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Authors: Marina Robb; Anna Richardson & Victoria Mew.

Learning with Nature Book

Learning with Nature Book

Learning with Nature is aimed at inspiring and supporting adults to get outdoors with young people aged 3 to 16 years old.

The book offers over 100 games and activities that connect people with the natural world at little or no cost to themselves.

It includes sections on: caretaking, games, activities through the seasons, wild facts, tool safety, survival and wild foraging.

“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, March 2014 

“Children naturally explore and experiment. It’s part of feeling fully alive, whether this is poking around in streams, climbing trees, or mixing ingredients. Things can sometimes go wrong. But statistically, the chance of anything going seriously wrong is vanishingly small, and the risks can be managed through taking a thoughtful, balanced approach. What is more, these adventurous behaviours lead to all kinds of benefits. These include hardwiring the brain, building and maintaining resilience and in an uncertain world, helping children to be able to manage their choices and grow their capacity to take healthy risks.” Tim Gill, Author of No Fear: Growing Up In A Risk Averse Society, February 2014 
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Why is this book important?  This book makes it possible for parents and teachers to get outdoors. It aims to capture the imagination of families and contribute to reversing the current ‘indoor’ trend. It provides a valuable resource for educators to deepen and expand what they already offer . 56a14c11dd74a6d09fbe717928e117a7_large (Picture by Susan Kelly)
This year, for the first time I am meeting teachers who have themselves never played or enjoyed the outdoors during their childhood.They don’t know what to ‘do’, and place a low value on the outdoors as a learning environment. We know young people today are spending hours on video games, and that their roaming radius has reduced by about 70% since the 1950s with the consequent rise in levels of obesity, mental health issues and isolation. Where does this book stem from? Marina Robb is the founder of Circle of Life Rediscovery, a community interest company which aims to ‘put the world wide web generation back in touch with the whole wide world’. Since 2004 we have been delivering camps for teenagers, youth trainings, Forest Schools, woodland days, programmes and family days, funded successfully through grant applications that have enabled people to participate free of charge. Over the last three years we have reached over 2,000 young and disadvantaged people and families across our programmes. Our flagship projects, Call of the Wild and Earthwise, were funded under Natural England’s Access to Nature Grant and MIND’s Ecominds grant raising over £160,000 towards creating outdoor opportunities for the most disadvantaged groups in our society. Over and over again we have found that this kind of work leads to better health and wellbeing, more opportunities, a greater sense of community, respect and love for nature. The following videos represent a range of young people’s learning through participation on a range of outdoor learning experiences.

Authors information

Marina Robb is founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC, a leading outdoor learning organisation. Marina has been the recipient of funding from Natural England, Mind and The National Lottery, amongst other grant makers for her outdoor work with teenagers, families and young people with mental health issues. She provides residential camps in Sussex woodlands, Forest School and nature-based training for adults, outdoor learning days and youth training programmes.

Marina is a qualified teacher (PGCE), who has studied Environmental Education (MA), Environmental Management (BSc) and Social Research (MSc) since 1990. She is a leading Forest School trainer and practitioner (UK and International) and shares her knowledge and experience through training teachers and individuals who want to work outside the classroom. She is also Trustee of SPARK, a network for young people’s organisations in East Sussex.

Marina has spent her lifetime supporting young people and adults to find new and old ways of connecting people with nature and reap the benefits of facilitated outdoor experiences. She is certified in Gestalt group facilitation, trained in wilderness skills, youth participation, managing challenging behaviour, non-directive play therapy and teenage psychology.

Marina’s approach brings together best practice from environmental education, Forest School, eco-psychology, indigenous wisdom and many years of working with young people of all ages and backgrounds, to create unique experiences. As a parent and workshop facilitator, she encourages young people to find their real voice, experience a sense of belonging and discover healthy pathways to adulthood.

Anna Richardson lives and works in East Sussex. She is a mother, a forest school facilitator and trainer, working with young people of all ages. She is enthusiastic about rediscovering the uses of wild plants and the indigenous approaches to sustainable harvesting for food, medicine and other practical crafts and teaches Foraging workshops.

Over the last 20 years her interest in plants and traditional skills has developed through training, teaching and practicing Bush Craft, Plant Spirit Medicine and invaluable time spent in the field with Gordon Hillman, Professor of Archeobotany. Anna has taught at Sussex University CCE in Wild Plants and their Ancient Uses (in connection with the Archeology department) and continues to develop her own knowledge and inspiring ways to teach plantlore alongside a deep love for the natural world.

Anna is passionate about new and indigenous ways to educate and co-creates local community projects which enable people to share and learn together to reconnect to nature. She also enjoys the creative arts, plays fiddle and is actively involved in running folk music sessions in the local area.

Victoria Mew has followed her love of nature and curiosity in indigenous cultures since she was 12 years old having been introduced to a wilderness family camp, sleeping out in a lean-to shelter with a fire for her first time. Throughout her teens she pursued this interest training with Trackways, Coyote Tracks and the Tracker School.

She developed her skills in nature and sensory awareness, primitive living skills and wilderness philosophy. She spent her gap year training with Wilderness Awareness School, WA, USA, building up experiences that would culminate in a week-long survival quest in the Cascade mountains; tracking coyotes until she caught up with them, learning what wild plants could be harvested for a meal, experimenting with different types of shelters and being mentored to bring these skills to children of all ages.

She gained a BScHons in Human Sciences at UCL, with her dissertation exploring: How does growing up separate from natural environments affect childhood development? She has since founded ‘Cultivating Curiosity’, an organisation that brings works with people of all ages outdoors facilitating deep nature connection. She is also a qualified forest school practitioner.