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Advocates of Play: Brambles and Buttercups

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Hello, and welcome to the third in my Advocates of Play series. A series of blog interviews with play promoters around the world...

Introducing Jenna, of Brambles and Buttercups...

Please introduce yourself, and your family.

Hi there. I am Jenna and I was a primary school teacher before my daughter was born. My husband is Ian and daughter is Remeney who is 3.5. She is home educated, though she attends a home ed forest nursery two days a week, where I now also work.

Can you share some of your own experiences of play as a child? Do you have an earliest play memory, or a story to share about play that was particularly meaningful?

My main memories of play as a child are playing with my younger (by three years) brother. I loved playing with Lego, Scalextric, and his Star Wars and He Man toys and also remember adoring my My Little Pony collection and Sylvanian Families. However, the play that most sticks in my mind is when we would play outdoors making up adventure games (we had bushes around the edge of the garden and would go into and behind them … into ‘The Jungle’) and inside making up new rules for board games such as Ludo (and never ending Monopoly where my brother always relished winning so much, he would insist on lending me money in order that his winning streak would just go on and on and on for days!). As a very young child I distinctly remember my mum’s tin of buttons where I would match and sort buttons with relish.

Can you tell us about how you came to be an advocate for play? In what capacity does play feature in your life?

Being an advocate of play came about for a number of reasons. My daughter was always very happy, from before the age of 1, to sit with a pile of books and read them or be read to. I decided that in order to encourage us both to play, I should set up some play invitations. I started posting them on my personal Facebook page and eventually decided to start a blog page where I could organise them better in order that I would be able to refer back to what I had done. I thought this would be a good way of beginning our home education journey in that I am hoping as she gets older, there need be no radical changes. The play invitations and activities will change, but for her they should always be enjoyable and fun. Having started working in her wonderful nursery, I have seen more examples of how play can be used for more children in a different setting and it is lovely to be learning about this side of things too. There was, unfortunately, limited opportunities for play while teaching Years 5 and 6.

Who or what has influenced your perspective on play? Are there any books, blogs, Instagram accounts that you would recommend?

I stumbled across the Imagination Tree which is where I got my initial ideas from. Since then I have found lots of Facebook pages I enjoy and find useful (I steer clear of Instagram as I know I would spend too much time on it!). Play.Hooray and Five Minute Mum are great. I also love Not Messy, Just Learning from a home educator’s perspective, as well as Invitations to Play of course. I also love EMMA Play at Home Mummy although you can’t look at that without getting playroom envy!

How do you facilitate child led, open ended play within your home or setting?