Date: 
Friday, October 28, 2016 - 12:45

Children as young as two are learning about the magic of the outdoors at a ground-breaking new parents and toddlers club at the Eden Project.

Little Eden is a weekly group for under-fives and their parents and carers to celebrate nature through games, stories, quests, crafts, cooking and den-building in Eden’s wild perimeters beyond the Biomes.

The unique club is the first time the educational charity has extended its learning provision to pre-school children. Eden already welcomes 50,000 schoolchildren in organised groups through its doors annually.

After a successful first half-term Little Eden is restarting next week (Thursday, November 3) as a new sheltered fire pit is built where parents and children can come together and enjoy activities such as campfire cooking and singing.

The shelter is being built by architecture students from Falmouth University who have also built a series of dens on the Little Eden site in collaboration with Eden’s education team.

Eden Education Specialist Gill Hodgson, who leads the club, said: “Reconnecting people to nature is the fundamental basis for everything Eden does and for children a great way to do this is to encourage them to be active in the natural environment and experience the outdoors.

“Some of the activities we’ve done include looking for autumn leaves, fire cooking, wild weaving with long grasses and treasure hunts around the fields.

“We have had very positive responses from everyone including one parent who says this is her therapy session and highlight of the week.”

Mum-of-two Catherine Brewer from Lostwithiel, who brings her three-year-old daughter Jasmine to the club, said: “I come to Eden every week and when I heard they were starting an outdoor parents and toddlers group with the Eden ethos I just knew it was going to be something I would enjoy and my children would enjoy.

“There is always a selection of activities like bubbles, a mud kitchen and crafts and Jasmine loves toasting marshmallows on the fire.”

Little Eden caters to up to 15 children of pre-school age (18 months to five years) and their parents and carers. It takes place in fields and woodland in Eden’s outer estate every Thursday morning during school term-time from 10am to 11.30am.

The group is part of a series of new early years initiatives being explored by Eden including plans for an Eden Project Nursery at the proposed Atlantic Centre of Excellence (ACE) Sky Academy at West Carclaze in nearby St Austell.

Eden’s Managing Director Gordon Seabright said: “We have a passion for outdoor education and we are convinced our philosophy of learning - rooted in play and nature - is going to bring great benefits for generations of children.”

Little Eden places are now available for the next half-term starting November 3 and running until December 15. The cost is £7.50 per child per session or seven sessions booked at the start of the half-term for £49. Directions to Little Eden will be provided on booking.

Adults accompany their children for free and can bring up to two children each. Babies in arms, slings, pushchairs or back packs can come for free. Eden admission is not required.

For more information and bookings for Little Eden go to http://www.edenproject.com/visit/whats-on/little-eden-parent-and-under-f....

In addition to its work with school pupils and pre-school children Eden’s education provision now extends to offering degree level courses in partnership with Cornwall College and Plymouth University.

Last year university-level programmes including Horticulture, Garden and Landscape Design, Event Management, and Performance, Storytelling and Interpretation started on the Eden campus for the first time.

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