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St Peters School Blog 3

Back for more! Katy and her class from St. Peter's Junior School share their adventures in Forest School!

We have been using forest schools at our school for about six years. It is an educational ethos that encourages and supports children to develop a whole variety of skills, using a woodland setting. Forest schools has been used in the UK over the last 25 years, and has been shown to develop children’s physical, emotional and academic skills, as well as their confidence, social and problem solving skills. We are very lucky in that we have access to a privately owned woodland, Pond Wood, on a nearby farm estate, about twenty minutes away from school, and we visit throughout the year to see how everything changes with the seasons.

We take one class at a time and they spend the whole day there, having their morning snack and then lunch at 'camp'. We use the woodland, parkland and farm for our activities, and this also means that we can do a big walk with lots of exploring.

Children have the chance to put the learning that they do at school into action, so that they develop real understanding.There are all sorts of ways we might do this, and it depends what we find on the day to an extent, and what we've been doing in school. So in science, this might be about life cycles (in the woodland streams, they see caddis fly larvae and fish eggs, for example, and we also look at the hedgerows for flowers and berries and nuts), habitats (seeing badger setts, bee nests in rabbit holes, vole and kingfisher holes in the stream banks). Geography – children can follow the course of the two streams as they meet in the middle of the woods, this then meanders and grows, changing as it flows through the estate. Eventually, it goes into the River Derwent, so they can see it when they're in town!). Maths – we use activities to estimating tree age and height; literacy – children will sit in their dens and create stories, or we work out what are the best words to describe the mud!

As you can see from some of our children’s comments, they get a lot out of their visits. But because we can’t do this all the time, we try to use the same principles at school by making use of every bit of our outdoor space. Our small school garden has been turned into an action-packed area, with wildflowers, fruit and vegetables, three wildlife ponds, bat and bird boxes, minibeast hotels, hedgehog house and adventure playground, which means that we can do camp cooking, fire lighting, den building and surveying at school – and it’s all used by everyone in school, all year round.

'I have really enjoyed Pond Wood [our forest schools site], it was really fun! I really wish we could go again!'

'I enjoyed seeing how tall the trees were, and I liked getting muddy'

'I really liked doing the long walk, and some of our friends helped us when we were jumping over the river and splashing in the squishy mud.'

'I like going to Pond Wood because it's different every time we go.'

'The hot chocolate was really nice!'

'My favourite part was when we made toast. It was awesome, I put some of that tasty jam on it as well.' [the jam was made from our school raspberries!]

'It was epic doing camps!'

'I liked seeing how Pond Wood's changed, and I really liked exploring. On the last day, it was raining, I thought that I wasn't going to have fun, but I had lots of fun!'

'I'm really proud of myself because I made fire all by myself, and I made toast and it was delicious!'

'I enjoyed it when we played in the swamp, and when we saw the dead fox!' [this was in the middle of a sheep field, and they were fascinated by seeing a fox close up.]

'Thankyou for an adventure!'