Our main objective for a first session is to let the children get to know the woodland site, feel secure in it and keep within the boundary - and understand why. I always like to start each first Forest school session with a new cohort to discuss our Forest school values: Look After yourselves, each other and the world around you using these visual prompts as a means to get us talking about these three responsibilities and hearing their ideas on how we can best follow through with them during our time in the woods.
I encourage teamwork to build a fiire for our snack and this offers plenty of opporuntities to discuss how to keep ourselves and others safe around the fire. We always set aside time for reflection at the end of the session which is a great opportunity to share what we have enjoyed doing and what we would like to try next time. We try and make time for the children to sit quitely during a looking and listening game such as 'finding a magical spot' to connect with the sights and sounds of the world around them. We also practice gentle yoga at the end to stretch and move our bodies to the rhythum of the woods.
As the session progresses we offer the children plenty of opportunies to explore and connect with the woodland site, play team games and also provide invitations to create and make.
We introduce various activities throughout the sessions – build dens, use simple hand tools to make wooden objects, bushcraft, fire ligthing, campfire cooking, learn bushcraft skills, funghi hunting, explore tracks, create art, develop an understanding of the properties of earth, wood, water and stone, find wildlife, bug hunting,understand eco-systems, story telling, sing songs, climb, play games etc. We enjoy having our snack time together. Children develop. They try new things, which they wouldn't choose to do before. It's lovely to see children growing in confidence, perservance, practical skills and knowledge of the woodland .
Same place different learning opportunities
Forest school takes place in all sorts of weather, is multi-sensory , at the same place regularly and facilitates progression of learning, “In, Through and About” the environment. Going to and learning in the same place need not be boring! Indeed, it enables a secure and sheltered space from which exploration happens. The woodland changes throughout the seasons and the living things that grow and live there. Trees that were bare last term now have a canopy of leaves. Clumps of leafy growth on the ground now have flowers appearing from them. We explore the changes beneath our feet as the rain leaves us with lots of opportunities to mud slide or splash in muddy puddles.In autumn we love to watch and hunt for the funghi that begins to appear. Wild animals - deer, foxes, birds, pass through and leave.