First by the heart before understood by the mind – Ecopsychology, environmental and art therapy in practice.

Ecopsychology, Environmental and Art Therapy in practice.

We are really looking forward to Ian Siddons Heginworth coming to run a 2 day workshop for us in March ‘Exploring the Natural World and the Feeling Self – Alchemical Ash’, an ecopsychology and practical therapeutic training.  Ian is a highly experienced and creative practitioner who is both insightful and accessible.

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Ecopsychology, environmental and art therapy in practice.I have owned his book ‘Environmental Arts therapy and the Tree of Life’ for many years, and am forever impressed by the depth and breadth of how his writing links our psychology with nature, and in particular the Celtic wisdom of the trees.

For those of us who work with nature as a source of healing, learning,  creativity and inspiration, these days will lead us to understanding how our true selves are intimately entwined and connected to Nature and her cycles.  Ecopsychology, art and environmental experiences are therapeutic. From the physical experience, the absorption of plant hormones that lower our cortisol,  to emotional and psychological experiences that are supported and unravelled through nature’s language of metaphor.

About the Workshops

The training will apply the therapeutic use of natural materials, natural locations, natural themes and natural cycles and promises practical ecopsychology where we can explore our difficulties and let nature transform them.   At Circle of Life we offer transformational programmes and approaches that draw on old and new wisdom and all of us are willing to learn more about how nature’s gifts can help us to ‘be’ in life, and live in a connected and fulfilling way. We also know that exploring our ‘shadow’ (See our course in April – Nature Play & The Therapeutic Space) and feelings are necessary to be mentally well and enable us to transform and change.  Our work with all ages and background in nature repeatedly shows us the power of nature for long lasting well-being.

Ian’s fine work explores our masculine (the active and outward parts of ourselves) and the feminine (the feeling, inward part of ourselves that receives form the world).  It offers us a way to reconsider our daily life as the year turns around through the months and seasons.  It shows us how we can reconnect to the disowned parts of ourselves that are the compost of our health.

As a Forest School trainer and group facilitator, I hope to integrate the practical knowledge of working and offering activities through the year, with the psychological benefits that nature and these methods affords us.

Ogham Tree Alphabet

This intimate relationship with the living world was not unusual for our ancestors.  Trees have always been of paramount importance.  There is enormous cultural and medicinal value of the trees.  For us in the West, our Celtic ancestors lived in a forested land and a secret form of written language was called the Ogham.  The earliest known form of Ogham was the Tree Ogham or Celtic Tree Alphabet.  Each letter was associated with a name of a tree. The Celtic year had thirteen months with each month associated with a tree.

Ogham Tree Alphabet

 

 

“Each month has offered us the Tree of Life in a different guise” Ian Siddons Heginworth.

 

 

Exploring the Natural World and the Feeling Self – Alchemical Ash

This training will apply the therapeutic use of natural materials, natural locations, natural themes and natural cycles. The first of two workshops will be held over the Spring Equinox and focus on the Ash – Alchemical Ash. In ancient Britain the Ash was associated with rebirth and new life.  The beginning of March is the time of year when we feel the promise of Spring and we long for it’s arrival, but winter is still here. By the end of March, it will have arrived!

Exploring the Natural World and the Feeling Self – Suffocating Ivy

Ecopsychology, environmental and art therapy in practice.

The second in Autumn, ‘Suffocating Ivy’ – associated with death as well as life, as the female body gives life, so woman brings death. “September comes and the night creeps in…  Even before the leaves start yellowing we know autumn is here….Life is beginning to pull inwards.”  For the Celts, the ivy  is considered the strongest of trees because it can choke and kill anything it grows on, even the great Oak.  The Ivy can help us to meet that which blocks our path to freedom.

 

If you would like to find out more about our ecopsychology and practical therapeutic trainings with Ian please visit our website.

We look forward to meeting you under the trees at Mill Wood finding our freedom, love, innocence and renewal but perhaps not before we meet our loss and feelings felt too by our heart.

