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Mini Explorers Crabtree Ltd



Mini Explorers Nursery

Imagine a world in which children are free to roam fields, groom ponies, feed sheep, collect eggs, dabble in ponds, clamber over logs and ditches and hitch a ride home for lunch in a tractor. A world of good old-fashioned fresh air and exercise, and – in winter at least – probably quite a lot of mud!

Why Mini Explorers?

Set on our own 260-acre farm near Bedale, on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Mini Explorers Nursery is a unique concept in early years childcare. As far as we are aware, we are the first and only Farm School in the country!

A World of Adventure!

Whilst our outdoor environment is sculpted by the farming calendar, many of our activities are entirely child-led. If our babies are enjoying watching a combine harvester cut corn, or our toddlers want to stop and turn a fallen tree into a spaceship, or our pre-schoolers want to build a fairy castle in the paddock, then this is what we’ll do. We know their hungry little tummies will tell them when it’s time to head back to Crabtree Hall for a home-cooked lunch (or, when it’s time to unpack our picnic baskets in the summer). You’ll hear your children talk of animals and machinery, paddocks and polytunnels, mud kitchens, ponds and fields...we could go on. And then there’s our enormous sandpit – more like a mini beach in fact - where so many of our Mini Explorer adventures begin!

Set on our own 260-acre farm near Bedale, on the edge of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Mini Explorers Nursery is a unique concept in early years childcare. As far as we are aware, we are the first and only Farm School in the country!

Our days are shaped by the seasons on the farm and the natural world around us. We believe passionately that children should be given every opportunity to immerse themselves in the great outdoors and be offered unrestricted, carefree access to the open countryside.

Mini Explorers was the brainchild of owner and founder Steph Pybus, who first began to dream of creating her own outdoor nursery back in 2012. As a mother of six, Steph – a successful textile designer and long-suffering (!) farmer’s wife – wanted a nursery for her own children that would offer the same happy, carefree, healthy, outdoor lifestyle they led at home.

Unable to find a nearby nursery that offered the unfettered access to the great outdoors that Steph craved for her own brood, she sold her textiles business and set about creating a unique outdoor-focussed nursery at the heart of the Pybus family farm near Bedale in North Yorkshire.

Mini Explorers opened in 2012 with just five children and seven carers. As word spread of the unique childcare concept it was offering and its fantastic farm setting, Mini Explorers grew rapidly. So too did its ever-expanding menagerie of animals and its team of amazing childcare practitioners and specialist teachers.

Now, in 2022, Mini Explorers is proud to call itself the country’s first and only (we think!) Farm School Nursery. We link all our learning to the national EYFS framework, but we never forget that at the heart of our nursery’s ethos is the belief that young children benefit in ways that are almost immeasurable from carefree fun and adventure in the great outdoors.

All our learning is linked to the national Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, but a huge amount of what our children take away from each day on the farm isn’t found in any classroom curriculum.

That said, we know that we must prepare our Mini Explorers for life beyond nursery. Our team of carers and child-development specialists are always finding new and creative ways to align the unique opportunities and experiences available to our Mini Explorers with the key areas of learning identified by the current EYFS guidelines. Examples of how our ethos might combine with these areas of learning are shown below.

Physical development

From tummy time for our babies as they strain upwards to watch the clouds scud across the sky, to our toddlers and pre-schoolers clambering over fences and tree trunks, Mini Explorers offers endless opportunities for our children to develop their fine and gross motor skills and improve coordination, dexterity, confidence and mobility. On some days, our Mini Explorers can be found racing through fields and throwing and catching leaves, whilst on others, they’ll be carrying buckets of feed and hay, whittling sticks, building towers and planting seeds.

Personal, social and emotional development

Teamwork is an important aspect of all that we do at Mini Explorers, whether we are grooming a pony and taking turns to brush or gathering apples to take indoors to bake with. All our Mini Explorers learn to remain calm and quiet around our animals, which is a great skill for any child to master, and helps them develop self-control, compassion, behavioural awareness and restraint. The benefits of children interacting with animals from an early age are well documented.


Opportunities abound for working literacy into our day, from mark-making with sticks in the mud, to drawing up plans for model-making in the sandpit or going on a letter hunt around the farm. And when we are all in need of some quiet time, we love to sit together and share our favourite story books and songs or make up some of our own.


We love to work maths into our activities, from filling buckets of apples in the orchard and learning about capacity, to weighing out animal feed and guessing the depth of a puddle. And who knew that lining up peapods in The Paddock to compare length and estimate how many peas were inside was a living, breathing maths lesson?

Understanding the world

Watching the life-cycle of our vegetables, crops and animals gives meaning to the concepts of time and development, whilst discovering a tiny natural wonder like a spider’s web, an eggshell, a ladybird or a brightly coloured leaf leads our Mini Explorers to investigate, ask questions and engage in the world around them.

Expressive arts and design

Squishing blackberries and painting with the juices; acting out our traditional Nativity play in the hay barn; singing and dancing in the rain; creating musical instruments from old material on the farm…we are never short of artistic inspiration at Mini Explorers!

Creative thinking

From working out how to keep the sheep in the paddock to deciding which animals to feed next, creative and lateral thinking are essential Farm School skills. Resilience and positivity are also ingrained in our children; if your first seeds don’t germinate or your bread doesn’t rise, have another go!


    This service covers the following area(s):

  • Knaresborough
  • Catterick Garrison
  • Ripon
  • Harrogate
  • Richmond
  • Bedale
  • Thirsk
  • Northallerton
  • Easingwold
Day(s) of the week Description Start time End time From To
Monday - Friday 07:00:00 18:30:00

Last updated: 24/07/2022