Activities depend on the ability of the participants and include -
Exploring the environment.
Shelter building - Using tarpaulins and making from wood.
Knots - Clove hitch, square lashing, timber hitch, adjustable tension knot and many more for a range of uses.
Mud painting / sculptures - A tactile way to create art in the woodland which will remain until it rains.
Forest art - Making frames for weavings of memories, dream catchers, whittling beads and walking sticks to name a few.
Games - learning the boundaries and cooperating with each other through play.
Imaginative Play - drama, mime, singing, creating art with found objects.
Using Tools - from potato peelers to sheath knives, saws, billhooks, depending on the abilities and the adult to child ratio.
Fire and Cooking - understanding the safe way to set up, light and care for a fire and food preparation and cooking and safe extinguishing.
Reflection - A time to process and express what has happened in a session and how it makes you feel.
Forest school sessions guide participants to look after themselves, each other and the environment.
They are able to make their own risks and take risks in a guided environment.
Appropriate clothing is to be worn to enable the children to take part in all activities and most of all to be comfortable.
The forest school is for all, irrespective of ethnicity, language, disability, gender or background.
Everyone in the sessions, including leaders and helpers, have a responsibility to protect their own and others health and safety and well being.
We want to encourage positive behaviour with an open, unbiased viewpoint with regards to behaviour and abilities.
History of Forest School
There have been various forms of outdoor learning stretching back to at least the 19th century, including Baden Powell's scouting, Woodcraft folk, Montessiri, Dewey and Piaget's theories.
'Scandanavian style' started to evolve from the 1960's with an emphasis on children learning for themselves. In 1993 a group of nursery nurses from Bridgewater college, Somerset visited Denmark to study the outdoor learning there. They then developed a BTEC course in 1995. This was then followed in Wales, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire with other counties following suit. A national conference defined 'Forest Schooling' in 2002 nd the OCN qualification began in 2003. There were various networking groups supporting Forest School teachers, however in 2012 the FSA was launched as the new professional association for Forest School and the governing body for more extensive training.
Benefits of Forest School practice
Forest Schooling facilitates self directed learning through play, guided by the teacher. Being outdoors frees the child from the usual indoor constraints, having more space, being in tune with the environment and able to be messy. Children learn to take risks, learning to be safe and mature. To use their own initiative to solve problems and to cooperate with others. There are a succession of sessions for children to repeat and learn. It introduces the idea to children to be outside whatever the weather and is a play based experience and can enable children to loose themselves in deep play.
Forest school aims to cover all of the SPICES [Social, Physical, Intelligence, Communication, Emotional, Spiritual] and it provides opportunities to do all. There is social interaction,working sometimes in a group or individually. Physical activites, from games to tree climbing and making things. There are many intellectual aspects of learning new skills. Children are communicating with each other, whether verbally or through artwork and things they have created using found objects. The experience enriches emotions, with new skills being learnt and a sense of accomplishment. Certain activities might become emotive. Being able to immerse oneself in an activity, with deep play, makes the experience a spiritual one. Children are able to learn with their natural learning style whether it be visual, auditory or kinesthetic.
The benefits can be a positive change in confidence, social skills, communication, motivation and concentration, physical, knowledge and understanding. In this environment children are able to build knowledge on the world, language, mathematics, creative, physical, personal and social development.