Forest School in an urban environment – how can it work?

Forest School Training & Forest School in an urban environmentAt Circle of Life Rediscovery, we run our Forest School Training Level 3 from a beautiful, mixed broadleaf woodland in the heart of the Sussex countryside. In this environment, it is so easy for our trainees to understand the ethos and principles of Forest School, to see how child-led learning can take place, the resources that are available and the importance of nature connection, they can feel it just by being here.

In a woodland environment there is so much stimulus. To our  trainees, it is clear to see how the children can explore and lead their own learning.

There are places to climb, logs to balance on, mud to dig, creatures to discover, leaves to throw, sticks for dens, the list is endless….but how to translate all this to an urban environment, where there is no woodland?

Forest School in an Urban Environment?

We run Forest School Training Level 3 in East SussexThe answer is to remember the ethos of Forest School – child-led, learner-centred sessions, which take place regularly (weekly if possible), with opportunities for supported risk taking, in a natural environment…this could be your local park, the school field or even a corner of the playground.

This, plus a little bit of creativity can go a long way towards giving the children the same sense of connection, freedom and opportunities for exploration and learning, regardless of where they are.

Forest School Sessions - find out more here

 

I have seen an excellent example of Forest School run on a small patch of grass, with one tree, in the middle of a housing estate in East London.  The children walk there from their nursery every week, the site is a public space overlooked by hundreds of residents that used to be empty apart from the broken glass, used needles and empty drinks cans.

 

Now once a week it rings with children’s voices, the litter has gone and the local residents know that Forest School is taking place.

As for the children, they are motivated, engaged and learning. They find worms, they dig, they make paint from mud, they use the tree to make shelters and homes for the creatures, they lie on the grass and look at the clouds, they play, they learn…to these urban children, this is nature.

Activity ideas for Forest School in urban spaces:

Activity ideas for Urban Forest School - contact us for more informationDen building – if you don’t have any natural resources use tarps and ropes – tie them to trees, fences, benches, bins, goal posts.

Mini-shelters – ask the children to bring in a bag of sticks and leaves as their homework. Have this available as a resource for free play. Leave pictures of different types of shelters as inspiration.

Clay – use it to make mini-beasts, creatures, fairies, faces on trees (or brick walls).

 

Natural paints – bring in a bucket of mud if you don’t have any, use frozen blackberries, crushed chalk, charcoal – mix with water and paint on the playground (it will wash off) or an old bed sheet.

Listening activities – tune in to what is around you, what sounds can you hear? Can you identify which sounds are from nature (birds, leaves rustling, wind in the trees, rain) and which ones are human sounds?

Mini beast hunting – Use magnifiers to search carefully in the corners of buildings, in the cracks of the pavement, in flower beds….. it’s amazing what you can find, even in a concrete jungle.

The most important thing is to get out there, the environment (even if it is urban) and the children’s imagination will do the rest.

By Katie Scanlan, Circle of Life Rediscovery.

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Endorsed FSA TrainerForest School Training Level 3 Courses:

If you are keen on Forest School Level 3 Training in East Sussex, our next courses are:

 

 

Course One
Part one: 4th & 5th March (Mill Woods) & 6th & 7th March (Picketts Wood).
Part two: 29th April – 1st May (Mill Woods).
Part three: 20th – 21st May (Mill Woods).

Course Two
Part 1: 26th, 27th & 30th September and 1st, 2nd October 2019.
Part 2: 27th, 28th February and 2nd, 3rd March 2020.
Location to be confirmed but will be East Sussex/Brighton area.

Please visit our website for details.

 

Circle of Life RediscoveryTransforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Forest School – A Day in the Life

A day in the life of pumpkin patch nursery forest school

Forest School Sessions in East Sussex

 

The children arrive for forest school all bundled up in waterproofs and wellies, eager to get out and splash in the puddles! We start our day rolling out our logs to sit on and collecting sticks to make a fire. As gather our sticks we sing our fire songs and set our boundaries whilst thinking about the day ahead.

 

Today at forest school we are making miniature gardens at the base of trees and in special secret places. We find sticks for trees and moss for paths and chestnut cases for hibernating hedgehogs and we look at each other’s gardens, they are all so lovely.

On the fire the popcorn has been getting hotter and we return to hear it popping in the pan, its snack time!

Fancy a free taster session for your nursery?After a snack and a story, we set off to follow some tracks we have spotted on the ground.
We follow the tracks all the way to the stream, trying to guess who they might belong to and find a toy otter hiding in a hollow tree on the bank.

We play in and around the stream, clearing debris and making bridges and splashing around until we feel hungry and a little chilly, it’s time to warm up by the fire and eat our lunch.

After lunch it’s time to celebrate the spring equinox, we dress one of the children up in Lady Spring’s green cloak and follow her, singing her spring song, to discover a special place with bunting and a nest with little eggs inside. We circle round to listen all about the days and nights being equal and sing some spring songs. Then we each take an egg and follow lady spring back to the fire circle.

After playing a game or two it’s time to put out the fire, and remember all the things we did that day and lastly roll back our logs and give our thanks.

We make our way back through the puddles to the bus and our journey home.

Find out about forest school sessions for your school or nursery

 

FREE one hour forest school taster session available as part of Outdoor Classroom Day – 17th May 2018. Get in touch to find out more – 4 spaces available!!

 

 

If you are keen to hear more about forest school sessions for your school or nursery please contact us by email or call 01273 814226.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

 

You can also see our website for details and information.

 

Forest School Training in East Sussex.

Marina Robb becomes a Forest School Association Endorsed Trainer!

Marina Robb - Endorsed Forest School Association Trainer!In January 2018, the Forest School Association (FSA) – the UK’s professional body and voice for all things Forest School – launched a new quality assurance scheme for Forest School Trainers. The FSA Trainer’s Quality Assurance Scheme is based on a new set of ‘Forest School community’ agreed professional standards.  Marina Robb from Circle of Life Rediscovery has been a successful applicant and has been added to a publicly accessible map on the FSA’s website.

