Tag Archive for: under fives

20 Benefits of Nature to Children - Including Under-5s

20 Benefits of Nature to Children - Including Under-5s

Nature is incredibly beneficial to children.One of the many reasons we love nature and nature-based children’s activities here at Little Acorns Nursery is that nature is incredibly beneficial to children. What’s more, the benefits start right from their earliest years and are profoundly powerful to little ones. There have been many studies about this over the years and they all seem to conclude that nature is incredibly good for us all, especially so during the early years. Today’s post looks at 20 of the key benefits that spending time in and around nature holds for children and, with Spring now upon us, it’s the perfect time to begin getting little ones outside more, weather permitting.

1. Nature Stimulates Imaginations & Creativity

The natural world is an amazing and multi-faceted place, brim-full of wonder and fascinating flora, fauna, landscapes and terrains. As such, it’s a place where children will naturally play, build, create, invent and imagine. Young imaginations can simply explode with creative ideas; such is the range of possibilities that are available to children who spend time out in nature.

2. Nature is Good for the Body

Spending time in nature will help children hone fine and gross motor skills, and improve coordination, balance, and fitness.Spending time in and around nature means children are more likely to be active, for example, walking, running, skipping, climbing, playing, making, or simply building a den. Such activities will not only help them hone fine and gross motor skills, but will also improve coordination, balance, and fitness. Those skills will help them day-to-day while expending energy in this way will help them maintain a healthy weight and body-mass index.

3. Nature is Good for the Mind & Spirit

When the world is getting on top of you, time spent in or around nature is sure to be a great antidote, even for children. Spending time in nature is known to reduce stress, relieve depression, lower anxiety levels and naturally give people, including children, a greater feeling of well-being.

4. Nature Gives Children Freedom

Nature gives children a huge sense of freedom.One of the more obvious benefits of nature is that it gives children a huge sense of freedom that they might not otherwise experience. Being in The Great Outdoors allows children, under appropriate supervision, to run, explore, and play in ways that are far more free than in any other situation. This will also give them a huge sense of natural joy.

5. Nature Facilitates Discovery

Time spent close to nature aids natural discovery too and that’s never more important than in children’s formative years. Out in the natural world, there are a myriad of amazing things to discover, whether they’re flowers, trees, blossoms, insects, minibeasts, animals, birds, or seasons. Even rocks can be fascinating! Discovering new things first-hand is a perfect way for children to learn more about the natural world around them — and their place within it.

6. Nature Promotes Profound Thinking

All this discovery and freedom will spark natural questions in the minds of children. What does this do?” … “Why does it look and behave like it does?” … “How did it get here?” Indeed, “How did I get here?”. Nature encourages children to think about the world in new, profound ways. Such questions are a healthy part of every childhood; they help children learn, and may even lead to careers in such things as science, medicine, or research.

7. Nature is a Feast for the Senses

Through the senses, children will learn more about the world and generate millions of new connections in their developing brains.The stimulation of the senses is never more important than during children’s early years and spending time in nature is the perfect vehicle through which to do so. With so many colours, sounds, smells, textures and even (under adult supervision) tastes available in the natural world, it is indeed a feast for children’s senses. Through the senses, children will learn more about the world and generate millions of new connections in their developing brains. It’s almost magical!

8. Nature Fosters a Sense of Responsibility

When a child is tasked with feeding animals or tending to growing seeds and plants, they will naturally gain a sense of responsibility. After all, feeding and watering flora and fauna is literally a matter of life and death when you think about it. So, allowing children to become more responsible and to look after someone or something else is one of life’s most valuable and important lessons.

9. Nature Promotes Empathy

Nature can also promote feelings of empathy in children. That’s another key trait for children to nurture, and nature will help them achieve it. Whether they’re looking after a plant, feeding a bird or animal, or simply observing them, such activities will help many to put themselves in another living thing’s shoes. Fostering greater empathy is a great skill to develop and will stand children in good stead into adulthood.

10. Nature Fosters Environmental Consciousness

Being around nature can help children lean towards environmental issues, learn about the problems, and become part of the solution.Being around nature regularly can also help children lean naturally towards environmental issues, learn about the problems and become part of the solution. An appreciation of nature is indeed the first step towards becoming environmentally conscious and proactive. That’s a great thing for the planet, particularly as today’s children will become tomorrow’s custodians of the Earth.

11. Nature Gives a Sense of Perspective

Nature is also a great leveller. When issues are troubling children at home or day-to-day, spending a little time in nature, surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers, wildlife and landscapes, will help to put things into perspective. Sometimes seeing the bigger picture can help children see the little things for what they really are. That’s a healthy thing too.

12. Nature Helps Children Academically

Studies over recent decades have shown that, if children spend time in and around nature, they perform better academically. Findings include improved reading, writing, mathematics and even better test results.

13. Nature Improves Concentration in the Classroom

Part of the above may be to do with improved concentration following time spent in and around nature. For example, children coming in from a break in the park or the setting’s garden are shown to have greater focus, i.e. improved concentration once they return. It’s almost as if nature recharged them! Even a simple view of nature from the classroom window has been shown to help children’s performance in the classroom — which is incredible when you think about it.

14. Nature Supports the EYFS Goals

A key part of the education of children under five is the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This is an important framework that prescribes the format, content and approach that will benefit children significantly during their early years learning and development. A set of EYFS ‘goals’ is part of that and spending time around nature helps children achieve many of those goals, particularly with respect to understanding the world, physical development, communication and language, and personal, social and emotional development. We’ll follow up with more information about the EYFS in a separate guide in due course.

15. Time Spent in Nature Improves Sleep Quality

Studies also show that spending time out in nature helps children to sleep more deeply. Sleep, particularly deep sleep, is immensely good for children and adults alike, so that’s hugely important and will help young minds and bodies to recharge and refresh.

16. Nature Promotes a Healthier Lifestyle

Spending all this time outdoors, and it being so interesting and a lot of fun, means it’s more likely that children will have an interest in nature and outdoor life when they’re older. That’s healthy for them in all the ways described in this article, and can therefore only enrich their lives and encourage healthier lifestyles into adulthood.

17. Nature Enhances Social Skills

Spending time in nature can boost confidence, language, communication and social skills.Children generally team up with friends when they’re playing and exploring outdoors. Spending time playing together in natural environments fosters many different kinds of interaction. This can boost confidence, language, communication and social skills. Stronger bonds and a deeper understanding of peers are likely to form from this.

18. Nature Helps Children Build Additional Skills

Playing, learning, creating and discovering with friends in natural environments will present both opportunities and challenges. These are great for the development of skills like teamwork, cooperation, leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, the assessment of risk and more. Such skills will be useful throughout children’s lives.

19. Time Spent in Nature Opens Up Possibilities

When children spend time around nature, all kinds of possibilities open up to them. These include the chance for discovery, learning, adventure, invention, hobbies and even careers that are in some way linked to or influenced by childhood exposure to nature. Conservationists, zookeepers, wildlife photographers, travel writers, explorers and even some TV presenters ended up doing their jobs because they connected to nature from an early age.

