As we shake off the long, warm lazy days of Summer, the golden hues and cold winds of Autumn have finally arrived to blow us decidedly into the new term. The first two weeks of term have seen our Forest School focus revert to a back to basics approach. This allows the children who are new to the routines of the Den to familiarise themselves, but also allows the children who have already had a year or so of coming out on Forest School, the chance to reinforce what they have learnt after a long hiatus, and the opportunity to help the younger children who have moved up from the Burrow or who are completely new to the Nursery.
During the first week, the children had the chance to explore the paddock, as for a young 3 year old, the size and wildness of our outdoor area can seem quite daunting at first. It's key for me that the children feel as grounded and comfortable as possible before exploring with confident strides so as to maximise their time whilst there.
The main learning aim for these first weeks was to begin to reinforce the rules and basic routines of our Forest School sessions whilst allowing the children to explore and familiarise themselves with what areas are where, how they can travel there, as well as who is on the Forest School session with them (both adults and children). The basic routine of our Forest School follows the same pattern each day: they find their wellies/coats/waterproofs (if required) and then make our way to either our Fort in the paddock, fire pit or to the Apple Tree Den, where the children will have their snack and drink, before discussing our three Forest School rules:
- We don't put things in our mouths - this allows me to talk with the children about poisonous plants we have on site, like Ragwort and Lords and Ladies.
- We don't wander off without an adult - the Forest School paddock is quite large and our little forest schoolers can easily get swallowed up if they go for wander, so keeping them within eyes reach is important. The exception being when we play "1, 2, 3, Where Are You?"
- We don't run around our Fire Pit - for obvious reasons...
We then talk about the session at hand, so this week, the children were free to run and explore, but with one stipulation: they had to go as a group, meaning they would all have to agree on where to go next. It was great to see the children working together, discussing where to go next and what they should do when they get there. The assault course and the new fort were very popular and was nice to see the children enjoying a little sneak preview to the Fort. Their teamwork was extended on the mud hill and assault course where the children were excellent at helping each other up and down the hill with the knotted rope, and I was pleasantly surprised by their tenacity to achieve. We have also been blessed with a bumper crop of apples this year from our apple tree and this brought up new meaning for some of our Forest School rules, where by we decided picking up apples from the floor might be a bad idea as wasps may well be snacking on them too!
On Week 2 we extended the activity of week 1 with more exploration around their Forest School area by going on a hunt to find special objects. We initially explored the concept of what was special, and the children highlighted things they felt were special to them. This brought up some really interesting answers, such as family, friends, pets. Some children said that certain toys were special or certain places were special to them, most of which came back to family members. They were then tasked with exploring the paddock collating objects that had some special appeal to them. On the whole the children collected a wide variety of objects, and when questioned the majority of them related to the sensory side of the object (i.e. its texture or smell) as to why it was special to them, or that they wanted to give it to Mummy or Daddy as a present.
The children collected some fantastic objects, although many of them were left either in a special place out in the paddock, or the children lost interest in them and deposited them. During their search the children also found many bugs and creepy crawlies, which fascinated them, so we shall be doing bug hunts in the following weeks!
Thanks for reading,
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