Forest School

Vision Statement

Here at St Anne’s we celebrate the uniqueness of individuals within our whole school community; and empower them to achieve their dreams and aspirations.  We believe that children develop most when they are ‘learning by doing’, when they are given responsibility, work in teams, take acceptable risks and think for themselves.  Forest School builds on a child’s innate motivation and positive attitude to learning, offering them the opportunities to take risks, make choices and initiate learning.

The Forest School learning environment provides opportunities for children to develop self-esteem, self-confidence, to form positive relationships with others, to develop a growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of others, to learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults and develop strategies in order to take risks within the boundaries of safety. The setting allows the children to engage with the natural environment.

Forest School is about exploring and experiencing the natural world through practical activities. The children go out in all weathers, all year round, exploring and learning from the four seasons and environmental changes. The children’s interest, along with the natural resources in our woodland, are used to stimulate creative thinking, problem solving and skill development - all in the guise of play. 

Principles and Criteria for Good Practice

1: Forest School is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School.

2: Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

3: Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.

4: Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

5. Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

6. Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for development and learning.

 

As Spring is now upon us, I know that for some of us our days will not be the same.  Even though the sun is shining and new life is starting to grow, I wanted you to know that I am thinking about each and every one of you and I know that my days will certainly be a little emptier without some of your smiling faces.

Keep safe, keep busy, enjoy the sun on your faces and most of all, keep smiling.

'In times of uncertainty, let nature be your refuge'

I have shared a number of links, where there are a variety of activities to enjoy outdoors.  They can be accessed by everyone (including adults).  Please send me pictures through our ClassDojo.  I'm waiting...

https://nurturestore.co.uk/forest-school-activities

https://www.naturallylearning.co.uk/50-outdoor-activities-toddlers/

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/03/kids-nature-activities-self-isolation/

11/03/20

Lots of rope skills today, with some of the children helping to make a ladder using rope and sticks.  Some of the children loved climbing it and could see to the bottom of our field! Other children made a rope walk, but needed a buddy to help them cross it. We are looking forward to creating more climbing areas.

 

Linked to our Come and See topic 'Growing', our Reception children were on the hunt to find lots of new plants growing. We even found a bee and they wanted to keep it safe in our wooden triangle.

4/03/20

Sean-David has been asking for a hammer and some nails to build 'something' at Forest School.  This week he decided to make an extra wood store.  What an amazing acheivement Sean-David! He achieved all of our SCORE Values in one session!

Lots of bird watching this week.  We were very surprised to find a dead bird, which we think our local fox had tried to bury. Some of the children were very brave and wanted to hold the bird (with gloves of course). 

14/02/20

Due to high winds, Forest School was cancelled.  It didn't stop some of our children enjoying an activity linked to the Forest.  They heard the story about the Ancient Forest People, who lived in the trees!  Obviously, they had to make their own Forest People...

7/02/2020

Lola received our Forest School Award this week, for her spirit of adventure and natural curiosity!

This week the children were busy putting their knotting skills to the test, by building a huge den.  They wanted to climb and jump from our rocks!  Lola found a cut log and wanted to know what the circles were.  Obviously she had to count them to see how old the tree was!

29/01/20

This week was led by the children's desire to stock up on our wood pile. Tool skills and safe use of the tools was taught, with the children putting these skills to good use.  From sawing, to using the axe to split the wood, we now have a good stock to draw upon to keep us warm for the cold days of winter.  Nieve and Sean-David helped to move the fire back (to allow the area to recover) and moved our seating area to its original spot, which now means we will be fully covered if the snow decides to fall!  Sam wanted to use his knot skills to make a coat hanger.  What an amazing day!

22/01/20

From Reception to Year 5, the children have been learning new knots. They have made swords, swings and are getting ready for den making next week. Team-work, climbing and using the iPad to take our pictures has shown that the children are excellent learners! These skills are essential for Forest School.

08/01/20

Now that Winter is here, the children have been learning how to keep warm.  After helping to make our camp fire, the children wanted to make their own small fires.  Using flint and steel, dry wood and 'fluff from my dryer', they were able to start their own fire.  What a great achievement!  We also had a discussion about growth and decay, after finding fungi near our seating area.  Even though our old climbing tree is behind our new railings, the children still found a new tree to climb.  Such commitment and resilience! 

