Our Curriculum

Our Curriculum

The 'What'

Our curriculum is structured around our values and the statutory Early Years Foundation Stage Framework and the Seven Areas of Learning. The areas of learning are:


Literacy development involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children are given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems and other written materials) to ignite their interest.

Expressive Arts & Design

We enable children to explore and play with a wide range of media and materials, as well as providing opportunities and encouragement for sharing their thoughts, ideas and feelings through a variety of activities in art, music, movement, dance, role-play, and design & technology.


We provide children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems, as well as describing shapes, spaces and measures.

Physical Development

We provide opportunities for young children to be active and interactive and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. We help them understand the importance of physical activity and making healthy choices in relation to food.

Communication & Language

We provide children with the opportunity to experience a rich language environment, develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves, and to speak and listen in a range of situations.

Personal Social & Emotional Development

We help children to develop a positive sense of themselves and others and form positive relationships and respect for others. We also develop their social skills and help them to manage their feelings, understand appropriate behaviour in groups, and to have confidence in their own abilities.

Understanding the World

We guide children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment.

A vocabulary rich curriculum

At Ark Start, we have developed a vocabulary-rich curriculum. This is because we know that developing vocabulary is beneficial to children because it supports:

  • Improved Language Skills: Children who are exposed to a wider vocabulary from an early age develop better language skills, which means they are able to better express themselves, understand others, and communicate effectively.
  • Enhanced Cognitive Abilities: A strong vocabulary helps with critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • Better Academic Outcomes: Research has shown that children with a larger vocabulary are stronger readers and writers later in life.
  • Improved Social Skills: Children with a rich vocabulary are better able to communicate their thoughts and feelings, which improves confidence and helps them build stronger relationships with others.


Enhancement & Enrichment

15 Things

We also believe children should have a joyous early education and that means access to a range of onsite and offsite opportunities and experiences. We make sure that every child who spends their nursery education with us will access our 15 Things: 

The Toddler Curriculum

The two year old curriculum is divided into four projects:

Autumn: September - December

Teaching Texts

Masie Goes to Pre-school; Owl babies; That’s Not My Owl; That’s Not My Monster; The Family Book; The Feelings Book; Goldilocks and the 3 Bears; We’re going on a Bear Hunt; Pip and Posy – The Scary Monster; Stick Man; Goodnight Moon


Topic Book Basket
‘Peepo’ Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg, ‘Dogger’ Shirley Hughes, ‘The Night Box’ Lousie Grieg and Ashling Lindsay, ‘Diwali’ Katie Dicker, ‘Chinese New Year’ Katy Dicker, ‘Peep Inside Nightime’ Usbourne, ‘Christmas’ Katie Dicker,
‘One Winter’s Night’ Claire Freedman and Simon Mendez, ‘Why Stars Twinkle?’ I Wonder Why Series, ‘Night or Day’ Carly Gledhill and Susie Brooks, ‘My First Day and Night’ DK


Key Songs
The Wheels on the Bus; Hello Song; Tidy-up Song; Goodbye Song; Wind Your Bobbin Up Finger Family; If You’re Happy and You Know It; Heads, Shoulders Knees and Toes

Winter: January - March

Teaching Texts

The Very Busy Spider; The Three Little Pigs; Splish, Splash Ducky; Bear Brown Bear What Do You See; Let’s Build a House; Tree, Seasons Come, Seasons Go


Topic Book Basket
‘Nosy Farm’ Rod Cambell, ‘Old Bear’ Jane Hissy, ‘Little Bear’s Trousers’ Jane Hissy, ‘Titch’ Pat Hutchins, ‘Papa’s Mechanical Fish’ Candice Fleming, ‘If I Built a Car’ Chris Van Dusen , ‘Build it!’ Lego book, Usborne ‘Look Inside’ Series: Building Sites, Things That Go, Airport, Cars, Trains, ‘How Things Work’ Rosie Revere, ‘Engineer’ Andrea Beaty, ‘The Magic Paintbrush’ Julia Donaldson


