Forest School

What is FS?
FS - Why?
FS - When?
FS - Where?
Parkside's Forest School Handbook
Sapperton Wood Project

Whilst You're At Home

We are missing you lots but we are still here to help you have fun in your home or garden. This is a great time to try some of your Forest School skills! I will add some ideas for you here and if you are able to, you could try them with your family. I've tried to keep these ideas as simple as possible.

  • This week Mrs Joy and I have put lots of mammal activities on Google Classroom for you all.

  • You might also like to watch this a video of the story of 3 mammals who like eating grass - The Three Billy Goats Gruff! Do you know this story off by heart? Maybe you could try some story-telling. Do you think the troll is a mammal? What makes you think that?

  • This week I have a video for you where I am retelling the story of Owl Babies.

  • Afterwards, maybe you could have a go at story-telling one of your favourite stories for your family or for your teddies - they make a great audience!

  • In your garden, you could make some bird food to help look after the wildlife. Or you could collect leaves, twigs, blossom and feathers and make a nest or some art - great for practicing using your scissors! Maybe you could even make a bird box with a grown up, using the woodwork skills you've learnt at Forest School.

  • Whittling - you could practice some of your Forest School skills with a grown up at home this week. You could use a potato peeler to whittle a stick like we do at Forest School, maybe to make a wand. Make sure you whittle away from your body and holding the stick with elbows on your knees, as the blade is sharp. Do this with a grownup so they can watch you are doing this safely. Find a stick that feels perfect for you when you hold it, then you know its the right stick for you!! What could you use around the house or garden to decorate your wand? What spell will you cast?

  • If you don't fancy making a wand, you could peel the vegetables for dinner or for a fun vegetable mud kitchen!

  • Dandelion activity - There are so many dandelions around at the moment and they are great for learning about, especially as the flowers are edible! This week I'll explain how to make Dandelion Pancakes. At Forest School, we would of course do this over a fire or camping stove. If you can't do this, try it in the kitchen! This recipe is vegan and works well with gluten-free flour so perfect for all.

Use 2 cups of self-raising flour, one cup of water or oat/dairy milk and mix until the consistency is like thick yoghurt. Put oil/butter in a frying pan and add a dollop of mixture. Place a flower in the centre (remove all stalks!). You can add syrup or honey on top.

This is a magic recipe. There has not been one child that has not liked Mrs Dobson's pancakes!

Grow something every week - challenge yourself to plant something new each week, This week you could plant a sunflower and have a sunflower competition with family or friends. You could plant it in the ground, in a big pot or in an old welly boot! They are good to practice your measuring once they start growing! What will the seed need to grow well?

Last week we suggested creating a family of grassheads with soil, grass seed and the end of a pair of tights. Remember to give them a haircut!

  • Chocolate mud kitchen - great for open-ended play for all the family. Use shaving foam for whipped cream, cotton wool for marshmallows, sticks for stirrers and some chocolate powder!! Add some mud, cups, pans and water. This is a great opportunity for writing - recipes, lists, menus, price lists, ingredients and labels. And for maths - weighing, estimating, counting, sharing.

This would be ideal in a tuff tray or on a table, but you could also just do it on the ground!

  • Easter egg art - cut cardboard out in the shape of an egg, and cover with sellotape or sticky back plastic. All ages can find different natural objects around the home or garden to create a piece of art. Older children can try to make patterns or symmetry. Younger children can discuss texture, colours, smells and natural versus man-made objects.

At Parkside, we try to get outdoors as much as possible! We are lucky to have a fantastic outside environment. We have woods with a woodland trail – look out for the mini-beast hotel, woodwork bench, tree swings, the log pile house, our hand-made shelters and our fire circle. We love tending to the animals in our very own School Farm.

We have a lovely pond where we enjoy pond dipping and can spot pond-skaters, dragonflies, lilies and even frogs and newts in the summer. We have a large field, an adventure trail, hut, a sun shelter, two play grounds and an allotments to grow fruits and vegetables. Preschool and Reception class also have their very own outdoor areas, mud kitchens and hedgehog house.

We were one of the first schools in the County to introduce Forest School and to train up teachers to be Level 3 qualified Forest School Leaders. We are so pleased to continue to offer each child in the school a block of Forest School sessions each academic year. Each year group has their sessions at a different time of the year so, as the children progress from Reception to Year 6, they will have experienced sessions in each season. The classes are split in half so that the maximum group size is 15; this significantly changes and improves the dynamic of the session and therefore the quality of the nature experience each child has.

Our aim is to get every child at Parkside out into nature. They thrive learning outdoors through sessions that are carefully planned around their needs and interests.

A Forest School video filmed by Year 1 children:

Forest School Movie6 babel ipad.mp4

What is Forest School?

"Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees."

We have invested in training our staff to understand the ethos and skills beyond Forest School. At Forest School, children are given memorable learning experiences through play and exploration; children learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and to use their initiative to solve problems and cooperate with others. We hope that the children will develop a respect for their environment which they will take with them into adult life.

In 2011, Forest School practitioners from across the UK agreed on six principles that form the ethos behind each Forest School session:

Principle 1: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.

Principle 2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

Principle 3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners

Principle 4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

Principle 5. Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

Principle 6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centered processes to create a community for development and learning.

For further information on Forest School, please see Parkside's updated Forest School Handbook:

Copy of Forest School Handbook 2020.pdf