Forest Schools

Forest Schools at Palgrave Primary School

We are now offering Forest Schools to all of the children at Palgrave!

This is where the journey begins......and like any great story we enter through the gate and walk along the path quietly as we start to hear a noise… is it a bird, mouse or a dragon? The wind whistles by and the adventure in the Forest begins.

Forest School is the place where magic can start to happen as imaginations, self-confidence and vocabulary start to grow. Every visit to the Forest will be to the same place, yet the story will always change and be different. The amazing memories and adventures that take place in Forest School will always be enjoyed.

In Forest schools all children are given the opportunity to access, experience and enjoy learning while working in the outside environment. We take the “classroom” outside and use the beautiful surroundings, weather and sounds to enhance their learning visually, orally and sensually. This holistic approach encourages children’s imaginations, build’s self-esteem and creates the desire to understand, learn and respect the natural world around them. The children are in a safe environment where they can succeed, create and use Maths and Literacy skills without them even realising it! Through exploration and discovery the children are able to enjoy and self-initiate their own learning.

In Forest School children are able to take calculated risks in a controlled environment. They learn cause and effect and what may or could happen. They are given the opportunity and responsibility under supervision, to use tools and help be part of a team, creating a fire to keep them warm and cook food. Equality, achievement and self-belief help children to return to the classroom feeling that they can accomplish and succeed in what they do. Every child is valued and their input is vital; we work as a team and they are able to respect and treat each other fairly and as equals.

What is Forest School?

Forest School is a method of working outdoors with children, young people and adults, using the natural environment to promote social and emotional development. It is an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. These learning experiences also help to develop communication and practical skills, as well as a greater understanding of the environment.

For more information see the Forest School Association website at www.forestschoolassociation.co.uk

How can Forest School help my child’s learning and development?

It is proven from research that learning that takes place in the outdoors is much more powerful and memorable as all the senses are involved. Forest Schools helps children develop through a child-led approach and teaches them how to assess risks for themselves.

What happens during the Forest school day?

The children arrive at school in their school uniform and bring their forest clothes in a bag. Before lunch the children will be asked to change into their Forest school clothes and then go to lunch as normal. Straight after lunch the children will be registered and then the first group will be asked to go to the toilet and then they will be taken to the forest school site via minibus. During this time the second group will be asked to go to the toilet and then when the minibus gets back they will then be taken to the site.

Each session begins around the camp circle, where we talk through the safety rules for working outdoors and about respecting each other. For every session we have a lesson plan which includes a variety of small group activities. Some will be adult led and supervised but most will be child led for the children to explore their environment. Finally the class returns to the camp circle for the close of the session.

The children will be asked to go to the toilet before the session but if they need to go while we are on site then they can use our camping toilet in a private area on site. Hand washing facilities will be available on site.

What sort of activities do the children take part in?

Activities will depend on what kinds of activities they children are interested in and kinds of skills they would like to learn. The children will have the choice as to whether they would like to take part in an activity.

Typically these activities may include:

Music – keeping a pulse or copying a rhythm pattern by beating sticks together, learning songs and singing as a group.

Design Technology and Science – Building dens, shelters and bridges that are suitable for them to sit in and walk on, whittling wood, making a dream catcher using natural materials or making things using tools.

Literacy – Story telling around the fire, Writing, following instructions and creating story maps with natural objects.

Maths – Data handling, Measuring, Shapes and Problem Solving.

Art – creating 3D pictures or sculptures out of clay or mud, using natural materials to create paint or make jewellery, colour matching and making our own charcoal to draw with!

Building and lighting fires

Real campfire cooking and learning about food hygiene

Learning how to tie different kinds of knots

Tree Climbing

Making recipes and potions in the mud kitchen

And lots lots more.

All activities are risk assessed. These are kept in the Forest School handbook in the School office.

What tools will be used in Forest School?

In Forest School the children will have the opportunity to use various tools under close supervision. The children will be taught how to use the tool safely, what it can be used for and how to look after it. There is a copy of each of these tool procedures in the Forest School Handbook in the school office.

The tools used at forest schools include: palm drills, small knives, secateurs, loppers, bow saws, froes and a spade.