22-32 months

When life is one big adventure

The move from first floor to ground is timed to coincide with a natural shift in focus from ‘discovery’ to ‘adventure’. As toddlers become small people, so the world becomes a giant playground. Squirrels are encouraged to play outside, while the Squirrels’ Den itself is set up to encourage independence, social skills and the use of language.

With places for up to 14 children and a qualified-staff-to-child ratio of 1:4 (1:3 for children under 24 months), the Squirrels’ Den is ideally suited to children aged 22 to 32 months. Located in a spacious room on the ground floor, Squirrels have direct access to the garden, plus a covered patio area that allows year-round outdoor play. ‘Free-flow’ sessions encourage children to play indoors and out, and help develop verbal and social skills.

This is the time when your child will start to explore language by using short sentences, so the Squirrels’ Den is set up to encourage communication, independence and learning through play. Toys are stored where small hands can reach them, activity boxes have pictures and written labels to help children recognise the box they need when tidying away, and ‘free choice’ drawers provide access to other items they may choose during free-play sessions.

There’s also a CD player to play music, mini home corner and quiet reading area, and plenty of table space for more ‘traditional’ activities, such as puzzles, threading, and colour-matching games.

As elsewhere in the nursery, the Squirrels’ Den is split into two parts, with half carpeted and the other half used for messy play and eating. The latter is ideal for sand, water, playdough and art, craft and cooking activities. It has a large sink to enable staff to wash up equipment, and two more children’s sinks for hand washing.

All activities are planned around Early Years Foundation Stage best practice, with daily record sheets kept and shared with parents (if requested).