If you are as old as me, you will remember the days before computers, when the summer holidays lasted forever and the sun always shone! You’ll remember when children’s TV finished at 6pm and you could play out until bed. You’ll remember that games were things you could touch and see and not a figment of the virtual world. Today’s children are missing out on so much when they spend their evenings in front of TV, iPad, PC, x-box or whatever is the latest “thing”.

Forest School aims to put children back in touch with the natural world – to explore, take risks, get wet and muddy, use their imagination and have fun without the need for the material entrapment of the modern hi-tech world.

The value of Forest School was recognised in this country in 1993 after some education students from Somerset visited Denmark. In Scandinavia, the children don’t start school until they are 7 and the pre-school children all undertake a programme of Forest School activities to develop their social and emotional well-being without the pressure of academic achievement.

The Somerset students piloted the ideas over here with very positive outcomes. The success of this project has been recognised throughout the country and many local authorities are now funding schemes. The values have been recognised in the government’s “Every Child Matters” document and the revised EYFS framework of 2012 states…

  • Being outdoors has a positive impact on children’s sense of well-being and helps all aspects of children’s development.
  • Being outdoors offers opportunities for doing things in different ways and on different scales than when indoors.
  • It gives children first-hand contact with weather, seasons and the natural world.
  • Outdoor environments offer children freedom to explore, use their senses, and be physically active and exuberant,

These objectives and more can be met at Forest School. It is a an inspirational process that offers children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment. Forest school uses the outdoors as a place to build confidence, independence and self-esteem. The topics we cover are cross-curricular – with a jumbled mixture of science, art, maths, music, literacy, design and technology etc. However, the development of personal skills is unavoidable, such as teamwork, risk awareness and problem solving. The woodland environment is a great place to learn!

Forest School is a feeling you can’t put into words.’ Tonicha, aged 9

This will be the first Forest School at Burbage, following my recent training. The scheme is very highly rated and teachers report progress in achievement and concentration when the child is back in the classroom environment.

If you want to find out more, visit the following websites or come and have a chat with me.

www.forestschools.wordpress.com


www.forestschoolassociation.org


If you are joining me at Forest School it is essential to be dressed for the occasion! Check out this website for some great ideas…

www.muddyfaces.co.uk/infodocs/


If you think that your child would benefit from this learning experience, please come and see me.

Donna Hawkins.

To the Woods

Monday saw the first Forest School session at Burbage Primary School. With one of the wettest mornings of the year, lunchtime meant the erection of a shelter ready for the 12 excited children to enjoy their afternoon of outdoor activities. Despite the cold and wet, the children were able to explore the outdoor space, play games and learn how to use a palm drill.

 

Meet the Trees

Our second Forest School session and guess what? Yep! It’s raining again!

It’s OK – I practised putting the shelter up last week – but this time we had wind too! The rain found the holes in the tarp and the wind blew the rest underneath.

Mrs Ingleby managed to stay dry for ages, but eventually she got wet too!

We had fun – played leaf snap,

learnt the name of the trees by playing … “You’re only safe if you’re touching a … tree”

and made leaf print bunting

There were lots of great ideas during free play

and of course we enjoyed the milk and biscuits!

We were promised a heat wave for our next session but they changed their mind! Guess what? It’s going to RAIN!

Session 3: Dreams

The Forest School children enjoyed the sunshine on Friday. There was a sudden threat of rain towards the end of the session so some of the children helped me to help put up the shelter.

Our theme was “Dreams” and we had a look amongst the trees for the Green Man and the tree fairies. We then made dream catchers

and finished with a game of “Goblin and Fairies”! Mrs Hawkins is the horrible goblin in this picture!

 

Forest Folk

There was lots going on today with the Forest Folk and the sun was shining!. A group of children started to make a shelter and some made stick folk – monsters and fairies. We finished with a game of “Capture the Flag”.

And we had a guest for a snack…

… a grey long-horned beetle unless anyone knows differently!

Music in the Woods

Several of the children have been showing musical tendencies, so this was their chance to shine (along with the long-awaited sunshine!). There was drumming and strumming using sticks and tins and fir cones.

 

The highlight of today, however, was the hot chocolate made with the Gillie Kettle.

Forest Food and Fire

Today we tried to make bread – well Damper – a flour and water mix twirled around sticks and cooked on the embers of a fire. It was a bit of a disaster – more mess than taste! Thankfully the marshmallows were more successful – toasted and squished between chocolate digestives! Yum!

cooking mm

And that’s it!

So that’s the final session, at least for now. The children have really enjoyed it. I hope they have been inspired to continue their outdoor learning. I also hope that they have discovered something about themselves which will help them to continue on their journey through school.

The Future of Forest School

I am hoping to continue with Forest School sessions into next year. We have been offered sessions with the Wildlife Trust so I am hoping that all the Year 3’s will get the opportunity to have a Forest School Session next year.