Green Oak Forest School
Forest School at Green Oak
With our spacious school grounds, allotment, mini-farm and dedicated outdoor learning area, Green Oak School is committed to encouraging children to learn about and enjoy the natural world. Currently, all pupils in Key Stage 1 are given the opportunity to take part in Forest School sessions once a week throughout the year with a fully qualified Forest School Leader (Mrs Forde) and wildlife and bush craft expert (Mr Macdonald.) We are currently expanding our Forest Schools provision to other year groups.
What is Forest School?
Rooted in enlightened Scandinavian approaches to early years education, Forest School is essentially a form of outdoor education which enables children of any age to play and learn in a natural, preferably wooded environment on a regular basis.
At the heart of the Forest School philosophy is the belief that self-esteem, independence and a positive attitude to learning can be fostered through mastering small, achievable and often practical tasks in an inspiring, natural environment. Children learn how to handle risk appropriately and to develop a sense of responsibility for themselves and their peers as well as for the environment.
An ‘outdoor classroom’ brings learning to life, as children are given the opportunity to appreciate and learn all about the natural world and the changing seasons first hand. As well as the obvious health benefits to being outside, Forest School also helps develop communication, social and problem solving skills through collaborative activities such as den building as the children learn to work together.
Team work – moving a log together
As we aim to be out each week no matter what the weather (within reason, obviously!) it is paramount that the children are dressed appropriately so that they are protected against the elements and thereby able to enjoy themselves.
In the summer months, this means sensible foot ware (ie no open-toed shoes or sandals please), sunhats and preferably long sleeved tops and full-length trousers/jogging bottoms. As well as providing protection from the sun, and prickly bushes etc, long sleeves and long trousers help keep us safe from ticks. Although ticks tend to thrive in areas where livestock and deer are present, they are nevertheless something we need to be aware of at Green Oak. Please see the ‘Tick Aware’ sheet attachment for further information.
In the colder months, all children will need a warm, waterproof coat and wellington boots. As the saying goes: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!
Forest School activities
The sessions consist of a mixture of planned, structured activities which are linked to different areas of the curriculum, as well as free-play. The children’s interests also inform and direct our sessions (for example, Year 2’s interest in insects has meant we have spent a good few hours bug hunting!)
All activities are always fully risk assessed, as is the site – it is our priority at Green Oak to keep our children safe as well as happy and stimulated. The following are just a few of the Forest School activities on offer at Green Oak:
Den building and shelter making (great for team building, learning to work together cooperatively as well as problem solving)
Using tools safely
Learning about different animal and insect habitats
Exploring lifecycles, eg investigating the life span of a leaf, learning about frogspawn and tadpoles first hand
Bug hunting and identification
Tree and leaf recognition
Making lard and seed pine cone feeders for the birds in the winter months
Sensory games using our smell, sight, sound and touch, eg making ‘pongy potions’ using leaves, herbs and cones etc; feeling different barks and textures; listening to the birdsong around us.
Art activities using natural resources, eg making an animal out of sticks, stones and cones; building a house for a mouse or a fairy; making a crown with vines and leaves; using catkins and acorns to decorate our clay creatures
Noting seasonal change, eg going on autumn, winter, spring and summer nature hunts – do you know where you are likely to spot a drey?
Knot tying and lashing, eg learning to tie sticks together to create stick men, make permanent shelters and so on – great for developing our fine motor skills.
Fire-lighting, fire safety and use of the Kelly Kettle
Bird watching in our Green Oak bird hide
Grass sweeping: in the summer months, we will search for grasshoppers and butterflies in the long grass using our nets.
Having fun together!