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ERA Award Entry 2011 Brand: Hope Education Resource Name: Rainbow Tunnels and Mats Set Category: Best Early Years Resource or Equipment - non ICT Price: £199.90 Age Range: 0-3 years

The Rainbow Tunnel concept was created to cater for a variety of different uses within the early years learning environment; it is suitable for sensory exploration, role play and activity play. It’s unique ‘pop-up’ design makes it space efficient and easy to set up, making it suitable for a broad age range and for group or individual play. Furthermore the Rainbow Tunnels are versatile for use with younger children and toddlers to promote active play, as well as in SEN classes for engaging special needs children, and as the set comes complete with four individual tunnels that can be combined or separated for use in different areas of the setting they are a worthwhile investment for any nursery. The development of the Rainbow Tunnels came after extensive consultation with Booth Hall Children’s Hospital in Manchester. The hospital staff were originally looking for sensory resources that would fit in a limited amount of space; these needed to be engaging for the children but also affordable because of very tight resource budgets. Rather than design a resource that is specifically designed for SEN settings, the Rainbow Tunnels and Mats were further developed to ensure they were suitable for mainstream environments both as a role play and active play learning solution.


The Rainbow Tunnels are ideal for creating a safe environment for younger children and each Rainbow Tunnel can be used by either individuals, or a group of children, and the modular concept of the tunnels gives practitioners the option to create an expandable play area or sensory trail quickly and easily. The ‘pop-up’ construction of each Rainbow Tunnel means that this resource can be set up instantly, then quickly folded down and stored away in the carry bag included, making for a quicker tidy-up time and a longer play time for the children! Within the set comes four different coloured mats, which were developed to work alongside the Rainbow Tunnels to allow children to explore different colours, textures, tactile elements and sounds with the varying materials and inserts used to create each mat. Each mat fits neatly inside the base of each Rainbow Tunnel, helping to make the set even more versatile for creating sensory experiences, a sensory trail for children to follow, and teaching children about matching colours. This newly developed resource provides the flexibility that early years settings require, allows children to explore different sensory environments and encourages role play and active learning, making the Rainbow Tunnels an ideal resource to win an ERA Award 2011. They help early years settings create a dedicated sensory facility that they may not have been able to offer previously. It also provides the multi functional element and is easily adaptable for use as a play den, reading corner, crawl tunnel or wendy house‌ the possibilities are endless.


Our new Rainbow Tunnels and Mats set were sent to two nurseries for review; Jeffrey’s Corner, Hyde and Rocking Horse Nursery, Manchester. Each provided us with feedback on the learning benefits of the Rainbow Tunnels and Mats, and the impact they had on the nursery setting and the children. Rocking Horse Nursery Veronica Proctor, Nursery Manager “The Rainbow Tunnels are ideal for achieving several EYFS learning objectives, including: • • • •

Physical Development - the children had the opportunity to improve their balancing skills whilst climbing in and out of the tunnels Knowledge & Understanding of the World – the children loved exploring their way through the tunnels and investigating Creative Development – the tunnels encouraged the children to use their imaginations during role play activities Personal, Social & Emotional Development - the children were encouraged to take turns going through the tunnels, and joining in fun activities together inside

The design of the Rainbow Tunnels gave the children space and the freedom to move around, and were flexible enough to be used in several different activities, including outdoor activities, to assist the practitioner. As the set of four tunnels can be separated or connected together, we were able to use all four pods in separate rooms in the nursery, and connect them together again for a group activity and enhance physical play. The children displayed enjoyment reading inside them, and they are useful in facilitation one-to-one time inside the tunnel pod. We have not seen a similar product available for nursery settings; the key benefits of the Rainbow Tunnels are their bright colours, the ease at which they can be assembled, and the children enjoyed running through them and spending time sitting inside and playing together.” Jeffrey’s Corner Eileen Smith, Nursery Manager “Firstly the Rainbow Tunnels were quick and easy to assemble. They are light weight so they can be moved around different areas of the nursery easily, and are useful for both inside and outside play. The staff found the tunnels EYFS friendly, in that they are an open ended resource that can be used for a quiet reading corner, role play area, camping tent, crawl through tunnel, sun shelter and many more. Staff liked that there were no sides, makes it more versatile and a wall can be created by using a piece of material.


The Rainbow Tunnels can be adapted to include small transparent windows in the side, and Velcro tabs on the roof to enable children and practitioners to hang light weight items on the frame, for example glittery mirrors, photo’s, ribbons etc.”

The Rainbow Tunnels make an ideal setting for quiet reading either individually or as a group.

They are versatile enough for different age groups to use…

…and encourage role play activities that support learning.


ERA Award 2011 - Hope Education - Rainbow Tunnels and Mats Set