt pot feeders using (nut free!) wild bird seed and lard 🍽

All of the children had a go, and dipped in and out as they pleased. Once finished, the feeders were hung in the garden on the apple tree 🍏

We can’t wait to watch the birds enjoying a delicious snack 🐤

Image may contain: one or more people, people eating, people sitting, table and food

12 December 2017– Snowy, icy fun yesterday ❄️

It’s so important for children to experience all weathers. We like to teach them that there’s no such thing as a bad day 🌟 Every day holds possibilities, excitement and reason to explore- even in the pouring rain!

In the right clothing, and with warm food and drinks, children are incredibly resilient and love being outside. The fresh air is best for getting rid of germs, we breathe more easily and fundamentally feel happier 🍂

We’re ready for another day!

Image may contain: one or more people
Image may contain: one or more people, snow, child and outdoor

8 December 2017– We are so proud of our wonderful children for doing an amazing performance of Stick Man. They were absolutely brilliant, and for such young children, coped so well with a big audience 🌟 They are all stars 🌟

Secondly, an amazing almost £500 (rough count so far) was raised through the mini fair afterwards and we would like to thank all those who helped, donated prizes or jam jars and cakes, and to everybody who came along. All funds raised go into making the children’s time at playgroup even better.

Have a fabulous weekend and we will see you all next week ❄️

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, table, child and indoor
Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor
Image may contain: 2 people, indoor

7 December 2017– Lucky Karla received a special pampering at the Ambergate Salon this morning. Her look was perfected with a bit of back combing and a few clips… ever a good sport 😀

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, shoes and indoor

6 December 2017– Maths, maths, maths! (I see the virtual shudders)

There’s an overwhelming percentage of the population who say they ‘can’t do maths’. I’m sure we can all agree we’ve been that person at some point. Within Early Years provision maths is arguably one of the more ‘tricky’ areas to provide for, mainly because of the lack of enthusiasm attached to it.

Well the next generation won’t be following in our footsteps 😁 Oh no, they will be confident mathematicians! Using concepts and principles in their everyday lives. Why? Because they’ve needed maths, they’ve felt it, they’ve experienced its purpose in their all consuming play and they’ve enjoyed exploring the possibilities that numbers, space, shape and measure enable.

Our provision doesn’t need to be complicated, expensive or single purpose. It can be messy (the best kind!), open ended and even free. Maths is everywhere, and when you play with it, it’s brilliant 💫

(Pictures showing an incredibly simple maths provision in our garden)

Image may contain: people sitting
Image may contain: people sitting and outdoor

3 December 2017- You’ll be aware of our continuing battle in the early years to receive adequate funding, so that we can provide children with the rich opportunities to learn and develop. This article goes some way to explain the mistakes made by the DfE and furthermore, the reasons the 30 hours cannot be ‘free’.…/free-childcare-claim-withdraw…

1 December 2017- Potato planting happened today! The children helped to fill our new planter with soil, before saying we would need to plant some vegetables! Luckily we had some potatoes in the kitchen so we are going to see if anything happens. We love that the children are so hands on and interested in everything.

The afternoon saw us exploring the forest 🌳 Climbing, running, rolling, sliding and frosty leaf crunching fun ❄️🍂

Have a fabulous weekend everybody 🌟 Get outside 🍁

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature

29 November 2017– Wow it’s chilly today ❄️

The icy winter blast hasn’t stopped our fun though, oh no, we’ve been mountaineering this morning!

Wrapped up, snug as bugs, and with a few extra layers thrown on as a ‘just in case’ we set off for the park. Some of us walked and some of us had a ride in Betsy Bus 🎢

The children helped each other to climb up the mountain hill while some, who weren’t able to do it by themselves at first, kept on practicing until they could. A true example of determination, perseverance and resilience 🌟


23 November 2017- “Drilling holes” seems to be the thing to do at playgroup for some of our children 🌟

As part of our woodwork provision we have now extended this to include hand drills 🔩 The children are still exploring what you can do with them, so we will continue to focus on this for the time being before introducing saws ready for our fully operational workshop! 🛠

Afternoon fire lighting led to hotdogs/crumpets on sticks and they were a big hit! 🔥

We love that our children’s interests usually revolve around risk, outdoor play and problem solving. We’re proud of the confident and capable little people they’ve become 😃


Image may contain: 1 person, drink, outdoor and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people
Image may contain: 1 person, child, hat, close-up and outdoor

20 November 2017– A challenge for everybody this week 🌟

Wave goodbye to the “no” just once 👋🏻

Embrace your child’s awe and wonder for the world and say “why not?” 🌏

We have a strong “why not” policy and it has made such a difference to the experiences we allow our children to have. Unless there’s a very good (real) reason why we shouldn’t do something, then we do it ✔️ This means we end up painting our entire bodies, getting trains, belly flopping in puddles and painting our faces in mud 🎨

