For Parents

Our Curriculum

2024 Curriculum

At Merry Poppets, we take a topic-based approach to our curriculum. Each half term, a new topic is introduced to the children. This is always flexible as we follow the children’s interests and topics are chosen carefully to ensure they are relevant and meeting the needs of all of our learners. The children’s favorite topics are revisited at points throughout the year to consolidate and extend their learning. We do not set specific time scales on how long the topics should last, this is dependent on the age, needs and interests of the children.

Children can use these opportunities to navigate social skills such as sharing, taking turns and negotiating the views of others with minimal intervention from practitioners. Our environment can help children build independence though choice and responsibility. We aim to provide an environment where children can initiate activities and become actively involved in caring for and maintaining their own environment.

We aim to provide an engaging, stimulating and inclusive curriculum that excites our children and is reflective of their interests and experiences.
We are child-centered – this means that developing the whole child is at the heart of our ethos. Our curriculum ensures our children become happy and successful lifelong learners.

Children are constantly learning (even when it does not look like it) and require an ambitious curriculum that gives them the opportunity to make sense of their thoughts and experiences by allowing them to thrive in an environment where they:

A - Feel safe to express themselves
B – Understand the consistent response to their behaviors
C - Have built secure and trusting relationships.

Children’s learning and development opportunities will be maximised in environments that are diverse, offer challenge with minimized risk and where children are protected from harm and abuse. The stability of routine and familiarity will further reinforce children’s confidence and enable them to participate in learning without hesitance or concern.

To learn well, children must approach opportunities with curiosity, energy and enthusiasm. Effective learning must be meaningful to a child, so that they are able to use what they have learnt and apply it in new situations. These abilities and attitudes of strong learners will support them to learn well and make good progress in all areas of learning and development. Staff will focus on supporting children to reach their full potential before transitioning to school.

At Merry Poppets, our curriculum is based on the Characteristics of Effective Learning which means having enabling environments that include an awareness of children’s emotional development.

Characteristics of Effective Learning

The Characteristics of Effective Learning are ‘playing and exploring’; ‘active learning’; and ‘creative and critical thinking’. Set out below are how we aim to achieve these and create effective teaching and learning at all our settings. We believe these are important for the child’s development but also for our ability to assess their progress.


Playing and Exploring Active Learning Creative and Critical Thinking
Children investigate and experience things, and 'have a go'. Children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties and enjoy achievements. Children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things.

An environment that is organised and contains familiar items from home will be appealing and will offer children a sense of comfort. Having a set routine will support children to feel secure and settle into learning without being worried about what might happen next.

Children are motivated to learn, concentrate and keep trying even if they encounter difficulties because they know they are safe, supported, and they enjoy their environment.

Children often feel a greater sense of freedom outdoors which leads to a greater use of imagination. Outdoor areas will provide children with further opportunity to experience activities; to rehearse, explore, develop knowledge and understanding of the world, to create and imagine.

Children will feel valued, important and comfortable in an environment that reflects their gender, race, culture, interests and level of development.

Engaging outdoor environments are vital as not all children have access to outdoor space on a regular basis at home. Maximising opportunities to encourage gross-motor exploration and a healthy relationship with physical activity is at the core of how we set up our outdoor areas.

Children will first need access to familiar and consistent activities that support them to secure knowledge and skills. We then introduce challenging or unfamiliar activities and resources to support their development.

Children need opportunities to develop their own play and independent exploration – this needs to be enjoyable and motivating. They also need adults to scaffold their learning by supporting the children to learn and develop new concepts and skills.

Children will benefit from routine and well-planned environments which include key features such as dedicated areas for reading, creativity and role-play.

When a child has chosen an activity, task or experience they will often feel in control of its outcome. Where the activity does not involve adult interaction, children will often feel more freedom to try new ideas without any expectation. This often leads to increased imagination and creativity. The chosen activities are also not necessarily reality-bound, allowing children the freedom to test out ideas or process thoughts.

A child will often feel confident taking part in an activity or task they have instigated themselves. The activity is also more likely to be based on an interest in which they are more knowledgeable. These factors will often result in increased conversation with peers and adults.

Children will need to be challenged through the introduction of new and unfamiliar experiences. For example, those relating to unfamiliar countries, festivals or traditions.

Children can use these opportunities to explore their feelings through imaginative play such as role-play or small world. Imaginative play gives them the freedom to experiment and explore while keeping full control over the outcomes.


Often children will become fully immersed in activities and tasks they have initiated themselves as they are likely to be built upon their interests or something that has encouraged their curiosity. This can lead to longer periods of engagement and concentration and therefore a deeper understanding of a topic.


When a child feels completely at ease, they are more likely to attempt an activity or task independently without worrying about the outcome. This often leads to the development or improvement of new skills and knowledge resulting in increased independence.


What The Parents Say About


Our daughter has been attending Merry Poppets Henlow for over a year now and we are thrilled with her care and development. We truly feel like the MP staff are an extension of our family and when we drop her off we know she will have exceptional care whilst also progressing through her development indicators in a fun and interactive way. We get regular updates telling us what the week in store holds, then photos and catch-ups daily to keep us informed on how our daughter's day has been. We honestly spent so long choosing the right local nursery and we are greatful to be part of Merry Poppets Henlow.