A Forest School is an innovative, practical, educational approach to outdoor play and learning where children learn about the unique environment around them, how to keep themselves safe, how to use tools and create things. They learn the importance of co-operation and communication in teamwork, of determination and perseverance and using their initiative in problem solving. They learn about boundaries, responsibilities and being independent.
The Forest School philosophy at The Bythams is to “encourage, enrich and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences.” By participating in engaging, motivating and achievable tasks and activities in a woodland environment, each child has the opportunity to develop intrinsic motivation, sound emotional and social skills.
Forest School brings learning to life and life to learning!
As part of our creative curriculum we have exciting opportunities for children to explore learning through the forest school. We have a member of staff that has a Forest School Level 3 qualification. All other staff have completed in-house training and now deliver regular, innovative forest school activities with their classes over the year.
We are able to access the Bythams Spinney for forest school sessions, particularly with older children. On the school grounds we are lucky enough to have our own private woodland area that we have named “The Mini Spinney” and so we have two woodland areas for Forest School sessions.
After a successful bid for funding we now have a raft of quality resources and tools for children to use during these forest school sessions. Over the last year the children have taken part in woodland wow days and these activities are now becoming embedded as a part of the curriculum each term. Please have a look at the class pages to see the many activities. The leaflet on this page gives a bit more information about forest schools.
In Forest School, Badgers class have been using the ‘Blood Heart’ topic to inspire activities. This week, children made decorations for the Mini Spinney that were inspired by the heart. They had to use natural resources and be able to explain how their decoration linked to the heart. One group made a heart out of berries and stuck them to wood cookie; another group made 18 decorations – one for each member of our class.
Camp fire donuts!
Today the year 4 and 6 children had a joint session in the woods making camp fire donuts. They also got the opportunity to make dens. Some made a home for a fox, an elf and even a penguin they made earlier in the day!
The campfire donuts were a brilliant success. Firstly they had to make their own jam sandwiches. These were then coated in batter and cooked on the fire. They tasted just like warm donuts and were a huge hit!
This terms topic is Gallery Rebels which will give us the opportunities to explore different artists, genres and techniques. We have already enjoyed sessions looking at impressionism and expressionism. In our Forest School sessions, we have also studied Andy Goldsworthy and the genre of transient art (a non-permanent piece, using natural materials, that will evolve over time).
We also had a go at creating our own pieces in small groups, using Goldsworthy art as inspiration. As a class, we created one very large, beautifully coloured star. It looked fantastic and, true to the nature of the genre, the materials made their way back into the Mini Spinney.
Bytham’s Big Spring Clean
This week in Forest School we have had a Spring clean of the Mini Spinney. This involved Squirrels, Foxes and Badgers class all heading out with big determination to make this fantastic space ready for them to use. Each class was then split off into three groups and all helped in the different areas. One group worked with Mrs Jack using the saws and loppers. The Mini Spinney has not had any pruning done for a few years so it was time to get chopping! There were also many self-seeded trees which needed to be removed to allow the other trees to grow successfully and to allow for space to move around the spinney. The children loved using the tools and sawing so much, and promoted fantastic skills such as team working as they had to work together and follow the tool rules.
The next task was to work with Libby, planting spring plants and seeds, such as primrose. The children cleared the area of sticks and ivy; so the ivy didn’t suffocate the plants, and then it was time to get digging. Everyone then helped to plant either a plant or seeds. It now time to watch them grow and admire the colour across the Mini Spinney.
The last part of our big clean was to remove the ivy and collect all the den building sticks and rocks, so they can be rebuilt during future sessions. The biggest task was removing all the ivy that had started climbing up the trees, this needed to be done as if it was left then it would slowly damage the trees.
It was an action packed day, but the children loved every minute. I was so proud of how the children all work together and helped maintain this wonderful woodland.
Creating Planets 31 January
This week in Forest School, children in Badgers class created planets to hang in the Mini Spinney. They used materials they could find in the Mini Spinney to make an image of a given planet. At the end of the lesson, the solar system was put on show.