Skip to main content

We’re going on a bear hunt

Outdoor toddler play sessions resume in East Lancashire

If you go out in the woods today in East Lancashire, you might see Outdoor Learning Officer Alison Cross leading a Little Saplings outdoor toddler group.

These free sessions were recently re-launched, having been put on hold due to COVID-19.

The sessions inspire families to get outside and reconnect with nature, discovering and learning through activities that can be recreated back at home and in local green spaces.

At the heart of the toddler group is wild play. As a forest school practitioner trained in therapeutic outdoor play, Alison’s motto is, ‘Go at your child’s pace!’ Parents and carers are encouraged to watch their children at a safe distance and interact when necessary, allowing children to discover their environment independently. Alison says,

This allows toddlers to develop their self-esteem and confidence by learning through experience within a woodland setting. These sensory exploring sessions are vitally important to children's development.

The sessions are run in partnership with the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership (PHLP), fully funded by the The Ernest Cook Trust. PHLP is supported by National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of the four year Landscape Partnership, led by the Forest of Bowland AONB. The scheme is made up of a dozen projects which safeguard the area’s wildlife and heritage and improve people’s access to this popular countryside area. Little Saplings is one of many community projects that hope to inspire a new generation and engage with more people from a wider range of communities.

Alison has worked with over 300 children and their parents and carers since Little Saplings began in September 2018. Sessions currently take place at Spring Wood in Whalley and Victoria Park in Nelson.