Forest school is all about the children having the freedom to be themselves; to be in charge of their learning, have fun, get dirty, laugh,
take risks, make decisions, use tools, solve problems, achieve success and learn new skills that they will have for life.
At Brize Norton Forest School, we want to inspire and encourage our children to blossom into confident individuals. By taking them outside and giving them freedom in the natural environment, they are able to follow their own paths of learning.
The smallest of tasks at Forest School can provide a host of new skills; a simple task of building a den provides opportunities to work as a team, learn new skills, solve problems, lead, develop confidence, build on fine motor skills and communicate with one another.
Climbing a tree teaches a child to measure and take risks; it allows them to make discoveries about themselves, develop gross motor skills, uses their senses and gives them a feeling of achievement.
What is a leaf? Well, it can be anything...children are free to unleash their creativity. It can be a boat, a dress for a fairy, a roof of a house, a dinosaur scale, an animal's ear or a flying carpet for an ant; with imagination, the list is endless.
At Forest School, we are providing opportunities for the children to enhance their social, physical, intellectual, communication, emotional and spiritual development (SPICES).
Children in the Foundation Stage take part in Forest School for one afternoon per week, all year round, whatever the weather. What they learn depends on the season, the weather and whatever they want, but we use tools, build shelters, make fires and cook on them, explore the pond - and they develop their confidence, team work and understanding of the world around them.
But we do not want only our youngest children to enjoy this opportunity! Children from Year 1 to Year 6 take part for half a term each during the year, also for half a day a week. What they learn and do will be different, but the ethos remains the same.
￼"We did it! We started a fire! What are we going to cook on it?"
Festive Forest School
The last few weeks of Forest School were very busy, with many of the children choosing to create a variety of natural Christmas crafts. We had tree cookie ornaments being sawn, snowmen being built, reindeer being created and santa sticks being whittled. Some of the children hadn't used the tools before, so it was lovely to see them gain confidence as they learned a new skill.
Other children that had been interested in using a flint and steel to start a small shell fire, learned to make natural firelighters using wax, sawdust and egg boxes; they then used these to create a larger fire in a fire bowl.
The children have been trying lots of different food to warm them up on the colder afternoons - from crumpets to quesadillas (which were very popular!!) and good old hot chocolate!
We hope the children have enjoyed their term of Forest School; we will be welcoming back Nightingales on Mondays after Christmas and it will be the turn of Hawkings Class on Tuesdays.
Learning new skills...
We've had a great first week back at Forest School with Nightingales and Kennedy Class. Many of the children were keen to have a go at whittling using a knife. We showed them how to use a knife safely, and watched them carefully as they whittled sticks to make a point. Some children turned their sticks into a witch by adding eyes and a nose and colouring the point black. However, many of the Kennedy class were keen to make spears!!
We came together around the fire this week to have Jiffy Pop from Canada and hot chocolate - followed by a song!
The parent helpers that come out to Forest School on a weekly basis, rain or shine, are absolutely invaluable. They are full of enthusiasm and immerse themselves in all activities. It would be impossible to have our sessions without these wonderful people; thank you Mrs Blake, Mr Wright, Miss Glennister, Mrs Shipway, Mrs Wright, Mr Roberts and Mrs Gidlow!
Dingle Dangle Scarecrow
We sang a different scarecrow song to the one that Nightingales sang in church last week, and then the children had the opportunity to make their very own scarecrow to take home for the garden.
Some children enjoyed getting their hands inside a pumpkin and talking about how it felt. They scooped out the seeds and then safely used some tools to carve a face!
They enjoyed building, playing, climbing and helping to prepare apple fritters by using the special 'apple machine!' It was a lovely season before the half term break.
We had so many achievements at Forest school today. It was lovely to wander through Forest School and hear the children talking to each other about what they were doing and being eager to share their discoveries. A few drainpipes and some water, and the children talked about creating 'rivers of water'...on further questioning, they were talking about how all rivers led to the sea, and this was being recreated in the mud. When others came over to find out what was happening, they were encouraged to join in and help; some real teamwork! This teamwork was everywhere you went - from building dens and camouflaging together to searching for frogs (8 found today!) in our newly opened pond!
We saw so many children overcome obstacles; persevering and succeeding. Whether it was 'sticking at' a task - using a palm drill to drill holes in conkers - or using a flint and steel to light a fire for the first time. A great afternoon!!
