Tag Archive for: pre-school

How to Help Your Child Transition to School

Today's post aims to help make children's transition to school as easy and stress-free as possible.Beginning school is a huge milestone for any child as well as for the child’s parents or guardians. Whether transitioning from nursery/preschool or straight from home, beginning school can be a daunting step in a child’s life — especially if they’re unprepared. Today’s post therefore aims to help parents/guardians make the transition to school as easy and stress-free as possible for their child, so they are empowered to feel at home and hit the ground running from the moment they begin. Take a look, therefore, at our guide on How to Help Your Child Transition to School. Following the advice should help make this milestone plain sailing for everyone involved.

Prepare Your Child Well in Advance

The most impactful measure for a smooth transition to school is thorough preparation. As the old saying goes, “Fail to prepare — prepare to fail” meaning you should ensure good preparation if a successful outcome is to be achieved. And, by definition, preparation is required in advance of the school start date. The remaining tips below are all part of that preparation and, as you’ll see, some will be required well in advance.

Well in Advance:

Ensure a Good Early Years Education for Your Child

One of the most critically-important steps for a smooth transition to school is to ensure your child receives a comprehensive early years education.One of the most critically important steps for a smooth transition to school is to ensure your child receives a comprehensive early years education. By this we mean they need to have been nurtured between birth and school age in all areas of their learning and development — ideally including the seven key areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). In essence, they will need help with their communication and language, physical development, personal, social & emotional development, literacy, mathematics (watch out for our separate post on that coming soon), understanding of the world, and expressive art and design. With such skills and knowledge under their belt before the age of five, they will be incredibly well-equipped once they begin school. Without them, they will find the transition difficult and may even be held back.

Early Years Education at Nursery & Preschool

Such an early years education is also available, of course, via outstanding childcare services like those available at Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods. High-quality settings like ours nurture every aspect of children’s learning and development. Through a programme that’s tailored for every child, we do everything we can to ensure they achieve personal bests in every area and are as school-ready as possible by the time they leave us to begin school. With all that achieved, they are sure to thrive from the moment they start. Learn more about why children benefit by going to a good nursery/preschool here.

Close Parental Involvement in Your Child’s Education

Parents/guardians can and ideally should help with this early years education from home too. Indeed, close parental involvement in a child’s education has been shown to be hugely beneficial to that child, with far-reaching short- and long-term benefits. Studies have shown that such children are much higher achievers at school than those who did not receive regular educational support from parents. Follow the bold link to learn more.

Read With Your Child to Super-Charge Language Skills

Reading with your child from an early age has also been proven to be hugely beneficial to children. Studies show that, by reading with them regularly – including before the age of five – their language skills will receive a massive boost and this will help them enormously once they begin school. Reading with (not just to) children can boost the language skills of preschoolers by the equivalent of 8 months — incredible when you think about it. Comprehension, vocabulary, creativity, knowledge, literacy, and even empathy skills are improved when parents regularly read with young children. A love of books and reading is also a natural extension of this and, again, this can only help children once they’ve started at school. Learn more about how you can Super-charge Your Child’s Education Through Reading here.

Nurture Independence, Social & Soft Skills

It's important to nurture children's independence, social skills and soft skills before they begin school.During their journey from birth to school age, it’s also important to nurture children’s independence, social skills and soft skills.

  • Ensuring independence will make them feel more in control and self-assured once they start school. For example, help them learn to wash hands, tie shoe laces, use zips and buttons on clothing and be able to dress themselves. Parents can help children accomplish all of these by demonstrating each and encouraging practising at home.
  • Parents can also encourage good social skills in children while at home, so they are polite and naturally more likeable once they start school. So, try to nurture skills like good manners, understanding right from wrong, mastering negotiations with peers, sharing, helping others and generally being able to make and keep friends. Parents can encourage socialising with friends and relatives of a similar age to accomplish such things.
  • Additional soft skills will help little ones thrive as well as fit in and be positively viewed once they begin school. Examples of soft skills to nurture in children before they begin school include good communication (verbal as well as non-verbal), listening, an understanding of empathy, cooperation, teamwork, negotiation, problem-solving, resilience, adaptability, good organisation, creativity, resilience and time management. Mastering these will stand children in very good stead at school.

In the Weeks Running Up to Starting School:

One of the small but impactful things you can do to better prepare your child for starting school is ensuring they have a friend joining at the same time.When starting school is only a few weeks away, there are several small but impactful things you can do to better prepare your child for the transition:

  • Forewarn your child that they’ll be starting school soon and give them further reminders as the start date draws closer. This will avoid any nasty shock when the day arrives and help prepare their mindset.
  • Talk about it often as the day draws nearer. Encourage questions, answer them, and listen to any misgivings your child may have. Reassure your child whenever they seem apprehensive.
  • Focus on the positives of school, such as all the new friends they’ll make, all the new activities they’ll participate in, new play equipment and sports facilities, and how school can be a huge adventure.
  • Show them the school, initially through a brochure or website and later during an organised visit where you can both ask questions during the tour. This will help them feel more at home when they arrive as well as helping them know what to expect.
  • Find a friend who will also be attending the same school and the same class. Perhaps one of their peers from nursery/preschool may be attending — perfect if so. If not, ask around to find someone who is and arrange play dates so the children can get acquainted in advance. Knowing they will have a friend there in advance is going to help your child hugely once they start school.
  • Ensure your child gets ample sleep, especially in the run-up to starting school, otherwise, they’ll struggle to stay awake or concentrate at school. Sleep is incredibly good for children anyway.
  • Allow children to sync their body clocks with the hours they’ll be awake once they begin school. So, set a suitable bedtime and getting up time for your child in the weeks before school starts — and stick to it. Towards bedtime, allow your child to gently wind down and ensure they avoid the use of electronic screens (TVs, iPads etc.) during this period. It will help your child get to sleep.
  • Purchase/source any uniform, Wellington boots, shoes, clothes, backpack and PE kit required for school, ensuring it’ll all be the right size for your child once they begin. It’s a good idea to put your child’s name on each item too. Check with your child’s school what else they may need, for example, stationery, lunch box, etc.
  • Practise the school route. A dummy run along the route to school on a weekday is a great idea during the week before your child begins school. Time it to coincide with the real schedule you’ll be following once your child is attending so that you’ll get a feel for how much traffic there will be. Make any adjustments needed so you’ll not be late when the time comes.

On the Day Before the 1st Day of School:

  • Ensure your child knows what's in their backpack and that it's all labelled with their name.Pack your child’s backpack and ensure it includes everything they’ll need. For example, perhaps a snack and/or lunch box, any spare clothes, PE kit, stationery if needed, and so on.
  • Ensure everything is labelled with their name, as appropriate.
  • Go through the backpack with your child so they know what’s in there and where everything is.

On the Day:

  • Be on time. Dropping off or picking up late will stress both you and your child out!Be on time. Dropping off or picking up late will stress both you and your child out!
  • Don’t fuss; it’ll only make your child more nervous.
  • Remind your child that you’ll be there to pick them up at the end of the school day.

Outstanding Childcare & Early Years Education in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Award-Winning Weekday Childcare Services in Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery and preschool located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley. This is backed up by our prestigious Best Individual Nursery Award and an ‘Outstanding Provider’ status from Ofsted. So, if you’d like your baby, toddler, or preschooler to have the very best start in life, consider Little Acorns Day Nursery. We’ll bring out the very best in them and do everything possible to ensure they’re as ready as possible by the time they leave us to begin school.

Please select an option from the buttons below to get started on your application, ask a question or request a guided tour with your little one.

