Croogles at Croome

group of cheildren involved in croogles project

Croogles is a new experience for children to explore to the outdoors. Designed especially for Croome, Croogles was developed by local nursery children with the help of staff, parents and artist Emma Bowen. You can download the guide below.

Artist and educator Emma Bowen worked with the nursery children, staff and parents from Grove Primary School in Malvern to set about developing a resource to encourage exploration and discoveries in the outdoors.

Emma initially went to the school to meet the children and to find out about the things they use to play, explore and learn with. She asked them to choose some of their everyday objects to bring to Croome.
Some of the items they bought included a mermaid cape, a colander, a cardboard tube, a curtain ring, some goggles and a plastic fork.  All of the objects chosen were put into a special explorer bag and the children also asked if they could have binoculars, a magnifying glass, a camera and a telescope to take with them.

On their first visit to Croome the children chose objects from the explorer bag to use whilst out in the parkland. They were accompanied by mums, dads, uncles, and grandmas as well as their teachers and Emma. The children shared with the grown-ups how to use their chosen objects. 

The goggles helped to see better, the binoculars helped to make things   really faraway look bigger and the curtain ring helped them hear quiet things. 

They noticed the sound of grasshoppers and the movement of dragonflies over the river. They looked into a deep crack in the earth where it had gotten very dry. They pointed at the Malvern Hills (“we can see them from the playground”) and they found cut paths in the meadow.

What can you see?
girls from Grove Primary School with goggles
What can you see?

On their second visit to Croome the children designed and made their own device for noticing things, inspired by their first visit and with a bit of help from their grown-ups. 

There were devices to wear on your head, to hold in your hand; devices that could be used on your ears, mouth or eyes. The children took these out into the parkland for a walk and a picnic to test out how they worked. Some children spied fairies and some could hear where the dinosaurs lived.

Testing the devices
Testing the devices examining the ground
Testing the devices

Emma worked with the team from Croome to take all of the designs that the children came up with to make a guide to help other children and families to notice things at Croome or wherever the call for exploration took them. From this, Croogles (Croome + Goggles) were created.

Five Pathways to Nature Connection

Emma applied The 5 Pathways to Nature Connection, developed by Dr Miles Richardson and the team at the University of Derby as a framework for exploration. 

Contact – The act of engaging with nature through the senses for pleasure e.g. listening to birdsong, smelling wild flowers, watching the sunset.

Beauty – Engagement with the aesthetic qualities of nature, e.g. appreciating natural scenery or engaging with nature through the arts.

Meaning – Using nature or natural symbolism (e.g. language and metaphors) to represent an idea, thinking about the meaning of  nature and signs of nature, e.g. the first swallow of summer.

Emotion – An emotional bond with, and love for nature e.g. talking about, and reflecting on your feelings about nature.

Compassion – Extending the self to include nature, leading to a moral and ethical concern for nature e.g. making ethical product choices, being concerned with animal welfare.

Emma also used the New Economic Foundation’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing, to encourage the children to explore together as a group and to share stories of their adventures.

Be Active. Play games. Go outside. Run. Skip. Get your hands dirty.  

Take Notice of the everyday, the unusual and the beautiful. 

Keep Learning to grow in confidence and try new things.

Connect. Make friends and join in. 

Give your time and share your ideas. You can make a difference no matter who you are!
Emma and the team from Croome presented Croogles to the children, all now in Reception, at Grove Primary School in November 2018. The team really wanted the children to feel ownership of their creation and to understand how the resource could be used in other places, not just at Croome. The children spent some time remembering what they had seen and heard at Croome. They also had the opportunity to make up beats and rhymes with performance poet Kurly McGeachie.

Children from Grove Primary School, Malvern
children from Grove Primary School
Children from Grove Primary School, Malvern

Croogles is available to pick up from Croome. They are also available as a download to be used anywhere. Croogles will form part of our family outdoor programming through trails and self-led activities from late spring 2019. 

Children from Grove Primary School Malvern
group of cheildren involved in croogles project
Children from Grove Primary School Malvern

Emma Bowen

Emma Bowen is an artist, educator and producer, based in Birmingham. Her practice is focused around collaboration, co-design and co-production. 

Croogles artist Emma Bowen
croogles artis Emma Bowen
Croogles artist Emma Bowen

Comment from Sam Painter, teaching staff.

“We were thrilled to be given the chance to work on such an exciting project and the children were eager to meet Emma. The idea of being an explorer really engaged them and we did a lot of talking and finding out about what explorers did and used. They loved finding items from around the classroom to help them explore using all their senses. I think having objects to use helped them stay focused whilst exploring and definitely helped them with ideas when designing. The children were really excited to go on a coach and travel to Croome. This for some was a completely new experience and added to the suspense of what they were going to see.

There was so much language being used as the children spotted things on the way and asked questions and talked about their own experiences. I will never forget the "Wows" that came from the children and the adults as they saw Croome for the first time it was just a lovely experience for them.

It was great to see them running and chasing each other along the paths, stopping to take a look at the wild life and learning about new creatures they had found. The sense of awe and wonder was lovely to observe. They laughed and explored, talked non-stop about what they were seeing. It couldn't have been a better experience for the children or the families involved. So much learning from the EYFS took place in those sessions from new vocabulary, physical skills, understanding of the world, creating and designing skills and even the chance to use technology with the cameras and iPad.

The learning didn't end after our visit, as the children took their experiences back to nursery pretending to be explorers in their play. We saw lots of objects being used in the outdoor area to find things to look at, it was just fabulous.”

Sam Painter, teaching staff.