After showcasing the Love on the Rocks project in our latest Childcare Professional, registered childminder Kirsty, got in touch with PACEY to tell her story about why she created Wootton and Bedfordshire Secret Stones. After finding a beautifully painted stone herself, Kirsty created a learning opportunity for the children she cares for and a way of engaging her local community.
I enjoy watching children develop and they make me smile everyday whist getting to spend good quality time with my own children, I absolutely wouldn’t change it.
In August 2017 my husband, two daughters and I attended a family wedding in East Sussex and we stayed in a Beach House on Pevensey Bay. Whilst staying there we went hunting on the beach to find some nice shells to bring back to use in a treasure basket for my little ones, who I look after as a childminder. We came across a stone that had a little picture of a football that had been drawn on and on the back it said, “Secret stones, find us on Facebook”
So I searched and found a local page for East Sussex Secret Stones. What a great idea this is. I could see from the page that so many children and adults were taking part and most importantly having fun. Children have been creating their own stones, hiding them and wait for an update on Facebook when they have been found and then re-hidden again.
I sat thinking to myself I wonder if my own children and other children I look after would enjoy this. But actually all children I’m sure would love this in Wootton. So a few days later and after having a discussion with another local childminder also called Kirsty, she encouraged me so set the page up. We spoke in depth about how this would benefit the children we care for and also to try and encourage the local children in the area to get out and explore the world around them.
Family walks at the weekends can be a struggle with my eldest daughter, who finds walking around “boring” but I knew from the second that she found the first stone she would absolutely love this. So I set up a Facebook Page called Wootton’s Secret Stones with Kirsty’s supporting me and within a month it got changed to Wootton and Bedfordshire Secret stones. The page got so much attention and the word spread fast. Everyone is talking about it. We now have over 550 people on the group and we really are trying to encourage children and families all over Bedfordshire to get involved, and it’s free to take part! All you need is some good size stones and pens/paints.
The benefits and reasons behind why I started up the group are, it encourages children of all ages (and adults of course) to be creative on their own accord and express themselves whilst painting and decorating the stones, (you should see some of them, some people have a real talent).
The fun and excitement of getting ready to go on walks (whatever the weather) for either finding places to hide stones or to find some of the beautifully decorated stones that other locals have already hidden is priceless. You can see on their faces how proud and excited they are to be sharing their art work with everyone in the village.
With my childminding hat on, planning a stone decorating activity links to the EYFS in many ways. We extend this activity by going on walks and hiding the stones we have decorated or go looking for new stones that have been hidden all over the village. There are lots of nature paths and parks for children to explore and talk about the world around them, encouraging physical activity in going out to hide or find rocks.
Please feel free to join us on our Facebook page called Wootton and Bedfordshire’s Secret Stones and see what stones are to be found. You may even be lucky enough to find a Cupcake stone. If you find this stone in Wootton and take it to the lady who makes cupcakes on the Berryfields housing development she will give you a cupcake… for FREE! Happy hunting!