Making, playing and exploring
It was a hive of activity on 26th September with Kennedy class in Forest School; every child was absorbed in an activity during every minute of their time there. Whether it was working together to build a den, hanging out together in a tree, sawing and drilling to make a car, baking a cake in the mud kitchen, trying to keep a fire going - or just chilling out and chatting during snack time; it was all happening!
We started off on the 25th September with some storytelling around the campfire. The children then went off to search for story stones that the older children had painted and hidden around the site. If they found one, they could then go off and hide it somewhere else for someone else to find.
Plenty of sawing again this week, as well as looking at the seasonal changes happening around us.
Kennedy in the woods
What a beautiful, sunny afternoon we had for our first Forest School with Class Kennedy! It was lovely to see how excited they were to get outdoors and hear about what they were keen to do today!!
After a chat around the fire about how we can keep ourselves and each other safe at Forest School, the children went off to hide their story rocks (made in class last week) and then went off to explore. Every child was absorbed in an activity within seconds - whether it was climbing a tree, making a den, swinging around, starting a fire, blowing bubbles, identifying plants or making a tree cookie. We even had a mud cake made for a birthday boy!!! It was great to see the children working together, trying new things, persevering and succeeding. After hearing, "I can't do this; I can't light a fire. I couldn't last year either!'...we finally heard, 'I did it!!!'
We had a lovely snack together; campfire pancakes and apples picked from our very own tree. We are already looking forward to next week!!
Exploring forest school
We had a lovely afternoon at Forest School. Beforehand, some of the children had been excited and others had been a little wary - but by 3 o'clock everyone was smiling, having enjoyed their afternoon.
After a chat around the fire, the children went off to explore...some climbed trees, others tried their hand at starting small shell fires with a flint and steel, they played in the mud kitchen, went on the swing or had a go at cutting a tree cookie with a bow saw.
At the end of the afternoon, we all came together around the fire to roast marshmallows - at their request - and make s'mores!
Fab first Forest School session with Class 4
We had every type of weather this afternoon; sun, rain, hail and even some snow!!
The children embraced their time out at Forest School; they built dens, went pond dipping, dug holes, started fires, sawed tree cookies, did some natural weaving, made different Elder creations, learned to lash, toasted marshmallows and attempted to put up a hammock!! There was so much teamwork, co-operation, discovery and perseverance naturally happening - it was lovely to see!
Same again next week!!
Mighty oaks from little acorns grow
It has been a pleasure to have Class 3 at Forest School so far this year; to watch them learn, grow in confidence, solve problems together and come up with new ideas from week to week.
Every week, they go off in separate ways, knowing what it is that they want to achieve; whether it is going down to the pond to see if anything has changed, using every bit of rope to create a seat in a tree, building a den with mates, starting small fires or using the tools. The other week, a small group of children decided to make a zip wire; they found the resources they needed, and worked together to make it. However, they decided that it was too loose. This week, they used some different knots and a stronger rope - but there was too much friction for anything to slide along! So much team work, language, communicating and problem solving; I wonder what they'll do next week!!
Rain, rain go away!
Monday doesn't seem to offer us the best weather - but Class 1 doesn't let that dampen their spirits! Despite the rain, the mud kitchen kitchen will always need more water for recipes and to play with!!
The children cannot wait to get stuck into activities at Forest School quick enough; whether it is exploring the pond life, producing exciting menus, learning to use tools, having a go at lighting a small fire, making natural paintbrushes and creating pictures, looking for wildlife - or just hanging out for a chat by the fire!
However, on Monday 27th, the rain was playing havoc with our fire and watering our pancake batter down considerably; so, after managing to make a few pancakes, we finished our cooking indoors where the children were able to dry off and eat before their Book Week dance performance.
Welcome back to Forest School!
We had a lovely week back with Class 1. We went around the site together to see what changes had occurred since last year. We found and identified two different fungi - which included 'jelly ear' (or 'dead man's ear'!).
There was plenty of fun, team work and perseverance - with some children enjoying the rope swing and others being keen to start a fire with a flint and steel!
Guy Fawkes, broomsticks, tree cookies and lanterns
Forest School has been a hive of activity over the last few weeks. We started off by making a Guy for the village bonfire. We gathered leaves and straw and spent a long time stuffing some old clothes that Mr Atkins had given us. Those that attended the village bonfire on Friday 4th November will have seen him go up in smoke!