Key Songs
5 Little Ducks; Incy Wincy Spider; Rain Rain Go Away; Build It Up; What Do You See?; Hokey Cokey; All Around the Mulberry Bush; Miss Polly Had a Dolly

Spring: March - May

Teaching Texts

Tree, Seasons Come, Seasons; Go; The Little Red Hen; Walking Through the Jungle; The Three Billy Goats Gruff; Peck, Peck, Peck; Dear Zoo; A Busy Day for Birds; Counting Lions


Topic Book Basket
‘The Very Busy Spider’ Eric Carle, ‘Peter Rabbit’ Beatrix Potter, ‘Book of Bones Maps’ Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinska, ‘Bathtime for Little Rabbit’ Jorg Muhle, ‘Spot’ Series Eric Hill, ‘Oh Dear!’ Roy Campbell, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ Michael Rosen, ‘Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?’ Bill Martin


Key Songs

5 Little Ducks, Incy Wincy Spider, Sleeping Bunnies, Old MacDonald, Three Little Monkeys, Five Little Speckled Frogs, Five Little Ducks, I Went to the Jungle One Day

Summer: June - August

Teaching Texts

Tree, Seasons Come, Seasons Go; The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Each Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Alan Ahlberg; Traditional tales: The Gingerbread Man; The Gruffalo; Kind; From Seed to Sunflower; The Tiny Seed; Oi Frog


Topic Book Basket
‘Feeling Great’ Ailie Busby, ‘10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes’ Mem Fox, ‘Follow Me’ Lucie Sheridan, ‘From Caterpillar to Butterfly Lifecycles’ Ways Into Science series, ‘Tad’ Benji Davies, ‘Titch’ Pat Hutchins, The Usborne ‘Big Picture Book of Outdoors’


Key Songs

5 Little Ducks, Incy Wincy Spider, Sleeping Bunnies, Old MacDonald, Brushing Teeth Song, Hungry Caterpillar Song

Pre-School Curriculum

3 & 4 Year Olds

Our pre-school curriculum is divided into six projects. These projects are used each half term to support the teaching and learning of key developmental milestones, knowledge and skills and have been sequenced purposefully to build on itself, allowing children to use what they have learnt with purpose in a variety of different contexts.

Each project has the same elements that support the planning of teaching and learning within each term.

Pre-School Project Details

Project 1 - Who Am I?

Teaching Texts

Pip and Posy and the New Friend, Owl Babies, How Do Dinosaurs Go To School, Kaya’s Heart Song, Yoga Babies by Fern Cotton, The Family Book, My Dadima Wears a Sari, The Feelings Book, The Girl With the Parrot on Her Head, Stone Soup – European Traditional Tale

Project Book Basket

‘All About Alfie’ Shirley Hughes, ‘Alfie at Nursery School’ Shirley Hughes, ‘Alfie and His Very Best Friend’ Shirley Hughes, ‘All about Peppa’ Lauren Holowaty, ‘And Tango Makes Three’ Justin Richardson, ‘Black is Brown is Tan’ Arnold Adoff Double, ‘Trouble for Anna Hibiscus’ Lauren Tobia, ‘First Encyclopedia of the Human Body’ Usborne, ‘It’s Okay to Be Different’ Todd Parr, ‘Night Shift Daddy’ Eileen Spinelli, ‘Pip and Posy and the Little Puddle’ Axel Scheffler, ‘Anna Hibiscus Song’ Lauren Tobia, ‘Splash Anna Hibiscus!’ Lauren Tobia, ‘Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born’ Jamie Lee Curtis, ‘We Belong Together’ Todd Parr, ‘Using a Wheelchair’ Human Body Helpers Series, ‘Hearing Aids’ Human Body Helpers Series, ‘Wearing Glasses’ Human Body Helpers Series


Key Songs
Hello Song, Tidy Up Song, Goodbye Song, Wind Your Bobbin Up, Finger Family, Grandma’s Glasses, Me!, 1,2,3,4,5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive, Incy Wincy Spider, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Heads, Shoulders Knees and Toes, Humpty Dumpty, Hockey Cokey, Ring a Ring o’ Roses

Project 2 - What Happens at Night?

