What happened to authentic experiences?

As we fill our settings with lots of wonderful authentic resources, what happened to authentic experiences?

How many times do we set up a beautifully curated home corner and then serve snack like it’s a military operation or plant cress seeds into little plastic pots whilst never once creating a vegetable patch in the outdoor area.

Different things work for different settings and we all have access to different resources, we must do the best with what we have; planting outside might be impossible for you and cress cups are a great alternative but sometimes we don’t notice how we could create more authentic experiences when we focus on the aesthetics of our continuous provision, when we focus on creating a certain ‘look’ or invitation.

I will openly admit that I, on many occasions, have created a play dough cupcake invitation with authentic resources such as cupcake tins and cases but I rarely bake with the children - I’m not saying that this isn’t a great invitation, it would be impossible to bake daily but once in a while I could do real, authentic, baking rather than just supplying the authentic tins.

Another area that I definitely fall short in is providing authentic experiences when it comes to natural materials. I often collect conkers and pinecones to add to the continuous provision and I might provide context about where these came from but there is a conker tree on the same road as my nursery that I could actually walk the children to. However, in my bid to create a certain aesthetic I overlook this worthwhile experience.

I could go on, for example, how many of us create a beautiful cosy corner with books, fairy lights and cushions but are too busy to sit with the children and create these authentic connections; instead we are constantly thinking about the next learning opportunity rather than just practicing what that area is created to do - to create a sense of belonging and security.

The purpose of this post is not to point out where I think you are going wrong but more a personal reflection on my own practice that I hope encourages you to do the same thing.