20. Spending Time Around Nature is Great Fun!

We should not forget one hugely important aspect of nature — spending time around it in childhood is huge fun! The natural world opens up endless opportunities, adventures, new places, discoveries and new ways for children to be entertained. It’s no wonder that children love being outdoors so much — the joy is clear to see on their faces whenever they spend time in The Great Outdoors.

With all that in mind, the overall message is to give children safe access to nature as often as possible — it’s incredibly good for them and nature teaches them so much.

Nature at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. At Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, we know just how important nature is to children. That’s why the nursery has its beautiful garden, a wild zone, a mud kitchen and a planting area where children can get hands-on with nature. We often adapt such areas to suit particular learning activities that children are focusing on at specific times of the year.

To enquire about a place for your child at Little Acorns Nursery, please get in touch using one of the following options:

Our high-quality nursery/preschool in Padiham is also conveniently located for those nearby who require a childcare nursery near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

 

It’s 5-Star Food & Fun at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham

It’s been five-star food, fun, and feasting at the Nursery during February this year! Children enjoyed making and eating pancakes, parents got to eat breakfast with nursery staff and children for Valentine’s Day, our 5-Star Food Hygiene rating was awarded again for another year, and our little ones even got involved in our Recipe of the Month. We’ll spill all the beans for you below, although not literally of course.

A Renewed 5-Star Food & Hygiene Rating

Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham, has been awarded a 5-star rating for Food Hygiene by the Food Standards Agency.Our Padiham nursery had its annual inspection by the local Environmental Health Officer recently. The purpose was to ensure, as required in all settings serving food, that Little Acorns Nursery has high standards of hygiene and follows the food preparation guidelines specified by the UK’s Food Standards Agency. Once again, Little Acorns Nursery passed with flying colours, achieving a full 5-star rating. That’s the best rating possible and reflects the highest levels of quality for food preparation, the food itself, cleanliness, and competence of staff. So, our thanks and utmost respect go to Kim, our in-house chef/cook, whose high standards, skill and expertise do the children and the nursery proud.

Recipe of the Month

To expand their learning and development and to nurture children’s interests, nursery children get heavily involved in our Recipe of the Month each month — and it’s been no different during the first part of the year. For January, it was the inclement weather that influenced the outcome of the new year’s first Recipe of the Month. Having witnessed snow, rain, hailstone and wind in recent times, the decision was made to choose a warm and healthy meal and, indeed, the final choice went down a storm! The recipe chosen for January was Warm Winter Stew.

One of the Little Acorns Nursery children peeling potatoes for January's Recipe of the Month.Because the recipe heavily involved potatoes, this also tied in nicely with the book Supertato, which our preschoolers have been looking at in tandem with discussions about food and the importance of a healthy diet. The photo shows one of the children peeling potatoes. Others peeled vegetables and even made their own dumplings. The fun activity helped to nurture children’s learning and the development of new skills and knowledge. The final result was both tasty and a huge hit with the little ones!

Recipe of the Month for February almost decided itself, as you’ll see below…

Pancake Time!

Nursery children loved mixing ingredients to make pancake batter on Pancake Day.Shrove Tuesday, a.k.a. Pancake Day, arrived on the 13th of February and it gave us a great opportunity to organise pancake-themed activities for the nursery/preschool children … for the entire week! After all, who doesn’t love pancakes? So, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now, our Recipe of the Month for February was home-made pancakes and it’s a recipe the children really enjoyed getting involved in. They loved mixing ingredients in a bowl to make their own pancake mix. We even set up a ‘Pancake Bar’ (see the main photo at the top), which included lots of yummy toppings that children could use to decorate their pancakes. The toppings included strawberries, bananas, chocolate spread, jam, lemon, sprinkles, honey and cream.

The theme continued all week with further pancake-themed activities laid on for the children. Even the toddlers had fun as they recreated pancake-making by ‘pat-pat-patting’ play-doh pancakes at the play-doh table in the nursery’s home corner.

On Valentine’s Day, the Food Theme Continued

Food prepared for Valentine's Day at the nursery.Valentine’s Day, which arrived on the 14th of February, also involved lots of food. After all, as the saying goes, it is often thought of as the language of love! At the nursery, we organised a lovely Grab ‘n’ Go Breakfast for our parents. This was followed by a special 3-course Valentine’s Day meal for our children in our lovely new dining room, which was set up like a little restaurant (see the photos). Children had sausage rolls to start, cheesy chicken and red pepper pasta for the main course and strawberry mousse – with sprinkles – for pudding. Accompanying this was some delicious blackcurrant juice. It all went down a treat with our nursery children, as did several other activities that were themed towards Valentine’s Day.

Healthy Meals & Snacks at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham

Our talented in-house chef Kim ensures children receive healthy, nutritious and balanced meals.Kim, our talented in-house chef, prepares tasty home-made meals and healthy snacks for children at the nursery. Meals are prepared freshly, on site, using high-quality ingredients, which are locally sourced whenever possible. They are delicious as well as being nutritionally balanced to include a healthy mix of fish, meat, pulses and vegetables. Learn more about our menus and our approach to serving children here. The link also includes some new example menus that we’ve recently put together.

Special Diets are Catered For

All diets are catered for at Little Acorns Nursery, so if your child is allergic to anything, is vegetarian, vegan, or requires things like halal or kosher food, simply let us know and we’ll make the appropriate arrangements.

Little Acorns Nursery

High-Quality Weekday Childcare in Padiham, Lancashire (BB12)

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. If you have a baby or child under five and require the best weekday childcare service near Padiham in Lancashire, do consider Little Acorns Nursery. As well as looking after little ones, we give them a high-quality early years education too. Indeed, we bring out the very best in every child and help them achieve personal bests across the board, so they’re ‘school-ready’ by the time they leave us to begin school around the age of five. Contact us if you’d like your child to have the very best start in life — we’ll help children grow into the very best version of themselves, so they’re ready to take on the world and thrive! We’d be delighted to show you and your little one around and you’ll soon see how well they will fit into our warm, caring, and homely environment.

Get in touch today to explore more about a childcare place at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham.

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool in Padiham may also suit families in nearby towns and villages including Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

New & Improved Dining at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham, Lancs.

New & Improved Dining at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham

Recent months have seen some positive new changes at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, which will improve the lives and experiences of children at the setting. One such change is the implementation of a new, self-contained dining room, designed specifically to recreate the feel of family mealtimes. Today’s post explains how we went about it, what form the new dining room takes and, most importantly, how this new space will benefit the children under our care. We also cover our approach to the children’s food menu, which has been updated as part of our Healthy Child Programme. Let us know if you have any feedback!

