Exploring thE Lost Words of Dorset
Through the winter I’ve been working with The Lost Words Dorset, leading workshops in primary schools across the county. Drawing inspiration from The Lost Words book by Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane we’ve been enjoying the once-common ‘nature’ words – from acorn and conker, to starling and wren – that were dropped from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. And despite our exploration being in late autumn and winter, the children discovered so much nature in their school grounds, local churchyard, woods & meadows – bramble, dandelion, fern, ivy, raven, wren.
The Lost Words book brings these words back to life, through the ‘spell poems’ of Robert Macfarlane and the magical paintings of Jackie Morris. I’ve known Jackie for many years (we met through Howe Dell School where Wildlife Wonder began) so when she was working on illustrations for the book we talked about starlings and I shared some of my murmuration photography. And full-circle, a year or so later, it was particularly special to be watching starlings with children in their playground. Blending The Lost Word’s spell poems and exquisite artwork with firsthand nature experiences, the children watched and listened to a pre-murmuration gathering of starlings in the school trees. Talking with the children about where they would fly and sleep that night – what a wonderful moment.
The children’s amazing photography and their work with story-teller Martin Maudsley and artist Natalie Guy is now travelling around Dorset on display at many locations. More details here. And the discoveries from Dorset will join with Wildlife Wonder projects in other counties as part of our Murmuration of Wonder project.
Blending The Lost Word’s spell poems and exquisite artwork with firsthand nature experiences, the children watched and listened to a pre-murmuration gathering of starlings in the school trees
The Lost Words is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke and is set out in an ideal way to share these words. Words allow children to give things names, to share stories or experiences and memories. Without the right words we cannot name, love, or – ultimately – care for these things.
A huge thank you to Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris and everyone at The Lost Words Dorset (Dorset AONB, Richard Bradford & Emma Fernandez) for making this project possible. And to everyone who crowdfunded a copy into all Dorset schools.
All photos by children from Marshwood, Primary School Stoborough Primary School, Holy Trinity Primary School and St Mary’s Thorncombe Primary School