Teaching Texts

Pip and Posy and the Bedtime Frog; Pip and Posy and the Scary Monster; Peace at Last; Whatever Next; A Little Bit Brave; Night Monkey, Day Monkey; Rama and Sita; Celebrations and Special Days


Topic Book Basket
‘Katy and the Starry Night’ James Mayhew, ‘Night Time Symphony’ Timbaland, ‘Dogger’ Shirley Hughes, ‘The Night Box’ Lousie Grieg and Ashling Lindsay, ‘Day and Night’ Mi-bye Kim, ‘Mog on Fox Night’ Judith Kerr, ‘Good Morning Harry, Goodnight Daddy’ Katy Beebe, ‘Nights with Dad’ Karen Hesse, ‘Diwali’ Katie Dicker, ‘Chinese New Year’ Katy Dicker, ‘Peep Inside Nightime’ Usbourne, ‘Christmas’ Katie Dicker, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Abbie Dunne, ‘One Winter’s Night’ Claire Freedman and Simon Mendez, ‘Why Stars Twinkle?’ – I wonder why series, ‘Three Night Sounds’ Usbourne Sounds Book, ‘Night or Day’ Carly Gledhill and Susie Brooks, ‘My First Day and Night’ DK, ‘My Very Own Space’ Pippa Goodhart and Rebecca Crane, ‘Goodnight Little Rainbow Fish’ Marcus Pfister, ‘The Lost Stars’ Hannah Cumming Max, ‘At Night’ Ed Vere, ‘Magnus and the Night Lion’ Sannc Dufft

Chapter Books: The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark — Jill Tomlinson


Popular Culture
PJ Masks—Story based on the children’s TV programme
In the Night Garden — Book based on the children’s TV programme
Moon and Me—Book based on the TV programme

Key Songs
Rock a Bye Baby, All the Pretty Little Horses, Twinkle Twinkle, Baby Baby Bunting, Hush Little Baby, Children’s known celebration songs – e.g. Jingle Bells and popular carols for Christmas


Finger Plays
Open Shut Them, Ball for Baby

Project 3 - Can You Make It Work?

Teaching Texts

Old Bear; Little Bear’s Trousers; Ada Twist Scientist; What Do You Do With an Idea; The Most Magnificent Thing; The Very Busy Spider; Dreaming Up; The Three Little Pigs; Paper Dolls; The North Wind and the Sun

Book Basket
‘Titch’ Pat Hutchins, ‘Papa’s Mechanical Fish’ Candice Fleming, ‘If I Built a Car’ Chris Van Dusen, ‘Build it!’ Lego book, Usborne Look Inside Series: ‘Building Sites’, ‘Things That Go’, ‘Airport’, ‘Cars’, ‘Trains’, ‘How Things Work’ Cross Section, ‘Rosie Revere Engineer’ Andrea Beaty, ‘The Magic Paintbrush’ Julia Donaldson


Incy Wincy Spider; Build It Up; Can You Hammer A Nail; In Tune with Tools; This is the Way We Build a House; Cranes

Project 4 - Where Do Animals Live?

Teaching Texts
Peter Rabbit; Book of Bones Maps; Walking through the jungle; Handa’s Surprise; Arctic Habitats


Topic Book Basket
Beatrix Potter stories, ‘Winne the Pooh’ AA Milne, Usborne Sticker Atlas (per key group), ‘A First Book of Nature’ Nicola Davies, ‘Rainbow Fish’ Marcus Pfister, Going on a Bear Hunt’ Michael Rosen, ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ Judith Kerr, ‘I Went Walking Mr Gumpy’ and ‘Mr Gumpy’s Motor Car’ John Burningham, ‘Oi! Get off our Train’ John Burningham, ‘The Very Busy Spider’ Eric Carle, ‘The Three Little Pigs’ traditional tale, ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ Julia Donaldson, ‘Dear Zoo’ Rod Campbell, ‘Oh Dear Br’er Rabbit’ Anansi tales

Key Songs
Sleeping bunnies, Old MacDonald, Dingle Dangle Scarecrow, Animal Fair, Two Little Dickie Birds, Three Little Monkeys, Five Little Speckled Frogs, Five Little Ducks, I Went to the Jungle One Day

Project 5 - What Can We Do To Help?

