Creating crafts from nature : Our morning at RSPB Rainham Marshes

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Outdoors, Nature and crafts. Just about sums up my family.

We love to be out and about and I’m always encouraging the boys to use their imagination more when it comes to the outdoors. My boys love science and nature. They can often be found sitting amongst the mud, dirt ground into their pores and deep into their nails, searching for signs of living creatures. In fact my middle boy, who is 8, wants to become a zoologist when he is older. He says he wants to explore the hidden depths of Earth to find new living animals.

We was recently invited along to an event that was very local to us at RSPB Rainham Marshes to meet a fellow Mum and author Hattie Garlick, for the launch of her new book Born to be Wild. Hattie Garlick is a writer and journalist.  She has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Spectator and The Huffington Post amongst others, and also writes the blog Free Our Kids where she received lots of press coverage for pledging to not spend a penny on her children for a year!  She’s a passionate modern eco-warrior.

We was promised a morning of fun and that is certainly what we got. Our day started off with a walk through the nature reserve, led by Rainham Marshes expert Louise. We was shown the ant hills, there were tons of them and what a teasel was. A tall brown, prickly plant. It was very popular with the children and they all wanted to take one home with them. Without harming the reserve, they was all given a magic wand to carry.

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As we walked over the bridge, we looked out along the water to search for voles. The boys loved being outdoors and revelled in the surroundings. My Joseph was in his element. He had taken along his nature book and was constantly looking through it to see what he could spot.

As we arrived at the hide, where we was to meet Hattie Garlick for a spot of crafts and lunch. We all gathered outside amongst the grass where the children ran around feeling the wind on their little faces and pretending to be certain animals. Mimicking their movements and noises. It was good fun. They enjoyed frolicking around on the grass.

We made our way inside for a little warm up and an introduction to Hattie and her adorable little assistant, her daughter Frida. Hattie spoke about her book and how we should allow our children to take the lead when it comes to crafting with nature. Let their imaginations run wild and see what wonderful twists and turns they take.

“Born To Be Wild is an inspirational book packed with over 100 activites to reconnect your family to the outdoors.  User friendly, you can flick through to the relevant season and materials you find (for example sticks, stones, blossom…) and find a fun and interatctive activity to do with your children.  The ideas can be easily adapted so they are suitable for children of all ages. Beautifully illustrated with colour photos by Nancy Honey this book is sure to become a family favourite.”

The activities in the book promise to be easy on the wallet and planet and most importantly fun for all the family. Hattie believes that children have the wildest imagination and Nature allows it to become free.

Hattie invited us all outside for a spot of pond dipping to get closer to nature

After a quick introduction from Louise we was ready to give it a go.

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I was little apprehensive allowing the youngest to get so close to the water, he doesn’t see danger and was leaning right over the edge trying his best to scoop up some living things with his net. But one look at his face and I knew I had to let him try. He was loving it. IMG_20160319_122859-opt

We found lots of pond minibeasts around the reeds in the water. We got quite a water nature haul, finding a Whirligig Beetle, biting midge larva, damselfly nymph, blood worm and water mites.

After our fun outside, we made our way inside for a spot of nature crafts with Hattie. On each table was a selection of object for us to make an Easter tree with, some from the outdoors and some from the craft cupboard.

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We filled our jar with some soil that had been gathered up for us beforehand and then placed some twigs into the soil, pushing down deep for it to stay. Then all was left to do was allow the boys to use their imagination and see what they come up with. The boys enjoyed getting messy, in fact Hattie said the messier the better

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The boys used wool, paint, glitter, tissue paper, flowers and ribbon to brighten up the twig and produce an Easter tree perfect for any living room. It was bright and colourful and lots of fun.

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Hattie gave out prices to all of the children that created a nature project. Joseph was given a book about wolves. He loves to read and was over the moon with his prize.

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We had  a wonderful morning at the reserve, learning about nature and meeting Hattie Garlick. I think Hattie had made a friend for life in my boy, he adored her and now carries her book about with him.

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This short film sums up our morning with Hattie and RSPB

Read about Hattie’s book Born to Wild here The book contains easy to follow instructions for over 250 activities that requires nothing more than a small persons imagination and the outdoors. The book guides you through each season. It introduces you to the toolkit that you will need, just normal everyday household items, collect everything together and place them into a bag ready to use on your next outdoor adventure.

Born to Wild is available to buy for £16.99 here

We was invited along to the event for the purpose of this post, no payment has been received 

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Born to be Wild : Hundreds of Nature activities for families

Want to save cash, your child’s imagination and possibly even the planet?  This is the book you need.

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If you yearn to get your children off the Xbox, away from the iPad and back to nature, Born to be Wild by Hattie Garlick provides an essential guide to getting your family out of the house, immersed in the outdoors and having fun, without costing the earth.

The average British child watches over 17 hours of TV per week, a figure that has risen 12% since 2007, despite the rival attractions of the internet. Britain’s 11-15 year olds are so addicted to their electronic devices that they spend 7½ hours a day in front of a screen – an increase of 40% in a decade and around half their waking lives.  A generation ago, half of British children regularly played in wild places, now it is less than one in ten.

“This book is written by a parent… one who is neither an Earth Mama making her own yoghurt from a yurt, nor a countess with a country pile in the Cotswolds.  One who has real kids – the kind who throw tantrums and worship at the altar of the Sky box.”   Hattie Garlick

Packed with beautiful photos of real families taken by award-winning photographer Nancy Honey, the book provides hundreds of fun activities to embrace nature, from ‘Building a Butterfly Feeder’ and ‘Making a Bark Monster’, to ‘Take off your Shoes and Socks and… Stomp’.

With simple instructions for those times when your creativity needs a bit of a kickstart – whether you are looking for activities for Mini Matisses or small scientists, adventures that take ten minutes, or that absorb whole afternoons – all that’s required is a small person’s imagination and access to a little outdoor space.

Organised by season and then by material, the book lets you skip straight to Spring, then ‘Blossom’, ‘Grass’ or ‘Earth’, depending on what you and your family would like to explore. Everything you need to engage in and create hundreds of activities can be found in your kitchen cupboard.  No expensive art supplies or outward-bound kit required, merely Hattie’s suggested ‘toolkit’ listed at the front of the book, featuring everyday household items including scissors, rubber bands, glue and an empty jam jar or two.

“Hattie Garlick has the wonderful knack of engaging whole families in nature, in ways that are exciting, easy to do, and require little more than a child’s boundless imagination”

RSPB

The book is available to buy here for £16.99

This is a press release. Blog post coming soon with more detail about our day with Hattie Garlick

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