Sensory Play: How Nature’s Nurtures Learning

Sensory Play: How Nature Nurtures Learning

As a parent, you can promote your child’s growth and learning by providing opportunities to explore a variety of natural textures. Interacting with materials like pinecones, seashells, and flower petals stimulates your child’s senses and curiosity in many positive ways.

Sensory development

Feeling the coarse grain of bark, smoothness of a pebble, or fluff of a feather engages your child’s sense of touch. This helps build nerve connections between the hand and brain. Varying natural textures also ignites sensory curiosity about differences in the physical world.

Facilitates fine motor skills

Picking up acorns, sorting leaves, and grasping pine needles promote hand-eye coordination and dexterity. scooping and pouring sand encourages palm arches for improved pencil grasp later on.

Exploring the natural and physical world

Exploring natural materials provides concepts about the environment. Noticing detailed textures leads to real-world observations. Discovering the ridges of a seed pod or velvety fuzz of a dandelion acquaints children with plant traits. This builds early science knowledge.

Unstructured play with natural items encourages imagination and creativity. Making texture rubbings of tree bark or arranging a collage of leaves, rocks, and sticks promotes artistic experimentation. There are endless possibilities for open-ended learning.

Developing Artistic Eyes: How Nature Nurtures Visual Expression

Nature can inspire creative development and art in young children: It provides diverse colors, textures, and shapes to observe and replicate – A walk outside exposes children to a vibrant palette to spark visual creativity, from the greens of leaves to the browns of tree bark. The textures of flowers, stones, and grass also offer unique qualities to incorporate into artwork.

It encourages 3D sculptures and transient art – Sticks, stones, flowers, and other natural loose parts lend themselves to building and sculpting. Children can also create patterns, shapes, and images by sorting or arranging items from nature.

Inspires imaginative nature drawings – Seeing animals, plants, and landscapes firsthand provides a wellspring of ideas for creative illustrations and visual storytelling. Kids can invent whimsical creatures and botanical fantasies grounded in real-world observations.

Getting Outside, No Matter the Weather

The changing seasons should not deter outdoor playtime. Children benefit from fresh air and activity year-round, even when fall and winter bring colder temperatures.

Bundling up properly allows for enjoyable outdoor discovery regardless of the weather. The sights, sounds, and sensations of nature provide invaluable stimulation even on crisp, rainy, or snowy days.

Cooler weather offers new terrain to explore and seasonal phenomena to observe. Puddles, frost, mist, and snow invite curiosity, movement, and sensory learning.

Here are some nature items that can be collected on a nature walk/exploration or a scavenger hunt:

Smooth stones



Barks Pieces




Seed pods



Grass blades



Pine needles


Cicada shells



Here are some additional ways that being in nature can benefit young children in their early years:

Improves focus and attention – The slower pace and change of scenery nature provides helps children concentrate.

Reduces stress – Being outdoors lowers cortisol levels and relaxes the mind and body.

Strengthens immune system – Exposure to microbes in nature builds antibodies and resistance.

Increases physical activity – The variability of natural terrain promotes movement and motor skills.

Boosts imagination – Natural loose parts and settings spark creativity and inventive play.

Teaches responsibility – Connecting with plants/animals promotes empathy and caretaking.

Enhances social skills – Unstructured play in nature teaches sharing, cooperation and problem-solving.

Supports risk-taking – Managing outdoor challenges helps develop judgment and confidence.

Inspires wonder – Interacting with wildlife and phenomena like weather promotes curiosity.

Young bodies and minds thrive with regular time spent immersed in the natural world around us. The weather may change, but the developmental benefits of outdoor play remain a constant.

So take your children outside and let them freely interact with nature’s treasures. Grab snacks and a basket for collecting textured treats to examine more closely. Texture play the natural way nurtures development!

Happy exploration!

