Last week's #wildspring prize was a gorgeous 'muddy mac' from Muddy Puddles and today we hear from Natasha Ascott on the work going on behind the scenes of this wonderful brand and her dedication to spreading the word of the importance of outdoor play for children. Check out their blog for worksheets, creative ideas and their calendar of events.
'Our business is entirely built on the belief that every child is wild at heart. I have seen as both a parent and a teacher that regardless of money, race or nationality, whether it’s raining, snowing or bright sunshine, children come alive outside.They know, what we grown ups have forgotten, that humans weren’t made to spend their lives indoors. By building a brand that can enable children to learn and play outdoors then I believe that we can revive a crucial element of child development that has been lost to recent generations.
There is growing evidence that the emotional and health benefits of playing outdoors are a vital part of growing up. Whereas large amounts of screen time increase common childhood issues such as ADHD, learning and playing outdoors leads to significantly improved concentration.
It improves the social interactions between children while outside, which then has a continued positive effect when they to return to the classroom. Then of course it also energises children and, like a magic button, outdoor spaces make them active which is fantastic for their health. But most importantly time playing outdoors is immensely fun.
I cannot think of a child who when they first learn to walk does not love jumping in a puddle or diving into autumn leaves or as they grow up does not leap at the chance to climb a tree, roll down a hill or roam through the woods plotting adventures. In short, playing outdoors for children (and not to mention adults) leads to healthier bodies, better concentration and bigger imaginations.
Encouraging outdoor play is incredibly simple. First step, just go outdoors (banish your phone and all other screens) and see what happens. If you go to your nearest park or playground, perhaps bring a ball or a skipping rope as a back up plan and play some games. I think people would be amazed how quickly time flies and how genuinely happy everyone feels when you come back inside.
However if you want to up the ante there are literally thousands of things you can do, one which we recently featured on our blog, which I love doing with my children is taking them on a nature scavenger hunt. All you need to do is find a local outdoor space, draw up a list of nature’s treasures to find (e.g. oak leaf, pine cone, pebble etc), hunt for them and then if you really want to impress, turn them in to a lovely collage!
I have to admit that I am ruthless; I was brought up with the saying ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong kit’ and my children might be a little tired of me saying the same to them… The right clothes really can mean that you can spend loads of time outdoors all year round and not have that cranky, fusty feeling that you have at the end of a day when you have been cooped up indoors because of the rain. My children are always kitted out with wellies, waterproof trousers, waterproof jacket and if it’s really chilly a hat and gloves too and they really don’t notice the cold!
The format of our events is incredibly simple as they are planned to be in line with our mission to inspire families to start playing and learning outdoors again. They entail really fun outdoor activities which children do together with their parents. We did 10 of these events last year and they were enormously popular, our following for the events grew over 20 times throughout the year and they booked out in about 1 hour from when they went live. Our next event is a Nature Scavenger Hunt that we have planned in London, Bristol and Edinburgh on Sunday 24 April from 11am-1pm but throughout the year we have lots more planned such as elf house building, kite making and mudlarking and you can find out all about them on our blog.'