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Henry Allen Nursery School

‘Learn to Play… Play to Learn.’

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The Henry Allen Curriculum

We aim to motivate, inspire, and challenge children in their learning, and create a space where exploration and creativity are at the core of what we do. We know that children learn best when their play is supported by adults, allowing the development of collaboration and communication skills. Our ethos is built on the importance of play, some of which is child-led, some of which is adult-led- where play is supported and extended by adults, and lastly play which has specific educational outcomes.  This is addressed in our Henry Allen Curriculum.


We have created a curriculum that is ambitious and is carefully sequenced to build children's learning over time. We have clear outcomes in mind for children's development and learning.  Our children benefit from a balanced curriculum that's been planned ahead and also makes time for spontaneous learning.  


Encompassing our curriculum is our wheel of opportunities which supports the benefits of first-hand experiences and moments that can be built on back at nursery.  Activities such as forest school, local walks, and visits stimulate vivid and rich conversations.  Activities such as food preparation, cookery, gardening, and tidying-up are key to developing personal social and emotional skills,  encouraging independent and self-motivated learners.


We believe that when a child has the freedom to explore the world around them and share memorable experiences with their peers and highly trained practitioners, learning becomes joyful and long-lasting.

OFSTED January 2023


"Leaders have constructed an ambitious and well-sequenced curriculum across all seven areas of early learning. They use their considerable expertise to plan activities that build and connect children’s knowledge in small steps. Staff follow children’s interests when choosing activities that will help them to learn." OFSTED Inspection Report January 31st 2023

Our 9 curriculum goals

Curricular goal 1:

  • To become a confident learner, and make positive relationships with adults and peers in the setting

Milestone 1 (2 years)

  • Children make a strong relationship with their key person. They separate confidently from their carer and arrive ready to engage with their learning.
  • They use their key person as a secure base throughout the session, touching base when needed. They are happy to play alongside other children engaged in a similar theme.


Before children arrive in the setting adults carry out home visits and have at least two settling in sessions with a carer. They build up to full sessions as and when they are ready.

Children are able to engage in a range of activities with support.



Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children take turns in pretend play and are able to share resources with adult support.
  •  They are beginning to access a range of resources independently.


Adults support children in their play throughout the sessions. Children are increasingly confident to challenge themselves with harder activities with adult scaffolding.

Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children persevere with more challenging activities and are able to negotiate plans and share resources independently.
  •  They initiate conversations with adults and their peers using talk to organise themselves and their play.


Adults model language which promotes thinking and challenges children. They use open-ended questions, encouraging thinking and longer responses. They use sustained shared thinking to work together to solve problems, clarify concepts, evaluate activities and extend narratives.

Final milestone: (4+)


  • Children follow the rules of the setting, and understand why they are important.
  • They talk freely about their feelings and understand how others might feel.




Adults help children to elaborate how they and others are feeling in a range of different situations.




Curricular goal 2:

  • To manage their own self-care including toileting, handwashing, eating and clothing and begin to take responsibility for tasks around the nursery.


Milestone 1 (2 years)

  • Children will select and use resources independently when appropriate.
  • They begin to be independent in their self-care.
  • Children will understand a one-part instruction, for example find your coat, wash your hands.


Children are increasingly independent in the setting. They choose their own activity. They can select snack, eating independently and drink from an open cup. They are beginning to be independent with clothing, for example remove their coat and shoes. Adults will model hand washing and support children with this. Adults model how to tidy up and return toys to their correct place at the end of a session.


Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will show an increasing desire to be independent such as choosing snack, finding their own belongings.
  • Children will use the toilet with adult support where needed.
  • Children will understand a two-part instruction, for example find your coat and go outside.


Children will be encouraged to make choices, for example at snack time. They will be supported to wash their hands and find their own belongings. Adults will support them to understand why this is important. Adults will support children to use the toilet. Adults will support children to become more involved in tidying up at transition times in the day.


Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will be able to take off and put on their coat and manage zips. They will be able to put on aprons for painting.
  • Children will use the toilet and wash hands, largely independently.


Children will find their own belongings at home time, and when going outside. They will help at tidy up time.


Final milestone: (4+)

  • Children will be able to manage their own clothing including footwear, be independent at snack – pouring their own drink and getting their own plate, cups and fruit.
  • They will be independent in toileting and handwashing.
  • They will feel a sense of community, take responsibility for themselves

and show willingness to contribute to Nursery life.


Adults will encourage children to take responsibility for their own belongings. They will provide daily opportunities for the children to carry out tasks and undertake age appropriate responsibilities.




