Outdoors Thinking

Umbrella/ Water play

Felicity Thomas

3 Words that best describe Felicity




Why does Felicity love the outdoors?

I have always loved the outdoors because it gives me a sense of peace, belonging and freedom. From the age of 8 I went to a Froebel School, and we spent a huge amount of time learning in the natural environment. We learnt about plants, trees and living things that share this environment with us and how to care for them and enable them to thrive. We learnt when harvesting in the vegetable garden never to take everything to allow for seed dispersal and the next generation. I have recently read a wonderful book called 'Braiding Sweetgrass' by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and I discovered this is a Native American principle.

I only became a teacher because I was accepted onto the Froebel Institutes teaching course and the main subject was Natural Science.

What is Felicity's favourite moment in the outdoors?

There are so many, it is hard to choose but I think I will always love watching children discover something for the first time and the sense of wonder and excitement this brings. I remember a little boy at Earlham lying on his back staring at the clouds in the sky, he was watching them move and their shapes change, he was transfixed by this and stayed watching for most of the morning. Another child sitting in the willow bower on a cold snowy day and looking up and seeing the blue-sky form patterns through the willow and just said 'Wow'. Another little girl showing off her knowledge to an Ofsted Inspector who was with me saying 'Look Felicity this is a Purple sprout, it is good for you' moving on and saying 'look this is a white sprout, it is good for you' moving on saying 'look this is a poppy, it is beautiful!' Two children jumping and laughing in a puddle making waves and getting splashed and then noticing shoots of grass moving in the puddle and exciting saying 'There are fishes, look there are fishes and they are moving- lets get food for the fishes' they ran off and picked grass to throw in the puddle for the 'grassy fishes'.

Why does Felicity think Outdoors Thinking is Unique?

I think this course is unique because it is starting from where the practitioner is at in their learning and understanding of outdoor learning. It is about the learner, taking them on a journey of discovery and opportunity in a nurturing and person-centred way. It is not delivering anything, it is inspiring and asking the learner to reflect and find out for themselves. All the practitioners learning will be different and personal to them but because of this it will be embedded in them, and this will help them to make changes in their settings. This will bring the outdoors space into a real time learning space for children whatever the constraints of the setting.

What is Felicity most excited about in her role as Outdoors Thinking tutor?

I am excited and honoured to be part of such a new and innovative training. I am also really excited to be working with such a spectacular team.

I am also enthusiastic about the possibilities of this training growing and becoming a must for Early Years Practice. For me it reflects and responds to the challenging times we are living in regarding Covid and Climate Change.

Finally I am delighted to be working with a colleague in Norfolk who was a student of mine and has developed her practice in such a way that she would not only be an advocate for this course but also an authentic practitioner for those who come on the course.

I am a Froebel trained Early Years teacher and have 47 years' experience of teaching, leading and training others in this sector. I have worked in Schools, Family Centres, Children's Centres and within the community.

I have retrained through the Froebel Trust to become a Froebel Traveling Tutor. This has updated and refreshed my understanding of Froebelian Principles and how they can be applied in the twenty first century.

I love to walk and have a productive allotment. I have been a spinner for 40 years and have recently experimented with natural dying and have learnt to weave on a Saori loom.