🌟 If it’s mess related- mess is not the child’s problem! We have ways and means to clean up and it takes moments if you get the children helping
🌟 If it’s time related- you’re going too fast, there’s always time for fun
🌟 If it’s risk related- risk is important, children are more capable than we think, let go, let them try, fail and try again
🌟 If your an early years setting and you’re worried about how your parents will react to mess- adopt a strong ethos for messy play, share the research that supports this approach with your parents and invite them in to see it in action, provide clothes for the really messy stuff (we do this for body painting) and share lots of photos and videos showing the fun they have had

Share with us your ‘why not’ moments in the comments. We can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to… (current parents can also add to Tapestry)

Image may contain: shoes and text

16 November 2017– Can you think of a more magical place to eat your lunch?

We took the train to Belper 🚂 (after Kate realised she doesn’t read bus timetables correctly 😆) and walked to Belper Parks Nature Reserve 🌳

The children absolutely loved eating in this beautiful woodland den, which has been developing for some time and made by various groups and individuals 🍂

We then climbed ‘The Best Climbing Tree’ (it’s famous you know!) before some fun in the stream 💦 Muddy, soggy children achieved; we then walked back to the train station to return to Playgroup.

An amazing day, with children who could not have behaved any better, and who will definitely sleep incredibly well tonight 🙈


Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, shoes, child, outdoor, nature and water
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, shoes, outdoor and water

14 November 2017-Back to one of our favourite places today: The Mud Slide 😁

Some children had their first outing to the woods today and they LOVED it, while others who had been before encouraged and helped those who were less confident or familiar, while others went down the mud slide when they had previously decided not to. All children participated and learnt in their own way 🌟

Image may contain: plant, shoes, outdoor and nature

9 November 2017– If you go down to the woods today… you’ll be sure to see; mudslides, rope swings and hedgehog houses!

A wonderful morning in the woods getting filthy 😉

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, bird, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, shoes and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

7 November 2017– We had some logs arrive today… they were stepping stones at first, and then one child had the wonderful idea of hammering the logs. We added some nails and bottle tops and away they went!

Woodwork is something we are passionate about at playgroup. It’s a risky activity to do, but risk is important and reasonably manageable. We’ve a lot of new children, and after a long summer break, we’re reintroducing woodwork slowly. It’s important to build on a child’s skills using different tools and exploring the elements of woodwork, rather than just offering every tool straight away. In this case we walk before we can run 😉

We’ve been offering a variety of ‘tinkering’ resources, such as hammering golf tees into pumpkins or taking apart broken electricals with screw drivers, for a while now and today was this years first go at using nails. We will let them explore the possibilities when using nails, such as joining and fixing in place, before moving on to our next steps in tool use; sawing and drilling. Once they have grasped these concepts we will begin combining tools and methods, before a fully operational workshop will open with all resources available for woodwork to take place in 🛠


Image may contain: one or more people, child and indoor

5 November 2017– Please read and sign! This is something we are incredibly passionate about at Ambergate. It is so important for our future generations. We need the thinkers, the doers and the curious to be our next inventors, world changers and leaders 🌟#extendtheeyfs#earlychildhood#letthemplay#change#togetherwecandothis

3 November 2017–  A lovely Friday 🌟

Our youngest children went to the park in Betsy Bus with Fiona and Karla. They loved having the space to run and explore, and especially loved to climb the big hill in the park area. They ended up a little soggy because of the rain, but returned to enjoy hotdogs cooked on the fire as our token towards bonfire night. Delicious hot dogs, cooked by the children themselves, and then served with yummy baked beans and bread. You can’t beat Autumnal food  🌭

In the afternoon a piano arrived, which has been given to us by a local care home. Thank you very much Coxbench Hall and thank you to MBE Build for delivering the piano to us.

The children have already loved exploring the beautiful sounds a piano can make and we will be extending this area to introduce basic musical language and knowledge while also using it to sing songs or dance together

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, plant, mountain, flower, grass, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, child, plant, grass, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people and food
Image may contain: one or more people

2 November 2017- We’ve had a busy morning with lots of new families looking around, while the children have been busy role playing in the garden. They made an aeroplane from large construction, with tickets and seatbelts and then went on a journey to the beach. After our lunch the children chose to go to the park… of course, we should have known they didn’t really mean the park! They meant the swampy, muddy, sloppy puddle in the middle of the field…

Our wonderful children, showing us that when life gets busy, stand in a cold, muddy puddle and love every moment 🌟


Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, child, plant, shoes, tree, outdoor, nature and water

31 October 2017-  We made a rope swing in the woods! It was so much fun swinging through the trees 🍂

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, sky, child, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 1 person, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

20 October 2017- Precious moments finding bugs 🐞 and insects 🕸 in the woods with our confident little explorers. Super fun as it was EXTRA muddy due to the heavy rain 💦

Image may contain: one or more people, child, shoes and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

15 October 2017- Wild Child

“They caught the wild children and put them in zoos,

They made them do sums and wear sensible shoes.

