Details of events and workshops we are currently involved in are listed below:

The Lost Words Campaign


We’re losing nature as well as the names for nature - Robert MacFarlane

The Lost Words Book Cover

Let’s get Cambridgeshire children back to nature by getting a copy of The Lost Words book into every Primary School in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, as well as bespoke inspiring activities that creatively connect children with the outdoors.

Please support The Lost Words for Cambridgeshire campaign today. Every single donation will help.

Donate to the Campaign button

Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) creatively connects children with their local landscapes through real and imaginary adventures. The Lost Words, written by Robert MacFarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris, is a gorgeously illustrated book that conjures lost words and species back into our everyday lives. Together we want to (re)connect children with the wondrous free natural opportunities that exist on their doorsteps.

Why do we all need nature in our lives?

The Lost Words at Cambridge Literary Festival

Jackie Morris drawing the Otter

Otter by Jackie Morris

At the Cambridge Literary Festival, on the 14th April, Jackie Morris (illustrator of The Lost Words book) live-painted an otter, using Japanese ink and water drawn by Robert MacFarlane from the chalk springs at Nine Wells in south Cambridge. Robert hand-wrote the 'Otter Spell' from The Lost Words onto this too.

This artwork, created with wild water and sumi ink, pencil and gold leaf is unique. It is signed by both Jackie and Robert and has been auctioned, with all proceeds going to The Lost Words for Cambridgeshire campaign bidding has now closed.

Discover more about the creation of this artwork here in the comments section on Jackie's website

Posters of the painting are also available to order from the CCI shop. 

Follow this campaign: @CambridgeCandI | @RobGMacfarlane | @JackieMorrisArt #LostWords

I have lived in Cambridge for nearly 25 years now, and all three of my children have been to our local state primary school. Jackie and I have been moved and amazed over the past six months by the energy and generosity with which many people around the country have campaigned to get copies of The Lost Words into every primary school in their borough, county or country, in an effort to green the classrooms of our children. Now a campaign has come to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. I am so glad that it is happening, and grateful to those who are bringing it about, in the hope that it might help close the gap a little between childhood and nature in our region. Robert Macfarlane

Find out more about why we are running this campaign, the story of The Lost Words and Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination’s creative practice.

Why are we running this campaign?

We are running this campaign so that all Cambridgeshire children can benefit from Robert’s magical words, Jackie’s inspirational art and CCI’s expertise in creatively connecting children with nature. We all need nature in our lives.

The evidence about what happens to us, to our children, if we are not connecting with nature is alarming.  In addition to this, children’s freedoms, both physical and emotional are continuously being eroded. Troubling statistics are everywhere yet successive governments pursue ever-narrower policies. It is more critical than ever that we get this inspiring book and accompanying support into schools across our county:

  • ‘Nature deficit disorder’ is now a widely-used term and children’s roaming areas have decreased by 90% in the last 30 years.
  • 1 in ten children now suffer from mental health difficulties severe enough to require treatment – at least three children in every classroom.
  • The arts are rapidly becoming only for the most privileged with just 8% of the “wealthiest, whitest and most formally educated” proportion of the population making the greatest regular use of Arts Council funded organisations.
  • Access to arts and culture has significant social impact: people who take part in the arts are 38% more likely to report good health; and students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are 20% more likely to vote as young adults, twice as likely to volunteer, and three times more likely to get a degree
  • New research commissioned by Fabian Think-tank talks of ‘deeply shocking landscape of diminishing arts provision in primary schools’ (2018)
  • Parts of the county are some of the worst in the UK for social mobility (Social Mobility Commission 2016) with Cambridge itself described as a ‘social mobility cold spot’
  • Cambridge identified as the least equal city in UK for second year in row (Centre for Cities 2018)

The story of The Lost Words

This magical book was created to celebrate and revive once-common “nature” words – from acorn and wren, to Conker and dandelion – dropped from the Oxford Junior Dictionary (and replaced by words like broadband and blog). It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke. With acrostic spell-poems by award-winning writer Robert Macfarlane and hand-painted illustration by Jackie Morris, this enchanting book captures the magic of language and nature for all ages.  The book has been described as a "cultural phenomenon" by The Guardian, for the speed with which it and its ideas have taken root in classrooms and homes across Britain since its publication in October.

