A Little Forest School Life

As another autumn grows and our woodland treasure box fills with acorns, cob nuts and prickly conker cases, we’ve already buried each other in fallen leaf piles and strung up colourful garlands in many random places (keep an eye out for some if you walk in the woods near here!).
A Little Forest School Life
Branch prunings and fallen leaves have become story dens and leaf art and blackberries have been face dye and flag paints. stick art So many of the games and activities we all play with our families and friends come from experiences we had growing up ourselves and yet others are borrowed, adapted or inspired from things we see and people we meet. Most everyone with children will by now have heard of Forest School and hopefully will have come across it in one form or another. In essence, it ties in all our love of playing outside, confidence building, taking risks, building on skills and learning about nature. Perfect! hammock Unfortunately, Ramona’s school doesn’t yet have a Forest School programme nor does Eomer’s nursery, yet it’s what I am lucky enough to have as a job 4 days a week. Needless to say, much of what we get up to on weekends and holidays can be classed as forest school type activities. If you haven’t yet found a Forest School group near you then have a look at some of the things we’ve managed to make close to us as there really are so many attainable and exciting games, skills and woodland experiences to be had at home, in the garden and in any group of trees, no matter how small! We’ve tackled nettle string, learnt how to use a Kelly kettle, practised our hand drilling, made tree guardians, grass seed heads and spiders, all playing outside whatever the weather. spiders Simply getting outside, exploring those sensory skills – and taking some away to be more aware of others (e.g. blindfolding), playing games, making stuff from things that you find, practising finding new things and looking a little closer at all around you – all of these are fundamental Forest School elements, all hugely achievable and, of course, fun. forst school activities Bring in stories, songs and generally lots of shouting and laughter and the options are endless! Happy playing outside… I’d love to hear your Forest School experiences and favourite activities

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About the Author

Ruth Lively-Masters

Ruth Lively-Masters

About Me & Mine

Having lived in N. Devon for the last 12 years, we recently moved across to the other side of the world and now live in New Zealand on the North Island. Our adventurous family includes my husband Phil and 2 small cheeky children: Ramona 8½ and Eomer 5½. I have a wonderful day job as Lead teacher in the sensory unit of an SEN school and spend as much time as possible outside, exploring nature and environments both on our doorstep and further afield.

Favourite place in the world:

Hmm, that's really tough! I loved the west coast forests of British Columbia in Canada, such a humbling, incredible place - tall trees right down to the big ocean waves. There's a whole lot of other places I'd love to explore though...moving to New Zealand has opened up a whole world of new adventures and we’re slowly finding new favourites to add to the list.

Sea, mountains and forests in any combination please!

Favourite things to do outdoors:

Again, lots of favourites. Definitely a mix between walking, cycling, surfing, camping and exploring, combined with taking time to notice detail of a place, hear the sounds and absorb the changes over time and seasons. Active and quiet times are both invigorating for different reasons.

Comments (9)

  • Monika Strell

    Monika Strell

    14 October 2013 at 17:12 | #

    We are lucky that pre-school does Forest School one day per week at the moment, and as we will home educate we can continue it as much as we want. It's a wonderful approach.

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  • Fiona Moore

    Fiona Moore

    14 October 2013 at 18:04 | #

    Gorgeous photos and some great ideas Ruth.

    Both mine did outdoor nursery for 2 years, and they loved it, and benefited hugely.

    To this day some of our favorite outings involve heading off to make a fire and cook something in the woods.

    My 2 love den building in particular, and when sticks (or time) are in short supply we have been known to make dens for snails or fairies instead of people!

    reply

  • CallyW

    CallyW

    14 October 2013 at 19:14 | #

    I think you must have one of the best jobs ever! What a lovely range of outdoor ideas :-)

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  • Ruth Lively-Masters

    Ruth Lively-Masters

    15 October 2013 at 19:07 | #

    It was a really tough decision to go back to work more hours - and put my children into school and nursery. Ultimately I would love to be with my two as much as possible. However, empowering other children - and adults - to be able to play in the woods is such a rewarding job. Being active and engaged at the weekends and holidays is my way of ensuring my own children don't miss out! I have also run sessions with the nursery and am in talks with Ramona's school as to best ways forward for outdoor learning/forest/beach schools. Where there's a will... :)

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  • Ruth Lively-Masters

    Ruth Lively-Masters

    15 October 2013 at 19:09 | #

    oooh, i would love to see an outdoor nursery in action. They seem to be more scotland based though? It does embedd in children a 'can do' outdoor element, awesome!!

    reply

  • Ruth Lively-Masters

    Ruth Lively-Masters

    15 October 2013 at 19:10 | #

    Thanks Cally, the more you do, the more inspiration there is. Always space for more ideas though so everyone feel free to add extras abd favourites!x

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  • Fiona Moore

    Fiona Moore

    17 October 2013 at 08:49 | #

    We were lucky that in Switzerland they are actually as common as regular 'indoor' nurseries, and most kids end up doing a combination of both.

    The girls used to go to an indoor group 2 mornings a week, and an outdoor one once a week, but I know of several kids who only ever did outdoor nursery until they started school at age 6!

    And despite my fears about no boundaries, open fires, sharp sticks, running water, knives, etc. both my 2 survived, and I will always be thankful to live in a place where they had that chance (even if I was the last parent to buy my 4 year old their own pocket knife!!).

    reply

  • Kerry Teague

    Kerry Teague

    22 October 2013 at 09:11 | #

    Beach school - that would be awesome!

    reply

  • Kerry Teague

    Kerry Teague

    22 October 2013 at 09:14 | #

    Fairy dens - Chloe will love that idea! (and will significantly cut down the mess in our garden!)

    reply

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