Forest school, is a outdoor education delivery model in which children visit natural spaces to learn personal, social and technical skills. We are delighted to be able to be developing our own Forest Area within our school grounds.
Forest School uses the outdoors as a means to build independence and self-esteem in children. Topics are cross-curriculum (broad in subject) including the natural environment, for example the role of trees in society, the complex ecosystem supported by a wilderness, and recognition of specific plants and animals. However, the personal skills are considered highly valuable, such as teamwork and problem solving. The outdoor environment may be used to learn about more abstract concepts such as mathematics and communication.
Benefits of Forest School
Forest School Newsletter
What a wonderful first term the children have had at Forest School. They have witnessed the changes in the environment as we changed seasons from autumn into winter. They enjoyed warm sunny afternoons in the forest where the trees and bushes were full of leaves that had started to turn golden yellow. The children used the fallen leaves and berries to create their own journey sticks. They imagined being adventurers and added items to their sticks that represented an important part of their adventure. We then sat around the fire circle and shared our journey stick stories. It was wonderful to see their imaginations enriched by the natural items they could find around them.
Jeremmy, Laurissa, Luliana, Tracy, Elissa and Sharon with their journey sticks
The children learnt how to tie two different types of knots. The reef and timber hitch knots. They practised them on the trees and went on to use them when building shelters. They showed amazing team work and cooperation skills. Listening to each other, discussing ideas and problem solving.
Thanks to our very kind PTA our Forest School now has a mud kitchen and it has proven to be extremely popular. The children have made soups, cakes, biscuits and muffins, to name just a few. I’m not sure I fancy eating any though 😊
The children had the opportunity to use loppers to cut down some willow and use it to create a Christmas star. They demonstrated fantastic listening skills and worked very safely. Controlled risk taking is a great way for them to develop risk assessing skills and develop their independent decision making too.
The spring term will deliver lots of fun new activities and the eagerly awaited fire building session too. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas holiday and get to enjoy some time outside in some of the wonderful parks that we have in Milton Keynes.
Winter and Spring in Forest School 2021
The children really have produced some wonderful work whilst remote learning. They have been on winter scavenger hunts where they have documented all of the wonderful signs of winter. Some children have developed their photography skills by capturing some wonderful images of their local wildlife. The children really enjoyed observing squirrels and creating their own squirrels out of toilet roll tubes and sharing on Google Classroom. In these uncertain times it is okay to feel anxious and worried and to help the children to manage such emotions they made Worry Dolls. They really are beautifully made and designed by the children themselves. Some of the children also made a hug pebble. A hug pebble is a small pebble decorated by the child to bring with them, in their pocket, when they returned to school to calm and soothe them if they were missing home. We also took part in the RSPB birdwatch and the children observed some fantastic species and learnt about what birds we should expect to see in our gardens in the winter. We will follow this up by doing it again in the summer. Now that we are back at school the children we be able to enjoy the fabulous forest area again and will be engaging in some exciting activities such as shelter building, knot tying, sawing, fire building and much much more. Please see a compilation of the work that the children produced over the lockdown in the video below.
Forest School 2020-21
Forest Schools has had a wonderful start! The year 3 children have had a great time enjoying and exploring the forest area and discovered many new things including our very own frogs that started life in our school pond! Their life cycle has been shared on google classroom since the spring. It has been a wonderful learning opportunity for the children to witness this.
We have been addressing therapeutic approaches to mental health needs by focusing on our emotions this half term and discovered ways to label, regulate, develop grounding techniques, social skills and methods to reduce anxiety. This in hand supports development of self esteem and resilience.
We created creatures out of clay and natural materials and learnt all about hazards that we encounter in the natural world.
The children had time to reflect on their feelings and express these using natural materials that they could find.
The children were asked to make forest bracelets out of natural items that they felt reflected how they were feeling. They really enjoyed the experience of foraging around in the trees and bushes.
The children are always so enthusiastic to take part in the activities and really get stuck in. Many of the children absolutely thrive in the forest environment whether it be running around with sticks or finding a quiet sit spot of their very own to reflect.
We are all looking forward to exploring the natural wonders of winter in the forest!
Spring Term 2020 at Forest School
This term in Forest School the children have been having lots of fun.
When we returned from the Christmas break, the children noticed that the trees were bare; the ground was hard; there was sometimes ice on the pond and they couldn’t find any flowers. It was definitely winter. They also noticed that we have some evergreen shrubs in our Forest School, which led to some interesting conversations.
In the last couple of weeks before the school closures, the children started to notice the first signs of spring - a truly magical time in nature, and one of my personal favourites. They took ownership of the camera and I asked them to collect evidence of the signs of spring. The daffodils look particularly beautiful and a welcome sight of bright colour after a long winter. Some of the children have continued to share their photos of spring with me, during this time of isolation, which is wonderful to receive. I have included some in this newsletter for you all to enjoy.
The children have been introduced to a Ghilly Kettle and how it works. They all worked as a team to gather the fuel for the fire so that we could boil the water to make yummy hot chocolate!
The children learnt how to safely use a wood saw to make medallions.
We went on a bug hunt…
The children really started to feel at home in the forest this term and most of them absolutely loved making mud pies, digging for clay and generally having fun getting muddy! Some even made tree faces with the mud. The children worked so well together and shared their discoveries with excitement.
Some preferred to focus on building their shelters in a different area and used the skills they had previously learnt at forest school.
The children had the opportunity to make a bow and arrow. They are reading a book in class about the Bronze Age, the main character is a child with a bow so I thought this linked quite nicely. We discussed what type of wood we would need to make a bow and what properties it would need to be effective. They decided on willow and used the loppers to cut it for the bow. They tried really hard, and succeeded in using the knots they have learned to attach the string to the bow. They then found a stick the right size for the arrow.
HLTA/Forest School Leader
Autumn term 2019 in the Forest School Area
During Autumn term in Forest School, the children have been having lots of fun.
When we started, the trees were full of leaves and the children have noticed how they are now bare and the ground is covered in the beautiful golden colours of Autumn.
The Year 3 children have been shown how to safely use loppers, whittling knives, wood saw and hand drills.
Using the loppers Striking the flint
Whittling Reef knot
Each child had the opportunity to use a flint and striker to create a spark that would get a fire burning. They worked together as a team to gather fuel for the fire and were careful to look after themselves and each other when we had the fire alight.
They persevered and eventually accomplished the skill of tying two different types of knots, then put these into practice to build shelters from the harsh wind and rain. It was wonderful to witness how marvelously they naturally worked as a team, listening to each other’s ideas and opinions.
Journey sticks Team work, joining their ropes to make it long enough for the shelter.
This has been a fun packed term and spring will be very interesting too with lots of new and exciting activities planned.
HLTA/Forest School Leader