The Lost Words project

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Students at USW have produced and presented their ideas, activities and thoughts in the form of thematic plans and lesson plans based on ‘The Lost Words’ ( Mcfarlane & Morris 2017). Having introduced this wonderful book to the students as part of their ‘Children Learning through Landscapes’ module on their Early Years degree, they were amazed that such beautiful words such as ‘otter’ , ‘dandelion’, ‘magpie’  and ‘willow’ were being removed from children’s dictionaries and thus not being used in day to day language. 


‘How can Magpie not be in the dictionary?’ asked one of my students… ‘it’s ridiculous, they are always in the garden, making a noise. If the word doesn’t exist in the dictionary, how can children look the name up to spell it ? if they don’t know the name of it , how can they be interested in it or care about it ? ……rebeca 1

This comment lingered in my mind for days and it was a concept that I had been teaching the students to encourage them to develop their own identification skills on native plants, trees and mammals and birds. Knowing the names of living things helps us to be interested in them, we want to know more about them and hopefully this will make us want to care for them in our natural environment. 


‘The Lost Words’ project was borne,  and students  researched and reflected on a selection of the words and presented their thoughts and ideas by producing thematic teaching plans and lesson plans for use in the Early years, using the words that had captured their imaginations or had a special meaning to them….some students engaged the children in their settings to help select the words, which meant they were already interested !



What a feast of creativity and inspiration we now have!! …They have produced a wonderful compilation of  ideas and viable activities, which are easy to follow and can be carried out by any early years practitioner who is keen to offer rich vocabulary to children, who understands the importance of why children need to connect with nature; and why these words are so critical in developing children’s understanding of the natural world  so they can care for it. 


We are currently looking to develop this incredible collection of materials ( a treasure trove of of knowledge) so that is can be shared with practitioners who would welcome ideas of using ‘The Lost Words’ as a stimulus in their teaching ….. watch this space … there is more to come ….       


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