The igloo at nightIgloo in Oak Tree GardenOutside the igloo with some snowy footprintsAerial view of the igloo

Igloo appears in the Oak Tree garden

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The igloo was a collaborative project to enrich learning between children, parents and local companies. As part of Bath Spa University’s wider community, Oak Tree Day Nursery recognises the importance of sustainable living and making use of the valuable resources in our waste. The idea was developed as staff discussed the amount of milk cartons we use each week, and decided to take on the challenge of creating a magnificent igloo in the garden to promote outdoor learning based around our cold and winter discussions.

To stimulate children’s curiosity and creativity, staff left a letter and snow prints from a polar bear inviting us to build him a shelter. This initiated opportunities to promote children’s language and literacy, we took part in a bear hunt around the garden and attempted to identify the footprints. We also used the igloo to develop mathematical skills and critical thinking, placing loose milk cartons in the garden allowed us to discuss how we might build an igloo together. We talked about shape, size and how it would feel if we were using real snow in the North Pole. It has created opportunities for outdoor child-led learning and imaginative play- this week the area was a campsite, where magic potions have been stirred in a ‘fire’ pot, and an area to test our physical boundaries – “will it collapse if we lean on it?” (This week we have learnt so far, it hasn’t!)

The igloo build was a gradual process that encouraged resilience and perseverance for nursery practitioners and children. The cold frosty weather meant the cold glue wouldn’t set and coming into nursery to find the base had fallen apart meant re thinking our materials and starting again. It is important as early years practitioners that we encourage children to develop perseverance to keep trying if things don’t go to plan, and we were able to role model this behaviour by adapting our original resources and discussing what would work best to make the glue set – (heat!)

We plan to continue to recycle the materials used – the children will be involved in the process of finally sending the plastic to be recycled as we discuss our collective responsibility to help look after our planet. Furthermore, the hundreds of bottle tops will be used to make a collaborative wall mural at nursery, as we have noticed how fascinated the babies have been exploring the different colours.