The Children’s Forest

Cover of The Children's Forest

Now is the time of Lughnasa and the Rowan berries are ripe on the trees just waiting to be made into treasures such as the ones here. This is an extract from our new classic, The Children’s Forest, offering stories, songs, wild food, crafts and celebrations for all year round.

The Children’s Forest is a marvellous collection of practices and activities that will surely connect people, their places, wild neighbours, friends and families. The elements of this book are woven to produce a tapestry of belonging – any one of these threads can produce amazing results, together something magical emerges. 

Jon Young, author of Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature
Rowan Berries
  • The Children’s Forest engages children with nature through play and imagination in the forest.
  • Forest know-how through eight seasons for Forest School leaders, teachers and parents of pre-school and primary aged children.
  • Identify trees, plants and animals including tracking, foraging, wild plant recipes and crafts to make in the woods.
  • Gaelic stories, folklore, songs and imaginary journeys to share.
ivy leaves

A rich and abundant treasury in celebration of the forest, this book encourages children’s natural fascination with woodlands and their inhabitants. The authors have produced an enchanting book where imagination, story and play bring alive the world of the forest. Full of games, facts, celebrations, craft activities, recipes, foraging, stories and Forest School skills, The Children’s Forest is much more than a manual: it is an invitation.
Ideal for ages 5-12 it will also be enjoyed by adults, families and younger children.

Cover of The Children's Forest

The book is organised into the eight Celtic seasons of Imbolc, Spring, Beltane, Summer, Lughnasa, Autumn, Samhain and Winter. Within each chapter are the following sections: The life of the forest; Plant lore; Imaginary journey; Tree Lore; Activities, crafts and games; Animals; Celebration.

The appendices at the end of the book cover skills, safety, the Ogham alphabet, story sources and further resources.

Available to pre-order now. Sign up to our newsletter to receive 20% off.

Learning outdoors

Learning outdoors

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10 Feb) and time to start thinking about getting outdoors more. Learning outside the classroom, actually embedded in the environment, is an antidote to the digital stress overload that can be so compulsive and distressing for young people.

planting out lettuce

This book is an essential practical guide to anyone wishing to free education from its meaningless role as a political and social tool, and to think about what kind of educational experience we will need for the uncertain future facing young people today.”

Roger Duncan is a Systemic Family Psychotherapist and author who has been involved in nature-based practice for 30 years.

A new review of Creative Place-Based Environmental Education has appeared in the AHPB Magazine for Self & Society (published by the Association for Humanistic Psychology in Britain).

Read the whole review here (PDF).

Review: Raising Happy Healthy Children by Sally Goddard Blythe

This review of Raising Happy Healthy Children is in issue 32 of Kindling, Autumn/Winter 2017 edition. The journal included a great deal of really wonderful articles, and we’re very grateful to be included in it. Many thanks to Janni Nicol, the incredible editor, for all her hard work.

This is a fully updated second edition of What Children and Babies Really Need. It includes the latest research about pre-conception, baby and child development and explains how social changes have unleashed a crisis in the experience of childhood. It really values motherhood, and provides parents (and teachers) with the information needed to support children in these crucial years.

Sally takes the child’s perspective as she views their development over these crucial early years. She explains the shared physical environ between mother and child – that of ‘first love’, as sympathy – derived from the Greek, meaning ‘to be affected like another’. This potential relationship between baby and mother after birth, the baby;s ‘first love affair of life’, is described as ‘unconditional love for its mother’. It is interesting to go on to read how modern living, driven by economic and political agendas, interferes with the natural cycles of fertility and conception making work versus motherhood a critical social question, and how this can detach mothers from motherhood. In my own experience, the glut of information, mostly on the web, and not all of it accurate, also helps detach mothers from the more instinctive approach to parenting.

Sally Goddard Blythe’s deep research and insights into the pitfalls of modern life, and the threats to natural parenting, and her examples of what can be done to embed the ‘deep love of motherhood’ and its advantages for the growing child, are welcome in this very useful book.

I would certainly recommend it to all educators to enable them to support parents and their children. Marie Peacock’s endorsement of the book says “(this book) provides parents with the information they need to raise healthy, balanced, resilient children. Above all it demonstrates that what babies and children really need is the time, love and attention of the loving adults in their lives.”

Buy the book here…

More about Kindling here…

Review: Raising Happy Healthy Children

Raising Happy Healthy Children

Our first review of Raising Happy Healthy Children has just come in. This review is from EYE Magazine volume 19, no 5, September 2017, and was written by Neil Henty.

