Ann Thompson is an early years consultant who inspires settings to develop outstanding outdoor learning environments and practice. She has developed a plethora of ideas for the creative use of natural materials to encourage children to explore at their own pace, grow in confidence and develop a love of learning.
In this interview, we discuss how her ‘Natural Curriculum’ was designed and how it has evolved over the years, as well as her book – Natures Colour Palette – her ‘random acts of creativity’ as well as lots and lots of activity ideas, from clouds to conkers!
Ann has developed a plethora of ideas for the creative use of natural materials to encourage children to explore at their own pace, grow in confidence and develop a love of learning. At the heart of all this is a firm belief in the sense of wonder that nature gives us, which you’ll hear Ann speak about.
Her natural curriculum offers opportunities for children to be outdoors in all weathers, for long periods of time experiencing variable weather conditions, seasonal changes and the chance to discover, using all their senses, the beauty of nature while focusing on their individual fascinations and interests. She encourages staff and parents to take children to explore their local environment together and access beaches, woodland and parks to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of being outdoors, foster a desire to care for our natural environments and slow down and appreciate the magnificence of being part of life on this beautiful planet.
Ann believes that when we have direct contact with nature we can receive a most precious gift: a lifelong sense of wonder.
For more ideas, resources and details of Ann Thompson’s Naturally Creative Early Years Consultancy service please visit
Ann’s website at www.naturallycreative.net
Nature’s Colour Palette Book written by Ann and Clare Thompson, photography by Gaynor Davies.
£10.00 plus p and p and can be purchased at: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/655308423
There is a read through version of the book that can be viewed on youtube via this link:
Naturally Creative Outdoors: Ideas for developing fine motor skills pocket size swatch by Ann and Clare Thompson can be purchased from Cosy catalogue: https://www.cosydirect.com
Little Cloud- Eric Carle
Cloudland – John Burningham
Early Childhood Outdoors https://www.earlychildhoodoutdoors.org
Richard Shilling’s Landartforkids.com
The Woodland Trust Nature Detectives www.woodlandtrust.org.uk