PaPPUS - Plants and Play Producing Universal Skills project
The ‘Plants and Play Producing Universal Skills’ project, or ‘PaPPUS’ for short, takes its name from the Greek word given toa bearded seed in the Dandelion family.
The numbers of children actively engaging with the natural world has been declining for some time now. However, there are huge undisputed benefits of being outside in the outdoor world. Scientific studies have shown that contact with nature improveschildren’s engagement in learning as well as offering increased physical and mental restorative aspects. These benefits also havethe potential to reduce early school leaving, which is a recognised problem across the whole of Europe, thereby significantly impacting on a young person’s future life chances.
PaPPUS involves seven partners across six partner EU countries collaborating together to explore how plants from both the natural and horticultural worlds can be used playfully to connect young people to their outdoor environments. This connection will not only increase their future expectations and long term understanding of the Natural World; but will ultimately develop wider skills and competencies and unlock more of an awareness and understanding of potential linked future career paths.
The initial phase of the project will be for partners to engage with school teachers and youth group leaders and childrenin their own countries in order to explore the ‘hooks’ that inspire attention and interest of young people; whilst also unearthing what support teachers and play/youth workers need in order to use the natural world for their activities more effectively. The initial research should reveal valuable evidence from a range of angles and cultural backgrounds that will help the project fashion a toolkit of ideas to support teachers and youth workers in engaging children with plants in a more playful way.
The second phase of the project will then be to test out and refine this new playful toolkit by seeking feedback from an advisory committee of relevant experts in conjunction with teachers, youth workers and young people. There will be free access to the toolkit for all who wish to use it in their work.
The final development phase of the project will be the creation of an ‘On-line’PaPPUS training course with embedded Playful Plant focused learning materials that will be available freely to all. In order to refine the course for full public access, the project will run country led pilot workshops that train teachers and youth workers in its use. The final accredited course will then be promoted at a number of national workshops in each country designed to roll it out more widely while also helping to signpost youngsters to potential career paths.