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Bird Feeder Making Activity for Kids

There are many types of bird feeders that children can enjoy making at home.As promised in our recent posts ‘How to Attract Garden Wildlife – for Under-5s’ and ‘Bee-Friendly Flower Growing for Kids’, we follow up today with a guide to bird feeders that children can enjoy making at home. It’s a creative and educational activity that children of all ages will enjoy. And, With the right location and bird food, the home-made bird feeders are sure to attract a multitude of beautiful birds to the garden for the children to enjoy and learn from.

With any of these feeders, though, don’t expect birds to come right away. They’ll be suspicious of anything new in the garden for a while, so children need to be patient while the birds learn to trust the new addition. Once they have accepted it, though, they’ll come again and again if suitable food continues to be supplied.

Apple Feeders

Starting with the most simple bird feeder of all, children can make an apple bird feeder.Starting with the most simple bird feeder of all, children can make an apple bird feeder. All they need is an apple and something to hold it. So, a piece of string threaded through it would be one easy solution for a hanging apple feeder (an adult may need to supervise for safety reasons). Another would be to spear the apple onto a vertical stick (see example photo), bamboo cane or even a suitably angled tree branch/twig. Again, adult supervision would be wise so the child does not hurt itself. Try peeling off some of the skin to show the apple flesh and this may encourage birds to have a peck. Apple feeders may be particularly popular with blackbirds.

Pine Cone Feeders

Pine cone bird feeders are easy and fun for children to make.These are easy and fun for children to make. All they need is a suitable pine cone that’s ‘opened’, some bird seed and either peanut butter, suet or lard.* Children simply need to paste the peanut butter, suet or lard into the spaces between the pine cone scales, then roll the entire thing in bird seed, which will stick, and suspend the new feeder by string. Easy!

If no pine cone is available, the same approach can be used but using a chunk or thick slice of bread instead of the pine cone. However, we do not recommend it as bread will go mouldy if left outside for more than a day or two, and this can harm or even kill birds.

Suet* Flower Pot Seed Cakes

Suet or lard can also be used to make flower pot seed cakes.Suet* or lard* can also be used to make flower pot seed cakes. However, this will require the help of an adult because it will need to be melted on the hot stove before being mixed with bird seed. While still molten, it can be poured into flower pots or used yoghurt pots, where it will set solid, once cool. Children can take over only once it’s safe to do so. A piece of string can be then used to thread through and hang the seed flower pot or yoghurt pot in a suitable place to attract birds.

*Peanut Butter, Suet & Lard — Important Note

*If using peanut butter, ensure it’s fresh, salt-, sugar- and flavouring-free (or use a good brand of peanut butter made especially for birds). Both smooth and crunchy are suitable but smooth is a little safer for baby birds during breeding season.

With regard to suet, use only proper beef suet, from cows. It should be hard, not imprint if squeezed but instead crumble when handled. Avoid fake suets as they are not safe for birds.

If using lard, ensure it’s pure lard, is hard at room temperature and remains solid when it’s even warmer — otherwise it may simply melt on hot, sunny days, and this can be a bio hazard for birds. Like suet, pure lard should also not imprint when squeezed.

Plastic Bottle Feeders

Plastic bottle feeders are amongst the most adaptable of home-made bird feeders.These are amongst the most adaptable of home-made bird feeders. As the photographs on this article show, they can be hung vertically or horizontally, depending on the way they’ve been adapted. They can also be used to house bird seed/food or drinking water. Birds do need fresh drinking water and, by the way, will often appreciate spring water more than tap water in areas where there is more chemical in the latter. Take a look at the photos to see what’s possible with recycled water bottles — children can get quite inventive!

Milk/Juice Carton Feeders

Bird feeders can be great fun when made from used juice or milk cartons.Bird feeders can be great fun when made from used juice or milk cartons. As the example shows, a few simple cuts (with adult supervision) are all that’s needed to form landing stages where birds can land in order to get to the seeds inside. String for hanging can be trapped at the top by using the screw-on lid, or using a hole made carefully/safely in the centre of the lid. Simple! What makes carton bird feeders extra fun is the fact that they can be painted by children. This will stimulate their creativity as well as making the feeders attractive — or even camouflaged.

Monkey Nut Feeders

Another very simple type of bird feeder that children can make is a hanging monkey nut feeder.Another very simple type of bird feeder that children can make is a hanging monkey nut feeder. All children (or a supervising adult) need to do is to thread string through part of the outer husk of each monkey nut, forming a chain of nuts. This can then be strung between the branches of a tree or other suitable place. Birds including tits will easily peck through the outer husk to get to the nuts inside. Squirrels may also visit!

Please note that monkey nuts (peanuts that are in their outer cases) should be unroasted. Before serving them to birds, an adult should break a few open to ensure that there is no fungus between the outer case and the nut itself. The fungus called aflatoxin is harmful to both birds and children as it’s a carcinogen (i.e. causes cancer).

Choosing Your Bird Food

Choosing the right bird food is critically important for the success of bird feeders.Choosing the right bird food is critically important for the success of bird feeders. There are many types of seed to choose from and different seeds will appeal to different bird species. However, to get started, we found that children can’t go wrong with just two or three key bird foods:

Sunflower hearts and/or mild cheddar cheese, each of which are easily and inexpensively available from supermarkets and online. These are extremely popular, especially amongst robins, various tits, sparrows, dunnocks, nuthatches, woodpeckers blackbirds, starlings and thrushes.

If going with cheese ensure it’s grated or chopped into tiny pieces that small birds will be able to easily swallow. Also ensure it’s fresh and has not got any mould on it (this can be dangerous to birds).

Robin Peanut Cakes‘ are also a huge hit with the same feathered friends, especially robins plus the addition of long-tailed tits, which are perhaps amongst the cutest of all UK birds — they are adorable! Robin Peanut Cakes are available from the physical and online shops of The National Trust, Ocado, Morrisons and many others, including Amazon.

Bread should ideally be a last resort (it’s not actually that good for birds) or, if used, it must be fresh, mould-free, torn up into tiny pieces and never left to rot. So, little and often is better than putting out a large amount all in one go when feeding birds bread, otherwise it can quickly go mouldy and harm the birds.

Locating Bird Feeders

To protect from attack from above by birds of prey, bird feeders should be located ideally under some kind of ‘overhang’.Children and adults should look for a safe and suitable place to site their newly-made bird feeders. To protect from cats and other ground-level predators, bird feeders should be at least 1.5 metres above ground level, while remaining low enough to allow for easy refilling. To protect from attack from above by birds of prey, bird feeders should be located ideally under some kind of ‘overhang’. For example, under the branches or canopy of a mature tree, or below protruding eves of a house or building. Children may well find that the bird feeders are more popular if these rules are followed.

Hygiene for Birds

Woodpeckers love sunflower seed hearts.For birds, the bird feeders will need to be cleaned regularly so that disease is not spread throughout the bird populations. The RSPB has some useful guidelines here.

Bird drinking water should also be regularly changed and any vessel holding it also cleaned from time to time. Whether near drinking water or food, bird droppings are a particular hazard for birds, as these can spread disease and parasites.

