The programme kicked off with two training days for 45 practitioners at the Rockwool Woodlands for Learning Centre near Bridgend, where they learned how to engage children in scavenger hunts, mud-based activities, blind-fold games and natural art. They also made stick figures and used their imaginations to create stories about their adventures.
All the activities are linked to the Foundation Phase language, literacy and communication curriculum and were led by WfL team education officer, Karen Clarke, who also devised the training. The training days focused specifically on working with two- to five-year-olds.
She said, ‘The non-maintained sector is not funded to the same degree as LEA settings so it can be hard to access training. These privately run playgroups and nurseries must still adhere to the Foundation Phase inspection regime to provide quality care and education so it is important to encourage practitioners to undertake training when offered despite the difficulty of releasing staff.’
She added, ‘Everyone had a wonderful time finding out what it is like to play in the woodlands using only natural materials and went home with a new bank of activities to try out and share with the children.’
A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered in woodlands, of which the Welsh Government owns 38 per cent.