Literacy Day 2020

For Literacy Day here are 10 reasons to teach literacy outside.

The Covid crisis has shown an increase in 60% of our population’s appreciation of the natural world. Yet still so many of our children have not had access to nature during these months or as part of their educational experience.

Literacy Day 2020

We decided the greatest impact we could have was to train people to practice themselves. Whilst there is a lot of focus on early years and literacy, the value of reading, writing, talking and listening outside for children and young people of all ages is significant.

Please see our Blog below from Juliet Robertson – 10 reasons to teach Literacy outside:

1. It makes the learning and teaching of spelling and grammar fun, relevant and interesting.

2. Children enjoy making miniature worlds which then become the scene for a story. They can sculpt and shape their imaginative thoughts. This helps them understand about creating a setting with words.

3. The world around us provides inspiration for writing poems. The results are consistently of a better quality than poetry written in the classroom.

4. As we move from place to place, our thoughts, feelings and actions change. This helps us understand that this happens to characters in a story too. We can make our character descriptions more authentic.

5. There is nothing like reading a ghost book or horror story in a creepy place. Or making up your own. The setting doubles the atmosphere created.

6. When we play games we can write down instructions about how to play them. Our knowledge of being outside can be used to write advice to others about how to avoid being stung by a wasp or what to do if a nettle stings you. Functional writing has additional purpose and relevance.

7. Real life experiences help us develop our vocabulary and comprehension. For example, some children find vocabulary introduced in a book confusing. He or she may not necessarily understand that a river, lake, stream and pond are all bodies of water. Sometimes concepts that are read about in a book do not make sense until they are seen, felt or experienced for real.

8. We’re not reading at our desks. Hardly anyone reads at a desk unless they are at school or in an office. Reading for pleasure should be at leisure.

9. The art of naming, describing and knowing about the world around us matters. You can learn the umpteen descriptions to describe the stem of a plant. But without observing these, it is much harder to memorise or to truly know and understand.

10. Children engage with their learning outside and this has a knock-on effect back in the classroom too, according to a recent study.


Lighting the Literacy Fire – CPD on 21st October 2020
Literacy Day 2020


Come and spend a busy, happy day with Juliet Robertson, exploring literacy outside.

Together, we: 


  • Explore the practicalities of developing any outdoor space as a literacy-rich environment on a shoestring budget using natural materials and sustainable approaches.
  • Look at approaches to ensuring your children become prolific mark makers outside using a range of creative approaches and through careful attention to their physical development.
  • Consider the joy of facilitating many contexts for listening and talking.
  • Ensure that a range of texts and narratives are an everyday part of your outdoor practice.

This course is suitable for those who work with children in EYFS or are hoping to do so.

The courses are backed up by oodles of resources on a password protected blog post and the many blog posts that are readily accessible on the Creative STAR website. 

FIND OUT MORE | BOOK YOUR PLACE


Messy Maths – CPD on 20th October 2020

Juliet will also be running Messy Maths CPD on 20th October 2020 – An Outdoor, Playful Approach for Early Years.

FIND OUT MORE | BOOK YOUR PLACE


Webinars with Juliet Robertson and Circle of Life Rediscovery

Juliet is an educational consultant  specialising in Outdoor Learning and Play.  Join us for  ‘live’, interactive webinars this Autumn.   If you can’t make it, just register and we will send you all the recordings and access to many current and useful resources to view on your own time.

With increased interest in the use of outdoor spaces for teaching and learning, these webinars ‘More Messy Maths’  and ‘Mud, Mess & Magic’ will equip you to develop your confidence and meet curriculum needs whilst teaching outside.

BOOK NOW


About Juliet Robertson
Check out our webinars with Juliet Robertson

Juliet is an educational consultant who specialises in outdoor learning and play. Previously, she was the head teacher of three schools ranging in size from 6 to 277 pupils. Juliet is based in Scotland and has worked at a national level since 2008 writing case studies, documents and doing behind the scenes work to help shape strategy and support for schools and early years establishments.

This includes heading up the team that wrote the Education Scotland document, Outdoor Learning: A Practical Guide for Scottish Teachers and Practitioners(2011), co-authoring Loose Parts Play – A Toolkit (2016 & 2019) and being part of the Scottish Government strategy group that created A Play Strategy for Scotland (2013). Most recently, Juliet contributed to Out to Play (2018), a Scottish early years document supporting practitioners to develop off-site provision in local greenspace. Find out more.


About Circle of Life Rediscovery
Circle of Life Rediscovery

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them

Outdoor Classroom Day 2020

Play? Naturally! By Kate Macairt


Today is Outdoor Classroom Day 2020! As we tentatively begin to emerge from our safe spaces how are we going to re-adjust to human contact and integration? The enforced lock-down has in many ways been merely an exaggeration of the increasing individual isolation our modern world has created.

Physical play is important!

I grew up in the 1960’s, by the end of the 60’s watching telly had become what we did and staying in to watch a favourite programme topped going out to play with friends. How accustomed to virtual entertainment, virtual communication, virtual shopping, virtual play had we become before March 23rd?

Many of us in the wilderness and foraging community utilise Instagram/Facebook etc. to communicate, technology is great and helps support global connection, but we need to ‘stay alert’!

Outdoor Classroom Day 2020

Physical play is important. Playing is fundamental to animals and that includes human animals. Playing is the way the body and brain connect through the central nervous system.



Playing must be a sensory experience, what we hear, smell, see, taste and touch provides essential data for our brains and it is these sensations which lay the foundation of our ‘story’; our understanding of where we came from and who we are in relation to others and environment. If we limit the diversity of the sensory inputs, we limit our growth.

In his book ‘Flow; the classic work of how to achieve happiness’, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the super-power we all possess:

“The integrated cells and organs that make up the human organism are an instrument that allows us to get in touch with the rest of the universe. The body is like a probe full of sensitive devices that tries to obtain what information it can from the awesome reaches of space.it is through the body that we are related to one another and to the rest of the world”.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi p115 Flow 2002 isbn 9780712657594)

When we are in the FLOW we feel a sense of belonging and connection. Playing outdoors is going to be a very essential element to the post lock-down healing process.

Hope you got out on Outdoor Classroom Day 2020

For many of us we have been lucky and have taken a walk every day in which we have enjoyed smells, sounds, sights, textures and tastes of nature’s gifts. You know the benefits of spending time outdoors in a wood, on a beach, in a field, up a mountain.

The lock-down and enforced entrapment and isolation has encouraged many more people to get out and take walks. There are numerous reports produced in recent weeks of the health benefits both physical and mental of getting outdoors.

