Forest School

Forest School

Please see our blog for updates on Forest School activities

   

  • Thu 17th Jan

    Being prepared (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    It is everybody’s job to help carry what we need for the session to the forest and then make sure nothing is left in the wood when we leave. Things are needed to keep us safe and comfortable (eg handwashing water, paper towels and snack) as well as tools and things to use and play with.

    To get to our forest school base everthing must be carried across a field, through a steep ditch, along a winding, woodland path and through a final ditch before we arrive at the circle.

    Many things need two pairs of hands to carry them and children and adults have to work together to get everything safely there and back.

    As time goes on the children take decisions for themselves about what they want to be doing during sessions and therefore what they will need to take with them. Those chosen pieces of equipment are their responsibility to collect together and return.

     

  • Sun 30th Dec

    Children learning how to assess and take reasonable risks (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    Children learning to assess and take reasonable risks

    Even before entering the wood, it is forest school practice to stand back look at the trees and consider how the weather conditions that day may be affecting safety of the forest school site. At all ages the children are fully involved in this process. Young children happily suspend belief and will ask ‘Mr Ashtree, if they may come in and then consider whether the wind is moving the trees in a welcoming manner or telling them to stay away. One child will often go and listen to what the tree says by putting their ear to the trunk (as we know trees only whisper). The listening child will report back to the group whether the tree has endorsed their opinion of the safety of the wood that day. With adult prompting the child may even have a list from the tree of seasonal happenings to look out for that day. 

    Once inside the wood Forest school sessions guide children how to weigh up the risks involved in many activities.  

    Questions posed include:-

    How thick must a branch be to bear your weight?

    How do you know if a branch is alive or dead?

    Activities such as climbing a tree, balancing on a log and deciding whether a swing will take your weight all require children to apply acquired knowledge and then decide for themselves whether to proceed. Adults only intervene if the risks involved are unacceptable.

     

     

     

  • Sun 23rd Dec

    Christmas Time at Forest School (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    Christmas at Forest School

    Christmas themed activities for the children to choose during their time at forest school offers lots of opportunities to work together or independently:- practising skills and decorating the wood for the festive season.

    Huge twig Christmas trees help them with mastering knotting skills. The trees decorated with berries, cones and stars of gold leaves, encourage the children to stick and join materials together with what’s around them.

    Decorations made from slices of wood use tools.

    Lighting fires keeps us warm and adds brightness to the winter gloom. A great place to sit around and listen to Christmas stories of robins and fir trees.

    Cooking Christmas pancakes and toasting marshmallows over an open fire – delicious!

    To complete the festive season a visit from Santa is super surprise – although we did suspect he might be in the woods as we found footprints and deer tracks all through the wood. Tracking is great fun, but we all know the reindeer fly and don’t come from our wood!! Instead it is a good time to learn a little more about the native inhabitants to the wood!

  • Fri 7th Dec

    Forest School Story Telling (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    Tell a Story

    Children love stories and learn lots from good ones. At the end of a session when everybody has been busy and the clearing up is done a shared story helps give a session a reflective conclusion.

    Many many of our native plants, animals and insects have ‘folk lore’ stories that can be used to help children understand much about the natural world in which they are playing and vicariously learning.

    In the age of the internet searching for stories to tell is made easy. There are numerous old stories about our native animals and plants – although many need a little adaption to make them suitable for modern ears and ideas. The internet also throws up stories from other cultures across the world that can be adapted to our English woodland. Particularly rich sources are Native American and Moroccan stories. More contemporary authors whose work is great for retelling and adapting include Margaret Mahy, John Aiken and Ted Hughes.

    Stories simply told rather than read allows the teller to engage with children most easily, it really doesn’t matter if the story never comes out the same twice – the children will enjoy telling you it’s different or even that it is wrong this time. Props gleaned from the wood can be useful and often help explain seasonal change. Also a bag of soft toys which are good copies of our native creatures can help stories along visually.