Class 4 Forest School term 1
We’ve had a wonderful beginning to Class 4's Forest School. The sessions tend to run along similar lines but we are able to be very flexible and to follow the children's ideas and explore whatever nature gives on any particular day.
We start by preparing to go outside, visits to the toilet, collecting water bottles, wellies and waterproofs (we haven't needed sun hats and sun cream so far!). We then collect the equipment we will need for the session; the First Aid kit, hand washing equipment, tarpaulin, bungees and anything associated with the adult suggested idea for that day. These apparently mundane tasks all help the children to become more independent and self sufficient.
We go to whichever place we are going to set up our base camp. We're spoilt for choice in our school and use either the Wildlife Area, the Forest School area in the woodland or 'The Cage'.
We always begin by gathering for a 'Gratitude Circle'. Using the Talking Stick everyone says something that they are grateful for on that day. If the children can't think of anything specific, they just say thank you. Sometimes these circle times are funny at other times they are really moving. Using the Talking Stick encourages us all to remember how important it is for everyone to have the time to speak and to be heard. When everyone has spoken we 'Spin the Wheel' to see what we might like to focus on that day. It might be 'taking time to just be' or 'keeping on going even when things get tricky'. We then take 30 seconds to stand in silence to really arrive in our beautiful space, to feel the ground supporting our feet, to feel the breeze, and sometimes sunshine, on our faces, to hear the birds singing and to remember how fortunate we are and how we are visitors in someone else's home, so must treat it with respect.
We have spent lots of time in the first few sessions talking about behaviour expectations, keeping safe outside, looking after ourselves, each other and the environment. We talk about the physical boundaries of the site, the return to base signal and managing risks. It is important for children to experience appropriate levels of risks so that they become adept at recognising and managing risk as they get older.
The adult initiated idea is then introduced. So far we have had an Autumn Scavenger Hunt, looked at trees and made Mud Faces. We also had a challenge to transport water and balls with out carrying them, that caused great excitement!
The children tend to stick together and concentrate on being involved in the adult initiated idea but sometimes they head off and develop the idea further or focus on an interesting thing that they have found; a leaf, an interesting insect or worms!
The children really seem to enjoy these sessions and are so engaged and excited to see what different things they will discover. I hope you enjoy some of the photographs that we have taken. Hopefully they will give you a flavour of the things we have been doing.
Forest School 2019 - 2020
Class 4 will be having Forest School sessions every Tuesday afternoon for the next year.
Our suggested planning for the first term is below but, as ever when working in an ever changing, stimulating environment, it will be open to change depending on what the children discover and what nature presents us with.
Week 1 Introduction to Forest School and exploring our site.
Week 2 My tree
Week 3 Mud Faces
Week 4 Knots
Week 5 Building shelter
Week 6 Woodland Christmas crafts
Week 7 Winter solstice celebrations
We have been doing lots of things this half term at Forest School; most of the activities have involved a degree of mud! It’s been wet 😄
- Made ice mobiles.
- Taken part in the RSPB Big Bird Watch, looked for birds through binoculars, made nests for ground dwelling birds and revisited the bird feeders we made last term.
- Visted our hibernating hedgehog, the children were surprised at how long she has been asleep for.
- Explored the tree in the Wildlife Area that had been felled after being badly damaged in a winter storm. We were able to examine it and see all the things that we managed to make as a result of it being chopped up. We were also able to see some of the negative effects of the tree coming down and think about how important it is to plant more trees to replace lost ones.
- Had a Scavenger Hunt
- Searched for the clothes of ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ who seems to live near here!
- Had a wonderfully creative morning of ‘baking’ in honour of Pancake Day and talked about why we celebrate this day.
These experiences help the children learn about:
- using their senses
- being active
- being focussed
- connecting with nature
- species recognition
- fine motor skills
- gross motor skills
- assessing and managing weather and risk
- the importance of having fun!
Jan -Feb 2018 photos
Today we were thinking about how animals camouflage their homes to protect them from predators. We used leaves to decorate our hedgehog box. We have put a toy hedgehog in it and will leave the box in a place the children can see so they can begin to understand how long the hibernation period is.
We we looked in the allotment to see how the onions that the allotment club planted are getting on. The children had mixed opinions about the oniony smell of the leaves!
It was quite cold this week and we needed to run about to stay warm, We pretended to be migrating birds, flying from the cold, wintery north of the field where there is not much food, to the warm south where there is food a plenty.
We decided that we need to help the birds, like robins, that don't migrate by feeding them and making sure they have water to drink. We are going to make some bird feeders next week.
This week we were thinking about hedgehogs. Herietta Hedgehog talked to us about how she hibernates during the winter months. We made warm nests for her to go to sleep in using lots of warm, dry leaves and sticks.
