A local nursery has hit the headlines for removing all its toys – to encourage children to be more creative.
Ilminster Avenue Specialist Nursery school replaced all its traditional toys with recycled items – from tin cans and bottle tops to cardboard boxes and train tickets – in a month-long experiment.
The idea came from Acting Head Teacher Matt Caldwell – who has 25 years experience of early years teaching – basing it on the model used in German kindergartens.
He said it was not about depriving pupils but about going “back to basics” to help them use their imaginations more – and proving they didn’t need “shiny, expensive, electronic plastic things to have fun and be a child.”
Staff, parents and children all took up the challenge for the No Toys project at the 230-place nursery which caters for two-four-year-olds.
Lego, train sets and plastic dinosaurs were all locked away in the storeroom in favour of lollipop sticks, metal pans and wooden spoons.
Matt told The Knowledge: “After a month we found that the children had been talking and socialising more and playing in a different way to before.
“Parents provided us with a wide variety of things from carpet rolls to house keys to pallets which we all played with using our imaginations and creativity.
“We also had a lot of interest from the media and ended up on the local news, national radio and in the national press! It’s amazing what playing with a cardboard box can do!”
The month has proved so popular the nursery is now deciding whether to extend the project in some of the classrooms.
Whatever happens the experiment has highlighted you don’t have to spend a lot of money to entertain your child -and having less can actually boost their learning experiences.