For three weeks I had the opportunity to lead our Wild Tots sessions at Carlton Marshes and I wanted to share my experience on what I’ve learnt and what our Wild Tots is all about! Wild Tots is a session for under 5’s and their families to come enjoy our reserves, outdoor activities and make new friends. There are four reserves that hold these sessions either weekly or in blocks, as well as two Ipswich parks.
Wilds Tots and Where to Find Them
The idea of Wild Tots is to get toddlers outdoors and connecting with nature, using play. There have been studies which outline the importance of outdoor play for children’s development, citing that natural environments offer unique stimulus that can capture children’s attention and interest. Trees, flowers and mud are explored with curiosity and drive children to learn, offering countless possibilities for play. There has also been evidence that interaction with natural elements such as soil or mud helps to build immunity- so its good for their health too!
At Carlton Marshes our Wild Tots are booked in blocks of 6 weeks, with weekly sessions in the summer. Several activities are laid out each week, around our woods, that the tots can choose from such as mud kitchen, minibeast hunting or natural painting (to name a few). This gives our tots the freedom to choose an activity which most interests them, and also the option to flit between them during the session. Some tots for example will pick a favoured activity each week, such as playing in the mud, and stay there for the whole duration. Others like to swap around at whatever grabs their attention in the moment.
To keep our sessions interesting we plan a central activity or theme to the week that all tots can engage in collectively, this could be a craft or even the reading of a book. For example, during one of my session I decided to focus on birds and their songs. In a group we sat and listened to the birds with our eyes closed, once they heard them sing you could see the excitement on their faces and little voices saying “I can hear them!”. Each tot then wandered off to find a toy bird hiding in the trees, we came back and copied the birds song together. We were even fortunate enough to have a visit from some baby Moorhens and Ducklings!
I have thoroughly enjoyed leading Wild Tots and watching them grow in confidence and develop. I’ve grown a little attached If i’m honest- but how can you not, just look at those faces! But fear not, my time with the tots isn’t over, I’ll be involved in the next block of sessions and the summer days too.
Are you interested in joining a Wild Tots session near you? Follow this link to book! http://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/whats-on