Little Acorns Nursery is also conveniently close by for families in Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Let's Get to Know Wild Mammals! An Educational Nature Activity for Kids — with Free Poster

Let's Get to Know Wild Mammals! An Educational Nature Activity for Kids — with Free Poster

World Wildlife Day (3 March)Children and childcare staff at Little Acorns Nursery love nature. So, with World Wildlife Day coming earlier this month and Spring now upon us, it’s the perfect opportunity to release our free Wild Mammals poster. Shown in full colour and printable in high resolution at A3 or A4, it features 20 British¹ wild land mammals that young children can learn to identify and look out for. Some can be seen when on walks, on holiday, or even perhaps at the local park, while others are rather more elusive — but that just makes it more exciting for children when they finally spot them! The poster is perfect for displaying on the wall at home — and is a fun way to both intrigue and educate children, including under-fives. With that in mind, why not download your free land mammals poster today, print it out, and get your little ones closer to nature?

“Nature is a tool to get children to experience not just the wider world. But themselves.” (Stephen Moss)

Nature is So Good for Children!

As we’ve reported before, nature is really good for children! Its many benefits include improved attention, reduced stress, better academic performance, improved self-confidence, higher levels of empathy, enhanced fitness, motor skills and coordination, boosted imaginations and a whole raft of other important benefits. Learn more about the importance of nature to children here.

“Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for nature. Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.” (Zenobia Barlow)

Importantly too, nature-based activities like spotting mammals, birds, butterflies, minibeasts, and wildflowers will also encourage children to get actively interested in conservation issues as they grow older. By appreciating nature and flora and fauna from a young age, they are more likely to want to help protect the natural world in the future, including into adulthood. Such a path can lead to healthier lifestyles, greener choices, and a better world for everyone to live in. And that’s all part of what World Wildlife Day was all about back on the 3rd of March this year.

Download Your Free Wild Mammals Poster

With all that in mind, take a look at the preview of today’s free British Wild Mammals poster below. Click it to view or download the high-resolution PDF version, which will give you the best print-out quality. Whether you right- or left-click to download the poster file will depend on your own particular device’s set-up, so perhaps try both and you’ll soon see which type of click will enable you to save the PDF poster to your device’s drive. Then view it in Acrobat (available free here) and print it out from there.

Preview of the free Wild Mammals poster (click to view or download in Acrobat PDF format).

“We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” (Unknown)

So, try to ensure children under your care get ample access to nature and the natural environment — it’s so good for them. The free wildlife posters and charts available on this website should help to encourage that, whilst intriguing and educating children too.

Looking for an Outstanding Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley?

Little Acorns Nursery is an outstanding, award-winning childcare provider

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Little Acorns is an outstanding and award-winning childcare nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley. Ofsted rates us an ‘Outstanding Provider’ and our National Nursery award speaks volumes about the quality of our childcare service. So, if you want the very best start for your baby, toddler or preschooler and live in Central Lancashire, Little Acorns Nursery offers an outstanding choice. We give children a complete early years education and bring out the very best in them so they can reach their full potential. We also support Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families.

Get in touch to register your child for a nursery place, or come for a visit to see how well they’ll fit in. We’re here to answer any questions too.

Little Acorns is a nursery and preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley, offering the highest-quality childcare and early years education to under-fives. That includes those from nearby towns and villages including Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

1. By ‘British’ we mean wild mammals that can be found in Britain. We appreciate, however, that some animals shown on the poster are not indigenous to the UK and originated in other countries. Examples include the Muntjac Deer, which came over from China, and some red squirrels that were imported from abroad to bolster our own dwindling populations.
Little Citizen Scientists Needed for the Big Garden Birdwatch

Little Citizen Scientists Needed for the Big Garden Birdwatch

January's Big Garden Birdwatch is a perfect home learning opportunity that's fun and benefits children in a multitude of ways.January’s Big Garden Birdwatch is a perfect home learning opportunity where children can find out about wild birds and get a better understanding of nature itself. What’s more, it’s a hugely worthwhile event that will benefit birds, conservation efforts, and children themselves. The activity also demonstrates how easy it is for little ones to become citizen scientists. With that in mind, let’s explore today the Big Garden Birdwatch, explain what it is, how to take part, and why it’s important for families to get involved.

What Is the Big Garden Birdwatch?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s biggest garden wildlife survey and is organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). It’s an annual survey of garden birds and is undertaken in late January each year by individuals, families and children right across the UK. Taking part is free and typically takes just one hour.

What’s the Goal?

The idea of the Big Garden Birdwatch is to understand how garden birds are faring in the UK.The idea of the Big Garden Birdwatch is to understand how garden birds are faring in the UK. Sadly, many bird populations are in decline, with some species facing huge declines over recent decades. Some 38 million fewer birds are now seen compared to 60 years ago. Song Thrush populations, for example, are down by 80% since the survey started in 1979. Even House Sparrow numbers have more than halved during that time. By studying the bird populations each year, trends can be identified including whether any bird species are in danger. Then the RSPB and other conservation organisations can work out what the problems are and how we might go about rescuing the situation as a nation. It also follows that, if there is a problem with bird populations, then there is likely to be a wider problem in nature too. This could be, for example, due to disease, over-intensive farming methods, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, use of chemicals in gardens and farmland, and so on. Gathering data across the UK each January will help guide the nation to improve things — and children can help by getting involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch each January.

How Children & Families Can Take Part

Taking part is easy and takes just 4 steps:

  1. Register here to take part Children simply count how many birds of each species land on their patch at any one time.— it’s quick, easy and free to do so. Once registered you’ll receive detailed instructions in your free guide to the event, which includes your free bird identification reference sheet. This will be useful to you and your children so each bird species can be recognised more easily.
  2. Next, choose an outdoor spot to monitor. This will be your ‘patch’ and it could be your garden, balcony or perhaps even a local park. Optionally before the event begins (late January – see below), you may wish to start putting out bird food to attract more birds to the patch in the run-up to the event.
  3. Sometime during the period 26-28 January 2024, spend an hour noting down how many birds of each species you see actually land at any one time on your patch. So, for example, if you see four blackbirds during the hour but only 3 land on the patch at the same time, you’d count that as 3. That’s simply to avoid counting the same bird more than once.
  4. Once complete, fill in and submit your survey results to the RSPB. This can be done any time from 26 January to 18 February 2024 and indeed that link may only work during that date range. You can submit more than one survey if you like, so long as each submission is for a different location/patch. The RSPB will then analyse all the submissions from across the UK and be able to see how each bird species is faring.

Can’t get outdoors?

If you can’t get outdoors for any reason, don’t feel left out. Children and families can undertake the January birdwatching event from a window or balcony too, so long as they can view an outdoor patch where birds are likely to land.

The Huge Benefits of Nature to Children

Children love feeding birds and wild creatures!This wonderful activity is a great way to encourage families outdoors, where children benefit from nature in a myriad of ways. From lower stress and increased well-being to improved academic performance, stimulated imaginations, and better sleep, the benefits of nature to children are profound. Studies show that even a view of nature will benefit children — it’s incredible! Click the bold green link for more details.

The survey is also a great opportunity for children to practise counting and enhance numeracy skills. It’s also a good excuse to get creative, for instance by building a cardboard or stick bird-spotting ‘hide’ — the perfect den from which to watch the birds when the time comes.

Involvement in the Big Garden Birdwatch also allows children to get a better understanding of conservation issues and the need to protect nature and the planet. That’s incredibly important, not least because today’s children will be tomorrow’s caretakers of our precious Earth.

