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Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
and a full application pack.
We’ve been hearing lots from interested families and the same questions keep coming up - this seems like a good time to share them!
Isn’t all day, every day in the woods a bit much for such young children?
The nursery will be open on a part time basis. All the families who responded to our survey have said that they would like to use us for part of the week, alongside another nursery, a childminder or days at home. The beginning of the week seems to work best for most people, so we will be opening on Mondays from January-April, then Mondays and Tuesdays from the Summer term onwards.
Do you offer half days?
We offer full days only. We gave serious thought to the idea of half days, but decided against it, because by the time the children reached the woods, settled and immersed themselves in play it would be time to get ready to leave, curtailing the experience. The rhythm of the day includes the journey at the start; we walk along the field and into the woods together, deciding together what to do with the day. The children choose the area of the woods to play in and select the activities they want to pursue. There will be a fire or other collective time towards the end of the day, before we walk back to meet parents and carers at pick-up time. Daily routines and rituals are very significant to young children, helping them to feel secure and comfortable, and giving them a sense of belonging to the group.
Will my child really be OK outdoors, all day, in Scotland, in winter????!!!
It’s impossible to overemphasise the importance of CLOTHING! Children who are dressed to be warm and waterproof will enjoy themselves even when it is cold and wet. We provide a kit list, with tips from parents whose children have attended the Wild Sparks playscheme and other outdoor provisions. If you stick to the advice and provide sufficient spares, your child will stay warm and dry and be able to enjoy the Wee Wild Sparks experience.
We have a large cosy bell tent heated by a stove, where we can go to warm up on a cold day and big tarps that we rig up over favourite spots for sheltered play in wet weather.
Children tend to be more resilient than adults when it comes to bad weather. They move more than we do (2-3 child steps to one adult step!) and tend to sit less, and our experienced staff know when to instigate an energetic game to help everyone to warm up. You can help your child to feel happy about coming on wet or gloomy days by commenting positively on the weather, even if secretly you can’t wait to get back to a heated building.
Will the nursery have funded places though the council?
Once we have been open for six months we will be able to apply for Partnership Provider status with PKC, meaning that families can choose to use their funding with us.
How much are the fees? The fees are £30 per day.
When is the nursery open?
Wee Wild Sparks will be open in term times in line with Perth and Kinross Council schools’ term dates. Morning drop off will be 8.45-9.15 am, creating flexibility for parents with children at local schools. Collection time `will be 3.15-3.30.
What about the toilet!!!!???
On site there is a newly installed composting loo, with a child size seat and handwashing facilities. We’ll designate a pee tree in different parts of the woods, for boys (and girls if they like). We’ve got a potty for emergencies with a tarp to rig up for privacy. As you’d expect from any childcare setting, we make sure that children are clean and comfortable after a loo visit.
What if he’s still in nappies, can he still come?
Yes, of course. You’ll need to supply nappies and wipes, and we are happy to use cloth nappies if that is what you have.
Ages why is it 3-7?
3 is the youngest that children can join the nursery. We can welcome children up to the age of 7 to support home-schooling or flexi schooling arrangements.
What are the benefits of spending so much time outdoors?
There are so many benefits to outdoor learning that it is impossible to cover them all here! But here are a few for starters;
Won’t the children miss out on “real” learning if they are playing in the woods all day long?
Our pedagogical approach is led by the environment and the children’s interaction with it through the natural calendar. Children are encouraged to be autonomous and follow their own interests, with adults observing carefully to make judgements about when to intervene, support and extend play and learning. Being outside in the woods allows children to apply their learning directly in meaningful ways, acquiring skills that will stand them in good stead through their lives. We operate in line with the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), meeting outcomes in Literacy, Numeracy, Health and Wellbeing and the other five curriculum areas; pretty much anything that can be taught inside can be achieved in the woods too! Recently, we observed a group of children gathering sticks to ‘build a fire’. They then spent all morning arranging those sticks into bundles by size rather than actually building the fire. They counted the sticks, and allocated them fairly after an animated discussion; practising their number skills, measuring, estimating and ordering whilst also developing concepts about division - in addition to the language and social skills required for the collaborative group activity!
How will I know what my child is learning?
The things your child says and does will show you! You may well notice them growing in confidence, independence, adventurousness, and showing a positive approach to solving problems. Staff will often give you a verbal update at pick-up time, when your child will often greet you with a handful of sticks, leaves, pebbles, providing starting points for discussion.
