About Us

Mulberry Outdoor is an Urban Nature Pre-school.  We provide a unique environment of play, discovery and education for inner-city children. Time is spent outdoors all day, every day, where children can develop their imaginative play and learning is stimulated through hands on projects, activities and experiences. 

Outdoors we witness first hand the amazing effect that the natural world can have on development, learning and the mental health of young children and all of this is especially relevant as we emerge from the pandemic of Covid-19. It is evident that young early years children have been impacted in a wide variety of ways and so here, filling their senses with the outdoors world, connecting them to nature we can support them towards a stronger foundation. 

Time outdoors has proven positive effects on reducing anxiety and ADHD, it boosts the immune system and our “natural killer cells”. This is proven in a study by Professor Ming Quo who states that nature can “calm what needs calming and strengthen what needs strengthening”. 

We take our inspiration and resources from our environment here in our wonderful setting, Myatt’s Fields Park.  Along with developing resilience, independence and play skills, the rich elements are there for maths, language and science, inspiring the curiosity of learning and so much more exciting and hands on than indoors.  

We are committed to our children experiencing the outdoors and nature, come rain or shine, throughout the year.

– We don’t experience “bad weather” when we wear the correct clothing!

Urban Nature

Urban Nature London is the play and learning style developed by us to bring learning and play outdoors, utilising the nature available to us in the city, developing relevant projects and using real resources that we find. Children play and learn outdoors everyday using this unique approach.

 


 

Urban Nature London is all about stimulating play, discovery and learning in an outdoor environment.  There are elements of forest school, mixed with outdoor play using a wide variety of open ended resources, child led play, nature and science based learning. The indoors is brought outdoors to expand skills which naturally involve speech and language and mathematical stimulation and involve all aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage in the rich environment.  

Play is stimulated with fewer toys, but access to open ended resources of wood, crates, bricks, sticks, water, sand, mud, piping and all of the elements found outdoors. Early writing and mark making skills are stimulated with chalk and charcoal along with writing boards and pens.  Writing opportunities are all over the garden and the park.  Early mathematical development has a rich hands on start outside using counting, weight, balance, size, shape, height and timing that naturally appears in play.

Science opportunities are in abundance with growing, composting, weather and time to test theories and questions along with learning the natural sciences of the flora and fauna within the park.  Children learn names of the trees and birds and often take these home to teach the rest of the family. 

Meet the team

Claire Smallwood
Founder and Head of School

As a child I was encouraged to explore freely in the woods and on the beach near my home. My grandfather passed on his love of tending an amazing vegetable patch which I now nurture at Mulberry Outdoor. These seeds from my childhood inspired me, after having my own children, to make a career change and follow my vision to replicate that freedom for children living in Urban environments. 

Mulberry Outdoor has become one of my proudest achievements.  The setting continues to grow, learn and develop and each day brings new moments when you witness a child discovering and developing new skills or finding their voice.  I am inspired everyday of the importance of creating this Urban Nature School. 

My favourite part of the day is watching the children arrive happy, ready and wondering where their play will take them. I observe how their resilience has grown and how skilfully they become stronger, confident, more independent and more creative. 

Building the setting within this lovely park has enabled me to work alongside and meet some of the brilliant people in this community,  the families who have sent their children to us, those who work as part of the team, and those within this global outdoor learning family sharing their good, safe and enriching experiences.  I always look forward to seeing what the next day will bring

Mita
Early Years Practitioner and Art and Craft lead

I joined Mulberry Outdoor in 2017 when I was looking for a preschool for my daughter. My daughter was one of the first of 4 to start Mulberry Outdoor and I’ve never looked back. 

That was when I started my early learning career and after having worked through to a level 3 in Early Years Child Care, I am now working towards the Forest School Level 3.

My passion and background is Art. I love working with nature, be it a stick or a leaf, and knowing once the project is over it can go back to the ground without harming our earth. This is what I love about Mulberry Outdoor. 

Being outdoors and being able to play and run around freely is very important to me. Children here really learn through playing in nature, like counting how many birds they can see while having their lunch, or finding a stick in the shape of an letter. 

That eureka moment you see on children’s faces when they just get how to do something has to be one of my favourite things about working at Mulberry Outdoor. 