Hygiene & Safety for Children

For children, particularly the very young, an adult should supervise the feeder-making activities, cleanliness around the bird feeders and even hygiene around bird food.

Adults may need to step in during the feeder-making process itself if materials need to be cut or punctured with scissors or a knife. These are especially hazardous for the youngest children who are not yet fully dextrous or good with hand-eye coordination.

After touching or cleaning used or dirty bird feeders, children should wash hands with soap and water or, better still, wear rubber gloves during the process. Any cleaning of feeders should ideally be done outside and any handling of cleaning chemicals (see RSPB link above) should be done by the supervising adult, not the child.

Last but not least, nuts are a known allergen to an unlucky few. Avoid them unless you know for certain that your child is not allergic to them.

Nature is So Good for Children

Long-tailed tits love sunflower seed hearts too. They're incredibly cute!Children learn a huge amount and benefit enormously from nature, particularly the very young, so making bird feeders to attract wild birds is a very worthwhile activity. It also supports several aspects of the EYFS curriculum, including understanding the world, nurturing creativity and much more. What’s more, it need not cost much, if any money to accomplish and will also help our feathered friends, particularly during months when there is precious little natural food around for them.

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Or perhaps you need high quality childcare near Harlesden, Willesden Green or Kensal Green.

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.We are Treetops Nursery, one of the best nurseries and pre-schools in Willesden, and also near to Willesden Green, Kensal Green, Harlesden and London NW10. We’re independently rated by Ofsted as a Good early years provider in every category, so you know your baby or child under five will be in safe and capable hands. To register your child for a nursery/pre-school place, arrange a tour of the setting or find answers to any questions you may have, please contact us:

Bee-Friendly Flower Growing for Kids

Easy flower-growing activity for children, to attract bees and other friendly insects to the garden.Today, we follow up last month’s wildlife attracting guide for Under-5s with another, more specific, activity for children to undertake outdoors. This time, we outline easy-to-accomplish flower growing activities that children can enjoy, to attract bees and other friendly insects to the garden. While flowering plants can be purchased commercially ready-grown, we’ll concentrate today on ways children can grow wildlife-friendly flowers themselves, from seed. After all, it’s far cheaper, much more fun as an activity, teaches children more about nature and will also give them a greater sense of achievement. If it all goes well, the result will be some pretty flowers to brighten the place up as well as a host of charming and beautiful little creatures visiting. Children may get to see different types of bee perhaps along with butterflies, hover flies, ladybirds and probably many more wonderful creatures that might otherwise never have visited. Children will generally find flowers, bees and butterflies not only beautiful to look at, but also fascinating once they really start to look closely. After all, what’s not to love about stunning flowers and the cute, colourful pollinators that will visit them!

Sourcing Bee-Friendly Seeds

Forget-me-nots, poppies, sunflowers, sedum, buddleia, nasturtium, daisies, cornflower, cosmos and calendula are easy seeds for children to grow.Parents/guardians of under-fives will need to supervise which seeds to buy — or to harvest free of charge at the end of a previous season. If purchased, they’re inexpensive with seed packets typically costing as little as £1.99 from places like Suttons, garden centres and even online from some supermarkets. Look out for seeds that are marked as suitable for growing bee-friendly and/or butterfly-friendly flowers, or are simply suitable for pollinators. Typical examples include seeds for poppies, sunflowers, forget-me-nots, sedum, buddleia, nasturtium, daisies, cornflower, cosmos and calendula. Even herbs will grow fragrant flowers that’ll attract pollinators if you allow them to grow to maturity. Good examples include mint, basil and thyme, any of which would serve a secondary purpose of being useful to eat — another useful and educational benefit of this activity for young children.

Even easier are seed packets that contain mixed wildflower seeds. As the name suggests, these contain a real mix, resulting in multi-coloured flowers that’ll liven up flower pots, balconies or garden beds and attract a multitude of different pollinator visitors.

Fun-to-Grow Seeds Just for Children

Hover flies are delightful, friendly and peaceful little creatures that may also visit children's flowers.Suttons and other seed suppliers even offer whole ranges of bee-friendly flower seeds just for children. These include a ‘Bug Magnet’ flower seed kit for kids containing Calendula daisy seeds, 8 bug stickers and even a magnifying glass for closer inspection of the visiting bees, butterflies and insects. The price of that example is only £2.49 (price correct at time of writing — even cheaper if you’re a member). Sainsbury’s offers something completely different with their Bee-Friendly Flower Bomb Kits for little ones. Timing of this post is perfect too, as all these seeds can be sown during March, April and May, with flowers appearing anywhere from March to the end of September.

Sowing the Seeds

Children can simply scatter seeds (spaced out as per instructions on seed packets) onto some soft, weed-free soil.Commercially-supplied seeds will usually have instructions for sowing on the packets, so these can be followed easily. Generally speaking, though, there are a couple of main ways to sow flower seeds:

  1. The easiest way is for children to simply scatter seeds (spaced out according to individual instructions) onto some soft soil that’s been pre-prepared so it’s free of weeds. That might be, for example, in a flower bed, window box or in flower pots. The seeds can then be covered by a thin covering of sieved soil or compost and then slightly firmed down.
  2. Alternatively, children can sow the seeds in seed trays, flower pots, used yoghurt or margarine cartons or similar, Children can sow the seeds in seed trays, flower pots, used yoghurt or margarine cartons.so long as whatever they use has drainage holes at the bottom (adults may need to supervise that part, for safety reasons). Drip trays will be needed underneath if this part is initially housed indoors. The earth used can be soil brought in from the outdoors or, of course, compost (suitable for seedlings and ideally peat-free as it’s better for the planet). Using this approach instead of the outdoor scattering approach will allow children to manually space out individual seeds more easily, once they’ve actually sprouted.

Either way, the soil should be kept moist over coming days/weeks, so children should check on progress daily.

Safety Notice

Read the seed packet because some seeds can be poisonous. Therefore, this activity should be undertaken only with the close supervision of a responsible adult. Children will need to be closely monitored when handling seeds and earth, and will need to take appropriate safety precautions, for example keeping hands away from the mouth and eyes and washing their hands with soap and water afterwards.

Along with regular watering, a suitable organic liquid feed will help to bring on some types of seedlings. However, as some liquid feeds can be poisonous, handling of it is best left to a supervising adult.

Soil should be watered regularly so it remains moist.After about ten days to two weeks or so, seedlings should start to appear through the soil. Once they start to grow significantly, it may be necessary for children to ‘thin’ some of them out, by transplanting any that are cramped, so there’s only one plant every few inches. This will allow each plant to grow to a significant size in the coming weeks, free of overcrowding.

Once they’re mature, flowers should begin to appear and then it all starts to look rather beautiful. It may even be fragrant, depending on the plants chosen.

Along Come the Bees, Butterflies & More

Butterflies may also be attracted to bee-friendly flowers.Once flowers are coming through, many types of delightful pollinators will soon follow. These are likely to include various types of bee, different kinds of butterfly, hover flies, ladybirds and potentially many other pollinators.