Reference & Bird Identification

The RSPB's bird identification sheet for January 2024.Together with the RSPB, we also have bird identification covered for children. The first option is the RSPB’s free bird reference sheet, which families will receive when they register for the event. Their digital version is best because it’s more environmentally friendly, is quicker to access, and usually shows a larger list than is shown on their printed version.

Free bird identifier poster — download available so children can print out and see how many birds they can identify over the course of a year.However, don’t forget that Little Acorns Nursery also published our own bird identification poster for children last year. That is also free to download (follow that bold green link) and shows many more species of birds than the RSPB’s option — perfect if children are really interested in bird spotting and want to continue after the January event.

A pine cone bird feeder that is simple for children to make at home.How to Encourage Birds to Visit Your Garden

If children and families want to make a real success of the Big Garden Birdwatch event, a few preparation measures will help attract more birds to their patch. We have that covered too with our separate post all about how to make home-made bird feeders and another explaining a number of excellent tips on bird feeding for under-fives. In addition, the RSPB offers a discount on bird food, purchased via their website, to anyone that registers for the event.

Outstanding Childcare in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Looking for the Best Nursery or Preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, or Central Lancashire?

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Today’s article was brought to you by Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, an outstanding provider of childcare and early years education. Our outstanding nursery status is backed up by Ofsted and an important National Nursery Award too. So, if you want the very best start for your baby or child under five and live in the area, consider Little Acorns Day Nursery for your weekday childcare provision. We’ll bring out the best in your child, help them achieve personal bests, and give them the tools to absolutely thrive. We support many different Government-funded free childcare schemes too, making childcare more affordable for those who are eligible.

Get in touch today to request a nursery place, arrange a free tour of the setting, or ask us any questions — we’re here to help!

As well as being perfectly located for families in Clayton-le-Woods and Chorley, we may also suit those living nearby in Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland or Penwortham.

Autumn Nature Hunt — a Fun Activity for Children (with Free Reference Sheet)

The autumn season brings with it a treasure trove of fascinating natural things for children to discover.By mid-November, autumn is in full swing and leaves are turning a myriad of different colours. Scenes of green, yellow, red and golden trees can be breathtakingly beautiful and the air is often crystal clear at this time of year — that’s great for photos! The autumn season also brings with it a treasure trove of fascinating natural things that children can discover if they take the time to look. Indeed, an autumn nature hunt is the perfect excuse for little ones to spend some time outdoors, where they will also benefit from outdoor play and everything that nature has to offer children. Whether finding gorgeous sweet chestnuts, cute acorns, dangly catkins, fascinating fir cones or highly coloured leaves, children will love an autumn treasure hunt and are sure to be enthralled by what they find. It’s a magical time of year! With all that in mind, we have prepared a free activity sheet that children and families can download, print out, and take with them as a visual reference when they next venture outdoors. We suggest children make a start soon, while all the natural wonders are abundant. Download your free Autumn Nature Hunt Reference Sheet (preview below) and get started today!

Free autumn nature hunt reference sheet (preview - click to download in Acrobat PDF format).

Checklist

  • Children must be supervised and educated about potential dangers and hazards.Ensure children, particularly the very young, receive appropriate adult supervision at all times. Although fascinating and fun, the outdoors holds many hazards for the unwary. Therefore, children will need to be closely monitored by a responsible adult in order to safeguard their well-being.
  • Children should also be educated about all outdoor health and safety matters. For example, they’ll need to know they mustn’t stray far, speak with strangers, or go too close to hazards like fires, ponds, lakes, steep slopes or trip hazards. They will also need to learn not to touch berries, fungi and other potentially poisonous or dangerous flora and fauna. They must be careful not to hurt themselves on the sharp points of things like chestnut cases and even things like acorns are potential choking hazards (so keep away from mouths). And so on (the above are just a few examples).
  • Supervising adults will need to do their own risk assessments, as well as helping children learn to do so.
  • Last but not least, ensure your child takes the Autumn Nature Hunt reference sheet with them, along with something safe and suitable to put their nature treasures in (for example, a jute bag or backpack).

Nature & Forest School at Little Acorns Nursery

Forest School sessions in and around Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, in Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

At Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, we understand the importance of nature in children’s early years. That’s why we post nature-based activity ideas like this one today. It’s also why we are a Forest School setting. Through Forest School sessions children, including our under fives, get to enjoy, experience, and learn from everything that nature has to offer — and that’s a lot! Follow the bold links for more information or learn more about Forest School and what it’s about here.

If you would like your baby, toddler or preschooler to attend a truly outstanding nursery or preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, then look no further than Little Acorns Nursery. We’re rated as outstanding by Ofsted, won an incredibly prestigious National Nursery Award and, as we mentioned before, also run Forest School sessions for our children.

Get in touch using an option below and we’ll be delighted to welcome you and your little one, answer any questions, and take the first steps in regard to your childcare application:

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is located in Clayton-le-Woods, so may also suit families living or working nearby in Chorley, Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

The Power of Learning Through Play in Early Childhood

Children learn best when they are learning through play — it is the gateway through which they explore, discover, learn, and grow.In the world of child development and early education, there is a simple yet profound truth: children learn best when they are learning through play. Play is the universal language of childhood and, indeed, it transcends both borders and cultures. Whether it’s building sand castles on a sunny beach or arranging blocks on the floor at home, play is the gateway through which children explore, discover, and grow.

But how and why is play so important? And can it benefit even babies, the tiniest members of society? In today’s article, we’ll unravel the secrets of learning through play. We’ll refer to some findings of scientific studies that attest to its incredible impact, explore play’s significance in the early years and infancy, and explain how childcare nurseries like ours harness its potential to nurture young minds.

So, join us today as we explore the power of play and why it should be at the heart of every child’s learning experience. Let’s open the door to a world where fun, laughter, imagination, and natural discovery pave the way to a brighter future for our children.

Why Is Learning Through Play So Important?

Learning through play lays the groundwork for cognitive development, social and emotional growth, imaginative thinking, and a lifelong passion for learning.As adults, we often associate learning with classrooms, textbooks, and structured lessons. However, for children, the process of learning is a dynamic and ever-evolving adventure, with play being their very best companion during the journey.

  • It develops cognitive skills. Play serves as a powerful vehicle for the development of cognitive skills. When children engage in activities like building with blocks, solving puzzles, or pretending to be characters in their favourite stories, they are actively honing their problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and creativity. Importantly, these skills are also the building blocks of a lifelong love of learning, which we’ll come to later.
  • It sparks social & emotional growth. Play isn’t just about individual growth; it’s a social endeavour. Through play, children learn to navigate the complex world of relationships. They practise communication, cooperation, and negotiation as they interact with peers, siblings, and caregivers. Sharing toys, taking turns, and resolving conflicts during playtime are valuable life skills that lay the foundation for healthy social development.
  • Exploration feeds the imagination. One of the most beautiful aspects of play is its ability to fuel the imagination. When children engage in imaginative play, whether it’s hosting a tea party for stuffed animals or embarking on a make-believe adventure, they are cultivating their creativity and expanding their understanding of the world. Imagination is the driving force behind innovation and problem-solving in adulthood, making it a vital skill to nurture from a young age.
  • It fosters a love for learning. Perhaps the most compelling reason to prioritise learning through play is that it fosters a genuine love for learning. When children associate learning with fun, joy and discovery, they will naturally develop a thirst for knowledge that stays with them throughout their lives. Such an intrinsic motivation is priceless and will serve them well in all their pursuits, whether academic, work-related or personal.