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

It's Pumpkin season! October brings with it pumpkins and cooler weather. As the days get shorter and the crisp autumn air arrives, there's nothing better than cozying up with a steaming mug of pumpkin spice hot chocolate. Pumpkin spice hot chocolate is the ultimate fall treat. It's creamy, indulgent, and guaranteed to fill you with nostalgia for this wonderful time of year. Curled up under a blanket with your favorite show or book, and a mug of this delicious hot chocolate in hand, you'll feel totally content.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Drinks


  • Medium saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Milk/cream frother or immersion blender (optional, for topping with whipped cream)
  • Mugs or cups
  • Spoon for stirring and serving
  • Mixing bowl (if using a frother or immersion blender)


  • - 2 cups whole milk
  • - 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • - 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • - 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • - 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • - 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • - 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • - Pinch of salt


  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, pumpkin puree, sugar, cocoa powder, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and salt.
  • Heat over medium, whisking frequently, until steaming and hot but not boiling.
  • Remove from heat and pour into mugs.
  • Top with whipped cream, ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks. Enjoy!


For a richer hot chocolate, use 1/2 cup heavy cream instead of 1/4 cup.
- For an extra pumpkin spice kick, add a pinch of ground ginger.
- Customize your spice mix by using cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.

Underrated Matriarchs of Change: Black Women Who Shaped History

Underrated Matriarchs of Change: Black Women Who Shaped History

This year’s Black History Month in the UK has been themed: Celebrating our Sisters, Saluting our Sisters, and Honoring Matriarchs of Movements.

We want to shine a light on some of the remarkable yet underappreciated black women who have helped shape British history and society.

As the theme this year emphasizes, black women have been at the forefront of movements demanding equality, justice, and social change. Their stories deserve to be told.

The Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) was founded in 1978 by a group of black British women activists including Stella Dadzie, Olive Morris, and Beverley Bryan.

OWAAD campaigned against discrimination and state oppression of black and Asian women in Britain.

In 1985, OWAAD members Suzanne Scafe, Beverley Bryan, and Stella Dadzie published ‘The Heart of the Race‘, a groundbreaking book centering the diverse experiences of black women in the UK.

The Heart Of the Race
The Heart Of the Race

It highlighted the triple oppressions of racism, sexism and classism faced by this marginalized group

Here are some pioneering women of color who worked in education in the UK to promote change

Jenny Douglas (1907-1990) – First black headteacher in the UK. She led Roseneath Primary School in London in the 1960s. She focused on multicultural education and stood up to racist authorities.

Betty Campbell (1934-2017) – Teacher and community activist in Cardiff. She was the first black headteacher in Wales, leading Mount Stuart Primary School in the 1980s. She also chaired the Cardiff Community Relations Council.

Statue of Betty Campbell in Central Square, Cardiff, unveiled September 2021.

Catherine Ross educates the community about African and Caribbean culture through the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, continuing the legacy of work by her late husband Bernie Grant, the UK’s first Black MP.

Educator and writer Maureen Stone was a leading figure in the field of multicultural education and school inclusion efforts in the 1960s-80s.

Diane Abbott – First black woman to be elected to the House of Commons in 1987. Before entering politics, she taught at London schools in the 1970s-80s and criticized discriminatory practices in education.

Diane Abbott

Brenda Woods (1951-2018) – Jamaican-born teacher who became principal at Greenford High School in London in 1996, likely the first black woman secondary headteacher in the UK. She promoted inclusive education.

Catherine Ross (b. 1944) – British educator and activist who founded CLAAS (Community Learning and Active Support) to provide supplementary education for African-Caribbean youth facing disadvantages.

Wilmet Sudler played a pivotal role in preserving Black British history, founding the George Padmore Institute archive which houses indispensable records on community organizing and anti-racist movements.

Sisters in Strength

The stories of these courageous women and so many others are so motivational. They overcame prejudice and injustice to lead change and uplift their communities. Though the scale of their impact varied, their integrity, passion, and perseverance can inspire anyone.

Sisters in strength

During Black History Month, I hope we take time to celebrate the ‘sheroes’ who came before. Their struggle continues today, but they lit the torch and showed us the way forward. As author Mary McLeod Bethune put it: “Have the courage to stand up for justice and truth.” Let us honor these women by exhibiting the same bravery and conviction.

