Talking Trees Woodland Playgroup
Talking Trees Woodland Playgroup has been running in the Firle conservation woods and Lewes Railway Lands for over 10 years. There are weekly Woodland Playgroups in Lewes, Firle and Barcombe. These warm, friendly and nurturing groups are inspired by the Forest School ethos and are a special time to spend with your child experiencing the wonder of the seasons, together making new friends and receiving the health benefits of connecting to nature.
Leading the sessions is Laura Warren a trained Forest School Leader with insurance and a current DBS, she loves what she does and has a kind, patience, fun and gentle approach with children.
Many thanks to Laura for this article. If you would like to tell us about your green space project, please get in touch!
What to spot in Spring..
Spring is slowly arriving. Time to put the wellies on and get out into the woods with your children, to explore. Spot the early colour of woodland flowers, Daffodils, Primroses, Celandines, Wood Anemones and Violets. Listen for the woodpecker drumming – it has found the perfect hollow branch to tap its beak on to attract a mate.
Look for white blossom of the Blackthorn which comes out before its leaves. This is called a ‘Blackthorn winter’ when we have a colder spell in March. Hawthorn which also grows in hedgerows sprouts out it leaves first, then its white blossom in May. Between the rain showers listen out for the ‘chiff chaff’ call of the Chiffchaff, a small woodland bird arriving back to this country from Spain or Morocco this time of year.
Careful where you tread as newly emerged queen Bumblebees are flying close to the ground to find a new nest and look for early spring flowers for some well needed nectar – feed them a teaspoon of sugar water if you spot a sleepy one.
Activities for children
Good activities for 2 – 5 year olds: – Why not have a go at making your own little nest and put it in a tree or find a hidden spot on the ground. Use small sticks, lay them in a circle and build up the walls. Add clay, mud, moss, and straw, find feathers to make it cosy. Have a go at making Hare ears. Using recycled card paint it brown then cut a band and staple the right size to go round your child’s head, then cut two long ears and staple them on, be a mad March Hare and to some hare racing!
For older children and adults: – Find a patch of Stinging Nettles away from roads, dogs or farm animals. Using some gardening gloves pick the top fresh leaves. Wash under cold water, add to a pot of boiling water, leave to brew for 5 minutes pour out using a strainer for a cup of fresh nettle tea. Cleansing for liver and kidneys with vitamins such as Vitamin C.
Experience the woodland
In the woods find a nice place to sit, within sight of others but choose a special space you like. Sit quietly for 5 minutes, first with your eyes closed, then open them. Look out for animals and insects, listen to the sounds. What can you hear, smell, feel? Come back to gather and talk about your experience.
We sing songs, learn about wildlife and caring for nature and each other. We make seasonal crafts and cook healthy snacks over the fire, go for walks, play in the mud kitchen, relax in the hammock, go on adventures, forage, enjoy magical story-telling, make music and have lots of free play. We always have a foraged or herbal tea for adults and children to try!
Activities are great for manual dexterity, coordination, strength, balance and confidence. Crafts can equally be enjoyed by the adult as a much needed time to do something creative and relaxing, whilst the children play in the mud kitchen.
We really encourage parents/carers to book a half termly blocks, as studies show children and adults receive many positive benefits, having regular contact with nature and the woods in all weathers.
We recently helped the local Lewes Ranger to plant native hedgerow shrubs at our Lewes Railway Lands site. We are excited to look after and watch our little trees grow!”
The Drop-in price is £8 or it’s £7 per session if you book half termly. (Sibling discount £6 for drop in £5 block booking) Babes in arms free. Concessions are available so please speak to us if the price will stop you from bringing your child.
We are looking for dedicated volunteers to work alongside Laura at both sites – one for each site. We require people who are interested in the Forest School ethos and have experience working with toddlers. To find out more and apply please contact firstname.lastname@example.org