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159 Newhaven Road, Edinburgh, EH6 4QA
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The Garden - A Wonderful Learning Resource

”The use of greenspace or green exercise improves health... in particular emotional well-being and mental health”

Pre-Birth to Three-Positive Outcomes for Scotland’s Children and Families, Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010.

The garden of Bonnington House is fairly typical of an Edinburgh Georgian town house with a sweeping driveway and borders at the front and a larger space to the rear, surrounded by mature trees and shrubs. It now forms part of the Victoria Park Conservation Area.

The garden has been developed as an extension of the Nursery’s indoor environment and is dedicated to play and learning. What better way to learn about and experience the four seasons or healthy living and the environment than outside in our stimulating and secure garden? We value the outdoors as an extended classroom and our pre-school children have free flow access to the garden throughout the day.


The younger ages groups have their own garden and are able to spend time in the different areas throughout the day.  There are specific age-related areas designed for children aged 0-3 year olds, such as the willow play circle, grassy areas and large sand pit for the babies who cannot yet walk and the wooden play structure which has different levels, willow tunnels and a wobbly bridge to encourage the walking children to develop their gross motor skills.

The nursery gardens have been equipped with natural and man-made materials to promote children’s physical development as well as all other areas of learning. Areas of interest in our gardens  include allotments for growing vegetables and flowers, a sensory garden, a mud patch and mud kitchen, climbing logs, sand pit, flower borders, a natural river and water pump for water play, an area for outdoor art, a Play house, as well as baby dens and a cosy seating area for reading under the willow arches. All of the areas are created to provide colour and stimulate the senses and to allow the children to get hands on and be fully involved in growing plants to eat and enjoy.



The Preschool outdoor environment has been carefully constructed to enhance children’s active play and to facilitate learning outdoors across the 8 areas of the Curriculum for Excellence Early Years Framework.  As both rooms have direct access to the garden, children are able to have free-flowopportunities in the outdoor environment throughout the day.

At Bonnington House Nursery we have an outdoor ethos and so even on the wettest or coldest of days children are adequately dressed and offered opportunities for free play and planned activities outdoors, allowing the children vital fresh air and space to move around, and providing a healthy and stimulating environment in which to learn. Young children are motivated to learn by their natural sense of curiosity. By having an outdoor classroom they will be encouraged to learn through exploration and physical movement, critical to early development.



The nursery also has two forest schools as well as trained and experienced Forest School Teachers. Forest Schools are nature-based communities where trained practitioners nurture learner-led exploration and discovery, nurturing meaningful experiences for positive lifelong impacts. There is an on-site forest school where preschool children are introduced to the forest school topics. Children in their final year of preschool are able to access our off-site forest school, located in a section of the local park.


In forest schools rely on observation, where children learn to care for their natural environment through actvities. Activities encourage children to be active with a focus on both fine and gross motor skills as well as logic and reasoning or problem solvling development. Forest school topics include safety and risk assessing, tool use, and fire safety and use. Typical actvities include sensory walks, foraging, shelter building, tree climbing, campfire cooking, woodwork, nature art, fire buliding, puddle and mud jumping.

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