This is a fully-updated edition of What Babies and Children really Need, which draws on the latest scientific research to show how vitally important the first few years of a child’s life are to their development.

The author, an editorial  board member of this magazine, frames the narrative in a society that cares for children and values parents.

This is primarily aimed at parents, to reveal the crucial early years period from a child’s perspective; in particular the relationship between a mother and child.

However, there is much to be gained for an early years practitioner, exploring as it does the biological, developmental, and social needs of a growing child from conception through to later childhood.

Buy the book here…

More about EYE magazine here…

Toxic childhood or mere hype? Article by Richard House

Let’s have an informed public and professional debate about the issues threatening our children’s wellbeing, argues Richard House…

Just before last Christmas, Sue Palmer and I, in conjunction with Dr Sharie Coombes, organised a 10-year anniversary press letter to mark the publication of our first ‘toxic childhood’ press letter from 2006 ( Signed by the likes of Susie Orbach, Susan Greenfield, Lord Richard Layard and Philip Pullman, our new letter ( argued that since 2006, policy-making around children’s wellbeing has been half-hearted, fragmented, contradictory and chronically short-termist. With children’s mental health problems approaching epidemic levels and physical health problems (e.g. obesity) relentlessly escalating, we predict major deleterious consequences for societal wellbeing for the foreseeable future, if nothing serious is done to address the problems of ‘technological hyper-modernity’ and ‘the march of the inhuman’, as philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard termed it.

In our letter we urged government to develop a coherent, well-funded kindergarten stage (3–7 year-olds) emphasising social and emotional development and outdoor play; national guidelines on screen-based technology for 0–12-year-olds, produced by recognised authorities; and a cabinet-level ‘minister for children’ auditing all government policies for their impact on children. We also advocated a non party-political Standing Conference on Children’s Health and Well-being, meeting and reporting regularly to Parliament.

Our letter was misleadingly titled ‘Screenbased lifestyle harms children’s health’ by the newspaper, which didn’t remotely reflect the range and subtlety of our arguments about ‘toxic childhood’ syndrome. This was highly unfortunate, allowing our opponents to position our arguments in a one-sided, misleading way, focusing predominantly on screen time in a way that we didn’t. As I write, our letter has been shared nearly 4,000 times, and the accompanying Guardian report ( over 7,000 times.

In early January 2017, another multiply signed Guardian letter appeared (, taking issue with ours, and mysteriously allowing readers’ comments to be added to the website – a facility not afforded to our own letter. Titled ‘Screen time guidelines need to be built on evidence, not hype’, this new letter argued that an important debate about screen time is indeed necessary, but that it needs quality research and evidence supporting it. The letter refers to “moral panic about the impact of new technologies on our behaviour and development”, “writing for fear”, a “simplistic approach to issues facing childhood”, and “hyperbole and opinion” – clearly condemnatory allusions to our own letter. Its authors further wrote, “Divisive and scaremongering rhetoric that takes a casual approach to evidence is unhelpful and… damaging”.

The letter writers play the expertise card in their self-promoting claim to be “a group of scientists from different countries and academic fields with research expertise and experience in screen time, child development and evidence-based policy”. They are, they maintain, “deeply concerned by the underlying message of [our] letter”, arguing that “quality research and evidence to support these claims and inform any policy is required”. Incredibly, the ‘experts’ claim that “the concept of ‘screen time’… is simplistic and arguably meaningless, and the focus on the amount of screen use is unhelpful”. And they further claim there to be “no consistent evidence that more screen time leads to less outdoor play”.

To reiterate, contrary to the false positioning of our opponents, our own letter covered a far wider field than just screen time. Moreover, there are all manner of problems with the claims in this allegedly ‘science-based’ letter. Not least, its authors are clearly wedded to a positivistic view of research that privileges empirical research grounded in a materialistic metaphysics, completely ignoring the spiritual and philosophical-existential dimensions of such technologies and of hyper-modernity more generally.

But let’s have a full public and professional engagement on these crucial cultural questions by debating the respective merits of the cases made by these two press letters – in university early childhood departments and nursery discussion groups, for example. We might then be able to generate some cultural momentum about, and serious interest in, an issue which seems to generate massive cultural resistance to addressing in anything approaching an informed, systematic way.

This article originally appeared in Teach Early Years Magazine, issue 7.4, and was published last week.

Richard House portrait

Richard House is a chartered psychologist and early years campaigner. He edited Too Much, Too Soon?.