A Course on Sustainable Play with Nurturing by Nature


We at The Learning Tree have been following www.Nurturingwithnature.co.uk for some time, we have always enjoyed reading Katie's blogs and looking at her beautiful child-led play idea's and provocations. On Thursday 12th September we were excited to send 3 of our staff on Katie's very first course she was holding in her beautiful home near Bristol. The main focus of this course was on sustainable play and we wanted to share with you some of the things we got up to and ideas we bought back to the nursery with us. 

Katie's course environment was friendly and welcoming, which made you feel very relaxed. Katie's showed us her passion for the Waldorf and Steiner approach and how she has used this in bringing up her children using natural resources and both adult and child-led activities.

In the morning session we learnt that children up to the age of seven are physical learners. They learn from copying, imitating and being shown what to do. From everyday activities such as washing up, cooking, baking, and gardening.

We talked and explored a beautiful celebration ring by Myriad natural toys, which we felt were a good idea to celebrate children's birthdays, the seasons and different festivals. These natural rings can be changed monthly and have candles to blow out for birthdays and to celebrate the changing in the seasons and the world around us. They make a lovely change from traditional birthday cakes and sweets, as they are much more inclusive and include natural elements (fire, water, air, and earth) and support the children's inner wellbeing.

Katie made some bread dough and we all had a small ball and stood and kneaded the dough, whilst we were talking about different things, we went into the outside space and collected naturally grown ingredients and herbs to place in the bread. I found this very therapeutic, and something we would like to do more with the children at the nursery. 

We also made a bumblebee using a pine cone, some natural wool and kite paper which we used for wings. Only by looking at the one that had already been made we were then able to create our little version of the bee, this reinforcing how adult-led activities have a place and a purpose not just in a setting but in everyday growth, children are able to learn and develop with the support of an adult showing and guiding, we also had a go at leaf rubbing with some leaves and natural beeswax crayons in our very own book that we were given by Katie. 

In the afternoon we talked about ‘Tinker Trays' we were asked to go outside and find natural resources in the garden to add to the tinker tray, these had natural, seasonal colourful wooden loose part already in them including small wooden mushrooms, different coloured cones, small wooden slices, and wooden beads. We added to it what we had found in the garden, leaves, stems, pebbles and flowers. 

We were then asked to make a ‘Mandela' which is a repeatable pattern of items that form a larger pattern and picture, the whole process was very calming and relaxing. We just ‘chatted; and ‘tinkered', with the patterns and natural resources. We will be introducing seasonal tinker trays into our setting for our children to explore. 

‘'I really enjoyed making a Mandela during this training. This is something I have never done before and was unsure what this even was. However, once I was shown I was able to produce my own Mandela and choose my resources. This led us to think it's not about the end product, it's about children's ideas and input with supportive adults guiding them'' Danielle.

We were also taught that children learn from rhythm more than singing songs because young children cannot sing certain pitches and if they cannot sing the song they won't sing it, but they will learn the rhythm instead. 

Katie then showed us how to make a window star, which is eight pieces of folded kite paper of different colours, or colours of the season or time of year, she showed us how to fold them, this is something we could do with the children. These stars are lovely stuck to the windows allowing the natural light to shine through. 

‘'I enjoyed the training, I felt like I was back in my childhood before any plastic toys and using natural resources that can be found in the outside world. I liked the simplicity of the materials and enjoyed the enrichment of the experience'' Tracy 

 "I thoroughly enjoyed this training and found that I want to study and find out more about the Steiner/ Waldorf approach. The one thing that I took home with me is the importance of celebrating the world around us the change in each season and what it brings to us, not just the traditional holidays Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc." Jennie.