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Sculthorpe Woodland Sprites
Connecting children with nature

In between lockdowns last year, the Sculthorpe Woodland Sprites have had great fun!  Originally a few outdoor-loving friends meeting with new babies for a coffee in the woods, we have grown into a group for mainly pre-school age children, to discover and explore nature at their own pace, in their own time.

Being a new parent can be pretty lonely and challenging at times, and we have found that support and friendship abounds in the special surroundings of our lovely hazel woodland for both young and older Sprites.

As a qualified Forest School leader, I coordinate each weekly session, which can last anything from two hours to most of the day. Adventures may include making delicious cakes in the mud kitchen, searching for wiggly worms, whittling a hazel branch to use as a marshmallow toaster – or simply exploring what nature has to offer. We love cooking on the fire together; elderflower fritters are a favourite. I’m big on celebrations, so throughout the year we have lots of parties, one of the most memorable being Christmas, with a very special visit from Santa Claus.

Spending time outdoors, in all weathers (there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing) does wonders for everyone’s wellbeing, but especially in the early years. Sprites and other groups like it, help to facilitate all aspects of a young person’s development, which may be seen as physical, social, cognitive (reasoning), language, emotional and spiritual growth. Learning through play, with their own interests leading the way (adult-facilitated) we aim to foster resilient, confident independent and creative kids. 

The woods offer us great opportunities to take supported risks, like tree climbing and working with tools and fire. Trust is pivotal in our special woodland world, and skills children can learn safely here may prevent future accidents.

Fitting in with the Hawk and Owl Trust’s community outreach and support philosophy, Sprites was a contributing factor in securing Heritage funding for Sculthorpe Moor Nature Reserve in 2019, and we are very grateful that the funding has allowed us to purchase new equipment for the benefit of the children.

We love our magical area in the woods at Sculthorpe Moor, surrounded by wondrous nature, where time has no meaning and giggles, play and songs abound. 

If you would like to join the Woodland Sprites please contact Ellen via the Woodland Sprites closed Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/156122981928258 
£5 for HOT members, £7 for non-members.

AUTHOR: Ellen Chestney
Ellen Chestney is regularly anointed with mud by little people. A naturalist and explorer, she worked as a wildlife guide in Africa for many years before settling down in Norfolk and finding her niche as a Forest School Leader.

This piece was originally featured in the Hawk and Owl Trust's publication Peregrine Issue 114 Spring/Summer 2021.
Peregrine is a twice-yearly publication that is included with a Hawk and Owl Trust membership.

Find out more: 
https://hawkandowltrust.org/payments/become-a-member

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