Our Nursery

Growing healthy bodies, loving hearts and inquisitive minds

At the heart of our nursery's philosophy lie the principles that are found in a typical Montessori setting. This approach emphasises self-paced learning through play, discovery and instruction in a carefully prepared environment and dovetails seamlessly with our Reception curriculum where the Montessori philosophy and curriculum continues to build on the belief that children are naturally curious and capable of learning independently.  

The Prepared Environment

Our early years environment is organised and structured to promote a sense of order. It is never cluttered. Everything has its place and has earned its right to be placed in the classroom, making it easier for children to locate materials and engage in activities. Resources are housed on open and accessible shelves.The space is aesthetically pleasing with an emphasis on natural materials.

When you walk into our Nursery, you'll be struck by the natural sense of order, soft colours, uncluttered spaces, beautiful wooden furniture, open shelves and carefully chosen materials.  Everything about the environment is designed to be multi-sensory, giving the aspect of play to all the tasks.

Practical Life

Activities in the practical life are designed to develop children’s fine motor skills, coordination, concentration, independence, responsibility, work habits and care for self and the environment. They include pouring, transferring, sorting, peeling, grating, sifting, sorting, serving, cleaning, polishing, sewing, lacing, beading, weaving, threading, chopping, cutting, repairing, dismantling, fixing using real life objects wherever possible.

All these skills are then applied in the Home Corner and role play areas. 

Rather than supplying a toy cleaning set, Montessori classrooms make available real cleaning tools that are appropriately sized, and we guide young children as they learn to use them effectively.


The sensorial area focuses on activities that help children develop and refine their senses so that they can better learn and understand the world around them. 

Activities are designed to help children notice similarities, differences and detail and include sorting, ordering, sequencing and classifying according to shape, colour, size, sound, texture and form.   

Children are encouraged to touch different textures and, by using their sense of touch, heighten their perception and understanding of the world around them. 

Sand and water play is sensory play and opens the opportunity for learning through curiosity, problem-solving, exploration and creativity. 

Montessori materials are specially designed hands-on learning tools created to provide children with opportunities to discover key learning outcomes through repetition and practice. 

When children move from the Nursery into our Reception and Year 1 classroom, they will instantly recognise the familiar set up and approach to how resources and equipment are presented and introduced. 

This helps with a smooth transition from our nursery to Reception, Year 1 and beyond.

Children explore real nuts and bolts, locks and keys, glass pouring jugs. You will find real tins of soup, pots and pans, forks and spoons in our role play areas rather than plastic replicas. 

Practical life activities are often the starting point in a Montessori environment, preparing children for more complex tasks and academic learning later on. They're also seen as essential for a child's holistic development, nurturing not just practical skills but also aspects of character, concentration, and a sense of responsibility.

Our nursery contains specially designed Montessori educational materials that are arranged and presented in a systematic and accessible way. 

Each sensorial material serves a specific purpose, offering children opportunities to refine their senses, develop fine motor skills, and indirectly prepare for concepts in math, language, and other areas of learning. Through repeated use and exploration, children build concentration, problem-solving skills, and a deeper understanding of the world around them.


A child has enormous capacity to absorb the new words in this period in their life so a flower found in the garden is named as daisy, rose or sunflower, and the tiny insect crawling in the grass as ant, earwig or ladybird.

Our Nursery and Reception setting is filled with authentic, open-ended resources that children can explore, investigate and talk about. 

These materials provide opportunities for children to explore and talk about and thus build their vocabulary base,  language and communication skills.

Role play areas based on real life scenarios are also a key feature of our Nursery as they stimulate children’s imagination, natural  urge to play and desire to communicate.

Early mathematics

Children are introduced to number through counting games and nursery rhymes. They work with quantities as well as well as pattern making, sequencing and sorting. 

Our sensorial materials refine the senses and develop cognitive skills such as thinking, judging, associating, and comparing. 

Children explore and learn to identify shapes; pair sound cylinders, sort natural materials, such as shells, pebbles and conkers, according to size, colour, texture or weight. 

The resources in our classrooms are all carefully chosen and designed to help children from practical concrete forms to the more abstract when children are ready.


While exploring the rich content of the Cultural area, our children are unconsciously building skills in observation, prediction, sequencing, categorising, questioning, organising, comparing, and contrasting. 

Objects of interest provide opportunities to explore, investigate and discover new concepts and ideas. Children learn the difference between living and non-living things, how land, air, and water make up the earth. 

You’ will see, real life objects such as torches or magnets for example are provided to encourage children to inquire and learn about scientific concepts such as light and shadows and magnetism. 

Creative arts

Imagination is the ability to conjure images or scenarios in one’s own mind, separate from present sensorial input and distinct from fantasy which draws ideas from a world that does not exist. 

