Warm Wellies growing connections with outdoor learning and forest schools
Cumbrian schools who focus on children enjoying outdoor learning and play are linking up with a national welly manufacturer to make sure their tots have toasty toes when playing outdoors.
Simon Wood from The Warm Welly Company, based in Walton, has developed ‘Warm Wellies’ - a brand of children’s wellies designed to make living and learning outdoors more fun when the weather is cold. Warm Wellies are the first neoprene lined wellies specifically designed for children. They have become so successful that adult sizes have been introduced, keeping parents and teachers’ toes warm too.
In the last few months, Simon Wood has been forging strong links with Forest Schools and schools with strong elements of outdoor play.Over 40 nurseries and schools across the UK are now making the most of Warm Wellies.
Simon said “Quite early on, we were approached by Little Forest Folk in London. It’s a group of fully outdoor forest nurseries that immerse two to five-year-olds in nature. They included our wellies on their kit list and we offered the nurseries - and their parents a 10% discount. It’s been very successful and we’re rolling it out to any UK schools who encourage outdoor learning. We just want to help children stay outdoors for longer- and avoid tears over frozen toes.
“We’ve wellies in schools from Glasgow to London, but not many in Cumbria. We’d like to change that, so we’re working to get more links with Cumbrian schools and local Forest School/Outdoor Practitioners who offer modules in schools.”
The Jigsaw Nursery and Pre-School at Gilsland was one of the first Cumbrian schools to adopt Warm Wellies, thanks to fundraising by the nursery to buy a bulk batch of wellies. Jigsaw accommodates a maximum of ten children at each session, so they ordered ten pairs in a range of sizes to allow their little to play outdoors in all weathers.They received extra discount for buying in bulk, and parents also get to use the school discount code too.
Mrs. Barwick, the Nursery Manager said “I discovered the wellies on Face Book and ordered a pair for my son. They were fantastic at keeping feet warm, so I spoke to Simon about ordering some for the school - it was then that I realised that I hadlooked after Simon’s children when they were at nursery many years ago!
“When the wellies arrived, we marked the sizes on the backs and the children look for the shoe size on the soles of their shoes - it’s matching numbers for math’s in a fun way. The wellies are super easy for little ones aged 2+ to put on and take them off themselves - it supports their independence at an early stage.
“We live in a rural setting and 40% of the children here come from farms. Like all our children, they love being outdoors and when we know their feet are warm, we can encourage them to stay out for longer.
“The wellies all stay at school - so they can be shared and used every day. Most recently the children took part in a muddy walk fundraiser for the Save The Children Fund. They marched alongside Hadrian’s Wall which is just across from the nursery. Puddle jumping was great fun.”
Hunter Hall School at Penrith is the newest school to link with The Warm Welly Company. Four-year old twins Maggie and Forest Rowley attend the school and have also modelled for Warm Wellies. As a result, a pair of Warm Wellies were donated to the recent school auction, they contributed £70 towards fundraising for the new STEM building.
Hunter Hall includes ‘Forest Friday’ as part of their foundation stage learning. On Friday mornings, Nursery and Reception pupils get chance to play and explore in their forest using their imagination to build dens and take part in role play, as well as nature-based activities. It’s an all year-round activity.
Mrs. Griffiths, Head of Lower School and Early Years said “challenges and activities in an outdoor environment are a brilliant way of encouraging gross motor skills(physical development). It’s also a good way of socializing. Some children are quiet in the classroom. When they’ve had chance to take part in outdoor learning and play, we see a real change - they become more confident and independent.
“Parents provide appropriate coats for outdoors and wellies - which are left at school - because you never know when they may be needed. Maggie and Forest already wear their Warm Wellies and never complain about cold feet. We have a new link with The Warm Welly Company and included them on our recommended kit list for new pupils in the autumn.
On June 13th Mrs. Griffiths, held an induction day for new nursery and reception pupils. The kit list included Warm Wellies and details of the school discount code.The code is not just for the kids - parents (and teachers) can buy adult Warm Wellies too.”
Simon Wood said “There’s no point having children feeling warm and cosy if the teachers are frozen - it’s only fair to let parents and teachers benefit too.
“It’s exciting to build relationships with schools around the country - we see lots of pictures on their face book pages and the kids are all having fun.We believe outdoor learning, (particularly at such a young age), has really great long-term benefits - and we’re always happy to encourage kids to stay outdoors for longer.”
In the last year The Warm Welly Company has more than doubled their sales and customer base across the UK. They arekeen to make sure kids in Cumbria have warm toes this winter and are planning to talk to as many Cumbrian schools and Forest School/Outdoor Practitioners as possible - ready for the start of the autumn and winter school terms.
You can find out more about School discounts on Warm Wellies at www.warmwellies.co.uk/forest-schools or contact Simon Wood on 016977 41937.