Marina Robb – Director, Circle of Life Rediscovery

ANON: Poem found in the Plough Inn, Myddfai, Dyfed, 1998

“Beechwood fires are bright and clear, If the logs are kept a year. Chestnut’s only good they say, If for long laid away. Make a fire of Elder tree, Death within your house shall be.  But ash new or ash old, Is fit for a queen with a crown of gold.

Birch and fir logs burn to fast, Blaze up bright and do not last. It is by the Irish said, Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread, Elm wood burns like churchyard mould, E’en the flames are cold.  But ash green or ash brown, Is fit for a queen with a golden crown.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke, Fills your eyes and makes you choke, Applewood will scent your room, With an incense-like perfume. Oaken logs if dry and old, Keep away the winter’s cold.  But ash new or ash old, Is fit for a queen with a crown of gold”.

Ian Siddons Heginworth - Ecopsychology, environmental and art therapy in practice.

 

Ian is a leading practitioner, innovator and teacher of environmental arts therapy, a practical ecopsychologist, Author of ‘Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life’.

Please see his website for more information.

 

 

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 RediscoveryTransforming education, health and family through nature.

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

Tel: 01273 814226

Email: info@circleofliferediscovery.com

 

Fired Up February! Teenage Woodland Programme Update

February’s session of the Teenage Woodland Programme saw an eclectic mix of handy craft, skills and pizza fired straight from the hand built oven itself.

Making fires at the Teenage Woodland Programme encourages team building and confidence

 

During the day there was the usual building of fires which time after time provides a great sense of teamwork amongst the group and in turn strengthens the relationships between the participants on the teenage woodland programme.

Warmth is such a basic human need and so by working with each other to create that, it becomes even more meaningful.

Pizza oven! - find out more about our woodland site!

 

Of course then made all the more tastier when creating ones own pizza with an impressive variety of toppings for the outdoors, I’m sure I saw some chorizo!

 

Find out more about our woodland site!

 

The pizzas certainly went down a storm and I’m sure they’ll will be back on the woodland menu again (even if I have to champion it myself).

 

 

The Teenage Programme - showing off our skills!

 

There was an abundance of craft and skills happening throughout the day. At one end of the base camp a participant was using aerial silks and showing off her learnt moves – very impressive and a joy to watch.

 

The Teenage Programme - making bird and bat boxesOn the other side of the camp participants were continuing to build their bird and bat boxes which helps to enable the crucial conservation of the wood itself.

A couple of participants also took to creating little leather pouches, just big enough to hold something significant like a grounding stone. I for one still carry my stone and leather pouch, with its drawing of a bear paw with me wherever I go. I made it in 2012 when I was once a CAMHS participant on the woodland days. Sometimes the smallest and simplest of things carry with them such power and almighty strength.

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery - visit our website to find out more about us

 

S’mores, music and discussion sealed the day and what a packed day it was. Yet throughout there was an air of calm and thoughtfulness amongst the group which was interesting.

Not too far off we’ll start to see the beginning changes of nature heading towards Spring. That’s one of the brilliant things about this month by month project is that we began in Autumn and we’ll finish in Summer, so all the changing seasons will be witnessed in our woodland.

 

By Emma Thorne

CAMHS Peer Trainer

Circle of Life Rediscovery

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery has been working alongside young people and CAMHS East Sussex (Discovery College) for 10 years co-developing nature-based days where you can come along and be with other people who listen without judgement.

The course is free and has been designed and delivered with young people who have experienced mental health challenges. The programme will continue to run throughout the year ending in a camp in July! We will co-create a fun, safe and healing time together, have discussions and stories around the fire and rediscover our gifts and how nature can support our well-being.

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

 

Why overnight camps and residentials are so important!

The Importance of Residential Camps.

More and more research is coming to light to support what we in the environmental world have always asserted – being outdoors is good for you and so are residential camps!

This means not only are children able to be more active by being outside, they are also able to learn more freely, engage more readily and be inspired, encouraged, challenged and therefore improve their confidence and self-esteem.

These positive effects are amplified even more when it comes to a residential camp.

Why are residential camps so important?


