Forest School Training: Skills Week

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I’ve just got back from the exciting first week of my Level 3 course with Forest Schools Education. It’s been a really busy week and I have so much to share about what I’ve learned.

Our week was spent practicing the skills we need to be a Forest School practitioner, demystifying our portfolio and having loads of fun as a group.

After jumping straight in with ‘find someone’ bingo and animal names (Jellyfish Jenny at your service) we soon got to work. We searched for the little woodland people, made friendship bracelets and rebuilt their dragon-destroyed village.

With our new best buddies for support we learned all about the key forest tools and how to promote safe practice with children. I’m now well on my way to becoming a genius on all things to do with bow saws, billhooks, loppers and sheath knives. In groups we sawed, chopped and hit with logs until we had crafted a beautiful wooden mallet.

Everybody absolutely loved the fire making. Even though it was frustrating at times with all the wet wood around, we were all determined to get a flame. There is so much to learn about fire making, everyone has their own top tips to get one going – let me know yours!

We had so much fun collecting wood, creating our waffle or tipi and trying to get a spark. We even had a ‘fire whisperer’ to blow on our fire and encourage it to work.

Two days out of the week we spent in Leam Woods near Grindleford in the Peak District. For our assessment we need to know three knots, put up three different shelters, cook two items on the fire and lots, lots more! It was really great to practice with the support of friends and our trainer before heading out into the woods on my own.

We talked a lot about the theory behind Forest School in between playing games and getting stuck into the skills activities. It’s interesting to discover the underlying child development links; this reinforced my feelings about the fantastic benefits of Forest School.

“One, two, three, where are you?              One, two, three, we’re over here!”

My absolute favourite part of the week has got to be our group cooking. We’d all organised to bring something to cook over the fire so that we’d essentially have an eleven course, tapas-style, lunch. Everything was an experiment, trialing our recipes on everybody else. We had soup, eggy bread, cheesy tortillas, popcorn, s’mores and chocolate orange cake, just to name a few!

I supplied some spicy mulled apple juice but there was a slight twist on the day. I helped to make the chocolate orange cakes which involves scooping out the middles of oranges and replacing it with chocolate cake mix. After scratching our heads over what to do with the orange pulp, it ended up in my apple juice. The end result was delicious and a total hit. If I had to describe it, I’d say it was sort of like a dessert soup. Hot spicy apple juice with chunks of warm, sweet orange.

I’m feeling excited to continue exploring the woods, practice my fire making and keep in touch with all the fabulous people I’ve met this week.

If you’re in Derbyshire or near by, and fancy some Forest School fun, please get in touch!

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