They put them to bed at the wrong time of day,

And made them sit still when they wanted to play.

They scrubbed them with soap and they made them eat peas.

They made them behave and say pardon and please.

They took all their wisdom and wildness away.

That’s why there are none in the forests today.”

– Jeanne Willis, “Wild Child”

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor, water and nature

13 October 2017- A morning of potion making in the mud kitchen for some, and an afternoon of serious body painting for others. We aren’t kidding when we say we’re a messy Playgroup! Imagine the feeling as a child to have the freedom to really see what paint does, to feel it, to use it and to explore what our bodies are capable of doing too: magical 🌟 Thankfully we are well practiced at kitchen sink baths, and keep a stock of shampoo and bubbles for such occasions… 🎨#aweandwonder#childhood#reallearning

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing

12 October 2017– A morning of preschool photographs (the proofs are back already and looking gorgeous!) and an afternoon in the woods. Mud painting, woodland doll making, stick decorating, bubbles, pirate fighting, hill climbing and worm wriggling fun! #outdoorclassroom#outdoorplay

Image may contain: one or more people and child
Image may contain: one or more people

10 October 2017– We were donated a disused bed sheet this week, and being a setting who will use just about anything as a resource we got to work making prints on the fabric. The children selected flowers and leaves to hammer and made beautiful patterns on the fabric. We’ve stuck a piece in our reflection book so we can look back another day and see our creations. We’re going to collect some sticks to make picture frames for the printed fabric, as we ran out of time today, and then we will hang them on the walls or in the garden. 🍃🌿🍁🌷🌸🌺

Image may contain: 1 person

8 October 2017- I am lost for words when I read online from parents who’s 2, 3 or 4 year old are disengaged and unhappy because somewhere they are not being allowed to ‘just be’. Children who no longer want to write because they are made to do it in school, and as homework, and without any of the purpose or love they once had. Children who are not being allowed to experience all consuming play, because they are at school, and at school they do work. There are those who are failing to see that play is the real work of childhood- they are learning, and they do not need worksheets or handwriting practice to show for that. We are proud of our play based setting, but what happens once our children leave us? I urge all of you to get involved with FB groups and campaigns such as;

The way to lead change is by standing together, and parents, if we have any hope of change, it will only be with you by our sides.

“Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean”.

(Credit to KEYU fb group for the links)

7 October 2017- *Warning lots of mess!*

Fun and frolics in the garden on Friday. The children began using their wellington boots to stamp in the paint, then the bikes to make marks and leave tracks, and then their own bodies. Process art at its finest 🎨

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, child and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, child and food

5 October 2017- This morning we were busy planning our afternoon. One of our children wanted to make pumpkin soup, and seeing as the pumpkins we already had were either hacked to pieces or covered in paint and glitter, we thought it best to go and get a new one. And so our adventure began! A train to Belper to visit the green grocers was on the cards, timetables checked and outing bag packed, we set off to hunt down the perfect pumpkin. We tried the green grocers and the co-op but neither had any pumpkins in yet! “Not to worry” we said, “we can make a different soup”. Carrots, coriander and onions were purchased, with everybody helping to count ten carrots. We also visited the pet shop to buy Acorn a yummy treat (guinea pig banana popcorn no less!) and then went for a rock hunt/run around in the memorial gardens before our train home. Thanks to our fantastic walkodile we are able to get out and about more easily and safely 😄 #childled #moments #autumn #learningthroughplay#curiosity #aweandwonder

Image may contain: cloud, sky, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and close-up
Image may contain: one or more people, child and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, grass, sky, outdoor and nature

4 October 2017- Such a busy day today!

One child ‘found’ a sweet corn still in its jacket. This sparked the idea of cooking corn on the cob, which happened over the open fire. This then led on to preparing food, which turned out to be leak, potato and broccoli soup which the children prepared all by themselves. We then moved on to the tools used on or with fires… sticks were whittled and marshmallow toasting sticks were made. Unfortunately we only had half an hour left of the day, and a lack of marshmallows, so we settled for toasting an orange over the fire, seeing as we had no time to walk to the local shop. These tiny moments lead on to so much. Children have the most wonderful ideas and the enthusiasm to follow them through. It’s up to us as grown ups to let these ideas happen and to enable high quality learning to shine through #inthemomentplanning #childled #aweandwonder#whynotapproach #outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people and child
Image may contain: one or more people, people eating, people sitting and child
Image may contain: food

2 October 2017- Lots of excitement as Peppa Pig from #belperrocks made an appearance through our letterbox this morning! Some very excited children- we will be going out to re-hide Peppa tomorrow, as well as adding some of our own.

