WELCOME TO THE CHEEKY MONKEYS ALLOTMENT PAGE!!
Throughout the year I will be letting everybody know how we are getting on and how I feel that the children have benefited from the allotment but best of all….
The reason we have our own Allotment is to show the children that food doesn’t just come from the Supermarkets!
How the foods we eat are produced and arrive on our plates is not only a fascinating subject for early years children to explore but an essential foundation for making healthy eating choices later in life.
Cheeky Monkeys Nursery & Pre School believes that learning about where food comes from helps children to ‘make sense of the way the world works and make connections’. It is a subject rich with diverse learning opportunities – from knowledge about other countries and cultures to learning new vocabulary, watching plants and animals develop and seeing the transformation of food produce during the cooking process. It helps children to make healthy choices and to be informed and interested about their meals, and we find it also helps them to be good eaters.
We do a lot of work with the children about where their food comes from – ranging from growing our own vegetables and visiting local food shops (we even have guided tours of the largest supermarkets, going behind the scenes – even the huge freezers! brrr), but even after all this some children still have the misconception that all food comes from Tesco. It can take a long time for the understanding to come through and children need to consistently get the message from staff and parents that “yes the food may be bought at the supermarket, but how did it get there?”
At Cheeky Monkeys we think it is important to allow children to appreciate how food grows, how it is produced, and seasonal foods to help them also learn about their environment so we grow vegetables in our own allotment.
The children are involved in all the processes, the picking, planting, digging and then watching it grow.
Even if the plants don’t grow it still gives the children opportunity to learn because we can discuss why they haven’t thrived – whether they have not had enough sun, or perhaps too much water. We find that many children will try food when they have seen it grow because it is interesting and exciting.
We don’t grow stones, we just remove them
…..lots of them….by the bag full
Children love gardening – there is the fun of digging in the dirt combined with finding interesting creatures, plus the magic of tending to and watching plants grow. Ultimately, there is the satisfaction of harvesting and actually eating their produce.
Growing a range of vegetables, fruits and herbs is a fantastic way to link children’s experiences with all areas of the curriculum, from discussing healthy eating to problem solving, environmental awareness and developing physical skills.
Our staff find that even the fussiest of eaters will sample food that they have grown themselves – experiencing the sensory excitement of watching it change and develop, feeling the textures of the leaves and the smell of the fresh produce.
We also teach recycling as we start off with a ‘growing table’ in our pre-school room. On this, we grow packets of seeds in trays in recycled yoghurt pots. This sparked the children’s and staff interest and now they have a growing area in the nursery garden which contains beans and peas (and lots of strawberry’s if the children give them enough time to grow to full size in the cut out wellingtons).
The pre-school children are very protective of their growing area and show a real ownership of the space. They learn to take responsibility for what they’re growing and have to remember to water the plants (it does look like they are trying to drown them but they usually come out OK). Through gardening, they learn the passage of time, see change and growth and also witness decay.’
Having rotivated our plot (and once we had finished the weather helped with the watering…….just wish it had let me put the rotivator away first though) we have learned from our initial planting experience, that having lost a fair few plants from being trampled underfoot, that we would need to built raised beds! This will now enable the children to safely plant and retrieve our vegetables with minimum loss in the future!
Then having studied, planned and thought about what we want to do here’s our plan for next year!!
If any parents, grandparents or carers want to join in then you are most welcome!