In February 2007, Muddy Faces outdoor resources website was launched. I took orders and packed boxes all from my attic room in a terrace house in Sheffield and a few weeks after the launch I discovered I was pregnant with my first son. Well, we have come a long way since then, not in distance, but in achievement.
Below are a few of my personal highlights and challenges over the last 10 years. Many thanks indeed for all the support and encouragement over the years and I’m looking forward to the developments we have planned for the future.
Liz Edwards, Muddy Faces founder & director
The Muddy Faces Journey
Launch of Muddy Faces outdoor resources website and the start of our continuing dedication to producing kits, guides and literature to help practitioners outdoors with a particular focus on Forest Schools. Production of How To cards for using tools and lighting fires, and our Forest School Leader’s guide for using knives with groups.
Where possible we begin to source products produced in the UK.
We produce our very popular den building leaflet. We also move out of the attic room into a small warehouse.
Son number two arrives and we start our Mud Campaign in collaboration with Jan White. This is to encourage outdoor play and interaction with natural materials as a part of every child’s continuous provision in an early years settings, particularly through mud play and mud kitchens.
An idea was born - Jan wrote and I designed a booklet - Making a Mud Kitchen – explaining a virtually cost-free approach to setting up this type of play. We realised if we wanted the concept to become mainstream we needed to do more than just sell a few copies. I looked at how Muddy Faces could distribute it for free and with a bit of tightening the belt we produced 18,000 copies of the book and distributed 16,000 for free through early years conferences and training.
We also made the book available as a free download on our website. Making a Mud Kitchen has had almost 20,000 downloads since 2012.
As part of this campaign Muddy Faces continued to promote and celebrate International Mud Day on 29th June by adding further resources to our free mud pack.
We start to produce our own wood products, handmade from materials sourced from sustainably managed woodlands in the UK. This has become an increasingly popular and expanding range. It’s amazing to know that by choosing a UK-grown wooden item you are supporting the viability and management of UK woodlands for future generations, whilst at the same time not depleting the world’s resources by buying an imported plastic toy. It is a difficult process to achieve, as every piece of our wood is lovingly cut by hand (not machine harvested), stored under cover, then turned into one of our products.
We produce our first catalogue. Each year we aim to dedicate space in the catalogue to help support people to get outdoors and the organisations that support this aim.
The results of our mud campaign are becoming truly visible nationally and internationally. Most early years settings now have access to play with natural materials if not a mud kitchen. Books have been written to support this type of play and large commercial companies now have at least ten types of mud kitchens to choose from.
Although buying an all-singing mud kitchen veers away from the original concept of recycling and using children’s involvement in the design of the kitchen, it does show that the concept is now truly mainstream. Jan and I are extremely proud of what our campaign has achieved and very excited about the international response.
The Making a Mud Kitchen book has been translated into several different languages including Welsh, Portuguese, Hungarian, German, Spanish, Greek and Italian. In Italy it was printed and given away free with an early years magazine.
We introduce the water droplet guide to our catalogue and website to show at a glance how waterproof an item of clothing is.
Our exciting new Outdoor Hub is launched, full of all kinds of inspiration – from free activity downloads to outdoor events listings near you and nationally, including training and festivals, plus research and information, and tons of external links. We hope that with your help this fantastic resource can grow – sharing & building the benefits of outdoor approaches for all.