In the weeks months and years to come enriched and diverse sensory experiences will be vital. The urban street may seem a concrete jungle – but there is a real living jungle of insects, plants and birds lurking and hiding in surprising places.

If we limit our sensory inputs to those of the mass- produced body spray, processed food, nylon plastic etc we are limiting our future.

Circle of Life Rediscovery (CIC) has been advocating outdoor play for many years. Our Nature Play training provides guidance, ideas and activities to help encourage children in your care to connect and find joy in natural materials and natural outdoor spaces. In our second Nature play webinar we will be providing more information on health benefits and ideas for games and activities to play outdoors and practical ways to bring the outdoors inside.

Happy Outdoor Classroom Day 2020!

Free online webinar

In our second Nature Play webinar we will be providing more information on health benefits and ideas for games and activities to play outdoors and practical ways to bring the outdoors inside. 

When: Thursday 4th June 3pm – 3.45pm 
Register here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This shorter Interactive Webinar with Kate Macairt and Marina Robb will provide more information on health benefits of the outdoors, ideas for games and activities to play in the outdoors.  We will suggest simple ways to bring the outdoors inside, for those with limited outdoor access.  All our work is framed within the idea of the Nature Play Continuum.

Marina Robb

Marina Robb is founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC, a leading outdoor learning organisation. She is Author of ‘Learning with Nature’, considered a must-have book for Forest School & Outdoor practitioners. Marina has been the recipient of funding from Natural England, Mind and The National Lottery, amongst other grant makers for her outdoor work with disadvantaged teenagers, families and young people. Read more.

Kate Macairt

Kate Macairt is an experienced Play Therapist and Child Counsellor who has been working with children and young adults for over 10 years as Therapist and previously 15 years as Teacher. Her background is in Expressive Arts Education and her interest in the significance of the creative instinct led her to research creativity and its connection to well-being and academic achievement as part of a Masters in Education. The discovery of Play Therapy persuaded her to re-train and she moved from Creative Teacher to Creative Play Therapist. Kate’s passion and love of Mother Nature and spending time outside has infiltrated into her role as a Teacher of Art and Play Therapist. Read more.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

01273 814226

Just Imagine…a Blog for Mental Health Awareness Week

Just Imagine, by Kate Macairt – Circle of Life Rediscovery Director

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2020. Thinking back to New Year’s Day 2020, there I was sending out positive messages to family and friends; ‘2020 Vision Happy New year!’ I think I was imagining a year in which climate activists, friends of the earth XR Greta… all would grow in strength and more of the population of the world would wake to the Crisis and demand our Leaders re-wrote the rule book.

See our Play Therapy course with Kate Macairt. Mental Health Awareness Week 2020


Then came February, remember February? We were all still busy, busy earning money ferrying children to and from school trying to juggle responsibilities as we sat in traffic jams.


I remember listening to BBC World Service and the speakers were taking this corona-virus thing very seriously but somehow it didn’t seem to be part of our story here, our crisis were the storms and floods which had decimated areas of the country.

Come April everything had changed. Life as we knew it had stopped. We were all required to retreat into our safe ‘caves’ and enter an internal space where the imaginings and memories began to resonate more.

According to research by Kings College London (quoted in the New Scientist 9th May 2020) people are sleeping more and reporting that they are experiencing more dreaming, this is partially due to turning off the alarm clock and getting more REM sleep, and also because without the daily stress of going to work and earning money people have begun to relax allowing their internal unconscious processing to function better.

taking walks and listening to the birds

For many who could get outdoors it has become a pleasure to take a walk, to watch the birds, to notice how Spring was waking up the earth. There has been a sense of collective cooperation within the isolation and folk united to clap and thank the workers who were suddenly recognised for their importance.

As the weeks progressed, I lost count of the days, it seemed as if Father Time had relinquished control to Mother Earth and each passing day relaxed more of the old routines.



A realisation dawned that DOING less and spending more time BEING made them feel happier. Of course, there are those who feel lost without the old work routine and worries about money and paying bills are real for us all. For some families I work with time at home has deepened relationships but for others the confinement has revealed cracks and stresses and a disintegration of connection.

Even for the most sanguine there has been an underlying anxiety which has seemed to fluctuate from day to day. Our innate fear of death has been fed into with each media report.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

This week is National Mental Health Awareness week. How ironic, it needs to be re-designated as National Mental Health Awareness Year. The statistics for 2019 mental health illness before the virus crisis was showing a dramatic upward curve. Anyone who works with children, young people and adults will recognise that modern life was becoming intolerably stressful for a large number of us.

Our work with CAMHS


I know that I am not alone in feeling concerned about how our already struggling mental health teams will cope with the return to ‘normality’.



The increase in suicide is not being reported and I know the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) services are running at a fraction of their normal work load, Social Services are aware of a frightening increase in domestic abuse cases.

The Woodland Project

Circle of Life Rediscovery works in partnership with organisations in Sussex to support children and young people who are accessing mental health services, and their families. You can find out about their work here.
Their Woodland Project in East Sussex offers days out in nature for families who have a child with a severe physical or learning disability, families who have a child experiencing mental health issues and 11-18 year olds who are accessing mental health services.

These old -world problems will inevitably be a destabilising factor in whatever form the ’new’ world takes. Now we are being encouraged to come out of our safe spaces and re-integrate, I am sensing a new anxiety taking grip, there are so many uncertainties and for many a realisation that a return to life as it was pre 2020 seems impossible and undesirable.

So, what can we do? Now is the time to start dreaming for the external reality we desire. Now is the time for us to imagine the world that we would want our children and grandchildren to live in. Now is the time to awaken our minds and look deep into our shadows. I think we have been forced to experience a new way of living which has given us time to process the inner world or unconscious mind and create new neural connections to our experience of outer world and conscious mind, we are experiencing ourselves in a new way.

I understand that lockdown is an infringement of liberty and many argue that there is a dark and sinister authoritarian force at work. There are so many contradictory ‘conspiracy’ theories bouncing around the internet to add to our anxiety, it seems a great testament to the power of the human imagination to create stories.

Story telling is an intrinsic part of my work as Play Therapist. Working non-directively with children I have come to appreciate how well they can utilise archetypes to play out the struggle between good and evil. The child’s struggle is to explore and ultimately accept the negative aspects of themselves and their experiences and balance them with their positive attributes.

Read about my work

In a Jungian sense the battle is within ourselves. “I have seen the enemy and he lies within”. The Shadow has featured in stories since humans first began telling tales, our ancestors had good reason to fear the darkness, they did not need to imagine monsters.


