Forest school successfully started in Reception class during term 2015. We have now developed our Forest school curriculum throughout school.
Mrs Livesley is the Forest School leader supported by school staff and parent volunteers who have very kindly committed their time to help every week .
Forest School was originally a Scandinavian idea, forest schools operate on the principle that children of all ages can benefit greatly from the hands on learning opportunities inherently present in a woodland environment. In an age when many children have few opportunities to be outdoors, it offers them a way to learn and experience a broad curriculum in a woodland setting, with regular visits throughout the year.
Forest School helps to develop;
•confidence and self esteem;
•communication and social skills;
•greater understanding and awareness of the natural environment;
•natural motivation and a positive attitude to learning;
•the ability to recognise and manage risk;
Volunteers helping at forest school have:
•Attended training prior to the sessions beginning
•Committed to helping out at sessions regularly – it is important for planning and safety reasons that leaders know who and how many adults will be supporting.
•Attend in appropriate clothing.
Forest School will take place throughout the year in all weathers.
Forest School in Reception
Reception class have taken part in Forest School sessions every week throughout the year. They have organised their own clothing and equipment from the first session and shown just how independent a 4 year old is capable of becoming. They even know to leave their dirty kit next to the washing machine!
Throughout the year they have developed the necessary skills to use tools such as knives, saws, hammers and mallets safely, and enjoyed woodcraft, nature art, and seasonal craft activities using these skills. The children have developed and excellent understanding of fire safety as we have a campfire most weeks, and have sampled a wide range of food whilst campfire cooking. We have toasted, grilled and baked. Pizzas being the favourite!
They have not only benefitted from the skills of the Reception teacher who is the Forest School Leader, but the regular volunteers who give up their free time to help out and have built wonderful relationships with the children to support them in these activities. Mr Cragg, Mrs Lewis and Mrs Beaumont are our Reception volunteers.
In the Autumn term the sessions were enhanced further by Heather Pearce, another volunteer parent helper who was completing Forest School Leader training and led six sessions all focussed on developing habitats and included building a hedgehog hideaway, toad abodes, making bird feeders and small dens for some of our other woodland friends. She also donated bat boxes which are now situated in our woodland area.
They have learned first hand about the weather and seasons, the changing nature of the wildlife and plant life in the woodland and are beginning to understand the characteristics to sort and classify these things. But most importantly they have a secure foundation for a lifelong love of nature.
Forest School throughout the school
Each half term each class have a block of Forest School sessions led by the Forest School leader Mrs Livesley. These are supported by class staff and regular Forest School volunteers Mrs Ben Kahla, Miss Pearce, Mrs Lewis, and Miss Taylor, without whom the range of activities on offer would be much smaller.
Each class has experienced a different season and as a result the activities and experiences have all been different.
Classes are rotated each year to give them breadth in their knowledge of the woodland in relation to the seasons.
Autumn 1 - Year Six learned knots, tree identification, wood crafts and helped with some woodland maintenance.
Autumn 2 - Year Three enjoyed wood crafts, tree and wildlife identification, bird feeding, and Christmas Crafts with a leaf printed Christmas card.
Spring 1 - Year Two used bow saws to make snakes attached together with hooks, a tricky activity. Tree identification using bark and buds, and tree planting.
Spring 2 - Year 4 continued tree planting and some woodland maintenance, as the wildlife started to emerge lots of identifiction and classification was done. Den making was a favourite with this class.
Summer 1 - Year 5 had only a few sessions but will make up for it next year. They have also been helping out with some woodland maintenance and development of our habit area, including moving plants. They have help to feed our ever growing population of birds. Some of which were nesting and feeding young during our sessions. Who knew that Great Tit chicks could be so noisy! They became very skilled in den making, learning useful knots to help them.
Summer 2 - Year 1 have particularly enjoyed using tools and campfire cooking, we have toasted marshmallows, crumpets, prepared and cooked chocolate chip bananas and made pizza. The class was definitely divided on chocolate chip bananas! They have done lots of tree identification with the trees in full leaf and with an abundance of mini beasts, lots of bug hunting. Craft activities have been making nature journals and notebooks using leaf and flower prints.
Each year we hope that the children will build on their previous knowledge and skills. Skills which they will have acquired for life. Who knows, these could be our future conservationists.