Hello and Salaams (peace!),
This is a post that I will try to regularly update with all the excellent work we’ve been doing at our primary school to increase the awareness of the benefits of Outdoor Learning. We have already managed to make a huge difference in the land next to our school.
The story began when the headteacher told me, as a parent, that there was a vacancy for a Maths teacher (that’s my speciality!) and that he was looking for a person to send for Forest School training…My ears pricked up at this as it had been a dream of mine to learn more about surviving in the great outdoors. Anyone who knows me will know that I love connecting with our natural world on a regular basis on family holidays. I have had a love for scenic countryside whether it’s in Wales, Scotland or even picturesque parts of a England like Cornwall…this is something I attribute to being a ‘Northern Lass’ at heart, having been brought up ‘Up North’ and also the year we spent, as a family, by the Welsh seaside in North Wales. The truth is I feel more connected to the Creator when I am amidst the magnificent creation that He has made.
So, I began working at this school and went along to the Forest School training in October last year. The company I went with is Forest Schools Birmingham whom I’d highly recommend to all, as I had a fantastic experience and met some wonderful people.
As you can imagine, we had an absolutely amazing time. It was truly life-changing to immerse myself in nature day after day for a whole week. Not only was I now aware of the physical exertion it took to work (and simply sit!) outdoors all day, but I also learnt how restorative sitting in the woodland can be when I wasn’t feeling at my best (this is when I had a mid-week dip in energy levels and is a whole other story altogether!).
Coming back to school and realising we didn’t even have a forest school area, I knew that I had my work cut out for me.
However, with a bit of brainstorming with the teachers as to how we would go about things, we decided to hold a forest school fundraiser.
Meanwhile, I began to teach a weekly forest School session for the little ones…!
And then it became a treat we enjoyed every session for the whole term!We made fairy houses for these little guys!And we simply enjoyed spending time together around the fire circle…☺️
Then at the end of term we managed to hold a fantastic forest school tea party for parents and children in order to raise funds to hire someone to help with clearing the area. We all wrapped up warm and braved the cold December weather to help raise some funds for this fabulous cause…
At another point in the day, we had an amazingly awesome moment of clarity, which I’d like to share with you now…
The thing is, I’d also volunteered to train the teachers, alongside the children on simple fire safety and firelighting tips just before the fundraiser. As it was a half day at school and we already had all the equipment ready for a fab fire, I thought it wouldn’t take much extra effort to undertake. Now I know how wrong I was. You see, that meant we had a fire going from around 10am and by the time our parents started arriving, at 12.30, my materials were literally burning out! We had to get some more fuel and fast! So one of our wonderful teachers went up to our woodland to get some timber and I stayed with the fire that was nearly dying. When they came back, with the help of our Syrian Arabic teacher (who, thankfully, had a lot more real life experience with the fire than I did!) we began to attempt to relight the fire…
Then a wonderful parent came with a Norwegian Candle and literally gifted it to us there and then!! It is this wonderful log you see burning in the fire below. This log is sold with a cross-like score right the way through the middle which makes it easier to light and the sheer size of it meant it would last for the duration of the afternoon without a problem!
We then had enough money to begin to clear the area we wanted as our new forest school area. It was actually Nick Wale of the Forest School Birmingham team who came to help. After his excellent and insightful consultation, he came back to help us make the change…
This is what it looked like before:
We have a clear path!And a fire circle:
We’ve also begun to use this area to teach and had a STEAM lesson there with Year 5 and 6 students the week before half term. They made some flapjacks and apple crumble on the fire to eat at their tree party in Moseley Bog.
This trip had been planned in order to get the Woodland Trust Platinum Award for outdoor learning. The trip and the session in the woodland was a huge success aH and this means we’ll be presenting our evidence in order to receive the award soon.
Our only problem is that the ascent into the new Forest School area is on a steep slope and is difficult for the little ones to climb up to. Nick helped us make a somewhat gentler slope but need to open up the chain-link fencing in order to accommodate it. We actually have someone working on this, as we speak!…
And here is a photo of the finished gate to our wonderful woodland 😃…
So things really are happening…
If you enjoyed reading about this or have anything outdoorsy you’d like to share with me, please do get in touch! As always, I love hearing from you.
And that’s it from me for now.
Until next time, goodbye!
Peace and love,