The New Great Oaks Dining Room

Attractive William Morris-style wallpaper was hung on a ‘feature’ wall.To make way for the new children’s dining room, an existing room at the setting was repurposed and totally revamped. Starting in Summer 2023, the contents of the existing room were sorted and relocated where needed, leaving a wonderful new space to use as the new ‘Great Oaks’ dining room. Walls, ceilings and skirting boards were prepared and freshened up with new paint. Attractive William Morris-style wallpaper was also hung on a ‘feature’ wall. Large canvas wall images were displayed to form interesting focal points and storage was added in the form of a large cabinet and a small cupboard. Large and small dining room tables and chairs were added for the different age groups along with high chairs, which will be close at hand whenever needed. All this sits on a durable floor with an attractive wood finish. All in all, the outcome is a pleasant home-from-home for children.

How the New Dining Room will Benefit Children

This new ‘Great Oaks’ dining room has been designed to benefit children in several specific ways…

  • The new dining space is designed to recreate family meals at home.As well as simply being a pleasant and highly functional place for children and staff to eat and drink, the new space is designed to recreate family meals at home. Eating meals here with peers and childcare practitioners will have a cosy, homely, feel, rather like being part of an extended family. The space lends itself to a convivial atmosphere where children can recharge and relax as well as eat and drink.
  • It’s a distraction-free environment too. When combined with the relaxed atmosphere, this allows free-flowing conversations and interactions to take place. Children can then discuss things like their interests, what they’ve been doing at home, what they have enjoyed at nursery, and so on.
  • This opens up natural communication pathways between our children and practitioners, allowing staff to learn much more about each child’s likes, dislikes, areas of challenge, model language, and so on. By discovering such feedback, practitioners are then able to follow each child’s lead and build appropriate content, resources and activities into their learning environment and bespoke learning plan.

The Menu Board

  • Our chalk menu board communicates which delicious meal combinations our in-house chef has lined up for the week.Another area of focus for one of the walls is the new chalk menu board. This is an attractive feature and one that communicates which delicious meal combinations our in-house chef has lined up for the week. Our practitioners talk children through the menu board each day to spark both interest and conversations with them. As well as being a great way to let them know what food to expect, the chalkboard menu is also another opportunity for little ones to begin to link letters to words and ultimately to real-life things that they’ll encounter.

The Menu Itself

  • Our talented in-house chef Kim ensures children receive healthy, nutritious, and balanced meals.As part of our Healthy Child Programme, our menus were thoughtfully reviewed back in the summer of 2023. Through Kim, our talented in-house chef, children receive delicious, home-made meals, which are freshly made with high-quality ingredients. Kim ensures children receive a healthy and nutritious balance between meat, fish, vegetables and pulses.

Our Approach to Serving

  • To encourage and continually promote independence, Chef Kim serves components of the meals separately. This gives the children the opportunity to choose and, for older children, self-serve how much they would like of each type of food. This is approached in an age- and stage-appropriate way. Our older Seedlings, for example, will be supported in holding the large serving spoon and the portioning out of their meals. For children from the Little Acorns Room, the serving bowl is passed around the table with nursery practitioners supporting children if they need help.
  • Small details such as the cupboards, mirror and wallpaper make the new space feel like a home-from-home.As well as promoting independence, this approach also encourages useful feedback from children in respect of any likes, dislikes or opinions that they may have about each meal.

Self-Care

  • We have also implemented a face washing station for the children. As well as promoting good hygiene, this encourages their development within the area of self-care, helps the children develop enhanced gross motor skills, and allows the children’s confidence to grow when faced with such new challenges.

Menu Examples

The menu at Little Acorns Nursery rotates on a 4-week basis. Here’s what’s on offer this term (Spring 2024):

  • Mixed Mediterranean vegetable pasta
  • Vegetable chilli with tortilla chips
  • Mac ‘n’ broccoli cheese
  • Spaghetti Bolognaise with garlic bread

All in all, the new dining experience at Little Acorns Nursery has been a huge success and it’s not just about how homely the newly refurbished room is. By allowing the children the freedom to serve themselves, we have noticed children are promoting good manners themselves, taking turns nicely, cooperating beautifully, and even helping other children who may require extra support. Above all, though, we have found that our children are now eating more at meal times — and that’s a wonderful outcome!

Little Acorns Nursery School, Padiham

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. Little Acorns is a wonderful nursery and preschool located in Padiham, Lancashire, also serving nearby families from Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. If you’d like your baby, toddler or preschooler to have the very best start in life, do get in touch to explore the possibility of them attending Little Acorns Nursery. We’ll make them feel right at home from the start and help to bring out the best in them. By helping them become the best version of themselves during their time with us, they’ll eventually leave us suitably prepared for school — and ready to thrive!

Get in touch today to discuss a nursery/preschool place for your child, arrange a guided tour of the setting, or ask any questions. We’re here to help and cannot wait to meet you and your little one!

World's Biggest Garden Wildlife Survey – & Children Can Play Their Part

The World's Biggest Garden Wildlife Survey – & Children Can Play Their Part

The Big Garden Birdwatch is organised by the RSPB each year.Children, adults, and whole families are gearing up to take part in the world’s biggest garden wildlife survey in early 2024. Organised by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), the Big Garden Birdwatch requires just one hour of your time during late January 2024. It’s free, hugely worthwhile, and will benefit nature, conservation, and children themselves. So, why not set a date for your diary and take part? Today’s post explains how to enrol, what to do, and how it will benefit all parties involved.

Why The Big Garden Birdwatch is So Important

Song thrushes have declined by 80% since the survey began.The Big Garden Birdwatch is designed to keep tabs on wild bird populations in the UK. It’s a survey that’s been undertaken across the UK every year since 1979 and allows the RSPB and conservationists to monitor whether any bird species are under threat. Sadly, survey findings in recent years have found this to be the case, with overall bird populations having declined by a staggering 38 million in the last 60 years. Song thrushes alone, for example, have declined by 80% and even the UK’s most populous bird species, House Sparrows, have declined by 57% since the survey began.

By continuing with the survey each year, insights will be gained as to whether populations are growing or shrinking over time. Only by watching such trends can conservationists decide what needs to be done to help reverse any decline and help birds thrive once again. Declines in bird populations may even be an indicator of wider problems within nature, for example, because of chemical use in crop farming or even  inappropriate Government environmental policy. So, this is important and every one of us can easily play our part.

More Reasons for Families & Children to Take Part

This activity is a great way to get children outdoors, close to nature, and to introduce them to the concept of nature conservation.The Big Garden Birdwatch is also a great way to get children outdoors, close to nature, and to introduce them to the concept of nature conservation. By taking part, children can contribute to bird conservation as well as directly benefit in a number of ways themselves. For example, they can learn to identify different types of birds, educate themselves about these wild creatures and the natural environment, enjoy the fresh air while escaping from electronic screens, and enjoy all the many benefits that nature holds for children. Nature and the Great Outdoors are hugely beneficial to children, whether physically, spiritually, cognitively, educationally, or simply in terms of improving overall well-being. Nature benefits children in an incredible number of ways — follow the bold link for more details.