“I slept alone in a shelter that I had made, I never thought I would be able to do that. I feel more confident and have overcome my fears.”
Camp Participant, June 2017

 

Learning Away

Learning Away is an initiative, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, to research the benefits of residential experiences in schools. In 2015 they published a report, following 3 years of action research with over 60 schools and colleges, identifying the overall impacts of residentials for young people.

The evidence collected throughout the 3-year project showed that residentials:

  • Foster deeper relationships
  • Improve students’ resilience, self-confidence and wellbeing
  • Boost cohesion and a sense of belonging
  • Improve students’ engagement with learning
  • Improve students’ knowledge, skills and understanding
  • Support students’ achievement
  • Smooth students’ transition experiences
  • Provide opportunities for student leadership, co-design and facilitation

“Learning Away has shown that a residential learning experience provides opportunities and benefits/impacts that cannot be achieved in any other educational context or setting. The impact is greater when residential’s are fully integrated with a school’s curriculum and ethos”   York Consulting (2015)

Read the full report here.

Work on the Wild Side

In addition to the Learning Away research, a new report (May 2017), has been released that demonstrates leading schools (highest Progress 8 scores) place high value on residential experiences.

The ‘Work on the Wild Side’ report produced in partnership with Learning Away Consortium members, CLOtCIOL and AHOEC analyses the UK primary and secondary schools with the highest Progress 8 scores and winners of the Pupil Premium Awards.

The report found that “outdoor learning is valued amongst teachers, pupils, parents and inspectors and that the skills learnt outdoors are transferable to the classroom and across the academic spectrum.” Work on the Wild Side, May 2017

Given the clear benefits of outdoor learning and residential camps, more needs to be done to ensure that children and young people are provided with the opportunity to leave the classroom.

Read report in full here.

Circle of Life Rediscovery Camps

Unique residential camps with Circle of Life Rediscovery

Circle of Life Rediscovery runs unique, nature-based residential camps for young people in a beautiful woodland environment in Sussex.

Camps have a strong environmental basis and could include activities such as fire-making, tool use, cooking and foraging, team-building activities, art, story-telling, music and night walks. We also offer the John Muir Award, a National Conservation Award, at Discovery level.

“I didn’t think that I liked camping but I have underestimated myself. The camp was amazing, I have not only learnt new skills but I have learnt to be grateful about everything around me. I have a new sense of confidence and believe in myself”
Camp Participant, June 2017.

Residential camps in East Sussex

To find out more about our residential camps, watch one of our films from a Secondary School camp or Primary School camp where participants explain what they enjoyed about the camp.

Please contact us on 01273 814226 or send an email for more information if you are interested in organising a camp for your school. Each camp is bespoke and unique to your requirements.

 

There are free resources on the Learning Away website, include planning tools, models for lower cost trips and curriculum integration.

By Katie Scanlan

Circle of Life Rediscovery

 

Jon Cree – Mill Woods, A Place for Play and Deep Learning

Jon Cree – Mill Woods, A Place for Play and Deep Learning

Late winter 2017 around the time of imbolc, as we emerged into the lengthening days, Jon Cree joined us in the woods to facilitate two training days on Story and Play Structures:

Story Telling with Jon Cree“My initial reticence of working with fairly large groups soon evaporated into the soil, with the rain, when I got to the site (I know that sounds a contradiction but illustrates well the circles in time we all experience through the seasons).

Greeted by the smiles and warmth of Marina and Mark, the fire, chestnuts, oaks, spruces, pines, willows, birches, great tits, green woodpeckers to name a few other citizens – of course.

This atmosphere made for opportunities to explore the magic and meaning in story and story-making as well as a purposeful place for trying out our hand-tool skills and engage the body in playful exploits that resulted in ladder climbing, rope swinging, strap line wobbling and the makings of a tree-house!

Storying

Join our courses with Jon Cree in 2018!I never tire of witnessing people digging into their imaginative domains and creating from this many wordplay narratives around natural world discoveries that then move on to story.

Armed with the elements of tension, hero journeys, tragedies, helpers and victories story is realised.  The power of the imagination is truly infinite and seeing educators realise their potential to story a place and their own lives always enriches.

