By Sarah Hawkins
We have had a wonderful term so far at Little Critters with a complete mixture of weather from freezing cold snow, relentless rain to a scorching heatwave! We have had some great feedback too from parents:
"How we love Little Critters! It was the first thing we signed up for when we moved to the area and it’s been brilliant from the outset. Lovely, friendly passionate teachers who love what they do and love the outdoors. In such a busy world with so much going on, it’s the perfect antidote to screens, soft play and sofas. My little ones both love coming and the leaders are so encouraging and enthusiastic with them. We’ve done do many brilliant things so far; Gruffalo hunts, witches’ potions, ant hill observations and lots of stories to name but a few. And hot chocolate. And mud! We miss it when it’s not on and I can see us coming for a long time. Thank you for making it all such fun and so special. We love LC! "
The Children love the Mud Kitchen. Any age, any weather. Wet, dry, cold or warm the mud kitchen is always really busy and of course muddy!!! The Children just love filling, mixing and banging the pans and making something squidgy! It never ceases to make me smile when I see the enjoyment the Children get from this simple activity.
We always offer the opportunity of a walk for our families, whether simply too our site or once we have reached it. Sometimes we have set out a trail, things to do or find but sometimes it is just for a walk. We look at how the seasons are changing, our surroundings, we listen to the birds and watch the animals. We note the Trees that are are growing, touch their bark and smell their leaves and flowers. We also often collect their nuts and fruit to use in our Wild Art creations and of course to gather ingredients for the mud kitchen! I worried about the value of ‘just a walk’ when I first started Little Critters to be told by one Mum that this was her favourite part of the session as she loves being out with her child but would not feel safe walking around the alone.
On a physical note it is amazing watching the children navigate unfamiliar and generally very uneven ground as they move around our sites. Watching them build core strength, develop their balancing skills and resilience to their environment and the weather has been really interesting to observe. This is also one of the reasons we offer a block booking system so that it isn't just a one off trip to the woods but the children get used to coming regularly and that's when we can really see the benefits and the changes in them over a number of weeks. For the parents and the children its a chance to make new friends and the group to become more nurturing and supportive as a whole. A value that is beneficial to all - young and old.
We read, we re-enact, we sing, we craft and create! Little Critters has something for everyone and it really is a joy watching and learning with the little ones as they discover, learn about and experience the wonders of Nature first hand. Our Little Critters sites are all wonderful but are also very different. At Turners Hill we are lucky to share our site with Wood Ants It has been amazing watching them through the seasons. The Burgess Hill site is very different - that group is led by Carol who is always brilliant at finding songs! Carol says: "We've all really enjoyed joining in with our favourite stories as we walk to camp hunting for the Gruffalo, the Three Little Pigs, Superworm, Bears and of course birds & bugs. We have made many interesting things out of woodland materials and particularly had fun using the hammer and nails to make our pigs. Some of the children have also been lucky enough to see the tadpoles develop. Soon they will be getting their legs so we must visit them again before they turn into frogs and leave. And of course we've had lots of fun with the usual mud kitchen, hammocks and bubbles. A big thank you to all the adults that have joined in to help keep us all in tune! We are looking forward to the summer months and all the wildlife fauna and flora that it brings!"
If you're interested in sending your 3 & 4 year olds to our Forest Kindergarten in September, coming along to Little Critters will give you a chance to see what its all about too. As one of our lovely Mums says: