Learning Through Nature

Animals and the Farm

We are very lucky at Meadowlane to have a variety of animals on site which the children can go and see with an adult at any time.

There are two pet pigs which are potbelly crosses. Their names are Salt and Pepper. They have been with us since they were 9 weeks old and they have their own enclosure (with plenty of mud) adjacent to Forest School.

Our two goats are called Daphne and Dolly. Daphne was born here and Dolly has been adopted after her previous owner could no longer look after her. They have a lovely pen in the barn with a window to the walkway through which the children can see them and feed them vegetable peelings.

We also have two Guinea pigs, Apricot and Nutmeg. Their hutch is in the Atelier/Barn which gives the children a chance to watch them at close quarters.

Our geese and chickens share the paddock with the goats and can be observed from the fence. They also have their own pond.

Having the animals on site provides us with a unique opportunity to let children have access to various animals. Educators are able to take groups of children on request, making the most of children’s curiosity. Having repeated visits over time helps build confidence in children who are a bit reluctant at first. It is part of our continuous provision.

Having the animals here permanently also helps to build children’s language. Some of the first books adults share with young children tend to be farm and animal books encouraging children to make animal sounds and matching those sounds to a specific animal. Here the children can hear the animals throughout the day, noticing the cockerel crow, hearing the goats bleat and copying the sounds the pigs make. All this builds their listening skills, encourages communication and builds their vocabulary in a natural way. This continues throughout their time with us as they will have new questions and learn new words in the process.

It is important that children have first hand experience with animals and learn that they need to be looked after too.

In spring we incubate eggs so the children can experience the wonder of new life in real time and see the chicks grow into fully grown chickens.

All this helps children to form a bond and build an understanding about the natural world early on, which will stay with them for life.