What is Forest School?
“An inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a local woodland environment.” Forest School Association
Forest School began in Scandinavia and arrived in the UK in 1993. It has grown from strength to strength and is a long-term venture that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. Forest School develops children’s confidence and self-esteem through child-centred, hands-on experiences.
Forest School promotes a community for learning. Our well-established Forest School sessions at Bridgewater School promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners. Children participate in activities and games designed to build self-esteem, communication skills, independence and self-confidence through an appreciation of the natural environment. Playing and exploring at Forest School facilitates more than knowledge-gathering, it helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually.
What do we do?
Den building, investigating trees and plants and seasonal crafts using woodland tools and resources. Activities are planned to support and extend children’s social development, self-awareness and self-regulation. Children develop woodland skills and the ability to work as a team.
To encourage physical and emotional development through outdoor play, children have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment. They learn how to assess and handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others.
Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice. Children regularly visit the woodland for a whole afternoon in their school family groups.
We have amazing grounds at Bridgewater Primary School. Forest School sessions take place in our own school woodland - working outside in all weathers - together rain or shine!
Play and exploration are powerful and effective mediums for children's learning. Sessions are child led, allowing the children to explore and co-construct their learning through, open ended tasks with a focus on the process and not the end product.
Today’s essential life and work skills include creative thinking, complex problem-solving and the ability to cope with choice, uncertainty and the unknown. Forest School is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning. Taking part in activities in a woodland environment helps children to develop their personal, social and emotional skills. Research shows that benefits include improved concentration, improved social skills, empathy and social communication. Through play and open-ended learning, children learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and build resilience. Forest School encourages children to use their initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others.
Forest School is fun too!
What we do in Forest School
We are working towards our final project to gain our Woodland Trust Platinum Award. Nearly there! Children from different year groups have completed tasks linked to ‘perspectives’. Groups worked at different times across seasons to see how the woodland changed over time. We have looked up, and down, in-between and underneath…. We have included photographs of natural, man-made and human focus subjects.
Our younger children experimented moving like an animal. They wriggled and crawled on their tummies like a worm, squatted like a rabbit and stretched up like a deer to explore the area. In the classroom we looked at Google maps for a birds-eye view of the site and we are excited that someone is going to bring a drone into school and film our woodland so we can film an aerial view too.
Linked to our explorations we have worked on different scales. We even made a fairy garden and a fairy wand. We learned how to wrap the wool around the stick and to bind leaves and blossom. This task helped to develop our knotting skills too!
Our older children have made natural transient collages using found materials.
We work outside in all weathers and across seasons. We routinely use a fire to make a hot drink and enjoy cooking. Around pancake day we used the fire to make blueberry drop pancakes. Delicious! The heat of the fire made the blueberries go all ‘jammy’.
We used leaves and flowers to decorate real eggs for Easter. We had to make a little wrap using a pop-sock to hold the leaves and petals next to the egg shell. We bubbled the eggs in a pan on the fire using red cabbage to make a natural dye. We were really pleased with the results too.