National Lottery Heritage Fund - Nature Reserve Project
We recently received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This has enabled us to start our Oakley Kindergarten Nature Reserve Project within the kindergarten outdoor space and to preserve the heritage of the farmland that we have diversified.
The first part of this project was to preserve and reinstate the original Victorian fence, which had been in situ since the 1870s. New uprights were made and the bow top panels were reconditioned and the fence was re-erected.
The original farm equipment, that includes a horse drawn seed drill and straw chopper had been in the sheep shed, that originally sat on the land. These have been rescued and moved back to the site to be preserved for future generations.
The second part of the project is our aim to promote environmental sustainability and to improve the biodiversity of our natural environment to help combat climate change. We aim to teach the next generation, through resources, opportunities and experiences, how to make positive changes regarding the environment. We will do this by giving all children that attend our setting the opportunity to learn about the natural world.
By clearing the forest area and planting saplings, we have made a suitable environment that children can access daily (Fairytale Forest). The branches that have been cleared have created a ‘Logpile house’ habitat.
The kitchen garden (Cockleshell Garden) that we have created and raised beds for accessible access have created an inclusive space, where children are given the opportunity to participate in long-term growing projects.
This is in addition to our chicken, where children are able to help look after her and collect eggs. The children have helped to plant some seed potatoes and tomatoes, so far, and we hope that this area will help to promote healthy eating and life choices too. Our new compost bins help to teach children the importance of sustainability and recycling and to recycle.
We now have two pond habitats on the site. One is part of the sustainable urban drainage system for the building (Pat’s Pond) where rainwater is collected and drains into. This will create a home for amphibians and wild birds for the children to observe and identify. Our raised pond, which is filled with rainwater, should attract species, such as Water Boatmen and May and Dragon Flies.
In the forest, we now have a hedgehog house for Mrs Tiggywinkle to inhabit and our birdfeeders to support the local wildlife. We have also created a mound (Muffet’s Tuffet) where the sheep graze and the children can climb to develop their gross motor skills.
Literacy is so important to us in Kindergarten and so we have recreated features from our favourite books, stories, rhymes and people! The next feature will be a nod to Mr McGregor's Garden, so beware little rabbits!
Our signpost to the Fairytale Forest, Cockleshell Garden, Logpile House, Muffet's Tuffet, the Trip Trap Bridge and Pat's Pond is an addition to make our outside area a literacy rich environment too.
We would like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Grant and anyone who plays the lottery for making this all possible! We would also like to thank the hard-working volunteers who have given up their weekends to help us, as well as help and advice from Patrick Knight.