Today I started volunteering in a new setting to experience new styles of Forest School and explore a different site. I’ll be teaching some sessions with them after half term so I was eager to get in and meet everyone.
I’ve been putting off finding somewhere for a base to teach my practice sessions and have been focusing on my portfolio instead. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my ears and eyes open for opportunities! The setting I’ve chosen is a nursery where outdoor education is very highly regarded and the children receive a Forest School session once a week on their site. They come very highly recommended and I’ve heard all good things.
The site is fantastic; it has been lovingly developed from a small field to a wonderful wild area. There are fruit trees, bug hotels, willow tunnels, mud mountains, log circles, long grasses and flowers, a pond, raised beds for vegetables and even a greenhouse made from recycled plastic bottles.
The Smartest Giant in Town
After our waterproofs and wellies were on, our morning began with counting pine cones and a number tree. Then it was quickly onto story time together in the shelter. ‘The Smartest Giant in Town’ is a book written by Julia Donaldson, a firm favourite in early years settings! In the story the Giant very kindly helps out a giraffe, goat, dog, mouse and a fox by giving them items of clothing to use.
Did you know, those very animals have come to stay in our Forest School area? Where are they going to stay? Out came the tarpaulins in every colour imaginable, pegs of every size, strings of different lengths and finally some tent pegs and mallets. We all worked hard in the sunshine to build houses for our animal. My group were even using magic wands to try and levitate the roof of their shelter. A very creative solution.When we were finished, it was time for a delicious picnic inside our shelter to celebrate.
Hedgehogs and Habitats
After lunch I had a quick session of building towers and making sandcastles before it was time to get back to Forest School. This session began with a focus on the letter ‘h’ and the sound it makes. The children were quick to think of a hedgehog as an animal beginning with ‘h’ and off we went to find Harry Hedgehog and his family. This developed into a discussion about habitats and where different animals live. There was a choice of activities for the afternoon related to habitats – the children could explore and look for other animals using magnifying boxes, build a home for a hedgehog or investigate what was living in the pond habitat.
The pond dippers were in for a treat today! There were plenty of tadpoles darting through the water and hiding behind the pond weed. On closer inspection they found a pond snail, water boatmen and nymphs of different kinds.
The leader of the session probed into the gloomier depths of the pond and found a newt. All the discoveries were gently caught in a net and transferred to a tub of pond water so the children could take a closer look. The pond life guide below is from the Woodland Trust Nature Detectives.
There was plenty to be found in all habitats of the Forest School area today. I can’t wait to go back next week and get to know the site and the groups a little better.