This is an important development for individuals, schools and settings that are trying to identify a trainer to help them or their staff become Forest School qualified. Decision makers such as Local Authorities and Academies can have confidence that an FSA endorsed trainer is operating professionally and works to ‘Forest School community’
agreed professional standards.

The FSA Trainers Quality Assurance Scheme offers the reassurance that Trainers:

• Are working in accordance with good Forest School practice.
• Give adequate face-to-face time to develop a student’s practical
skills.
• Lead courses with the Forest School ethos in mind.
• Provide students with a thorough support package.
• Have the relevant qualifications, first aid training and insurance in
place.
• Model excellent practice themselves.

FSA Registered and Endorsed Forest School TrainerGareth Wyn Davies (CEO of the Forest School Association) says, “FSA endorsement of Forest School Trainers helps the public and decision makers to quickly identify those Trainers who are following good Forest School practice. It allows good training providers to distinguish themselves from other providers who may be offering many less hours of face-to-face tuition, less rigorous assessment and less ongoing support. We therefore congratulate Marina Robb on her success in becoming an FSA Endorsed Forest School Trainer.”

Why choose Forest School Leadership Training with Circle of Life Rediscovery?

Forest School Training in East SussexAre you considering doing your Forest School training? Have you heard about Forest School Training but are not sure about taking the next step?

Here’s all you need to know about our Forest School Training! We asked our past cohort of Forest School Leader trainees about their experience of the training with Circle of Life Rediscovery, and what advice they would give to someone considering taking the next step and becoming a Forest School Leader.

Here are their responses…

(Initials have been used to protect identity, in brackets is the age group each trainee currently works with)

1. What made you want to do Forest School Training?

Forest School Training with Circle of Life RediscoveryB (Primary) – “I have always been interested in nature and have loved spending time outdoors since I was a child. Then having my own children, I was always looking for ways of getting them outside and interacting with the environment. After a big life change a couple of years ago I was looking for something to do alongside my classroom teaching and approached my head about doing the course.”

D (Secondary) – “A colleague had started Forest School training and said how great it was, I have always been in to outdoor learning etc, so had a look online and persuaded our school to start a Forest School.”

Y (Primary, Nursery and Secondary) – “I have always had a passion for the outdoors and have been delivering the Duke of Edinburgh, bush craft and outdoor team building activities for several years. It made sense to get a qualification in the area I enjoyed teaching in and one in which I am passionate about and has an impact on young people almost instantly.”

P (Freelance – Primary, Secondary, SEN) – “I have always had a strong interest in the natural world and as I work predominantly with young people it seemed the perfect way to enhance their appreciation of the world around them and gain a formal qualification.”

2. Why did you choose Circle of Life Rediscovery?

Forest School Training in East SussexB – “I was recommended it by someone who had already done the course. I liked the fact that it gave more than just the ‘facts’.”

R – “Friends had recommended it and it was local to me.”

D – “After looking into lots of different companies Circle of Life Rediscovery seemed to be the best fit with how the course was run.”

P – “Having worked with some of the Circle of Life Rediscovery instructors in the past I have always been impressed by their knowledge and ethos.”

3. Did the training live up to your expectations?

R – “Yes the training more than met my expectations. I felt that the syllabus was broken down well into: practical sessions, theory as part of the group and self study. The group were very good at documenting and sharing images etc, which made it easier when writing up.”

D – “The training really did, I learnt so much from the guys at Circle of Life Rediscovery and felt inspired to learn more and more, I spend most of my free time learning and practising skills now!”

P – “Yes very much so, it really opened up some new areas of interest for me. Coming from a Bush craft background it was great to expand on the elements of play, mindfulness and participant led discovery.”

4. How has your practice changed since the training?

R – “My organisation skills have improved. I feel more confident to observe and react to learning before interjecting. I feel more capable when demonstrating practical skills.”

D – “Before I started training I was in a classroom everyday, I rarely go into the school now. I work in our outside area all day everyday.”

Y – “More organised and not trying to cram too much into the sessions and allow it to be more child led.”

Forest School Training Level 3 with Circle of Life Rediscovery

 

5. What was the best thing about the training?

B – “Being around like minded people, the amazing settings for the training, the knowledge and support of the leaders.”

R – “I enjoyed the games and practical training. It was really useful to spend time being a student outdoors before being a leader with students! The day when Ringmer school came to the woods was probably the best as it was a consolidation of all the ideas and theory. I had a genuine sense that this was something I could do by the end of that day.”

D – “Learning so many new skills, like knots and whittling, plus a very friendly learning environment with a great group of people.”

Y – “I enjoyed all elements of the course including the course work as it helped identify I need to have a better knowledge of trees plants etc.”

6. What would your advice be for someone thinking about doing Forest School training?

B – “Definitely do it!”

R – “Try as many activities as possible as they will only scratch the surface of the possibilities when you begin responding to students. Make sure you document the sessions with photos and film as you will need them when it comes to writing up! Take a camera on walks to broaden your identification skills.”

D – “Go for it! Not much else I can say, if you enjoy working in a woodland environment and in the outdoors this is definitely training you should do!”

Y – “To give yourself the time to really concentrate on the course with as little distraction as possible. To complete parts of the course work as you go. Maybe some pre-course reading or identification of trees plants etc.”

P – “I would recommend it especially to those who already have an active interest in outdoor learning as well as to the complete novice. Leave your assumptions behind and soak everything up, you will learn more than you might expect, some of it about yourself.”

7. Do you have any other comments?

Join our unique Forest School Training Level 3!
B – “Would appreciate lots of CPD opportunities next year please!”

D – “I thoroughly enjoyed Forest School training with Circle of Life Rediscovery and the training really has had a massive impact on my life! I actually enjoy getting up to go into work!”

