Plants and Play – an event to support schools, forest schools' leaders and playworkers
Written by Leonie Burton, UoG
"Thank you for introducing us to this project and its resources." anonymous participant
On 8th November 2021, the Playwork Partnerships were pleased to run a combined face to face and online event to promote the Plants and Play Producing Universal Skills or PAPPUS project for short. The event was delivered by Leonie Burton and Kelly Conibere from Playwork Partnerships alongside Kate Littlewood from the University of Gloucestershire School of Arts and in partnership with Felicity Robinson from Play Learning Life, the UK partner, at the University of Gloucestershire’s Oxstalls campus.
It was a beautiful crisp autumn afternoon to greet the teachers and children who arrived at about 4pm, to catch the last light of the day. The event was lucky enough to use the base camp established at Oxstalls campus, hidden away in the trees, created by the Education team of the University. It has been a number of years since Playwork Partnerships built the outside gazebo as part of the Design and Build workshop or run outdoor play training workshops here, but the space is still as magical and filled with potential as ever. It is so heartening to know that this space is now used by the Forest Schools teaching as part of the Initial Teacher Training courses, plus local mums and toddler groups and Play Gloucestershire have regular sessions out there.
The group arrived to a warm welcome by the fire and soon enough were engaged in some outdoor icebreaking games and activities to connect them not only with the space but also with the natural elements in the space. This was an ideal opportunity for the initial conversations about the importance of plants and how these can be incorporated in children’s play opportunities and learning.
After some refreshments of toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate, the group proceeded to the indoor training space which was filled with plants and quite a few large branches! We were then joined by our online participants. Some of these had booked from quite far afield in Scotland and London and we were pleased that they were able to participate.
The session was an opportunity to introduce to the participants the premise of the plants and play projects and to particularly disseminate information to them regarding the new online toolkit of support resources. The Toolkit provides over 100 free ‘learning springboard’ resources for teachers based on plants and all linked to curriculum areas, searchable online by age of child and subject.
"I feel it would be useful to others in the sector. Good quality and appropriately pitched material." anonymous participant
In addition, there are 15 core plants that all have a detailed ‘plant identification’ sheet with fun facts and myths and there are 15 matching ‘playful springboard’ sheets which creates ideas for playful engagement, crafting and cooking ideas. Additional resources include ‘happy family cards’ for each of the 15 plants and ‘fantasy pappus’ resources developed by the project’s Polish partner Gedania 1922, that stimulate the imagination and creativity.
Since we had a small group of children and some teachers in the room we took the opportunity to have some experience of identifying plants and a dizzying array of different plant species were provided by Felicity which were then sifted through using the plant identification sheets to work out which was which.
The session explored how teachers and Playworkers might engage with the resources and to explain that there is also the opportunity of attending a training course that would provide detailed training in the area of Plants and Play covering a wide variety of subjects including:
Module 1: Introduction and attunement
Module 2: Personal in-depth experience in nature
Module 3: Taking play and learning outside with plants; benefits, practicalities and risk management.
Module 4: Getting to know the plants
Module 5: Ecology
Module 6: Plants as actors
Module 7: Working with plants and children
Module 8: Evaluation and closing
"It was interesting to say hello to everyone, but actually being signposted to all the resources on the website was the most interesting for me." anonymous participant
If you would like to find out about how to take part in the training course which is likely to start in February 2022 please do get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01242 714601
PAPPUS is an Erasmus+ funded programme bringing together educators from six European countries (UK, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic), to collaborate, share knowledge and expertise and create a unique Toolkit of 'springboards' to inspire high quality learning and play using easily sourced plants for schools, play settings and families. To find out more about the project and our five European partners; Gedania 1922, Rogers Foundation, GeSoB, TANDEM, UPOL, visit the project website at pappusproject.eu