" I always try to create things using materials that are in nature, or easy to find and aim for simplicity always. "

This week we are channelling happiness to have touched base with Laura Brand, the inspirational author behind 'The Joy Journal for Magical Everyday Play' and curator of the most fun and engaging activities for children (...and grown-ups).

Her creative projects are accessible to all, predominantly using store cupboard essentials, household objects or bits and pieces foraged from the great outdoors. There is no better reason to turn off the screen and get crafting, or step outside and start to discover nature from a whole new angle. 


Her emphasis on connecting children with nature through mediums such as sensory play resonates deep within our own ethos and below she shares some thoughts and experiences with us 💚
Where do you take inspiration from for your creative projects?  
I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest and also from traditional, old-fashioned crafting books (the ones you find in charity shops). I recently found an amazing book on Salt Dough from the early 90’s and it really stirred nostalgia, which is always something I try to find in crafting and play. I also always try to create things using materials that are in nature, or easy to find and aim for simplicity always. 
For parents wanting to disconnect their children from screens, what is the best way to get children interested and engaged with nature?
We recently stopped our own daughters watching screens during weekdays and it immediately had an amazing impact on their play, their imagination and interaction with each other. All children are so very different and so knowing what sparks their individual curiosity and interest is the first step towards a successful transition. It could be that your child likes quiet time in nature and something like a scavenger hunt using homemade cards or a map might work, or like mine, they might enjoy messy play so a simple mud-kitchen set up with some water, wellies and an “anything goes” attitude will be a winner.  
You talk about slowing down in nature. How do you encourage sensory play? 
Going slow in nature is something that most children do naturally. Adults, not so much as we are usually rushing from A to B, or we are fixated on a goal. Using our senses we can be more present and making this a family activity will be good for all. You can use touch to feel the bark of a tree or you can close your eyes and listen for the sounds of nature - stopping and each choosing one sound you can hear, along your walk. Smell can be from a flower or a field and you will also note the changes to natures scent’s through the seasons. 
What do you feel are the main benefits of children spending time in nature? 
Imagination. Curitosity. Education - and that is not even getting into the abundant health benefits. 
What activities would you recommend for parents that aren't naturally creative themselves? 
If you can follow a recipe, then play dough is a great way to engage in play with your kids. You can either make it ahead or make it together (depending on your kids ages and your own patience!) when I struggle for any inspiration, I also use books to help me as a starting point. So for example, you could pick up a book on Bee’s and then make yellow and black play dough and you can create honeycomb, or flower shapes with cookie cutters. Being open-minded and allowing the activity to take a different direction is also my top tip - as most stress is caused by our need to control the outcome. 

Jump on over to our Nature Create page where Laura has shared how to make your own beautiful sun catcher ☀️

Follow Laura @thejoyjournal for a constant source of uplifting creative ideas and magical escapism.