If you haven’t heard of Belper Rocks before it’s a brilliant idea where rocks are decorated, and hidden all around Belper (and the outskirts) for others to find, keep or re-hide. Take a look at the group for further information

Happy rock hunting!

Image may contain: indoor

1 October 2017- Some inspirational pictures, showcasing the wonder of childhood and the limitless possibilities 🍂

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, child, outdoor and text
Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor, nature and text

28 September 2017- This afternoon we joined in with ‘Belper Rocks’ and re-hid some that had been found already, as well as added a few of our own. I wonder who will find them? If you’d like to join in with Belper Rocks take a look at their Facebook group- it’s great fun and the children love hunting for them. Ambergate toddlers may find one as well as a visitor to Shining Cliff Woods!

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, shoes, child, plant and outdoor

27 September 2017– The children are brilliant at independently making their own playdough, and exploring the different scents or colours to add. We provide provocations to explore, of which are usually natural or found, upcycled or repurposed resources. Today saw the addition of blackberries, conkers and other beautiful autumnal provocations. Here you can see we used the blackberries to add colour to the playdough, then we realised it smelt amazing too! We explored how the conkers and acorns made lovely patterns and that the leaves could be pressed onto rolled out dough to leave an impression. We need to collect more blackberries though, as one of the children ate the ones we hadn’t used yet! Wonderful, child led, all consuming, explorative and engaging play 🍂#play#earlyyears#childled#aweandwonder#naturallearning#learningthroughplay

Image may contain: food
Image may contain: 7 people, table and food

20 September 2017– Risk! It is so important for children to take risks. It helps brains to develop, leads to resilience and develops decision making skills. We should allow children to take their own risks, to risk assess their own environment, and to make their own decisions about what they can do. Children will not go beyond what they deem safe and possible, and it is our job as adults to allow them the freedom to discover their limits. That’s why we use risk/benefit assessments at Ambergate and find that the benefits of a resource or activity by far outweigh any possible risks.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and outdoor

20 September 2017– A few of the children chose to make autumnal sun catchers today. They look beautiful against a window or light 🍂

No automatic alt text available.

19 September 2017– It started out as a bit of paddling…it ended up being a mud bath! A brilliant afternoon with our fabulous children who are always ready to get stuck in (and filthy!) If you can’t have the freedom to throw yourself into muddy water as a child, then when can you? Thank you to all of our ever good spirited parents/relatives for always being happy to see the fun the children have had, instead of the mess! #earlyyears#outdoorplay#childled#adventure#whatevertheweather#inthemoment

Image may contain: one or more people, grass, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, plant, child, outdoor and nature

9 September 2017- We are looking for indoor and outdoor potted plants to add an additional depth to our environment. If you can help us we would love to hear from you! Our reasons are because plants naturally purify the air, as well as help to create a calm environment, and can also be used as resources such as creating cozy nooks. Thank you in advance! 😀

Image may contain: plant, nature and outdoor

 8 September 2017- Our environment today! We’re always looking to improve and develop playgroup, and our environment changes daily in response to the children’s needs and ideas. Our long term journey has seen us move from lots of tables and chairs, plastic toys and few authentic resources. Now we use real, authentic resources (yes real food and tableware!!) in so many areas, and we are still continuing our journey to replace others. We create spaces using natural and found resources, and add fabrics to make them communication friendly, relaxing and inspiring. We actively encourage critical thinking and ensure children can access all creative resources at all times, both in and out. Here they pour their own paint, make their own play dough and colour the water. We’ve started adding real instruments, rather than ones marketed as children’s toys, and in the short week we’ve been back we’ve seen such a jump in our children’s musical skills and importantly, their interest in music. Water and sand are presented together, where children can select resources and combine them, celebrating their own ideas and concepts. We are by no means where we want to be, but we are proud of the opportunities we offer our children, and we are prouder still for their ideas and inspirations to make it just so. (Please excuse the background noise of our staff team having a morning coffee before the children arrived!)

27 July 2017- You have probably heard news of early years settings being frustrated by the new 30 hours scheme that is coming in from September, or sadly in some cases where they have closed. There are many reasons why providers are facing difficulties at the moment, but this interactive tool is a clear way to show what little movement we have in this sector. At the end of the slides you are able to join the supportive plight to secure appropriate funding for our youngest children. Further information can be found by googling the ‘champagne nurseries on lemonade funding’ campaign. Help us to ensure that our youngest children have access to high quality early education!