P – “Having done Forest School training in the past I was particularly impressed by the breadth and depth that Circle of Life Rediscovery practitioners bought to the whole experience. “


For more information on Forest School Training in East Sussex with Circle of Life Rediscovery see our website HERE. Please click here to read our FAQ’s.

We are running our next course in September 2018, the dates are:

Part one: September 27th – 28th, October 1st – 3rd 2018
Part two: February 7th – 8th and February 11th – 12th 2019

Please click here for book your place!

The next course will be March 2019.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

01273 814226

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

 

Make it ‘Outdoor Classroom Day’ every day!

Ideas to inspire your Outdoor Learning. Make it Outdoor Classroom Day every day!

Outdoor Classroom Day took place this year on 12th October 2017 with 19,800 schools getting involved and spending the day (or part of the day) learning outside the classroom with their pupils. This is an amazing collaborative effort, not just in the UK but across the World, with 2.3 million children across 105 countries taking part, quite an achievement for an initiative that started off just in London in 2012, as Empty Classroom Day.

…but shouldn’t this sort of outdoor learning be taking place every day, in every school across the world, even in the Autumn term?!

To help inspire you to get your class outside this Autumn and at Outdoor Classroom Day, we have collected some simple ideas to use the natural resources around you for outdoor learning.

Waxed Autumn Leaves

Make it Outdoor Classroom Day every day!

Taken from  ‘Learning with Nature’, by Marina Robb (Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery), Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson.

Discover outdoor learning with Learning with Nature

How to:
Waxed Autumn Leaves, ideas for outdoor learning this Autumn and Winter!

  • Gather many varieties of Autumn leaves, press and dry them in books or a flower press. The leaves take a few days to dry. Either prepare this part in advance, or see the gathering of the leaves as a separate activity.
  • Light a fire. Melt beeswax in a pan over the fire.
  • Take the pan off the fire and dip the leaves. To do so safely, hold the leaf stem and dip. Avoid immersing the fingers!
  • Take the leaf out of the wax, hold above the pan and immediately shake downwards to remove extra wax before it dries. Avoid shaking side to side as droplets of wax can go over clothing.
  • Blow the leaves gently to complete the drying.
  • The wax coating will help to preserve the leaves. They can be used for all sorts of crafts, and are especially lovely when threaded.

Create your own Environmental Art projects

Environmental Art

How to:

  • Collect fallen leaves of different colours and shapes
  • Be as creative as you like – create raindows, sunbursts, collages of animals, abstract art
  • Take inspiration from environmental artists like Andrew Goldsworthy or Nils-Udo

Twig Towers

Twig Towers for Outdoor Classroom DayHow to:

  • Collect a big pile of sticks
  • Divide your class in to groups
  • Set them the challenge – who can build the highest twig tower?
  • How can you measure which one is the tallest?
  • How many sticks did each tower use?
  • How could you use fewer sticks and still make the tallest tower?

 

For more ideas and inspiration did you know Circle of Life Rediscovery can come to your school to run bespoke Inset training in your school grounds, or you can bring your staff to our beautiful Sussex woodland site.

Contact us here for more details or call 01273 814226.

We also run CPD courses throughout the year on a number of different topics, please see our website for details.

Happy Outdoor Learning!
Katie Scanlan, Operations Manager, Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC.

A Day in the Life of a Wild Thing!

We meet at the car park, with our packed lunches and everyone is excited and maybe a bit nervous? I wonder what we will be doing today?

We wave goodbye to our families and disappear down the track, into the woods to find the Wild Things basecamp and begin the day’s adventures.

At basecamp we are shown around, we find out there is a toilet (phew!) and play some games to learn each other’s names. Then we mix up some natural materials to make paint (and a bit of snazzaroo) and create some tribal face paint – now we are truly Wild Things!

 

Then we are set our first challenge – can we learn some new knots and then build a rope bridge to get our whole team safely from one side of the ‘ravine’ to the other?

 

 

We can…and not only that but someone has the great idea to join our bridges together and we create an amazing low ropes course to play on. Everyone has a go and we get around the whole course without touching the ground.

 

 

 

 

After this it is time to try out some fire lighting and cooking. Our challenge now is to light a fire, without matches, and to keep the fire going long enough to cook some chocolate cake! We all look at each other and wonder how we will do this without an oven?!

 

 

Luckily, Jennie shows us how to use an orange and some tin foil and we are all able to make chocolate cake, and it even tastes quite nice…apart from the burnt bits!!

 

 

It is lunch time and we get to sit around our fires and eat our lunch, and then explore the woods a bit, and play on our rope bridges. After lunch we put our fires out, and leave no trace of the fires so it doesn’t even look like we’ve been there, then other people can come and enjoy the woods too.

We play some more games after lunch, and then for our final activity we can choose if we want to build dens or make a clay creature to take home. I make a butterfly because we saw lots of butterflies in the morning sunshine, and they are my favourite animal.

 

Then it’s time to go home, and we collect all our bags, and the things we have made and set off back down the track to meet our families, chatting to our new friends on the way. We are a bit muddy, tired and happy – true Wild Things!

By Katie Scanlan

If you are looking to Get Wild – join one or more of our Wild Things Woodland Days this summer or during October Half Term. Dates are:

July – 26th, 27th, 28th
August – 30th & 31st
September – 1st
October – 23rd & 24th

Please see our website for full details or click here to book online now!

www.circleofliferediscovery.com | info@circleofliferediscovery.com | 01273 814226

 

Jon Cree – Mill Woods, A Place for Play and Deep Learning

Jon Cree – Mill Woods, A Place for Play and Deep Learning

Late winter 2017 around the time of imbolc, as we emerged into the lengthening days, Jon Cree joined us in the woods to facilitate two training days on Story and Play Structures:

Story Telling with Jon Cree“My initial reticence of working with fairly large groups soon evaporated into the soil, with the rain, when I got to the site (I know that sounds a contradiction but illustrates well the circles in time we all experience through the seasons).

Greeted by the smiles and warmth of Marina and Mark, the fire, chestnuts, oaks, spruces, pines, willows, birches, great tits, green woodpeckers to name a few other citizens – of course.