How to Enrol in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2024

Once enrolled, you'll then be sent a free guide with visual reference of the birds to look out for during your survey.Enrolling your child or family into 2024’s Big Garden Birdwatch is easy and free. Simply register here and you’ll then be sent a free guide including visual reference of the birds you may see during your survey. Whether you receive a digital guide or a printed one will depend on your preferences selected when signing up. The guide will tell you/your child exactly what to do, but we also give you a brief flavour below.

How to Take Part in the Big Garden Birdwatch Survey

In brief, here’s what you, your child, or your family will need to do sometime during the period starting on Friday the 26th of January 2024 and ending on Sunday the 28th:

  1. Keep a tally of the maximum number of birds of each species that have actually landed at any one time on your survey patch.Decide on a natural spot where you’ll undertake your hour’s birdwatch. Your garden, local park or even a balcony will do fine.
  2. Taking care to stay unseen and unheard by visiting birds, keep a tally of the maximum number of birds of each species that have actually landed at any one time on your survey patch during the hour. Don’t count any that haven’t landed.
  3. Between the 26th of January and no later than the 18th of February 2024, you can report your findings online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
    Alternatively, if you are using the physical survey form from the RSPB’s printed guide, post it to FREEPOST RSPB BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH by the 13th of February 2024.

By contributing to this crucial conservation project, children will be doing their bit for our little feathered friends – and the planet. What’s more, it’s great fun!

Learn more about how to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch survey here.

If your children enjoy the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, encourage them to download our free poster that identifies 40 different species.Enjoying Birdwatching?

If you find that your children enjoy the activity, please encourage them to download our own Bird Identifier poster, which features 40 British birds that they can look out for during the year. It’s free and more information about our free bird poster is available here.

Nature & Children Go Hand-in-Hand at Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. We love nature at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham! Here, children can play outdoors in our wonderful garden, which features its own wild area, planting area and even a mud kitchen. We know how good nature and the outdoors are for children, particularly in their early years, so actively encourage them to take part and benefit from everything they offer.

To enrol your baby, toddler or preschooler at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, please get in touch using an option below. We look forward to receiving your call, nursery application, message or tour request whenever you’re ready.

We are a high-quality nursery and preschool in Padiham, Lancashire, BB12. As such, we may also suit families who require outstanding childcare services near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. We support various free childcare schemes too, making childcare services more affordable for eligible families.

Let's Go on an Autumn Nature Hunt – a Fun Outdoor Activity for Children!

Our autumn nature hunt is a fun, educational activity for children that also comes with a free reference sheet.As leaves start to blanket the ground and the earthy scents of autumn begin to infuse the air, it’s the perfect time to engage children in a captivating adventure that celebrates the season. In today’s post, we’ll introduce you to an Autumn Nature Hunt, an exciting outdoor activity for children that’s not only entertaining but also educational.

Explore the Beauty of Autumn with a Nature Scavenger Hunt

The autumn season offers a unique opportunity to immerse children in the wonders of nature. The changing colours of leaves, the falling acorns, and the crisp air make it an ideal time for outdoor exploration. This nature-based treasure hunt is designed to get children of all ages outdoors, closer to nature, where they can enjoy the many benefits that outdoor play and exposure to the natural world provide.

Download Your Free Reference Sheet

To make this autumn-themed nature hunt even more enjoyable, we’ve created a reference sheet that children can use to check off the items they find. This sheet should keep them engaged and help them learn about the beauty of the season. N.B. supervising adults will need to decide whether children should simply spot the items or collect them. Factors including hygiene, safety considerations and the child’s age and abilities should inform their decision.

Download this free reference sheet for the autumn-themed nature hunt. (Click to save/download).

What You’ll Need

Before the commencement of this adventure, ensure your child has the following:

  1. Our free reference sheet. We’ve prepared a free reference sheet that features images of various natural items children can look for during their outdoor excursion. The A4 sheet includes leaves of specific colours, catkins, wild hazelnuts, pine cones, acorns, oak leaves, pine needles, ‘winged’ seeds, horse chestnuts, sweet chestnuts, pumpkins, cereal crops, sunflowers that are now turning to seed, and even some fruit that may be found at this time of year. It’s available below, for free, in Acrobat PDF format and you can download and print it for your convenience.
  2. Adult supervision in place. Ensure that adult supervision is available, especially for the youngest children. Safety is a priority, so be certain to keep the kids out of harm’s way while they explore.
  3. Safety precautions. Teach the children about safety precautions. For example, emphasise the importance of not running off out of sight, avoiding poisonous items like fungi, not touching berries, keeping all items away from mouths, and being cautious around things like chestnut cases, which have sharp points.
  4. Good hygiene. Encourage the little explorers to exercise good hygiene practices and wash their hands thoroughly after the adventure.

The Autumn Nature Hunt is a fantastic way to connect children with the wonders of nature, encourage outdoor play, and create lasting memories. So, download the reference sheet, gather your young explorers, and set out on a journey through the enchanting autumn landscape. Remember to emphasise safety, ensure adult supervision, and cherish the opportunity to immerse your kids in the beauty of the season. Enjoy your autumn adventure!

Little Acorns Nursery, Padiham, Lancashire

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

We understand the incredible importance of nature and outdoor play to children; they bring enormous benefits to children of all ages. So many, in fact, that we’ll publish separate guides on those benefits in the near future. So, watch this space.

Little Acorns is a high-quality childcare nursery in Padiham, Lancashire, offering the very best childcare and early education to babies, toddlers and preschoolers. As well as giving little ones the very best start in life and ensuring they are as ‘school-ready’ as possible by the time they leave us, we help them to become the very best version of themselves. Part of this is achieved through a learning and development programme that’s tailored to them as individuals. In this way, they achieve personal bests across all areas of their development.

If you would like to explore the possibility of sending your baby, toddler or preschooler to Little Acorns Nursery, please get in touch using one of the following options:

Little Acorns is a nursery and preschool located in Padiham, Lancashire (BB12), also convenient for families seeking high-quality childcare near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham or Wood End.

Minibeast Spotting Activity for Kids (with Free Poster!)

Today’s Minibeast Spotting activity completes a trio of nature-based posts that each include a free poster. Featuring 30 different minibeasts for children to find and identify, it’s designed to encourage children to get outdoors, learn about the different creatures nearby, explore, and benefit from everything that nature has to offer. With previous free posters covering bird spotting and butterfly spotting activities, these nature-themed activities will give children a really good insight into some of the interesting and exciting creatures they can see in their gardens and neighbourhoods if they simply take some time to look.

Children Love Minibeasts!

Children will love spotting minibeasts, discovering different creatures and learning to name each of them. They will soon learn that creatures like ladybirds, hoverflies, caterpillars, butterflies and bees are simply adorable. Children are also likely to be fascinated by creatures like ants, which are incredibly clever and well-organised, and minibeasts like beetles, millipedes and worms. Such creatures are so different to humans and gently observing them can bring real insights to children about our natural world from the viewpoint of different creatures. Indeed, nature is a huge educator and holds immense benefits to children. We’ll write a separate, more detailed, post about those benefits in the future. Suffice it to say, though, that nature-based activities will help children emotionally, spiritually and physically as well as help them learn new facts, information and skills. Without further delay, let’s now take a look at the free poster preview below and learn how to download it for your child.