21 July 2017 – Today was a little less adventurous in comparison to the previous few days. We’ve some very tired children after such a busy week and half term. We opted for lots of large physical play at playgroup. This was ideal as our hall has been cleared (in preparation for the holidays) so children had the space and freedom to move in lots of ways. Sadly we were let down by an ice cream van this afternoon, but Danielle came to the rescue and returned with everything we would need to make our own. A lovely end of term, afternoon treat

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

20 July 2017- Today we got the train to Belper! We had our snack in the Memorial Gardens where the children were really interested in the memorial monument. They asked a grown up to read the names to them and we talked about what the monument was for. A few of the children were able to tell us about grandparents who grew up in the war. We then continued into Belper Parks where we had a fantastic time in a stream, splashing, balancing on rocks and logs and throwing sticks into the water. A picnic lunch and a change into dry clothes later, we did some tree climbing. Belper Parks is fantastic for tree climbing- the trees are just right! We then had a gentle walk back to the memorial gardens for a play with some bubbles before heading to the train station. A very busy day- but the rain didn’t stop our fun

Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor, water and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, outdoor, nature and water
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, child, shoes and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature

19 July 2017- We had a wonderful time in Matlock Bath today with our small group of children. The day started by taking the train from Ambergate, playing in a park with a huge pirate ship, a delicious flapjack snack at a lovely cafe, who were very kind and welcoming to us all, a few two penny pieces disappearing and then the train back to Ambergate. The children were impeccably behaved and we are very proud of them.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, table and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table and indoor

19 July 2017–  Yesterday we spent the entire day at Shining Cliff Woods, enjoying snack and a picnic lunch. We were all totally shattered by the end of the day, but wow what a day it was! At Playgroup we fully embrace the importance of taking risks and tackling challenge, and this is just one of the reasons why we encourage tree climbing 🌳

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, child, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

17 July 2017– We have a busy week planned as we are out every day, doing lots of wonderful things with the children. Today we were at ‘Bluebell Woods’ where the children made this fantastic den. It even had fern leaves added to give it some added waterproofing!

Image may contain: one or more people, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

11 July 2017- A huge thank you to J C Balls of Ambergate for helping us to keep the children safe while we are out and about. We used one of our walkodiles today, while taking the older children up to school for a transition morning. They are fantastic pieces of equipment and help to keep us going out and about with the children 🐊

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

10 July 2017- We had a fantastic time at Ambergate Carnival on Saturday! Playgroup won 3rd prize and an amazing £530 was raised through the evening party and our stall on the day. Thank you so much to all who worked so hard to make the event happen and to everybody who helped make decorations etc. The children had an amazing time (photo credit goes to James Corbett & Ambergate Carnival Facebook page)

Image may contain: one or more people, grass, sky, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, child and outdoor
Image may contain: 1 person, standing and child

30 June 2017– Yesterday, in the pouring rain, we ended up cooking vegetable soup on a fire. This all happened because one child wanted to paint a potato! Potato painting happened, the adults then extended this by cutting shapes into potatoes for printing. The children then had a go at cutting shapes into them, then a few children began chopping the potatoes into pieces and told us they wanted to cook with them. We provided them with chopping boards and clean knives etc so they could continue chopping. We added a few vegetables from our supplies and then a group of children went into the garden to pick some of our home grown vegetables. Not many were ready for eating just yet, but we still managed to pull up a few small carrots and a broad bean. The children turned it into soup, adding a selection of dried herbs and some fresh mint. We asked how they would like to cook it and they said “fire”! This one moment ended up lasting two hours, with children engaged and involved. We had some soup with our lunch, yum!

28 June 2017- ‘Flower petal pancake soup’ was made in the rain yesterday! The children wanted to write their recipe down so Kate helped with the process.

Image may contain: one or more people and food
Image may contain: one or more people and food
Image may contain: one or more people

28 June 2017- We have growth! Now I’d like to see somebody else evenly divide the first ripe strawberry between twelve!

Image may contain: plant, fruit, food and nature
Image may contain: plant
No automatic alt text available.

28 June 2017- Ahoy there! Pirates have been spotted in the Ambergate area! Superman appears to have turned to the dark side, and is assisting the grog drinking crew on their quest to find gold!

Image may contain: people standing

20 June 2017- Some of the children created this beautiful woven hoop today. We collected flowers and leaves and wove them in and out of the string. The children were naming the flowers that they knew, and we helped to name those they didn’t. They particularly enjoyed smelling the lavender flowers. We also spoke about the plants that we wouldn’t be picking such as ivy and nettles.

No automatic alt text available.

18 June 2017- Talking Point have published an easy to use communication and language progress tool for parents and practitioners to use. Please follow the link to complete it if you would like to

16 June 2017– We had a great time at Sports Day today! Thank you to Ambergate Primary School for having Playgroup join in.

Image may contain: one or more people, grass, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, child and outdoor

15 June 2017– Yet another wonderful session at the woods today. The children are always so excited to be here and we see them at their most involved and engaged. We yet again followed the children and ended up creating forest people using anything could find, created stories using natural items as props, ran down hills, had stick races, played hide and seek, drew in the mud, made music on trees with sticks and to top it all off we had ice creams from the local shop while passing. Our children, as usual, behaved outstandingly well and we are very proud of our confident little explorers.

