This week we are truly honoured to have stolen a few moments with Africa, the powerful voice behind The Vitamin D Project and a true advocate of integrating nature into her children's everyday life.
How do your children’s school(s) support your kids with involving them in nature activities?
We're so happy to know that our children's school place a priority on nature activities - I think it's especially important in inner city settings. Last Spring, my reception aged daughter’s class combined classroom learning about nature with regular trips to our local park to forage for items to create a large bug and butterfly sanctuary and small vegetable plot. Parents were also involved and I think the cross lesson immersive experience was so invaluable to them.
What do you find is the most calming nature activity for your children?
My eldest children (5 and 3) absolutely adore potion making. We usually do it as a rainy-day activity using dried flowers, we love nothing more than using it as a calming activity outdoors when the weather permits. It's rare that we don't have music playing indoors and so when we're outdoors we make a point of listing all the sounds we can hear and attributing them to various wildlife... We "forage" for petals that have already fallen on the ground as potion ingredients seek out the best mixing twigs we can find. I like to set my kids up with individual stations but nearby as they seem to play a little longer that way - pausing to peer over their sister’s shoulders to compare. It's always a really lovely way to spend an afternoon.
How you integrate nature into your city lives?
We've made the most of our little outdoor plot including building two micro allotments on top of ours and our neighbours bin storage. Whilst our neighbours is filled with spuds, we have cucumbers, strawberries and carrots growing in ours and we've managed to squeeze in a narrow planter for wild herbs next to our communal walkway too. In the small communal garden we share, we also grow tomatoes -currently reaching over 7ft high! and we have filled the space with various different feeding stations for the birds and a large bug hotel too. Nestled in amongst all of that wildlife is a simple play platform and mud kitchen so that the kids get very used to being immersed in the kind of wildlife you can easily miss in the city.
Favourite nature school hack?
My favourite nature school hack is creating small world nature-based play invitations. Before the kids join me outside, I'll bring down a few pots from the kitchen and fill them with a few bits from outside to make a lovely little wildlife setting with a few of their Schleich toys. Think a handful of cut grass, flowers, pebbles, rocks, twigs -all grouped to make a little interactive scene and tuck a few of their animals inside it also. They can entertain themselves on their own for a good half an hour and when they're just starting to get bored, I like to add a second element like water or runny mud to keep the fun going even longer!