All posts by Stephanie MacPherson

Child development officer & level 3 Forest School Leader. Currently doing my BA childhood practice at Strathclyde university ☺️

We are responsible citizens.

Today we took a glorious stroll to our local shops. As effective contributors to our nursery life we created a shopping list and went shopping for our snack.

The children took responsibility for one item each from our list and ensured that we found everything on our list to take back to nursery.

Before walking back the children decided they wanted to go into the pet shop, the children enjoyed looking at the animals and asked questions to expand on their learning.



Exploring the world through our senses

Children and even adults learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses (Educational playcare, 2016). Studies have shown that from birth to early childhood,  children explore and make sense of the world through, touching, smelling, seeing, hearing and tasting.

Our children have been working on their descriptive language whilst they explore their senses and to add depth to their learning the children were involved in selecting a variety of materials to explore. Whilst exploring the children were involved in discussions about what they could feel, see, hear, smell and taste.

The children have also initiated an interest in farm animals, we incorporated some foods that we may find on a farm into these exploration experiences.

Here are some of the experiences that we have taken part in.


” it’s  so squishy”




”it smells like onions”

”it smells like soup”


“I like porridge, it’s lumpy”

”honey is sticky”


“Its green and it is bendy in the wind”


”it’s  like rain”

Holiday Provision – Forest School

Some of our Cart Mill children took a stroll to our Busy Glen Forest, we were amazed at how different it looked. The children commented on how the forest was darker, and greener. Our fire area has disappeared under some shrubs, we could no longer see the river from our forest however the children used their problem solving skills and climbed up the tree to see if they could see the water. As the water is one of our favourite areas for curiosity and exploration we ventured down through the long grass and shrubs and enjoyed exploring our senses.

We also problem solved and worked as a team using the rope, we tied one to a tree to assist us on going up the hill, and we made a tree swing. It was good to be back in our favourite calming and nurturing environment.

As you will see, our children are very confident within this environment and the activities were child-led throughout the day.

Mud Sports Day

MUD DAY !!!!!!!

Today we had a vision and it came to life. Our children explored their senses through jelly, mud, water, bubbles, gloop, flour and grass. The children were allowed to get as muddy as possible and to share this experience with the full Cart Mill family.

Children within this developmental stage it is crucial to engage in outdoor experience, thus experience allowed children to explore the world around them in a fun and unfamiliar way. The children also develop their social skills, risk taking, gross motor skill and physical ability through this experience. This is an great example of “learning through play “.

This was not only for the children but also for the staff. This type of experience is known to provide joy and happiness if we let it and today at Cart Mill we did just that. Laughter filled the air and fun was had by all.

Please keep an an eye on the board in the hall way for more mud day pictures. Thank you to everybody who helped to make this work, especially you the parents, this was a huge success.

Forest School Catch Up

Firstly I would like to apologise for the lack of posts from Forest School due to technical difficulties.   Secondly i hope you enjoy a look back on your children’s exciting experiences over the previous three weeks.

We have had experiences of:

Risk assessment – children have identified hazards from around the sites and we have discussed the actions we must take to keep ourselves and others safe.

Looking for wildlife – Children have been using the tools to search for mini beasts on our site, and fishing nets to look in the water. Children are then involved in discussions on how we respect the mini beasts and their habitats. 

Working with others in a team is something we leaders love to see at the forest.

Tree Climbing – Children have been exploring their capabilities when climbing trees, exploring measurement and developing their co-ordination, problem solving and balancing skills.

We have also had a band in the forest, Children are using resources from around our site to create sounds and are then performing these to their peers.

Some children started to build their own fire, firstly their insured their safety by creating a boundary around the fire. Secondly the children collected stick and built the fire. Lastly the children tried rubbing two stick together to make it light. Unfortunately this didn’t work however we will revisit this

Mud make-up – children have been creative using the pallets of mud make up that symbolises that they have been at forest school. Children have been proud of their make up and like to showcase this back at the centre and at home.

An interest in flowers sparked a beautiful transient art flower circle.

The children found fresh water shrimps that were so tiny we had to use our magnifiers to see them properly.


We also found a giant slug that we took back to the family centre to show our friends.

More Forest School photos this Friday!

