The idea for an Outdoor Explorers project in All Saints was inspired by our successful outdoor play sessions that we had delivered there in Autumn 2020. Keeping in mind the restrictions and impact of Covid-19 coming out of lockdown, the outdoor sessions had lots of fresh air, space and individual resource baskets to play, with activities throughout the garden.
The 28 sessions were held across 14 weeks during the Spring and Autumn 2021. Big ones had opportunities to share stories and little ones had opportunities to play and learn from first-hand experiences in nature alongside their caregivers. The sessions were Pay As You Feel, with no minimum charge to join in, thanks to support from National Lottery Community Fund.
Getting the word out!
Play sessions were advertised through leafleting local Nurseries, social media posts and local Councillor for Ettingshall Beverley Momenabadi, email updates, posters in local shops, attending the All Saints Fun Day and running a stall with planting bulbs that can be taken home.
We welcomed 204 children and 164 adults to gather, explore, weave, dig, draw, stomp, build, plant, pick, identify, listen, sing, laugh and make friends through both rain and shine!
“We had so much fun today exploring outdoors. The mud kitchen was very messy and great for little imaginations to blossom. We loved exploring the plants and leaves with the microscopes to see what we could see. The wooden building area was a hit with my little boy as well. Will definitely go back, there wasn't too many people in our session which made me feel very comfortable. Thank you for a lovely afternoon.”
During the sessions we used accessible feedback methods such as pictorial surveys, reviews and chats to gain views, opinions and ideas from both children and adults.
We also have a Play Tester Team’ visiting sessions who used simple tools including ‘empathy maps’ to tell us about their experiences during Outdoor Explorers play sessions.
Our Learning and Future Plans
Conversations during the sessions between caregivers and staff and caregivers with each other, comments include:
“We’ve made a mud digging area in the garden” and “We’re planning our garden around the little one being able to be in the garden more with somewhere to do planting, digging and exploring”.
The participants also often mentioned that the informal ‘drop-in’ format of the sessions suited them well as they could fit a visit around other commitments like a school run, appointments and naps.
Going forwards we would like to secure support to continue to deliver these play sessions as Pay As You Feel during the spring and autumn of next year to build on the community links, friendship networks and fun and learning opportunities and experiences for adults and children.
Over the past two years we have invested time and funding in organising the layout and equipment available in the garden thanks to National Lottery Community Funding, as well as building community friends and word-of-mouth networks so will be in a position to deliver these fun and beneficial sessions to offer the best quality and value possible for the community...and we can't wait!