We had a chat with Sarah and Luke, childminders who have created a sustainable, efficient and responsible way to use materials and create enriching environments for the children they care for.
Sarah and Luke share their story on why they needed to change the way they created their setting in order to save money and be more efficient in their business.
Why did you become a childminder?
We became Childminders so that we could spend as much time with our 3 children as possible as they grow. A lot of our friends said that we should become Childminders and the more we thought about it the more perfect an idea it became. We felt like we had a lot to offer other families looking for quality childcare in a home from home environment.
How long have you been childminding?
Sarah has been Childminding for 4 years and Luke for 2 years.
Why did you start using recycled materials in your setting?
We started using recycled materials to save money on pricey resources! We found out where we could source free wood, pallets, spools and tyres from. These things are rubbish to so many people, but they make our setting exciting and unique as we've created our own resources by using them.
Can you give some examples of where you use your recycled materials?
It started because we wanted our setting to have a proper mud kitchen... So we used bits and pieces of old cupboards and off-cuts of wood that we had in our garage and got creative!
Luke built the pirate raft from old pallets and we've used spools of various sizes to create a giant Kerplunk, a train table, a fairy table, and smaller ones that get used a large loose parts.
We particularly love using old tyres... They are fantastic large loose parts that the children let their imaginations run wild with. We've made a sandpit, a mud pit and a den from various sized tyres. All sourced for free!
When did you start using recycled materials to create areas in your setting?
We started getting creative about 2 years ago.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of our inspiration comes from Pinterest and from various Facebook pages dedicated to Early Years and Loose Parts. Some ideas come organically when we acquire certain materials. Such as the den, whcih we sourced a tractor tyre for and when it arrived it was huge! We ended up pushing it into a bush in the corner of our garden, as it was the only place it would fit. We then cleared the ground behind it and wood chipped it and put tree stumps for the children to sit on. We then put up a couple of insect houses and it was suddenly this amazing insect hunting den.
Do you create the areas yourself? For example, the type swing looks amazing, how did you create that?
Yes all of the areas in our setting have been created by us. Unfortunately we are running out of space now, though we have so much more that we want to do.
The horse tyre swing was bought so we can't take credit for that! It was a present when we moved into our house! Perhaps it was the root of our love of tyres.
What is the children’s favourite activity?
The children's favourite thing to do is to be free in the garden. We have continuous outdoor provision. If the children want to be out, whatever the weather, they can always put a pair of wellies on and go exploring. This is why we feel it is so important to create interesting spaces for them within our garden and to follow their interests. Children are at their best when they can be themselves. We only loosely plan as we feel that with close observations and meaningful interactions we can spot teachable moments within the enabling environment that we've created.
What do you love about working with children?
We love working with children because it's constantly rewarding! Childminding is a very motivating job. Working together obviously helps as we can bounce ideas off of each other and work together to bring them to life. Seeing the children's reactions to something new that we've created over the weekend is priceless.
What are your plans for the future?
We will continue as we are for now, but wish we had a bigger garden! We are on the look out to purchase a bit of woodland/forest that we could use to create bigger projects on and take our mindees to.
That's the problem with using recycled materials... They are free and abundant! We want to do so much more, but have no more space.
You can see lots more pictures and get further inspiration over in our efficency section on BusinessSmart. Do you have a story you would like to share? Get in touch.