Curricular goal 3:

  • To engage in a variety of imaginative play situations and make up their own story
  • To explore sounds through a range of instruments and objects

Milestone 1 (2 years)

  • Children will play with small world toys and begin to develop their pretend play alongside peers. 
  • Children will show an enjoyment of simple songs, rhymes and familiar stories.
  • Children experiment with a range of media – tools, materials, sound and whole-body movement through multi-sensory exploration.
  • Children will begin to re-enact first hand experiences through role play.


Adults will provide a range of small world toys, inside and out and model play scenarios. Adults will scaffold children’s play, and support learning by sharing books, songs and rhymes with puppets and props. Adults will introduce helicopter story sessions. 


Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will start to interact with their peers in play situations, and show an interest in joining in.
  • Children will engage in rhymes, songs and stories, joining in with words and actions. 
  • Children move and play along with instruments while singing or vocalising or when listening to sounds and music.


Adults will continue to support children in their small world and role play. Adults will share core books and rhymes to help the children develop their vocabulary.  


Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will play with their peers, developing ideas together and acting out a range of scenarios. They will use talk to organise themselves and their play.
  • Children will enjoy listening to longer stories and will remember much of what happened. They begin to become familiar with the way stories are structured.
  • Children create sounds by rubbing, shaking, tapping, striking or blowing
  • Shows an interest in the way sound makers and instruments sound and experiments with ways of playing them, e.g. loud/quiet, fast/slow


Adults will lead helicopter story sessions weekly, taking private stories in free flow, and acting them out together. Adults will plan for different role play activities both inside and out, providing a wide range of resources to allow children to develop and extend their play. 


Final milestone: (4+)

  • Children will engage in extended conversations about stories, learning new vocabulary. They will be able to narrate a story they have thought up.
  • They will act out more complex play situations with their peers. 
  • They tap out simple repeated rhythms.
  • They develop an understanding of how to create and use sounds intentionally to express themselves and their emotions.


Adults will share a range of books which reflect diversity, both familiar stories and new. Regular sharing of books and discussion of ideas will help children to develop their enjoyment and understanding of books. 


Curricular goal 4:

  • To use a wide range of resources safely, when constructing large-scale creations.
  • To engage in physical games and activities

Milestone 1 (2 years)

  • Children will move freely in different places both inside and out. 
  • They will explore a range of materials and equipment, learning what physical risks they can take confidently.


Children have daily opportunities to explore the indoor and outdoor environment. Staff will provide a range of equipment to develop and challenge their physical skills. 

Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will continue to develop their movement and balancing skills. 
  • They will use large muscle movement to explore equipment.


Adults will model the vocabulary associated with physical activities and managing risk. They will model how to transport equipment safely and talk about the reasons why we have rules. 

Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will start taking part in group activities which they make up themselves. 
  • They will match their developing physical skills to activities in the setting such as choosing how to travel round an obstacle course.
  • They kick a stationary ball with either foot, throw a ball and start to catch a large ball by using two hands and their chest to trap it.
  • They Jump up into the air with both feet leaving the floor and can jump forward a small distance.
  • They use wheeled toys with increasing skill such as pedalling, balancing, holding handlebars and sitting astride.


Adults will prompt children where appropriate/necessary as reminders of how we can keep safe.

Adults will model different ways to climb, balance and travel along equipment.

Final milestone: (4+)

  • Children will choose appropriate resources to carry out their own plan. They collaborate with others to manage large items.
  • The children will be able to explain why safety is an important factor. 
  • They can grasp and release with two hands to throw and catch a large ball, beanbag or an object.
  • They run and negotiate space successfully, adjusting speed or direction to avoid obstacles.
  • They can balance on one foot.
  • They can jump off an object and lands appropriately using hands, arms and body to stabilise and balance.


Adults will have clear rules for children to follow. They will scaffold the children’s language and ideas as they develop the confidence to set up and tackle different equipment. 

Curricular goal 5:

  • Children will show an understanding of different ways we can keep our mind and body healthy.

Milestone 1 (2 years)

  • Children will establish their sense of self in the setting, and express preferences and decisions.
  • Children will be able to engage others through gestures, gaze and talk.


Adults will encourage children to make choices throughout sessions, from a limited range of options, for example at snack. Adults will begin to talk about making healthy choices, for example through cooking activities.

Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will play with increasing confidence of their own.
  • Children will be able to express a range of emotions, for example when happy or upset, and begin to talk about them.
  • Children will begin to recognise differences and similarities between their peers.


Adults will model a range of emotions, talking about them while children play. Adults will use language to explain different emotions.

Adults will use stories and props to engage children and support their understanding of different feelings, abilities and cultures.

Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will be able to identify how other children are feeling.
  • Children will be able to identify and moderate their own feelings socially and emotionally.
  • Children will be able to identify food/drink that is healthy and unhealthy.
  • Children will be able to talk about different forms of exercise.


Adults will support children to understand why other children might be feeling upset or angry. They will support children to develop independence in resolving conflict, and use stories to promote discussion about emotions.

Through cooking activities adults will support children to understand why some foods are healthier than others.


Final milestone: (4+)

  • Children will be able to talk about different ways we can look after ourselves, for example our teeth, bodies and minds.
  • Children will confidently be able to identify and express a range of emotions.
  • Children will begin to understand the importance of keeping safe online.


Adults will support children to understand the importance of looking after our teeth, bodies and mind, for example through healthy eating, exercise and sleep.

Adults will support children to understand safe ways of using technology.



Curricular goal 6:

  • To be able to talk about favourite books.
  • To begin to recognise letters and show an awareness of rhyme and alliteration.

Milestone 1 (2years)

  • Children will enjoy listening to songs, rhymes and simple stories, and join in with some words and actions.


Adults will sing songs and rhymes and read stories daily. They will build up a bank of favourites that are revisited. These will reflect the diversity of our children. All children will have the opportunity to borrow books from nursery to share at home.

Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will pay attention and notice pictures and words in favourite books.
  • Children will join in with some words and phrases from familiar rhymes and stories.
  • Children will have favourite books, and seek them out.


Adults will point out simple key features in books such as front cover, illustrations, and words.

Books and signs will be evident throughout all areas of the nursery. Adults will provide regular phonic opportunities, with a focus on environmental and instrumental sounds.

Adults will provide props and small world play to support storytelling.

Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will be able to turn pages in books, and understand that print carries meaning.
  • Children will notice some print such as the first letter of their name, bus or door number or familiar logo.
  • Children will be able to clap out the syllables in simple words, such as their names.



Adults will build on knowledge of books, beginning to point out blurb, author, illustrator, and talk about print reading left to right, top to bottom. Adults will encourage children to add marks to their pictures.

Adults will provide regular phonic opportunities, with a focus on developing rhythm, rhyme and alliteration. Different books will help to enhance a wide range of vocabulary.

Final milestone: (4+)

  • Children will be able to re-tell familiar stories and engage in conversations about them.
  • Children will recognise some letters and be able to link them to objects starting with that sound.
  • Children will be able to blend sounds in simple words such as c-a-t orally and continue a rhyming string.



Adults will continue to share and discuss a wide range of books and encourage responses and questions.

Adults will provide exciting, multi-sensory phonic opportunities with a focus on alliteration games, I spy, syllable games sound around us and robot talk.



Curricular goal 7:

  • Children will be able to create a picture or model using their own ideas. They will be able to copy their name, and use cutting tools appropriately.

Milestone 1 (2years)

  • Children will make simple models which express their ideas, for example using wooden blocks, duplo or stickle bricks.
  • Children will develop control and dexterity by exploring different materials using all their senses, for example; playdough, gloop, plasticine, clay and sand.


Adults will model how to use a range of different small and large-scale construction resources.

Adults will provide a range of materials and joining tools for exploration, such as glue sticks, tape and scissors.

Adults will provide daily opportunities to practise large muscle movements indoors and out.

Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will match their developing physical skills to tasks and activities in the setting.
  • Children will become more confident when making marks and begin to give meaning to them.



Adults will support children to develop their mark and model making. They will encourage them to develop their own creative ideas.

A range of materials and tools will be freely accessible at all times, including finger painting, plasticine, playdough, chalk, clay, tweezers, small construction, peg boards and threading.

Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will develop their own ideas and then decide which materials to use to express them.
  • Children draw with increasing complexity and detail, distinguishing between different marks and talking about them.
  • Children will experiment with a range of tools, for example at the woodwork bench, or through cooking activities.


Adults will listen to what children want to create before offering suggestions. They will offer opportunities to explore scale for example through a range of different sized objects inside and out.  Adults expose children to work from different artists and their styles from different periods in time.

Adults will ensure mark making tools are present throughout the nursery, inside and out.

Final milestone: (4+)

  • Children will be able to use different methods and tools to explore materials safely.
  • Children will use drawing to represent emotions and ideas.
  • Children will be able to hold with a functional grip to copy their name using recognisable letters.


Adults will introduce children to different artists from across times and cultures. They will talk about differences between artists work, for example colours and media.

Adults will provide regular opportunities for children to add their names to pictures and models.





Curricular goal 8:

  • To show an awareness of pattern, change and shape in the environment.

