Virtual Nature School at Dunipace ELC Class

Over the space of six weeks, Dunipace nursery have been taking part in Claire Warden’s ‘Virtual Nature Schools training’ Cohort 3. The course is completed through; online coaching sessions, video provocations, possible lines of enquiry mind maps, practitioner provocations documents and inquiries planning through floor books documents. These tools together made a detailed thought-provoking journey of learning for both staff and children.

Their fabulous journey, along with amazing experiences is detailed below …….   

We started each week with a provocation for the children. We discussed what we were going to be looking at and asked the children what they thought they would see, or what we could use to explore the concept. This was documented in our floor book. We spent the week exploring and documenting our journey; completing the week with a review discussion with the children.
Our reflections were uploaded on our floor book onto a tracker app. This helped us reflect on the activities children participated in; where we are working and what curriculum areas we are delivering. This course was fast paced and staff were supported and guided to review, reflect, and evaluate their practice across a wide range of areas in a short period of time.

Week one:
Looking up and noticing children’s ideas and theories.

This provocation encouraged us to look up, discuss what we could see and then how we could capture what we saw through various art forms.




Week two:
– Looking down and documenting inside, outside, and beyond.
We developed using the language of curiosity.

During this provocation the children were looking down during some very wet weather which led us to explore puddles, wellies and mud. Together with the children we gathered photos, drawings, and comments to capture what we saw and discussed this week. The children played with reflections on puddles and explored how the rain makes marks on the surface of puddles.

Wellies helped us explore patterns, size, numbers, and sorting. Mud encouraged us to mark make with nature.


Week three:
– Looking through and using self-evaluation to improve our practice
–  We developed using the language of movement.

During this provocation we explored the concept of looking through using the story, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt.’

This encouraged us to experiment with different technologies and how these items change what we see. The children were encouraged to move around different objects to find varying holes and spaces that we could peep through.



Week Four:

– Looking inside and supporting the children in making plans and designs.

This provocation led the children to exploring getting inside. The children were encouraged to make shapes with string that they could stand inside. Looking inside then led onto making a wormery. The children enjoyed working together to make the wormery and finding different ways to find and collect worms. We discussed the changes of the wormery as the week went on and asked the children questions to deepen their thinking and ask curious questions themselves.



Week 5:
– Looking at and supporting children to explore depth and the language of theory.
We chose to take a closer look at apples as some of our children had been observed discussing apples and where they come from.

Week 6:
– Looking under and supporting children to consider things they cannot easily see and develop the language of imagination.

During weeks five and six we followed the children’s interest in apples; first exploring apples looking closer at the colours, size, and texture and capturing this through drawings. We explored that apples not only look different but have names for the different types. We tasted them to explore the different tastes. We then explored them further by looking at stories, tools, and their life cycle. This was followed up by exploring how apples can change over time and the different cooking processes we can do with apples changing them from a solid object to a fluid like consistency. The children covered a wide selection of learning outcomes through apples and were encouraged to explore in a variety of ways. This provocation provided lots of wow moments such as finding stars in apples.

At the end of each week the children were encouraged to continue to their investigations at home continuing to promote family learning between nursery and home.
We would advise any team to take part in training opportunities offered by Dr. Claire Warden. She inspires colleagues sharing her knowledge and creativity through simple videos, conversations and questions that prompted, scaffolded and supported professional dialogue across the team. Dr. Claire Warden covers a wide range of current thinking, using the latest local and national documents and practice in a meaningful and manageable way.

The children really enjoyed these provocation enquiries and the staff are excited to continue to use these methods and work with Dr Claire Warden in the future.

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