Children Learn from Nature

Children can then have educational fun taking a closer (but careful) look at the visiting creatures and perhaps even saying ‘hello’. Actually, it’s not a bad idea to encourage children to greet the visiting pollinators in this way because it demonstrates to children that each is a little being that deserves to live safely and be given space, peace and respect. Teaching children to recognise even the smallest creatures as individuals may also help to reduce the chances of children being fearful of them. Children can have educational fun taking a closer (but careful) look at the delightful visiting creatures.After all, little pollinators are generally very harmless, hard-working creatures who just want to go about their business in peace. They are, though, completely charming when you take the time to watch them and this is too easily missed by children if they’re glued to screens or kept indoors too much. Given the opportunity, children learn and benefit so much from nature, so this activity is very worthwhile one for under-fives and, indeed, for children of any age. Learning from/about nature also supports the ‘Understanding the World‘ aspect of the EYFS curriculum, which is so incredibly important to under-fives.

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Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.Today’s guide was brought to you by Treetops Nursery, one of the best nurseries and pre-schools in the Willesden, Willesden Green, Kensal Green, Harlesden and NW10 areas of London. We’re independently rated by Ofsted as a Good early years provider in every category, so you know your baby, toddler or preschooler will be well looked after — and indeed will absolutely thrive — at Treetops Nursery. To register a place for your child, request a visit, ask a question or to find out more, please get in touch:

Next Time:

Next time, we’ll publish a wonderful guide to bird feeders that children can make at home.

How to Attract Garden Wildlife - for Under-5s
Nature provides the most wonderful creatures that will both fascinate and educate young children.The little creatures that nature provides are some of the most wonderful, magical things that both fascinate and educate young children. Nature is a wondrous thing, when you think about it. All the little beings and characters that crawl or dart around any wildlife-friendly garden will enrich both the garden and any onlooker. What’s more exposure to nature is known to benefit children in many different ways. With that in mind, today’s guide provides ways to make any garden more wildlife-friendly. By following the suggestions, young children can get to see more of these beautiful little visitors, many of whom may even become regulars if the conditions are right.

Attracting Mini-Beasts, Insects & Reptiles to the Garden

Mini-beasts like woodlice, centipedes, millipedes and many other bugs will love it if children leave them an undisturbed compost area to nest in. Insects and even reptiles like lizards and slow-worms may even move in. All they need is composting vegetation like rotting leaves, logs and perhaps grass cuttings that gradually break down — and they’re happy!

Hedgehog Hotels

A commercially available hedgehog hotel.Hedgehogs also love piles of leaves, so long as they’re left undisturbed and are somewhere peaceful and safe. Therefore, a pile of them under a secluded bush or underneath a shed may prove popular with them. Children can also make hedgehog hotels — or buy commercially available ones from a garden nursery or online. It’s essential that hedgehogs are able to get into the garden in the first place, though. Therefore, there needs to be a space somewhere to get in, e.g. under a garden gate and/or under one or more parts of the fence around the garden. If there are no gaps, then there is no point in putting out a hedgehog hotel.

On a side note, milk is harmful to hedgehogs, so never put it out in the garden for them.

Insect Houses & Bug Hotels

A bug/insect hotel.If children have no garden, simply attach an insect house (also known as a bug hotel) to any external wall. Alternatively, stand it firmly out of harm’s way, preferably somewhere peaceful, undisturbed and out of direct sun for most of the day. Simple insect houses and more complex bug hotels can be bought inexpensively online or from garden centres. They can also be home-made using chopped-up lengths of bamboo (or similar hollow sticks) bundled together with string. Children will need supervision for such an activity, of course, for safety. After a few weeks, children may notice that some of the hollow ‘tunnels’ are obstructed and this is likely to be insects, including solitary bees, ladybirds and some fancy types of solitary wasp, who have moved in or filled the hollow cores with pollen or nectar. They may seal entrances to overwinter or to protect eggs laid inside.

Flowers are Irresistible

Flowers, and the nectar they provide, are irresistible to bees, butterflies, hover flies and ladybirds.Flowers, and the nectar they provide, are irresistible to flying insects like wonderful bees, butterflies, hover flies and ladybirds. Many different flower types will attract such creatures and create a real buzz in the resulting flowerbed. We’ll write a separate post in due course about the types of flower that children can grow, perhaps from seed. Poppies are just one example to get children started, though. However, suffice it to say, if children grow any types of flowers, adorable creatures are likely to visit and bring real life to the garden.

Waterholes for Bees, Dragonflies & Damselflies

Children can also place small, shallow dishes or jar lids of water amongst any flowers that are growing in flowerbeds. It’s important to put a ‘landing stone’ in the middle, so that visiting bees, dragonflies and damselflies have somewhere safe to land. They’ll sit at the water’s edge and sip the water, particularly on hot, sunny days.

Sugar Water for Butterflies & Moths

Sugar water drizzled over ripe fruit will attract butterflies and moths.Similarly, butterflies and moths will enjoy a drink. However, in their case, they like some sugar dissolved into the water (a 50/50 mix is good, so the water may need to be warm during the preparation stage). Once cold, the sugar solution should be drizzled over pieces of ripe fruit like apples or oranges, which can then be placed into shallow dishes or speared onto vertical sticks. These can then go into the garden, balcony or window box — anywhere so long as they’re alongside any insect-attracting flowers.

Attracting Birds

The main way of attracting birds to the garden (or to the house if you have no garden) is through the use of the right type of bird food. They love bird seed, fat balls and even Cheddar cheese! Birds love fat balls, Cheddar cheese and sunflower hearts.The cheese is a big hit with robins, blackbirds, pigeons, doves, sparrows and dunnocks, for example, but never use blue or mouldy cheese as it could harm them. These same bird types also love sunflower ‘hearts’, the inner kernel of sunflower seeds, which can be purchased inexpensively with the weekly shop from most supermarkets or, of course, online or from garden nurseries. ‘Robin Peanut Cakes’ by the National Trust (also available from Ocado) are also a massive hit in our own garden. Long-tailed tits, woodpeckers, starlings and nuthatches all adore such foods mentioned in this section. The seed can be sprinkled on the ground (little and often is best, so the food doesn’t go off, and somewhere safe away from hiding prey). Better still, for their safety, the bird food can be placed in bird feeders attached high up to windows, walls, sheds and fences. Birds also need water to drink and to bathe in.Or place on bird tables if you have them. Ideally, though, feeders should also be protected from attack from above, by birds of prey, so under a building overhang or overhanging tree branch would suit — not too near the ground either, otherwise cats are a potential threat. We’ll follow up in due course with a separate post showing children how to build and site home-made bird feeders — they’re easy, inexpensive and fun!

Birds also need water to drink and to bathe in. So, some shallow water somewhere will prove popular once the birds have watched it for a few days and seen that it’s safe. A rock or upturned pot base placed into the shallow water will allow birds somewhere safe to land, just like we did above for the bees. Commercial bird baths would work, of course, but if budgets are limited any static, shallow vessel will do. Large pot bases are a good example. Birds do notice when things are moved, though, so wherever it’s sited, it needs to stay put, so they learn to trust it.

While we refer to ‘gardens’, any accessible outdoor space will do if no garden is available. Windowsills, patios, courtyards, balconies, shared allotments, walls for bug hotels and areas of common ground may all suit if they’re made friendly and peaceful for wildlife. Areas should be hazard-free, though, so avoid siting them anywhere that’s had weedkiller or other poisonous chemicals used.