This atmosphere made for opportunities to explore the magic and meaning in story and story-making as well as a purposeful place for trying out our hand-tool skills and engage the body in playful exploits that resulted in ladder climbing, rope swinging, strap line wobbling and the makings of a tree-house!

Storying

Join our courses with Jon Cree in 2018!I never tire of witnessing people digging into their imaginative domains and creating from this many wordplay narratives around natural world discoveries that then move on to story.

Armed with the elements of tension, hero journeys, tragedies, helpers and victories story is realised.  The power of the imagination is truly infinite and seeing educators realise their potential to story a place and their own lives always enriches.

By giving permission to play with words, lie and offer some simple frameworks, our own storyteller can be realised…..but the thing, for me, that really provides stimulation is a safe place for experimentation and ‘play’, free of judgment, IS the natural world, and if a fire is present then all the better.

On that damp day in January our spirits were lifted by giants conjuring up rabbits and elfish boats and deep stirrings in the labyrinthine earth bound passages for the dark side to preside in….for moments we were spellbound then lifted by lighthearted fantastical creations!

Play Structures

Play Structures with Jon Cree in 2018A month later I approached the Play Structures day with an “irish being”, full of the Irish passion and  blarney…giving me confidence to try the truckers hitch song to start the session – check it out.

Once again that playful permission gave me confidence to try something new and although the song didn’t quite work out how I wanted….it seemed to provide permission for folks to play.

With saws, axes, knives and ropes we made A frame ladders that turned into climbing frames…..all in a safe but experimental way (don’t worry all the tool procedures were in place and no limbs were lost!).

Join our Play Structures course with Jon Cree in 2018We made rope swings and bounced on rope courses thanks to the tensioning truckers knot, and learned the rudimentaries of tree house construction minimising any harm to the tree through the use of tree clamps.

The day ended by testing the sense of balance, that is always enhanced by the willingness to play.

If training isn’t about ‘playing’, mentally and physically, with ideas and constructs then I don’t know what it is about!

I will be back in 2018 – find out when here.”

 

By Jon Cree, Acting Treasurer, National and International Representation, The Forest School Association

2018 Dates

Story Telling with Jon Cree – 25th January 2018

Play & The Ludic Cycle with Jon Cree – 26th January 2018

Play Structures with Jon Cree – 26th & 27th February 2018

Please visit the website for full details.

Circle of Life Rediscovery

The language of the birds

A way to live life more fully. 

16031613356_90c9128db9_mDo you feel fully alive and awake to all the joy and beauty that surrounds you every day?

Do you wake up and say “wow” what a gift to have another day here upon this beautiful earth? Do you feel the full life of all the beings around you?

Do you understand your place in that?

Do you see that life in the children?

How would it feel to live this way every day…?

What if there was a way to help expand our senses to levels of awareness in the world that allow for deep understanding, empathy, creativity and full connection.

Well… there is 

It’s happening all around us all the time and is a part of the symbiotic relationship humans have had since the beginning of time with the natural world that we are a part of.

greenfinch-818185_960_720The Birds offer us a great gift to be able to lift us out of our minds and thoughts and place us deeply into the senses, the place of real understanding and connectivity.

Through the birds we can tap into the flow of the landscape and the beings that are moving across it. Our place. We can start to access a four dimensional picture, using all the senses, of the place that we inhabit and the flow of life that is there. Being fully alive and in the moment of now.

Why is this important? 

If the life of a human being is to experience as fully as possible the gift and joy of being truly alive in ourselves and learn the great wisdom of other forms of life then surely we need to switch on and pay attention.

Imagine a world where the next generation of children are fully awake and delighting in and learning from the experience of life itself. That they are connected deeply to themselves, others and the natural world.

Is that a world worth building? 

naturecommunication (1)
They would be caretakers of this earth, holding it gently for their own children to come.

Come to our CPD day, ‘The Language of the Birds‘, on 4th May and learn about and experience one of the most powerful core routines to help create deep nature connection in yourself and be able to pass this ancestral gift to our children.

 

 

What will we do? 

During this one day CPD we will look at

  • Switching on the senses to as deep a level as possible and explore processes to keep them on.
  • We will, through theory backed up with direct experience, start to pick out the voices of the birds and what they can tell us.
  • We will start to feel the flow of how the land is when all is peaceful and how different it is when a predator is moving across that landscape.
  • We will identify the birds that offer the most learning possibilities and why.
  • We will understand how birds move, why and what this means.
  • We will explore the interconnectedness of all life and how that can enrich our everyday lives.
  • We will understand how bird language can keep us safe.
  • We will also throughout the day show ways to pass this on to people you work with, be that children or adults.
  • This day will be a full mix of didactic information which is then fully experienced in its real form through practical exercises.

Come and join us for this magical day and switch on to the beauty of life. Please see our website for details, or to book online, click here.

This CPD day will be run by Alex Travers.

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

Tel: 01273 814226

 

World Book Day!

World Book Day is a great opportunity to revisit your favourite book, share it with friends and find out about new and inspiring books to read.

In this vein, we think you should Drop Everything And Read ‘Learning with Nature’ by Marina Robb, Victoria Mew and Anna Richardson.

12049391_433116263547290_8000644800139243363_n

Learning with Nature is a must-have resource for families, schools, youth groups and anyone working with children and wishing to engage with nature and the outdoors. The book is full of fun activities and games to get your children outdoors, to explore, have fun, make things and learn about nature.

 

Spring Activity Ideas:

Spring is such a great time of year to get outside – days are lighter for longer, the air is warmer, flowers are appearing, fresh greens shoots are emerging and colours are bright and vibrant. It feels as though the world is coming alive after its long winter sleep.

FSTraining Oct 2012 - 01

 

One of our favourite activities from the book for spring is to focus on insects and in particular beetles.