By giving permission to play with words, lie and offer some simple frameworks, our own storyteller can be realised…..but the thing, for me, that really provides stimulation is a safe place for experimentation and ‘play’, free of judgment, IS the natural world, and if a fire is present then all the better.

On that damp day in January our spirits were lifted by giants conjuring up rabbits and elfish boats and deep stirrings in the labyrinthine earth bound passages for the dark side to preside in….for moments we were spellbound then lifted by lighthearted fantastical creations!

Play Structures

Play Structures with Jon Cree in 2018A month later I approached the Play Structures day with an “irish being”, full of the Irish passion and  blarney…giving me confidence to try the truckers hitch song to start the session – check it out.

Once again that playful permission gave me confidence to try something new and although the song didn’t quite work out how I wanted….it seemed to provide permission for folks to play.

With saws, axes, knives and ropes we made A frame ladders that turned into climbing frames…..all in a safe but experimental way (don’t worry all the tool procedures were in place and no limbs were lost!).

Join our Play Structures course with Jon Cree in 2018We made rope swings and bounced on rope courses thanks to the tensioning truckers knot, and learned the rudimentaries of tree house construction minimising any harm to the tree through the use of tree clamps.

The day ended by testing the sense of balance, that is always enhanced by the willingness to play.

If training isn’t about ‘playing’, mentally and physically, with ideas and constructs then I don’t know what it is about!

I will be back in 2018 – find out when here.”

 

By Jon Cree, Acting Treasurer, National and International Representation, The Forest School Association

2018 Dates

Story Telling with Jon Cree – 25th January 2018

Play & The Ludic Cycle with Jon Cree – 26th January 2018

Play Structures with Jon Cree – 26th & 27th February 2018

Please visit the website for full details.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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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!

https://www.circleofliferediscovery.com

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

Tel: 01273 814226

What is Forest School?

Some feedback from recent Forest School:

Barcombe Primary:
“We’ve had a wonderful first year of Forest School. We have had staff, parents and school governors attending sessions and being really impressed by the whole experience, but best of all the response from all our learners has been extraordinary; children have totally embraced everything: the games, using the tools, fire and cooking, the plants and animals and their interactions with each other.

Some have emerged as natural leaders in contrast to often being least ‘able’ in the classroom and showed themselves to be able teachers and encouragers of others at Forest School.

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New interests have emerged and skills mastered and adapted to learners’ own purposes. Their free play has been a revelation of resourcefulness, creativity and capacity to enjoy.

Staff had to restrict the number of comments about Forest School at the leavers’ service because there were so many! Most spoke of continuing to seek those outdoor experiences for themselves.

Thank you and the rest of your team so much for your inspirational training which has lead to immeasurable rewards for me and in turn to all those I spend time with at Forest School. I hope to do more training with you!”

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Ringmer Primary:
“The Reception children love Forest School. It is wonderful to see them experiencing things we can’t provide in the classroom such as building woodland dens and cooking on an open fire.

Children who struggle to communicate become eager to speak and full of things to say, they have started to notice their world around them and make links to their experiences they have not been able to do before.

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I have seen timid children become brave and full of things to say. We have seen amazing results in writing and creativity. We have all loved it!””

Pumpkin Patch Nursery:
“Forest School has become so important. The children love it, they can explore and feel free in well thought out natural spaces.”

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What is Forest School?

Forest School roots reach back to Scandinavia where children take part, all year round, in nature clubs to learn and play in natural environments. Our Forest School is all about kids and what they want to achieve. Some may decide to learn how to craft, track birds or make fires, others might prefer to run in the woods, jump in puddles or climb trees. Whichever one they choose the important thing is to be outside, have fun and connect with nature.

Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visit.

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Why Forest schools?

Because being outdoors helps your child development in many ways:

Health and Fitness:  

  • It reduces considerably the risk of becoming overweight. A child that enjoys physical activities is less likely to become obese later in its life.
  • Being outdoors improves distance vision and lowers the chance of near sightedness
  • Nature appears to improve symptoms of ADHD in children by 30%.

