Forest school practitioner training
I rejoined the Woodland Adventurers following a fantastic one week Forest School Practitioner Training Course, from May 11th to 15th, run by Forest School Education (FSE). I returned to Grindleford and Eyam Playgroup feeling motivated and enthusiastic about putting some of the many skills I learnt on the course into practice. I am really looking forward to the coming year or so, in which I can gain a broader and deeper understanding and experience of Forest School, as a volunteer at playgroup and as a trainee FS practitioner.
A wooden arrow trail
The sun was shining brightly and warmly down on us as we made our way into the woods. So too were the midges, an unwelcome reminder that summer is really here! As usual, the children enjoyed running through the field, spotting the now larger lambs and throwing sticks and other natural materials into the stream on the way. Julia, this week’s Forest School Practitioner, directed the children to look out for and follow a series of wooden arrows, which indicated which way we were to walk in order to find a new spot in the woods, whilst also warning the children to not go beyond a wooden cross laying
on the path. This trail enticed and led the children into an exciting new clearing set-up deeper in the woods. Without knowing it, the children stepped off the path into quite bumpy, tricky ground, littered with tree roots and woodland debris.
A new woodland site
The children were pleased to arrive at a new woodland site, where they found a natural moss covered sofa to sit on to have snack. After their exciting journey here, they all relaxed and enjoyed a snack and hot chocolate, whilst Julia put up a bell tent tarpaulin shelter, to protect the children from the weather as well as to create a cosy site.
Once snack was finished, each child picked a soft toy animal from a bag and was asked to make a home for the animal. The children soon became immersed in their task, making a variety of woodland homes for their animals.
A wonderful toy playground
Den building complete, one boy asked if Julia could make a swing for his monkey. Julia immediately set to work making a swing out of string and a stick, which soon became a swing for all of the children’s animals. This activity engaged the children
for a long time, as they took it in turns, with some adult guidance in order to share, to swing their animal. The animals soon had a woodland playground as another, different swing was also made and played on. What I loved about this activity was how child-led and spontaneous it was. The photos illustrate how much fun the children had as they played. It is also great the children will be able to return here and play with the swings again.
The children and adults were so engaged that it came as a surprise that it was indeed time to leave. This was of course aided by the pleasant spring weather and the exciting tasks the children were involved in. To close the session, Julia gathered the children round in a circle under the tarpaulin and asked each child to hold a soft toy and tell the other children their name, importantly, if they wished to.
This enabled those children who felt confident enough to say their name to the rest of the group, thereby helping to further connect the group and develop their sense of belonging in a secure setting. As we led the children back towards the path, holding their hands over the trickier sections of undergrowth, we heard the older children, returning from their forest school site higher up in the woods, who were also headed towards playgroup and lunch. We joined them on the path, creating a larger and merrier collection of children and adults, who all walked back to the Pavilion together.
What a wonderful morning we all had, a great way to tie-up this half-term, before we meet summer head on in June. Watch this space for more Woodland Adventure news next half-term.