Wildlife Will Enrich Your Child’s Life

Making wildlife-friendly gardens will enrich the lives of both the wildlife and children.Making wildlife-friendly areas will enrich the lives of both the wildlife and children — and their families. Visiting birds, mammals, insects and mini-beasts can teach children so much educationally as well as encouraging a deep respect and empathy towards nature. They can help children grow their understanding of ecological issues and possibly even lean children towards greener lifestyles as they grow up. Witnessing local wildlife in the garden can also feed into children’s creativity, encouraging them to draw, paint, take photos, build things and so on. In time, many of the delightful little visitors may indeed become regular ones that become familiar, friendly faces that come to say hello daily if conditions are right.

Outstanding Weekday Childcare in Willesden, NW10

Are you looking for the best nurseries or pre-schools in Harlesden, Willesden or Kensal Green?

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.Ofsted rates Treetops Nursery as a Good in every single category. So, babies, toddlers and under-fives under our care are exceptionally well cared for. We are a nursery and pre-school offering high quality childcare in Willesden, London NW10. We’re also very near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green so would be equally suited to those who live or work in those locations. If you’d like to register your child for a childcare place at Treetops Nursery, or would like to visit the setting to see it for yourself, we’d be delighted to welcome you and to answer any questions:

 

16 Ways Nature Benefits Children

The natural world will enrich children's lives in a myriad of natural ways.At the time of writing, spring is just around the corner and snowdrops and daffodils are already sprouting out of the ground. Soon, it’ll start to feel warmer and we’ll be more likely to venture outdoors again. With that in mind, we thought the time was perfect for a post all about the benefits of nature to children, particularly in their early years. If you’re a parent/carer and your children don’t usually get much exposure to nature, take a look at these benefits and consider encouraging them to get out more. The natural world and everything it offers will enrich their young lives in a myriad of natural ways.

1. Nature is Good for the Mind & Spirit

Nature is good for both mind & spirit.Nature is good for both mind & spirit. Many studies have shown that time spent with nature is very healthy for mental wellbeing and you only have to spend time in the Great Outdoors to know that this is true. There is something instinctively calming about spending time outdoors, surrounded by flora and fauna, and this is very beneficial for mental health, including relieving stress, anxiety and even depression.

2. Imagination Stimulation

Nature stimulates the creative mind in children. The natural world is a place of absolute wonder, when you think about it — particularly for the very young. So, spending time outdoors sets their minds working to create adventures, build, perhaps draw, create dens, collect flowers, invent games and so much more. Nature is an almost limitless source for children’s imaginations!

3. Nature Gives Children Perspective

Nature stimulates the creative mind in children.Spending time in the natural environment, surrounded by nature and everything that it brings, allows children to get a better perspective on life. Once they see the enormity of the ‘bigger picture’, small issues they may be facing will become insignificant and they will learn what’s really important and what’s not.

4. Nature Promotes Profound Thinking

Children also get to think bigger thoughts and ask bigger questions when they spend time out in nature. For example, “Where do I fit into the world?” … “What is this little creature doing?” … “What is he or she thinking?” … “How do those little seeds grow in the wild?” … “What is life?” … “How did we all get here?” … “Where does planet Earth fit into the bigger picture?” … and so on.

5. Nature Gives Children Greater Freedom

Nature allows children to feel much more free than they ever can indoors or in the confines of a playground.The natural world is vast so, with suitable adult supervision, allows children to feel much more free than they ever can indoors or in the confines of a playground. They can run around over larger areas, across different terrains and a myriad of different types of natural environment. It’s no wonder you see children putting their arms out like wings when they’re out in the natural world — they feel so free it makes them feel like they could almost fly!

6. Nature Facilitates Personal & Social Skills

The freedom and opportunities that children get from being out in nature help them to improve and build many skills. Playing and having adventures outdoors with other children will help them to improve language, social skills, self-confidence, teamwork skills, leadership skills, the ability to assess risk, responsibility, cooperation and so much more. What’s more, it also helps children to form closer bonds and friendships.

7. Nature Helps Children Focus

Children with ADHD particularly benefit from time spent out in the natural environment because it helps them to focus. Studies back this up as well as confirming that short-term memory can improve and mental energy increase for any child after a spell out in the natural world. Indeed, research shows that children’s attainment and engagement levels are higher in the classroom if they recently spent time in the natural environment.

8. Nature Improves Fitness

Nature helps children to become stronger and fitter in the most natural of ways.With the space to run around, explore, climb and build, nature helps children to become stronger and fitter in the most natural of ways. Another good thing about it is that it doesn’t even feel like they’re consciously ‘exercising’ when they’re having fun out in nature — it’s totally natural.

9. It Nurtures a Healthy Lifestyle

Time spent in the Great Outdoors as a child can often build a deep appreciation of nature, a natural tendency to keep fit, to eat a healthy diet and generally lead a healthier lifestyle as they grow older.

10. Nature Helps Improve Motor Skills

With the myriad of physical activities on offer in the natural world, children will improve both gross motor skills and fine ones without even trying. From running, jumping, balancing and coordination to finer skills like holding, fashioning, tying and hand-eye coordination, nature gives children an incredible range of opportunities to hone physical skills.

11. Nature is a Sensory Feast

Nature is an absolute feast for the senses.Nature is also an absolute feast for potentially all of the senses, giving children ample opportunity to see, touch, smell, hear and (under suitable supervision) even taste. Vestibular (movement) and proprioception (body position) senses are also amply stimulated in the Great Outdoors. Stimulation of the senses is incredibly important for children, particularly in their early years, helping in the generation of new brain pathways and syntaxes that are part of the essential building foundations of children’s lives.

12. Nature Helps Children Appreciate the Environment

Spending time in the natural world also helps children to appreciate the flora and fauna that it contains. It’s a magical world, when you think about it, and every living thing has its own specific needs. Recognising this helps children to become more environmentally conscious and to build skills like empathy, responsibility, self-control and to understand the importance of caring for others.

13. Nature Helps Children Sleep Soundly

Time spent in nature, with everything it brings, helps infants sleep more soundly at night too — and that can only be a good thing. Studies back this up.

14. Nature Supports the EYFS

Nature supports many of the goals of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage).Nature supports many of the goals of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage, an important framework that guides the learning and development of under-fives in England). Allowing children access to nature and the natural environment will help them with Understanding the World as they explore and discover, Physical Development as they play and move around in the outdoors, and both Communication & Language and Personal, Social & Emotional Development as they interact naturally with friends and supervising adults. That’s at least four of the 7 key areas of the EYFS.

15. Nature Improves Academic Performance

Numerous studies have concluded that the benefits of time spent in the natural environment help children to perform better academically. Improvements can even be seen in areas like reading, writing and mathematics.

16. Nature Gives Children Perspective

Spending time in the natural environment, surrounded by nature and everything that it brings, allows children to get a better perspective on life. Once they see the enormity of the ‘bigger picture’, they will learn what’s really important and, perhaps, what’s not.