 

 

 

beet3
You could start by playing ‘Beetle tag’ – an everybody’s it game of tag, where you must become a beetle and lie on the ground with your limbs in the air if you get tagged. Great for a bit of silliness and a good runaround!

Following on from this, and sticking to the topic of beetles is the activity Painted Beetles. An opportunity to get creative, collect natural resources and learn about these fascinating creatures.

 

Each activity in the book comes with a ‘How to’ section, Resources, Variations, Top tips and Invisible learning so you can adapt, extend and explore to suit your learners and the learning environment.

91d26f8381bdbe878e2647ce1880c22c_largeAs well as seasonal activities the book also contains a wealth of games, naturalist activities and information and activities around survival skills including – Wild Food, Shelters, Fire and Water.

To order your copy today, visit our website.

See reviews here from Chris Packham, John Muir Award, Tim Gill, Learning through Landscapes and more!

“This book offers a chance to the youth of today and the nature of tomorrow. It has a wealth of structured, tried and tested projects, ideas and games all designed to allow children to breathe fresh air and engage personally with a real world where their minds and bodies can develop and bloom, burst into life and inspire them to love life.” Chris Packham.

Happy Reading!

https://www.circleofliferediscovery.com

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

Tel: 01273 814226

Forest School Training in Ireland!

Circle of Life Training in association with Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC offers a Level 3 Forest School Programme Leadership. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Earth Force Education to bring our ground breaking Forest School Leadership training to Ireland.

Who is the training designed for?

This Level 3 Training is designed for professionals already working with young people who wish to establish and deliver a Forest School/Environmental Education programme. It is appropriate for those over the age of 21 years with relevant qualifications including teachers, youth workers, playworkers, rangers, ecologists or teaching assistants with experience of working with young people  (at least 2 years).

What do people think about our training? See below for feedback and how to get involved!

What have you enjoyed most about this training?

Forest School Training Ireland
“How all the participants were bought together through activities, games and music and how I have noticed nature at a different level.”

“I have loved the games, songs, new ideas and learning from new people.”

“There was an excellent combination of outdoor and classroom lessons.”

 

“It was great having 3 leaders all with different experience and ideas to share.”

“Passion for the outdoors is infectious!”

Forest School Training Ireland

“The course was delivered in such a lovely way, I would love to be a child in your forest school! I have learnt more about nature and to be free of the ties and expectations of everyday life.”

“I have learnt so many practical skills as well as how to do a risk assessment!”

“I loved everything about this training, from the skills learned, enthusiasm of the trainers and have learnt so much about nature. Thank you for an amazing 5 days with a lovely team.”

“I loved using the tools, I was nervous at first but was made to feel at ease straight away.”

Forest School Training Ireland

“I enjoyed the sit spots and quite moments. The knife work was fun and challenging. You made me feel very safe and included.”

“I loved the welcoming atmosphere, the wealth of knowledge and the hands on activities.”

“I loved making crafts from natural materials found in the woods.”

How has the training personally impacted you?

“The passion of the course leaders has really inspired me.”

“The inspiring leaders have had a positive impact on me and how I work.”

Forest School Training Ireland

“I feel invigorated! I have now started to think about my own practices and bring my ideas to life.”

“I have met so many enthusiastic people on the training, I am now excited for what I can do in the future.”

“It has made me realise the importance of child led activities and has made me want to become a forest school leader.”

” I loved being in the fresh air and have felt healthier all round.”

“I had time to reflect, which I found very moving.”

Forest School Training Ireland

“The child led approach has been fascinating, I learnt to give everything a go.”

“It has been an inspiring and emotional experience (in a good way!)”

“I feel my stress levels have been reduced and you have made me re-evaluate my life. Plus, I have laughed so much! This has been the best week of my life.”

Forest School Training Ireland

 

“You have brought me out of myself and have reminded me what is important.”

This training is booked through our partner provider Earth Force Education further information can be found here.

Please contact Ciara Hinksman or call 086 3199 515 for more information about this training in Ireland.


Forest School Training in the UK

If you are looking for a course in the UK, Circle of Life Rediscovery offers a Level 3 course, commencing March 2017! Full details can be found here. The training dates are:

Part one: March 6th – 9th 2017
Part two: April 24th – 26th 2017
Part three: May 15th – 16th 2017

The training will combine key principles of Forest School with best practice from Environment and Nature Education, child development, the world of play (wild, free and therapeutic play) delivered by our professional team who have many years experience.

Please call 01273 814226 or send an email for more information.

The Great Outdoors

One great book and five great reasons to teach core curriculum subjects Outside the Classroom.

Learning with Nature is aimed at inspiring and supporting adults to get outdoors with young people aged 3 to 16 years old.

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Chris Packham


“This book offers a chance to the youth of today and the nature of tomorrow. It has a wealth of structured, tried and tested projects, ideas and games all designed to allow children to breathe fresh air and engage personally with a real world where their minds and bodies can develop and bloom, burst into life and inspire them to love life.”
  Chris Packham, March 2014.

 

“For the first time I am meeting teachers who have themselves never played or enjoyed the outdoors during their childhood. They don’t know what to ‘do’, and place a low value on the outdoors as a learning environment. We know young people today are spending hours on video games, and that their roaming radius has reduced by about 70% since the 1950s with the consequent rise in levels of obesity, mental health issues and isolation.” Marina Robb, Author and Founder Circle of Life Rediscovery.

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Learning with Nature


Why is this book important?

This book makes it possible for parents and teachers to get outdoors. It aims to capture the imagination of families and contribute to reversing the current ‘indoor’ trend. It provides a valuable resource for educators to deepen and expand what they already offer.

SPECIAL OFFER AVAILABLE NOW – £12.00 + POSTAGE. CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

1. THE ‘WOW’ MOMENT

Natural environments can transform individual and school performance. Nature can provide a fantastic Wow! moment for your lesson, to bookend your key learning outcomes, and to support them. Children have an innate fascination about nature. It may be soaking in an atmospheric place in your local park or nature reserve as a stimulus for creative writing, or estimating measurements or volumes of areas, spaces, trees or ponds as a basis for maths. The outdoors facilitates strong emotional memories and aids learning. Play outdoors can be physical, explorative, constructive, imaginative and creative.