We intend to use an innovative online system for assessment, recording and reporting. Among other features, the software makes it easy to create updates for parents with photos and observations, and allows us to create a map of CfE outcomes covered. We’ll tell you more about this when your child joins us.
As many of you know Wild Sparks work with many different groups delivering Career Long Professional Learning (or CLPL for short) across the country. We have been fortunate enough to engage with a wide variety of groups, from out of school clubs through to management teams in specific settings and larger scale networking events. Our team is dedicated to sharing what makes them tick, what they feel is important, their passions. We have a wide range of skills in the team including; teaching, forest schools, ecology, environmental education, field skills, playwark, bushcraft, and more!
This October we are running 2 different CLPL sessions:
Our new session aims to inspire and encourage a new view of trees. Using imaginations and being creative we hope to demonstrate a rather different way to learning the local tree species. A great session for practitioners looking to build upon skills and knowledge, particularly around native tree species. Hopefully you'll come away bursting with ideas to use with your own groups. This session will be run at Urban Roots in Glasgow on the 4th of October and at The Shed, Kinnoull Hill, Perth on Friday the 7th of October.
More information can be found here including a link to our online booking form. Or feel free to contact us directly using email@example.com
The Wild Sparks Nursery team has been spending an unusual amount of time indoors recently, working through large quantities of essential paperwork. Our bid for funding from the Forestry Commission was successful, and we are waiting for news of our other grant applications.
Our third open day, on 16th July brought another wave of interested parents and adventurous toddlers; it’s encouraging to meet so many families interested in joining Wee Wild Sparks!
We plan to open the nursery on Mondays and Tuesdays from January. To meet this target for opening it would help us to have a firm idea of numbers, so please let us know if you would like to enrol your child.
If you’d like to know more about the nursery or enrolments, please contact the team or come and join one of our Autumn meet-ups, for adventurous wee folk and their grown-ups! You can come to all, some or one of the meet-ups to explore our lovely woods, meet the nursery team, and enjoy outdoor play, autumnal activities and a few stories, songs and rhymes. Everyone is welcome as long as you have a pre-schooler, toddler or baby and you enjoy being in the woods. We have four dates planned for September and October;
Tuesday 13th September 10-11.30am
Tuesday 27th September 10-11.30am
Tuesday 11th October 10-11.30am
Tuesday 25th October 10-11.30am
A snack will be provided and tea for grown ups, please bring your child’s cup with whatever they like to drink. The sessions are free although a small donation towards snacks and resources would be greatly appreciated. We don’t yet have a composting loo on the site (it’s in the pipeline, so to speak), so the loo experience is still a wild one, but we will provide nappy changing facilities.
Let’s meet at 10am at the parking place and start the adventure together! If you plan to come, need directions or if there’s anything else you’d like to know, email Jo; firstname.lastname@example.org
We're delighted to have received our first bit of press coverage. Click here to read this lovely article in the Courier.
Spreading the word about our nursery is really important in these early stages to make sure we're getting the information out there to interested families. Please do pass news on to anyone you think it might interest.
Don't forget to join us on Saturday 16 July if you can for a day of activities and exploring. Email email@example.com to register and receive full event details.
More from us soon!
Alice & Jo.
This last fortnight has been all about connecting with people and building our future nursery community. In addition to meeting lots of lovely families at our nursery open weekend we have been working with local volunteers on site development and chatting with representatives from Forward Coupar Angus about possible partnerships with local food growing, cooking, family support and youth projects. We're really keen to hear from anyone in the local area with an interest our our project and discuss how we can support one another; please do get in touch!
We have created a survey for all parents/carers considering Wild Sparks as an option for their family. If this is you please do follow the link below to complete the survey and help us build a picture of what families want and need from us. We want to hear from anyone interested in the nursery, even if you're not sure it is for you, or your little one is still very young:
click here for the survey
Meet the team
For those of you we have not yet met personally we have put together a short introduction about the two core staff leading this venture, please read on to 'meet the team'
In 2010 I took the opportunity offered by motherhood to move my career outdoors; I took a career break and trained in Forest School Leadership. As part of the process I reflected on my own childhood, the huge amount of time I spent immersed in nature, and how formative this was for me. Now I’m a mum of three wee boys, and am inspired on a daily basis by the way they thrive outdoors, exploring, experimenting, and learning about nature and themselves. I want this for all children!