Nature at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery has its own plant growing area for the children to use.The many benefits of nature are fully supported at Treetops Nursery in Willesden. Our wonderful outdoor areas even include plant-growing area and other play areas where children can enjoy the fresh air and explore natural materials and textures. The nursery/pre-school is also adjacent to the King Edward VII Park, so it feels very ‘green’ since it is surrounded by trees and natural vegetation. Roundwood Park is also only a stone’s throw away, with its flower garden, wildlife area and aviary. It’s a formal Victorian park, with English Heritage grade two listed status and holder of a Green Flag Award, for the high standard of the park and green spaces within it. Children at Treetops Nursery — and their families — therefore have easy access to nature and natural things all around.

Weekday Childcare Services in Willesden, near Kensal Green & Harlesden, NW10

Treetops - an outstanding nursery & pre-school in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Kensal Green & Harlesden.Treetops Nursery is officially a ‘good’ nursery, located in Willesden, NW10 and also close by if you are looking for nurseries or pre-schools near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green. Please get in touch if you’d like to bring your baby or child along for a visit, apply for a nursery place or simply ask any questions you may have:

Food Growing Fun for Kids: Teach Children to Grow Vegetables, Salads & Herbs at Home
Children can grow vegetables, salads and herbs at home, almost free of cost.Did you know that you can grow vegetables, salads and herbs at home, almost free of cost? You don’t need seeds and you don’t even need a garden! Today we’ll explain how you and your child can help the household with an almost endless supply of potentially free, home-grown fresh produce, all year round. Children will have enormous fun with this amazing activity, whilst learning new skills and gaining important knowledge along the way. Even better — you all get to eat the produce once the home-grown ‘crops’ are ready! And it should save money for the household.

Home-Grown Vegetables & Herbs For Free? How?

Show your child how to regrow small off-cuts of vegetables and herbs that you would already have bought as part of your weekly shop.One of the many beauties of this activity is that you don’t need to buy any seeds or plants specifically for the task. You are going to show your child how to regrow small off-cuts of vegetables and herbs that you would already have bought as part of your weekly shop. To explain, some of the parts that you’d normally discard can actually be used to grow new vegetables — lettuce, for example. And, for herbs, there’s an easy and free way to grow new plants from small cuttings of shop-bought herbs that you may have purchased anyway (basil or parsley, for example). Using this approach, you could grow your own vegetables, salads and herbs and, in theory, never have to buy any again! We’ll explain later, in more detail. First, we’ll look at what you and your child will need for your plants to grow in.

No Garden Needed?

As we mentioned above, you do not need a garden or greenhouse for this activity. As a minimum, all you need is a windowsill that gets lots of natural light. During warmer months, of course, a balcony or small outdoor patio or space will allow the activity to spread out and bigger volumes to be grown, but it’s really not essential. In any case, keeping to a windowsill means there’s less likelihood of garden pests eating the produce.

Egg cartons, used yoghurt pots, margarine tubs and the plastic trays from ready meals can make great flower pots.If your household already has flower pots or seed trays, then great. If not, there’s not even any need to buy them if you simply recycle things like empty egg cartons, used yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, the plastic trays from ready meals and suchlike. So long as they’ll hold some earth/compost and some holes are pierced in the bottom for drainage (this is best if done by an adult, for safety), then you’re almost good to go.

The only things you might need to spend a few pounds on, just to get going, are:

  1. Some compost (or use suitably fine, sieved earth, ideally from natural compost, sourced from outdoors if you want to save money). If buying new, choose peat-free compost as it’s better for the planet. Multi-purpose compost is fine, or seed and cuttings compost will also suit.
  2. Drip trays to put under your pots or seed trays. These are simply to catch the water and to protect your home. They’re very cheap to purchase. If you’re on a budget, though, you could simply source suitably sized food trays, for instance left over from ready meals, or use existing saucers and suchlike. So long as they catch any draining water from your pots or seed trays and are watertight underneath, they’ll be fine.

Regrowing Vegetables

Root sections from root vegetables like celery, leaks, lettuce and even garlic can be regrown.Now for the really clever, fun part! Instead of throwing away the ‘root’ part — that you’d normally cut off and discard — from the bottom of vegetables like onions, celery, garlic cloves, beetroot and lettuce, your child should save them, because that’s the part that will regrow if you encourage it. Show your child how to safely cut off and save a section about an inch deep, containing that ‘root’ section, from the bottom of used vegetables from your ordinary, weekly shop. Green onions, spring onions, lemon grass, various types of lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots are all additional examples of vegetables that have this bottom root section that can be harvested for later regrowth. Ginger too, but this takes significantly longer to regrow.

Once saved, simply place the lower sections, root downwards, into water e.g. in a suitable dish or glass. The depth of the water should be such that the top part is not submerged, but the root section is. Your child should ensure that the water level is maintained during a period of one to three weeks, depending on which type of vegetable it is (they grow at different rates). Some time during this period, visible roots will start to grow. Perhaps increase the depth of water once this happens. Once roots are substantial, the new plants can be transferred to the pots or containers of compost. Ensure that the roots are covered in soil but the upper parts protrude into the air as that part will eventually start to grow too. Carrot tops can also be regrown for use as 'greens' in salads and suchlikeThe compost should be kept moist as the vegetable regrows into another one that can, again, be harvested to eat as part of a healthy meal.

Interestingly, carrot tops (the growing green leaves above the root) can also be harvested for use as ‘greens’ in salads and suchlike. Instead of discarding these, pop the tops in water as above and soon enough you’ll see lots of greens growing.

Regrowing Herb Clippings

Herbs like basil, coriander, parsley and rosemary are easy to regrow from cuttings left in water.Herbs like basil, coriander, parsley, rosemary are also easy to regrow. When you’ve used most of them from your weekly shop for meals, save a few clippings from left-over stems. Clipping length will be different depending on the herb used. For example, basil clippings should be about 4 inches (100mm) long and rosemary clippings should be 2 to 3 inches (50-75mm) long. You may need to experiment a bit at first, so save a few different lengths if unsure initially.

In a similar way to the root vegetables above, these clippings need to be dangled and left in water on a windowsill until the roots are a couple of inches (50mm) or so in length. Once again, those can then be transplanted to the pots or containers with compost burying the roots. Again, your child should keep the compost moist until new, substantial herb plants have regrown and are ready again to eat. At this time, the whole process can begin again. Regrowing herbs is a great way to encourage children to try more types of them, to widen their food palettes and preferences.

Growing Seeds from Shop-Bought Vegetables

Another way to regrow shop-bought vegetables is to harvest seeds from inside them.Another way to regrow shop-bought vegetables is to see if they have seeds inside. Tomatoes and peppers are great examples of these. So, when you’re next using them up for meals, get your child to save the seeds from things like peppers (you’d normally discard these anyway) and some seeds from a tomato — each one contains many. These too can be used to grow brand new plants and vegetables for next to nothing. It’s a little more advanced and they need more room, though. The best time to harvest tomato seeds is between summer and autumn, then plant them in spring if they’re intended for the garden. Here’s an advanced method of saving tomato seeds.

Marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes are filled with seeds that can potentially give you new vegetables free of charge.It’s similar for marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes, although those need significant space (they’ll want to spread out), so may be more suitable outside once they begin to grow significantly.

