What is Forest School?
Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment. It is very beneficial for children's development both physically and mentally as it promotes the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor education.
At Forest School all participants are viewed as:
- equal, unique and valuable
- competent to explore & discover
- entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
- entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
- entitled to experience regular success
- entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
- entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world
Who is Forest school aimed at?
Forest School is for all children from nursery through to year 6. Not all the children will do the same activities though as the forest school practitioner will adapt each session to the children's needs and ability. They can also be linked to an ongoing topic in class but the same objectives would be approached from a different angle.
What sorts of things do the children do at Forest School?
The children do lots of different activities each week. Some of these include - sensory walks, shelter building, mini beast hunts, nature identification tasks, campfire cooking, nature art and various team building games. Depending on the main objective of the session they may do 2 or 3 of these in one session.
The children split up into small groups each group are given the same resources to build an adequate water tight shelter which must fit all the group in and they are given a time limit to do it in. Sounds simple right? Not quite they have to work as a team to decide where is the best location, what to use from their pile of resources, the structure shape and think about how it will fit everyone inside. All the members of their team also have to be involved with the building.
Mini Beast Hunt
Working in teams each team has to find and identify a variety of mini beasts. Younger children may then talk about where they found them and what their habitat was like and why. Where as older children may go more into how the mini beast may have adapted to its habitat. Others may then make a suitable habitat for one or more of the mini beasts.
Children are tasked with the challenge to observe nature and identify it using visual aids and guidance. This sometimes focuses on local flora including seeds, fruits and berries depending on the time of year. Once the pupils have observed and foraged, they then have to create some natural artwork. This could be something which expresses themselves and develops creativity whilst sharing their knowledge of the components with their class.
All the children love to toast marshmallows or make popcorn on a campfire. It isn't as scary as it sounds! They learn about the fire triangle and the science behind fires as well as developing the children's responsibility and communication. The children learn about the safety of the fire and what to do if anyone was to be hurt. They also learn about where you can and can't light a fire and why. Finally they learn what is called the 'respect position' and then toast their marshmallows on long ferro rods.
This is artwork that can be made using natural materials which they can find in their environment. These could be pictures or modelling mud faces or stick men. Depending on the age and ability of the children, pupils may learn different knots and how to use other tools safely before making their stick men.