Language and concentration:

  • It improves academic performance; schools with environmental education programmes score higher on standardized tests.
  • Daily exposure to natural settings increases children’s ability to focus.

Social:

  • Nature makes you nicer, enhance social interactions and help building your confidence.
  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces
  • Kids and teenagers give a true and sincere testimony of how they feel about nature after one of our many courses.

What do kids do?

  • Make crafts from natural resources.
  • Learn how to make fire safely.
  • Develop their confidence, imagination and physical ability through unstructured nature awareness games.
  • Look for flora and fauna in their natural environment.
  • Forage, cook and eat as a group.
  • Make dens and tracking animals.
  • Discover the secrets of ropes and knots.
  • Jump in puddles and climb trees.
  • Have Fun Outdoors!

What next?

Forest School being a long term process we found that the best way to do it is to work directly with local schools.

If you are a parent and want your child to be involved in Forest School, introduce the idea to their school!

If you are a school looking to start Forest School, all you need to provide is the Forest School ethos, available members of staff to work alongside the Forest School Leader, medical information on any particular conditions, and some enthusiastic children!

Our Forest School sessions with local schools and nurseries and our School Camps are run by Circle of Life Rediscovery’s Marina Robb, director and author of ‘Learning with Nature’.

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Learning with Nature has become a must have resource for school, outdoor educators and parents and has sold over 10,000 copies worldwide.

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Click the below for:

CPD Days/Outdoor Learning

Forest School Training Level 3 for adults

Transformative Learning

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

Tel: 01273 814226

Email: info@circleofliferediscovery.com

Learning with Nature – Reflections, Thoughts & Reviews

“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, BBC

Learning with Nature, special offer available now!

 

“This wonderful new book aims to connect children with nature. Through a broad range of outdoor activities and games, young people are encouraged to engage their senses and interact with nature. This not only leads to a better understanding of the natural world but can also contribute to much broader agendas such as personal and social development.

 

Most importantly, the activities are fun. It is through enjoyment and understanding that people will want to conserve and care for their environment and so I encourage everyone to give the book a try.”
Andy Naylor, John Muir Award England Manager

“Whether you are a parent or educator, Learning with Nature is full of ideas for fun in the great outdoors. It caters for children and young people of all ages and abilities – and comes with clear instructions and illustrations. So grab a copy, get your boots on, fill your backpack and head to your nearest wild (or not so wild) space for some playful adventures.”
Tim Gill, Author of No Fear: Growing Up In A Risk Averse Society

Learning with Nature, special offer available now!
“Learning with Nature is fittingly described as “A how-to guide to inspiring children through outdoor games and activities”. Featuring a foreword from Chris Packham, the book is packed with dozens of activities and games as well as survival skills and a brief note on looking after nature. The activities, some of which are split by season, are varied and suitable for families of all sizes.

 

We especially enjoyed the Walnut Boats activity and the Swallow Migration activity, which involves children simulating the epic journey swallows make with their own home-made birds.

The games section of the book is perfect for youth groups or schools, as the majority of games require 4 or more children to play and many are suitable for groups of 8 or larger.
Learning with Nature is an excellent resource for youth groups or schools looking for some inspiring ideas for outdoor pursuits. In terms of activities, the book is great for families, though some of the games will require your children’s friends to come along!”
Farming & Countryside Education (FACE)

“Beautifully presented as a ‘how-to’ guide to inspire children, Learning with Nature is aimed at families, schools, youth groups and anyone working with children. The activities are suitable for ages 3 to 16 and will help develop practical skills, awareness and respect for the natural world. An initial flick through reveals great images and a layout of activities that is easy to follow.
Reduction in Roaming Radius
The introduction gives context in the form of an intriguing diagram showing an ‘extinction of experience’ revealed by the decline in roaming radius from home of 8 year olds from the 1920s (6 miles) to 2007 (700 yards), followed by the benefits of increased time in nature.

 

There’s also advice on how to make the most of the book through the art of questioning to nurture curiosity, and a section on Looking after Nature which sets out the interplay between nature and people to allow both to flourish. I was thinking hard before I got to the activities!