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, outdoor and nature

14 June 2017- Our self service play dough area is now fully embedded into our environment. The children have access to flour, salt and water in order to make their own play dough and we add enhancements to the area according to their interests and ideas. Some examples of these enhancements are the addition of vinegar bottles containing colouring, herbs and scents. The children follow a simple recipe, displayed in a picture frame but they are also free to explore their own combinations. We are all about the process and not necessarily the end product and this is just one example to show how we allow our children to think critically and explore for themselves. You can see just how popular this area is in the photographs!

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, people eating, drink, table, plant and indoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and food

13 June 2017- We had such a busy afternoon today! The children wanted to make a giant pancake, so sure enough we followed their interests and supported them by providing the opportunity to do so. It was also a great opportunity for Fiona who hasn’t built a fire with us before. The children as usual played a part in managing any risk. They collected water into containers in case we needed it, and arranged crates to act as seats. The giant pancake was delicious and some children even had thirds!

Image may contain: one or more people and food

11 June 2017- We had a lovely time on Friday with Wellington boots and paint. The children explored colours, experimented with paint mixing, using their feet to do so and watched as they created different sized foot prints according to shoe size. A super simple, yet effective activity, that kept them busy and engaged.

Image may contain: one or more people and shoes

25 May 2017- A fantastic day spent playing in a paddling pool and a very messy mud kitchen!

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, hat and food
Image may contain: one or more people and food

15 May 2017- What a fantastic morning in the woods. Despite the rain we built dens, read stories, made stick mobiles, painted sticks and had a picnic snack. The rain was quite relentless, so we spent the last hour drying off in Ambergate Baby and Toddler Group (thank you very much for accommodating us all!). We finished the session by singing songs with the toddler’s before a short walk back to our meeting point.

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature

11 May 2017- We had a very busy day today! First of all we went to the park where we climbed trees, hunted for bugs and ran running races. Then we supported a charity cake sale where we joined residents of Ambergate to eat delicious cakes. The children loved talking to everybody and it was a lovely social experience, sitting in the sunshine while eating a little treat. Then, the afternoon children went back to the park for some more fun. We are sure to have worn them all out. It’s lovely having the freedom to explore and engage with our local community. The children thrive on these experiences to build on their understanding of the world.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, eating, table and child

10 May 2017- Our lovely new prospectus is now back from the printers 😀 A full version is available on our website to download should you wish to view it there, alternatively visits are welcome to the setting or we will happily send one via the post/email.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

8 May 2017- Thanks to our smartie tube collections we have been able to purchase a couple of new toys for the children. We now have a shop and puppet theatre! Both are already much loved 🎭

No automatic alt text available.
No automatic alt text available.

3 May 2017 – From September 2017, eligible 3 and 4 year old children will be able to access 30 hours of provision per week. Playgroup will be open for 24 hours per week, while the funding can be split across up to two settings.

The link below provides lots of information and tells you how you can check to see if you are eligible. Please take a look 🙂

29 April 2017- We would like to wish Bethany (our deputy manager on maternity leave) and her partner the most wonderful of congratulations on the birth of their beautiful daughter Ayda Iris. Mummy and baby are both doing really well

Image may contain: 3 people

27 April 2017– Just a reminder that we are closed on Monday as it is bank holiday, and also Thursday 4th as the hall is being used as a polling station.

26 April 2017– It’s here! Kate took it out for an empty spin today 💪🏻

Image may contain: car and outdoor

23 April 2017- We’ve been creating some ‘spaces for one’ over the holidays and this super simple idea is ready for the children tomorrow. All free, made from an old cot, some silk fabric woven between the bars and a couple of hinges. ‘Spaces for one’ are ideal for young children to retreat to when they need to rest or think. They provide them with a space, that only they can use at the time, to call their own, which is important for their emotional wellbeing.

Image may contain: stripes

23 April 2017- Teddy has been supervising the set up of Playgroup in comfort this evening 🐾

No automatic alt text available.

19 April 2017- We have something very exciting arriving next week! Thanks to our wonderful fundraising efforts and donations we have been able to purchase ‘The Tank’. We think the children will love it!

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, child and outdoor

3 April 2017– We are all about critical thinking and problem solving at Playgroup, which is why we have begun to introduce a self service playdough area. Whilst the final set up will include dry cereal dispensers for the flour and salt, the general idea can be seen already. It’s all about the process! Giving the children ownership of their resources, and the opportunity to be independent, enables the development of mathematical thinking and problem solving ⭐️

Image may contain: people sitting

3 April 2017– Giant chalks and paper today! Thanks to the parents of one of our children for the photography backing paper 😄

No automatic alt text available.

