This week I have had the privilege of visiting the Stramash Outdoor Nurseries. All of the nurseries are noticeably good at making do with free and found materials to create structures and resources for, and with, the children. The approach reminded me very much of several I Ur och Skur nurseries I visited in Sweden several years ago as part of my Churchill Travelling Fellowship.
The photos in this blog post all come from one nursery, Skogsknattarna, which has since closed. It was tucked away in a woodland where you had to know where it was to find it as it was definitely off the beaten track. Over the years a number of structures had been built – mainly by the parents – who are required to spend one Saturday each month assisting with maintenance and other jobs as required.
Some were traditional structures. For example, the triangular corner shelter behind the fire pit is a style which I saw in other places. I’m not sure why this style is popular. Perhaps it’s a balance between light and protection from the elements.
Little play houses were popular. I saw several play cabins but this one seems particular charming with its rustic logs. It reminded me of the little buildings children build to learn about how a house is made.
All the structures are rustic. Most require a little imagination and thought to create and install. However, the simplicity of the designs are appealing.
The spaces for physical challenge were particularly noticeable: places to swing, balance, climb and test oneself:
Check out the simplicity of the design structures.
Most children who attend are aged between 2 and 6 years old, so this gives you a flavour of the level of challenge. It may be interesting to compare these structures with a standard playground equipment provider to see if there is a similar level of challenge… or is one outperforming the other?
There are also structures which facilitate imaginative play. Check out the aeroplane in several photos above. Below, the contraption is very open-ended. So imagine a machine that requires two steering wheels!
Den building remains popular. Some structures are simple lean-to affairs….
Below is one of my favourite dens, ever. The dark den is maintained by adding brashing to the outside. Indoors belongs to the children. An adult may only enter this den if invited to do so by an adult.
What structures would you have in an nursery and why? Please do share you thoughts.
NB Remember to ensure you have undertaken the appropriate safety checks, permissions and risk benefit assessments when creating and installing such features – seek professional advice if in doubt.