Fruits of the Forest
Stourbridge, W Midlands
Chosen as a Mud Champion because:
a Forest School advocate & great supporter of others
"Ruth goes above and beyond, seeking out ways to support projects within her community in an outdoor capacity. She is passionate about child led play, the muddier the better. She sees the importance of its sensory and health benefits and brings that into her practice.
Ruth is an inspiration within the outdoor community. She champions outdoor learning, supports many local initiatives and is always looking to offer opportunities to those who may not otherwise be able to participate. She really deserves to be recognised for all her hard work."
"Ruth is an incredible advocate for all things outdoor ed and Forest School. She is incredibly generous with her time and energy and is always thinking of others. Of all the people I connect with for support, Ruth is number one. Nothing is too much trouble, even driving to Derbyshire to help plant a willow tunnel."
Tell us a bit about what you do at your project / your role
I am the owner of Fruits of the Forest and have one clear, simple aim - to support children and their families to grow in health and happiness. Fruits of the Forest predominately delivers Forest School provision, running sessions for schools during curriculum time as well toddler groups, holiday clubs, parties, family sessions and group sessions. I also run bespoke programmes and offer an introduction to Forest School training for teachers and other professionals as well as support local universities with their teaching training courses.
What do you love about your work?
I am so privileged to work with so many children and adults outside, giving them opportunity to be free and connect with nature. I love seeing how they direct their play and how freedom to choose impacts on their confidence, happiness and learning. I love the freedom and ability to choose what I do and who I work with. Being self employed I am able to make up my own rules and do what I believe is the right thing to benefit the children I work with.
What are the benefits – why is muddy, outdoor, nature play so important?
Ooh where do I start and finish in just a couple of sentences?!
Talking to the children at the end of term, the resounding message I got from them was how being outside, in nature made them feel great. The space and freedom to choose and lead their own activities was so important to them and being 'allowed' to get muddy, experiment and explore. I believe that this freedom not only boosts children's happiness and wellbeing, it allows them to develop a greater knowledge of their natural world, builds relationships with each other, gives them a voice and [enables them to] learn at their pace.
Top tip for muddy/messy/nature play
Be brave and just take children outside. You don't need to have lots of resources or a big space, just take children outside and see what they do. The more we provide opportunities for children to be outside and lead the way the more benefits we all will gain. Trust the children and it will be the best.
Spades and trowels!
Pay it Forward – who would you nominate as a Mud Champion and why?
Ben has worked so hard to develop Forest School site at his school. He has created a fabulous area, with a beautiful pond and lots of areas for children to play and explore. He empowers the children to have a go and it is making a huge impact on children who wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity to have a chance to connect with nature and get muddy! I was lucky to visit his school whilst I planted a willow tunnel for them and it was wonderful to see the engagement and the excitement of the children he is working with.
How will you spend your Muddy Faces voucher?
I think on some pewter- something I have never done with my groups and really want to.
Anything else you would like to say?
Just a huge thank you for choosing me and for your continued support in everything I do. Working on your own can feel a bit lonely so its great to feel part of a community and I certainly feel that sense of belonging with the support I get from you. Thank you x
Mud play tips
These tips are from the experts - Forest School practitioners, outdoor leaders, teachers, families - people who love mud play and it’s benefits so much that they have generously shared their skills, knowledge and experience with us.
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FREE Mud Kitchen book
Making a Mud Kitchen has everything you need to know about mud kitchens – all the whats, whys, wheres and hows - and is available to download for free.
Making a Mud Kitchen has been translated into TWELVE different languages and counting! Download your free pdf in:
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