A few weeks ago, I realised a dream. I became a presenter of workshops at Woodfordia, home of the Woodford Folk Festival and (more recently) Bushtime.
I conducted three workshops for children around the content of my Wildlife Wong book series.
Where is Woodfordia?
Woodfordia was once a degraded cattle property a few kilometres out of the Queensland town of Woodford. Over the past 30 years, it has been transformed. It is now a leafy, undulating valley home to a myriad of wildlife for the majority of the year.
From December 27-January 1st, this unassuming bushland is transformed. It becomes a magical wonderland of music and mud, camping and conversations, friendships and fun called the Woodford Folk Festival.
This year, however, COVID restrictions spawned a lower-key version called Bushtime.
Wildlife Wong Workshops
I have been part of the Woodford Folk Festival since my daughter, Amber, was six-month’s old. Like many other kids, she basically grew up there...
The first decade we soaked up the magic as patrons. The second I gave back as a volunteer, and this year I engaged kids in conservation through the stories of Wildlife Wong. Amber was still by my side conducting hands on experiments which related to the narrative.
Making Orangutan Nests
One of the most successful workshops began with stories of naughty and dexterous orangutans. Then kids tried to build their own orangutan nests out of bush materials.
When they were satisfied with their efforts, my orangutan sidekick, Pongo, tried them out for size! Feedback from the kids was awesome. Many returning for all three workshops. The mud will wash off but, with any luck, the impact will last!
Growing Little Scientists
We cannot underestimate the power of play and investigation.
As science teacher and author Judith Roden said, “Close observation of children at play suggests that they find out about the world in the same way as scientists find out about new phenonoma and test new ideas… during this exploration, all the senses are used to observe and draw conclusions about objects and events through simple, scientific investigations.”
Have You Been to Woodfordia?
If you've been to any workshops at Woodfordia, or the original Woodford Folk Festival, let me know in the comments below.