Ice egg painting Easter time provocation

New beginnings, a new approach, and why we are moving away from plastic

May 22, 2018 2:03 pm Published by

Here at Tiny Toes Hertford ,  we were all very excited about last November’s rebrand of the nursery. And a big part of the rebrand was our decision to move to use the Curiosity Approach philosophy, a new more natural and child-driven approach to learning and development. We started the accreditation process in January, and it will take us 12 months to complete.

Our inspiration for moving to the Curiosity Approach came after a visit to Love 2 Learn Nursery in Leicester in 2016 – owned by Stephanie Bennett, one of the 2 founders of the Curiosity Approach. Having seen how this approach works, we decided to step away from the norm and view our nursery with fresh eyes.

Image of Pre-school room and Garden before and after our move to the Curiosity Approach

Stephanie describes her reasons for developing this philosophy as “it fits perfectly in current changing technological times. Bringing curiosity, awe and wonder into early childhood and creating the “thinkers and doers” of the future.

What is the Curiosity Approach?

The Curiosity Approach is a modern day approach to Early Childhood and offers a holistic, child-centred, safe spaces to encourage cognitive, social, emotional and physical development in the early years. It combines the philosophies and principles of the renowned ReggioSteinerTe Whariki and Montessori to create a nurturing and safe space that encourages child-centred learning. This approach has gained national interest and Love 2 Learn Nursery featured on a BBC documentary ‘Nursery with no toys’ highlighting the benefits of this approach to early years development.

Karina Garcia, our nursery manager, explains the benefits of this style of approach to childhood development with a simple example:

‘If you can give a child a plastic car and garage, it can only be a plastic car and a garage. But if you give a child a cardboard tube, a box and a car, it opens up creativity, and it can be anything a child imagines it can be, with endless possibilities.’       

Car provocation for Curiosity Approach                                    

A new approach to early learning

We’re very proud to be one of the only local nurseries that offer this approach to early development and learning.

Many parents are also embracing these modern types of methodologies within their own parenting approach and can see the benefits of building on this in their choice of nursery environment. At Tiny Toes Hertford, we work closely together with our parents/carers to keep communication open. This allows us to encourage each child, understanding them and their interests holistically, so we can build on these at the nursery, as an extension of their home learning environment. This also helps us to create a feeling of belonging and safety for each child, so they feel happy and nurtured, in not just a nursery, but a home away from home setting.  

Home style feel to our rooms with real world objects for children to use

A move away from plastic

Together, director of Tiny Toes Hertford Susan Alexander, and nursery manager Karina Garcia have taken considered steps to move away from the use of plastic toys and resources, and instead now offer the use of natural loose-part resources, such as wooden toys, shells, stones, twigs, repurposed and recycled items. We will continue to build on these new natural resources, rotating them regularly to ensure that the children are kept engaged and interested. Through the use of natural resources, we encourage a child to be curious, imaginative, analytical and creative.

Loose part natural resourcesLoose part shells     We recently rearranged the Pre-school room to provide a more welcoming space that encourages inquisitive thinking and curiosity in the children. The room now flows more freely, offering more space for the children to flow between the different areas – construction, creative, home corner, water and sand, malleable play, small world play and the quiet book corner – to allow a space for children to reflect and find a quiet space. Our plan is to build on our areas of musicality and construction and improve all areas to offer the children space and activities that inspire awe and wonder.

Image of Tiny Toes Hertford staff

Our baby room (Pooh Corner) also recently added some new furniture and made changes in line with the new approach. Kerry recently became the assistant nursery manager and has invested lots of time and energy into making the most of the room, giving our youngest children a beautiful space that offers them many activities and resources to encourage the children to explore and play.

Images of Pooh Corner baby room features and provocations


Little Explorers have been busy building on their construction area for the children, adding some logs, cork board circles and wooden and coloured blocks. They have been exploring lots of textures with real food play. They have been doing a lot of provocations that have a sensory element – playing with fresh fruits and vegetables, tea parties with fruit tea, and growing grass. A provocation is the arrangements of resources in an open-ended way to encourages curiosity and interests. Although provocations may be themed around a particular book, nursery rhyme, season or idea (e.g. farmyard) how the children choose to interact with the resources is left up to them.  Little Explorers have also enjoyed some controlled risk-taking activities such as using real hammers and nails. All of these activities in line with our new approach have been well received by the children, as their innate curiosity has been sparked.

Developing at each child’s own pace

We welcome each child into our nursery, offering a nurturing environment that allows them to grow and develop at their own pace. We see each child as capable, strong, resilient and eager to learn and grow – and key elements of the new approach.

Children at Tiny Toes Hertford playing and learning

We are already seeing the positive changes and benefits of doing the Curiosity Approach’s accreditation and strengthening our staff’s knowledge of how to best implement the curriculum within the nursery.

If you’ve got any questions or would like to come in to see our nursery, please leave a comment or leave us a message on our Facebook page. You can also follow our journey us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.



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This post was written by andy

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