Jan White Natural Play

Natural Play, Natural Growth, in the Early Years


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Mudlark Finds * 14: The Promise

The Promise Nicola Davies

Mudlark Find Number 14 sits within a set of books I’m collecting that might help children to consider what it is they like about their world and generate a more conscious desire to care for and protect it.  We’ve had many years, as we oh so slowly wakened up to the state of our planet’s natural ‘assets’ and the treacherous ground we are treading by not slowing down our levels of consumption and degradation, of a ‘doom and gloom’ approach to conservation.  Happily, we are now moving out of that approach towards one that recognises that optimism and hope are much more productive ways of nurturing future guardians and stewards – who feel that they want to and CAN take care of and live gently in the world.

This book seems to follow the parable of The Man Who Planted Trees, where the small but continuous efforts of one person can, with drive and persistence, in the long run have a big impact – bringing others along too.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (attributed to Margaret Mead, source unknown).

For further inspiration, watch this incredible TED talk by Guerilla Gardener Ron Finley in South Central LA.

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.

Mudlarking is the ancient practice of digging in the mud of the Thames to find treasures.  It still goes on today, uncovering and recovering some amazing artefacts from the life of London city through the centuries.  Click on this link for more information about mudlarking.

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Mudlark Finds *11: Touch A Butterfly plus Butterfly Conservation offer

Touch a butterfly

Mudlark Find Number 11 is a Touch A Butterfly: wildlife gardening with kids.  It’s a very nice book to hold and to read, full of colour images that, although from a North American context and therefore showing different species to our own, really make you want to entice and welcome these creatures to come and share your outdoors with your children.

The book has sections on: Uncovering your habitat’s potential for wildlife; Setting the stage for wildlife; Welcoming butterflies, bees, bats, dragonflies and toads; Bringing in the birds and (importantly) A place for people – being part of your wildlife garden.

With chapters on Gardening in the rain – with suggestions for ‘rain walks’, ‘fairy’s washing walks’ and ‘making room for mud’ – and The layer cake of life, I very much liked the language used and the many expressions of affinity with nature and its processes.  So it gets a recommend from me.

Butterfly Conservation, a British charity dedicated to protecting butterflies, moths and our environment, are currently updating their family membership by including new items in the welcome pack and adding a more family friendly area to their website, including outdoor activities. They are also going to be including a number of items for children in their online shop (http://butterfly-conservation.myshopify.com/).

To promote this they are currently offering 25% off family membership (from the 6th May till the 31st May with a code). They will also be running a competition for children to design a T-shirt with a butterfly, moth or caterpillar theme, with the winning designer getting a copy of their T-shirt and it then being sold in their online shop!  Family membership might be a great way for early years settings to get things going in their own provision – and perhaps the charity will consider an early years support pack as their next focus for development.

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.

Mudlarking is the ancient practice of digging in the mud of the Thames to find treasures.  It still goes on today, uncovering and recovering some amazing artefacts from the life of London city through the centuries.  Click on this link for more information about mudlarking.


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Mudlark Finds *10: When I Was Born

When I was born Isabel Minhos Martins & Madalena Matoso

Mudlark Find Number 10 is a really delightful book that needs to be shared outdoors whilst comfortably surrounded by nature, especially now that Spring is really here. This book nicely supports the National Children’s Day (11th May) campaign this year to swap screen-time for Wild Time.

“When I was born, I had never played with stones or got muddy hands.  I had never made tunnels in the sand.  My hands had never touched anything except each other.  When I was born I did not know there was a sky or that the sky could change or that clouds were so beautiful.  When I was born everything was new. Everything was about to start.”

What a way to trigger a discussion about children’s experiences and loves about being in their world, and also to consider what they would like to do next: “But one thing is certain. Each day I discover something new. And that is the most wonderful thing of all!”  A book with an amazing amount of potential for conversation, sharing, reminiscing and doing… and for deepening connections and a sense of belonging to the Earth.

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.

Mudlarking is the ancient practice of digging in the mud of the Thames to find treasures.  It still goes on today, uncovering and recovering some amazing artefacts from the life of London city through the centuries.  Click on this link for more information about mudlarking.