Minibeast Spotting Poster (Preview):

Preview showing the free minibeasts poster (click to download the high resolution version in Acrobat PDF format)

How to Download the Free Minibeasts Poster

The poster is supplied as a 3MB downloadable file, in PDF format. That means you’ll need Acrobat Reader on your device to view and open it. Most devices will already have that installed but, if not, don’t worry — Acrobat Reader is also available for free, here. To download the poster itself, simply click the preview image above, or download the free poster via this link. Whether left-clicking or right-clicking is best will depend upon your device’s settings so, if in doubt, try either to see which one prompts you to save the file. Once saved, it can be opened, viewed, and printed out from Acrobat Reader. Print at A3 in high quality on your best printer paper for best results, or ‘scale to fit’ to fit your paper if it’s A4. You/your child can also view the poster on screen, for example on a tablet, smartphone or desktop screen, and zoom in for all the lovely detail.

The UK is home to approximately 25,000 different kinds of minibeast! Many are sadly in steep decline1, so it’s important to raise awareness and encourage interest, including in the very young.

1. According to the State of Nature report for 2023, “Invertebrates such as insects, spiders and millipedes have been found, on average, in 13% fewer places now than in 1970.”

Tips for Spotting Minibeasts

Minibeasts can be lurking almost anywhere outdoors, so children can search and find them virtually wherever they live. Below are a few of the most popular places minibeasts are likely to be found:

  • On and around the leaves of plants (after all, those are home to many critters);
  • On and in flowers, because they’re attracted to the nectar, which is a food source for many;
  • Under rocks, stones, flower pots and suchlike, which may be their home (N.B. be gentle when lifting and replacing such things, so the creatures are not hurt);
  • On and in growing fruit and vegetables, which may be a food source for them;
  • Around the base of plants, grass and lawns, where they may be sheltering from predators;
  • On or under soil, which may be their home;
  • On and in rotting logs and fallen branches;
  • And finally — the best place of all for some minibeasts — in compost heaps! They love the rotting organic matter but, again, take care not to hurt them by being gentle and disturbing their habitat as little as possible.

Enjoy, Be Safe & Be Gentle!

Spending time out in nature and searching for its creatures is great fun, but great care needs to be taken:

  • For the sake of child safety and well-being, children should always be accompanied by a supervising adult — particularly for the very young.
  • Adults should also teach children how to be vigilant about the potential dangers and hazards associated with the outdoors.
  • Adults should teach children about gentleness and empathy around other creatures, however small. Minibeasts are fragile and powerless against the comparative might of humans, but each is an individual in their own right. It’s therefore kind to teach children about compassion for other beings and the need to treat them with huge care and empathy.

Why This Activity is More Important Than You Might Think

Lastly, though, have fun and take time to ensure children learn about nature and all its flora and fauna. Nature teaches children so much about the world and indeed, spending time in the natural world also teaches children about themselves and their place in the world. It may even lead to a lifelong passion for nature and an interest in issues like ecology, global warming, restoring habitat loss and protecting creatures in danger of extinction. Don’t forget that our children will one day become the new stewards of our planet. And, when you bear in mind how important pollinators are for food production and how many of them are in steep decline, a deep interest in the natural world has never been more important.

“When the first #StateofNature report was released in 2013, 1 in 10 of our species were threatened with extinction. Today, it is 1 in 6 species. Rapid nature loss is happening NOW, all around us.” (Wildlife Trust)

Children Love Nature at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham!

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Our childcare professionals know just how important nature and outdoor play is to children, so we ensure they have plenty of opportunities to experience both at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham. It’s also why we will ensure we publish articles and guides relating to outdoor play and nature here on the Little Acorns blog. Indeed, it’s a treasure trove of useful information, on a wide variety of topics, for parents of babies, toddlers and under-fives!

If you require the highest quality weekday childcare and an outstanding early years education for your little one, why not consider Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, Lancashire? The setting offers a warm, inviting and nurturing home-from-home for babies, toddlers and preschoolers and really brings out the best in every child. What’s more, we support all the Government’s childcare funding schemes for eligible families. These include, for example, free childcare hours for 2-year-olds and up to 30 free hours per week for 3 and 4-year-olds.

To register your child for a nursery/preschool place, book a guided tour, or find out more, please get in touch using one of the following options:

As well as being located in Padiham, Lancashire (BB12), Little Acorns Nursery may also suit those living or working nearby in Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

 

Bird Spotting Activity for Kids (with Free Poster!)

Bird Spotting Activity for Kids (with Free Poster!)

This nature-based bird spotting activity for kids comes with a free reference poster for families to download.Today’s bird spotting activity for kids continues our series of nature-themed posts that each come with a free reference poster for families to download. Featuring 40 British birds, the activity and the poster represent a great opportunity to get children of all ages outdoors, closer to nature. As many of us know, nature is hugely beneficial to the health and well-being of little ones as well as fostering a greater respect and understanding of the natural world around us. Such an appreciation is also likely to encourage children to do their bit to help protect the environment as they grow older. Nature-based activities are therefore a win-win for children and the environment.

Did you know? UK bird populations have declined by a staggering 38 million birds during the last 5 decades. Even some of our once-common birds are in steep decline.

Children will naturally be fascinated by our feathered friends. When encouraged, even infants and toddlers will soon start to recognise and be able to name the different varieties of wild birds that they see. Robins, blackbirds, blue tits and wrens are always likely to be firm favourites and, with the help of the reference poster, children may soon also be able to identify additional species. We suggest printing the poster out at full size (A3), if possible, using high-quality settings and paper. Reducing to A4 is also possible on desktop printers that only print to that size. Either way, the posters can be displayed permanently on nursery or bedroom walls, or used as handheld reference when children are out and about. Tick boxes have been included alongside each bird, to allow children to mark which birds they have seen. The posters can also, of course, be viewed in glorious high resolution and fine detail on screen, for example on handheld tablets.

The poster is free and no sign-up of any kind is required. Here’s how it looks:

Bird Poster Preview

Preview of the A3 British Birds poster for families to download and print out (click to download or see instructions below).

Download Instructions

Click the preview image, or this link, to download or view the poster, which is in PDF format (grab Acrobat Reader free here if you don’t already have it on your device). Please note that your individual browser settings will govern whether a left-click or a right-click either opens or saves the file. Try either to see which best suits your particular set-up.