The children have also worked together to make besoms for Halloween...or Nimbus 2000's and Firebolts as the children liked to call them! It took a lot of time for them to gather the right sticks and then tie them around a branch - but those that wanted to, did it!
Some of the girls made a bow with Mr Roberts this week - and then went off to practise their archery skills; they had a great time.
Meanwhile, a few children chose to use the bow saw and rotary drill to make poppy 'tree cookies' to hang with homemade lanterns on our remembrance tree.
The weeks have been whizzing by with some children making and creating whilst others have been using their imaginations and playing some fantastic games with dens made in trees!
Cutting, sawing, whittling and creating
The children have really settled in to Forest School now. Once we arrive, we sit around the fire and they remind each other about how we can keep ourselves and each other safe. Then, they're off! Some go to the pond to search for our resident frogs whilst others go to make dinner in the mud kitchen. Climbing trees and taking it in turns on the rope swing are also popular. However, over the last few weeks, the children have been enjoying learning to use some of the tools safely. They have used loppers to cut thinner branches, a bow saw to cut a 'tree cookie', palm drills and rotary drills to make holes and knives to whittle sticks. We have seen the children work together, help each other and persevere when a task becomes difficult. They have made some fantastic creations - from halloween tree cookie faces to Stick Man!
The children are becoming much braver and exploratory at Forest School; from climbing trees to playing in the mud. We have talked about the seasons and the leaves changing colour, and some of the children have made leaf-print flags. We learned that sometimes we could make symmetrical patterns - and that when the wind blew the flags, we could work out which way the wind was blowing!
Some of the children have shown great teamwork and patience as they found bits of wood and rope, worked together to tie them up and make a spaceship! The imaginative play was fantastic and as they landed on the moon we heard, 'Righto lads, we're here!'
Some of the children learned to make mud by pouring water out and mixing it up with the soil; from this, they could make pies and cakes...or with more water, they had a puddle that they could jump in!
We used palm drills to make holes in conkers and threaded them on to string. Some of the children then started to try and play the game of conkers.
It's no wonder that they are all hungry at snack time! One week we made pesto pasta which was chosen by one of the year 1's, and another week we did hot dogs. The fire is always lit and some times the children just like to sit and watch the flames or the food cook, and make observations about what is happening.
I wonder what the children will get up to next week...
Whittling, chopping and creating
The children have really settled into Forest School and have become very independent in choosing what they want to do.
After using a lot of willow the previous weeks, the children can now recognise it and talk about why it is good for various jobs. This week, some of the children whittled the willow, measured and cut it with loppers and then put it in a tin in the fire. After a short while, we took it out and saw that it had turned into charcoal - perfect for writing and drawing!
After talking about changes in weather and seasons, some of the children chose to help make a bug hotel using straw, leaves and sticks. We hope that the mini beasts will love snuggling up in there! One of the children even made a sign using our homemade charcoal.
The children give us ideas of snacks that they would like to make on the fire - one of which was fish n chips! So, this week, we cooked fish fingers and fried potatoes on the fire - and every morsel was devoured!!
Please sir, can we have s'more?
The Class 1 children are really enjoying coming out to Forest School. Last week, they said that they wanted to cook marshmallows - but we went one step further and made s'mores. Before we could do this, we had to find some willow and use the loppers to cut it. We talked about willow being a green wood - which doesn't burn as easily - and is, therefore, perfect for roasting marshmallows. Once it was cut, the children stripped the leaves off it and we whittled the ends.
Foraging, firelighting and fun!
We've had a fab couple of weeks out at Forest School with the Class 2 children really getting stuck in.
During the first week, the children had the chance to explore and see how the site had changed since they were last there. They played on the new slackline, went pond dipping (and met one of our resident frogs), make a range of culinary delights in the mud kitchen and - generally - had fun!
We came together around the fire to cook and eat drop scones - which we served with freshly picked blackberries.
This week, lots of the children were keen to make bows and arrows. They learned to identify willow by the colour of the branches and the leaves, and they cut some using loppers. There was a lot of teamwork and problem solving with this activity.
Other children chose to build a den or have a go at getting a spark using a flint and steel. Some also made leaf prints on flags, and we saw how the wind blew them.
Cooking and eating s'mores proved hugely popular!!
If you go out in the forest today...