The activities are set out in 4 themes: games, naturalist, seasonal and survival skills. There’s a large range and each activity has clear advice on resources needed (often none, which I like), number of people, age, duration and how to do it. A note on variations and links to similar or complimentary activities is helpful. A side box titled Invisible Learning gives an idea of what we might expect when using the activity, advice I found either reinforced my own ideas or alerted me to new possibilities.

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If the book lacks anything it’s the benefits of using the outdoors from a formal education perspective. However I think those working in this context will easily recognise ways of using these activities in their work. This book is much more than a collection of great activities. It has an aim we can all buy into to forge “a heartfelt relationship [with nature] that will renew and inform our culture, creating love and respect for the natural world.”

 

 

This is an excellent book for parents, teachers and youth leaders alike looking to inspire young people with nature. Get a copy and head outdoors!”
Graham Watson, John Muir Award Cumbria Manager

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“I picked this book up thinking that it would be another ‘nice to have but probably not essential’ addition to our Learning through Landscapes library. I glanced briefly at the introduction expecting to be presented with the usual list of academics’ justifications of why learning and playing outside is good, quoting myriad obscure references with long names and concepts that mean little when you are thinking – ‘shall we go outside today to do something?’. I was very pleasantly surprised indeed.

 

The book has clearly been written by people who have their own clear, well developed and straightforward understanding of why challenging, fun and educational activities in the outdoors are not only good, they are essential, enjoyable and inspirational.

Simple concepts presented in beautifully illustrated pages in a very non-patronising style. For example – there are assumptions made that practitioners already know how to make things like bread dough and if they don’t, they can easily look it up – we don’t want to spend money on a book that tells us how to make dough – we want to spend money on a book that takes bread dough outside for an interesting experience. This book does that. I have to confess I went completely off task at one point as I was trying to remember if I had any essential oils hanging around so I could try sniff-tracking with them or if we had any suitably shaped wood for the burning bowls.

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Many of these ideas are new or are presented in a new context which is a refreshing change from reading about 50 things I was doing ten years ago with children. Many of them use risk and adventure as vehicles for effective experiential learning meaning that these activities will appeal to older children as well as the younger ones and indeed many adults.  I can see these activities turning up in LTL training sessions.

Some activities will need to be delivered by people who have experience of the safe handling of tools such as bow-saws and palm drills. Others can be safely delivered by anyone who can be trusted with a spot of clay or some melted candle-wax.

Not all of the activities require resources or tools at all. Some make new games out of old concepts, others do require specific items but these are generally not hard to source. The language of the book is gentle and thoughtful, we are asked to harvest sticks of wood ‘respectfully’, one activity refers to the ‘heartbeat of a cow’. A bug hotel suggests that we make ‘diverse rooms for the insects’ rather like some sort of more boutique or art-house style bug hotel, a cut above your cheaper end motel. The references to invisible learning ensure that no activity fails to hold its own and everything can contribute to effective teaching and learning. The book has a sense of a refined collection to it not a random gathering of ideas. My over-whelming feeling when looking through the ideas is that I really, really want to try some of these. Some of the artistic creations are very beautiful.

And if I am this excited about it then I am sure others will be too. Be nice to yourself – invest in this harvest of ideas, it’s actually really worth it. Isn’t it time you got out more?” Juno Hollyhock, Executive Director, Learning through Landscapes

“By my bed I have a pile of books I dip into every now and then for a bit of inspiration. This book is now top of my pile; a must have resource for outdoor fun. Learning with Nature is full of activities, games to get children outside, keep them motivated and most importantly of all having fun. The book is split up into sections covering games, nature activities, seasonal activities and survival skills. The book is straightforward to navigate and gets the right balance of pictures and text, which can be all too often overlooked in books. This book gets in just right. The information is uncomplicated to follow and easy to digest, with top tips and interesting facts throughout the book.

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The activities are well structured, though some of the activities work best with groups, but can be adapted for the family. I like the extra  information provided on what’s being learnt and provides some inspiration on questions you can ask your child to enhance their learning. We decided to try out a few of the activities.

