Jan White Natural Play

Natural Play, Natural Growth, in the Early Years


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Mudlark Find *16: ‘Exploring Play’ free online course from Sheffield University

Playful adults know the importance of play in children's lives

Playful adults know the importance of play in children’s lives

Mudlark Find Number 16 is a quick heads-up to let you know about a new MOOC (don’t ask me what that stands for) from the Education Department of the University of Sheffield.  ‘Exploring Play: the importance of play in everyday life’ will be launched on 29th September 2014.  Take a look at the trailer at the futurelearn.com website.

With the subtitle ‘understanding the nature and value of play through the course of our lives, across cultures and communities’, and covering such things as the history of play, outdoor play spaces in towns, cities and parks, play as the subject of serious study, and current debates about how the nature of play changes, it looks like a wide-ranging and valuable addition to our current need to argue the case for play in learning in childhood.

Applications are currently open (until end September) for the two Masters modules I tutor at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) in Birmingham. Learning Outdoors in Early Childhood and Children’s Physical Development from Birth to Seven (the latter run in collaboration with paediatric physiotherapist Sue Heron of Tatty Bumpkins) are both Post Graduate Certificates (double modules carrying 60 credits at level 7) and contribute towards an MA in Education (Early Years).  Both courses start mid-October – contact CREC for further information and dates for the 2014-15 courses.

Thanks to Marc Verkamp, of Veldwerk, Netherlands for the image, taken (by me) on an international study visit at Auchlone Nature Kindergarten, Scotland in April 2013

With this section of my website, I share some of the many wonderful treasures I dig up while researching and supporting outdoor play for children from birth to seven. I hope they inspire you too, and help you to create motivational, meaningful and satisfying outdoor play experiences for all the children you work with.


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Mudlark Finds *15: Love Trees Love Woods Campaign

Everybody loves being in a wood

Everybody loves being in a wood

Mudlark Finds Number 15 is a collaboration between the Forest School Association and Sylva for a new crowd-sourcing campaign to bring more children and more woodlands together through play across the UK.  The aim is to raise £30,000 to make available more woodlands, up-skill more enthusiastic adults, and provide many more play-filled opportunities for children, in an environment that meets their deep human need to interact with and bond with nature.

I’ve just made a small contribution – all it takes is lots and lots of small actions to build into something quite significant. Watch the film describing the work and if you’d like to contribute, you can do so on this site; and if you know of anyone else who might want to, please point them in this direction. There is plenty of material here to help make the case to those as yet unfamiliar with Forest School.

The Forest School Association (FSA) is also launching a map-search and database of FSA verified qualified practitioners to help support the principle that FS is run by qualified L3 practitioners, whilst giving a clear message that FS qualification is absolutely not necessary to take children outside! (my emphasis) “Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and compliments the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.” http://www.forestschoolassociation.org/what-is-forest-school/

I’ll be keen to pick this up with the FSA to unravel some of the concerns we in the on-site outdoor play support sector have about the often-perceived ‘requirement’ for further qualification that goes beyond providing the confidence needed for working in off-site (or even on-site) natural environments.

Hanging out barefoot in beautiful woods - what could be better for children's wellbeing?

Hanging out barefoot in beautiful woods – what could be better for children’s wellbeing?

Thanks to my great friend Erin Kenny for the images of children’s everyday play in Cedarsong Forest Kindergarten, on Vashon Island, Washington State, USA, which I visited in July 2012.  Erin has written about Cedarsong in Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way, in which shares her own journey of learning about what it actually means to provide an immersive preschool experience in an outdoor woodland habitat, and the realities of being authentically in the outdoors (I wrote the forward for her book).  You can find the book on Amazon.com (but not yet on amazon.co.uk).

With this section of my website, I share some of the many wonderful treasures I dig up while researching and supporting outdoor play for children from birth to seven. I hope they inspire you too, and help you to create motivational, meaningful and satisfying outdoor play experiences for all the children you work with.