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

The 12 days of (an alternative) Christmas

Christmas doesn’t need to cost the Earth

Are you looking for inspiration to do Christmas a little differently this year? Here is our ‘alternative’ guide to ethical and environmentally-minded Christmas presents!

How about looking at gifts that will last, choose quality over quantity. Are there products that will benefit people worse off than ourselves? Choose companies that treat employees in the supply chain well and look after our oceans, trees and wildlife. Choose wisely, Christmas doesn’t need to cost the Earth.

On the First day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

1. Learning with Nature, the perfect gift for ChristmasAn amazingly useful book ‘Learning with Nature’ . Plenty of simple, and accessible ideas, activities and games to get you and your family outside and connecting with nature!

2. Oxfam Unwrapped – give a goat, feed a family, educate a child. You can choose which of Oxfam’s amazing project your donation goes to.

3. A Bamboo toothbrush – reduce your use of disposable plastic, use a cheap, sustainable alternative. Save the planet and your teeth!

4. A Twinned toilet! Flush away the world’s toilet trouble! You donate to twin your loo with an impoverished family’s household latrine, in a country of your choosing.

Wild Time

5. A Wild Day Out - how about a family voucher for Christmas?A Wild Day Out – bring your family to the woods for a fun-filled, adventurous day out. Play games, light fires, cook, build dens, learn new skills…fun for all the family! Contact us to buy your gift voucher. Our next Family Wild Day Out is 14th February 2018.

6. Eco-friendly drinking straws – we all know the damage that disposable plastic straws are causing to the world’s oceans. #ditchtheplastic and invest in metal, bamboo or wheat straws instead.

 

7. From babies with love – a social enterprise selling beautiful, ethically sourced baby gifts and clothes. Every penny from their sales goes to support orphaned and abandoned children around the world.

8. Wild Time – Swap screen time for Wild Time and get outside! Pledge your time on the Wild Network’s website and find loads of ideas to do outdoors – learn how to tell the time without a watch, host a nature cocktail party, make a journey stick.

9. Adopt a tiger – or elephant/rhino/wolf pack. Perfect for your wildlife minded friends, family or children. Adopt a tiger with WWF and receive a book unique to you!

10. Plant a tree – Gifting a tree comes with a the added bonus of an invitation to a tree planting experience in The National Forest.

11. Buy a season pass to an outdoor location – and give the gift of the outdoors. The National Trust, RHS, Drusillas…the choices are endless.

12. Give the gift of time this Christmas.The gift of time – pledging time for your loved one is the ultimate gift and it’s free! You could create a bespoke voucher to open on Christmas day – pledge to spent a whole day outdoors with your child, pledge an evening in with your loved one, a shopping trip with your friend…the choice is yours.

Whatever you choose do to this year, have a very Happy Christmas.

By Katie Scanlan

Circle of Life Rediscovery

Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery run Forest School sessions, Forest School training, woodland days, enrichment activity days, outdoor learning days, Camps, CPD’s for teachers and family activity days in our beautiful Sussex woodland. Please visit our website for more details.

 

Make it ‘Outdoor Classroom Day’ every day!

Ideas to inspire your Outdoor Learning. Make it Outdoor Classroom Day every day!

Outdoor Classroom Day took place this year on 12th October 2017 with 19,800 schools getting involved and spending the day (or part of the day) learning outside the classroom with their pupils. This is an amazing collaborative effort, not just in the UK but across the World, with 2.3 million children across 105 countries taking part, quite an achievement for an initiative that started off just in London in 2012, as Empty Classroom Day.

…but shouldn’t this sort of outdoor learning be taking place every day, in every school across the world, even in the Autumn term?!

To help inspire you to get your class outside this Autumn and at Outdoor Classroom Day, we have collected some simple ideas to use the natural resources around you for outdoor learning.

Waxed Autumn Leaves

Make it Outdoor Classroom Day every day!

Taken from  ‘Learning with Nature’, by Marina Robb (Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery), Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson.

Discover outdoor learning with Learning with Nature

How to:
Waxed Autumn Leaves, ideas for outdoor learning this Autumn and Winter!

  • Gather many varieties of Autumn leaves, press and dry them in books or a flower press. The leaves take a few days to dry. Either prepare this part in advance, or see the gathering of the leaves as a separate activity.
  • Light a fire. Melt beeswax in a pan over the fire.
  • Take the pan off the fire and dip the leaves. To do so safely, hold the leaf stem and dip. Avoid immersing the fingers!
  • Take the leaf out of the wax, hold above the pan and immediately shake downwards to remove extra wax before it dries. Avoid shaking side to side as droplets of wax can go over clothing.
  • Blow the leaves gently to complete the drying.
  • The wax coating will help to preserve the leaves. They can be used for all sorts of crafts, and are especially lovely when threaded.