Our modern technological culture has become obsessed with the power of the shadow baddie.

We have been absorbing the narrative for decades, Dracula will suck your blood and make you bad, Darth Vador is lurking waiting to take control and reduce you to a robotic killing machine, the devil will tempt you to join him in his ghastly ways, the green goblin will try and destroy the world and so on and so on.

The narratives have become so ingrained in our unconscious mind we may not even be aware and perhaps in times of personal Fear we need to identify the baddie, we need to externalise the enemy; the baddie is always the ‘Other’.

Of course, I am aware that for some to be the shadow baddie feels powerful – and then it is real, the appeal of and obsession with the Baddie is seductive to some and dangerous for many! Have our modern stories, imaginings and narratives led us to unconsciously connect power with being bad? Where have all the heroes gone? I am purposefully imagining a future in which self-questioning is a norm and being fair, considerate, tolerant, grateful, loving is what we demand of ourselves and those we choose to govern us.

What can we do to feel hopeful about our personal and world recovery from the trauma that is this coronavirus global pandemic? I have been reflecting on this and I feel very apprehensive. If I start to attach to the narrative of good versus evil how do I know for sure which side is which?

Mental Health Awareness Week

We are all mammals and lone individuals, we have an instinctive drive to seek a tribe or pack to belong to, it helps us to feel safe. But our tribalism inevitably creates a need for the Other, the enemy. Is it our own shadow aspects we project onto the enemy?


If we are to create a future which is less stressful, more collaborative and cooperative do we need to start acknowledging our personal greed, spite, envy, hatred, despair and fear and be more aware of how we may try to project our shadow onto others?

We can change, we have all reduced consumption in this enforced lockdown, we have all stopped driving, flying and shopping as much and Mother Earth is less stressed. Can we imagine that this will become the new normal? Do we want to? Production and consumption has kept us focused on the external world of doing things and our internal world of sensory based feelings has been ignored, we just have not had time for reflection, and we have not been providing ‘being’ time for our children either.

Nature Connection

Nature Connection, Outdoor Education and Forest School in the old world (pre 2020!) were available to a minority of children and families. Circle of Life Rediscovery (CIC) has been pioneering projects aimed at extending the provision to mainstream schools and organisations for years. Since ‘stay at home’ many more people now appreciate the simple pleasure of connecting with our living world and I am sure that outdoor play and activities will be a vital part of the healing process for all ages.


We will need to allow time for dreaming and imagining a more satisfying life which balances inner and outer worlds and gives us time to ‘be’. I suggest we need to be more consciously aware of how stories of the shadow infiltrate our minds. Stories, movies, videogames are a great escape, but we enter an other’s imagined world and all too often it is a world of their projected fear.

We need to free time to imagine the world we want. Does it sound too idealistic? Is this an example of Utopian dreaming? Perhaps,
“the future is not there waiting for us. We create it by the power of imagination” – Vilayat Inayat Khan; Sufi Master.

Nature Play & The Therapeutic Space

Play is essential for all of our well-being and learning. In the below interview link, Marina Robb and Kate Macairt discuss the impact of sensory input on the brain and will provide an introduction to:

The holistic person – being and doing
The Importance of the senses
Simple play examples
What is play?
How does it look in and out of doors Setting up the space
The Nature Play continuum
Reflective language
The Power of play

https://youtu.be/dHNkjkvRe7Q

Two Day Training with Kate Macairt and Marina Robb

Nature Play & The Therapeutic Space

This two-day training has been created to help those working with groups of young people and children to understand why some children present difficult behaviours and are unable to participate in the group activities.
READ MORE.


Date: This will now take place on either Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th July OR Thursday 24th and Friday 25th September.
Location:
 Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex, BN8 6BP
Cost: £175.00
Time: 09.00 – 15.30
Booking: please book online here.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

01273 814226

Nature Play and the Early Years

Nature Play is essential for all our learning and development. In the early years of our lives we explore and experiment. What makes the human species so special? It has to do with all the care and time we are given by the adults around us as well as the variability in our experiences and the places we inhabit.

Nature Play in the Early Years


Growing up for children takes a long time in the human species. Our brains prune as we grow older, leaving in place well-trodden neural pathways.

These provide us with the ability to create, think outside the box, transfer knowledge and learning, socialise, regulate our feelings and grow internal self-worth and autonomy.

Nature is the best way to play and learn in the early years. A diverse environment, full of sensory experiences with space and time is ideal for early year’s development. Apart from how trees and green spaces reduce cortisol, our stress hormones, we grow an ecological identity, a long-lasting kinship with the wider non-human world that remains loyal and provides a key refuge for years ahead.

Nature Play in the Early Years


Applying a child/person-centred, play-based approach in nature – we embody abstract concepts and apply knowledge and understanding that comes from direct experience.

What’s exciting is that our education system is beginning to value this approach to learning.



We are beginning to see that there is a direct link between childhood play and discovery and arriving at adulthood able to take appropriate risks, adapt to new environments and provide solutions to new problems.

Juliet Robertson from Creative Star Learning


Juliet Robertson, based in Scotland is one of the leading experts in play and learning in the outdoors. She has helped to support many organisations, government and charitable agencies, schools and nurseries to bring nature play and education into mainstream learning.




Local authorities in Scotland are exploring how using outdoor space could optimise physical distancing. Read the recent Guardian article here.

Circle of Life Rediscovery aims to transform education and health through nature and we are delighted to be working with Juliet (and other people and partners) to realise this vision. Change is needed from the top-down and bottom-up.

Here today we are offering a number of downloadable materials from Scotland that clearly provide the thinking and framework demonstrating the benefits and approach for broadly defined ‘ outdoor learning’.

Common Ground Interview with Juliet Robertson

Please see below for our recent Common Ground interview with Marina Robb and Juliet Robertson, they discuss:

  • What common values underpin our practice with children?
  • What is the role of nature in ‘good’ education?
  • What policies and ideas are working in Scotland and how can we learn from this?

Juliet is offering a number of webinars to show how teaching in nature through play, can be seen through a mathematical or English lens. The webinars explores a diversity of ways of embedding literacy and maths in an outdoor space.

Messy Maths & Outdoor Literacy in the Early Years – Webinar

Messy Maths: Join Juliet via Zoom on 21st May, 3pm – 4.30pm. Please click here to register for the Zoom webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Visit our website for full details.

Outdoor Literacy: Join Juliet via Zoom on 25th June, 3pm – 4.30pm. Please click here to register for the Zoom webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Visit our website for full details.

