Monday, 15 August 2011

A little bit of heaven in the middle of a busy city - Part 2

As I wrote in my previous post I was lucky to get the chance to visit Cowgate Under 5's Centre in Edinburgh. The first thing that hits you when you enter is the smell of fresh bread - they bake it everyday with the children for their snack.
Each of the 3 rooms has a kitchen area where the bread is baked
This is a local authority run children's centre or creche. However it is unlike any one I have ever seen in N. Ireland. The ethos of the place can be read about here.
I was most interested to see how their outdoor space worked as it was this area that had caught my eye in other blogs. Unfortunately it was very wet the day I visited, so the children were still inside drying off after their journey to the centre. However I did get to take some pictures & pick Lian's brain about how the area had changed over the 10 years they had been on the site. Initially, she explained it had been a concrete space with wooden climbing frames that had to be taken in & out everyday. (Anyone who worked in a nursery setting over 10 years ago knows the ones I mean!) Lian showed me photo of the old space so I could see the difference. What struck me most was that what they have achieved at Cowgate is possible for any setting, it hasn't had a load of money thrown at the space to buy fancy resources. They have built up interesting areas over the 10 years, with clever use of plants, tyres and small wooden structures. There is safety surface underneath the sand pit area where the wooden A-Frame climbing structures used to be placed - but how much more fun must it be to slide down into the sand. There is also a water pump nearby so the children can make wet sand too.
Usually when I see photos of other places I always think 'that's fab but I couldn't achieve that in my playground' but not this time, I really think that I could help to transform our play area into a softer more inviting space like this one. There is no way that any child will ever run aimlessly around in this space. To learn even more about this wonderful place check out Juliet Robertson's piece here.
I would now love to get a chance to visit here with the other staff from my class so we could all experience the calm atmosphere in Cowgate.
I have also been inspired by Teacher Tom, who when he moved into new premises created the most amazing outdoor area in a matter of days! It can be done - so watch this space to see how our outdoor area develops......


  1. Hi Kierna,
    So nice to see this.
    This center looks like such a warm, nurturing center, and as well as you say the outdoor environment would provide tons of things for a child to do - no bored kids.
    Good luck with your planning for your center, it will be so interesting to see what develops!
    Looks like a wonderful vacation!

  2. Hi, Kierna, I just wanted to say I enjoyed looking through your most recent posts, what a pleasure!
    I have also just noticed your quote by John Ruskin, regarding weather - and if you don't mind I may have to borrow it to put up in my room, as an inspiration and reminder.
    thanks again for the great inspiration in these posts!
    Good luck in your new school year,

  3. Hi Brenda - good to see you are back on line! Borrow away with the quote I think the more people who use it the better :) Thanks for all your kind comments.

  4. I love your photos - really good shots. Thanks! Still really pleased you visited!

  5. Cheers Juliet - and thanks again to you for promoting this place, I hope to be able to enhance my area in some small way just like this.

  6. BEA-U-TI-FUL!!! I could look at this center all day Kierna. Thanks to you and Juliet for sharing it!
    Donna :) :)

  7. Hi Kierna,
    I need to drop in today and thank you for looking in at my blog, and your kind comments. (I'm using my son's computer presently, and for some reason it's not allowing me to comment on my own blog (?) ): I've tried several times yesterday and today, so just thought I come over here - you probably don't know how much you uplifted my spirits with your comment yesterday, thanks!
    I'm so glad to have met you, and the other great people I have met, in the last year. Blogging has enriched my life so much, there is so much to learn here, and I know I'm growing both as a person, and teacher.
    Thanks again!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing those pictures with us! They are absolutely beautiful! I am so happy to see a blog documenting the beauty of outdoor classrooms. We have our own outdoor classroom and it has taught all of us at our center so much! We have learned to love nature and are able to interweave our subject areas outdoors. I feel like each year it evolves into something new and wonderful. We had always said that our goal would be to teach our children, staff, families, community, and our unviersity students (we are a lab school for a local university). I feel like we are beginning to meet this goal in so many ways. We read I Love Dirt as a staff which really helped us become excited to be outdoors. As leads (the staff members with a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood), we read Last Child in the Woods. Thought those titles might be helpful!

  9. Thanks - I have had a look at your blog & now have yet another one I can't stop reading!! Cheers for the book links too

  10. Thanks so much!

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