SAM_1515There are many adventurous activities to be had in the outdoors that do not necessarily conform to normal activities such as climbing trees and playing outdoor games. Evidence shows that learning in natural environments can transform individual and school performance by increasing the standards of teaching and learning, allowing innovation, creativity and excellence in curriculum delivery, as well as increasing motivation and attainment.

For example, The Natural Connections Demonstration Project was set up as one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK. The Project approach and design is informed by the latest insight research of teachers needs, evidence of barriers and benefits of learning in natural environments and best practice models for engaging volunteers.

Wherever your outdoor classroom is, find resources to help bring the lesson to life: https://www.countrysideclassroom.org.uk/

  • Case Study: Developing children’s learning through work in the natural environment from Preesall Fleetwood’s Charity Church of England Primary School.

“The initiative started as a way of engaging a small group of boys who were underachieving and were not keen to be at school. These boys showed an interest in the natural environment and we capitalised on this by providing practical learning sessions working outdoors in the school grounds and woods. The results were fabulous. They continued to work in the school grounds during their lunch periods and they had a reason to come to school. Their attitudes improved, which carried over into their school work and their achievement at level 4 was better than expected. The ‘forest school’ and wider environmental work are now integral parts of this school’s work.” 
John Belshire, Headteacher.

  • The good practice in detail.

Inspectors identified the ‘forest school’ as an outstanding feature of environmental education at the school. All the children are involved in activities in the outdoors and in the woodland, but it is the youngest and oldest children who spend most time there. Children are allowed to climb trees and build fires. They listen to the heartbeat of trees (sap rising), and identify bird songs. They make and use tools ranging from potato peelers to knives, axes and mallets. They make environmental art, maintain the grounds and plant trees. There is a thriving ‘bug hotel’ and older children are involved in more complex tasks such as hedge-laying and pond maintenance.

While it’s clear that pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the environment improves, Julia Crompton, the school’s ‘forest school’ teacher, identifies the real benefits of this outdoor learning as:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Improved social skills
  • The development of language and communication skills
  • Improved physical motor skills
  • Improved motivation and concentration.

trackingim1“We focused on the natural environment provided by the school grounds as a learning opportunity and a way to enrich children’s experiences. The grounds were originally established about 15 years ago but had not been actively used by the children. They were used for science lessons and the greenhouse was used for growing some plants but we found opportunities to do much more. It has been made easy by the enthusiasm and the expertise of staff and is now a regular part of this school’s work.”
John Belshire, Headteacher.

Children enjoy taking risks, but the school recognises that safety is paramount. Skills are learnt carefully and safety equipment is always used. By its nature, practical work is not a mass participation activity. Children work in groups of around six at a time to ensure that they have a quality learning activity which is safe. Once the children have been taught to use tools, they will expand the quality of their ideas and plans because the range of what they perceive to be possible has expanded.

Case Study: The Chicken Project – Beechwood Primary School

“The chickens have slowed us down, they make us stop and stare’. Staff report that the children are quieter and calmer around the chickens and the whole school benefits because the aviary is right in the centre of the school.

Learning Objectives
We were looking for ideas to motivate the children to write, through cross curricular contexts and to inspire the teachers to revisit the planning and incorporate child-centred, compelling learning experiences. We were also hoping to engage the parents through homework and in school activities.

Pupil Learning Outcomes
Increased empathy and awareness of other living creatures. Awe and wonder of nature as the chickens hatch from eggs. Imagine the children writing from the perspective of the chick hatching form the egg…incredible! Confidence building, you can email a company to ask for fundraising money or telephone the manager of the local Coop to fund our coop! And many, many more!

What lessons have teachers / the school learned from the project / activity?
Ofsted like Learning in the natural environment! Our recent Ofsted report for which we received a ‘good’ included this statement: ‘Pupils are keen to undertake responsibilities such as looking after the school chickens.’ Staff discovered that children engage better with their learning when they are immersed in and have a personal connection with the theme. Money is no object, fund raising large sums of money is possible. With enough enthusiasm you can achieve anything!

2. ADDRESS DIFFERENT LEARNING STYLES

We are programmed to interact with our environment in useful ways. Being outside provides opportunities to address different learning styles, in particularly kinesthetic learners can excel as they use their bodies differently to learn. Getting all children off their seats is a great way to stretch their capacities to learn in different ways. All the senses are stimulated, the colours, textures, shapes, smells, sounds awaken our awareness and develop our skills to navigate their surroundings.

Physical Development has become one of three key areas in the Early Years Foundation Stage guidance and this is a golden opportunity for introducing Outdoor Learning. The things children do in their bodies and the way they are physically in their everyday life massively affect the way they develop, the things they can learn and how they feel about themselves.

The developing human animal is biologically programmed to get what it needs. We are programmed to interact with our environment in useful ways. Thus a low brick wall invites us to walk along it; a tree (or a chair, or an adult’s body) suggests we climb or hang off it; a large open space tells us to run. These aren’t decisions, they’re instincts, imperatives – because we must run and climb and spin and roll to grow the body systems we need for all that life asks of us in future. These instincts come before any complex intellectual or social skills. They underpin them – and our bodies know it. In the rough and tumble, run, spin, tip and roll of movement play we grow the foundations for our health, our wellbeing and our capacity to learn things.

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Children’s bodies matter to their learning

Proprioception (sense of body) provides feedback of where one part of our body is in relation to the others and how we feel in our bodies.

We are compelled to get this sense in place before we can concentrate on anything else. (Think of the day you break a tooth, and how your tongue is compelled to feel it out over and over until you have a new sense of your body, without that bit of tooth.) Developing our vestibular system (the thing that monitors our relationship with gravity and the ground beneath us), must come before any more complicated physical or mental skills we might acquire in PE lesson or in the classroom. It provides a sense of, and security in, our relationship with the world around – being in balance or equilibrium. Spinning is an excellent vestibular workout. As it happens, it also helps prepare the eyes for reading.