Resilience, self-care, and well-being into modern day social justice

The incredible women we celebrate during Black History Month exemplified resilience in the face of injustice. As we carry their torch in today’s fight for equality, we must also prioritize self-care and well-being. Our reforms will only thrive if we nurture our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Share your feelings with a loved one. Unplug from devices and get grounded in nature. Express your truth through music, poetry, painting, or dance. Take breaks when overwhelmed and be kind to yourself. Protect your peace and happiness, for they are revolutionary acts.

Self care

Our resilience comes not from being unbreakable, but from learning to heal. We honor the women before us by embracing our full humanity. Our power lies in sisterhood, community, and radical self-love.

Take time to care for the precious girl within you. Find power in joy, laughter, and moments of stillness. Together we will sustain one another, and be the heroines of our own stories.

Here are some events happening in the UK, especially London, for Black History Month in October

Black History Month at the National Archives (October 1-31, London) – Exhibits, workshops, and tours related to Black history in the UK archives.

Black History Month River Boat Cruise (October 2, London) – Boat cruise along the Thames celebrating Black music, food and culture.

Making History: Uncovering Black British History (October 5, London) – Panel discussion on overlooked Black British history at the National Archives.

Black Writers Festival (October 7-9, London) – Literary festival highlighting Black British writers through talks, workshops, etc.

Hackney Knees Up (October 8, London) – Celebration of Black music, food and culture in Hackney.

Black History Month Walking Tour (Various dates in October, London) – Guided tour of sites related to Black history in London.

BCA Heritage Month (October, Birmingham) – Exhibits, performances, and film screenings about Black history and culture.

Some great events happening this October for children to celebrate and learn about Black History Month in the UK

Hackney Knees Up (October 8, London) – This family-friendly event with music, food, arts & crafts in Hackney.

Black History Tours for Families at Hackney Museum (Saturdays in October, London) – Interactive tours suitable for kids aged 7-11 and their families. £10 per child.

BCA Youth Takeover (October 20, Birmingham) – Event organized by and for young people to explore Black history and heritage. Free.

Black History Month Family Day at the V&A Museum (October 15, London) – Arts & crafts, music, and storytelling for kids inspired by the V&A’s collections. Free.

Half-term Black History Month Family Workshop (October 26, Manchester) – Arts activities for families inspired by Walter Tull, a Black British WW1 hero. £5 per child.

Black History Month Storytelling & Music (October 30, Leeds) – Interactive stories and music for kids. Free.

Engaging kids with Black history and culture through interactive and creative activities can really foster an appreciation and respect for diversity from an early age.

Rethinking Freud’s Absolutist Theories In The Modern Age

Sigmund Freud's Monumental Contribution to Psychology

Sigmund Freud looms large in the history of psychology. The founding father of psychoanalysis, Freud revolutionized our understanding of the human mind through his models of the psyche, the unconscious, psychosexual development, and more.

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt
Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt

In the early 20th century, Freud’s ideas about the unconscious, drives, and psychosexual development contradicted the prevailing views of human nature and the mind. They were seen as shocking and subversive at the time.

The mainstream scientific community was skeptical of Freud’s unproven theories and clinical methods. They viewed his ideas as too speculative. Cultural pessimisim Freud’s dark view of human nature at the mercy of primal drives clashed with the Victorian/Edwardian optimism of the era. It was found to be overly pessimistic. Sexual taboos like his emphasis on psychosexuality crossed moral boundaries of the early 1900s. His ideas were seen as scandalous.

His work utterly transformed psychology and psychotherapy. Yet today, many of Freud’s once-radical theories seem antiquated, absolutist, and at odds with modern psychology. In this post, we’ll explore Freud’s invaluable contributions but also the reasons we must view his work critically in the contemporary era.

Here are some of Freud's significant accomplishments :

Freud developed psychoanalysis. He pioneered the clinical method of psychoanalysis for investigating the unconscious mind and treating psychopathology through dialogue between patient and analyst. This became highly influential.

Dialogue between patient and analyst

He mapped the unconscious. Freud’s model of the psyche containing powerful drives operating in the unconscious mind was groundbreaking. It greatly expanded our understanding of the depth and complexity of the human mind.