 

We had a great fun trying out these activities on a woodland walk and enhanced a walk into something much more exciting and educational for the children.”
Shell, Get Out with the Kids

Learning with Nature – special offer available now for Christmas, click here to purchase and find out more!

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

The Sacred Pipe – The Legend of the ‘Canupa’

The Sacred Pipe is known as the Canupa in the Lakota language. The Canupa is an essential tool of connection. Of all the tools, it is the one which develops the deepest awareness. It creates an amplified connection with the intelligence that is commonly known as intuition. According to legend, the Canupa came to people a long ago in a time of great need. It was brought to the people to show how to live in right relation with the earth and all of creation.

The Lakota stories of how the Canupa came to the people hold important lessons and contain great wisdom, if one knows how to hear it. The following legend was told to me by Godfrey, my mentor. This story was passed to him from Horn Chipps, his grandfather. I now pass it on to you.

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Legend of the Canupa

The Canupa came to humans back in the days when “the grandchildren were few.”

People were new to the Earth and did not know how to survive in this new environment.  They were dying. People did not yet understand the concept of sacredness, but they knew there were powers in this world. So they “sent a voice out” –  a prayer – to anything that would listen and respond to their cries for help.

An elder in the group had a dream.

The people’s cries for help had been heard. Help was coming. In this dream, the elder was instructed to send a young man into the wilderness to greet the help that was on its way. The elder told his dream to the people, and everyone gathered to hold a council.  During the council, they chose the best young man in the camp to go to meet whatever was coming.

The young man was made ready and walked out into the wilderness. As he left, another young man snuck out of camp and came to walk beside the first. This sneaky one was bad and only sought to benefit from the situation. The good young man allowed the bad one to travel with him into the wilderness as he looked for something, not knowing what.

After some time, they climbed a hill, where they could see out across the land. There they saw an object moving toward them, so they waited for it to come closer. As the object approached, they saw it was a beautiful young woman carrying a red bundle. Now, when the bad man saw this woman, he said they should rape her, because no one was around or would ever find out. The good one told this sneaky man to not say such things and to put those thoughts out of his mind, for she was “approaching in a mysterious manner.”

Finally, the woman reached the men and set her bundle down upon dried buffalo dung.  She told the bad man, “What is in your thoughts? Come do it.”

The good young man watched his companion go to the woman. A mist formed and covered them both. From within the mist, a scream like a dying animal resounded. The mist cleared and the woman stood there, but all that was left of the bad man was his bones. When the good man saw this, he was afraid and began to run away.

The woman commanded him to stop. She instructed him to have the people build a tipi with the door facing east, and that she would arrive at his camp when it was complete.  She told him that she was bringing something for all the people.

The man returned to the camp and told all that had happened, and explained what the people were to do. Over the next days the tasks were completed, just as this woman had instructed. When the people were done, the woman appeared, coming from the east towards the tipi they built. As she walked, she stopped four times and raised the bundle she carried over her head. After the fourth pause, she entered.

The people would normally have offered her something to eat, but at this time there was nothing but water with sweet grass dipped in it. After she took the water, she held council and gave instructions to the people. She presented the Sacred Pipe to the people and explained how they were to use it to pray. She also provided instructions on how people were to live upon the Earth in balance and harmony.

Before she left, she gave this warning: “If you ever do away with the Canupa, then a nation will be no more.”

After she completed her instructions, she exited the tipi and walked to the North. As she walked, she paused, and then wallowed in the dust four times. Upon the fourth time, she stood as a woman, and before the eyes of the people she turned into a buffalo calf and ran off to the North.

Just after the White Buffalo Calf Woman left, a man stepped forward. No one in camp knew this man or had ever seen him before. He also presented a gift to the people: the first bow and arrows. He then showed the people how to fashion bows and make arrows themselves. He taught them how to hunt and kill more efficiently.

From that day forth, as long as humans followed the White Buffalo Calf Woman’s instructions, they flourished in harmony with the Earth.

The Sacred Pipe brought life, and the bow and arrows brought death.  This is the balance.

By Salvatore Gencarelle.

A Man Among the Helpers.