Jack Frost had visited so we looked at the beautiful silvery, white patterns he had made. We collected some leaves and examined them at the beginning and the end of the session to see what would happen to them over time if we put them in the warm sunshine. We discovered that the "hard, crunchy" leaves with "diamonds on" them changed and became "soft" and "watery".
The sunshine also gave us the opportunity to make long interesting shadows, "Is it a bird? Is it a plane?"😀
On the way to Forest School, Mrs Marinova saw 17 squirrels all playing together! We decided to think about squirrels a bit more during our session but it looked like it was going to rain so the first thing we did was build a shelter to stop us getting too wet. We worked together to make a waterproof cover using taurpaulin and bungee cords - engineering in action!
Simon Squirrel told us how he and his friends hide their favourite food when there is a lot of food around, then go back a find it during winter when there isn't much food around. They have to have good memories to be able to remember where they hid it. We decided to pretend to be squirrels and hide 'food' to find at the end of the session. We didn't have any acorns so we used pine cones instead. Each child practised their counting skills and collected 3 pine cones and went to hide them in the woodland. At the end of the morning, most children had found their 3 pine cones again, some had found more than 3, some less than 3 and a couple of children couldn't find them at all, they thought they might be very hungry little squirrels.
The children were very keen to go on another scavenger hunt and spotted another nest. There were lots of suggestions as to what might live in it from a pigeon to an eagle and even that it might be the home of the kraken!
We looked around the fire pit for more mini beasts and some of the children spent a long time "making a fire". There was no actual flame this time but they still managed to toast imaginary marshmallows that were delicious, apparently.
Some of the other children made mud faces on the silver birch trees and decorated them with leaves, it took a great deal of perseverance to make some of the mud stick but they managed and the end result was just beautiful.
This week at Forest School we were learning about:
- being independent
- looking closely at autumn changes
- being creative
- exploring the natural world
The children were all very keen to collect the beautiful autumn leaves and sing the "Autumn leaves are falling down" song again and to make more leaf kebabs.
We are very fortunate to have our own fully enclosed and secure woodland area. The children are very good at remembering the rules about where they can go and the signals to stop and return to base camp. Even so, at the moment, most of the children like to stay close to the adults and share all the fascinating things they find. This week one or two children felt confident enough to explore our woodland area independently in search of bears. They didn't find any but apparently they heard, "A spider spinning a web." and a "Unicorn"!
We all enjoy our 'quiet time' at Forest School, we think about how fortunate we are and take time to really listen to the natural world. The children become so relaxed as they listen to wind gently shushing us.
Forest School has come to our nursery, yeah!
Every Tuesday the children will be able to enjoy learning outdoors in different areas around our school site. We are fortunate to have several outdoor areas that the children can learn from and explore.
Getting ready for Forest School is part of the learning. It can be very tempting to put the children's coats, wellies and waterproofs on for them, but by giving them time and encouragement, they can mostly manage themselves and they get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when they do, this develops confidence and self esteem as well as fine and gross motor skills and persistence to keep trying even when something is tricky.
At the beginning of Forest School we talk about what we can do to keep ourselves and each other safe outside. This includes thinking about keeping warm, not putting anything in our mouths while we are outside, where we can and cannot go and knowing when we have to stop what we are doing and return to 'base camp'.
We will be sharing some pictures of our adventures here, we hope you enjoy them.
Today was the final Forest School session for the children in class 1 and we were all feeling a bit emotional. One boy said he wanted to cry, others said things like they want to stay at Forest School forever. All the adults feel much the same. We feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time outside getting to know the children, the environment and ourselves. All the children and adults have experienced things that have challenged us, delighted us, filled us with wonder and gratitude and everyone has learned lots of things while having great fun.
The final session was the obligatory fire and marshmallows session. As with previous groups were learnt about;
- being focused
- developing fine motor skills
- science - the fire triangle
- improving our listening skills
- improving our following instruction skills
- assessing and managing risk
The children listened carefully to what the fire was saying when we extinguished it with water; "Help, save me." "I'm drowning." One of our parent helpers thought that the gentle sizzling at the end sounded like the fire snoring as it went to sleep.
Another sunny day at Forest School. Today we were learning about;
- developing fine and gross motor skills,
- listening carefully and following instructions,
- connecting with nature,
- learning about food chains,
- assessing and managing risk,
- being physically active,
- being adventurous and creative.
We had planned on using tools to whittle some sticks and wanted to make sure everyones listening and following instruction skills were working well. The children made up a variation
of traditional 'hide and seek', playing 'animal-camouflage-food-chain' hide and seek instead. The hiders had to adopt the pose of an animal and the seekers were other animals. Depending on whether the hider was prey or predator depended on if they were out or not. Later we share our animals. Guessing the lady bird was hard!
We also thought about feelings and everyone made, or adopted, a facial expression and the others had to guess what it was.
The children love to explore for mini beasts and took photos of some interesting specimens.