1 April 2017- A massive thank you to all of our parents/ grandparents/ families/ committee/ children (you get the idea!) for an amazing turn out at our Sponsored Welly Waddle! We enjoyed ourselves so much and the children had a wonderful time too. We will let you know how much we have raised for Playgroup once all of the sponsorship money has been collected over the next week.

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature

31 March 2017- It’s been a fiery week at playgroup, as we lit up again this morning to cook our snack. We made scrambled eggs (fresh, from one of the children’s farms) and toast- both cooked on the fire and then eaten in the garden. It was the first time taking part in an activity like this for some of our newer/younger children and they fully embraced it. By the afternoon, the fire was completely out and the remaining wood was cold, so we then used it as charcoal chalk and drew some brilliant drawings on the patio. Creative resourcing at it’s best!

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and shoes

27 March 2017– Today a group of children began to talk about ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ while outside in the garden… staff spotted an opportunity to extend the children’s learning by suggesting we make some porridge. We did this over an open fire in the garden and it was wonderful! The children were included in the building of the fire, they risk assessed their own environment and we discussed fire safety before lighting… this then led on to such an in-depth learning activity, observing weights/capacity, changes as we cooked, re telling the story of Goldilocks, where porridge oats come from, using manners when serving up the porridge, trying different or a new food and then eating our porridge around the outdoor snack table. So much learning, all through play, and all completely child initiated, with a touch of adult help to make it happen. We especially love the extendable spoon!

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and child
No automatic alt text available.

23 March 2017- A truly wonderful afternoon was spent at the local park. They had a quick play on the slides and swings, handed staff copious amounts of lovingly picked daisies, and ran up and down the hill a few times, but this giant puddle was just too irresistible for our confident explorers! We splashed, ran, jumped and fell in to this wonderfully muddy mess. We were also lucky enough to find some frog spawn in a section of the puddle which fascinated the children and sparked some amazing conversations around growth and change. They have asked to return soon to check on the frogspawn and to see if we can spot any tadpoles. Child led learning at it’s best!

Image may contain: one or more people, grass, tree, child, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: grass, tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: shoes, plant, outdoor and water

22 March 2017- This beautiful sun catcher was made independently by one of our children today ✂️

No automatic alt text available.

9 March 2017- The children loved making lots of fizzy potions today using lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda!

Image may contain: drink and indoor

7 March 2017- This morning, this simple tuff tray kept a group of children busy for almost two hours! They used different vehicles to transport the cereals around the tray.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

7 March 2017- The children had a wonderful time washing our cars this afternoon! Lots of bubbles made it great fun and they did a wonderful job.

Image may contain: 1 person, car and outdoor

8 February 2017-Today some of the children made vegetable soup. All of the vegetables were prepared by them and the only help we had to give was with the very hot part and a bit of potato peeling. It tasted fantastic and they enjoyed it as their snack 😀

Image may contain: food

6 February 2017- The children enjoyed a story while they ate their snack in the woods today.

Image may contain: one or more people, child, tree and outdoor

6 February 2017- We wrapped up warm today and have spent the morning at the woods. We had a picnic snack, read stories, got stuck in the mud, fell in the mud, paddled in a stream, chose which way to walk, painted with natural items that we had found and finally, retold ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ as we were walking along. A very busy morning for our little ones, but luckily we didn’t have to walk back after all of that exploring 🌳

Image may contain: 1 person, shoes, child and outdoor

3 February 2017- Guess where we have been this afternoon!

Image may contain: outdoor

1 February 2017- **VACANCY**
We have a very exciting opportunity available at our Playgroup for a Deputy Manager (Maternity Cover- for a period of up to 12 months).

We are looking for a candidate with as much passion and enthusiasm as us, and who can join us on our journey to ‘Outstanding’. This is an excellent career development opportunity, as the Deputy Manager will be involved with all aspects of the running of Playgroup.

31 hours per week, plus any additional paperwork time and meetings.
Term time only

For additional information or an application pack please contact us by email:
Tel: 07474 762190

The closing date for applications is: Friday 3 March 2017

 30 January 2017– Herb soup was made today and it smelt delicious. The children developed their cutting skills when chopping the herbs for the pots, strengthened their shoulder muscles when stirring, and developed multiple mathematical concepts such as counting, weighing and measuring.

Image may contain: candles and indoor

24 January 2o17- Another group of children spent their entire afternoon playing with the mud kitchen and mud pit. They spent hours pouring pots of water into the mud and mixing it in to mud pies. We added an additional dimension to their play by adding in fresh vegetables for them to freely use. They finished their afternoon chanting “we love mud, we love mud” 😀

Image may contain: one or more people and food

24 January 2017- This group of boys worked as a team to build and paint their robot. When they had finished, they washed off all of the paint, so it was ready for the next person to use.