So, as we can see, learning through play is a fundamental part of a child’s educational journey. It lays the groundwork for cognitive development, social and emotional growth, imaginative thinking, and a lifelong passion for learning.

Babies & Under-5s

Play-based learning is not just for older children. In reality, its influence begins right from infancy and continues to shape young minds throughout their early years. Let’s explore that a little further.

Play for Babies – Building Foundations

Tummy time for babies allows them to play, discover, explore, learn about the world around them, and build strength.Do babies benefit from play? Absolutely. Play is the first way through which infants start understanding their world. They use their senses to explore toys, grasp objects, and make sense of the environment around them. Sensory play, such as touching different textures or listening to soothing sounds, stimulates their developing senses and lays the groundwork for future learning.

Infant play also plays a crucial role in the development of fine and gross motor skills. As babies reach for toys, practise tummy time, and eventually start crawling and walking, they are strengthening their muscles and improving coordination.

Early Years Play – Growing Skills

Play allows children to experiment, make connections, and refine a multitude of skills.During the run-up to the age of 5, play is integral to children’s development. During this phase, children are like little sponges, soaking up information from their surroundings. Play allows them to experiment, make connections, and refine their cognitive and many other skills. Skills enhanced through play include:

  • Language development. Through imaginative play, storytelling, and conversations with peers and caregivers, children will naturally expand their vocabulary and improve their communication skills.
  • Maths and science concepts. Counting blocks, sorting shapes, and exploring basic scientific principles through hands-on experiments are all part of early years play. Such activities build a firm foundation for mathematical and scientific understanding.
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking. Whether it’s solving puzzles, figuring out how to build a tower without it toppling, or strategising during a game, play encourages children to think critically, make decisions, assess risk, and find solutions to challenges.
  • Emotional intelligence. Role-playing and interactive games help children navigate complex emotions. Through these, they will naturally enhance emotional intelligence, develop empathy, and learn about relationships. Such skills are vital for their social and emotional growth going forward.

Play is a powerful and natural tool that’s critical to the development of babies and young children. From sensory exploration in infancy to the cognitive challenges of early years, play enriches their lives and gives them foundational skills and knowledge that will serve them throughout their educational journey.

The value of play is backed up by extensive research

Children who engage in open-ended play activities are better at problem-solving and divergent thinking, a skill that is essential for creativity. (Early Childhood Research Quarterly).

Children who engage in imaginative play demonstrate greater cognitive flexibility and creativity. (Developmental Psychology Journal).

Children who engage in pretend play with caregivers have more advanced language skills, including a richer vocabulary and more complex sentence structures. (Journal of Child Language).

Children who engage in cooperative play exhibit higher levels of empathy and better conflict resolution skills. (American Journal of Play).

Physical play, such as climbing, running, and manipulating objects, contributes significantly to the development of fine and gross motor skills. (Journal of Motor Learning and Development).

Play can lower cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress, and promote a sense of well-being in children. (Psychological Science).

The scientific evidence is clear: play is not just a pastime; it’s a fundamental component of child development 1. Indeed, learning through play is a major part of a good, holistic, approach to child development. It teaches children almost infinite amounts about the world around them while fostering cognitive skills, emotional intelligence, creativity, and a love for learning that will benefit them throughout their lives. Play is the primary vehicle through which children explore, discover, and grow, and it should be at the heart of every child’s educational journey.

The Role of Childcare Providers Like Little Acorns Nursery

Childcare settings like Little Acorns Nursery are often a child’s first introduction to structured learning outside the home. We play a pivotal role in nurturing young minds through a play-based approach to education. This is designed to encourage children to explore, experiment, and naturally discover through play.

  • At Little Acorns Nursery, we provide carefully-designed play spaces that are rich in stimulating materials, equipment and resources. These allow children to engage in various types of play, from imaginative to sensory.Creating playful environments — we understand the importance of a conducive environment for learning through play. With that in mind, we provide carefully designed play spaces that are rich in stimulating materials and resources. These spaces allow children to engage in various types of play, from imaginative to sensory, in a safe and supportive setting.
  • Trained educators — our nursery staff are trained to facilitate play-based learning effectively. They observe and engage with children during their play, providing guidance when necessary while allowing children the autonomy to explore and experiment. Our skilled educators recognise the many learning opportunities that arise naturally during such play.
  • A balance of structured and unstructured play — we strike a careful balance between structured and unstructured play. Structured activities may include group games, circle time, and planned art projects, while unstructured playtime allows children to choose their activities, fostering independence and decision-making skills.
  • Incorporating learning goals — while play is central to the nursery experience, it doesn’t mean a lack of educational goals. Childcare providers like Little Acorns Nursery align play activities with specific learning objectives. For example, a play dough activity can promote fine motor skills and creativity, while a group storytelling session enhances language development.
  • Assessing progress — continuous assessments help our childcare practitioners and each child’s Key Person to gauge children’s development. Such assessments consider, for example, children’s engagement, problem-solving abilities, social interactions, and other skills that emerge during play. This holistic approach helps our educators to tailor their support to each child’s individual needs.

By recognising the immense value of play in child development and providing a nurturing environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive through play-based activities, we not only prepare children for the transition to school but also facilitate the development of essential life skills.

Nursery Places at an Outstanding Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

Are you looking for an outstanding nursery for your child in Clayton-le-Woods or near Chorley? If so, you should consider Little Acorns Nursery. Not only does Ofsted rate us as an ‘Outstanding Provider’ but we also have a highly prestigious national nursery award under our belt. All Government-funded childcare schemes are supported at the nursery too, making childcare provision more affordable for eligible families. To register your little one for a place, arrange a tour with your child, or ask a question, please contact us:

Little Acorns is a nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, near Chorley, Central Lancashire. Families living or working nearby in Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland or Penwortham may also find it convenient.

Coming Soon:

How to Encourage Learning Through Play at Home

Parents and caregivers also play a crucial role in fostering an environment that supports exploration, curiosity, and growth through play. Your home can be a vibrant hub for play-based learning. Moreover, by creating a nurturing environment, providing the right resources, and actively engaging with your child during play, you empower them to explore, learn, and really grow as individuals. We explore the topic of Encouraging Learning Through Play at Home here.

The Rewards of Learning a Musical Instrument in Early Childhood

Children who learn to play a musical instrument discover a whole world of opportunities and advantages, many of which can last a lifetime.While listening to music has a unique way of resonating with the human spirit, actually creating it on a musical instrument elevates that connection to entirely new levels. What’s more, learning to play an instrument leads to a whole host of multifaceted benefits. Whether tinkling piano keys, strumming guitar strings, or playing a wind instrument, children who learn to play a musical instrument will soon discover a whole world of opportunities and advantages that extend far beyond the realm of melody and harmony. With that in mind, today’s article explores the myriad of sometimes surprising benefits that learning to play music will bring to children, even at a very young age. Take a look below and discover how musicianship could benefit your child, extend their skills and potentially enrich their life profoundly.

Emotional and Psychological Benefits

At an emotional and psychological level, music is a universal language — and it speaks to the heart. It’s no surprise, therefore, that learning an instrument can foster emotional intelligence, facilitate self-expression, and aid stress reduction in children. It provides a perfect safe space from which they can explore and express their feelings. From the soothing melodies that can calm their nerves to the triumphant crescendos that may boost mood and confidence, music has a truly profound impact on their emotional well-being.

Studies have shown that when a child learns to play an instrument, their brain undergoes changes in areas related to memory, problem-solving, and emotional processing.

