Forest School & Outdoor Education
“Forest School is a specialised learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor and woodland education.”
Forest School Association.
At Summerbank children, in Year 1 and Year 4, have a fantastic opportunity to take part in ‘Forest School’ sessions. During these, children are taken in small groups, of no more than 15, to a small but growing woodland area. The sessions run throughout the year thus giving the children opportunities to witness seasonal changes first hand.
During sessions, knowledge of the environment is inter-woven with hands-on activities. The sessions are constantly evolving to captivate the children’s interests whilst utilising natural materials available in our setting. The activities, which often demand the use of tools, may have a design element or creative aspect: hollowed out, elder beads and drilled, conker necklaces; willow crowns of evergreens or cloths dyed with berries. The items made often require dexterity, manipulation and degrees of concentration – thus requiring independence, resilience and self-determination, skills we are keen to develop. The sense of achievement, once completed, however is tangible.
During their time they are also encouraged to ‘play’ and be creative with this natural world. This may take the form of more physical ventures: to build shelters with branches, to balance on logs or climb upon ‘monkey’ swings. These activities not only providing valuable moments to develop more physical strength but also opportunities for them to gain confidence with their physical abilities. Or it may take the form of smaller more intricate play: building shelters for long-lost elves or creating patterns with Autumnal fauna, where children are only limited by what the natural world provides and creativity is boundless and often stunning.
Team games are also another aspect of the ‘Forest School / Outdoor Education’ which may involve ‘Crossing the swamp’, ‘Corvid egg steal’ or ‘Conker roll’. These sessions providing opportunities for wonderful, collaborative discourse to conquer tricky challenges.
Ultimately we hope, through Forest School sessions, that their relationship of the natural world becomes one of wonder and curiosity, where their creativity and resilience grows and a respect for their natural environment is underpinned by knowledge attained.