Freud's ice-burg of mapping the unconscious

Identified defense mechanisms, Freud analyzed common psychological defenses like repression, denial, sublimation, and displacement that protect the conscious mind from threatening unconscious impulses and memories.

He emphasized childhood development,  He highlighted the decisive influence of early childhood experiences, relationships, and psychosexual development on adult personality. This remains influential.

Freud interpreted dreams, he wrote extensively about the symbolic meaning of dreams as a window into the unconscious desires and feelings of the dreamer. His work opened up new avenues of dream interpretation.

"Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious." Sigmund Freud

He influenced arts and culture – Freud’s ideas permeated into literature, visual arts, films, and popular culture. He inspired surrealism, psychoanalytic literary criticism, and themes of the subconscious in culture.

Late Night Dreams, 1923- Salvador Dali- Cubism
Late Night Dreams, 1923- Salvador Dali- Cubism

The surrealist painter Dali was fascinated by Freud's theories on dreams and the unconscious mind. Many of Dalí's dreamlike paintings explore surreal imagery and Freudian symbols.

Here are some more artists influenced by Freud’s unconscious culture.

Max Ernst, another surrealist painter.

Jackson Pollock utilized Freudian free association and surrealist automatic painting techniques to tap into his unconscious.

Paul Klee the Swiss painter incorporated dream states, childhood memories, and absurdity in his work related to Freudian themes.

David Lynch the filmmaker’s surreal movies like Mulholland Drive employ dream logic and Freudian symbolism.

So many more who Freud’s view of hidden desires, dreams, and the power of the unconscious left a lasting impression on. Surrealist and modernist artists seek to depict the workings of the subconscious mind in symbolic ways.

Freud normalized psychotherapy, he helped remove the social stigma around mental healthcare by scientifically studying the psyche. He made psychotherapy more acceptable and accessible.

Sigmund Freud’s theories, have always been quite controversial yet influential. They have also captured the public imagination and incrementally gained support, especially among the cultural elites. His ideas were seen as shocking yet irresistibly novel and self-reflective for the early 20th century. The controversies led both to resistance and growing intrigue towards his radical vision of human psychology.

Support from progressives. Most Progressive intellectuals found Freud’s model of the mind refreshing compared to the rigidity of 19th-century moralism. They saw promise in his ideas.

Doctors and psychiatrists slowly started adopting Freud’s methods in the treatment of hysteria, neurosis and other disorders. His approaches gained clinical relevance.

Visual representation of Freud's id, ego, and super-ego and the level of consciousness
Visual representation of Freud's id, ego, and super-ego and the level of consciousness

Concepts like the ego, superego, Oedipus complex, and more derive from his groundbreaking, if flawed, theories. For his time, Freud’s ideas were startlingly innovative.

Unlearning Sigmund Freud and Keeping the Beneficial

The Limits of Freud's Absolutist Approach

Modern psychology has moved well beyond Freud in many ways. The limitations of his absolutist theories and dated views are apparent today.

His biological emphasis on innate drives downplays social, cultural, and cognitive factors.

He minimized the effects of socialization, family dynamics, peer relationships, and other social factors that shape personality. Modern psychology sees these as crucial.

Freud universalized theories based on a limited sample of patients. Today we know cultural norms, values, and diversity profoundly impact psychology.

Freud’s methods and ethics have also come under criticism, such as his reliance on a small number of privileged Viennese patients, lack of controlled studies, and potential shaping of patients’ memories through leading questions. So the “evidence” for some of his theories was limited.

Cognitive factors. Freud focused on drives over rational thought, problem-solving, and conscious decision-making. Cognitive psychology studies the huge role of cognitive processes.

Freud traced most behavior to childhood. However, research shows trauma and life events throughout adulthood also reshape personalities in major ways.

His views on female sexuality and psychology seem profoundly sexist now

The biggest facet I would like individuals to unlearn is his misogynistic outlook. Freud described male development as active while female development is passive.