We encourage children to be as creative as they want to be, and that includes painting items and moving resources around, to be used in different ways. This is carried out on the condition that, once they have completed their play, they return the items to their original positions and in their original condition 🎨

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and child

24 January 2017- Toasted hot cross buns anyone? A fabulous afternoon around the campfire with the children.

Image may contain: one or more people

23 January 2017- We’re mashing, mixing, hammering, smashing, flipping, cutting and spooning boiled potatoes today as part of our writing provision. It’s essential to build children’s strength from their core, down to their fingers, in order for them to become ready and able to write. This is an excellent shoulder and wrist strength building activity 💪🏻

No automatic alt text available.

16 January 2017- We were all inspired to fly an aeroplane after playing with the small world toys today. The children made their own passports to ensure a swift departure and trouble free passing through passport control. They worked together to help each other use the correct colours for their hair, eyes and skin. Some fantastic writing, letter formation and use of phonics today ✈️

No automatic alt text available.
No automatic alt text available.

11 January 2017- We introduced guinea pigs at Playgroup to bring a new learning experience to the children. Mainly to care for a living animal, develop their understanding of life cycles, and as a companion to those who enjoy a little quiet time. Unfortunately Oakley became very poorly and we had no other choice but to let him go peacefully. The children have begun to notice his absence which has led to us explaining what has happened to him, although very sad, it’s lovely to see that while he was with us he did his job very well and the children gained so much from the experience 🐹

No automatic alt text available.

10 January 2017- We’re hoping for some delicious hot chocolate made by the children today, along with some beautifully scented basil and parsley play dough 

Image may contain: people sitting and indoor
Image may contain: food

19 December 2016- We went to the park this morning and the children did some rock climbing. They did so well and have really developed their climbing skills recently.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

16 December 2016- A super fun afternoon was spent at an activity centre today. The children had a great time and we loved it too! We are now thoroughly worn out, but we’re re-charging this weekend in preparation for our party next week!

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

13 December 2016- I think we can all agree that the big smiles from two of our boys show just how proud they are of themselves for taking part in the play. We have raised approximately £86 for Playgroup so a huge thank you to everybody who donated- all donations contribute to making the children’s time at Playgroup even more enriching and so we are very grateful for the support

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting

13 December 2016- The stage is set for our production of “T’was the night before Christmas”. The children are very excited 🎄

Image may contain: indoor

12 December 2016- We’ve been to Ambergate Primary School to watch their nativity play dress rehearsal today 🎄 The children are so good at walking when we are out and about and they were so excited to visit the local primary school again.

Image may contain: tree, sky and outdoor

8 December 2016-Giant messy painting this afternoon 🎨 We had so much fun and gave the children free reign over pots of glitter, PVA and full bottles of paint. Of course, we joined in too 😀

Image may contain: outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people
Image may contain: outdoor

2 December 2016- Continuing on yesterday’s fire theme some of the children have toasted mini marshmallows on tea lights this morning. They loved blowing the candles out repeatedly 🕯

Image may contain: candles

1 December 2016 – Bethany, our Deputy Manager, is a scout leader, so the children benefit from her many skills. Today we made a small camp fire and toasted fruit bread. An amazing activity for the children to be a part of.

30 November 2016 – Brrrr it’s getting chilly outside, so cold in fact, that an igloo has popped up inside Playgroup!

24 November 2016 – The climbing frame became a pirate ship! We’re mid way through a very complex reenactment of Peter Pan featuring; Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and his Parrot, a mermaid, a Skipper, crocodile and Spider-Man!

18 November 2016 – This new small world play table and fairy garden toadstool are very nearly finished and will be ready for the children to play with next week.

12 November 2016 – Yesterday morning was our half termly parent session and this time it was under the theme of ‘writing’. Parents joined us for tea, coffee and biscuits and took part in some fantastic mark making activities as well as our ‘getting ready to write’ interventions. ‘Finger Gym’ is changed on a weekly basis and is centred around fine motor skills to strengthen their little fingers. With strong fingers children will be able to control a pencil and their grip will naturally develop to be the correct tripod grip. We also did ‘Dough Disco’ which is another strengthening activity.

10 November 2016 Some of our children found a doll with one foot today. This sparked a very insightful discussion about disabilities. The children then adapted this little wooden chair to make a wheelchair for the doll using items found in the junk modelling box.

Many of our resources are things we’ve found, been given, searched charity shops for or even added by the children themselves. We set up provocations in some parts of the room, but there’s no preconceived outcome attached to them. We use cable reels, pallets and random coffee tables found on the side of a road to create spaces. In fact, we’ve only bought a few pieces of furniture in almost 5 years. We just didn’t have the big budget for bespoke nursery furniture, but we wanted to create a different look and so our ethos for repurpose, reuse and recycle really took off. We love our rustic, quirky look. There’s no limitations in working this way, just creative flare required 🌱

Image may contain: 1 person