Salvatore will be visiting the UK this Autumn and will be offering workshops and talks in East Sussex, Devon, Glastonbury and Scotland. To find out more and to read details of our Transformative Learning training commencing in 2016, please click here.

Learning with Nature

In our time of fast-paced, exam-pressured, high-tech culture, where does learning with nature have a place?

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When adults are asked to recall a time in their youth when they were happiest, invariably they refer to times spent outdoors and with friends. Our clever screen world keeps us busy and on the go, but does not help us to communicate, feel loved, gain the satisfaction of the quiet mind, and relax. Time with others in nature does exactly that — and much, much more!

Engaging and Thriving
We need an education that includes learning and understanding how the world is much more than human-centered, and that instills in us a sense of belonging and curiosity about life. When subject learning takes place outside, it becomes embodied and has greater meaning. Our work aims to bring the subjects outside while building meaningful relationships with the natural world. For example, a tree becomes a living being with its own characteristics and often with healing properties. The class “builds a tree” using all the parts: the bark, xylem, cambium, sapwood, heartwood, roots, and leaves. Real experiences build empathy, a hallmark of a healthy human.

In language arts classes, sensory description supports a good piece of creative writing and generally helps the reader to be “in” the piece. If we ask students to describe what things smell and sound like, their attention is drawn to notice the smells of soil, how rough some tree bark may feel, or the sound of the wind through branches. One consequence of this sensory focus is improved, descriptive writing full of imagination — with an added bonus of high marks on writing assignments!

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Young children thrive outdoors. They develop their sense of balance by moving, not by sitting down, and exploring the world around them. We all need encouragement to take risks, building up our resilience and confidence — the skills that will equip us all our life.

We live in a time where disconnection is rife. It is common for 14-year-olds to not know that a book is made from a tree or that the fuel for their school bus comes from the earth long before it comes from the petrol station.

We have taken hundreds of young people out into nature for a one-time afternoon session, overnight or weeklong camping trips, and regular on going woodland programs. We have worked with young people from a wide diversity of backgrounds. The satisfaction of seeing them transform from indoor kids afraid of nature, recoiling at the yuck factor and the thought of getting dirty, to brave young adventurers diving into bushes to hide from the “eagle eyes” that will be looking for them in “3, 2, 1…” makes it all worth the effort.

Outdoor Learning
There are hundreds of activities that we could suggest, but here are a couple of the simplest, most accessible, and effective.

Try a scavenger hunt in an outdoor area. In small groups or in pairs, children must seek different objects that you have written on their list, such as:

A feather
An acorn
Something that’s been eaten
Something that smells
A seed
Something that’s rough
Something that’s heavy
Something yellow
An animal hair

Depending on your age group, it can be fun to add objects that engage the imagination even more, such as something that could be a gnome’s hat. Once many objects have been gathered, you could use them in many ways depending on your aims and objectives. You could talk about classification and group the objects according to whether they belong to the animal, mineral, or plant kingdoms. You might keep some of the more robust items in a bag and have a child feel inside, pick one up, and describe what he or she can feel while the others guess, thus developing vocabulary and understanding of adjectives.

20150523_142734Before launching into any biology around botany, plant life, and transpiration, it can be a fun challenge to try doing leaf puzzles with your class. This is just like a jigsaw puzzle. We start by choosing a leaf that is at least as long as an adult’s palm and tearing it into four or more pieces (depending on age and ability of your students). Give each child a single torn leaf and break the class into pairs. Partners trade leaves and try to put the puzzle back together again. Children often soon notice how the veins can help them in rearranging their leaves and detecting differences in the upper and lower sides. Just be mindful not to include any leaves that could be toxic. Common examples that work well include hazel, lime, oak, and dandelion.

In the end, we hope that our children will be healthy and happy, and that they’ll have a good future. It’s unusual to hear people ask whether nature has a place in education. How can it not? The most important question of our time is how we can look after the natural world, because we need so much from it to sustain us. The future belongs to a generation who figures out how to do this.

Marina Robb and Victoria Mew. Authors of ‘Learning with Nature’.