Forest School

 

 

 

Our second session on Thursday for multi-sensory media was outside in the forest school!   It was lovely to be outside despite the rain!

Our first task outside was to consider what we need to think about for a risk assessment.  We all were sent off to have a look for items that may pose a risk to children. Here are a couple of things I found:

 

 

mushroom

Both items, the mushroom above and the berry below, could pose a risk to children.  They may place these items in their mouths so I thought that these would need to be discussed with children at the beginning of a lesson outside.  I would emphasis the importance of not placing anything in your mouth that you do not know is safe for you to eat!

 

Berry

There were many more risk we discussed including; trip hazards; branches at head and face level; falling branches; litter and the idea of how to indicate where was safe to go when in a particular outside space.  We talked about how we should develop our confidence with the outside space we were using and as we gained confidence we may extend the area that was comfortable to use and even how much risk we wished children to take in the space.

Ideas about ensuring the safety of children included; sending an adult ahead to check the space to ensure nothing dangerous has been left there and clearly marking boundaries and expectations of behaviour when outside.

Although the risk assessment is an essential part of working outside it is essential to still remember that this is a opportunity for children to escape the confirms of a classroom and to have some freedom and space.

The next part of the session encouraged us to be imaginative about how we could use the outside space.  Objects had been placed around the woods to spark imagination and we were asked to work in groups to look at them and create a story.

A web of memories

Our story began with this wool web.  The story we created was about a little girl who had a web of memories about her father.  Each item we found after this represented a strong memory of her Dad.  She saw things that reminded her of a trip to the seaside and happy times she shared with him, but one day he disappeared.  She was so distressed she did not know what to do and thought something terrible had happened.  Eventually she decided to runaway!  The girl in our story was then found by the police and taken home.  Her Mum then explained to her that nothing bad had happened to her father, just that he had gone to work in Spain!

The story was inspired by the objects we discovered hidden in the woods.

Here are just a few of the things that had been placed around the woods to discover.

The last task outside was to transform one of our group into a new character.  We were only given a couple of minutes and could only use the natural items in the woods.

Here is Gill transformed into a ‘Fairy Queen’. Unfortunately you can’t see the fantastic crown, made of twigs and leaves, she was wearing!

We had a really useful lesson outside and made us all think about the benefits of teaching outside.  For some children the confines of a classroom can be really restrictive, but the outside space can take away some of these constraints and allow a different sort of thought process to take place.  The characters we created at the end reflected the environment we were working in and had we been in a inside classroom the way we could use our imaginations would have been very different.

I feel strongly that outdoor learning is essential for all age groups and especially for the youngest children in order to allow exploration and imagination to develop.

The current Early Years foundation stage curriculum highlights the
importance of outdoor provision stressing the benefits that having a is crucial to providing an environment that offers children the opportunity to explore, move ’Development matters (2012).

A recent study carried out by Maynard et al found that not only does the outside environment encourage and support child-initiated learning but that is also allowed those children who lack self-confidence as learners to rebuild their self-image as one of a competent learner.

The Forest Schools website provides a range of research about the benefits of outdoor education.

https://www.forestschools.com/

 

References

British Association of Childhood Services.  (2012) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Service (EYFS).  The British Association of Childhood Studies.

Maynard, T, Waters, J and Clement, J. (2013) Child Initiated Learning, the Outdoor Environment and the ‘Underachieving’ Child. Early Years: An International Research Journal. 33, (3), p212-225.

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