Forest School is an inspirational approach to educating children that develops an experience and knowledge of the natural world. Forest School takes place outdoors, in all weathers, throughout the year, in effect, in a “classroom without walls”!
Through lots of practical activities, which focus on risk-taking, creativity and teamwork, children grow in self-esteem and confidence, which in turn develops a firm foundation for other learning.
Forest School nurtures all learners by focusing on raising self-esteem, allowing them to take part and achieve in activities in their own way. Children experience freedom through creating their own adventures and having fun!
We are lucky at St Paul's, we have extensive grounds which include a large playing field, large playground, and outdoor learning areas. There is also a large outdoor area for the sole use of our Nursery and Reception class provision, these include a trim trail, outdoor classroom, bespoke Nursery Forest School and Reflection Garden. We also have an allotment area, with fruit tress and a polytunnel for the children to grow their own food, this even provides produce for our schools kitchen!
Throughout the school year, each class at St Pauls will experience a number of sessions that are cross-curricular in nature which aim to add depth and breadth to topics studied within the classroom.
Phase 1 - within the Foundation stage, sessions aim to address all the early learning goals. Initially, we focus on familiarizing the children with new adults and a new learning environment. As well as establishing The Forest School Do’s and Don’ts, the children learn to dress appropriately for the weather and care for themselves whilst playing outdoors.
We help the children to evaluate and take risks, share and take turns as well as how to appreciate and look after the environment and all living things. The children develop their visual skills by spotting and begin to identify mini-beasts. Throughout sessions, we have used the book “The Stick Man”, for example, as a stimulus and provided the children with opportunities to use natural materials and adult sized tools to develop their ideas through a range of tailored activities. With all the age groups, we establish excellent health and safety routines whilst working outside and using tools.
Phase 2 – within phase 2 the pupils love experiencing the changing of the seasons, playing with leaves in the wind and burying themselves in them too. The children make pieces of artwork from what they can find and use different types of leaves for printing. They also make fairy houses so that the fairies Mr Dowling found in the Wild Area can stay warm throughout the winter.
All these experiences also help the children to identify different wild plants and trees for their science studies. They also practice sawing, joining and sanding wood, practice map-reading skills and take part in a phonics treasure hunt - with REAL treasure!
Phase 3 – the pupils immerse themselves in the experience of living as if they were in the time of the Vikings, including making and cooking their own Viking flatbread. The children explore the process by which fire would have been created for the first time. They create heat from the friction of rubbing sticks, and consider how long it would have taken to create an actual fire! The children think about the incredible impact fire would have had on the life of our early ancestors, allowing them to live outside, develop simple communities, protect from wild beasts, provide welcomed warmth, as well offering the major benefits of cooking food.
Phase 4 – the pupils explore the woodland and pond land habitats and discover the differences between the two. They study the creatures that habit them and how they are all interlinked. Their time at Forest School also allows the children to develop their skills of creativity and invention, mirroring the Victorian Era which is the part setting for the piece of literature Shadow Play. Through this, the children are able to develop their use of a range of tools. They also used survival techniques, building different sized shelters and learning how to build and light a small fire to make and cook their own meal and filter water for drinking.
To keep up to date with our Forest School activities you can go to our Facebook page - there is lots to see!