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'We're really in a wood aren't we?'

Harvey: We're in the secret forest. This is someone's house. It's someone creature's house. Someone's going to come in here and say 'get out of my house!'

Bryony: Hide!

Harvey: We're really in a wood aren't we?

Bryony: We're lost!


Reception children from Cromwell Park Primary School explore the snowy woods in Hinchingbrooke Country Park

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'I can hear the tree singing'

Ellis:  Did you know there is a fox living in that hole?

Katie:  Birds live in there with sticks and leaves.

Evie:  I've found a treasure chest.

Claudia:  All of these haven't but only this tree have.


The tree with the hole in Homefield Park, a source of many stories for children from Histon Early Years Centre.

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'We just have to go a bit longer'

'I'll show you the magic trick; if we went out of that orange thing and we went onto the bridge, it's really magic, we just have to go a bit longer.  How magic is this?  If we go that way we get back to the minibus!'


Fyion and Alex from Kidzone Nursery explore the boardwalks in Lattersey Nature Reserve.

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'I am going to jump over the whole world.'

The familiar and the fantastic play right through these children’s plans.  They don’t always do what they say they are going to do, but that isn’t really the point – it is a chance for them to share their sense of coming alive in the woods, and it allows us to hear what they wish for as well as what they can do already.  It isn't entirely surprising when we hear Kian say:  My name is Kian and I'm going to jump over the whole world.  But it is fantastic.  It is playful and true, impossible and completely authentic.


Ruby class from Cromwell Park Primary School in Hinchingbrooke County Park.

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'I was born on the climbing tree.'

Kiemute:  I was born on the climbing tree

Nabil:  I was born in space and Mars

Hayden:  I was born in the sky, on a cloud

Tyler:  I was born in a cat’s cave


A morning conversation with reception children from Shirley Primary School in Bramblefields Nature Reserve.

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'This tree is bigger than earth.'

Adam: This tree is bigger than earth.

Tania: I can climb big trees.

Yana: If the sun is bigger than earth it is really enormous.


Just through the gate on their first ever visit to the woods, reception children from The Spinney Primary School already contemplate whole worlds, relationships, and immensity.

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The vast majority of children have few connections with the natural world. The dangers of such impoverishment to children’s sensitivity, creativity and understanding of life are immense. CCI shows how important it is to enable children to reconnect and open doors that have been closed for far too many children for far too long.
John Bangs, former Head of Education at NUT, Honorary Fellow at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education and Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education

CCI's Footprints programme works in local wild spaces. It supports communities to play, learn and work together by making first-hand and creative connections. Through workshops, supported projects, and programmes of professional development, we engage with children, families, carers and educators of all ages, in all kinds of spaces - from country parks and local nature reserves to Victorian cemeteries and reclaimed brick works.

Read about the impact of this work here or explore the items below - playing with the filters will sort them according to your interests.

Our Footprints resources celebrate and share elements from a number of our recent Footprints projects. Our first Fantastical Guide for the Wildly Curious invites you to see Hinchingbrooke Country Park in extraordinary ways, and four smaller booklets collect together the stories, fascinations, and experiences of young children exploring their local wild spaces (Outside/Inside, A Story of Smallness and Light, 37 Shadows, Trail of Curiosity and Imagination). Running into adventure is a short film about the different opportunities for both physical and imaginative exploring with two and three year olds.  'Here I come to the jungle' illustrates how storying has become a particular focus for the reception classes in the nearby primary school.

CCI has a close partnership with Spinney Primary School in south Cambridge which has a small tangled woods on its doorstep. Our work with children, educators, families and the wider community can be explored here.

Schools, families and individuals can all get involved in our Footprints projects – look at our events for information on what is happening next, or follow our project diaries to see where we are currently working. An evaluation report from the 2012 supported projects commissioned by Cambridgeshire County Council's Early Years Service with two early years settings in the county is here.

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Miniature and Immensity

‘The trees were three and half people’ – exploring ways of noticing and measuring around Love’s Farm.

Ginormous Trees and Mrs Toller

Children create new characters for their Fantastical Love's Farm.

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A pig washed with wood

Exploring our local woods.

How do you fold?

Thinking about what a map might contain.

Fantastical Offords Community Day

Highlights from an amazing day of adventuring.

Borrowed stories and underground eggs

Meet a fantastical 28-legged creature created by the youngest children at Offords.

I love Nature…

Children in Love's Farm look hard at their outside spaces.

Pictures of Adventures

Extraordinary pictures emerge as children at Round House think about using sketchbooks.

Old Mags and the Stolen Baby

Children from Offord begin to create their own animated fantastical film.

Taking a Line for a Walk

The children of Roundhouse Primary School begin their Fantastical Cambridgeshire discoveries.

We have been drawing all day

Roundhouse children relish their first day of exploring their school grounds through drawing and looking.

24 hours of wild adventuring

Thinking about our Fantastical Offords Community Day

A beginning

Staff at Round House Primary School create beautiful and strikingly individual maps.

Walking on the wildside

A wild exchange with Fredi Devas, producer and director of Planet Earth II:‘Cities’.

The secret life of plants

Fantastically detailed, accurate and adventurous observations emerge at Offord.

Spectrograms and singing ice

A wild exchange with bio-acoustic engineer William Seale.

Fantastical plant-hunting

Exploring alongside the oldest children in Offord Primary School.

The fox and rabbit are calling for help

Children explore how sounds can be drawn.

Superheroes and bat sounds

Experimenting with sounds as a way of exploring at Offord.


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