Bird-Spotting Recommendations

Once children have their print-outs at the ready and are primed to go bird spotting*, there are a number of things that can help with their success:

  • Birds will naturally gravitate towards sources of food. So, think about where they might find seeds and insects. For example, try looking around flower meadows, woodlands, lush hedgerows and parks or countryside featuring a variety of different natural environments.
  • Failing that, put out some food for them — this is possible even if you don’t have a garden, as bird feeders can be attached to windows or suspended from walls and eaves. Many birds will like commercially available bird seed. Our best successes have been with ‘sunflower hearts’ and ‘peanut cake.’ Seed balls are also popular. Supermarkets, garden outlets and online stores usually sell such things fairly inexpensively. Side note: grated Cheddar cheese is also very popular. However, don’t feed birds too much of that and ensure never to give birds cheese that has mould, as it will be harmful to them.
  • Timing is important too, because different birds are around at different times of the year. So, undertaking the activity periodically throughout the year may help to tick off some of those boxes on your poster!
  • Teach children to be patient, observant and logical. Patience, perseverance, and critical thinking are all important skills for children to master, and this type of activity can help them to improve such skills.
  • Teach children to keep noise levels very low. For thousands of years, humans have been seen by most wild animals as predators, so children need to learn to stay quiet and even tread quietly through woods etc. when on the lookout for any kind of wildlife. This can, however, make the activity even more exciting!
  • Teach children stealth and the use of observation and auditory skills. Doing so will not only help them to see/hear more birds, but will also encourage them to hone motor, balance, coordination and sensory skills.
  • Binoculars and monoculars may be useful tools for children to use to see birds further away or in close-up view. However, ensure they understand that they must never point them in the direction of the sun or towards other bright objects. Hence, we suggest they are only used by children under close supervision.

Have Fun Bird Spotting!

We hope you and your little one(s) have fun with this activity and find the free poster useful. We’ll gradually publish more nature-themed posters as time goes by, so watch this space for more free stuff! Nature-based and outdoor activities are great for children, teaching them so much about the world around them and their place within it. Such activities will help them develop new skills and gain new knowledge, all pretty much free of charge too! This type of activity may also instil in them a love of the outdoors, exploration and the natural world along with the flora and fauna in it. What’s more, children who spend significant time around nature often grow up to have a lifelong love of the Great Outdoors, a greater empathy towards other creatures and high levels of environmental consciousness. With all the problems the human race has made for the planet, that can only be a good thing.

Your High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Padiham

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Children love our nature-based activities at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham too, as we know how beneficial nature and outdoor play is to little ones. It’s one of the reasons we’ll be publishing more nature activity ideas for children to take part in over the coming months. So, watch this space and come back to visit our blog area regularly to get more ideas for kids’ activities along with lots of useful facts, information and news relating to early years education, learning, development and childcare.

Do you need a high-quality weekday childcare service for your baby, toddler or preschooler in the Padiham/Lancashire area? If so, do consider Little Acorns in Padiham as we’re simply one of the best nurseries and preschools around and give children a wonderful start in life. We also support Government schemes like free childcare hours for 2-year-olds and up to 30 free hours per week for 3 and 4-year-olds — plus many more.

Get in touch to register your child for a nursery or preschool place, request a tour of the setting with your child, or simply ask any questions. We’re here to help! Please choose an option below:

Apply for a Place Book a Tour Message Us 01282 680 822

Little Acorns Nursery is located in Padiham, Lancashire (BB12) but is also close to Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. So, we may suit families who require high-quality weekday childcare in any of those towns and villages.

* It goes without saying that children, particularly the very young, should always be supervised appropriately by a responsible adult.

Butterfly Spotting Activity for Kids (with Free Poster!)

With more adult butterflies around than at any other time in the year, late July and early August is a perfect time for children to get outdoors to see them.At the time of writing, it’s peak butterfly-spotting time — more adult butterflies can be seen in late July and early August than at any other time in the year. That makes it the perfect time for children to get out in nature to spot these charming creatures. Doing so is fun, educational and also beneficial in so many ways – we’ll explain more about that later.

Fun Fact: About 60 different types of butterflies can be found in the UK.

Butterflies come in many different forms and sizes, often with incredibly beautiful patterns and colours on their wings. They are also rather endearing as they flit around on seemingly haphazard flight paths. As such, infants, toddlers and young children will naturally be drawn to them when they see them flying around flowers, gardens and hedgerows. With that in mind, we have designed a free butterfly identification poster for families to download. It features 36 different types of butterflies that are commonly seen around large parts of the UK. The poster can be printed out for children to display on bedroom or nursery walls, or for use as a hand-held reference when out and about on butterfly-spotting nature trips. Take a look at the preview below — full instructions for printing it out or viewing it on screen are explained below the preview. The poster is free to download and you do not need to sign up for anything, nor register in any way.

Butterfly Poster Preview

The preview image below shows the 36 wonderful butterflies that are included on the identification poster. However, be sure to download the Acrobat PDF version for greater clarity and detail.

Preview of the Butterfly Spotting Activity Poster for children to download.

Download Instructions

Depending on your specific device and browser settings, the high-resolution Adobe Acrobat version of the poster can be viewed and/or downloaded by left- or right-clicking the preview image above, or alternatively use this link. If you do not already have it on your device, Acrobat Reader can be downloaded for free.

 

Amazing Fact: The Painted Lady butterfly flies all the way from Europe or Africa, travelling thousands of miles, before arriving in the UK for the summer. When travelling, they fly up to 100 miles per day, travelling almost 30 miles per hour. Unlike some other butterflies, Painted Ladies do not hibernate in Britain, instead migrating back to Europe or northern Africa.

Butterfly Spotting Has Many Benefits

The Benefits of Butterfly Spotting to Children

Butterfly spotting is a delightful and almost magical activity for children to take part in. On a simple level, it’ll help children learn the names of different butterflies and open their eyes to some of the UK’s wonderful wildlife. On a deeper level, though, it’s hugely educational by teaching children about nature and the natural world more widely. Through the simple task of butterfly spotting, children will get to understand the important role of butterflies, bees and other insects as pollinators. They’ll learn about concepts like metamorphosis, where food comes from, how plants, trees and creatures reproduce, the circle of life, and even about their own place in the world. These are profound and important concepts.

Spending time in and around nature is also hugely beneficial to children in mind, body, spirit and even academically. That conclusion is supported by study after study, all around the world. Indeed, we have written a separate article about the benefits of nature to children. Take a look by following the bold link.

Some of the Benefits to Butterflies & the Natural World

Nature-based activities like butterfly spotting will also begin to foster a deeper appreciation in children for the natural world and the flora and fauna within it. Children who regularly spend time in and around nature will tend to develop an affinity for it, right into adulthood. As well as enjoying everything that the Great Outdoors has to offer, children who are used to spending time in natural environments are often more environmentally conscious, with a greater sense of empathy for other creatures and a more responsible attitude around the impact that humans are having on the planet. And, as we’re seeing in recent news about global warming, climate change and the effects on recent weather patterns, such attitudes have never been more important. Children are the planet’s future, so encouraging them to look after the natural world is crucial for its very survival. The human race needs to act decisively to reverse both climate change and habitat loss so that wildlife populations can begin to recover. If there were no pollinators, then we’d all be in deep trouble.