Cognitive Benefits

Children who take up musical instruments often excel in memory, problem-solving, and mathematical skills.The influence of music on brain development is nothing short of remarkable. Learning to play an instrument engages various parts of the brain simultaneously and is like a 360-degree workout for the mind! As such, its cognitive benefits are profound. Children who take up musical instruments therefore tend to excel in memory, problem-solving, and mathematical skills. Indeed, studies have shown that musical training can lead to improved academic performance, enhancing children’s abilities, particularly in subjects like mathematics and science. So, when your child learns to play a violin, piano, guitar or even a simple recorder, they’re not just making music; they’re also fine-tuning their cognitive abilities.

Improved Reading Skills

With this workout for the brain comes a deep focus on reading the musical notation and every little detail within it. Such focus will help children to read the written word too. Indeed, by comparison to printed music, text in fiction and non-fiction books may soon seem simple. Better literacy skills will naturally follow.

Enhanced Language & Communication Development

Have you ever noticed how children love to sing along with their favourite songs? Music and language are closely intertwined and the good news is that learning an instrument enhances language acquisition and communication skills in infants and toddlers. Lyrics, rhythmic patterns and melodies help them grasp the nuances of language more effectively, with enhanced listening, hearing and verbal skills coming naturally as a result. As such, an involvement with music sets a strong foundation for communication in children.

Enhanced Creativity & Imagination

Making music is a powerful tool for unlocking children's artistic potential.Learning an instrument represents a real journey of creativity and imagination. Children explore melodies, experiment with harmonies, and may often progress to compose their own tunes. This creative process nurtures their imagination and encourages them to think in new and alternative ways. Making music really is a powerful tool for unlocking children’s artistic potential.

Improved Coordination & Motor Skills

Whether it’s plucking strings, pressing keys, or striking drums, playing an instrument requires precise coordination and fine motor skills. Practising music while learning to control their instrument will thereby help children develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination. These are important skills that extend to and benefit many other areas of their lives.

Building Confidence & Self-Esteem

Every time a child learns a new piece or performs in front of an audience it will, in turn, naturally boost their self-esteem. Musical achievements are, after all, rather like a series of stepping stones that, once successfully navigated, lead to greater confidence. Through learning to play music, children will learn that with dedication and practice, they can conquer challenges and achieve goals.

Social & Teamwork Skills

As well as simply being enjoyable, group music lessons and ensemble playing will teach children valuable social and teamwork skills.Music is often a collaborative endeavour and that, in itself, will bring additional benefits to children. As well as simply being enjoyable, group music lessons and ensemble playing will teach children valuable social and teamwork skills. Through music-making, they will learn to listen, cooperate, and communicate effectively with others at appropriate times — and even to make more friends. Such skills go well beyond the world of music and are fundamental in importance and positive impact.

Improved Self-Discipline

Children who learn to play a musical instrument will establish regular practice routines and tend to commit to a consistent, sustained effort. Such habits will instil good self-discipline and time management skills in the children and these will serve them well in various other aspects of their lives.

Lifelong Passion & Career Opportunities

Perhaps most importantly, learning an instrument can ignite a lifelong passion for music. As the famous musician Sting once said, music is its own reward. It is a gift that keeps on giving, offering joy and fulfilment that can often last throughout children’s lives. And, for those who truly embrace it, music can even open doors to exciting career opportunities in the field.

Age-Appropriate Music Activities

When selecting a musical instrument for a child, several factors should be taken into account. Consider their age, physical size, and dexterity. For example, some instruments like recorders and ocarinas may be more suitable for young beginners, due to their size and simplicity. With that said, how can children get started? Let’s take a brief look.

  • When selecting a musical instrument for a child, several factors should be taken into account.For infants and toddlers, musical exploration can start with simple activities like singing lullabies, clapping to a rhythm, or playing with simple musical or percussive toys. These activities introduce them to the world of sound and rhythm in a playful and engaging way.
  • Preschoolers can begin experimenting with basic instruments like xylophones, shakers, and handbells. Interactive games involving singing and movement help develop their sense of rhythm and coordination. Nursery rhymes and simple songs with repetitive melodies are also excellent choices.
  • As children grow, they can explore more complex musical activities. Consider enrolling them in group music classes or introducing them to instruments like the recorder, keyboard, ukulele or, as they grow bigger, larger instruments like guitars, pianos and even cellos. Encourage creativity by allowing them to compose their own songs or experiment with different sounds. Once they become older, they may show interest in specific instruments or genres. Encourage them to join school bands or orchestras, take private lessons, or explore digital music production. The key is to support their evolving interests and skills.

As you can see, the benefits of learning a musical instrument as a child are vast and far-reaching. It’s not just about creating beautiful music; it’s about nurturing so much more than that in children. So, if you’re considering enrolling your child in music lessons, know that you’re not just giving them a skill; you’re giving them a ticket to a world of opportunities and lifelong enjoyment. So, embrace the almost limitless possibilities that music offers, and watch your child flourish in ways you could never have imagined.

Little Acorns: An Outstanding Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

If you’re searching for an outstanding nursery in Clayton-le-Woods or near Chorley, then look no further than Little Acorns Nursery. Rated as an ‘Outstanding Provider’ of childcare services by Ofsted and with a unique national nursery award under its belt, the setting offers the very best start for babies, toddlers and preschoolers in Central Lancashire and beyond. We support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families and are also a Forest School setting where your child can benefit from everything that nature has to offer. Why not register your child for a place, request a guided tour with your child, or ask any questions if you have any? We’ll be delighted to help.

Located at Clayton-le-Woods near Chorley, Little Acorns Nursery may also be convenient for those living or working near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland or Penwortham.

Let’s Find Minibeasts! A Simple Nature Activity for Kids (With Free Poster)

Let’s Find Minibeasts! A Simple Nature Activity for Kids (With Free Poster)

Today's activity is a perfect opportunity for young children to get closer to nature, and learn about some of it's incredible wildlife.Children and parents, let’s go minibeast spotting! Whether you have a garden, neighbourhood park, or just a few potted plants, there are bound to be minibeasts visiting or living there. What’s more, summer is the perfect time to spot them. Spending time in nature is hugely important for children and there are many benefits to children simply playing outdoors too. Today’s minibeast activity is therefore the perfect opportunity for young children to reap all those benefits, get closer to nature, and learn about some of its incredible wildlife.

Minibeasts

Minibeasts are fascinating little creatures that come in many shapes and sizes. Each is a unique little character and many are simply enchanting. Take bumble bees, for example, with their adorable furry bodies, stripes and antennae, little ladybirds with their cute spots, or stick caterpillars that look just like twigs! There are so many different types, so we’ve put together a free identification poster showing 30 of our favourite minibeasts that are likely to be lurking nearby if families take the time to look. The poster is free to download and share. Print it out in colour at full size (A3) or reduce it to A4 for children to take outdoors. There are little tick boxes too, so children can mark which minibeasts they’ve seen as time goes by.

Our minibeast poster is a nice companion to our previous article that showcased a British Birds poster and a bird-spotting activity, which was published here back in May (follow the bold green link). We’ll also be adding more nature-themed posters in this series over the coming months, so keep an eye out for those, to add to your child’s collection.

Poster Preview:

Poster preview — click to download or view online (PDF format).

Poster Download Instructions

Click the large preview image above (or this link) to view or download the poster in Acrobat PDF format. Whether you left-click or right-click will depend on your own specific browser settings, so try both if in doubt.  You will need to have Acrobat Reader to view the file. Print in colour from Acrobat Reader ideally using high-quality A3 paper, or ‘reduce to fit’ if printing to A4. Alternatively, viewing on a screen will allow you/your child to zoom in to see all the lovely detail, for example using a tablet or smartphone.