Helen
Nursery Assistant and Lunch Lady

I have worked as a nanny locally for over 30 years and I’m now seeing children that I looked after bringing their own children into Mulberry Outdoor. I know Myatts Fields Park very well and so it’s really great to be part of the team here, inspiring children to enjoy more outdoor time in the park.

Feeding children healthy food is a very exciting part of the Preschool and I’m happy to be involved with this.

When I’m not at Mulberry, I’m looking after my own family and I love to watch good sport.

Austin
Tennis Coach

Austin, our tennis coach,is All England trained and is to be found coaching adults and children regularly in the park. He holds drop-in sessions for children from the age of 4 at the weekend… we start children from 2 1/2 years, which he loves!

The children have half an hour with him on the tennis court each week and they can’t wait to get there.

Jane
French Teacher

Jane teaches early years through to GCSE level and has a wonderful approach to engaging learners in her classes. Jane teaches in other schools and private lessons too. Janes classes engage in not only French but the use of language and the formation of sounds.

Sabine
Admissions, communications and PA

Sabine loves the outdoors so much she moved to the countryside! She enjoys sorting out all our admin and is helping Claire identify new locations to spread the wings of Urban Nature London a little wider.

Dee and Dani
Cooks

Dee and Dani keep us all deliciously well fed with their wonderful recipes and cooking. Professional, home based cooks, with an enormous enthusiasm and passion for feeding our young children. You can find them via their Instagram accounts, where they offer take-away foods and classes and lots of tips and recipes.

Instagram:
Deethechef for Dee.
Family_feasts for Dani.

My Name is Darcey
Darcey
Pets As Therapy dog

Darcey is Claires dog, who is being trained to become a Pets As Therapy dog.  She loves small humans and they love her.

Some of our activities

Urban Nature. Embedded in all of our learning, this is the time to play with nature, outdoor play and work on our projects and crafts.

Tennis.  Every Wednesday with Austin. The children are separated into two groups, of different abilities to enable the more advanced children to extend their play.  These children often help out in the younger group. 

French.  French is operating once per week, on varied days at the moment due to the pandemic situation for our French teacher Jane.  Two different groups of abilities in an adult led session, supporting children with language, sounds and listening skills.

Summer Camp – at the start of each school Summer holiday we hold our Summer Camp, open to children from outside of the setting, between the ages of 3 and 6 years. Contact us to go on the waiting list or look out for information on the notice boards.

Testimonials

The happiest time at Mulberry Outdoor

We have had the happiest time at Mulberry Outdoor Preschool. We feel so lucky to have had our children thrive and become skilled in this outdoor learning environment, whilst creating friendships through outdoor play and natural collaboration. Our children have developed a very healthy relationship with learning that has enabled them to feel empowered with new knowledge as their curiosity grew. They have loved it from the moment they started. Their happy memories will carry forth with them throughout their lives.

Louisa, mum of two children who have attended M.O.P.

Living in London without a garden

Living in London without a garden has been made so much easier, thanks to Mulberry!  For our daughter to be able to learn outdoors has been so valuable to us as a family and the wonderful staff have offered incredible support every step of the way.

Alex, Mum of daughter who has attended M.O.P.

An incredible environment for children

You have created an incredible environment for young children to learn in.  Thank you for taking such excellent care of Ernest this year.  He has flourished.

Grandmother of Mulberry Outdoor child.

Awards

Mayor of London Healthy Eating Award, for his campaign in Healthy Early Years

Healthy Early Years London (HEYL) is an awards scheme funded by the Mayor of London which supports and recognises achievements in child health, wellbeing and development in early years settings.

Building on the success of Healthy Schools London, HEYL will help to reduce health inequalities by supporting a healthy start to life across themes that include healthy eating, oral and physical health and early cognitive development.

HEYL complements and enhances the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage framework, adding to the focus on children, families and staff health and wellbeing.

Woodland Trust Green Trees School Awards

Bronze, Silver and Gold awarded.
Having been awarded the Gold in 2020, we are now working towards our Platinum.

“The Woodland Trust, Green Tree Schools Award encourages outdoor learning and is set to inspire pupils about trees, woods and wildlife. As a setting we have achieved goals for these awards through set tasks from the Trust and projects with our children.  We aim for the children to achieve a Woodland Ambassador Award within their learning.