...you'll find lots of children building, digging, playing, exploring and having fun!
We had our first Forest School session with Class 1 today. After looking around and talking about how to keep ourselves and each other safe at Forest School, the children set to with playing together and learning new skills. The pulley system was popular - as was the mud kitchen and slackline. Some children even had a go at making their own miniature fire in a shell using a flint and steel!
We came together at the end for toasted bagels and to talk about the types food that they would like to cook on the fire over the next few weeks - from marshmallows to pesto pasta and steak!!
The big cookout!
The Year 5's had a fab last session with so much happening. Some children chose to take part in a den competition which we judged at the end. They had specific criteria that their shelter had to meet!
Meanwhile, the children were cooking their own toast this week. However, one group of boys decided to start their own fire in the fire basket and cook breakfast! They were given the ingredients and went on to prepare and cook scrambled egg, beans and toast...we were VERY impressed!!
It has been great to have the Year 5's at Forest School - and they seem to have enjoyed their time in the great outdoors.
Sun, rain, hail, wind - but lots of smiles
This week we had a range of weathers thrown at us at Forest School - from sun to wind, rain and hail! Lots of children chose to build shelters - which later proved even more fun when the wind got up and the children jumped on top of them!
Some children chose to make mini beasts using clay; all of the children remembered that insects have a head, thorax and abdomen! We also talked about numbers of legs; insects having 6 and spiders having 8.
The pond was as popular as ever, with the children keen to see that the frogspawn they found last week had now hatched - and we have tadpoles swimming around!
Despite the weather, we had 'campfire ice cream' for snack - and popcorn!
So much happening
The children are loving coming out to Forest School. This week, the pond was very popular; we discovered that the the frogspawn had hatched and we now have tadpoles swimming around! Our resident frog caused much excitement with the children spotting it and then being keen to try and catch it...most of the time, it was just too quick - but it caused a lot of fun and laughter!
Many of the children are keen to use tools to make things; we had lots of tree cookies being made and designed using homemade charcoal. Others preferred to whittle - and we did have a Harry Potter-esque wand created!
The children played, created, worked together, persevered (when using a palm drill to create a hole!) and solved problems...phew!
Year 5's turn!
Year 5 came out to Forest School for their first session this week. Once they'd had a tour and talked about how we need to look after ourselves outdoors, they all went off to different activities. They built dens, put up a rope swing, made mud cakes in the mud kitchen, decorated themselves with 'war paint', went pond dipping (and found a frog) and made charcoal. Many were keen to learn how to use the tools safely, and we had whittling going on to create pegs for dens as well as some tree cookies being made.
At snack, we had the traditional s'mores - which seemed to be rather popular! In the coming weeks they would like to cook burgers and bacon sandwiches!
Springtime at Forest School
Class 1 have enjoyed coming back to Forest School - spotting leaves as they start to appear on trees and flowers that are beginning to bloom. They have been learning a lot about animal and plant cycles in class so we have planted our potatoes, herbs, peas and some flowers to attract butterflies. We are hoping to release some butterflies into the site soon as some of our caterpillars in the classroom have started to build their chrysalis.
Some of the children made insects and spiders using pebbles, sticks and mud, whilst others made nettle soup and miniature gardens. Down at the pond, we spotted frogspawn and a bloodworm. To fit in with our theme, we cooked 'butterfly' pasta on the campfire!
We had such fun building dens with the children on Tuesday. They all had different ideas for what they wanted to do - and so many problems cropped up that needed solving; how can we make the sticks stand up? How can we make it waterproof?
Some of the children had a great idea of putting pebbles around the bottom of their den '...to make it stronger and keep the wolf out'!
We cooked popcorn on the fire and the children were able to invite friends to join them in their houses for a snack. Whilst they were eating, some of the dens received a visit from the 'big bad wolf'. When the wolf asked, 'Little pig, little pig may I come in?', the children replied, 'Not by the hair on our chin-chin-chins - we will not let you in!'
Problem solving, moving equipment around safely, team building, communication and imagination; just some of the skills used by the children at this session.
Following on from the 3 Little Pigs theme, Class 1 were keen to carry on with building houses outside; in particular, they asked to make mud castles - so we brought buckets, spades and sun to Forest School!! The children had great fun experimenting with mud and water.
It wasn't just the fire that was roaring...