When we were using tools, one child expressed concern that they wouldn't be able to do it safely but wanted to have a go. After a little internal battle where they watched and questioned, they were able to pluck up the courage to have a go and was very proud of the resulting whittled stick.
What a lovely session. Year 6 had had an overnight camp and we left a tent and hammock up for the Forest School children to explore. They also went mini beast hunting and did some writing with the charcoal left from the camp fire. We experimented with early face paints (aka mud!) Following on from the 'It's not a stick' story, L came up with 10 things that his 'not a stick' could be. Very inventive! The children remembered about keeping safe when using sharp things outside, "Everyone get in your blood bubble!" exclaimed one child. We also met a celebrity!! Stickman, of Julia Donaldson fame, apparently lives in Stanley!
Today we played 'Go Find it', hunting for 'nature treasures' and practised tying knots to make our own picture frames. We also had great fun in the long grass, the children enjoyed camouflaging themselves in the long grass and prowling like lions before pouncing on their prey.
Through these activities we were learning about;
- being active
- self relience
- connecting with nature
- improving our memory
- focusing on a task
- creativity and imagination
- maths and shape
- developing our fine motor skills.
The new group of Forest School children started today. We all had great fun and learned lots of interesting things. The theme of our session was 'Exploring independently', but everyone was so excited about their new discoveries that they needed to share them with everyone else - immediately! 😄
During today's session we aimed to learn about;
- being active,
- using our senses,
- connecting with nature,
- being focused and concentrating,
- developing fine motor skills,
- being curious and imaginative.
The children visited the chickens and started to use the talking stick, so that everyone has the opportunity to speak and be heard. We looked at some of the plants growing around our site - and ate some of the delicious strawberries - and explored our woodland area. The children made journey sticks so that they will be able to remember their adventures today.
This terms Forest School has gone so quickly. We have been learning about lots of new things from how to use tools safely, to bats and echolocation and exploring non Newtonian substances, (but we just called it corn flour gloop), and we have had such fun!
One of the wonderful things about Forest School is that the children have the opportunity to challenge themselves and learn how to assess and manage risk in safe way. At Forest School we work collaboratively, everyone supporting each other and everyone's voice is heard. This group of children have particularly enjoyed using the 'talking stick' to ensure eveyone has their say. We continue to be blessed by our incredibly supportive parent helpers. They enrich the Forest School experience so much and are such favourites with the children. We really can't thank them enough for all they give to the school.
The new group started at Forest School today and everyone was super excited.
Our focus was 'Exploring independently' we were learning about; being active using our senses connecting with nature communication being focused creativity using fine and gross motor skills using our imaginations developing our curiosity.
It turned into a team exploration as everyone was so excited by the treasures they had found, they needed to share their discoveries with the rest of the group.
LB found a flower and told everyone, 'This is a dandelion, it makes you pee your bed.' Super botanical knowledge!
Everyone really enjoyed their time, especially the Easter egg hunt that Emma, one of the parent helpers, organised with the Easter Bunny. DS said that it was, 'The best day ever!'
A surprise meeting with a friendly mouse.
Thumbs up for Forest School from the children.
Final Forest School session. We learned about the fire triangle, fire safety, patience and resilience when making fire in snowy weather. We used old fashioned, cast iron cobbler shoe moulds to hold up our camp fire grill and the children had great fun trying to work out what they were. We couldn't use some of the sticks for fire wood as they were covered in lichens, the children thought they were very beautiful. One of our fabulous parents made us a photo frame that we used as part of our memory games and to create our own 'live pictures''. At the very end of our session some of us mud painted our faces and we all promised to be Forest School heroes forever.
Impromptu forest limbo!
What a lovely day! The children were set a challenge to get a 'fish' (it was actually a ball) across the shark infested sea (our woodland floor) to the safety of a bowl, without touching the fish. We had plastic guttering and anything else they could find in the woodland. They had to work together as team using their communication and problem solving skills. They spent over a hour trying to work out how to do it, only stopping for, what they described as a 'thinking snack' after about 40 minutes. We all discussed their ideas and how well they had done up to that point; they had managed to get the fish half way to the bowl but couldn't quite figure out how to get it all the way. They had played with the guttering, rolling the ball along it to see how it moved as they lifted or tilted it, everyone contributed something and worked out how to make the 'fish swim faster and slower' along the'motorway' of black guttering. One child really thought outside the box and slid the 'fish' onto a stick (so he didn't touch it) and suggested that he flip the fish off the stick and get it into the bowl! Wow, creative thinking indeed! He couldn't quite manage to hit the target from the set distance but what problem solving skills! After having taken the time to sit and think, the answer came to them, yeah! We played a celebratory tune and a little Robin hopped onto the fence to listen.
Later we made letter shape shadows and had story time. The children were very keen to prepare stories to tell each other next week, we can't wait to hear them.