Messy Maths & Outdoor Literacy CPD’s

A Nature Mandala

If you are local, you may be able to join Juliet and the Circle of Life Rediscovery team in person in the Autumn – Covid permitting! Juliet will be running 2 CPD events – Messy Maths and Outdoor Literacy.

Free Resources to download!

Please sign up to our newsletter to receive 2 free documents:

  1. Outdoor Learning – Practical guidance, ideas and support for teachers and practitioners.
  2. Taking Learning Outdoors.

All the while, we remain a voice for learning and developing in nature and cultivating and deep appreciation for this land beneath our feet.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

01273 814226

Forest Kindergarten Training

‘Opening up the Outdoors’

Forest Kindergarten is modelled on a Forest School approach


Forest Kindergarten is modelled on a Forest School approach and is based around child-centred learning through play in the Early Years. Forest Kindergartens offer young children frequent visits and regular play opportunities in a local, natural setting all year round – this could be a woodland, park or even a beach!

What are the benefits of Forest Kindergarten approach?

10 Benefits of a Forest Kindergarten approach

  1. Enjoyment – Children who regularly learn, play and enjoy the outdoors environment are observed to feel happier and more relaxed. They can learn at their own pace, follow an interest, enjoy the fresh air, get mucky without worry – what could be better?
  2. Play – the Forest Kindergarten approach supports child-centred learning through play in a real world context. It provides young children with freedom to explore and use multiple senses.
  3. Nature immersion, discovery and exploration – Children have the time and space to become the ‘directors’ of their own learning. Staff take on an observation and supporting role and this empowers children to become managers of their own learning process.
  4. Creates interactions – with people and places where they play in their local area. As a result of these positive interactions, children learn to care for nature. Children develop a connection with the natural world which can lead to long term environmental awareness, understanding and positive action.
  5. Well-being – promotes movement, health and well being, physical and emotional resilience, promotes ‘in the moment’ experiences and develops confidence.
  6. Awareness – supports the acquisition of knowledge, skills and care for the natural world.
  7. Motivation and concentration – spending time in the outdoor environment is exciting for a child. The outdoors and its constant changing state fascinates children and therefore leads to high levels of attention. Many practitioners who regularly take children to visit local spaces have noted that children are able to participate and concentrate for longer periods of time.
  8. Risk benefit – regular visits with time and space, supportive adults and plenty of child led play helps to develop children’s awareness of risk as well as their confidence in managing risk. Children develop their confidence with taking risk over time and consider as a direct experience before deciding what action to take.
  9. Teamwork / co-operation – children when playing and exploring outdoors can demonstrate a less competitive nature. They use the natural world in a completely different way, often becoming more imaginative with their play, developing a different rhythm and working together for a shared purpose. There is less academic pressure, less formal structure which children (and adults) really respond to.
  10. The ripple effect – When children have positive experiences outdoors they will take their experiences home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit their local woodlands more frequently.

“At the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling” – Shanti

Equip your staff to take children out of door as part of their everyday education!

At Circle of Life Rediscovery we are running a two-day Forest Kindergarten Training in May, East Sussex.

Forest Kindergarten Training in East Sussex


The aim of this two-day training is to develop Early Years practitioners’ skills to enable and empower them to make regular visits to a local green-space or woodland.

What themes underpin this training?

  • Based upon three themes- people, place and pedagogy (activities).
  • The importance of sustained, free play for children’s development and engagement.
  • The value of nature for well-being – both for child and practitioner.
  • Making a connection with the natural world leading to long term environmental awareness and care for our world.
  • Importance of reflective practice.

Key Content:

  • How to prepare both yourselves as practitioners and your young children to go to a green-space.
  • Setting up a suitable site and setting boundaries with children.
  • Preparing for risks (risk benefit model).
  • Research on the benefits of playing and learning outdoors.
  • Games and songs to support children with the routines of regular visits to a green-space.

Course details:

Date: 7th & 14th May 2020.
Location: Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex.
Time: 09.00 – 16.30.
Cost: £175.
Booking: Please book online here. See our website for full course details. Please note:  If this event needs to be postponed due to the Covid-19 virus, we will reschedule and provide an option to return payment.

Forest Kindergarten Training - Learn how to open up the outdoors!

“I enjoyed this training so much! Having already been doing Forest School with the older children I was struggling to do fun and exciting things with the early years- you have bought back my confidence and given me lots of ideas and ways to improve my practice.”
2020 Participant


Nature hour

Take your kids outside for nature hour!

A ‘nature hour’ should be part of the school curriculum every day, say The Wildlife Trusts. They are calling for every child in the UK to spend one hour outside in nature, every day, as part of the school curriculum. Please read the article here.



Forest School Shelters

At Circle of Life Rediscovery we can design and build bespoke forest school shelters for your school or organisation.

Forest School Shelters


We will visit your site to discuss your needs and requirements, to offer advice and give suggestions. Visit the website to learn more.






Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

We provide exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Plant Power & Foraging

Plant Power – Spring and Autumn Foraging

Here in the lush green hills of our local landscape we are so very lucky to be surrounded by a rich plant life. Nature’s medicine chest is vast and incredibly abundant.

As the wheel of the year turns and our health needs vary, nature is right there, offerings up its jewels for us to utilise for our well-being.

Plant Power! Spring Foraging & Wild MedicineAs spring emerges and the sap rises, a plethora of cleansing and warming wild herbs emerge. At the height of pollen distribution and hay-fever season, there are the natural anti-histamines growing in the hedgerows.

Summer comes with all the frenetic busyness and we are then surrounded by calming wild medicines. Autumn brings the bounty of virus busting berries and nourishing roots to see us healthy through the winter…..

It can seem overwhelming at first, being surrounded by so many different plants and wanting to learn about them all instantly!

Plant Power! Autumn Foraging & Wild Medicine
My advice is to just start by learning a few plants each year, or one plant per season. Really get to know those plants well by learning how to cook with them as well as make medicines.

Taste them in teas and understand their properties through all your senses. Each plant will become a trusted alley and overtime your knowledge, as well as your medicine cabinet will grow.

In the morning of my wild medicine workshops, we spend time foraging for common and abundant wild medicines of that season. We will take time to really look at the each plant and fill our baskets together. After lunch we will learn how to utilise all the plants gathered into food and medicines which you can re-create at home again.

Spring & Autumn Foraging - learn about Plant Power!

This very practical, hands on approach to me really helps solidify your learning and I hope you will leave our days with new plant friends with which you can greet time and time again.

