First Forest School Session
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
The children at Bolton School’s Nursery were treated to their first official ‘forest school’ session. To start the day, they were prepared with a story: "Miss Twigley was setting up in the woods when she heard an almighty roar! She didn't see anything, but a little bird told her that very small ‘Cowboys’ and ‘Indians’ live in the woods ..."
While walking across to the forest school site, the children eagerly chatted about the roar, and about the Cowboys and Indians they might meet. Once they arrived at the site, all of the children were asked to close their eyes for a minute and think about what they could hear, then each took a turn to describe the sounds: cars, wind, birds, trees, leaves, and the rustling of wet suits. The children were then asked to repeat the activity but think of what they could feel; they talked about the warmth of the sun and the wind brushing past them. Finally, they all looked around and explained what they could see, from the tall trees and leaves, to the birds, to the sun, sky, and clouds high above!
Afterwards some children decided to make teepees or ranches to help the Cowboys and Indians. A group worked with Mr Cornthwaite to create a large teepee, using ivy to connect all the branches together. Others wanted to make signs to warn others of the big dragon or dinosaur that they thought might have caused the huge roar!
All of the children had the opportunity to help Miss Twigley with making lunch: they collected twigs while learning how to safely build and light a fire. Afterwards, everyone gathered for lunch and ate sausage barms, which were cooked on the fire they had built! When they had finished eating, each child was able to carefully toast marshmallows over the fire and watch popcorn pop.
After lunch, the children thanked the fire for helping to make the food by pouring water over it. They then talked about what they had enjoyed about the day so far. The more adventurous in the group wanted to spend the afternoon looking for the cowboys and Indians, or even the creature that had been roaring earlier! Others wanted to finish off their teepees or to make bows and arrows.
The children who wanted to make a bow and arrow were told to find a stick that was long enough to fit from their foot to their hip or shoulder, and also quite bendy. They used mathematical and descriptive language while trying to find a stick in the right shape – one that was not too short, too thick, too thin, or too long! Once the children successfully made their bows, they were left to find a suitably straight twig to be their arrow. Once they had found their ‘arrows’, they then learnt archery skills with Mr Cornthwaite – with special attention to the main rule of archery, which is to shoot away from other people.
The children finished their forest school session with swinging in the tree hammock.
Throughout the day, the children were confident enough to take small risks and ask curious questions. They thoroughly enjoyed their day and learnt a wide variety of skills within a natural outdoor environment.