“We humans are, first and foremost, physical creatures. Our body is our first home. Movement is our first language. Children need support to notice, speak and work with their first language first. But our early years framework simply doesn’t reflect this. The Early Learning goals made by people who don’t move freely, for people who do (i.e. small children). When we support children to move spontaneously and freely, the learning they do far exceeds the lowest common denominators of ‘balance and coordination’ and ‘fine and gross motor’ skills, but our education culture skips over anything to do with embodied learning and we never make up the lost ground.”

If you’re not convinced, try this exercise
Put a pen in the hand you don’t write with, and write a sentence. Notice how it feels to do this, how unfamiliar and odd; how difficult it is to make your hand do what you want it to. Now write the same sentence with the hand you usually use. The feelings will be very different – full of comfort and ease; above all – familiarity.

For writing to work well, we need this familiarity. We need to be able to fall into the physical pattern without thinking about it; for our body to feel ‘right’ as we carry out the task so that we don’t have to think about it. This ‘rightness’ is provided by our proprioceptive sense, the sense of where one body part is in relation to another. (And practice of course.) This sense also controls our sense of how much force we need to hold the pencil between our fingers and pushing the pen over the paper.

Writing practice is important. But as important is the movement play that builds a felt sense of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder and back.

This is one example of the importance of senses and the development of our well-being. For more information about the above please go to: https://www.jabadao.org/?blog=

A different set of learning goals for Physical Development for babies and children:

Display a strong inner drive to explore themselves, each other and the world around through physical interactions, movement play of their own devising and physical engagement with the environment.


Are on the move for the majority of their day – moving in lots of different ways (with gusto and abandonment; care and precision; outer and inner focus; on their own, in relationship to internal and external factors, on the floor, in small and large spaces, indoors and out).


Show pleasure in being physical and know what to do to feel good in their bodies.


Show growing understanding of how to take care of themselves and other people as they actively engage in physical exploration and play.


Know how to find and use resources to extend their movement play; and how to involve adults and peers in developing their physical play.


Can make the world work for them, manipulating objects and negotiating the environment with purpose and focus, in the ways they intend; they are able to persist through physical challenges and show the determination to acquire new skills and abilities.


Show a growing ability to balance highly physical activity with rest and quieter activity.


Show a developing security and confidence in their physicality through:

  •  A growing sense of their own body (proprioception).
  • Increasing security in their relationship to gravity (vestibular sense).
  • Ease with touch and being touched (tactile sense).
  • Recognition of pain, heat, cold and hunger and appropriate responses.
  • A growing awareness of the feeling of the inside of their body (interoception) and appropriate responses.
  • A steadily developing stability and motor control in their chosen physical actions.

Take pleasure in sharing a range of discoveries made through physical play – in movement, in vocal and verbal responses, in visual representations.


Value movement play as an important part of their day and show high levels of wellbeing as they engage in it.


Use information gained through the languages of the body – sensation, feeling, movement, instinct and image – to work out how the world works, in communicating their experience, in problem solving and in becoming confident, happy, full-bodied people.


3. GET GREAT SMSC IDEAS….ANIMAL RIGHTS?

Address Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural education requirements by observing and discussing other beings: the animals and plants around us have the right to a home and habitat that suit them, but what do we do when humans need homes and transport? The opportunities to hone children’s awareness of moral dilemmas around the natural world in the city are ample. Consider how reliant humans are on tools and resources, whilst the non-human world interacts without additional resources such as clothes, fire, etc.

Thinking skills with mind and body
We need to prepare children to be flexible and adaptable members of the workforce by virtue of their abilities to think laterally, creatively and sustainably. Our culture prizes intellectual skills over physical instincts. And so we constantly try and override the inbuilt instinct to be a body in the name of ‘ordered learning environments’ and acquisition of intellectual skills. We seek to tame the body, contain it, use it like a sort of vehicle to carry us quietly to the more important things in our lives. And in so doing, we miss the obvious. Our future responsibility according to Sara Knight (2013) is to children who will be dealing with environmental and climate change. To teach, ‘science and geography about individual’s place in the globalised society. In the English National Curriculum Consultation Document Feb 2013 there is nothing mentioned about how we as individuals and society as a whole interact with these processes, such as resource depletion, and the impacts on the natural world upon which we depend for all our lifestyles not about climate change, and how we can influence and care for these key processes’.

One of the biggest issues we face today is this sense of being un-rooted; disconnected from natural world. It’s a huge problem that we face now across the whole of society. It’s to do with that deep relationship, it’s to do with what sociologists describe as a ‘profound sense of alienation’ between the majority of human beings and the natural world that sustains us and makes life possible for us.

“This has been creeping up on us for many decades. Now, does this really matter? You might say that there are many more important things to be attending to. Why would we bother about this when we have so many front of mind topical, hard issues to do with society today. For me, this is a really difficult issue, because unless we get to some of these deeper concerns, much of what we do around the specific campaigning issues will not be rooted in the current reality of where we are today. Will not be grounded in that reality.” Jonathan Porritt 2013, Outdoor Learning Conference in Sussex.

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We have to take a wide approach to give us a sense of deeper insights into those whole complicated relationships inside the wider system. To begin, you can discuss ‘Ecosystem Services’ as a way of recalibrating and re-understanding people communities and place.

 

What do some of these ecosystems mean? There is a growing school of economists who seek to put a value on each of these ecosystem services. What is the value to human kind of the free work done on our behalf? Like all those insects, birds, bees, bats… all those creatures that just as part of their life carry on, carry on this pollination work for us. Try and tot up the X billions of pounds which we would have to find to pay for man made, human-made pollination services to replace the natural pollination.

