Foraging – Part 1

We have always been keen foragers and our children have grown up in an environment that encourages them to be curious, inquisitive and knowledgeable learners, particularly in the environment around them and we are so proud of how the outdoor play and learning we engage in every day has enabled our children to develop their own knowledge and curiosity in order to identify wild ingredients growing around us and knowing what these can be used for. 

Even more incredible for us to witness is children’s genuine curiosity and how keen they are to identify new and interesting plants, flowers and fungi. 

By combining learning methods and resources with the children’s genuine curiosity about the natural world has catapulted their learning and understanding tenfold and our children are frequently asking ‘what type of flower is this?’ ‘what is this plant? Can we eat it?’ and we then work together to use our ‘Seek’ app to enable us to identify officially the plant/flower they are looking at and what it can be used for. 

In terms of foraging, we have some projects that we repeat every year, like our elderflower cordial and making our own jam, but we also try to ensure we add a new project to our foraging recipe book each year too to extend and develop the children’s (and our own!) knowledge too. 

Repeating familiar foraging projects allows the children we look after to gain a completely holistic foraging experience during their time with us, and it means the experience is different for them each time we repeat it which is so important for cementing their knowledge. 

For some children, their first foraging experience is just about being outdoors and exploring the ingredients as the older children access and collet them, but then the next year, they will have more of an active role in the collection process and then for their final year will likely be developmentally ready to complete the entire process from start to finish and so their knowledge and understanding of not only foraging, but the ingredients, and then followed by the entire process is an incredibly valuable learning experience and process for all the children. 

Foraging is such an important part of our routine and our pedagogy not just because it encompasses outdoor play and learning which is something that is hugely important to us and our children, but also because in theory, foraging is an increasingly complex concept, especially when using foraged ingredients to make food/drink, and so the skills required to identify, collect and safely prepare these ingredients are incredible life-skills and invaluable life-long opportunities that even most adults do not possess, yet our youngest children engage with this activity and the processes that follow, with confidence. 

The repetition of our foraging projects has come full circle this year and our current cohort of children are now in the process of foraging, collecting and preparing the elderflower with very little adult intervention, and so to further develop their foraging experience and extend their already impressive knowledge of wild ingredients; next week we will be introducing a totally new foraging project for the children to engage in from start to finish. 

We will be working on identifying wild greens in order to make our own home-made pesto; an ingredient the children love and so to make our own home-made version will be a fantastic experience for all involved. 

Foraging not only provides invaluable experiences for learning about the natural world and wild ingredients, but also allows children to gain a deeper understanding of the incredible opportunities the wild provides us with and how we can access and utilise wild ingredients for free, making use of resources that are so readily available to us in the natural world. 

And so, not only an experience that offers a wealth of learning opportunities and skills but also simultaneously provides an invaluable and life-long lesson on sustainability. Watch this space for our first wild green forage and the entire process from start to finish! 

If you’re looking for inspiration for your own foraging adventures, we can recommend the following Instagram pages:

@foraged.by.fern

@mudandwellies

@thewellderness.cic.

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