(6 minute read)
Following animal footprints in the mud. Huddling round the campfire with a hot chocolate under the stars. Getting lost in a good book on a comfy beanbag. Ofsted-registered and run by experienced staff, our Kids’ Zone is the perfect place for little ones to get back to nature – while you rediscover the meaning of self-care. Whether you want a Swim Club treatment, a swim in the lake, or just to kick back outside your shepherd hut with a glass of something cold, what you do with your quiet time is up to you.
Forest school qualified Kids’ Zone manager Gillian Bell tells us about the inspiration behind the sessions, making the most of the lakeshore setting, and why a bit of rain will never stop play.
I’ve lived in rural North Cumbria all my life. I had a fantastic childhood on a family farm, building dens and making dams in the stream, learning about all the local plants, flowers and birdsong from my dad and grandad.
When I left school, I went to work as a nanny for a family who I’m still in touch with now. Once I got my childcare practitioner qualification, I became a classroom assistant and then I worked at a private nursery for 11 years, which also had a holiday club. I’ve also got my own children who are now in their mid-20s! So my experience is very varied.
I’ve always been interested in the forest school approach as it reflects my nature-immersed childhood. So I was excited to discover that I could do the training close by in Penrith, and qualified last year.
“We always try to make the most of the amazing natural setting and take the children out into the grounds as much as possible.”
The forest school approach is holistic and learner-led – it allows the children to set their own place. They take controlled risks; they build resilience and they learn from their experiences. It also helps to connect children with the outdoors, which has an incredible calming effect on them. Feeling the wind on their face, watching the leaves move, throwing pebbles in the lake is very soothing for them.
As well as being a safe and caring environment for all children, Kids’ Zone has a free and easy spirit. We’re not tied to a curriculum – there’s a joyful holiday mood, and we have these amazing grounds to use as we like. We’re lucky that we get to drop all the school rules and just have fun with the children.
We’re passionate about ensuring that all children have a fun and memorable experience at Kids’ Zone. Children can learn so much through play, and we pride ourselves on offering a variety of child-led, age-appropriate, sensory and creative activities that they’ll love.
“There’s a joyful holiday mood, and we have these amazing grounds to use as we like. We’re lucky that we get to drop all the school rules and just have fun with the children.”
We always try to make the most of the natural setting here at Another Place and take the children out into the grounds as much as possible. Children of all ages love throwing stones into the lake; listening for the splash and watching the ripples. We go on nature hunts, too, with bingo sheets for spotting different colours and species around the grounds. It’s about encouraging children to take notice of their surroundings, and to start naming all the different plants and trees we find. We also track animal footprints in the mud and think about what sort of creature made them, where’s it going, where does it live?
We never let a bit of rain stop play! We’ve got lots of wellies for the children to borrow and full sets of waterproofs.
In the evenings, we’ll go down into the grounds with the older children and sit around the fire. Everybody’s got a backpack and a head torch, and we’ll have hot chocolate and look at the stars. Because the skies are so dark here, with barely any light pollution, it’s perfect for stargazing. But equally, if we plan an activity and I think, ‘No, these children aren’t showing the interest,’ we just go and do something else. It’s not like school, with set lessons.
Our indoor space is very chilled and cosy, with beanbags and soft rugs on the floor. In term time, our cabin area is for under 5s, so it’s all about sensory play – lots of singing and books. In the evening, when it’s for 3-to-7-year-olds, we change the resources around so we’ve got more jigsaws, a creative area, and lots of role play. There’s a kitchen, a garage and a dolls’ house. Then we have a ‘loose parts play’ area, with tubes, boxes, fir cones, string…and children can just see where their imagination takes them.
For our 8–12-year-olds, we have The Den: a purpose-built area with games like darts, a pool table and an air-hockey 3-in-1 table. We also have facilities for cooking with them, and are about to add a new chill out area with sofas for older children.
“We love a theme in Kids’ Zone! We have Halloween parties, chocolate workshops, sports on the lawns, teddy bears picnics, discos with mocktails and Easter egg hunts…”
We hope that children who spend time with us will have an unforgettable experience filled with fun and laughter. We have lots of returning guests, and it’s really rewarding to watch families grow and children develop as they come back each year.
Parents can relax knowing that their children are here being cared for and having fun. It helps them to have a more relaxing holiday too – and have more energy for family time together later. I know as a parent that ten minutes’ peace with a cup of tea is a win! So to be able to have a meal in the restaurant and focus on each other is so important. And for the child, they’re not sitting at the table having to wait because the parents are still eating; they can be running off all their energy here.
We love a theme in Kids’ Zone! We have Halloween parties, chocolate workshops, sports on the lawns, teddy bears picnics, discos and party games with mocktails, and Easter egg hunts… you name it.
When I’m not working, my husband and I like to go walking in the hills. We’re trying to walk all the Wainwrights. There are 214 in the Lake District, and we’re on about 105. I loved going up Helvellyn – the height and the view are just breathtaking. It was such a clear day; you could see for miles, all the way to the sea and over to Scotland. It was amazing.
All Kids’ Zone sessions are included as part of your stay at Another Place.
We ask guests to only book two sessions prior to arrival through the App, then once you get here you can book as many additional sessions as you like.
Eplore the Lake District with your family. our family suites and shepherd huts sleep up to four and our best family suites sleep five. The suites have enough space for a cot and all are dog friendly.