Whichever seed you choose to grow from repurposed vegetables, they can be spaced out in your compost pots or trays, then lightly dusted with a thin layer of extra compost to stop them washing away when they’re watered. You can cover them with kitchen roll sheets or cling film initially, as it may help them to germinate faster. Once shoots begin to appear, the child can remove the covering and then ensure that the compost is kept moist, but not soggy, while remaining on the windowsill. Once the seedlings have grown bigger, for example after a month, they will need to be transferred to bigger pots and this may have to happen again when they’re even larger. If allowed to grow to full size and looked after, flowers will eventually appear and later those will turn into new vegetables that will ripen, ready to harvest roughly two months after sewing the seeds.

Children Love Natural Growing Activities

Treetops Nursery has its own plant growing area for the children.Children will love looking after these living things and seeing them grow or regrow. They will learn so much along the way and will have a great sense of achievement when successful. Once they’ve succeeded in producing something they can eat (… and potentially regrow again) they’ll probably want to do it more and try different things. The result, of course, is also fresh produce, which is rich in vitamins and nutrients and good for family health. Children will have been entertained, they’ll understand nature better and they’ll learn skills like patience and being responsible too. A key lesson is also to learn from mistakes — something we all have to do. What’s more, this natural activity for children may even save money for the household. All in all, it’s a great activity from every perspective.

Our Childcare Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green & Willesden Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery has its own plant growing area for the children to use and this is just one of many wonderful outdoor activities that they can enjoy and learn from at the setting.  It is a really popular nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green, so places are in demand. To register for a place for your baby, toddler or under-five child, please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to show and tell you more:

Dyspraxia: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Disorder

Most people have heard of dyslexia, however the disorder known as dyspraxia is less well known. If you are a parent with children, dyspraxia is something to be aware of, so that you can look out for the possible signs. Today we’ll answer commonly asked questions about the disorder.

Q: What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a condition that impairs a person's ability to fully control motor functions, for example coordinating movement and physical activity.A: Dyspraxia is a condition that impairs a person’s ability to fully control motor functions, for example coordinating movement and physical activity. Children with dyspraxia may therefore appear ‘clumsy’. It can be anything from mild to more severe and obviously the mildest variety is hardest for parents to spot. Dyspraxia is classified as a type of Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (‘DCD’) and indeed healthcare professionals may use this terminology for the condition. They may also refer to it as a Specific Developmental Disorder of Motor Function, or ‘SDDMF’ for short.

The condition affects four times as many males as it does females and can also sometimes be found in those with ADHD, dyslexia and autism. However, as with dyslexia, dyspraxia has nothing to do with the level of a person’s intelligence.

Q: What Causes Dyspraxia?

Children with dyspraxia may appear to be clumsy.A: Dyspraxia can be something people were simply born with (that’s the developmental kind) or, for others, it was acquired through brain trauma, for example because of an injury or stroke. In this post, however, we’ll concentrate on developmental dyspraxia in relation to children.

The reasons for developmental dyspraxia are unclear, however children who were born prematurely or underweight are more prone to the disorder. There is also some evidence to suggest that it can be inherited within families who are prone to the condition. Sadly, children are also more likely to have the disorder if their mothers drank alcohol or took illegal drugs during pregnancy.

Q: What Are the Signs of Dyspraxia?

A: Children with dyspraxia may appear clumsier than their peers. They may also be less naturally good at sport and indeed may even avoid it. Picking up other skills may also be a challenge. Concentration and attention spans can be adversely affected. Following instructions can be a challenge.

Babies may exhibit unusual body positions and have trouble learning to roll or sit. Toddlers under one may adopt strange postures. Infants may be slower at learning to crawl too.

Children with dyspraxia have difficulty with a variety of physical tasks and activities.Children with dyspraxia may also have difficulty:

  • independently dressing, buttoning clothes and tying laces;
  • walking, jumping, skipping and running;
  • using writing instruments to draw and write;
  • mastering the use of cutlery to feed themselves;
  • catching, kicking and throwing balls;
  • stacking objects and playing with some toys;
  • carrying out everyday physical tasks and activities in the most appropriate order.

All of this is because they are less able to coordinate movements and physical actions as well as they would without the condition.

One knock-on effect of this is that they may not reach their development milestones as soon as others in their age group. Indeed, this can be an indicator to watch out for. However, DCD/dyspraxia is often hard to diagnose until children are at least 4 to 5 years of age.

Q: What Are the Knock-On Effects of Dyspraxia?

The posture of toddlers may be odd if they have DCD/dyspraxia.A: Due to its nature and particularly in regard to its negative effect on sports and active play skills, dyspraxia can lead to children becoming less naturally fit, with all the ramifications that brings.

The effects of dyspraxia can also make children less able to make new friends. This may make them feel a bit left out, ‘different‘ and therefore feel rather isolated. This can, in turn, also lead to lower self-esteem, reduced confidence, frustration and even behavioural problems.

Q: How is Dyspraxia Professionally Diagnosed?

A: If you think your child may be dyspraxic, contact your GP to ensure the problem is not caused by something entirely different. Also liaise with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (‘SENCo’) at your child’s childcare setting, pre-school or school, for advice and support. The GP or SENCo may refer your child to a specialist healthcare professional, for example an occupational therapist and/or paediatrician. Assessment and diagnosis is often carried out by both. Learn more about diagnosing dyspraxia and DCD in children here.

Q: Is there a Cure for Dyspraxia?

A: Although a tiny number of children who are deemed to be a little clumsy may grow out of it, there is no cure for dyspraxia for the vast majority. Some children’s challenges will improve with age, however the earlier symptoms are spotted, the sooner parents, carers, guardians and professionals can help the affected child.

Q: How Can We Help Children with Dyspraxia?

Once diagnosed, tailored help is available for children with dyspraxia/DCD.A: Once diagnosed, tailored help is available for children with dyspraxia/DCD, from a variety of specialists. Support may be needed throughout childhood, including at pre-school and school, to help optimise ability around physical tasks and processes. As every child’s challenges will be unique, a support plan will be customised for each. Support may involve a variety of professionals who will aim to help the child overcome their difficulties as far as possible and to build their confidence, self-esteem, abilities etc. The specialists involved may include paediatric occupational therapists, paediatricians, clinical psychologists, educational psychologists or a mixture of several. All will work in tandem, of course, with childcare professionals, teachers, parents and guardians. Learn more about treatment for dyspraxia here.

Q: How Does Treetops Nursery Help Dyspraxic Children?

A: As well as looking out for possible first signs of dyspraxia/DCD — and any other disorder — we will work with any specialists to play our part in any tailored support plans for affected children under our care. This may involve task- and process-oriented activities to help children overcome difficulties. As well as working with any guidance from the specialists it will, of course, involve strategic cooperation with parents, carers or guardians involved in the child’s care. In this way, everyone will be working to the same aims, using the same, shared support plans. Our Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator (‘SENCo’) will also be a crucial part of formulating this plan and, indeed, one of their key roles is to promote equality of opportunity irrespective of any special educational needs or disorders (‘SEND’). In ensuring this, every child achieves personal bests in every area, becoming the very best version of themselves.

