The Nursery has seen lots of new faces throughout all the rooms these past few weeks and it’s so rewarding to see that so many parents are still keen to send their little adventurers to us. In lieu of this, I felt Forest School should focus around the basic rules and ideas so the veterans of Free Rangers can refresh their memories, and in turn help the new children who won’t fully understand the processes, routines and locality just yet. So with this in mind, I have made a concerted effort to really focus on our 3 Forest School rules and break them down with the children, discussing why we need them whilst we finished our delicious snack and drink:
1. We shouldn’t walk across our Fire Pit, but should step over and walk around our seats. This is also extended to moving towards the fire pit to use the fire, by having the children crouch onto their knees and carefully shuffle forward. Although we don’t have fires every session, we still put this precaution into place and children are very good at pointing out when I break this rule!
2. We shouldn’t put things in our mouths. The children enjoy discussing this rule as I usually offer up lots of silly options, such as sticks and mud, and mimic putting them into my mouth. You will never be able to stop grubbiness from child’s face on Forest School, and inevitably they might slip in a muddy puddle and end up with a mouthful of mud, but this rule is especially important when we have plants such as Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea) or Lords and Ladies (Arum Maculatum), the latter being particularly prevalent on site, and why they should refrain from touching this toxic plants. They learn how to positively identify and avoid them as well as plants that look similar but are safe and useful to us. (i.e. Lords and Ladies against a Dock Leaf)
3. We shouldn’t walk off without an adult. Our Forest School site is fairly large, and as well as going off site accessing the rest of the Nursery’s land, this rule is very important in making sure there is procedure in place for keeping regular head counts and making sure the children know what to do if they find themselves suddenly on their own. We tie this rule into playing a widely used Forest School game called “1,2,3, Where are you?”, a variant of Hide and Seek, in which the children have to respond to the leader’s call with “1,2,3, I’m over here!”. If a child goes missing then the search is turned into a familiar game for the children.
With the rules successfully cogitated, we played the aforementioned game. This is a excellent starter for new children as it allows them to explore and familiarise themselves with an unfamiliar outside environment and is a brilliant for children’s social skills (herd mentality in hiding places seems to occur 9 times out of 10 however and makes for quick games!). This will boost their confidence in their own abilities outdoors and will in turn allow them to better access and enjoy their Nursery environment.
Once they had their fill of this the children were offered some free time to explore and to master their balance on the assault course and their strength on the mud hill. It was great to see some of the new children really getting stuck in and enjoying themselves during this time, and this week has also highlight the ingenuity of children in their hiding locations. One issue it did raise was the lack of true concealed hiding spots in the Forest School area; this is something I have added to my development plan, and am looking into planting some living Willow ‘pods’.
I hope you all enjoy your weekends, whatever you get up to. Here’s to some brighter, lighter weather.
See you all soon,