A Multitude of Small Delights

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

When I was teaching in a Birmingham primary school I had the good fortune to be sent on a course at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The course was one day a week for several weeks and was a very welcome change from the chalk-face*. The theme of the course was the exploration of ways in which the natural environment could be used to spark children's creativity. Or some such. All I remember was that it meant one day off a week, a lie-in, as the Botty Gardens were nearer to my home than school, and that it was jolly good fun.

One day we were given a matchbox each and asked to go into the gardens and fill it with as many different colours as possible. Each colour had to be natural and we weren't allowed to pick anything from a plant.
We did this activity in the spring and so were able to find petals of varying hues, but even in January, in a tiny garden it is possible to find a surprisingly wide range of colours.




This odd little task, pointless you might say, was curiously restorative. Spending time alone, outdoors, listening to the birds, smelling the damp earth, feeling the fresh air on my face whilst engaged upon some purposeful activity felt good, and as I arranged my colour samples I was reminded of the quotation from Baudelaire which Alice has on her blog;

A multitude of small delights constitute happiness.

*Chalk  and blackboards have, apparently, been replaced by interactive whiteboards and other new-fangled gadgetry.

25 comments:

  1. I like making rainbows with natural objects and I've done this and activities like yours but with themes such as colour, texture etc with my forest school groups at work.

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  2. I like this idea...oh to be a child again! (Off now to look for a matchbox!)

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  3. That is such a lovely idea and really makes you look at the small details. I might try to do this at school - it would be a fun change from the interactive-whiteboard-face!

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  4. What have you started! Too dark to go out now, but tomorrow...

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  5. What a great idea - I love anything miniature and it's so achievable. Gathering a whole bunch of flowers would be tricky but a matchbox full of bits I can manage ... thank you.

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  6. Lucky to be out and about, it is -19 C here so a little nippy and there is snow on the way.
    Blackboards were good but over the course of the term they changed from a matt black to a dirty grey and there was dust everywhere. Im not sure I dont prefer white boards..............
    You matchbox must be one of the big Swann ones ?
    Roll on Spring.................

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  7. Oh, how lovely! I might send my children out to do this. Although I doubt the youngest will obey the bit about not removing things from plants.

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  8. Beautiful! I hope that snail's OK?

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  9. Lizzie, my box was a big Swann box but I originally did this on my course with a little Bryant and May box.

    Victoria, I'm afraid I didn't obey the no picking rule either, well, it is my garden.

    Arthur Ransome, the snail had moved out (or on).

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  10. Lovely idea! One for the "what shall I do with the Rainbows this week" file. Thank you.

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  11. I am sending the Smalls out tomorrow when we get back from school. Will have to find three match boxes... Ax

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  12. What a great idea for my nature club - and me!
    Thanks Sue!

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  13. I remember doing this, as a Brownie of all things, and what a total joy it was. I seem to recall on one occasion causing a great stir by including an iridescent dead beetle. Thank you Sue, truly, for the reminder to stop and stare (and pick up) once in while!

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  14. I reminds me of a tapestry flower arragement.

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  15. What a fabulous exercise this is! It really makes you stop and actually look around you — and it proves that January isn't such a dreary month after all.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

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  16. Interactive white boards? What on earth are they?

    Love what you collected in your matchbox, it sounds like a lovely thing to do.

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  17. I had an empty matchbox recently and I felt rather sad because I had no children to give it to and couldn't think of a 'grown-up' project that needed a matchbox. I will know next time!

    Thank you for sending all your lovely readers to visit!

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  18. That's sweet. I might do my own little boxes now. Soon there will be little match boxes full of flotsam and jetsam all over the country....lovely!

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  19. What a relaxing way to spend some time! My daughter loves doing activities like these and it is amazing what you can find even in the depths of winter.

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  20. There is something so lovely, pure and simple, about this matchbox idea. Way back when I was in elementary school in Virginia in the 1950's, I would have loved to gather specimens.

    Now...in another century and at a much more advance age, the notion still really appeals to me.

    Many thanks for the inspiration. Your photos are exquisite!

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  21. Just like nature study at school or the children's class at the Horticultural Show class. Love it.

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  22. Great idea! I totally agree with the quote.

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  23. Hi Sue,
    I just came to your blog from Attic24 and I just loved it. I have to thank you for the Chorizo and chickpea rice recipe. It looks amazing and I am going to cook it for dinner tonight. :)
    Going to go back browsing your lovely blog.
    xx

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  24. How absolutely enchanting Sue, I love this world of miniature.

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  25. Just to look more closely at planet earth, especially at the things we take for granted, is an inspiration in itself.

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