Pamela Martines - Nature Plays - Forest School

Pamela Martinez – Director & Forest School Practitioner

Hi, I’m Pamela. I grew up in Peru, and that is where my interest and appreciation for nature began. I have a degree in Anthropology that provided me with a set of skills in observation, analysis, and critical thinking. I have always been fascinated by people and their cultures and several years ago I moved to South Africa with my family and began to explore the link between nature, education, and children. My interest in outdoor education and learning through play approach led me to study forest school in the UK, which was such an inspiring experience. Since then I have been taking groups of children to explore and play in nature following the forest school ethos. I have taken a mindfulness course for children and I am interested in the physiological effects of Nature therapy. My biggest passion is hiking and if there are mountains involved it makes me even happier. My two boys keep me active and always looking for new outdoor adventures. I feel the need that children have to connect to nature, to play freely, and to discover their interests. Now more than ever, within our structured schooling systems, children need to have opportunities to learn from their own experiences and to develop skills like resilience, teamwork, creativity, and problem solving that will help them to thrive in life. I am looking forward to sharing the forest school way with you!

Abigail Sparg - Facilitator - Nature Plays - Cape Town

Abigail Sparg – Facilitator

I’ve grown up in South Africa, first in the Eastern Cape, and now in Cape Town. I grew up hiking and camping – I enjoy living actively and exploring our Earth. I believe that movement sparks creativity.

I am passionate about educating children in ways that encourage child-led exploration and curiosity. My teaching journey began in Waldorf education, as I searched for alternative education paths to the structured, conventional school career I went through. Shortly after, I discovered Forest School.

I love children and the outdoors, and I am passionate about creative learning through play. Teaching children to ask questions, take risks, learn compassion and grow confidence comes naturally when they’re in the forest. Children learn best this way. Through Forest School I have learnt to nurture my “inner-child” and welcome back feelings of wonder and play that we all lose a bit as adults. My interest in this way of learning led me to study the Forest School UK online course. I have acquired a Level 3 Forest School certification (2022).

Learning should be active, not passive. Experiential learning and sensory play is lacking in the ways our children are being educated, especially in South Africa. My hope is that children of all economic backgrounds one day have the opportunity to learn outdoors.

I enjoy rock-climbing, hiking, running and paddling in our gorgeous city. I intend to continue showing children (and adults) how to explore our natural spaces with care and respect. We have so much to learn and gain from nature.

See you in the forest!

Lucy du Toit
– Facilitator

Hi, I’m Lucy. I am a biologist passionate about enabling children and adults to be captivated by both the natural world and the nature found around us. I grew up in the Western Cape, spending lots of time outdoors camping, hiking, rock climbing, gardening and sailing. I love being outdoors and learning about the natural world around us. I am a botanist by training and worked in the environmental consulting industry for nine years before diversifying into education. I am a Mum of three and am very conscious of the impact that my family and I have on the planet. We engage in many activities to reduce this impact, especially around water and energy use, and waste generation. We also have a strong focus on reducing, reusing and recycling in our lives. People can’t protect something that they don’t care about and they don’t care about something unless they value it. We need to engage people, especially children, with nature so that they care about it, value it and then protect it. I believe that conventional education lacks much of the sensory stimulation that automatically forms part of nature education. I have learnt that much of the necessary skills taught by the conventional education system can be readily learnt through nature education in a more tangible way. Children learn best through play, the less structured the better!

Isabella Hulme
– Facilitator

I have been so blessed to grow up between the mountain and the sea, always feeling at home and wildly in love with nature. The outdoors is my greatest source of joy, and it is a gift to share this love and passion of being in nature with children. Watching their love, connection and ease of being in natural spaces develop are truly special. It is also so important, as for the next generation of children to grow into conscientious and earth-caring adults they need to know and love what it is they are protecting, and why.

My educational background is in Sociology and Early Childhood Development, with an interest and focus on the Reggio Emilia approach. I am also a trained community art facilitator for children, and love to bring this aspect of creativity into learning spaces. My experience of working with children has been both abroad and in South Africa, ranging from outdoor to classroom to one-on-one spaces.

Masé Morillas
– Assistant Facilitator

I grew up at the beach, but was also fascinated by the mountains’ serenity and jungle flora and fauna.

The well-being of children as well as their social issues have always been passions of mine. I have worked with children from diverse backgrounds since I was at school. I studied Psychology to deepen my understanding and strengthen my interactions with children.

While living in Europe I was able to help at a forest school. I saw 4 year olds using saws and pocket knives responsibly. This child-oriented and play-led approach resonated with me and made me want to continue exploring forest schools.

Creativity and staying true to oneself are things I value and try to cultivate by acting, decorating and baking, practicing mindfulness, trying new things and simply playing.

Emile Naude
– Assistant Facilitator

I am Emile Naude and I live for the great outdoors. Having worked extensively in education over the last ten years, I like to combine my interests and experiences into the learning journey. My vocation has taken me across the world and has allowed me to experience non-western culture, especially in education. Music and art are very much at the core of my approach to teaching and the  principles allow an organic, natural way to facilitate child-led nature based education.

Caitlin Michelle
– Assistant Facilitator

I spent most of my childhood in the forests of Hout Bay; playing, foraging and creating crafts from natural materials. Nature has always been a big part of my life no matter where in the world I found myself. As an adult I have worked with children in many capacities here in South Africa, and overseas. I have been an assistant teacher to Autistic children in London, an ESL teacher in Korea, and a tutor and Au Pair here in South Africa. I also have a background in counselling, which allows me to be a great listener, observer and emotional support.

For me Forest School is a place where my two favourite things come together. Nature is an incredibly healing, grounding gift that brings health and wellness into our lives in a beautiful way. Children teach us to live in the present moment, enjoy the richness of the little things, and remind us how to play. Bringing these two together is a wondrous gift to all those involved, and I’m so excited to be a part of the team.

Christina Xafis - Administrator

Christina Xafis
– Administrator

I grew up in South Africa, got my BA in motion picture medium, specialising in Makeup, Fashion and Styling. I have always been a free spirit with a longing to travel, learn, love, care, and share.

While living in the UK, I found a rewarding passion to assist, teach and care for children of disabilities and special needs. This opportunity didn’t only help those, but it helped me. I learnt so much and realised how much I took for granted. I decided to take my experience back to my home soil in Johannesburg.

At Nature Plays, I hold fort on all the administrative aspects of the business. I onboard all new Forest School submissions, making sure parents get the best experience and that their process is effortless and smooth sailing. I use my skillsets, initiative, drive, and attention to detail

to ensure that everything is organized and on time.

I look forward to responding to all your upcoming emails!