Create your own Environmental Art projects

Environmental Art

How to:

  • Collect fallen leaves of different colours and shapes
  • Be as creative as you like – create raindows, sunbursts, collages of animals, abstract art
  • Take inspiration from environmental artists like Andrew Goldsworthy or Nils-Udo

Twig Towers

Twig Towers for Outdoor Classroom DayHow to:

  • Collect a big pile of sticks
  • Divide your class in to groups
  • Set them the challenge – who can build the highest twig tower?
  • How can you measure which one is the tallest?
  • How many sticks did each tower use?
  • How could you use fewer sticks and still make the tallest tower?

 

For more ideas and inspiration did you know Circle of Life Rediscovery can come to your school to run bespoke Inset training in your school grounds, or you can bring your staff to our beautiful Sussex woodland site.

Contact us here for more details or call 01273 814226.

We also run CPD courses throughout the year on a number of different topics, please see our website for details.

Happy Outdoor Learning!
Katie Scanlan, Operations Manager, Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC.

A Day in the Life of a Wild Thing!

We meet at the car park, with our packed lunches and everyone is excited and maybe a bit nervous? I wonder what we will be doing today?

We wave goodbye to our families and disappear down the track, into the woods to find the Wild Things basecamp and begin the day’s adventures.

At basecamp we are shown around, we find out there is a toilet (phew!) and play some games to learn each other’s names. Then we mix up some natural materials to make paint (and a bit of snazzaroo) and create some tribal face paint – now we are truly Wild Things!

 

Then we are set our first challenge – can we learn some new knots and then build a rope bridge to get our whole team safely from one side of the ‘ravine’ to the other?

 

 

We can…and not only that but someone has the great idea to join our bridges together and we create an amazing low ropes course to play on. Everyone has a go and we get around the whole course without touching the ground.

 

 

 

 

After this it is time to try out some fire lighting and cooking. Our challenge now is to light a fire, without matches, and to keep the fire going long enough to cook some chocolate cake! We all look at each other and wonder how we will do this without an oven?!

 

 

Luckily, Jennie shows us how to use an orange and some tin foil and we are all able to make chocolate cake, and it even tastes quite nice…apart from the burnt bits!!

 

 

It is lunch time and we get to sit around our fires and eat our lunch, and then explore the woods a bit, and play on our rope bridges. After lunch we put our fires out, and leave no trace of the fires so it doesn’t even look like we’ve been there, then other people can come and enjoy the woods too.

We play some more games after lunch, and then for our final activity we can choose if we want to build dens or make a clay creature to take home. I make a butterfly because we saw lots of butterflies in the morning sunshine, and they are my favourite animal.

 

Then it’s time to go home, and we collect all our bags, and the things we have made and set off back down the track to meet our families, chatting to our new friends on the way. We are a bit muddy, tired and happy – true Wild Things!

By Katie Scanlan

If you are looking to Get Wild – join one or more of our Wild Things Woodland Days this summer or during October Half Term. Dates are:

July – 26th, 27th, 28th
August – 30th & 31st
September – 1st
October – 23rd & 24th

Please see our website for full details or click here to book online now!

www.circleofliferediscovery.com | info@circleofliferediscovery.com | 01273 814226

 

Outdoor Learning – A Win Win Situation

Most of us know that spending hours and hours in front of screens, bombarded by emails and message notifications causes us stress.  Humans are not surprisingly more stressed that we have ever been.  It’s subtle and eats away at our well-being.  Our world with all it’s current technological achievements has at the same time adopted dopamine-filled technology to hook us in to screen life.

IMG_4084It’s necessary to know and articulate what we are trying to achieve as educators.  In business the mission statement drives the business and it’s value’s forward.  Many of us educators have a good sense of what represents and motivates us to educate, and what is ‘good education’ but this is not always represented in the requirements at school/government level.

So we do the best we can.

Neuroscience is moving so fast, that what we now understand so much more about the brain, the hormones and how we learn.  Current research corroborates the importance of both play and the outdoors as vital for a child’s development and well-being.  A by product of this is that they also learn much better when they ‘play’ and indeed are outdoors using their bodies and in the midst of the greater living world.

This is true for adults as much as young people.  There are hundreds of top business leaders who are immersing themselves in nature for restoration of their stressful lives.   The outdoors represents to me ‘free medicine’, as well as every living thing that provides life for humans – which is clearly no small thing.

trackingim1My expertise is in working with people outdoors – and for 30 years more specifically working with young people of all ages and backgrounds outdoors.  I have an interest in what motivates people to care about the natural world, to have a greater sense of nature connectedness and to live healthy and satisfying lives.  Bringing nature into our everyday life is a really good idea! We know that our cortisol levels (the stress hormone) reduces once we stay more than 15 minutes in a green space.   This also means that we step out of our predisposition to fight, freeze and flight and into higher order thinking, where we can start to be creative, think out of the box, communicate more easily with others, get in touch with how we really feel, all the while building our knowledge and understanding  through experience with nature.