The Glorious Outdoors

The outdoor environment has massive potential for learning. Here at Cart Mill  we provide opportunities for children to learn and assess their outdoor surroundings. This morning we had fun splashing in the puddles and using the funnels and pipes to pour the rain in to. The children were estimating how fast they thought the water would flow.

This afternoon we decided to extend the bike track. We had a go at drawing our own parking spaces for our bikes and used some chalk to draw  pictures on the ground.

“If we want a society that promotes happiness and well-being among children, we could start by giving them back space where they are happiest along with the freedom to enjoy it”, Children society, (2012).

Exploring our surroundings

This week we welcomed some children from nearby nursery classes. We have all been busy playing together and building new friendships.  The children from Cart Mill have helped to settle some familiar and new faces. We have been out in our local environment learning about boundaries, hazards and risks. We have been using rope, tools and ring games to build our social skills and team work.  As we are so close to the park we can’t resist going in and having a play there too.

Forest School – week 10!

It was our final week of Forest School.

For all groups this week we had our Forest school cook out. We enjoyed a sausage around the fire with our peers reflecting on what has been an exciting 10 weeks. The children have all developed an exciting and fulfilling experience. Although due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances the children were not always in the forest however there were forest activities on offer for the children to continue their development within the family centre.

We have had the pleasure of watching your children grow and develop their confidence within the forest, they have been exposed to new experiences. We have seen your children make new friendships. All of the children have now a good awareness of hazards and boundaries and have shown great participation in following our agreements on where these boundaries should be.

Here are some pictures of your children from their last week at Forest school.

The Tuesday afternoon group enjoyed the cook out and then got to work exploring the forest with a real confidence.

Wednesday group decided to reuse the wood from the fire to draw. The children shared the wood and all took a chance of creating a master piece.

The Thursday morning group found a friend.  We found a cream spot ladybird. The children were intrigued by the different colour of spots and enjoyed making new names for the little lady bird. We put it safely back on a leaf to allow him to go back to their family.

Our Thursday afternoon group were so excited to be back near the river. We splashed, jumped and skimmed stones. We listened for the different sounds we heard on this site compared to our other sites. The children felt it was louder because of the water. We also discovered a frog had laid eggs.  These were in danger of not growing due to them being too far away from the water.  Val and others placed them back to a place nearer the water edge and hopefully they will grow and become tadpoles soon.

We will leave feedback forms at the front office, if you would like to leave us some food for thought to help us further develop our future sessions.

Thank you very much for your support.

Sharon, Stephanie, Val and Jaweria.

Forest School- Week 9!

This week was our forest school week 9. What a fast 9 weeks and sadly we had some interruption throughout due to weather  including this week.  But this never stopped us having fun!


Unfortunately on Tuesday we had a yellow weather warning of high winds and this does make it very unsafe in a forest.  The children have been involved in discussion about why it was too unsafe.

We instead found a big field where we could explore and work as a team using the rope. One of our seats blew away and we found it in the big puddle. Children worked together to get it back.  The children discussed how we could save it while keeping themselves safe. After lots of problem solving the best way to do this was to get in the puddle with the seat and rescue it with their hands ! Well done!


On Wednesday we still had a yellow wind warning in place and the children decided they would play in the park as it was safer than entering the forest. The children worked together and supported each other to use some of the equipment.  One of the children then decided to bring forest school to the park and brought out the rope. He asked a member of staff to tie a safe rope on the the climbing frame so he could climb up the side. The children spent all morning working with each other and did not require much staff support. We even forgot to have snack and had to have it when we got back to nursery.

Thursday am

Phew our weather warning has gone. Today we returned to our forest for week 9. Our children took off from where they left off. Our dens were built, we explored the slope, made our own and others snack, applied mud make up and balanced along a fallen tree. Busy bees!

Thursday PM

We got ready super fast and got to the forest in record time.  The children enjoyed climbing the fallen trees, making knots with the rope and of course hot chocolate under the canopy.  We never underestimate the pleasure and sense of achievement that children and adults feel when they climb a tree and neither did Friedrich Froebel in 1826.

Next week its ‘Cook Out’ week.  We will be cooking our lunch on the fire and having another chance to play with our friends in the forest.