The Best Places to Spot Butterflies

There are some obvious, and not-so-obvious, places where children are most likely to see the most butterflies:

  • Around flowers and blossoms, as nectar is their food.
  • Especially around butterfly-loving plants like Buddleia, also known as the ‘Butterfly Plant’.
  • Around calm, sheltered, sunnier spots, especially in the middle of the day — although they’re around any time of day if it’s warm (above 20ºC if it’s cloudy). Butterflies are delicate and do not like the wind.
  • Butterflies love brambles, flower meadows and forest clearings (‘glades’) where wildflowers grow.
  • They’ll also be drawn to forests and glades where a variety of different tree and plant species are growing at different stages of development.
  • Areas with long grass and hedgerows are good spots if they contain wildflowers.

Look But Don’t Touch

Butterflies are very delicate creatures, with wings that are easily damaged. Therefore, teach children not to try to catch or hold them. It’s best if families simply look rather than touch. Also, try to keep fairly still because butterflies can sense movement from multiple directions and are constantly on the lookout for danger.

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool, Padiham

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Children also get to immerse themselves in nature-based activities at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, where we offer high-quality weekday childcare for babies and children under five. The service is much more than that, though, as we give children the very best start in life, nurturing them in their early years to become the very best version of themselves by the time they leave us to start school. Their learning and all areas of personal, social and emotional development come on in leaps and bounds during their time with us. This gives them all the tools they’ll need to thrive going forwards. We also support all the free childcare schemes offered by the Government to eligible families, including free childcare hours for 2-year-olds and up to 30 free hours per week for 3 and 4-year-olds and much more.

For more information, to register for a childcare place, or request a guided tour with your child, please get in touch using an option below:

Apply for a Place Book a Tour Message Us 01282 680 822

Little Acorns is a nursery & preschool in Padiham, also being convenient for families nearby in Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Free Childcare Through Universal Credit (Rough Guide)

Free Childcare Through Universal Credit (Rough Guide)

In today’s post, the third in our series of guides about Government childcare funding schemes, we look at free childcare funding available through Universal Credit. This is particularly timely because the scheme becomes significantly more generous from the 28th of June 2023, so eligible families will start benefitting just as today’s guide goes live. The changes come into effect following commitments made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Spring Budget back in March. They make childcare funding through Universal Credit more generous and easier to fund. We will explain what we mean by that, as well as outline the facts, figures and eligibility requirements for the scheme, in our guide to Free Childcare Through Universal Credit below.

How Much Free Childcare Can You Get Through Universal Credit?

If you are eligible for free childcare through Universal Credit, here’s what you can claim from 28th June 2023:

  • The maximum families can claim through Universal Credit Childcare Support is 85% of eligible childcare costs, up to the maximums outlined below.
  • You can get up to £951 in free childcare each month for one child.
  • You can receive up to £1,630 in free childcare each month for two or more children.
  • That’s an increase of almost 50% from the previous maximums before late June 2023.
  • The maximums outlined above will increase in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) annually until 2027/28 according to the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).
  • You may also be able to claim for childcare costs during your child’s nursery settling-in period or for childcare while you travel to work if they’re deemed by DWP to be ‘reasonable’ in helping you to get back into work.
  • Another major improvement is that the funding through this scheme may be partly pre-funded by the Government in some circumstances, rather than families having to find the significant sums, and then claim them back retrospectively. We’ll explain more about that later in this guide.

N.B. If you already have some of your childcare fees paid by your employer through childcare vouchers, you can only claim the balance of childcare fees that you are responsible for funding — not the part already covered by the vouchers. Similarly, if you already have some of your childcare fees covered through free childcare hours for 2-year-olds or free childcare hours for 3- and 4-year-olds, you can only claim for any additional hours, if eligible, that you would otherwise have to pay.

Why is the Government Helping in This Way?

“These changes will help thousands of parents progress their career without compromising the quality of the care that their children receive.” — Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions.

The free childcare funding through Universal Credit is aimed at helping low-income families and those wishing to either return to work or significantly extend existing working hours. This will help children, parents/caregivers — especially women — and will also boost the economy as more people move back into work. The Government is also aware that there are huge benefits associated with a good early years education, particularly when it’s started young. Those benefits extend to a huge range of things including the children’s life outcomes, improved careers, increased earning potential and multiple benefits to society in general. Follow the bold link for more details.

“By helping more parents to re-enter and progress in work, we will be able to cut inactivity and help grow the economy.” — Mel Stride, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions.

Are You Eligible for Free Childcare through Universal Credit?

As mentioned above, the changes to childcare support through Universal Credit are designed specifically to help low-income families, those wishing to return to work, or people wishing to extend existing hours. With that in mind, the eligibility requirements for childcare funding through Universal Credit are as follows:

  • Firstly families must, of course, be claiming Universal Credit in order to access the childcare element of it. You can learn more about who is eligible for Universal Credit here. Generally speaking, though, Universal Credit is mostly intended for UK people aged over 18 but below State Pension age who are on low incomes, need help with living costs, and have savings/investments of no more than £16k. Your partner’s circumstances, if you live with them, may affect your eligibility for Universal Credit. There are other exceptions and caveats, too, so follow the bold link above for more information about eligibility for Universal Credit itself.
  • With regard to support for childcare funding available through Universal Credit, you and your partner, if you have one, need to be working in a paid job — or have received and accepted a job offer for paid work starting within the next month. That’s with the exception of those unable to work through disability, bad health, or temporary absence from the household e.g. through hospitalisation or going into residential care. Your child may also still be eligible if your partner has to care for a severely disabled person for whom they are eligible to receive Carer’s Allowance.
  • You must live in the UK and the child(ren) for whom you are claiming childcare costs needs to be dependent upon you.
  • You usually need to be over 18, although there are some circumstances where those aged 16 or 17 may be able to claim.
  • You can claim against childcare costs for dependent child(ren) until the August following their 16th birthday.
  • The childcare provider may be a nursery, preschool, childminder, nanny, or even a breakfast, after-school or holiday club — so long as they’re properly registered in the UK. Generally, that means that they need to be registered with Ofsted if the childcare is in England, or their equivalent if it’s in Scotland or Wales. You’ll need to provide their registration number when applying for the childcare funding.
  • If your circumstances change, it could affect your eligibility — potentially for both Universal Credit itself and the Childcare Support element of it. So, confirm straight away if, for example, you, or your partner if you have one, earn more than originally stated, lose your job, or stop work for some other reason.

Can You Get Childcare Costs Paid Upfront?

There are some circumstances where you can get childcare costs paid upfront through the scheme.Usually, you will need to pay for childcare costs first and then reclaim them through your Universal Credit childcare support account. However, there are some circumstances where you may be able to get some of your childcare costs paid upfront through the scheme. This recent change is designed to help families essentially with cash flow so that a major barrier to working is removed. That, in turn, will also help the economy.

Funding for childcare upfront may be possible in the following circumstances:

  • When parents are starting new paid work.
  • In the month preceding the start of the new job.
  • In the month after the end of employment, to help continue childcare when switching between jobs.
  • When parents are significantly increasing their working hours, for example when moving from part-time to full-time employment.