Once you/your children have the poster, see how many of the little critters you can spot. Try looking in different kinds of places to see where the little creatures are. Compost heaps are great places to look for some types of minibeast, while flowers, plants, trees, tree trunks and even rotting logs will attract many others. However, be mindful around health, safety, well-being and hygiene (more about that later). What’s more, try not to unduly disturb the minibeasts and be very gentle around them so they don’t get harmed in any way.

Teach Kindness to Kids

Parents can help with this. Be sure that children learn to treat other creatures nicely and with great care; minibeasts are only small and, as such, are very fragile. If you spot any, teach kids to look but not touch, as each little minibeast has a life and feelings — just like you and your child — and won’t want to be disturbed or taken away from its home. Children will learn lessons about empathy, ethics, personal responsibility and much more by using this caring approach.

A Focus on Nature at Little Acorns Nursery’s Forest School

Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We hope that families and little ones can make the most of the free minibeasts poster and this nature-based activity. At Little Acorns Nursery in Clayton-le-Woods, we understand the huge positive impact that nature and outdoor play can have on children. That’s why we encourage them to play and explore outdoors (under supervision, of course). It’s also why we have our own Forest School, which you can learn about here.

Little Acorns is an outstanding nursery/preschool that’s located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, Central Lancashire. Ofsted agrees and also rates us ‘outstanding’ and we also won a major National nursery award, beating every other nursery in the country to the top spot. Parents/caregivers can therefore rest assured that we offer the very best childcare and early years education service available.

Please use an appropriate button below to register your child for a nursery place, ask us any questions, or to book a guided tour of the setting with your child. We’d love to welcome you.

Little Acorns nursery/preschool is also conveniently near to Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Safety Note

It goes without saying that the child’s parent or supervising adult should be mindful of the health, well-being and safety of children, especially when they are playing outside or taking part in outdoor activities. There are many hazards outdoors, so please be vigilant. This includes, but is not limited to, avoiding stings, potentially poisonous flora and fauna, trip hazards, bodies of water (however small), changes in levels (for the avoidance of falls), choking hazards, sharp objects, stranger danger, traffic and so on. Do your own risk assessments and also teach children to learn about safety and hygiene considerations themselves.

Wildlife-Friendly Flower Growing Fun for Under-Fives

This wildflower-growing activity gets children outdoors, closer to nature, as well as doing some good for conservation and wildlife.Today’s flower-growing children’s activity follows on nicely from last month’s butterfly-counting activity. Once again, it focuses on getting children outdoors, closer to nature, and doing some good for conservation and local wildlife — including butterflies. Also, as we know, outdoor play is important and getting closer to nature is hugely beneficial to children.

This time, it’s all about growing wildflowers that help to feed pollinators and encourage them to come to gardens, balconies, patios, plant pots, and window boxes where children live. As well as butterflies, the pollinators include bees, hoverflies, dragonflies, damselflies, and some non-flying insects like beetles. What’s more, you may well find that wildflowers attract birds and sometimes even bats too!

Pollinators are not only beautiful and adorable, but they’re essential for a healthy environment and to pollinate food crops. So, all in all, this is another hugely worthwhile activity for under-fives and older children to get involved in. It’s also great fun and educational. So, without further delay, here is our simple guide explaining how children and families can start growing wildlife-friendly flowers to support and attract these magical little creatures. Enjoy!

When Children Should Sow Wildflower Seeds

Wildflower seeds sown in March and April will generally flower in late spring/early summerIt’s possible to sow wildflower seeds from March right through to mid-October or, at a push, early November so long as snow or frost is not forecast. Those sown closer to March and April will generally flower in late spring/early summer. Those sown very late in the year will flower the following year, from spring onwards. Any sown up to and including the middle period, for example during July, should still flower in the same year — wildflowers usually bloom some 60 to 80 or so days later if they’re timed to grow in the same year as they’re sown.

While pollen from the flowers is the main source of food for pollinators, the actual leaves of some late-growing varieties of wildflower plants are also useful as a food source, for example, for caterpillars. These will appear from around September followed by a second generation that will appear in April/May of the following year.

Given all of the above, the main message about timing is for parents and caregivers to plan ahead and also read seed packets and instructions carefully before sowing. In this way, children will know when to expect to see the plants, flowers, and resulting wildlife. Once the flowers and creatures appear, it’s sure to delight children!

Where to Get Wildflower Seeds

There are several easy ways for children and families to source wildflower seeds.There are several ways for children and families to source wildflower seeds. The most obvious way is to buy them commercially, in seed packets. These are available from any number of different outlets including nurseries, supermarkets, wildlife/nature charities, and countless websites online (here’s a good example).

A potentially cheaper way is to scour the Internet for free wildflower seeds and you may have some luck. Timing is important because some of the free wildflower seed schemes are likely to be early in the year — March/April for example. Some environment-centric organisations and companies may also provide free packets of wildflower seeds if you simply cover the cost of postage.

The best and totally free way to get hold of wildflower seeds, however, is to keep your – and your little one’s – eyes open when you’re outdoors around nature and plants. If you time it right, you’ll spot the seed pods of naturally-occurring wildflowers and, so long as they’re ready to be harvested, you can save the seeds for your child to sow later. Perhaps use small paper envelopes, so you can write the name or description of the wildflower being saved. If children help with harvesting seeds, ensure you adhere to our health and safety guidelines at the end of this article.

What Flowers to Grow

There are several ways to decide which wildflowers to grow.

  • Look out for bee, butterfly, and pollinator-friendly wildflower seed packets if buying commercially.If you buy your child commercially-available wildflower seeds, the information on the packet will often say if the resulting flowers are bee-friendly, butterfly-friendly, good for pollinators, and so on. So, if you’re sourcing seeds that way, much of the decision-making criteria around which actual flowers to grow is made clear and therefore the choice is easy.
  • Additionally, of course, the visual appeal of any flower photographs on the packets will help you with your choice. You may like a mixture of colours, or perhaps you’d rather limit the colour palette to just one or two colours. Cornflowers are blue, for example, while poppies can be red, orange, or yellow, and so on. Choosing by colour also therefore makes selection easier and indeed your child will probably enjoy helping in the decision-making process. Prompting them to choose by colour and pollinator-friendliness will, however, also be educational for them, subtly teaching them the importance of helping wildlife and the environment through the power of their personal choices.
  • On the other hand, if you/your child want complete control over the exact species of wildflower you/they want to see growing, then some homework will be needed unless, of course, you are already knowledgeable. The RSPB’s article on growing wildlife-friendly flowers may be a useful place to start and lists several varieties along with details of their colours.

Where to Sow the Wildflower Seeds

By their very nature, wildflowers are not terribly picky about what type of soil they will grow in.By their very nature, wildflowers are generally not very picky in regard to the type of soil they are happy to grow in. Therefore you/your child will have a greater choice of where to sow the wildflower seeds. A fairly clear sunny area is good, whether that’s garden beds, flower pots, window boxes, grow bags on a balcony, or even the lawn itself if you want a wild ‘meadow’ type lawn. Whatever the choice, it’s best if it’s somewhere that won’t be disturbed by you/the family though, as you wouldn’t want the wildflowers trampled once they do arrive.

