Children in the main nursery at Henry Allen have the opportunity to visit forest school on a weekly basis. Hedgehog Class visit on Tuesday mornings and Squirrel Class go on Thursday mornings.
Forest School is an inspirational, process led approach to teaching in an outdoor environment (usually woodland.) Forest School must offer the participant opportunities to engage with their local natural environment over a period of time, ideally with the same leaders. Additionally, and vitally, it gives children the opportunity to take risks and begin to understand and recognise risk themselves. Every forest school session is underset with rules that are visited every session, making sure children and adults remain safe. The learner’s safety and welfare are a priority at Forest School. The aim is for children to begin to set their own challenges for themselves, enabling them to explore and discover independently whilst making informed decisions about how to deal with unfamiliar situations and challenges.
The six key principles of Forest School were agreed in 2002 (Cree and McCree, 2013):
1. Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visit; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
2. Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.
3. Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
4. Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
5. Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning
Rules of forest school
Simple Forest School rules are explained to the children in a way which is age appropriate and easy for them to remember.
- If you pick, no lick! rhyme.
- Stop at the boundary line!
- 1, 2, 3, Basecamp! means to return to “base camp” immediately
- Forest school children go around the outside, round the outside, so they don’t get burnt by the fire! ensuring the children never cross through the firepit as a habitual rule, even when there is no fire.
The Forest School ethos encourages and supports the child to choose what activities to participate in. Forest School practitioners will observe the children’s interests and then support and extend their learning. Some of the Activities that may take place:
- Tree climbing
- Playing games such as ‘hide and seek’ Hunting for mini beasts and then carefully observing them in their natural habitat
- Making shelters and dens (big and small)
- Singing songs and telling stories
- Natural arts and crafts such as making collages, ‘journey sticks’ with natural materials, bark rubbing and mud painting
- Natural art
- Animal tracking
- Woodwork using tools
- Creating bug hotels and bird feeders
- Fire lighting, cooking
- Using the Kelly kettle to boil water
- Using knots
- Free Play and exploration