Teaching Texts
Topsy and Tim Go To Hospital; The Lion and the Mouse; The Smartest Giant in Town; The Enormous Turnip; The Little Red Hen; Horton Hears a Who; The Elves and the Shoemaker; Last Stop on Market Street


Topic Book Basket
‘The Little Red Hen’ Traditional tale, ‘Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of Mrs Tittlemouse’ Beatrix Potter, ‘Superworm’ Julia Donaldson, ‘Dogger’ Shirley Hughes, ‘Kind’ Axel Scheffler, ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’ Aesop, ‘Titch’ Pat Hutchins, The Usborne Big Picture Book of Outdoors, ‘Topsy and Tim’ stories, ‘20 Folktales to Read Aloud’ Lucy Brownridge
Key SongsTeaching Texts
Topsy and Tim Go To Hospital; The Lion and the Mouse; The Smartest Giant in Town; The Enormous Turnip; The Little Red Hen; Horton Hears a Who; The Elves and the Shoemaker; Last Stop on Market Street

Key Songs
Wash Wash, Wash Hour Hands; What I am (Sesame Street); Miss Polly had a Dolly; I help you?; Brushing Teeth Song; Fit, Fit, Fit (Cbeebies); Get Well Soon Songs (Cbeebies – Dr Ranj)

Project 6 - How Do Things Change Over Time?

Teaching Texts
Pip and Posy and the Super Scooter; Tree – Britta Teckentrup; From Seed to Sunflower; Tiny Seed; Lifecycles; Tad; The Lorax; Wangari’s Trees of Peace; The Street Beneath My Feet; DK: Fossils; Starting School; Oh the places you’ll go!; The North Wind and the Sun


Topic Book Basket
Tadpoles, Promise From Caterpillar to Butterfly, From Tadpole to Frog, From Egg to Chicken, From Seed to Sunflower, Du Iz Tak?, Jemima Puddle-Duck — Beatrix Potter


Key Songs
If You’re Happy and You Know It; We are Going on a Plant/Flower/Tree Hunt; There’s a Tiny Caterpillar on a Leaf; 5 Little Ducks, 5 Little Speckled Frogs

Teaching Texts & Topic Book Basket

These are the core texts that children read and enjoy through the term. We will link the books to the provision and read these books as a whole class, small group and one-to-one with a key adult throughout the week. Key vocabulary and talking points are drawn from these texts to support children’s understanding of the stories.

The topic book basked supports the children’s wider understanding and is used to further develop knowledge and interests.

nursery children reading books in circle time
nursery play worker child development reading


The objectives for each project have been collated using the Development Matters document, the Early Excellence developmental milestone tracker, the Welsh Early Years Foundation Phase outcomes and Mary Sheridan’s ‘Birth to Five’ document to identify the key knowledge and skills children need to master independently at the specific point of their journey through the Early Years. They are used alongside each child’s personal developmental tracker.

Experiences & Enhancements

We ensure that all children participate in a series of experiences throughout their time with us and that specific additions to the learning environment are included to ensure children have the opportunity to practise and develop the skills and knowledge they are acquiring with friends and independently.

nursery learning outdoor sandpit play
nursery children creative play box building spaceship

Project Invitation

We have planned a series of open-ended projects centred around a provocation as a centre point. The title of each project is framed as a question to encourage children’s curiosity and so that each child can find answers and introduce new learning into their play. The ‘project invitation’ is designed to support the development of the characteristics of effective learning alongside knowledge.

The projects also include short ‘Time to find out’ sessions teaching maths, literacy, understanding the world and expressive arts and design so that children have more ideas, thoughts and language with which to approach their learning through play. ​

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