I will also introduce some basic botany to kick start your foraging journey and signal you towards some good resources for further learning.

Alice Rose Betony
Learn about Plant Power and Foraging! Spring & Autumn Workshops:

27th April 2020 – Spring Foraging & Wild Medicine

Learn about the wild food and medicine available in abundance at this time.

Spring Foraging & Wild Medicine
Wild spring greens have been part of the diet of our ancestors for thousands of years and we will learn some of their traditional and modern uses as well as how we can gain benefit from incorporating them into our lives.

On this day we will walk the land and gather some of the spring plants we find for making tea, food and medicine around the fire in the afternoon. You might take home a herbal vinegar or syrup, feast on wild pesto and salad and pick up some fire by friction tips.

Date: 27th April 2020.
Facilitator: Alice Rose Betony
Location: WoWo Campsite, Wapsbourne Manor Farm, Sheffield Park, Uckfield, TN22 3QT.
Cost: £65, children over the age of 10 welcome for £30.
Time: 10.00 – 15.00.
Booking: Please book online here.
More information: Please see the website.

16th September 2020 – Autumn Foraging & Wild Medicine

Learn how to make some winter herbal remedies with the abundant hedgerow berries available at this time.

Autumn Foraging & Wild MedicineAutumn is the time for deep nourishing, building up our stores of nutrients and supporting our immune systems ready for the cold months ahead. Along with the last few wild greens we have such an abundant variety of healing foods and medicines at this time of year.

We will gather and fill our baskets together in the morning and make food and medicine around the fire in the afternoon. You might take home a hedgerow oxymel or enjoy some wild hedgerow syrup as well as picking up some fire by friction tips.

Date: 16th September 2020.
Facilitator: Alice Rose Betony
Location: WoWo Campsite, Wapsbourne Manor Farm, Sheffield Park, Uckfield, TN22 3QT.
Cost: £65, children over the age of 10 welcome for £30.
Time: 10.00 – 15.00.
Booking: Please book online here.
More information: 
Please see the website.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

Email: info@circleofliferediscovery.com
Website: www.circleofliferediscovery.com
Tel: 01273 814226

Messy Maths – take learning outside on National Number Day

National Number Day

Next Friday is the NSPCC’s National Number Day. I hope this inspires you to join thousands of schools for a mega maths-inspired fundraising day and raise money for the NSPCC. Below are just a couple of examples of how to take maths outside!

Leaf Multiplication

Thank goodness for leaves! How would we learn our multiplication tables without them.

Leaf Multiplication

“Hmm.” I hear you say. “I managed just fine, thank you very much.”

Maybe so, but let’s face it. There’s a lot of rote learning to be done. We need to find different ways of helping children learn their tables and have fun whilst doing so.

The added bonus of using leaves is that you can appreciate the beauty of the structure and learn which one is which in the process.

3 leaves have 15 leaflets

It’s compound leaves that seem to work best. These are ones like a horse chestnut leaf. These have lovely “hand-shaped” leaves each with 5 leaflets. So 1 leaf has 5 leaflets, 2 leaves have 10 leaflets, 3 leaves have 15 leaflets, etc.

 

National Number Day

You often find the leaves of buttercups are arranged in trios.

If these leaves look a bit odd, it’s because I placed them face down to stop them blowing away! 4 x 3 (trios) = 12.

 

Ash leaves are more variable

 

Ash leaves are more variable. However I managed to acquire a nice collection of leaves with 9 leaflets. 3 x 9=27.

 

bracken fronds

 

For the very able mathematicians in your class, perhaps they would like to create multiplication sums for bracken fronds…

 

I think there’s lots of possibilities here. Can your class find compound leaves to represent all the multiplication tables from 2 to 10? Can they each create a sum, then have a competition to see who can solve all the sums the quickest? What challenges spring to your mind?

Stick Logic

One ongoing challenge for teachers is ensuring that children who finish earlier than others have something meaningful to move onto. There’s lots of possibilities outside and this stick activity is one such example. It can be completed in pairs or by children working alone. It helps if children know they can look at the work that others are doing.

The children need to find 9 sticks of about the same length. Conveniently I have a big stash of cut sticks.

Take 1: 5 triangles – not bad for starters!

Take 1: 5 triangles – not bad for starters!

If you do not have such luxury items, then challenge children to find or create 9 sticks of equal length. Twigs are fine too.

The challenge is pretty simple: how many triangles is it possible to make using 9 sticks? I have no idea, but the photos give you an indication of how I went about the task!

 

 

Take 3: 7 triangles – getting better

7 triangles – getting better

This logic activity can also be ongoing over several days. I like coming up with variations on a theme and asking children to do the same.

For example, what differences would we discover if:

 

 

  • We used 9 sticks of different lengths.
  • We used less than 9 sticks or more than 9 sticks – Is there a pattern to what we discover?
  • We chose a different shape to create, e.g. a square.

Take 6: I can count 18 triangles but I’m getting fuzzy eyes!

Take 6: I can count 18 triangles but I’m getting fuzzy eyes!

All-in-all it can be quite an absorbing task. I’m not sure this is the maximum number possible. If you better 18, I’d love to know how!

I hope this equips and inspires you to take maths outside on National Number Day!

By Juliet Robertson

Get real, get messy, get maths, get outside!

Come and spend a wonderful day in the woods, with Juliet Robertson, the author of the multi-award winning book, ‘Messy Maths‘. Together you will explore the five “R’s” of Messy Maths:

  • Rights – every child is mathematical and has the right to have learn about and explore maths.
  • Routines – embedding key maths concepts into your daily routines.
  • Resources – open-ended, low cost materials which can be used in lots of different ways with different ages and abilities of children.
  • Responsibilities of the adults – how to follow children’s lead and articulate the learning which happens through a play-based approach. It also includes ways of involving families in developing a child’s love of maths.
  • Re-imagining your outdoor space – developing maths-rich provision in any outdoor space be this a concrete jungle, woodland paradise or something else.

This content is based upon the book, Messy Maths: A Playful and Outdoor Approach for the Early Years. It is particularly suitable for those who work with children aged 3-6 yrs old. It takes a sensible approach that provides lots of practical ways to ensure your maths provision is engaging and interesting outside and meets the needs of the children with whom you work.

This all takes place within the context of sustainability using the environment, natural materials and what is around us in any outdoor space.

