Pyramid at Top Barn Farm – and a visit to the Farm Park   Leave a comment

I have mentioned the name ‘Pyramid’ a few times now – but not really explain what Pyramid is.

So time to put that right – and in explaining to do a bit of back tracking.

Pyramid is actually short for Pyramid Care and is the Fostering Agency that my husband Garry and I are registered with as foster carers. Pyramid Care is a community interest company (CIC) something which is very important to me, as it fits in with my personal ethos.

For those interested this is the link to their website PYRAMID CARE FOSTERING AGENCY WEBSITE

I do also have another link with Pyramid Care, as in the past I have provide child care as a childminder  for staff children (before Pyramid Care was set up), and currently I am providing childcare for a staff member as a childminder.

Therefore, it is easy to see  with these links, why there would be further partnership working between myself and Pyramid.

Pyramid Care is based at Top Barn Farm – more information can be found here LINK TO TOP BARN FARM WEBSITE, and so when it was suggested that I might like to spend every Wednesday at the Pyramid Site  during term time I said a very definite ‘Yes Please’  – even though at that time, I thought I would be paying to use the site.

I should be clear that although the Pyramid site is based at Top Barn Farm – it is a completely separate self contained part of it (and there is also their office in another area).  Tucked away in a corner on a very large plot is the ‘base’.

Base consists of three old but very usable static caravans – one has a lounge area, a kitchen area and a large area that is used for crafts and where we have lunch on very wet days.

Another caravan has a lounge area, a kitchen area, a toy room and a indoor sandpit room (the third caravan is not for children to use). there is also a training room, storage containers, male and female toilets  ……. and several large poly tunnels  ……. and lots of space to run, explore and generally have fun outside.

 

And so myself and my friend Carol and my daughter Michelle (both registered childminders) now go to Pyramid most Wednesday’s during term time – and so far Pyramid Care have refused to take any payment at all for the use of their site.

Although our visits vary there are things we do most weeks – for example we walk to the farm shop to buy our snack items – going past the lake (on the other side of the road)  and the farm animals that are in the outside fields of the Farm Park – so the sheep, the goats and the donkeys

We water and care for the things that we are growing in the poly tunnels – and use the child sized watering cans, and gardening tools that we have provided but leave on site for everyone to use.

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The children always play outside – they love having the space and the freedom, as once the gate is closed the area is secure. They nearly always want some sort of water play (current favourite being painting the storage container with water and real paint brushes), and enjoy running, hiding and chasing games.

 

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There is always a creative activity available either via the basic resources that we keep in the caravan – such as paints, paper, stickers, glue sticks, crayons and scissors; or via a prepared activity that we bring with us to support interests and background themes – for example when we did a minibeast hunt we took some minibeast related activities – not that the children use them, as to be honest, we usually take prepared activities back to our settings to do at another time, because the children are too busy leading their own play to want to do a creative activity.

Recently the children have been engaging in a game of mums, dads and babies – and this has extended over several weeks in the outside environment.

Other activities that the children have enjoyed in the outside environment, have included making dens, and an Easter Egg Hunt, a mini beast hunt  – but again being honest the children prefer not to have adult led activities  – and that is fine.

Farm Park at Top Barn Farm

However, one adult led experience  that has been really enjoyed by the children is the visit to the Farm Park – which we have now done twice – mainly it has to be said because during May – and within school hours – it has been FREE admission to the Farm Park.

During our first visit we walked round the animals and the children played on the toy tractors and had a go at throwing and kicking the balls through the target holes – but it was a short visit as we had not taken lunch with us and so needed to get back to the Pyramid base at lunch time.

Our second visit on Wednesday 21st May was a much longer visit, as on this occasion we took a picnic lunch with us.

Being inside the Farm Park is a totally different experience to that of seeing the animals in the outer fields on our walk to the Farm Shop; we can see the animals close up; we can of course see the animals in the far and middle fields and pens – so  the pigs, the ducks, the chickens  and the rabbits .

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We can also see and read the information signs about the animals – so we found out the animals names, when they were born and a little bit of information about them. The older children were surprised to find out that the Donkeys were 4 like them. They also learnt that they should not put their fingers near the animals mouths because they might bite. I should explain that the children are used to information signs when we are out and about – as we see information signs on our forest walks, when we go to the museums, and of course signs in shops, and road signs(both when walking and when in the car travelling somewhere) – and so the children all have a very good understanding about signs and why we have signs, and they actively look for information signs and ‘read’ them either with help of picture clues, or their own ‘story’ based on what they can see around them – and in the case of the older children some recognition of letters and numbers which they point to and shout out – ‘I can see m for Mummy’ or ‘I can see a number  4 –  like me’

Lots of discussion about lots of subjects as we went round – just a few example;

Is that animal  hot with that woolly coat on?’ (referring to the Alpaca’s – so discussion about how they might have the wool cut short later on, but how  it is still cold because although the sun was shining,  the wind was blowing)

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‘ Why do the chicks under the light smell?’ (They did, so a discussion about the poo and the heat from the light)

‘Why are the chickens making holes in the mud?’ (discussion about might want to lay eggs in the hole or to just find a comfy place for a rest – and child asking the question, said but they have their special boxes to lay eggs  – she is right of course as can seen in picture below)

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‘Is that a mummy pig cause it has nipples?’ (discussion about boys and girls having nipples but not ‘boobies’ – as the child asking the question calls breasts) and then child peering under pig to look for other body parts to see if had a willy or not – and declaring that no willy so it is a mummy pig.

‘Has that pig got babies in its big tummy?’ (discussion that yes we think so – leading to discussion about my youngest daughter Rosie’s big tummy – who is indeed pregnant)

‘ Look at that baby horse’ (referring to the Shetland ponies – and so discussion about sizes and the fact that being small does not always mean being a baby).

‘Why are we sitting under here for lunch?’ (discussion about the shade provided)

…. and more, much more.

And to the delight of the children, after lunch they could use the wooden adventure playground and play in the huge undercover sand pit and those who needed a nap, had one in their lie back buggies in the shade.

We then went back to base – and did we follow up our visit to the Farm Park with colouring sheets, and maths sheets for adding little pictures of animals up and the like?

Of course not…………….

…… the children wanted to get out the paint brushes to water paint everything in sight

and to run around without us adults saying ‘stay close’ , ‘wait for the others to catch up’, (which of course adults have to do when in a public space with children)

and to get the dolls and doll pushchairs out and continue their mums. dads and baby game

…… and after a while to water their their plants.

The discussions about the visit to the Farm Park came later – in my case back at Penny’s Place when we printed the photo’s and recalled our day,  and when Mum’s and Dad’s came to collect and we told them all about our day.

Of course visits to Farms and Farm Parks are popular things to do with children, and many early years settings go on such outings — and from discussion with   June O’Sullivan, I know that some of the children from the LONDON EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION   were visiting PADDINGTON FARM TRUST.  I understand June is writing a blog about their farm experience which you will be able to read HERE once it is published.

In fact I recommend that if you have not taken a look at June’s blogs already, that you do so – as in my opinion – well worth a read

 

However, I think the opportunities that are available to the children attending Penny’s Place (and those of my colleagues who join me) at Pyramid Care are fairly unique and something that we all give very grateful thanks to Pyramid Care for.

Oh and as if we are not already very lucky ……. there is more!

Pyramid Care are in the process of setting up a Sensory room at their base – which we will be able to use. The portable building is now on site, and it is currently being cleaned (as second hand) and all the equipment checked. I am very excited about this – as I have had a sneaky look inside – and all I can say is – WOW

 

 

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