Forest School

Our Toddler and Pre-School children take part in Forest School sessions twice a week at our local primary school, St Peter’s School. We work closely with the school to ensure our children have the best possible space to maximise outdoor learning opportunities. We are lucky to also sometimes have the opportunity to use The Rookery in Wrightlands Woods for our Forest School sessions.

Even the short walk to our Forest School sessions, offers opportunities for children to learn. Whether we are going to St Peter’s School, or The Rookery, we use our ‘Walk-a-diles’ and talk about what we can see on our way; whether that is the changing seasons, our local community, or simply learning about road safety.

Our Forest School sessions are set in areas of natural woodland and include a variety of native trees including Holly, Oak, Horse Chestnut and a Fir tree which the children have named the ‘Owl Tree’, because they can climb inside and hoot, and the sound echoes like an owl! This tree has become a focal point where we gather to eat our snack.

We provide positive outdoor experiences and activities which give children experiences that they would not get indoors. This encourages a deep and meaningful relationship between the child and the natural world, and inspires children’s passion for learning about the world we live in. Carefully planned activities help the children to learn to respect and care for their environment and a range of natural resources stimulate their imagination and creativity.

The children are encouraged to discover, explore, observe, and ask questions about what they find in their outdoor environment. Simply being in the woodland enhances children’s sense of wellbeing. The woodland is often filled with children’s laughter and chatter as toddlers enjoy crunching in leaves and splashing in puddles. Pre-school children might lie on the grass, giggling, while they examine a slow worm, or listen to a tree’s ‘heartbeat’ with stethoscopes as the sap rises within.

Our Forest School is a long-term programme which provides children with regular opportunities to play, explore and problem solve. During the sessions, which take place all year round and, in all weathers (with the exception of very high winds and thunderstorms), children have the opportunity to experience the changing seasons, the natural environment, and have plenty of time and space to explore. Children are encouraged to develop independence, confidence and self-esteem and become creative learners.

Children are offered a range of activities to support all areas of development and give them a hands-on experience of learning new skills. These experiences and activities include

  • playing and climbing;
  • finding and identifying wildlife;
  • exploring tracks;
  • building dens,
  • creating and following maps;
  • planting fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants;
  • creating art; Hapa Zome – the Japanese art of pounding leaves and flowers with hammers to release the natural pigments and make marks and patterns on cloth.
  •  using simple hand tools to make wooden objects; Whittling carrots and then moving onto sticks
  • cooking on fires; toasting marshmallows
  • enjoying stories and songs

The outdoor environment provides exhilaration and challenge. Our Forest School sessions offer children the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves,and helps children to learn how to keep themselves safe, and to be aware of others. The children often point out hazards they see such as brambles and stinging nettles.

Our Forest School is run by an accredited Level 3 Forest School Leader who continuously maintains and develops their professional practice. The Forest School Leader risk assesses all activities to ensure that they are carried out safely.