Forest School sessions have been running at Hormead School for just over a year, led by Mrs Wignall. Each child in Reception to Year 4 has one session a week throughout the year. Nursery go out for shorter sessions with Mrs Wade when they can. In each session we play a game, reflect on what we have been doing and learn something about the outdoor environment. Throughout the year the children are guided to use their senses and to notice the changes in the seasons. The children often find something in the wood that was not there last time which sparks lots of discussion about what it is, why it’s appeared, and what it might be used for!
Through these sessions we learn about many things including the wildlife that lives in the Forest School area and the trees that share the space. The children learn how to safely use various tools from potato peelers to a bow saw and hammers. We make dens, obstacle courses and climb trees.
Safety is very important, ensuring we do not damage the Forest School area or hurt ourselves. Before each session we remind ourselves about how to stay safe. For each activity there may be other important safety points to discuss. These may be how to transport heavy or very long logs and branches safely or the safest way to climb trees or use a tent peg to hollow out a length of elder.
Each half term we try to include a log fire as part of the session. This may be to heat water for a warm drink, to toast marshmallows or maybe to make charcoal from local willow. The children are taught about the best wood to use for a fire and collect much of it themselves from the Forest School area. We talk about the safe distance to sit from a fire, how to light a fire with a spark and how we can never leave a fire we have started until it is safe to do so.
All the sessions are fun, increase confidence and allow the children to manage their own safety. The activities are open ended giving all children the opportunity to achieve. Forest School is very different from the National Curriculum the children follow when in school, although there are lots of opportunities to link with topic work and maths/English lessons: making bows and arrows for history, measuring trees, developing vocabulary… the list is endless! It’s part of our school’s motto – success for all, enjoyment in everything!