The Trent and Mersey canal has formed such an important part of Stoke's history and present-day identity. It provides many opportunities for young children to learn about their world as there is so much to see, hear, and talk about both from the natural world as well as the person-made world.
The canal can be used to introduce the children to historical characters such as James Brindley and Josiah Wedgewood.
One setting thought they would use it to adapt 'We are going on a bear hunt' to 'We are going on a duck hunt’. They used photographs taken on their stretch of the canal to illustrate the adaptation (eg past the crunching moving gravel; Crunch, crunch, crunch). The different features of their stretch of the canal could then be re-visited on a regular basis and the route 're-walked' many times. This will help embed the children's understanding of these features and enable them to build up an emotional bond more easily with the canal. Another story that lends itself to the canal is 'The Three Billy Goats Gruff': bridges are plentiful and varied along the Trent and Mersey.
Some settings have felt that the canal might be too dangerous a place to go with young children, however it does provide a meaningful context in which to develop the children's knowledge of water safety and how they can keep themselves safe along the tow path. The bridges over the canal can provide safe places to play Poohsticks or to just watch the water and the world go by for the more cautious setting.
The Canal and River Trust is a charity which runs across the country looking after all of the canal network. You can sign up to a free newsletter which will keep you informed of events that are taking place on the canals.