Looking for Outstanding Nurseries in Willesden, Near Harlesden, Kensal Green or Willesden Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops Nursery School is a popular nursery and pre-school in Willesden, NW10 (near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden Green). We offer outstanding childcare for babies and children aged up to 5, Monday to Friday. To express an interest, ask a question, book a tour or pre-register for a place, please get in touch:

Preparing Your Child for School

Foresight and preparation will help them transition smoothly and stress-free.Following up from our post last month about preparing children for nursery, we’ll now take a look at preparing them for school as they approach the age of five. Preparing them well will pay dividends on many levels, not least to make it as stress-free for them as possible. Foresight and preparation will also help them transition smoothly.

Any good nursery or pre-school will, of course, help your child to prepare for starting school. Indeed, attending a good nursery/pre-school is one of the best ways to ensure that your child is well-prepared, in readiness for school, so they can hit the ground running from day one. At Treetops Nursery School in Willesden, ensuring they are ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us is one of our key goals.

Aside from educational and learning factors, how can parents help prepare their children for School? We’ll explore some of the options.

How Parents Can Prepare Children for School

There are quite a few ways in which parents can help children prepare for the start of Reception Year at school:

  • Your child will be more at ease if they know another friendly child starting on the same day.Have you sat down with your child and forewarned them what’s going to happen, when, how and why? Put their mind at rest so they’re mentally well-prepared, ahead of time.
  • Make sure you ask them if they have any worries or concerns. Allay any fears with common sense advice and ensure they know who to speak to at school if they have an issue.
  • Make it sound like a new adventure! Focus on the positives. Explain how exciting school will be. For example, there will be new friends, new activities, new games and new, exciting opportunities.
  • Tell your child which of their existing friends will be starting at the same school. If there aren’t any, try to reach out to another parent whose child is starting on the same day and arrange a play date for the two. Having a friendly face there from day one will really help them settle in.
  • Ensure your child gets sufficient sleep in the run-up to starting school. In the one or two weeks prior to starting, it is a good idea to get them used to getting up, getting dressed and eating breakfast at a particular time. Doing so will help their body clocks adapt in readiness. In the evening, of course, they should be going to bed at a sensible time so they get enough sleep. The last thing they will need is to feel unable to stay awake in their first week of school.
  • Most schools have a prospectus, brochure or website. Take a look through these together. Point out interesting and exciting aspects of the new school. Find answers to any questions your child asks and be positive.
  • Tell them about your first day or week at school, assuming it wasn’t awful, of course. It’s OK to mention if you were a little apprehensive, but that it all turned out well in the end and you made some excellent new friends etc.
  • It will help your child if they visit, so they're familiar with where to go, where to hang their coat and so on.It’s also great if you and your child have already visited the school previously, for example during an open day or evening.
  • Try to ensure that your child can take care of some of their personal needs independently. For example, in respect of the use of the toilet, hygiene, tying shoe laces, dressing and eating.
  • Social skills will also help them. So, a knowledge and confidence in their own communication abilities, social skills, table manners, understanding of right and wrong and so on will stand them in good stead.
  • Encourage them to have a desire to learn. So, give them an insight into all the amazing things they can discover about the world – and themselves – if they delve a little deeper and have an inquisitive nature.

Parents Themselves Must Also Be Prepared

It’s also important, of course, for parents to be prepared.

  • Ensure that your child's uniform is ready, fits nicely, and is labelled with their name.As a parent, you’ll need to know where to go and at what time. That’s the case for both drop-off and pick-up. Ensure you know whether the first day is going to be the same as a ‘normal’ day.
  • Ensure your child knows who will be collecting them and drill them about safety in this regard.
  • Ask the school, well ahead of the start, what safeguarding process they have in place in regard to picking up your child at the end of the day. There may be details you need to know on arrival.
  • Ensure that your child’s uniform, if applicable, and any equipment like sports kit is ready for your child to take. Does everything fit? Are clothes labelled?
  • Make sure you know what equipment your child will need. Ensure he/she knows where it is e.g. in a rucksack, bag or pencil case.
  • Does your child need a packed lunch and/or any snacks? You need to find out.
  • Do you have all the necessary contact details of the school or staff? Do they have yours?
  • Is everything prepared and ready so that your child is not late on the day? Have you timed the route at the appropriate time of day, so you know how long the journey will take? Turning up late will cause unnecessary stress, including for your child.

It almost goes without saying, of course, that enrolling your child in a nursery or pre-school setting well before they’re five will help them educationally, developmentally and in terms of preparedness for reception year.

Are you Looking for a Good Nursery in Willesden, Harlesden or Kensal Green?

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenTreetops is a wonderful nursery and pre-school in Willesden, conveniently close to Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green. It is one of the most popular nurseries in north west London, with high demand. For this reason, do get in touch as early as possible if you are interested in a childcare place your baby or child at the setting:

The importance of play for babies, toddlers & children under 5

Play is incredibly important — perhaps more so than many people realise — especially during a child’s formative years. That’s why under-fives, in particular, must be given ample time and encouragement to play. Play is incredibly important, especially during a child's formative yearsIn short, allowing a young child the tools, time and guidance to play regularly will help them with many elements of their learning and development — and that’s critical. Indeed, that’s why good nurseries, pre-schools and childcare settings encourage children to learn in large part through play.

“Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children” (Paediatrics Journal)

The Benefits of Play

Regular play, starting from when children are babies, helps children in a myriad of ways as they grow to become first toddlers, then preschoolers, and beyond. The many benefits of play include:

  • Play is an essential part of a happy childhoodFirstly, it’s fun for them and is an essential part of a happy childhood;
  • Play helps babies, toddlers and children to learn about the world around them, by interacting with all the things in it (under adult supervision, of course);
  • Play helps to educate children about themselves, their abilities, strengths, weaknesses, skills and preferences;
  • It teaches them about all the things they interact with too; from size and weight to texture and a variety of other properties;
  • It improves cognitive function and aids healthy brain development;
  • Play helps children to improve their dexterity through fine motor skills like holding, rotating and moving small objects in precise ways to suit their intended outcome, all at the same time as honing their hand-eye coordination;
  • As they grow older, play also helps children to improve and develop their gross motor skills, enabling them to confidently and precisely control their limbs to lift, throw, extend, pull, push, move and eventually walk, run, jump and so on;
  • Play also helps children to learn from their mistakes just as much as from their achievements. That’s an important lesson that we’ve all gone through even into adulthood;
  • Doing so also helps children to get a more balanced view of the potential risks and rewards associated with carefully-considered actions and the comprehension of cause and effect;
  • Regular physical play helps children to remain active and more fit. After all, lying inactive or sat in front of a TV or other electronic screen has the opposite effect;
  • Playing helps children to improve social skills, make friends and form closer bonds with supervising adultsPlay also keeps children mentally fit as it stimulates their senses, brains and sense of adventure;
  • Regular and varied play also helps children to identify their own talents and interests;
  • Play stimulates children’s imaginations, leading to greater creativity and new ways of thinking;
  • Improved problem-solving and critical thinking is a natural, positive outcome of this;
  • Children also learn to interact with others through play, thereby improving social skills including communication, speech, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, cooperation, role-play and so on;
  • Children develop closer bonds through play, including with other children as well as any supervising adults. Through play, friendships naturally form;
  • With all of these benefits, children naturally become more self-confident individuals, becoming more able to tackle things independently i.e. with less need for adult direction;
  • Their emotional development also benefits;
  • Play is also a great way to relieve any stress, even diverting attention away from pain;
  • Playing with children also helps the supervising adult to immerse themselves into their child’s world, becoming more able to see the world from the child’s perspective.

