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The Nature of Play: A book that "connects nature, children and parents"

It has been a pleasure walking down memory lane recently reading Fanny & Alexander's latest book 'The Nature of Play: A handbook of nature-based activities for all seasons' - a beautifully articulated and thoughtfully illustrated collection of nostalgic seasonal activities for children.

It is a well-timed and welcome source of inspiration to encourage children to 'sit less and play more' - in a way that is not only good for their learning and growing - but in creating memorable moments - either with friends or siblings or with parents too.

Founder of 'Fanny and Alexander' Delfina Aguilar has kindly given an interview below and also a couple of pages from the book, a relevant activity in the lead-up to Christmas of 'wrap your gifts' which can be downloaded here.

I myself, used to love making my own wrapping paper. In fact, many of the activities illustrated in The Nature of Play are ones that I used to do as a child.

Being lucky to have a younger sister just a year and a half younger than me, I would constantly be trying to entice her to join in in my games and ideas that I used to imagine up.

Favourites included bush hunts, treasure trails and making huts in the living room or garden and inviting our teddy's to tea parties.

Creating AEC was in fact a response to what I observed when my mother had our youngest sibling at the age of 11, and in seeing what a different childhood he had. From a young age he was proficient at online gaming and used to socialise through the game with headphones on. He would be driven to friends’ houses instead of jumping on a bike or walking and spend much time in front of the television (instead of outside).

Above, an example out of the book 'The Nature of Play: A handbook of nature-based activities for all seasons'

Chatting to Delfina, it is lovely to hear how ‘Fanny & Alexander’ are also on a mission to re-connect children with each-other, with parents and to nature.

The book seems a great tool for both children and adults - I can imagine kids asking their parents "what shall I doooo?" and with 'The Nature of Play' they will be well equipped with an array of answers: "Why don't you go on an adventure and pack a picnic!" Is this how you imagine the book being used?

Delfina Aguilar: Absolutely! The Nature of Play really is an invitation to explore, discover, learn and play with nature, wherever you live, whatever the weather. That's why it was very important to us that the book was structured as an accessible tool, like a recipe book or a city guide. Ultimately, it’s about connecting children and the adults in their lives with simple, special ideas for enjoying the changing seasons and hopefully learning some incredible things along the way. A very kind and supportive customer commented on Instagram “it’s a book that connects nature, children and parents “, and it's this kind of response that warms my heart.

With sustainability now being one of the biggest issues facing our society today, I think our focus should be on buying less and wasting less. And your book goes further than that, promoting the creation of memories. Memories which will last a lifetime (whereas toys or fads come and go and fade from our consciousness). Is this the idea - that children will be able to take these experiences out to the world before them? And hopefully pass on the same enthusiasm for play to their children?

Delfina Aguilar: Exactly, this is very much in alignment with our thinking. The environment is an incredibly important consideration for us. Fanny and Alexander began by making heirloom-quality, thoughtfully crafted and sourced wooden toys, and now with the book- we thought it was important to go even further. Our hope is that The Nature of Play will foster a sense of appreciation of the real world, as opposed to digital, cultivate imagination and act as a tool for learning - and these are values that transcend childhood.

Play is vital to a child's learning and development - and its neglect in childhood is now being linked to later anxieties and mental health issues. How do you think in particular - nature-based play compares to say, playing on a computer or on a playground in the school-yard?

Delfina Aguilar: Many children today don't even know how to play without a screen! We hope the book is a small inoculation against this state of being. Most modern forms of play are quite passive and immediate, and we think it's important to offer an alternative that is slower and demands more of children. Nature-based play requires children to challenge themselves, find solutions and rely on their skills and imaginations. Most of all, it asks them to slow their pace enough to really observe, contemplate and to wonder.

You can purchase a copy of the book from the Fanny & Alexander website here and follow them on Instagram.


site by Ana Degenaar