Forest School is a long-term child-led educational process which supports holistic development of the child through a mix of play, exploration and learning.
At Sacred Heart Voluntary Catholic Academy our Forest school learning environment provides opportunities for children to develop self-esteem and self-confidence, to form positive relationships and develop a growing awareness of their own emotional needs as well as those of others. Opportunities to cooperate and work with their peers and adults as well as to develop strategies to manage risks are also provided.
The sessions are led by a qualified Forest School leader and may include such activities as care of the forest area, fire lighting and using sharp tools such as knives, saws, bill hooks and loppers. Above all we aim to have fun!
Forest school is a child led program. This means that each series of sessions will be different, as it follows and builds on the children’s interests and previous experience. All sessions will, normally, include games based on experiencing their natural surroundings, and using their senses and an element of free play. The adults act as facilitators moving each child’s learning on at their own pace. The following program outline is one that might be followed with a KS1 class experiencing forest school for the first time:
Session 1: Exploring the site and an introduction as to how we treat the area, safety features and fire pit protocol. Hide and seek and other games used to explore the site, then a time of free play to explore the parts that appeal to the individuals.
Session 2: Introduction to the theme of the ‘little people’ who live on our site. Making shelters for the little people out of the natural materials, this may lead on to tying simple knots to help make the structures, and the use of loppers to cut sticks.
Session 3: Making dragon catchers using willow trimmed from a tree on the ‘trim trail’. Using this activity to re-enforce the safe use of loppers and tying simple knots.
Session 4: Making our own size shelters, children can choose to make these in self chosen groups or by themselves, using materials found around the site and/or tarpaulins. This again re-enforces using the knots they have learned, encourages teamwork and helps bolster resilience.
Session 5: ‘dragons’ breath’ Using fire starters (similar to flints) to set fire to cotton wool.
Session 6: Campfire. Using the fire starters to make a campfire in our fire pit, with the opportunity to cook simple food such as toasting marshmallows or toasting toffee apple slices.