Milestone 1 (2 years)

  • Children will settle in and become familiar with their natural surroundings making simple observations.
  • Children will explore size and weight in everyday contexts, and investigate different 2d and 3d shapes. They will complete simple inset puzzles.


Adults will ensure children have free access to the outside area and natural world throughout sessions and in all weathers. They will encourage curiosity, appreciation and respect for our environment. Adults will ensure children have access to inset puzzles, natural objects, loose parts, stacking toys, and will be encouraged to bring natural items into the setting.

Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will explore collections of materials with similar and different properties. They will talk about what they see in the environment using a growing vocabulary.
  • Children will compare, explore and talk about 2d and 3d shapes using informal and mathematical language such as sides, corners, flat, round. They will talk about and identify patterns around them using informal language.


Adults will introduce and scaffold new vocabulary. They will encourage children to play freely with a range of natural materials, blocks, puzzles and shape sorters. Adults will use open ended questions – what do you notice? What is the same? Different?

Adults will facilitate trips beyond the nursery, for example seasonal walks, trips to the library, local park etc.


Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will talk about what they see, and make comparisons between objects relating to size, length, weight and capacity. They will begin to talk about patterns, continue patterns and create their own. Using the class calendar children will begin to describe a sequence of events.
  • Children will talk about what they see in the natural world, and discuss their findings and ideas. They will have weekly Forest School sessions.


Adults will model and extend the vocabulary of shape, for example, sharp corners, straight sides, curved sides etc. Adults provide experience of size changes, for example through dough, observation of animals etc.

Adults will model observational and investigational skills, asking questions out loud, “I wonder if….” “I wonder will happen when….”

Adults will provide regular opportunities to explore pattern through objects, the environment and everyday events.

Adults introduce children to the class calendar daily, talking about the sequence of events.

Final milestone: (4+)

  • Children will select shapes appropriately for tasks and be able to explain their thinking. 
  • Children will be able to combine shapes to make new ones. They will be able to talk about and make comparisons between, objects using specific techniques such as measurement.
  • Children will be able to talk about changes in the weather and seasons.


Staff will provide rich opportunities to develop observational skills and the ability to talk about the wider world.


Curricular goal 9:

  • To show an awareness of number sense to 5 and beyond using songs, rhymes, games and loose parts play.

Milestone 1 (2years)

  • Children will join in with simple number rhymes.
  • Children will react to changes of amount in a group of up to three items, and begin to use number to make comparisons for example more, lots etc.
  • Children will develop early counting skills, saying some numbers in sequence.


Adults will use available opportunities, including feeding and changing times for finger-play, outdoors and inside, such as ‘Round and round the garden’.  They will sing finger rhymes which involve hiding and returning, like ‘Two little dicky birds.’

Adults will draw attention to changes in amounts, for example, by adding more bricks to a tower, or eating things up. They will offer repeated experiences with the counting sequence.


Milestone 2 (2-3)

  • Children will count in everyday contexts.
  • Children will develop fast recognition of up to 3 objects, without having to count them individually (‘subitising’).


Adults will help children to match their counting words with objects, pointing to small groups of two or three, “look, there are two!”

They will occasionally ask children how many there are in a small set of two or three.

Adults will provide a numeral rich environment, both indoors and out.

Milestone 3 (3-4)

  • Children will recite numbers past 5 and say one number for each item when counting.
  • Children will know that the last number reached when counting a small set of objects tells you how many there are in total (‘cardinal principle’).
  • Children will show ‘finger numbers’ up to 5.
  •  Children will link numerals and amounts: for example, showing the right number of objects to match the numeral, up to 5.


Adults will regularly model the counting sequence, in a variety of playful contexts, inside and outdoors, forwards and backwards, sometimes going to high numbers.  This will include counting claps, drum beats or objects.

Adults will provide a variety of mathematical picture books.



Final Milestone: (4+)

  • Children will experiment with their own symbols and marks as well as numerals.
  • Children will solve real world mathematical problems with numbers up to 5.
  • Children will compare quantities using language: ‘more than’, ‘fewer than’.


Adults will encourage children to record their own findings.

Adults will model mathematical language throughout the day, both inside and outdoors.

Our Wheel of Opportunities

Core experiences are evidenced in the above wheel, which highlights our opportunities for exploration, awe and wonder.  We build on children’s existing experiences and offer them new ways to increase their knowledge, understanding and skills.  We observe the children’s own interests and explore topics that they are interested in, which is woven into the weekly planning.  Weekly forest school enables children to explore the world around them, and see and understand changes that occur in our environment.

We believe in equal opportunities, celebrating the diverse background cultures of our children and encouraging them to share these within the setting. Regular visits within the local area, and opportunities to invite visitors into our setting, further enhance children’s learning experiences.