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While this spacious nursery has impressive facilities in general, the outdoor space is perhaps its most inspiring. With beautifully designed wooden climbing equipment, rope ladders, wobbly bridges, a tricycle track, growing area, water play zone and dedicated space for pre-walkers to explore, this is a nursery that understands the joys of being out in the fresh air. There is considerable open space for children to move freely in, much of which is well shaded.
It is perhaps not surprising that this well-known “eco nursery” remains on this list. The grounds of Home Grown Nursery Al Safa have been designed to feel welcoming and above all, natural, in line with the nursery’s ethos. Man-made materials have been kept to a minimum and the garden is divided into wide open play areas, a nature trail, wooden play equipment, a sand pit and a large vegetable patch which is tended to by the children. The rear of the garden is an outdoor classroom equipped with mainly wooden toys for sensory, messy and noisy play.
There are now eight nurseries in the JINS group, and each of these settings are far from standardised, housed in a variety of spaces ranging from fully indoor commercial units, unique modern purpose-built centers and, of course, this hidden gem. JINS Al Safa is a cosy converted villa with a character-filled homely feel, nestled in a well-utilised garden. The outdoor space is equipped with wooden climbing equipment, a grow-garden, water play space and a children’s swimming pool. While this may not the largest outdoor nursery space in this list, it is certainly one of the most charming.
This award-winning family favourite has an outdoor space with bags of character and plenty of great opportunities for movement and play. All areas are all shaded, with overhead fans to keep a cool breeze circulating. There are colourful climbing frames, wendy houses, tricycles, a tent and several areas for sand and water play. For the nursery’s youngest children, there is a dedicated comfortable grassed area, with tunnels for them to climb through, huge palms trees for shade and a painted mural on the surrounding wall. This space is regularly used for groups of children to enjoy a picnic lunch in the open air, in the cooler months.
This impressive purpose-built nursery has been designed with its child-led curriculum in mind, with direct access to its expansive outdoor areas from each classroom, allowing for free flow play between indoor and outdoor space in the cooler months. The outdoor space really has it all: a mud kitchen, cycle track, climbing equipment, grow garden, and perhaps most exciting of all, a splash pad that rivals many a water park. To top it all it off, Creative Nest has impressive indoor active play spaces, to ensure there's room for the energy of toddlerhood during the summer months too.
Children’s Oasis feels a bit like the secret garden upon entering, with its sprawling greenery, grassy hills and fruit trees, surrounding a large-converted villa. Children can often be seen climbing trees, rolling down hills and building and creating using the natural materials around them. Children help to care for the nursery’s “family” of tortoises, as well as its large vegetable patch to the side of the building. To the back of the nursery is yet more outdoor space, with a tricycle area, climbing equipment and cosy outdoor ‘book nook’. This outdoor space is an active child’s paradise, with open ended resources and freedom to run and play.
Another converted villa nursery, Kangaroo Kids has a vast garden that has been divided into a range of unique play spaces for children to enjoy. The only accredited ‘Curiosity Approach’ setting in the UAE (that we are aware of), Kangaroo Kids has designed its outdoor play space with exploration and discovery in mind. It includes plenty of open space with natural grass, wooden climbing equipment, a zip line (!!), and a forest school area, where children take part in activities such as den building, tree climbing and story time around a faux fire pit.