11/12/19

We have been coppicing (cutting down trees) and we will use the wood to make poles for a new tepee.  We have used tools and now have some spare wood for our campfire.  It was lovely to see our children achieving our SCORE Values.  Keep up this excellent team work! 

22/11/19

Year 3/4 and 1/2 have been busy planting some new saplings and shrubs, which I had applied for from the Woodland Trust https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/schools-and-communities/ .  This is the third time I have applied for trees over the last 6 six years and now our Forest School is growing into a small woodland.

 

They have loved taking ownership of our Forest School site and can't wait to see how our saplings grow.

27/11/19

Reception came out and decided to find their own sapling.

Last term, I set a challenge to the whole of our school.  I gave each class seeds, compost and instructions to grow a spectacular plant (received from RHS Campaign for School Gardening ).  They not only had to grow the plant, but they had to tell me what its spectacular feature was.  I wanted the class to present their findings to me in whatever way they wished.  I was amazed at their dedication and presentation skills.   

The plant was the Mimosa Pudica, which is a sensitive plant. The children who managed to grow the plant found that the plant responds to touch and the leaves will close when touched.

  

Here are a few pictures of their research and findings:

The winners were Mrs Higgins Year 3/4 class from last year.  They not only presented their findings to me, they were able to show me the plant moving when touched.  Tyler took the plant home over half term, to ensure it was watered and kept in the sunlight.

Well done to everyone else, especially Mrs Pimlott's class from last year, who created some amazing pieces of artwork and Lower Keystage 2 who used this challenge as part of their Science topic.

Our Year 3/4 boys who came out to Forest School last year were given a challenge to grow fungi.  They were given a fungi kit (which we received from Grow Wild) and had to carefully follow the instructions.

 It took a lot of resilience to grow the fungi, because of the different conditions it needed to grow.  Here are the fungi once grown. It may not look like our usual mushrooms, but it tasted exactly the same.  Well done boys and Mrs Maguire for taking this challenge on! 

 

Welcome to our first term at Forest School 

Reception have enjoyed a session learning our Forest School rules.  We completed our first boundary walk, checking that we are safe while we are there.  We can all follow our campfire rules; "Never cross the fire circle!" and we love hiding and returning to Mrs Furneyo when she calls, "One, two, three, where are you?"  Watching our campfire being lit was amazing and of course we made hot chocolate and had chocolate biscuits.  Miss Grice came along to help us too.

Last year we made some wonderful memories at Forest School.

Year 3/4 helped Reception create a bug hotel. It's amazing.  I wonder who will live there? 

Our campfire is the perfect place to sit around and chill with friends, whether it's a cold, frosty day, or a sunny day where you can swing in one of our hammocks.

We love to climb at Forest School, whether on our large rocks, or in our climbing tree.  It's always an adventure!

Reception love climbing and making 'fairy dens'. Of course, we had hot chocolate!

Year 3/4 this week used the axe and mallet to chop kindling, an essential skill to enable us to light a fire.

They climbed trees, made dens, fixed our rope swing and of course found a dead hedgehog! We talked about hibernation and rigor mortis, which was an unexpected topic, but one that obviously took their interest.

 

A frosty day found us making slides, using the flint and steel to light fires and investigating our surroundings.

We made our own tree cookies to show that we belong to Forest School. We used the hand saw and hand drill, then decorated them.

Miss Pilak modelled the 'respect position' with Rhys around the campfire. 

 

Today Year 3/4 had fun making dens and using their sticks as imaginary fishing rods and spears.

Year 3/4 have been setting up our 'Tool Pit', where we can safely use tools whilst at Forest School.  The bow and hand saw were used for cutting wood for our fire, which is an essential part of Forest School.  Well done!

Reception had another amazing day. They took a boundary walk, learnt the camp fire rules, collected treasures and ended the session with hot chocolate and biscuits!

This week, a group of Year 3/4 boys enjoyed a session at our Forest School.  I was overwhelmed by their ability to listen to and follow our 'fire camp' rules.  They showed great strength and determination when collecting our fire wood; and managed to achieve all five of our SCORE Values. 

Well done boys!

Reception and Nursery enjoyed a day at Forest School and are looking forward to our future sessions! 

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St Anne's Catholic Primary School
Monastery Lane, Sutton, St Helens Merseyside WA9 3SP