Within the field of education  there are many theoretical positions that underpin our approaches to education in the UK.   We continue to draw on centuries of theories of learning that include the  authorities like Piaget, Vygotsky, Montessori, Steiner, Guy Claxton, Howard Gardner, to name a few. Essentially these experts value exploration and repetition as a way to learn, see the medium of the outdoors as valuable because it is so diverse and provides multiple sensory experience, and theorists acknowledge the importance of the role of the ‘teacher’ or ‘practitioner’ and how effective they are at communicating.  As brain science develops we understand that we loose what we don’t use, so it’s vital we are exposed to multisensory experiences so that healthy wiring can happen from day 1. Brains are wired,  strengthened and ‘grown’ by multiple experiences that include movement as a basic requirement as well as the critical role of care-giving to provide secure attachment for well-being.

20150407_141132Fortunately we have a win-win situation with ‘outdoor learning’.  The content of what we teach in schools can be delivered outdoors – so we teach all the subjects in nature.  This content is still decided by the teacher and the curriculum but it is taught in the outdoors.

A very large project, Natural Connections (2012 – 2016) was concluded this year.  After 4 years of working with 125 schools (primary, secondary, and special) in the South West of England – 40,000 pupils, 2,500 teachers and 2,500 teaching assistants they discovered that indeed outdoor learning has multiple benefits across any school. The Final Report of this project can be found here.

The evidence shows that giving children the opportunity to discover, learn about and experience the natural world is hugely important – it can help create a sense of belonging rooted in their local environment, enhancing their health, well-being and educational outcomes.  For example, greater amounts of natural space in or around living or learning environments is associated with higher levels of physical activity, better emotional, behavioural and cognitive outcomes and with children developing a greater sense of connectedness to nature.”

We need to also consider that in the UK (and worldwide) we have a huge rise in childhood obesity, mental health issues and a lack of a sense of community.  We are in need of a  vision for of a future where  where we don’t harm nature.  According to the Monitor of Engagement with Natural Environment Survey, in an average month in 2013 – 14 only 8% of all children in England (aged 5 – 16) visited natural environments with their schools.  During home time, exploring and playing outdoors has decreased by 90% over the past 20 years.  Fundamentally children (and adults) can’t protect what they don’t know and love.

DSC01155 - CopyInitiatives like Outside Classroom Day on 18th May helps us to remember to get outdoors. If you are a teacher why not join our Outdoor Learning Day?  These days help us recognise the value of getting outdoors. There are lots of official promotional materials to make it easy to get outside.  Tim Gill, an expert on the benefits of risk and play for children has produced a useful guide which you can find here.

Another useful guide is Michael Follett’s practical guide to help support playtime learning outdoors:

Learning with Nature

Learning with Nature

Finally, our very own book ‘Learning with Nature‘ is filled with nature-based ideas that connect young people of all ages, and their families to nature – it is the ‘Bible for Forest School practitioners’.

Our team at Circle of Life Rediscovery provide diverse nature experiences  for young people, schools and the wider world.  We offer trainings to develop these areas within your setting and offer year-round CPD’s for teachers linking the outdoors with the curriculum.

Have fun outdoors,

Marina.

Marina Robb, Director and Founder of Circle of Life Rediscovery

www.circleofliferediscovery.com | 01273 814226 | info@circleofliferediscovery.com

The Woodland Project needs your help!

Please VOTE for The Woodland Project.

Dear Friends,

We have been waiting for a few months, keeping quiet about something really important to me, our organisation and the families and young people we work with.

voteWe have the incredible opportunity over the next two weeks to secure funding for a year with your help!  We have been shortlisted as one of 5 finalists for the ITV People’s Project  –  this is up to you, the public, to VOTE.   There are so many worthy projects but I want to tell you why we think want you to make a little effort and VOTE FOR THE WOODLAND PROJECT.

About 3 years ago, Tracey Johnson from the Family Intensive Support Service Disability Team visited us in the woods working with families and young people who have mental health issues.  She took a risk and thought that perhaps the families that accessed her service could come out too – with the right support.  And she was right!