The Lost Words is a brilliant catalyst for new conversations with schools about these essentials rights and freedoms for children - to explore, to imagine, to be creative and to connect with their local landscapes. You can hear more about the story of The Lost Words here:

And you can hear Robert Macfarlane talking about these issues and The Lost Words here:

BBC News Night

What is CCI?

CCI are Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination. We creatively connect children with their local surroundings in order to develop:

  • children’s capabilities to care about themselves, each other and the world around them
  • curious citizens with powerful imaginations

We work to explore the rich landscape of wild imagination and to stop wild play rapidly fading from our children's minds. This affects everyone – our children, ourselves and the world we are living in. We can’t care for a world we are not connected to.

CCI is all about empowering and encouraging young people to express themselves and to explore. This is so important - that exploration of themselves and the world around them - as the citizens of the future.
Amanda Askham, Head of Transformation, Cambridgeshire County Council, October 2016

CCI has been working closely with schools across the region to open up spaces for imagination and curiosity, to connect people of all ages with all that is fantastical on their doorsteps and reignite their capacities to have ideas and act on them. Find out more about our Fantastical Cambridgeshire programme.

Donate to the Campaign button

Fantastical bats and habitats


24 hour hours of creative wildlife surveying

Fantastical Offords Bat

Friday 22nd June 2pm – 5pm
Saturday 23rd June 11am – 2pm

Free event. All welcome. No booking needed. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Building on the success of our Fantastical Offords day and the creation of their extraordinary map, we are delighted to now be running Fantastical Bats and habitats, a brand new event with Offord school and their community. 

Join us at Offord Primary School for free events with children, teachers, wildlife and local experts including:

bat and wildlife walks, creative surveying, habitat making and dens, drawing and exploring and adventures in animation.

Friday 22nd June

2.00pm until 5pm

  • Wildlife Bat walk
  • Tent of Sounds – night time wildlife soundscapes
  • Adventures in animation
  • Animal tracking
  • Takeaway games
  • Creative surveying with props boxes
  • Refreshments
  • Fantastical exhibition of children’s work

Saturday 23rd June

11am - 2.00pm

  • Fantastical wildlife surveying – a family wildlife walk
  • Adventures in animation
  • Big bug hotels
  • Giant wild village map – create new animal habitats
  • Bat chat – information about bats and their habitats
  • Wild art
  • ROOST – pop up café
  • Tent of Sounds – day time wildlife soundscapes
  • Bug watch – moth trap discoveries
  • Fantastical exhibition of children’s work

Fantastical Bats & Habitats Flyer

Cambridge Faculty of Education Exhibition


Place-making research is an important aspect of the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education’s work. CCI is proud to have children from this county's own ideas represented here in the heart of this building. On display in the main lecture theatre are the three Fantastical Maps co-created with the children and their communities from Eynesbury Church of England Primary School, The Round House Primary Academy and Offord Primary School. Also included is the Fantastical Map of Spinney Wild Woods and poems by Jackie Kay and children from Spinney Primary School published in A Poem of a Dream of the Woods.

The work will be in the main lecture theatre until summer 2019. Prints of the maps and the poetry publication are available in the CCI shop.

Pam Burnard (Professor of Arts, Creativities and Education) explores the work with Ruth Sapsed (Director of CCI) in this short film:

With thanks to the brilliant CCI artists who worked on these projects: Elena Arévalo Melville, Filipa Pereira-Stubbs, Helen Stratford, Sally Todd and Deb Wilienski.


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