Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

The Bristol nursery school that took away the toys

Forget bikes and ride-on toys, a pile of pallets provides perfect play. Credit: ITV West Country

Can you imagine a nursery school with no toys? It is hard to believe, but this is exactly what has happened at Ilminster Avenue Nursery School in Bristol.

Based on a German experiment - the staff have got rid of the toys and the children have been playing with milk cartons, keys and even old electrical equipment. Made safe of course!

There's nothing like a plastic bottle orchestra in the classroom. Credit: ITV West Country

Staff feel that these everyday objects encourage much more creative play and also prove that you don't need lots of expensive plastic things to be a child.

We removed all the toys from the classrooms and brought in lots of natural open-ended materials, which we have already but we decided that we were really going to go for that. And of course the biggest draw was a cardboard box!

– Matt Caldwell, Acting head, Ilminster Avenue Nursery School
Staff say the children are communicating more since the no-toy regime began. Credit: ITV West Country

Teachers say the children have become more creative, they're talking more and arguing less. Matt Caldwell says "Children are communicating more and their play is a bit more creative".

  • Watch 'Taking away the toys'

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Early years practitioner Maria Muldowney has also seen big changes since the non-toys were introduced. She says "We've done lots more exploring than usual and there's been lots of talking going on. They're more involved in their play now whereas before some of them would just hold onto the cars. They wouldn't actually play with them, they were stopping someone else from taking them. Whereas now they're not worried about anyone taking anything - there's something different for everyone to play with".

It was supposed to be for a one month trial, but the school has loved it so much it's going to carry on - to a certain extent.

In our room for two-year-olds they've decided that they're going to not have toys back.

In the three and four-year-olds, some of them have been asking for dinosaurs or have been asking for the dolls house again and I think it would be a little bit cruel not to let them have it but I think we'll have less toys in that room.

– Matt Caldwell
Who knew that curtain rings could be so educational? Credit: ITV West Country