How Children Can Grow the Wildflowers

Before sowing the seeds, ensure that the soil is free of weeds. Your child may enjoy helping with the weeding process or, if you are using pots and starting from scratch, you can avoid the weeding stage by using peat-free compost afresh. Either way, the topmost layer of soil will need to be loosened and raked neatly so there is somewhere for the seeds to fall and eventually embed. Again, children may enjoy getting involved in this part. If using pots or containers, ensure water can drain at the bottom, so the earth or compost will not become waterlogged later on.

Children will love it when their seeds have sprouted flowers and pollinators like bees and butterflies come to visit.With regard to sowing the seeds, follow any seed-specific instructions on packets in relation to timing and spacing. If you’re using self-harvested seeds or there are no instructions, simply sprinkle the seeds so they’re spaced, fairly evenly, i.e. not too densely sown. This will avoid the wildflower plants having to compete with one another once they start growing. A tip is to sprinkle from a height as this will naturally scatter them more widely. Once scattered, your child can help* to pat the soil surface down, either by hand or using the back of a tool like a spade or a trowel, so that the seeds are secured in the soil. Children can even ‘walk’ them in if they prefer. Once complete, ensure that you/your child keep the soil damp over the coming weeks. The preparation stage really is as simple as that!

Enjoy the Magic of Nature!

Ensure children know that they have now started a natural chain reaction that will result first in tiny shoots, then plants, then later beautiful flowers along with all the visiting pollinators, insects, birds and maybe more.

Don’t forget; following the flowering stage, the wildflowers are likely to ‘seed’ themselves at the end of their flowering season. That’s unless, of course, you/your child harvest the seeds yourselves, ready to sow at a place of your choosing next time. Some varieties of wildflowers will also naturally regrow next year — those are called perennials. — in contrast to those that only live for one year, which are called annuals. That said, even annual plants may self-seed, so their offspring appear next time, and such is the circle of life.

Nature & Forest School at Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We hope today’s nature-based activity gives children, whether under five or older, an enjoyable time while also learning and helping to nurture the natural world. Nature teaches children a huge amount and that’s one of the many reasons why Little Acorns is a Forest School setting.

Little Acorns Nursery is an outstanding nursery/preschool in Clayton-le-Woods and the winner of an important National Nursery award. These are some of the many reasons why Little Acorns Nursery represents the very best early years childcare and education for babies and children under five in Central Lancashire. We also support Government childcare funding schemes, making it easier to afford for eligible families. To register your child for a nursery/preschool place, ask a question, or arrange a free guided tour of the setting, please select an option below:

For those not actually living in Clayton-le-Woods itself, we may also be a suitable choice if you live or work in nearby towns and villages including Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

* Health & Safety of Little Ones

Parents/caregivers should supervise and accompany children, especially the very young, at all times to ensure their safety and well-being. For example, special care should be given near hazards including garden ponds, trip hazards and unhygienic areas. Children should be taught good practices around hygiene and self-care including the avoidance of poisonous plants, care around unhygienic soil, non-ingestion of seeds, avoidance of germs and so on. Keeping hands and fingers away from faces during outdoor activities, perhaps even wearing protective gloves when touching natural things like earth and plants, and washing hands with soap and water after outdoor activities, are also good examples to set for children.

 

The Big Butterfly Count: a Nature-Themed Activity for Families

The Big Butterfly Count takes place in July and early August each year, when most butterflies have reached adulthood.Many will have heard of the Big Garden Birdwatch that takes place every year in January. However, fewer are aware of a similar activity called The Big Butterfly Count that takes place in July and early August. As well as being extremely worthwhile, it’s a wonderful activity for both children and adults to get involved in as citizen scientists. The activity helps with butterfly conservation, is educational for those taking part, and encourages families to get outdoors, closer to nature. And, as we know, getting closer to nature is very good for children and people of all ages. Today, we take a look at this wonderful butterfly-spotting activity and explain how children and families can get involved, help these beautiful little pollinators, contribute a little time to the conservation initiative and benefit themselves at the same time.

The Big Butterfly Count

On 'Big Butterfly Count' day, families with smartphones can use the free smartphone app, which is available on both Apple IOS and Android.Organised by the charity Butterfly Conservation, the long-term aim of the Big Butterfly Count is for butterflies and moths to thrive and be enjoyed by everyone. That’s important because populations of butterflies have really suffered in recent decades, with some species of butterfly even becoming extinct in the UK and elsewhere. Changes in their numbers are also very good indicators of wider problems in pollinators of all types, including bees for example.

The key requirement of the Big Butterfly Count is simply for families across the UK to spend just a little time outdoors, during a very specific time of the year, to record how many different species they see during that time. The findings of thousands of families throughout the UK will then help Butterfly Conservation to understand what species are living in the different UK regions. Data submitted will allow a comparison of reported data from year to year, so Butterfly Conservation can see trends in butterfly populations and spot any significant increases, reductions and areas of concern.

“Help take the pulse of nature.”

When is the Big Butterfly Count?

For 2024, the Big Butterfly Count is any daylight time from Friday 12th July to Sunday 4th August. The reason this period is chosen is because that’s when most butterflies have reached adulthood, so people should be able to spot more of them. This ‘peak adult’ period is essentially at the same approximate period every year.

How Can Families Get Involved?

Getting involved in the Big Butterfly Count is easy and takes very little time. All that’s needed is a 15-minute period of time during daylight hours, between 12th July and 4th August. Bright, sunny weather conditions are preferred. Families simply need to find a good spot* outdoors and watch carefully, just for a quarter of an hour, and record which types of butterflies they spot. They can then submit their sightings any time up until 31 August. The count focuses on specific species within each area of the UK. These are mainly butterflies but they also include a few daytime-flying moths that Butterfly Conservation are interested in monitoring.

*Another alternative, by the way, is for children and families to monitor butterflies during a 15-minute walk i.e. you do not necessarily have to stay in one spot.

  • The Big Butterfly Count app shows the results of butterfly counts all over the UK. This image shows the number of counts in Clayton-le-Woods for 2022's count.If you are counting butterflies from  a static spot, count up how many of the same species you see at the same time. For example, if there are three Large Whites visible at the same time, count that as three. If you see only one at a time, but see it on three separate occasions during the 15 minutes, that counts as only one. That’s so that we can be sure it’s not the same one visiting three times!
  • If you’re counting while on a walk, however, simply count the number of each species you see during the entire 15-minute time frame.
  • You may do as many counts as you like; then simply submit the separate records, through the app, for each different location and/or date.
  • As well as having a section for your own submissions, an interactive map can be found on the smartphone app to show you results from other people across the entire UK. Zoom in for more detail. Shown in the image is the butterfly counts for 2022 in Clayton-le-Woods. In the app itself, each is clickable so you can find out which species were spotted and the number of them.

Where is a Good Spot to See Butterflies?

The 'Big Butterfly Count' smartphone app has a useful section to help you identify which butterflies and daytime-flying moths you see.A good spot, by the way, would be either somewhere outdoors with lots of flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators, or somewhere you’ve left out some very ripe fruit e.g. pieces of ripe orange, apple, nectarine, grapefruit, banana, or strawberry— butterflies love sweet fruit even when it’s a little over-ripe! Whether that’s in your own garden, near potted flowers on a patio, school grounds, in a park, or out in the countryside is entirely up to you and your family. Even if you spot no butterflies during your 15-minute count, you should still submit your results, by the way, as that might indicate a problem with the butterfly population — and potentially other types of wildlife loss — in that area.

“Numbers of butterflies and moths in the UK have decreased significantly since the 1970s. This is a warning that cannot be ignored.”

How Can You Identify the Types of Butterflies?