Playing helps children to be more creative and to think differentlyAll in all, play fosters both physical development and mental development in children. Doing so sets them up with improved physical and cognitive abilities as well as incredibly important life skills. Combined, this also sets under-fives up beautifully for school-readiness when they leave pre-school.

We may follow this post up, at a future date, with some suggested play activities and guidance.

One of the Best Nurseries in Willesden, Harlesden & Kensal Green

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenAt Treetops Nursery in Willesden, our childcare professionals create carefully-planned opportunities for play using a huge array of stimulating equipment, facilities and programmes. That’s all part of the learning and development plan that’s customised for each individual baby or child at the nursery. It’s widely accepted that children, particularly the very young, learn best through play. This approach, together with the individual attention of our exceptional childcare professionals, is why little ones absolutely thrive at Treetops. It’s also why Treetops is so popular and in-demand as a nursery and pre-school in the NW10 area.

If you are looking for one of the very best nurseries in Willesden, Willesden Green or close to Harlesden or Kensal Green, please make contact while we still have some childcare spaces available. Please choose an option:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us

Jolly Jokes for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Continuing the entertainment theme from last month, today’s post looks at some popular jokes for preschoolers and toddlers. These are great for childcare professionals and parents to keep up their sleeves and are sure to bring a smile to children’s faces. Each one passed our own ‘chuckle test’, so are popular with adults too.

Take a look below (click for a larger view) — after all, who doesn’t need a bit of silliness and happy children to brighten the day!

Please feel free to share these on Pinterest, Instagram and other social media and to bookmark them in your web browser. The jokes are downloadable, so can be printed out for display, to brighten everyone’s day any time.

As well as being entertaining, laughter is good for us. It lightens the mood and can cut through anxiety, stress and even pain. We’ll cover many more benefits and the importance of laughter in much more detail in a future post, so watch this space.

Nursery Places in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden & Kensal Green

The childcare team here at Treetops Nursery hope you and your children enjoy this light-hearted article today. We are an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Willesden NW10, offering high quality childcare near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green, NW2 and NW6. We offer the highest quality weekday childcare for babies, toddlers and children under five in a safe, secure and well-equipped childcare setting. For more information — or to arrange a visit to the nursery/pre-school for you and your child — please get in contact today:

Overcoming childhood obesity — & why it matters

We previously covered the importance of healthy eating and exercise in children’s early years. Both play clear roles in a healthy lifestyle and in fighting potential weight and fitness problems. In today’s post we’ll take a closer look at obesity in young children, how to recognise it, and why it’s important to try to overcome it.

Obesity occurs when excess body fat accumulates in quantities that can be detrimental to health.

How to Recognise Obesity in Children

Apart from any obvious, physical signs, the easiest way to check whether your child has possible weight issues is to check their Body Mass Index (‘BMI’). While it’s not a perfect system, it’s an easy starting point to get a quick overview. The NHS has a great tool for measuring your child’s BMI, which you can access here. It’s quick, simple and free. Select the ‘Child’ tab at the top, enter their height, weight, date of birth, sex and the date of the measurements and then click the ‘calculate’ button at the bottom. Simple! The results are almost immediate and also include some useful Exercise & active play are key tools for fighting obesity in young childrenguidance and links. Your child will fall into one of 4 possible categories:

  • Your child is underweight;
  • Your child is a healthy weight;
  • Your child is overweight;
  • Your child is very overweight.

You may find that BMI results reference centiles. These are a way of comparing a child’s BMI to those of other children of the same age. They use data from Nationwide surveys, which offer a useful comparator. For example, a boy who is on the 60th centile weighs more than 60 out of 100 other boys of the same age in the survey. The healthy weight category for children falls between the 2nd and 91st centiles — quite a wide range.

If you are at all concerned about your child’s BMI or weight (whether overweight or underweight), consult your GP. They may be able to offer guidance or a healthy lifestyle programme referral. However, not all weight issues stem from incorrect food or exercise levels and can occasionally be the result of an underlying medical condition — another reason to check with your GP.

Why Does Childhood Obesity Matter?

The reason this is important is summed up perfectly by the NHS:

“If your child is above a healthy weight now, they’re more likely to be above a healthy weight as an adult, which can lead to health problems in later life.”

Statistics around childhood obesity, and their ramifications, are startling:

  • The age at which children are becoming obese seems to be getting worse i.e. reducing.
  • By the time they start school, 1 in 5 children in the UK are either overweight or very overweight.
  • Between year 6 and the age of 15, 1 in 3 children are overweight or very overweight — a very concerning statistic.
  • Once children are obese, there’s a much greater chance that they will remain so as they grow older.
  • By the time they reach adulthood, obese people are 7 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Heart disease and depression are also statistically more prevalent in obese people.
  • Premature death is twice as likely if you are obese.

Healthy, balanced eating habits also help to fight obesity at any ageSocio-economic background matters too:

  • Under-fives from deprived backgrounds are 2 times more likely to become obese.
  • 11-year-olds from low-income backgrounds are 3 times more likely to become obese.

And society is suffering due to obesity too:

  • More is spent by the NHS each year tackling the adverse effects of obesity than is spent on the fire service, police and judicial system combined.

All in all, fighting obesity early really matters!

How to Tackle Childhood Obesity

There are two clear ways that parents, guardians, carers and childcare professionals can help to ensure that children avoid weight problems and potential obesity. In essence, both come down to the child maintaining a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Through regular exercise, ideally starting from a young age so that good habits are formed early. Read our Guide to Early Years Exercise & Why it’s Essential here for full details.
  2. Through a healthy, balanced diet; one that contains the right food groups in the right amounts. Again, children should be doing this right from an early age so that eating healthily comes naturally as they grow older. Read our Guide to Healthy Eating for Preschoolers here for further information.

Both are great guides with some excellent background information, tips and more. So, perhaps bookmark the links and feel free to share any of our articles on social media or online. All we ask is that you link back to our original post(s).

A Healthy Start at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10

Treetops Nursery, Willesden, near Harlesden, Kensal Green and Willesden GreenThe childcare professionals at Treetops Nursery do, of course, follow exactly this approach. We supply healthy, balanced, meals and drinks, which are freshly prepared on site each day using only the best ingredients. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers also get ample, rich opportunities for active play and exercise as part of their tailored learning and development programme. All this, together with the excellent early years curriculum at the nursery, gives them the very best start in life and clean, healthy foundations to build upon once they leave us to begin school at age five.

If you are searching for the best nurseries for your baby or child in Willesden or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden you’ll find Treetops Nursery very hard to beat. Facilities and resources are excellent and the setting has a wonderful Ofsted report. If you’re considering a place here for your child, please contact us. We’ll be happy tell you more and to show you around. Please choose from the following:

Call 020 8963 1259 Book a Visit Message/Email Us