Sue Fenoughty reviews I Love My World  by Chris Holland.

Another Devonian, children’s author Michael Morpurgo, strongly recommends this book as being “a must for all”. Chris Holland is obviously passionate, and very knowledgeable about the natural environment, especially plants, and the activities in the book aim to pass on his passion and knowledge to the younger generation. There are 11 chapters, each divided into sub-sections with titles that can be misleading when looking to choose a suitable activity. For example, in the tenth chapter entitled ‘The Story of the Dream Catcher’, the third sub-section is headed ‘Knots, hitches and lashings’ and the parent or teacher has some reading to do to find the connection, and whether this is a suitable activity for their children. This particular activity could be carried out in the classroom, but the teacher needs to know how to do all the knots pictured on six pages in this section, before showing pupils how to do them.

The activities are arranged in a ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ format. ‘Ready’ outlines what is required, group size and age, and time to allow for the activity; ‘Ready’ gives an explanation for the activity, written from the author’s own experience; ‘Get Set’ lists what the leader will need to have ready for the activity; and ‘Go’ describes how the group goes into action.  

Most activities are plant based and require easy access to a woodland setting… not an easy option for city and urban  schools. Parents, however, if they are fortunate enough to have a garden with trees or nearby woodland, could familiarize themselves and their children with  their  wooded setting. An example of this type of activity is taking your children on a ‘herbal’ walk through the wood or other natural setting, to gather leaves from plants to make herbal tea. Obviously this activity requires careful supervision by the adult who must be able to recognise the different plants and their properties as some plants could be toxic or even poisonous. I would not recommend this activity for teachers as they are responsible for the health and safety of other people’s children, and I would have expected this activity to be labelled as ‘high risk’. Another high risk activity is where children wield an axe to chop a chunk off a log which is then carved to make into a bowl, requiring a degree of dexterity.    

It is not a quick reference book, but by reading through the whole book first, the teacher can mark the activities suitable for his/her pupils and give time to prepare the materials needed for the activity.  

Holland, C. (2009). I Love My World. Devon: Wholeland Press. ISBN: 978-0-956115566-2-4 . Paperback, 235 pages. £16.79.

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