A woodland world of discovery awaited young explorers from Ramsgate Arts Primary at the Newington Copse outdoor nature play centre.
Girls and boys from Year 1 were captivated by the diverse range of activities delivered by professional artists at the wooded area.
Workshops include making leafy hairstyles with leaves, petals and found objects; creating bug hotels for tiny creatures using mud, straw and bamboo; making seed bombs; making their own 3D model of the copse; exploring the woods discovering wildlife and pond-dipping.
The young visitors from RAPS were enthralled and excited. Loki said: “I really liked the red bug, it’s called a centipede,” while Maisie added: “I liked making a bug hotel.” Alfie explained: “I touched a worm, it felt squishy.”
Teacher Jess Barnes said: “The children were so engaged in the range of activities on offer. They particularly enjoyed going on a bug hunt around the site; finding a toad and lots of centipedes. They were amazed by how many legs a centipede has.
“They learnt about the different materials they could use to make a bug hotel, thinking very carefully about what each insect needs. The children worked collaboratively to start building a 3D model of the trees within the copse using a range of materials.
“It was a great opportunity for the children to be in nature, exploring the surroundings and being creative in ways they maybe haven’t experienced before.
“They returned to school inspired by the activities and have been using their child-initiated time to try out some of the new skills they have learnt. They are so excited about their trip to the copse.”
Artist and creative producer Nova Marshall from Copse Play said: “The copse is an under-used resource that lies in the community of Newington. It is a hidden gem.
“The idea of Copse Play came about from various conversations that I had with members of the community – families, discussions with teachers, children and young people that attend the local youth club – who all talk so animatedly about the copse, and how much they enjoy the space. Marry this with the evidence that children are getting fewer opportunities to interact with nature, the idea of Copse Play was born.
“The project allows the children to interact with nature in fun and inspiring ways, work with professional artists whilst being immersed in nature creating artwork inspired by what surrounds them.
“The benefits of spending time outdoors improves physical, mental and social well-being and the opportunity to develop an interest in and understanding of nature.”
RAPS Head of School Nick Budge is a firm believer of outdoor learning. He said: “Whenever possible we offer our children the chance to visit new learning environments like the copse and forest schools.
“It is another dimension for their education and shows them from an early age that learning is all around them, not just in a classroom.
“Initiatives like this enhances teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving and decision-making, and is beneficial for our children’s wellbeing.
“We are developing our own outside learning spaces at RAPS with specially designated areas. The project is ongoing and is supported by our Parent Council. The next phase is a kitchen garden.”
*Copse Play is an outdoor nature play project for children, young people and families who live in Newington, Ramsgate led by aim4 Partnerships CiC and funded by Kent County Council’s Early Help and Preventative Services and in partnership with Newington Big Local and Creative Newington, part of the Creative Civic Change programme.