Date: 21st May 2020.
Lead Facilitator: Juliet Robertson
Location:
 Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex, BN8 6BP
Cost: £120. If you are attending the Literacy Day also, the fee is £220 for the two days.*
Time: 09.00 – 15.30
Booking: Please book online here.
More information: Please see our website.
*Juliet is also running a Literacy Day on 22nd May – ‘Lighting the Literacy Fire’. Please see the website for details. If you would like to book both courses with Juliet, the fee is reduced to £220 for both courses.

About Juliet

Juliet is one of Scotland’s leading education consultants who specialises in outdoor learning and play. She works at a national level delivering training, giving keynote speeches, leading and supporting innovative outdoor projects and writing content for websites, documents and case studies.   She is passionate about enabling schools, play organisations and early years settings to provide quality outdoor learning and play opportunities for children and young people. Read more here.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.
Circle of Life RediscoveryWe provide exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.
Email: info@circleofliferediscovery.com
Tel: 01273 814226

Forest Kindergarten

Breathing Life into Literacy

By Louise Hack

Education and lives have changed hugely over the last 50 years. We now live in a fast world- fast food, fast internet access, firing off a quick email to numerous people and flicking between many screens. Our brains have developed into high speed trains which somehow are able to cope with constant quick episodes of conversation, information and interactions without moving from the comfort of our seats.

Education seems to mirror this more and more and there is an ever- increasing rush to put pen to paper, be still, write at length, test and assess with less and less time to connect, explore and wonder. However, when you strip it right back learning is a process and a messy one at that! We need to consider the core elements of learning and surely the rights of the child and we need to put them at the heart of our teaching.

They must therefore include the following:

  • Making connections (people, nature)
  • Active play and learning (time, space, following own interests and fascinations)
  • Exploration
  • Developing self-emotions, confidence, resilience, problem solving and independence

And what better place to enhance and develop these areas? Yes you’ve got it – the
outdoors!

I believe that moving literacy into the outdoor environment inspires children,
stimulates their imagination, makes sense of the world around them that they will
ultimately be reading and writing about. In this article, we are going to explore how to integrate literacy into nature by using the big outdoor classroom.

So…. get ready, lift yourselves up from your desks, pull on your waterproofs and be
prepared to get your hands dirty as you open the doors to literacy learning beyond
the classroom walls. Go forth… explore, discover and wonder and I guarantee you
will notice significant changes with engagement, energy, ownership and emotional
involvement- both yours and the children you teach..

Rituals and personal stories – on a recent Forest Kindergarten training event with
Juliet Robertson we discussed the importance of rituals in play and behaviour.
Rituals can create order and help us to create sense to our world. All animals seek
rituals and even my gorgeous but slightly anxious Ozzy dog seeks familiar and
ordered events on his walks and wanderings. I have learnt to follow his lead – who
am I to try and avoid one of the sniffed but much loved bunny holes!

As a child rituals were an important part of my world and I still remember them fondly from the chants we used to say as we crossed bridges to school to the gentle shake of a low lying branch to wish the old tree a good day. Rituals are repetitive, help children to feel secure, tune them into their environment and aid transitions. Rituals help to form personal histories and stories which in turn aids storytelling. So when out and about with little ones – look around you and consider how you can create stories with the places you visit regularly. Tune in with your world – really look and explore. Children will never forget all the little things.

Forest Kindergarten - creating charactersCreating characters – creating characters or woodland creatures is a lovely activity for young children to do quite early on using the natural materials that they find.

It can help them to feel safe to have a little creature that lives in the woods who they come to find each week and someone that they can have adventures with. It can also help to develop empathy, friendship and relationships.

 

By creating a character hands on, they can start to develop the descriptive language whilst in the moment of making for example “it has a bumpy, pointy head and soft, smooth skin.” It is much easier to describe when you are creating something hands on rather than looking at a 2D picture of a character from a book. In addition to this you can now create the characters story.

Storytelling – Storytelling connects. It connects us to our past, to each other, our families and our world. Here are two examples of ways to unravel stories with young children:

Story Worlds - Forest KindergartenStory small worlds – try creating a natural story world

*You could create a place for your creature to live in. Does it live in a dark cave? Does it like to live up high or underground? Is your character shy or does it like to have lots of people to live nearby?

 

*Or retell a story using a story map that you have made- track a story adventure by creating the journey from start to finish.

Story sticks – This is a great activity and one of my favourites for creating a story journey.  When out for a long walk, collect a stick about the length of your lower arm and take some elastic bands or string with you.   Wrap the elastic bands/ string around the stick and as you enjoy your walk, your children can collect treasures and attach them with the elastic bands.  This is a great activity for encouraging children to become inquisitive about the world around them, it helps them to tune in and explore and REALLY look at what’s beneath their feet.  At the end they could make up a story using their collected treasures to remember the steps they have taken on their journey. Alternatively, this stick can become… hmmm… a chance to inspire their imagination!

Describing our world – we can have high expectations that all children will be able
to describe the world around them. But how can anyone truly describe a scene
unless they have experienced it first hand? Multi-sensory experiences aid the brain
to connect and engage which as a result associates a meaning and an emotional
connection. Therefore, if you want someone to use descriptive language in a story,
poem or passage to describe, for example, the thundering rain or windy weather,
then they need to experience it first-hand not just through a picture. They need to
feel the wind on their skin, feel a sense of cold, have their hair whip around their
face, feel the air almost knocked out of them and even struggle to walk into the wind.

Learning by doing is exciting, it allows us to create meaning. When you next have a
snowy or windy day then yes, by all means think about safety but also open your
eyes to the fact that this may be a child’s first experience of such an event. A year or so ago when we had our last ‘big’ snow shower, I took a class of Reception aged
children outside to experience snow. They had never experienced this other than
through watching TV, Frozen the movie in reality. After a little while of exploring, they were telling me how cold they were, how the snow had turned hard and that it wasn’t soft anymore. Children need to discover, see things change before their eyes to encourage vocabulary and the depth to write about subjects in the future.

Tuning in and listening – early phonics

Tuning in and listening – early phonicsIn a previous job role as a consultant, I worked in a variety of different Early Years settings focusing on the very early years of literacy. One of the most significant outcomes of some research that I was involved in, was around the decline of ability to filter sounds due to increased environmental noise e.g. babies finding it hard to tune into their mothers voice or a toddler hearing a set of keys fall to the floor.

 

 

It is hugely important that we build in time to ‘really’ listen to what sounds are around us. Noise is a part of our lives and so much so that during a recent remote holiday to Devon it almost hurt my ears when there was a lack of sound!