The feedback I received while running an outdoor toddler group locally, and taking my primary classes outside to enrich aspects of the curriculum, confirmed for me that other parents feel similarly passionate about the benefits of playing and learning in nature, and that many would love to have the choice of outdoor pre-school provision for their children, which at present does not exist in Eastern Perthshire or Angus.
I have specialised in Early Years, ASN and Literacy as a class teacher and in advisory roles since I began teaching in 2000, and through working at the Wild Sparks play scheme I have enjoyed developing my outdoor skills, learning from the diverse abilities of my Wild Sparks colleagues (identifying a badger latrine is not something featured in teacher training!. The nursery project allows me to return to my first love, Early Years practice, merging it with my passion for being outdoors, supporting children’s learning in an inspiring outdoor environment, and continuing my own.
As the founder of Wild Sparks I have been working on the development of the nursery, with a focus on putting together a business plan and thinking through all the nuts and bolts of how things will operate. I have a background in playwork and forest schools and am most comfortable out in the woods getting stuck in alongside the children, as a parent I am also really excited about my daughter Nancy being able to attend once she turns 3 in 2018! I have recently been studying towards a Childhood Practice BA to add to the skills and qualifications of the team, and this is proving invaluable in helping me join up theory and practice and providing guidance on service management and leadership. I will be taking a supporting role in the nursery, alongside Jo, whilst I continue to lead on Wild Sparks holiday playschemes which take place in Alyth and Dunkeld.
Planning the site
As part of our open weekend activities families have been involved in map-making exercises to help us plan the site. The common themes emerging were approval of our yurt and compost toilet idea, plus the need for extra shelters throughout the woods. Growing spaces, animal hides and an outdoor 'field kitchen' were also popular ideas we're now exploring more fully. We imagine the site will evolve over time as children's needs and interests emerge and we learn to respond to the changing seasons, if you have any ideas or thoughts about what the site should include please do share your ideas with us.
Dates for your diary...
July open day
We will next be on site to welcome families on Saturday 16th July. More details on this will follow shortly, If you cant make this date but want to meet us and see the site please get in touch to discuss alternative arrangements
We anticipate comfortably meeting a January start date, please do get in touch if you are thinking about enrolling so we can add you to our growing list!
Thanks and best wishes,
Alice and Jo!
Please join us for our open weekend, come along to explore the site, meet the team and enjoy some taster activities.
Saturday 21 May and Sunday 22 May 2016
activities from 10.30- 11.30 am & 1.00 – 2.00 pm
Join us for one or both sessions, and feel free to bring a packed lunch to enjoy around the campfire.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for directions and further information.
Please note there is not toilet on site (yet!) but nappy changing facilities will be provided.
Wee beasties are just starting to wake up from their winter hibernation, head out with a magnifying glass to see what you can find lurking beneath rocks, bark and logs!
Wild Sparks announced the nursery project just 21 days ago and are delighted to have received LOTS of interest... if you've just found us please click here to register your interest and sign up to the e-list.
Here's the latest news from the nursery team.
Wild Sparks are currently working with Care Inspectorate to get the service fully registered, this means we will be compliant with all the National Care Standards and function exactly like an ordinary indoor nursery, subject to all the same inspections and regulations. So far we have submitted our registration and been appointed a Care Inspectorate officer who we will be meeting with shortly.
At this point we are still unable to confirm our opening date, we hope to meet an August deadline but cannot guarantee this so please do not rely on us for your childcare arrangements. If this is a concern feel free to get in touch to discuss your situation.
The Wee Wild Sparks site we have secured is part of the Keithick estate, just a 5 minute drive from Coupar Angus and Burrelton on Caddam Road. It’s a beautiful piece of mixed woodland featuring Scots Pine and Sycamore, amongst other trees and plants. The site has an array of natural play features including climbing trees, boggy bits (perfect for bog babies!), grassy slopes, sheltered nooks, a possible badger den and lots of buzzards, red squirrels and roe deer. There is also an area for parking just a short walk from the woods along a lovely grassy track. This summer we have our work cut out building a compost toilet and yurt, repairing fences and installing entrances, do let us know if you would like to volunteer with any of this work, everybody welcome! Here’s a beautiful panoramic of the site taken at one of our recent meet ups:
Open weekend: Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 May 2016
SAVE THE DATE!
For those of you who are keen to see the site and meet the team please save this date! Join us at the site for a tour and some hands on activities to give you a taster of what Wee Wild Sparks is all about. This is also your chance to ask the staff any questions you have.
More information coming soon, until then... enjoy some splashing in puddles and keep your eyes peeled for rainbows!