Friday, 1 August 2014

Outdoor Play Party - Guest Post 3 - Highway Farm.

For this Outdoor Play Party I am delighted to have Martin Besford from the incredible Highway Farm Activity Centre guest posting. They have an outdoor preschool called 'Little Explorers' & the most amazing site to facilitate outdoor learning. In this post Martin explains how the idea of doing an annual trek with the preschoolers came to be.
The Carn Brea Hike
Our Ethos throughout the centre is based on outdoor learning, play, nature and of course FUN. Children can engage in and with the natural environment everyday, all day regardless of the weather. The children throughout the centre are challenged on a daily basis across all areas of learning and development. The over 8's can also learn and progress skills in mountain biking, archery, sand boarding to mention a few. All children regardless of their age grow fruit and veg, light camp fires, cook on camp fires, whittle, knife and tool work, den build and lots more exciting things. There is a huge emphasis on managing their own risks and using real tools and equipment to learn important life skills.
 
Inspiration is a huge leverage tool to motivate and make changes, often to better ourselves, our practice or indeed the wider circle within which we operate. My inspiration for this now "tradition" activity for the pre-school children at Highway Farm came from a you tube video of a setting in Norway. Our older children are further challenged through the outdoor pursuits and we wanted to explore ways to extend the pre-school children. 

As I watched the video, I felt an instant tingling of excitement and my brain rev into 5th gear. I was in awe of this group of children, 5 years old hiking up a mountain which was actually a weekly activity for them. That was it...... for me it was a must! 
The children at our pre-school are outside between 80-100% of the day in all weathers. Our environment is set up in a natural way that enables children to reach high levels of physical development very quickly. This was the challenge that we had been looking for! 
We a have just completed our 3rd annual Hike of the Hill. It takes the children who are 3 and 4 years old, over a 3.5 mile hike of varied terrain, including steep rocky incline, clambering over high rocks, styles, old granite steps and through scrub, heather and bracken that towers over their heads. 
There are various stops along the way for snacks, enjoying the far reaching views of coastline and countryside, a chance to spot local landmarks, homes and tin mines. We also chat about the huge cultural heritage that the Hike holds and part of the walk is that which miners would have taken on a daily basis to and from the mines, some of which not much older than those on the walk.

Last year we decided to make the hike a sponsored one to raise money for the pre-school and this year the children's families were also invited on the Hike. About 3 quarters of the way through we explore small tunnels and stop for a break on the door step of the castle.
We then hold a medal ceremony for them. Each child receives a medal for their efforts. 
Each year I love the drive and passion that the children always dig up to complete the hike. As adults, especially these days, we never seem to give children enough credit for what they are actually capable of. This Hike really emphasises their capabilities and determination to challenge themselves and the satisfaction and pride that they have completed such a memorable, physical achievement. 
Each year I am filled with emotion and job satisfaction that these children, families and staff can share such a magical experience together. One which will hopefully be remembered for life.

The trek is the only fundraiser that we do at our pre-school. Last year we raised money for our new sand pit, which was not only paid for by the sponsor money, but was also built by the parents, children and staff. This year we raised £390 (which is good for a small setting). We have ordered a set of large hollow blocks from Cosy Direct which is something that the children and staff have been wanting for a while.
Thanks again to all those who linked up in the last Outdoor Play Party, your support is really appreciated. My featured post from the last round up is from An Idea on Tuesday. In this fab post Niccola has lots of great ideas for bring maths outdoors & I just love the balance scales set her father-in-law has made.
  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!
  • We'd appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we'll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterestPlease feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back. Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the 'featured' button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!

8 comments:

  1. What a wonderful activity centre, some great tings for the children to do and that hill hike looks lots of fun and a fair way for little ones too. I wish all kids could experience a day at Highway Farm

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    1. Hi Fiona & thanks for supporting the OPP, agreed if only all children got these same outdoor opportunities, Martin & his team have created something very special over at Highway Farm.

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  2. Wow - my son would LOVE this activity centre. Wish we lived closer. My two year old recently climbed Pen-y-ghent in Yorkshire - 7 miles and he didnt complain once. We live in Norfolk so Adam had never seen a peak before!

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    1. 7 miles is a lot for that age, well done Adam. Thanks for commenting & supporting the OPP.

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  3. This is fantastic! What a brilliant way to raise money and such a fabulous challenge for the little ones x

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    1. A truly amazing preschool indeed, Catherine. Thanks for linking up xx

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  4. This is really a nice class activity! One that I wish my son would do in his new school #countrykids

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    1. Thanks for commenting & linking up xx

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