Nature Tots at Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a group which meets to nurture young children aged from two to five and help them get closer to nature. It aims to provide an immersive experience for pre-schoolers to get the benefits of exploring the natural environment, responding to nature and each other in a holistic educational setting, gaining and improving practical motor skills and having a lot of fun!
Outdoor play has clear physical benefits for developing children including helping them to acquire gross motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Many of them do not realise that they are learning, as they are in such a relaxed and informal situation and having so much fun. This learning sets them up for later in life.
Natasha Sharma, Communities and Wildlife Officer at Rye Harbour Discovery Centre and Nature Reserve runs the Nature Tots courses. She explains, “We always theme our sessions in accordance with the season, what the children in our groups are most interested in and specific wildlife from habitats we explore. All of the knowledge gained at this simple level at a young age can nurture an interest in all the fascinating facets of nature as well as encouraging a care for the environment we all live in.
The latest activity was held during National Insect Week and we asked the children to explore as many different types of insect as they could find and to look closely at them. They had a lot of fun impersonating some of the creatures we found and they shared their findings with each other, too.
We saw at least four different species of bee, so we played a game to see if the children could become bees and hoverflies themselves – learning through jumping, throwing, digging and burying. The children all joined in the bee story and songs, which helped embed the learning they were doing. We finished by making our own buzzing bees from natural materials and a flower card to remember all the flowers their bees had visited to get nectar or pollen on their journey.”
The children were engaged and active for the two-hour session and there was a real buzz of excitement as they went from activity to activity.
Chloe’s granny, Linda, commented, “It was a lovely set-up and delightful setting, very professionally run and enjoyed by all. I hope that further meetings will run as Chloe hasn’t stopped talking about it since the session at the Nature Reserve.”
The next Nature Tots sessions start in September and will take place on Wednesday mornings in term time, to book visit the website
Image Credits: kt bruce .