If any of the above scenarios apply, families can speak to their work coach (available through their Universal Credit account) about something called a Flexible Support Fund. If not eligible for that, another potential option is a Budgeting Advance although the latter needs to be repaid.

N.B. Be mindful of keeping the Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) informed in a timely manner in all cases, otherwise you could miss out.

How to Apply for Universal Credit Childcare Support

To apply for Universal Credit payments, create a Universal Credit account here or sign into your account here if you already have one. If you live with a partner, they will also need to have an account and the two must be linked together before you will be able to claim.

N.B. Before applying for the first time, ensure you first read about checks and other useful information you should be aware of here. The telephone number for the Universal Credit Helpline at 0800 328 5644 may also be useful to note.

Once accepted into the scheme, you will need to regularly report and provide evidence of your childcare costs through your account. Remember to claim quickly too otherwise, if you leave claims longer than 2 months, they may not be reimbursed.

More Information

Additional guidance on childcare costs through Universal Credit is available here.

Already Claiming for Childcare Costs through Another Scheme?

You can’t claim through the Tax-Free Childcare Scheme if you are claiming for childcare through Universal Credit. However, you can check which other schemes you may be able to claim in tandem here.

More Improvements to Childcare Funding are Coming Soon

Substantial additional improvements to childcare funding are also in the pipeline following the Spring Budget 2023 announcements. However, we’ll cover those alternative schemes separately here in due course. Just to whet your appetite, though, they include plans to gradually extend free childcare support to eligible children aged from just 9 months from September 2024. So, watch this space!

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool, Padiham, Lancashire

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End. At Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham, we support all the Government childcare funding schemes for eligible families. We offer babies, infants, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life, the highest quality childcare and an unbeatable early years education. This combination will bring out the best in them and ensure they absolutely thrive from the moment they begin school around the age of five. To get started on applying for a nursery/preschool place, to arrange a free guided tour or simply to get in touch to ask a question, please select a button below:

Apply for a Place Book a Tour Message Us 01282 680 822

Little Acorns Nursery and Preschool is located in Padiham, Lancashire. We’re also close to Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham, and Wood End, so may also suit families requiring childcare near those locations.

Get Ready for Pyjamarama 2023

Get ready for Pyjamarama 2023. This year it arrives on Friday 16th of June in nurseries, preschools, schools and homes all around the Nation. That date is not carved in stone, though, as some settings may find an alternative date more convenient for their particular circumstances.

What is Pyjamarama?

Pyjamarama is a one-day fundraising event that's organised through the children's reading charity BookTrust.Pyjamarama is a one-day fundraising event that’s organised through the children’s reading charity BookTrust. It takes place each year across a variety of UK settings including homes, schools, preschools, nurseries and more. As well as being great fun for those organising and taking part, the initiative is beneficial to millions of disadvantaged children. The ultimate aim is to raise money to fund the purchase of books and resources, so that every child in the UK gets the chance for bedtime stories and each family has proper reading opportunities. The initiative is hugely popular, great fun, and transforms lives. Today, we take a look at what to expect, how to get involved, and the many benefits of Pyjamarama.

“Spend a day in your pyjamas to raise money for BookTrust and be part of something amazing.”

How Does Pyjamarama Work?

Settings like Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham first register with the Pyjamarama fundraising scheme, well ahead of the 16th June event date. In return, they receive a free downloadable fundraising pack. This contains information and activity resources that they’ll be able to use with the nursery children on Pyjamarama day as well as things like posters to publicise the event. Access to BookTrust’s Pyjamarama Hub will also be given. This allows access to additional resources and activity ideas for children to take part in.

On the day itself, the idea is for children and staff to come to the nursery/preschool dressed in pyjamas to add an extra element of fun. Having said that, PJs are not obligatory — children can wear something else if they prefer, for example colourful T-shirts. Either way, we ask that each child brings £1 with them. This will be donated to the BookTrust charity to raise money for disadvantaged children, who might otherwise not have access to bedtime stories. The ensuing day will be relaxed and fun, with time spent together reading and sharing stories, watching specially-recorded videos from children’s favourite authors (that’s new for 2023) and taking part in a whole host of other fun, reading- and story-related activities.

At the end of the day, children who took part in Pyjamarama will receive certificates to take home. All money raised by the children and setting will subsequently be sent off to the fundraising team at BookTrust.

Pyjamarama is Fun, Educational & Worthwhile

Pyjamarama raises funds to give disadvantaged children and their families opportunities for reading and bedtime stories.Pyjamarama is always a fun day for both adults and children. The added aspect of pyjamas makes it special, quirky and relaxed. And, at the end of the day, it’s incredibly worthwhile. Not only does it raise money to give disadvantaged children and their families opportunities for reading and bedtime stories, but it also encourages those children taking part in Pyjamarama to read more, for pleasure as much as anything. Additionally, it gives children a different perspective and encourages altruism and empathy for others less fortunate than themselves.

“Raise vital funds to help every child get a bedtime story.”

How Pyjamarama Helps Disadvantaged Children

Every £1 helps. So, children and parents — please get involved. Here’s how fundraising can typically help:

  • £25 is enough to provide 15 under-fives from deprived communities with books and reading resources.
  • £50 is enough to provide an entire class of primary school children with a selection of books to share and read at home.
  • £100 would allow the BookTrust charity to help teenagers in a struggling secondary school reconnect with reading.

How Can You Get Involved?

“Through Pyjamarama we want to help support the children who are at risk of missing out on the joy and confidence that bedtime stories provide.”

If you haven’t already seen them, look out for posters and a letter to parents highlighting the date for Pyjamarama at your child’s setting this year. On the day, please ensure your child goes to nursery/preschool or school with £1 and is ideally dressed in PJs although, as we said before, it’s not obligatory — but is a lot of fun when everyone joins in.

More details and a FAQ about getting involved in Pyjamarama as a setting or individual can be found here.

“Naomi has seen how reading takes her into imaginary worlds and helps her deal with everyday worries and is amazed how it is also helping her to do well in all subjects at school.”

Little Acorns Nursery & Preschool, Padiham

High-Quality Weekday Childcare in Padiham, Lancashire

Little Acorns Nursery & Pre-School is in Padiham, Lancashire, near Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham and Wood End.

Babies and under-fives get the very best start at Little Acorns Nursery in Padiham. As well as offering a convenient childcare service in a loving and homely environment, children also receive a comprehensive early years education at Little Acorns. We also support all Government-funded free childcare schemes including free childcare hours for eligible 2-year-olds and free childcare hours for eligible 3 and 4-year-olds. Contact us if you’d like to register your child for a childcare place. Or, if you’re not yet sure, why not arrange a guided tour? We can show you and your little one around to see how well they fit in. We’re also here to answer any questions. Please choose a button to get started:

Apply for a Place Book a Tour Message Us 01282 680 822

Little Acorns is a nursery and preschool in Padiham, (BB12), also being conveniently close by for those in Hapton, Rose Grove, Burnley, Altham, Huncoat, Read, Simonstone, Sabden, Higham, and Wood End.

BookTrust is a Registered Charity, number 313343.