Marina

I have spent the last few years being part of a project that blows me away every time.  I can laugh like crazy, feel very moved, appreciate the calm haven that nature offers us all during one family day!  As a parent myself, I am continually heartened by the relationships, love and resilience I witness between the parents and siblings towards their brother or sister – despite the often continual stress and difficulty that this special relationship fosters.  In every day life, the parents are taken to their utmost edge – and mostly find a way back to be the best they can be for their family.   They are ordinary people living with extraordinary situations – where they rarely sleep, are met with fear and judgement in everyday lives, some children are violent and verbally difficult, others make distressing noises.   They cling on their parents for security when they are awake, and the truth is that there children are unlikely to ever be independent or reach many milestones.  I know I would struggle.

woodlandp (2)Yet what they tell us is that this project is fantastic – they can come together as a family and everyone gets something good out of it.  They can lie in a hammock together, they can meet another parent or sibling who gets it – they can have hope that people do manage as their child becomes a teenager.  They can rest a while in nature.  We all create a space that is welcoming and accepting.  And we push the boundaries and try all sorts of things that would be unthinkable inside – sawing, getting messy, making fire, exploring the space in a non-breakable place. Parents talk about the many firsts – that their child has never created an item at school!

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We all have many lives and different experiences.  I want to us all to be a more compassionate society, count our blessings and enjoy the company of people from all walks of life!  This project needs YOUR VOTE to help it continue.  Please take a moment to share the link with your friends and family and watch the VIDEO – and share it!

Voting is now open and closes at noon on Monday 3 April. You can vote once per region and will need an email address to vote online. To support The Woodland Project, please visit the website here and then follow the instructions. You will receive an email to confirm your email address and your vote. If you do not confirm this, your vote will not count! Please check your junk email if you don’t receive it straight away.

Here’s why you need to vote for The Woodland Project!

Thank you all for the support #TheWoodlandProject

Offering support to children with learning disabilities, their families and young people!

World Book Day!

World Book Day is a great opportunity to revisit your favourite book, share it with friends and find out about new and inspiring books to read.

In this vein, we think you should Drop Everything And Read ‘Learning with Nature’ by Marina Robb, Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson.

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Learning with Nature is a must-have resource for families, schools, youth groups and anyone working with children and wishing to engage with nature and the outdoors. The book is full of fun activities and games to get your children outdoors, to explore, have fun, make things and learn about nature.

Buy the Learning with Nature book online from our other website:
The Outdoor Teacher

Spring Activity Ideas:

Spring is such a great time of year to get outside – days are lighter for longer, the air is warmer, flowers are appearing, fresh greens shoots are emerging and colours are bright and vibrant. It feels as though the world is coming alive after its long winter sleep.

FSTraining Oct 2012 - 01

One of our favourite activities from the book for spring is to focus on insects and in particular beetles.

beet3
You could start by playing ‘Beetle tag’ – an everybody’s it game of tag, where you must become a beetle and lie on the ground with your limbs in the air if you get tagged. Great for a bit of silliness and a good runaround!

Following on from this, and sticking to the topic of beetles is the activity Painted Beetles. An opportunity to get creative, collect natural resources and learn about these fascinating creatures.

Each activity in the book comes with a ‘How to’ section, Resources, Variations, Top tips and Invisible learning so you can adapt, extend and explore to suit your learners and the learning environment.

91d26f8381bdbe878e2647ce1880c22c_largeAs well as seasonal activities the book also contains a wealth of games, naturalist activities and information and activities around survival skills including – Wild Food, Shelters, Fire and Water.

To order your copy today, visit our website.

See reviews here from Chris Packham, John Muir Award, Tim Gill, Learning through Landscapes and more!

“This book offers a chance to the youth of today and the nature of tomorrow. It has a wealth of structured, tried and tested projects, ideas and games all designed to allow children to breathe fresh air and engage personally with a real world where their minds and bodies can develop and bloom, burst into life and inspire them to love life.” Chris Packham.

Happy Reading!

Buy the Learning with Nature book online from our other website:
The Outdoor Teacher

Fire Quest – Stories from the Fire

Fire Quest – Stories from the Fire

In September 2016 we embarked on a weekend of Sacred Fire & Fire Quest with both adults and young people coming together to undergo a Rite of Passage. As a culture we have all but lost our traditional ways to mark transitions and to support us to move to another stage of life and relationship to the natural world.

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In 2017 we look forward to welcoming Salvatore Gencarelle from the Helpers Mentoring Society to share teachings and offer immersions through the ‘Living Fire Course’ – a four part training throughout the year commencing May 2017 (exact dates TBC). This offers an opportunity to adults to undergo a Rite, then support young people to do this in Part 3. For more information about this click here.

 

DANIEL FORD, from the University of Hull joined us in September to record his impressions and to begin to share the experience to others beyond the forest.

“We are forest people, and our stories and social networks are forest born”.
(Sara Maitland, Gossip from the Forest, 2012, p. 9)

“I pre