International Literacy Day 2019In the outdoors there is a cacophony of different sounds – some natural and some man made. The difference to tuning into them outdoors rather than indoors is that the sounds are not so strong and overpowering because there is more open space for sound to travel around. Nature has a rich orchestra and is a great way of allowing children the time to sit quietly and record either by pictures or marks on a page the different natural sounds/ conversations they hear. You will be surprised that when you really ‘tune in’ how many different sounds you can hear.

 

In addition to this, allowing children to have the time to understand that everything can make a different sound – one stone dropping into a cool pool will not sound the same as another. Everything is different and unique – so catch your breath and relish this time.

Books to support literacy learning outdoors (some of my favourites):

Stanley’s Stick – Neal Layton
The listening walk – Paul Showers
Leaf Man –
We’re going on a leaf hunt – Steve Metzger
Mud – Mary Lyn Ray
Snail Trail – Ruth Brown
Yucky Worms – Vivian French
Wild – Emily Hughes
Bog Baby – Jennie Willis
Into the Forest – Anthony Browne
Tree: seasons come and seasons go – Patricia Hegarty (Bee and Moon books also
by the same author)
Leaf – Sandra Dieckmann

So finally…

Breathe the outdoors into our literacy learning!Outdoor experiences allow us to breathe… the pace slows and we start to respond to the natural rhythms around us. The outdoors allows us to connect and deepen our sensory experiences which help to make meaning to the world in which we live. We develop our talk, negotiation/ problem solving skills and tune into the natural environment.

We can develop an abundance of language and we can also develop our personal histories/ stories in a playful way. The outdoors allows us to develop the link and connection between ourselves, our adventures and stories.

So lets breathe the outdoors into our literacy learning and inspire and engage our children with many different skills whilst they play and explore.

Louise Hack, Whoosh Learning Director, Educational Consultant & Circle of Life Rediscovery Trainer.

Find out more about our upcoming Forest Kindergarten Training:

FOREST KINDERGARTEN ‘OPENING UP THE OUTDOORS’ TRAINING

A two day introductory course based on the Scottish Forest Kindergarten Model.

Key Overview:
Forest Kindergarten TrainingForest Kindergarten is modelled on a Forest School approach and is based around child-centred learning through play in the Early Years. Forest Kindergartens offer young children frequent visits and regular play opportunities in a local, natural setting all year round – this could be a woodland, park or even a beach!

The aim of this two-day training is to develop Early Years practitioners’ skills to enable and empower them to make regular visits to a local green space/woodland.

Date: 6th & 13th February 2020 OR 7th & 14th May 2020.
Facilitators: Marina Robb & Louise Hack
Location: Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex.
Time: 09.00 – 16.30.
Cost: £175 for the two days.
Booking: Please book online.

Key Content:

  • How to prepare both yourselves as practitioners and your young children to go to a green space.
  • Setting up a suitable site and setting boundaries with children.
  • Preparing for risks (risk benefit model).
  • Research on the benefits of playing and learning outdoors.
  • Games and songs to support children with the routines of regular visits to a green space.

Please visit the website for full details.


Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

 

Why is nature so valuable for us therapeutically and what can it teach us?

An Interview with Ian Siddons Heginworth

Ian Siddons HeginworthIan Siddons Heginworth has a wealth of experience as a Drama and Art Therapist. He is a leading Ecopsychology practitioner and Environmental Arts therapist working in the West country for Devon Health Authority. Ian will be in East Sussex in September this year running the workshop – Exploring the Natural World and The Feeling Self. Please see below for details.

1. Why is nature so valuable for us therapeutically?

Nature is our natural habitat so when we go into nature we immediately encounter our natural selves. Even the idea of going into nature is an illusion because we are nature, so when we walk into the woods we simply become part of the woods. Our natural self is entwined within a complex web of living and sentient connections and is immensely larger than our egoic self. Therapy is about developing a profound and ever deepening relationship with self so to do this in nature is to do it in context, both in time (through reconnection to the turning year) and space (through reconnection to the other-than-human and to natural locations and materials).

2.  What can nature teach us about ourselves?

Nature offers us a rich and complex palate of metaphors, sensual forms rich in colour, shape, texture, meaning, life and death, that transcend spoken language and give shape and substance to our feeling reality. Nature also has an agenda of her own, guiding us constantly into synchronistic encounter with otherwise hidden aspects of ourselves, reflected back to us in her mysteries. She is the wisest of teachers and once we have opened our hearts to her and learned her language, she never ceases to guide us.

3. How does your practice as an environmental art therapist support others in their healing process?

Environmental arts therapy works in relationship to nature to help people move closer to feeling. By finding or making aspects of the feeling self in nature we take that which was hidden within and manifest it outwardly so at last we can interact with it, have a a dialogue with it, transform it, fight and destroy it, or honour and cherish it. That which was profaned can be made sacred, that which was neglected can be loved. Shame can be turned into anger, confusion into direction, impotence into power. All that was stuck is shaken free and begins to flow, and everything begins to change.

4. You wrote a wonderful book, linking the trees to our own psychological journey – what underpins the link between the trees and our own psychology?

The trees in the Celtic Ogham tree calendar offer metaphors that describe the turning of the year, both outwardly and inwardly. As we feel into these, recognising the deep and enduring resonance between all that is unfolding in the natural world around us and all that is unfolding at the same time within, we remember who and what we are. Suddenly all that appeared disfunctional and askew in our lives is seen as part of an unfolding natural process that is so much bigger than ourselves, with an agenda that we can only guess at. Our wounding becomes the path to our enrichment and our empowerment.

5.  What will we experience on your upcoming workshop in September? Why is the Ivy known as the Suffocating Ivy?

Ivy can choke, suffocate and overwhelm whatever tree it grows upon and in this way mirrors all that blocks our path and seeks to overwhelm us as we return from the Summerlands in September. As we spiral back into ourselves we meet the shadow that awaits us there and this can manifest both inwardly and outwardly as we become stuck and held fast, like flies in a web. In the workshop we will explore these metaphors and seek ways in which to break free from the ivy block and bring the shadow into consciousness.

6.  How does nature mirror us emotionally? How does Art and Creativity facilitate this – why does it work so well?

Nature mirrors us emotionally because we are nature. Nature speaks in metaphor, the language of feeling and so whenever we return to our natural place in nature we meet our feeling selves reflected back to us. Our physical separation from nature simply mirrors our apparent separation from self. Art and creativity also speaks in the language of metaphor and so acts as a translator for our intellectual minds until they remember how to do it for themselves, by listening to the feeling heart. As people steep themselves deeper into this process over time they usually find themselves making less and less art and just recognising themselves in whatever they find.

7.  How does this work link to improving the wider community’s relationship to nature and safeguarding if for the future?