He portrayed women as subordinate, weaker, and less morally developed than men.

He ignored social and cultural factors. Freud attributed gender differences to biology while dismissing the enormous role of patriarchal social norms in shaping gender identities and relations at that time.

He overemphasized sexual motivations. Freud reduced many women’s behaviors, thoughts, and emotions to their sexual reproductive role. Not a holistic view of women.

He generalized from the limited sample. He based many theories about “normal femininity” on a small sample of Victorian upper-class women only. He wrongly universalized their experiences.

Normalized sexual abuse. Freud considered stories of childhood sexual abuse to often be fantasies or unconscious desires. This normalized abuse and discredited women’s experiences.

Overall, Freud held many essentialist, biologically deterministic views about female nature, motivations and development that propagated harmful gender stereotypes. His absolutist claims lacked scientific rigor and served to reinforce patriarchal beliefs about women’s inferiority and subordinate role in society. His theories were undoubtedly steeped in the sexism of the time.

Freud rejected behavioral theories, but learning theory and habit formation are now known to strongly influence how we think, feel, and act.

Neuroscience. Freud lacked a modern understanding of brain biology, neurotransmitters, and neural pathways that determine much of mental functioning.

Human agency. Freud’s determinism downplayed people’s capacity and the power they have within them for self-awareness, growth, and conscious choice in shaping their lives.

In essence, by fixating on early biological drives, Freud discounted the many interconnected influences that make human psychology incredibly complex, flexible, and open to conscious intervention. His highly absolutist, reductive view does not match the nuanced understanding of the multitude of biological, social, and intrapersonal factors impacting human development.

Appreciating but Contextualizing Freud's Legacy

Sigmund Freud must be appreciated for his lasting contributions that created psychology as we know it today. Yet we must also view his ideas in their historical context, test them against modern research, and retain a critical, flexible mindset.

Freud’s genius inspired psychology’s foundation, but absolutist adherence to all his theories limits the field’s growth. By incorporating his insights while moving beyond outdated assumptions, we can envision a psychology both enriched by Freud and far more sophisticated than was possible in his era.

Publications that compare/contrast Freud's view with modern psychology

So a variety of scholarly books, academic journal articles, and reference materials directly compare Freud’s original theories to more recent developments in psychoanalysis, psychology, neuroscience, and related fields here are some of them.

Freud Versus the Neo-Freudians” – Academic journal article by Douglas Kirsner critically analyzing Freud alongside more recent psychoanalytic theories.

Freud and Modern Psychology: The Emotional Basis of Mental Illness” – Book by Glenn Alexander Meredith comparing Freud’s theories to cognitive, behavioral, and neuroscience approaches.

Freud’s Legacy in Question” – Book by Jerome Neu discusses criticisms and limitations of Freud from modern perspectives.

The Freud Encyclopedia: Theory, Therapy, and Culture” – Reference work by Edward Erwin reviewing Freud alongside modern developments in psychoanalysis and psychology.

Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc” – Book by Malcolm Macmillan analyzes which of Freud’s ideas have held up, and which have been discredited or modified.

Freud and the 20th Century” – Academic journal issue from Psychologist magazine with several authors exploring Freud’s legacy and relevance.

Whose Freud?: The Place of Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture” – Scholarly book with essays reexamining Freud’s cultural and scientific contributions.

Freud: Creator of the Modern Mind” – Biography by Paul Mattick Jr. places Freud in a historical context and examines his theories against current knowledge.

Freud should be appreciated for creating psychoanalysis and making great strides in destigmatizing mental healthcare. However, modern psychology has moved well beyond the absolutist, deterministic limitations of his early 20th-century theories.

Today, we recognize personality and development as the complex result of biological, social, cultural, cognitive, and psychological factors interacting, not just innate biological drives. Freud’s ideas inspired psychology but should not dogmatically define it.

By incorporating nuanced, evidence-based models of the mind, we can build positively on Freud’s foundations. We should neither dismiss nor uncritically accept all his speculations. With an attitude of qualified, flexible reexamination, Freud’s legacy remains an enormously influential springboard for advances in human understanding.