Samhain, when autumn meets winter

Samhain, from the Gaelic word meaning ‘summer’s end’, is halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. In Britain, the clocks go back and the evenings are dark. It is the turning point when autumn moves towards the cold of winter.

Continue reading Samhain, when autumn meets winter

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.

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.

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.

What is home?

The current political climate is encouraging people to retreat into their comfort zones, to reject the foreign or unknown, so it may seem odd to be promoting an ideology that looks to the local. However, being connected to our own place can make us more mindful of land in general and the wider community of life of which we are part. Rather than putting up social and mental walls it can help us to orientate ourselves in the world and give us the courage and insight to change it.

Creative Place-Based Environmental Education, published this November, shows how schools can create spaces for students to grow into the world, engaging them through curiosity and work, interest and participation, resistance and enjoyment. In so doing, schools become creative hubs enriching the community, caring for nature, the landscape and place. The book draws on over twenty years of action-research by educators in Aurland, Sognafjord, Norway, and with the University of Life Sciences, Norway.

This hands-on approach embraces the whole locality as an inspiring educational resource. Design tools for developing place-based educational curricula are made globally relevant, with case studies from Norway, Ruskin Mill, Britain and Tanzania, and demonstrates that anchoring school curricula in place fosters creativity, co-operation, environmental awareness and integrity, while using the resources of place promotes learning, change and creativity between school and community.

In his foreword, Douglas Forell Hulmes speaks movingly about his experience of meeting the authors of Creative Place-Based Environmental Education. 

The book is written with engaging stories, clear examples, interlaced with educational theory and practical suggestions and questions of what to consider when planning a program that may occur in drastically different settings and circumstances. Examples of other place-based programs are described that occur in National Parks in Great Britain, and in the traditional Maasai regions of Tanzania.

Throughout the world there is a growing trend towards nationalism and a reluctance to think globally. Due to climatic change, sea level will rise, displacing large populations of people who will need to be relocated. At the same time, education is focusing on national and global standards that may or may not focus on what needs to be learned and understood if we are to work towards a more sustainable future and a people who also have learned what it means to belong. I believe this book can provide a common ground between educational standards coming from the top, to information, experience, wisdom and creativity that comes from the local and regional environments.

I have visited Aurland and the Sogn Jord Haggebruksskule many times with my students. I consider their project to be one of the most exciting and comprehensive place-based programs that I have encountered. I can visualize the thematic gardens raised by the children, the farm where the older students milk the goats and learn how to care for the animals, the local school, community and landscape, which no doubt influences a biased perspective. One of my challenges in writing the foreword is how I can possibly capture in words the emotions I have experienced with the landscape and cultural connection that I have experienced by being there. I deeply understand what the authors are attempting to explain, and I personally enjoyed the dance between theory, curriculum, and story. I believe the uniqueness of this book is the interface and intertwining of theory, practice and place that involves asking significant questions related to place-based sustainability, agriculture and education. For me, it also focuses on:

1.  What is Home?
2.  How can learning how local foods are grown and produced help people discover what does it mean to belong?
3.  How do teachers get students to care?

Creative Place-based Environmental Education: Children and Schools as Ecopreneurs for Change, by Jorunn Barane, Aksel Hugo, Morten Clemetsen, foreword by Douglas Forell Hulmes.

Competition for Schools and Forest Schools – win 10 copies of The Natural Storyteller

The Natural Storyteller competition

Are you a UK primary school or forest school group? You could WIN ten copies of The Natural Storyteller by Georgiana Keable, plus a visit from this storytelling author. The book is a seed packet of tales to open the mind and unleash our love of nature. All you need to do is write up to 100 words about how your group needs great stories about our living planet and email to by 15th April 2018.

Please include a contact name, the name and location of your school class or forest school group. The winner will be contacted by the 23rd April, and announced on Hawthorn Press’ social media. Books will be dispatched within a week and you will be emailed to organise the author visit. This book is very suitable for age 9-11.

To protect our planet, we have to completely reimagine our relationship with the natural world and all its wondrous diversity. Storytelling plays a crucial part in that healing process, as Georgiana so beautifully and powerfully reveals in The Natural Storyteller.

Jonathon Porritt CBE, Forum for the Future

The Natural Storyteller is a gorgeous heart-warming book full of stories that children (and people any age!) can relate to. It is a collection of stories, carefully gathered from all over the world. What steals my heart about this book is that it unflinchingly addresses the turmoil and realities of life in the 21st century. This book is that rare thing: it unlocks emotions, ideas and a wild surge of creativity. 

Imelda Almqvist, Paganpages

Review: Making Woodland Crafts by Patrick Harrison

This review by Philip Davies appeared in issue 119 of Montessori International over the summer. Read more about Montessori International here…

Front Cover Making Woodland Crafts

The author is an outdoor learning educator and Forest School practitioner and trainer. His aim with this book is to provide some basic knowledge and skills for both simple and advanced woodland craft, and what he has included comes from many hours “messing about in the woods”. He intends it for “…anyone, of any age, with a modicum of interest…”, and it will certainly be useful for both parents and their children and teachers and their pupils.

Divided into sections that the author intends to make the book as useful as possible, he also provides an introduction, a brief note on how to use the book and a two page spread detailing some basic “useful tools”.

The first section is “Choosing your wood”, which briefly introduces the readers/user to four types of woodland – hazel, willow, birch and elder – illustrated by black-and-white photos and with notes on past uses of each type of wood and how to identify them and, with the exception of birch, how to coppice them. This is followed by a section of “useful knots and lashings”.

There are pages on creating things like a hazel mask, a night torch and a staff, and sections on making frames and simple structures or fashioning a triangle, the latter going on to show hos basic triangles can be combined to make things like a tetrahedral step ladder or lantern.

The author’s illustrations are commendably clear and well-drawn, giving a good sense of the possibilities of the woodland activities you can get the children involved in. Furthermore the book has a good stout hardcover that should help preserve it as it is taken around outside.

Dead Hedging

Buy the book here…

More about Montessori International here…