This work builds a deep and enduring relationship between soul and soil. Such an intimacy with the natural world is both reciprocal and inherently protective. We will not harm what we love, especially when we feel how much it loves us. The current paradigm places us outside of nature so we see ourselves as its destroyer, a cancer in its body, a parasite bringing the natural world to its knees. But once we see ourselves as nature herself then we can become the self regulating mechanism that the Earth most needs at his time. Human consciousness can prove itself to be the cutting edge of ecological recovery and healing.


Ian Siddons Heginwoth is widely recognised for the Wild Things programme he created and facilitates with young people who are struggling to cope. His understanding of the power of Mother Nature to heal, calm and inspire was born from his own childhood experience.

Ian will be in East Sussex in September, running the following 2 day workshop:

Exploring the Natural World & The Feeling Self – 21st & 22nd September 2019.

‘Suffocating Ivy’ – This training will apply the therapeutic use of natural materials, natural locations, natural themes and natural cycles.

EXPLORING THE NATURAL WORLD & THE FEELING SELF WITH IAN SIDDONS HEGINWORTH (TWO DAY TRAINING)As the solar push of summer comes to an end and the season turns, we recoil back into ourselves with the onset of Autumn. As we spiral inwards we meet the shadows that await us there. In Celtic tradition the ivy was the most powerful of trees for it could pull down a castle wall, block a path or choke the mighty oak. When we meet an ancient ivy we do not just meet the plant but something lost and suffocated within. In this workshop we explore our own ivy blocks, to reveal and resurrect the repressed and neglected aspects of the self.

Date: 21st & 22nd September 2019
Lead Facilitator: Ian Siddons Heginworth
Where: Mill Woods, East Sussex
Time: 09.30 – 17.00
Cost: £175.00
Booking: Please CLICK HERE to complete our online booking form where you will also find payment details or visit the website for more details.


Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Outdoor Classroom Day – The Power of the Outdoors

Outdoor Classroom Day Blog by Jon Cree

Communing with another – a ceremonial transformation. Encounters with a nettle.

Outdoor Classroom Day Blog, by Jon CreeThis week I experienced a palpable shift in one of the teachers on a workshop I was facilitating – let’s call her Jane (real name left out for anonymity). The workshop entitled “lost words”, is based on the book by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, that seems to have swept up the country’s schools in its magic. It involves facilitating teacher’s sensory observation of non human beings then representing these encounters through various sketching and poetry techniques to rediscover the meaning of the name for said ‘being’.

What I witnessed in this teacher was more than something to do with rediscovering the meaning of adder, otter, kingfisher and willow – it was a shift where the inner and outer worlds met.

At the start of the day there was a distinct reluctance, indeed possibly belligerence, to ‘open up’ the heart to the possibilities of what might come if you just ‘be’ with other ‘more the human’ beings. There seemed to be resistance to allowing the inner and outer worlds collide…”what I can’t take my pen and paper to my sit spot?” was a retort.

On returning from said sit spot a shift had already happened and the shackles of culture started to slip away. Rules of poetry were there to be broken, and with the aid of the words ringing on the Guernsey winds of the likes of poets such as David Whyte, Ted Hughes and Mary Oliver you could see said teacher’s shoulders dropping and a sparkle and smile spreading across her face…Jane was definitely letting down her guard. After some working with senses and words, sketching exercises that emphasised a playful sensory integration of subject and paper, in her case this was flint and paper (I always feel rocks have so much to tell us), there started to be a melding of natural world awareness and expression.

The Power of the Outdoors - Outdoor Classroom Day Blog

Then came the big occasion of the day – 90 minutes of sitting with one being, in her case a nettle. Jane approached her subject as advised in a mindful slow yet playful way, observing from all angles and finding just the right spot and body distance to give both beings respect yet intimacy. I watched and witnessed a rushing at this point to distil the essence of nettle in sketch and rubbing, and then something extraordinary happened in this seemingly ordinary space.

 

Her words started to flow – she had exclaimed at the start of the day that she hated poetry (she is a leader in literacy in her school!) and there was a moment where she sat in ceremony celebrating this resilient yet vulnerable ‘being’ – she literally performed her own small ceremony for said nettle. It was as if Jane had entered her own mytho-poetic world where the inner and outer had collided…her soul and psyche had entered the nettle kingdom.

I know this sounds somewhat far fetched for to get to this stage can sometimes take years and many vision quests, but I was certain in just 5 and a half hours she had entered into a ceremonial conversation with the world…the words were flowing. It was a beautiful moment to witness she was participating fully in the world from which we all come from – not the technological but the natural. I couldn’t but help myself from going over to sit beside Jane and she willingly showed me her sketchbook, made that morning, and the words that just kept coming…she had entered into a deep caring relationship with the nettle.

The Power of the OutdoorsSome may say that this was nothing other than the keen observation and spending time with another being that provoked the words, i.e time for ‘contact’. But I am certain this was down to an opening of heart and the imaginal whispers of the nettle that created an almost sacred space in which Jane could, in her own soft way, make this a ceremonial instance to cement said ‘connection’ rather than ‘contact’.

My words may seem grandiose and exaggerated but I am certain, indeed we know from cultures of the past and present, that ceremony deepens relationship.

I came away feeling that we need to allow our learners more time with the non human and celebrate the ensuing relationship in some form of respectful way with a mixture of ‘gravitas’ and ‘levitas’.

Working with Young People with Challenging Behaviour, in the Outdoors – 3 day course with Jon Cree.
Optional Level 3 Accreditation available.

This course is aimed at any educator who feels they want to engage and work with students in the outdoors who may be reluctant learners (of any age).

This course will delve into:

  • What challenges us as leaders in the outdoors
  • Theory on challenging behaviour
  • Up-to-date neural research; triggers and causes for challenging behaviour
  • Ways of dealing with ‘real life’ scenarios in the outdoors
  • De-escalation
  • How to transfer outdoor strategies into an indoor and other settings – including looking at the validity of sanctions and rewards.
  • Reviewing your own policies

Date: 17th, 18th & 19th June 2019 at Mill Woods, near Laughton, East Sussex OR 20th, 21st & 22nd November 2019 at Parkwood Campsite, Poynings, East Sussex.
Lead Facilitator: Jon Cree
Cost: £325 for the 3 day course, £55 for the Accreditation (optional). This Level 3 West Midlands Open College Network Accredited Course.
Time: 09.00 – 17.00.
Booking: Please book online here for the June course or online here for the November course.
More information: please visit the website.


Transforming education, health and family through nature

Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

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