Nature is being introduced into children’s lives at a nursery that has transformed a previously unused wasteland into a ‘forest school’.
Youngsters at Haven Nursery School and Children’s Centre in Gosport are enjoying discovering the wonders of wildlife thanks to the new facility that was officially launched by Pompey footballer Joel Ward.
Boys and girls aged up to four now regularly take part in a range of activities such as climbing trees, building dens and observing the local wildlife.
Karen Hooper, the forest school co-ordinator, says: ‘Our forest is inspirational and it’s already having a huge impact on the children who are growing in confidence and learning invaluable life skills.
‘Here at Haven we’ve always believed in outdoor play for children, but being a forest school means the children are learning so much more.’
Karen adds: ‘Whatever the weather, they are going out and investigating nature because they know how to dress and how to explore the forest safely.
‘The children also understand the seasons, which means the birds get fed when the ground is hard!
‘One of the most popular activities is climbing trees, but the youngsters also make bug paths and look for worms and beetles which they then research in books in the classroom.
‘They also learn how to light a fire and build dens out of natural resources – that’s pretty impressive at their age!’
Karen explains: ‘Learning becomes much more powerful when you can experience it first hand rather than sitting indoors, looking at pictures and talking about it in class.’
Expeditions take place on a regular basis and usually begin with a ‘we’re going to Haven Forest’ song and taking seats in the fire ring – a circle of logs.
Finley Bourne, three, said: ‘I love climbing the tree in the forest as I look like Spiderman.’
Tom Evans, three, says: ‘We need to put the fire out to stop it spreading and to look after the forest animals.’
Rosie Pellat, three, says: ‘This wood is very dry as it made a big crack sound.’
Joel adds: ‘I think it’s fantastic what Haven are doing for the children. It’s great to see them playing and enjoying themselves.’