I hope you have read the previous blog on our allotment journey because that will give you an insight as to where we’re at. If someone had told me that I should get an allotment I would have laughed in their face, me and an allotment really?? But all in the line of duty and my commitment to outdoor learning has lead us to where we are. It all started with a child making a statement “apples come from Tesco” so my mission was set to educate our children.
Having read the last post you will know that Mirela came from a farming background so when it comes to planting, tending and harvesting she takes the lead. I like the projects, providing stimulating and educational activities to engage the children whilst at the allotment.
Since getting the allotment I have developed a skill and passion to upcycle any and everything I might find in skips or just while driving around (Mirela is always amazed how I notice stuff whilst driving)Pinterest has become a firm favourite.
Before I continue I feel I should explain that we have three groups of children in the setting ‘Caterpillars’ are our under 5’s ‘Cocoons’ are our 5 -8 year old and Butterflies are our over 8s. Just so that you can understand when I start referring to them.
The allotment is a place for our children to take risks and get dirty because “the mud will wash off but the memories last a lifetime”
I found an old wooden window frame on a skip…Mirela asked what are you going to do with that, I wasn’t sure but knew it would come in handy. So having checked out Pinterest I decided to make a number wall. I got the children to choose a colour and together we painted it green. My husband Norman (Uncle Morning as he is called by the children) drilled the holes in the side which we then threaded with washing line wire and plastic balls. As you can see from the pictures the Caterpillars love this new addition and spend lot of time there playing independently.
Our second project was the herb garden, we collected old tyres from various garages in the area, asked parents to donate any old paints they may have in their sheds and we got to work. Although the children wore aprons we were amazed how much paint they got on their clothes, oh but we had so much fun. Once they dried we then applied a coat of external varnish to protect them. We layered the bottom with black matting using a staple gun to hold it in place, then we labelled and arranged them before transferring our seedlings.
MINI BEAST HOTEL
During a visit to Woodlands Farm the children admired the Minibeasthotel and I thought we could do that!! We collected some more pallets and set the Cocoons and Butterflies a task to research minibeast habitats. Following their findings, we placed logs, bricks, soil, straw, plant pots and tin cans to create a wonderful environment for them.
We started this project without the children as a surprise for them. We asked the children and parents to bring in empty food containers and pots and pans they no longer needed. The children tried to guess what we were going to do with them. Mirela enlisted the help of her husband Gabriel and I had my boys Nevan and Dante. Over the weekend, we cleared an unused area of the allotment which was full of timber and soil. Once cleared Gabriel worked his magic using pallets, cupboards we found on skips, and a sink donated by a parent he built us our very own mud kitchen. We kitted it out with a microwave, kettle, hotplate, pots pans and utensils which were mostly donated by our parents. The children loved finished product and it is one of the most used areas of the allotment. Whilst the Caterpillars play, I take great pleasure just listening to their increased language and communication when they are in there cooking up a storm.
NUMBER WALK (Hopscotch)
Whilst clearing the plot for the mud kitchen we found a pile of floor tiles. We asked the children for suggestions on what we could do with them. We combined some of their ideas and created a colourful number walk where the Cocoons and Butterflies could play hopscotch and the Caterpillars could use it for colour and number recognition.
Using leftover paints from the tyre project, the Butterflies set about painting the tiles, once dried, numbered them and then applied a coat of external varnish to protect them. We then laid them in place using the soil to hold them in place.
OTHER LITTLE PROJECTS-CAFE, GAMES TABLE, SCARECROW, SANDPIT
Planting, tending and harvesting
The main objective behind obtaining the allotment was to educate our children on where our food comes from. So we engaged them in the whole process from buying the equipment and seeds, to planting, tending, watering and harvest.
Harvest time is always amazing- picking strawberries to eat after a picnic lunch, picking plums and apples from the tree for snacks, digging up a handful of potatoes and a couple leeks because we fancy leek and potato soup today.
Every year so far we have introduced a new project based on the children’s ideas and comments, so please come back to read our 2016 story.