I have been working at Free Rangers for the last 3 years and love that we are always evaluating everything we do to see how we can improve our practice to benefit the children. Up in the Hive we have an amazing outdoor space that we use every day. In this space we set up new and exciting activities that allow the children to explore natural resources. We especially love a good bug hunt. However, recently it occurred to me that as a Forest School nursery, what was stopping us opening that world up to the babies on a more regular basis? Upon evaluation it was evident that other than adapting the activities there was nothing standing in our way.
From that moment I was on a mission to create a forest school experience for the babies. After conversations with management I set up a meeting with Ed and we were on our way. Ed is our Forest School Manager who has always kept the babies involved, he would often shout over the fence “One, two, three, where are you?” and several of our older babies would smile and shout “Over here”.
Ed introduced me to the vast but necessary amount of risk assessments and activity planning, and we talked in length about how and what we had to adapt to make the forest school safe for the babies. We decided to do two groups a day, each with 6 children, focusing mainly on the children moving to the Burrow in the new term. However, each time we would take a selection of walking and non-walking children so everyone is included.
And now here we are, coming to the end of our first week of baby forest school.
For our first week of forest school we enjoyed a picnic snack outside in the forest school area.
Then we sung and marched our way up to the top car park where all the blackberries were. The children have been learning how to safely pick berries without getting hurt, and have really relished the independence of picking their very own berries.
Then the children helped crush all the berries…
…to make beautiful pictures.
Finishing with some fun in the willow tunnels and tree house.
The babies and the staff have loved the experience and the feedback from families has been amazing. I’m looking forward to creating more fun and exciting forest school opportunities for the babies and am excited to see how it benefits the children.