Help is on hand to help children/families more easily identify which butterfly species they spot on the day — and at any other time. On the day, families with smartphones can use the free Big Butterfly Count phone app, which is available on both Apple IOS and Android. Below are the links to download them, free of charge, and they seem pretty fast to download too.

Download the Big Butterfly Count app for Apple IOS   Download the Big Butterfly Count app for Android.

Detail pages include information like the difference between males and females and their distribution in the UK. Photos show wings both open and closed.For the youngest of children, an adult will need to supervise the use of the app but many older children will no doubt take to the technology like ducks to water. The app includes several sections including an excellent guide to up to about 21 species that the Big Butterfly Count is particularly interested in this year. Shown are details about each type along with photographs for reference and ID purposes. Details of each type of butterfly — or daytime-flying moth — include information like the difference between males and females, their distribution in the UK, and whether their populations have increased or decreased. Photos show each type with wings both open and closed, making identification even easier.

What if you Spot a Butterfly Species You Can’t Identify?

If you happen to spot a butterfly that’s not included in the species of interest shown in the Big Butterfly Count phone app for your area, you can instead submit them using the free iRecord Butterflies app, details of which are available here. That alternative app can be used any time of year and features many more types of butterflies and moths. It still, however, allows you to submit your sightings to help with conservation and monitoring efforts. Indeed, you could argue that it’s a more permanent way of children helping to both monitor and report butterfly sightings as little citizen scientists.

What If You Don’t Have a Smartphone?

If you don't have a smartphone or can't use the app, downloadable charts of the butterflies in your area are available from the Big Butterfly Count website. This is the one for England for the Big Butterfly Count in 2023.You/your child can still get involved in the Big Butterfly Count even if you/they don’t have a smartphone. Instead of using an app, download charts of the butterflies in your area from the Big Butterfly Count website. You’ll need to fill in a very short form to access the chart links, but they are free of charge and obligation. Choose the most appropriate download link for your region and download the chart. You/your child can then view it on screen and zoom in for the best detail, or print it out on paper. Once you’ve ticked off any that you/your child have seen in the 15-minute period, you will need to ask a friend or family member who has the app if you want them to submit your count for you, however. That’s because paper, email and phone submissions cannot be accepted. Spotting butterflies is a wonderful activity for children, though, whether or not their results are submitted.

Safety & Well-Being of Children & Butterflies

Safety is paramount, of course, so young children should be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult. It’s also important, of course, not to disturb or interfere with the butterflies. They are extremely delicate little creatures and their wings and bodies are too fragile for handling. Please do not try to catch them — you will do more harm than good.

“Butterfly declines are also an early warning for other wildlife losses … if their numbers are falling, then nature is in trouble. That’s why taking part in this massive citizen science enterprise is of great importance.”

A Focus on Nature at our Outstanding Nursery/Preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

At Little Acorns Nursery, we know how important it is to get children involved with nature, so will always encourage worthwhile, educational activities like this one. As a Forest School setting, we encourage them to appreciate the natural world and all the flora and fauna within it, so this butterfly-spotting activity is a perfect fit. We also encourage children elsewhere and at home to get involved — it’ll do them, their families, butterflies and the natural environment great good.

Ofsted rate Little Acorns Nursery as an outstanding nursery/preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, and we’re also the winner of a National Nursery award. It simply doesn’t get any better than that and you therefore know your baby, toddler or child under five will be in good hands at Little Acorns. All Government childcare funding schemes are also supported for eligible families. To register your child for a place or to enquire about the possibility, please choose an option below:

Although Little Acorns is located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, in Central Lancashire, we will also be a convenient option for those looking for high-quality childcare near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland and Penwortham.

Quotations in this article are from Butterfly Conservation.

Bird Spotting Activity for Kids - with Free Poster

Bird Spotting Activity for Kids (with Free Poster)

Free A3 bird poster for children use to see how many birds they can spot and identify over the course of a year. Read on (below) for download instructions.Are you looking for a fun and educational activity for your children? Why not encourage them to do some bird spotting? Not only is it a great way to spend time outdoors, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about nature and develop observation skills. As we know, being around nature is hugely beneficial to children and outdoor play is important.

To help you get started, we’ve created a free PDF poster featuring 40 British birds that children can try to spot and identify. Whether little ones are in the garden, park, or countryside, there are plenty of opportunities to see these beautiful birds in their natural habitat. Children can even try to spot birds when they’re simply looking out the window — this is quite an accessible activity.

So why not download the poster, print it out, and head outside with your children? Instructions are given underneath the preview image shown below. Who knows, your little one(s) might just discover a new passion for birdwatching and nature!

Bird Poster Preview:

Bird Spotting Activity Poster - click to download (Acrobat PDF format, 4.8MB) then print out or view on screen.

Bird Poster Download Instructions

The poster is supplied as an A3 Acrobat PDF file and is less than 5MB in size. Click the large preview image above (or this link) to download the poster file. Depending on your device and web browser settings, you can usually left-click to view the poster on screen or right-click to save the file, then view it by opening it in Acrobat Reader . If printing, ideally print it to high quality A3 paper, or ‘reduce to fit’ if your printer only prints to A4. Viewing on screen is also recommended as the images are high resolution — you can zoom in to see the detail, even on the tiny inset images.

Teach Respect for Wildlife

Remember that the birds you’re observing are wild animals and should be treated with empathy and respect. Stick to designated trails or paths. This will help protect fragile habitats and minimize your impact on the environment. Teach children to avoid disturbing habitats, making loud noises, or getting too close to birds and other wild creatures. This is especially important when the time comes for young birds to leave their nests; they should not be disturbed and, generally speaking, their parents will know where they are even if you/your children cannot see them nearby.

With our free PDF poster featuring 40 British birds, you and your children can embark on an exciting adventure of birdwatching. Tick off each bird as you spot and identify them, and see how many of the 40 you can find over the course of the year. You might be surprised at how many different species you encounter!

An Outstanding Nursery & Preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

An outstanding childcare provider

Little Acorns Nursery, Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley

We hope that our poster helps you and your family to start exploring the wonderful world of British birds! We love nature at Little Acorns and always encourage little ones to make the most of natural environments. It’s one of the many reasons we are also a Forest School setting.

We are an outstanding nursery/preschool in Clayton-le-Woods, offering the very best childcare service to babies and children under five. We support the Government’s free childcare funding schemes for eligible families too. If you’d like the very best start for your little one, enrol them for a place at Little Acorns and we’ll bring out the very best in them. We’d also welcome a visit, so why not arrange a tour and we’ll show you around and answer any questions you may have. Please select an option below to get started:

A Word About Safety:

While birdwatching is a fun and educational activity, it’s important to prioritise safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you’re out in the field:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings and any potential hazards, such as steep drops or bodies of water. Always keep a close eye on children and make sure they stay within your line of sight.
  • Make sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing and footwear. Bring sunscreen and insect repellent if appropriate. Don’t forget some water, so you all stay hydrated.
  • Binoculars can be a valuable tool for birdwatching, but ensure they are used responsibly. Children and adults should avoid aiming them directly at the sun and be aware of surroundings while looking through them.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a fun and enjoyable birdwatching experience for the whole family. So head outside to discover the wonderful world of British birds!

Little Acorns is a nursery and pre-school located in Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley, in Central Lancashire. We are also conveniently close for those families living or working near Clayton Brook, Clayton Green, Thorpe Green, Pippin Street, Buckshaw Village, Whittle-le-Woods, Farington, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Euxton, Leyland or Penwortham.