Creative arts is designed to give children the opportunity to express, create and design in art, design and technology, music and drama. Equipment provided encourages children to explore a range of media including mark making, pattern making, printing, painting, collage, sculpture and 3d construction.

The child

The Montessori approach is built on the relationship between the child, the adult and the environment and the belief that the child has an absorbent mind capable of effortlessly soaking up information from their environment. 

Our approach believes that everything  a young child encounters in their life is awe-inspiring and fills them with wonder.  When the whole world is still relatively brand-new, animals, plants, the environment, and real people provide more than enough inspiration for their young minds.

The adult

The role of our lead nursery practitoner is to show a deep respect for the child and to promote the qualities such as self-discipline, independence and a sense of responsibility from an early age. They skilfully prepare the environment, observe, facilitate and provide appropriate guidance and instruction.

We are also supported by a lead Montessori practioner based at our partner school in Stisted to ensure our approach is applied authentically.


Physical development

We have an outdoor area is designed to give children the opportunity to move, explore and develop gross motor skills in a way that is not possible in an indoor environment. 

Outdoor learning

Big open outdoor spaces encourage children to open their posture using their arms like wings, swing or climb or simply roll around in safe outside spaces.

Forest School

When children move into the Reception and Year 1 Class they engage with the Forest School Programme and have a designated area of woodland within walking distance of the school.

Early literacy

Phonemic awareness

In our nursery setting, early literacy focuses on cultivating children's sensitivity to the sounds in their environment and preparing them to start mastering oral blending and segmenting skills. Some of our carefully curated learning materials are designed to aid auditory discrimination. Adults create a language rich environment filled with listening activities, playful games, rhymes, and alliteration, all aimed at honing children's ability to discern different sounds. We use the Twinkl level 1 approach in our Nursery. They seize various moments to introduce blending and segmenting, like when putting on coats ("Time to get your coat, c-oa-t, coat") and during story sessions.


Some children with strong phonemic awareness are keen to explore letter shapes and their associated sounds and begin to build building simple cvc words using our wooden 3 frames stones with engraved letters. Children who show an interest and awareness embark on level 2 of our reading programme. The same phonic programme based on systematic synthetic phonics is then used with Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children.


Fluency is essential if children are to understand what they hear and read. In nursery, this starts with developing oral fluency. Oral fluency is developed through learning songs, nursery rhymes and encouraging children to join in with phrases from well known stories e.g.  ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow the house down’. ‘Who's been sitting in my chair?’ Adults use my, turn your turn and help children orally rehearse sentences and what they want to say.


Children need a broad and rich vocabulary to comprehend what they are reading and this starts from the moment they are born. We recognise that young children have an absorbent mind and can quickly absorbed and develop their vocabulary ay a remarkable rate if exposed to a language rich environment that systematically introduces new vocabulary. Opportunities to expose children to new words is through a broad range of topics, themes objects of interest to stimulate talk as well as stories and circle time. This includes the use of simple information books including atlases presented in a way that encourages curiosity in the written word. 


Comprehension is the the ability to make sense of the words they hear and read. In our nursery adults use clear unambiguous language. They give children time to process the words they hear and observe closely to check understanding, repeat where necessary or clarify using alternative words. 

Storytime is where adults tell or read stories and provides a ideal opportunity to help children with their understanding including access to picture books to develop inference and deduction.

Nursery Curriculum

The Montessori five areas of learning and the seven areas outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework may differ in their terminology, but both emphasise the same holistic development and provide a broad range of experiences to support children's growth and learning during the early years. We have outlined in our curriculum below how  our approach meets in full the Early Years Framework published by the Department of Education and the latest Development Matters Guidance on expectations around expected outcomes for 3 and 4 year old children. This ensures that our nursery curriculum links with our Reception curriculum when children start school. 

Using themes or topics  capture children's interest and curiosity, making learning more engaging and enjoyable. Thematic learning also promotes vocabulary growth and language skills as children discuss and explore new concepts related to the theme. Our skilled practitioners carefully select the topics or themes throughout the year to engage learners based on their developmental needs and interests. These  themes can be used interchangeably across Nursery and Reception as they are a means to access the curriculum. 

Nursery Curriculum at Finchingfield St John the Baptist Primary Academy.pdf

Nursery Curriculum

Nursery themes and topics (1).pdf

Themes explored across the EYFS

The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, 

the period from birth to the age of six”.     

Maria Montessori

We offer placements of 3 hour sessions: mornings 8.45am -11.45am & afternoons 12pm - 3pm. Children are welcome to join Finchingfield Nursery from the term after they are 3 years old. The number of morning or afternoon sessions can be tailored to your needs.

Please call 01371 810423 to arrange a tour and visit our nursery. Further inquiries can also be made by email to nursery@finchingfieldacademy.com