Class 1 have been leading their learning outside at Forest School. On seeing trowels and spades, they chose to be archaeologists and dig for dinosaur bones and fossils. Using pebbles and sticks, they were palaeontologists - putting stick skeletons and dinosaur footprints together.
One week, they discovered a nest with dinosaur eggs and worked together to break them open using various tools...of course some children explored the idea of trying to melt the ice by placing an egg in a saucepan and sitting it on the fire.
They have printed dinosaur footprints in clay to make into medallions, drawn dinosaurs with homemade charcoal and made dinosaurs from mud and sticks. Of course, all of this hunting, creating, scientific and imaginative work left the children hungry so we cooked cinnamon whirls in oranges on the fire - mmmmmm!!
So many skills
Stick Man and Sticky Marshmallows!
It was chilly start to the year and the children were glad of the warmth of the fire and their roasted Marshmallow snack!
Many of the children had seen the animation of Stick man on Christmas Day, so we had a go at making our own 'Stick Family'. Those that chose to, searched for an appropriate stick, whittled a face, tied arms on (a bit fiddly!) and drew a face using our home-made charcoal.
Other children played imaginatively in the stick den, explored for bugs - and sticks (!) using the ID sheets, and generally had fun!
I think some of the children are hoping to dig for dinosaurs at some point over then next few weeks, as they have been talking about this in class...I wonder what they will find!
Class 1 came to Forest School and quickly disappeared with their own agendas. Some children went to the pond area to search for creatures - and they weren't disappointed. At one point, a frog hopped out of the pond and sat with them on the pallets!
Other children came to help with the fire, and were keen to help make some kindling. We started the fire early today as we wanted to heat it up for making baked apples - and to also make some charcoal. To make the charcoal, the children peeled the bark off some willow, then they cut the willow so that it would fit in the tin and then they watched it in the fire. When the tin stopped smoking, we took it out and put it to one side to cool. Once it was ready, we opened it up and had real pieces of charcoal that the children took off to draw and write with!
The children stuffed some apples with marshmallow and raisins and then wrapped them in foil. After baking them in the fire, the children noticed that the marshmallow had melted. Some of the children enjoyed their snack so much, that they had seconds...and thirds!
He's got terrible tusks and terrible claws and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws...
The children had lots of fun searching for the Gruffalo characters at Forest School last week. Once they'd found them all, they used the masks in their own play and were inspired to make mice, snakes and Gruffalo's out of clay and natural materials. They explored with the bug kits and some visited the frogs in the pond.
At snack time, we made batter and cooked pancakes over the fire. Then, the children decorated them to look like the Gruffalo!
On entering Forest School today, Class 1 found some footsteps...who had been here? They all decided that the footsteps belonged to The Gruffalo - and so began the great Gruffalo hunt. The children discovered a log pile house - where the snake MUST live, and then someone found some 'snake skin', 'a poisonous wart', 'Gruffalo skin' and a 'black tongue'!
Alongside their imaginative play, several children created leaf pictures inspired by the book, 'Leaf Man'. There was team work and turn taking with the rope ladder and rope swings.
The afternoon ended with the children roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, whilst chatting about what they had enjoyed.
Forest School Fun!
Today was a fun-packed session with plenty of building, exploring and problem solving. A group of children went from wanting to build a swing to creating a winch to help them climb a tree - and then they moved on to make a rope ladder! Plenty of children enjoyed pond dipping and several frogs were seen! We picked apples from the orchard which the children mixed with honey, raisins and marshmallow and cooked over the fire in foil pouches. Apple scented play dough was also enjoyed with some children creating faces on trees and others making nature heads. Phew - I'm sure they'll all sleep well tonight!
It was another wet day at Forest School - but it didn't stop the children from having fun! They made a rope swing, they made LOTS of mud cakes and some went bug hunting. When the rain came down, we went into our shelter and relaxed with a hot chocolate and a biscuit!
It was a wet day and the Year 2's loved adding an extension to our group shelter; then they had great fun making a squelchy mud bog underneath!
Mrs Shipway very kindly brought in an apple press and several children made apple juice whilst others collected windfalls from the story garden. Next week, the children want to cook with these over the fire.
Some children hollowed out Elder twigs with a palm drill to make beads, that they then made into necklaces.
After a busy afternoon, we all came together to have fresh apple juice, hot chocolate and a well deserved biscuit!
The Class 1 children had great fun on their first Forest School Day.