Just a short toddle from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust’s visitor centre at Brandon Marsh, is a small woodland clearing used for Nature Tots which will soon become an art gallery.
Sticks and leaves are collected to make pictures, mud trolls are stuck to trees, there’s bark rubbing to be done and even some mud painting. The children are loving it and the mums are getting muddy too.
The following week on a hot summer day, our clearing becomes a beach, offering welcome shade under the trees as holes are dug, water is poured, and trowels become spades to make mud-castles, topped with a leaf or a twig for a flag.
With imaginative games to inspire little ones, this woodland haven can be so many different things depending on the Nature Tots theme for the week.
Jane Creeden from Coventry was inspired to become a member of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust after discovering Nature Tots with her little boy Toby: “He wanted to go to the ‘countryside’ and so we came here. We love it.
“It’s a little bit different and there’s lots of variety. He loves being outside, playing with sticks and mud, and they don’t realise they’re learning. We’ve done things about frogs, for example, and he’ll come out with it all a few weeks later. Sometimes they just need to be outside and to have that freedom.”
When we ask 3½-year-old Toby, below, what he enjoys most about Nature Tots, he takes a few moments to think and then gives a very definite answer: “Everything!”
Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, our education team has been able to run free nature tots sessions for children aged two to four from Coventry, Nuneaton and Bedworth on Thursday afternoons at Brandon Marsh. There is also Tile Hill Nature Tots every Wednesday morning at Limbrick Woods, opposite the shops on Jardine Crescent in Coventry.
Having started back in January, these sessions will continue for the rest of the summer term and over the school holidays until August 31. Keep an eye on our What’s On pages for details of all our sessions for children.
Inspiring the next generation
Our education team has also been inspiring the next generation of conservationists by taking nature clubs out to schools in Coventry, Nuneaton and Bedworth.
Along with nature tots, these sessions have been enabling the children to discover the wonders of the natural world to be found on their doorstep, even in the most urban of locations, while giving them new ideas about how to play outdoors.
Take a look at our short video – Wild about Learning in Coventry & Warwickshire thanks to People’s Postcode Lottery – to see our work in action at St Anne’s Catholic Primary School and at Tile Hill Nature Tots in Coventry. Filmed by Simon Watts, of Wild Presentations, it shows just how much the children have loved the opportunity to get out and explore!