There are first steps in schools to build a visceral relationship to the world around them. How many species of flora and fauna do you know about in your school grounds? The name is the least important bit, what are the colours, shapes, patterns, the medicines, the smells, where does it like to grow and live, what is the relationship between that plant and the insects and mammals. Start small.

4. CREATE GOOD RELATIONSHIPS

Change the relationships in a conflict-ridden class by taking them to do different activities outdoors, such as learn to light fire or build a den. They will need to cooperate differently, make decisions, use different skills and engage in a stress-reducing environment, all of which can deflect tension built up in classroom conflicts. The outside environment is a great leveler, where children can be valued and find different strengths and roles within a group. Discipline and attention are increased, alongside the performance and ability of children.

Relationships between children can be challenged and deflected by exposing a group to tasks that stretch and stimulate them in different ways. Being outdoors can exercise children’s powers of observation, patience, alertness, courage and physical coordination, which are skills which in the familiar classroom are not so easy to exercise. If you go to a local outdoor area, a park with wild parts, a nature-reserve or even a cemetery, here are some activities which could work:

Make a colour bracelet. This works well in autumn when there are lots of beautiful dead leaves around. Give each child a strip of paper with double-sided sticky tape covering one side. It should be long enough to wrap around their wrist, like a bracelet or a cuff. They should stick on pieces of natural material of a similar colour as possible, once they take off the cover of the sticky tape. This will make them observe intensely the foliage around them. You can give a prize for the one with the closest colours, or to the most beautiful one. This activity works with almost any age group.

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Patience is enormously enhanced by wildlife observation. Download bug identification sheets, great ones are available from Holland Park ecology centre here: https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/PDF/Minbeasts%20pack.pdf tell the children they are to find a certain number of creatures on their sheet, and give them a good amount of time to do it.

This activity is best done on a nature reserve or with specialist support if you aren’t confident with either the species or the tools needed to find them. On a small scale, however, it can be done very simply with magnifying glasses.

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A bird-count.
Make children sit in small groups in wild areas for a period of time that will challenge their patience, and ask them to observe as many birds as possible. Spring is a good time to do this.

 

Give them brownie points if they see birds eating, or roosting or communicating: behaviours which will prove that they were patiently and quietly observed for a time by the children.

In an area with various trees, get the children into small groups, and tell each of them to make friends with a tree. They should notice its size, its texture, its bark, its smell and how the ground around its roots is. Then, one child is blindfolded and the others should turn them around and support them to re-find their friendly tree, based on their tactile and perceptual memories.

A game where children are asked to move around a wild area unobserved is incredibly exciting for children, and encourages stealth, silence, focus, concentration and care in the environment. There are lots of such games that could be adapted, but one could be the retrieving of secret items or messages to complete a story, or moving around a quiet obstacle course without alerting the opposite team.

Making a wormery can be a challenge for those who don’t like creepy crawlies. Give a prize to people who are able to pick up worms and move them around. Jumping on a piece of land to encourage the worms to come up, then put them in a wormery to observe how they make tunnels and can quickly mix soil and create compost. There is lots of advice online about how to create a wormery. The great advantage of worms is that they eat any organic matter, and they can easily be released into the school grounds if caring for them becomes too onerous, or in the holidays.

Exposure to nature calms us, lowers our heart rate and lowers cortisol, the stress hormone, in the blood, making us less likely to create conflict or lose our tempers. This is entirely relevant to children as well as to adults.

The outdoors is also a great place for teachers to observe children in new surroundings, and gain possibly new insights into their development and how they handle challenge and conflict, which can be useful in supporting individual children with difficulties in future, or gaining learning on how to manage a difficult class when back in conventional surroundings. A useful web-page on handling conflict with young children can be found here: https://www.communityplaythings.co. uk/learning-library/articles/childrenand-conflict-in-the-classroom

Berlin’s playgrounds: how to reduce urban violence through play An interesting case study is that of West Berlin’s playgrounds in the 1980s. West Berlin had long been almost surrounded with Soviet-occupied land, leaving little space for Berliners to enjoy nature. At the same time, the incidence of child and adolescent violence in Berlin’s schools was unacceptable. The education authorities undertook a very wise 20-year programme of transforming the city’s school playgrounds to make them more variant, more rich in nature and employing inspiring strategies to present choice, space, intimacy, creativity and inspiration to the spaces. They are profiled in a series of documents by Learning through landscapes, who have worked with Scottish schools to learn from Berlin and try to implement the same strategies in other conflict-ridden areas. The documents can be downloaded here: https://www.ltl.org.uk/spaces/casestudy.php?cs=31

5. BECOME AN OFSTED ‘OUTSTANDING’

Ofsted highly prizes teaching methods that include creativity and originality and engage pupils’ imaginations. Using the outside creatively could contribute to earning imaginative teachers ‘outstanding’ status at their next inspection, leading to higher status in their school and possible career enhancement.

blindfold walk
In particular, taking learning outside and following some of the activities above can combat the dreaded ‘teacher domination’, in which the teacher falls back on ‘talk and chalk’ methodology for teaching.

 

We know that sometimes direct spoken delivery of information is necessary, but the outdoor environment is one that directly contrasts the traditional arena of the blackboard-focused teaching style, and is thus likely to impress an inspector who sees teachers doing it. If you are in danger of overloading your daily curriculum delivery with teacher-talk, starting to become confident with the outdoors as a great arena for group work, independent work, creative child-centred collaborative work is a fantastic way to develop your classroom range towards Outstanding status.

Ofsted clarified, in a recent document, that they do not judge teachers’ performance on small snippets of observation, but want to collate an overall impression drawn from pupils’ work, talking to pupils and assessing their attitude to learning, observing behavior and teachers’ style with their class, as well as their evidence of practical preparation, book-marking, classroom displays and collaboration with support staff. All these can be supported by taking learning outside, in the following ways, in particular with regard to the animated and engaged way children who have enjoyed outdoor learning consistently will speak in way about it to any adult questioner, giving a great impression of their attitude to learning.

Marina Robb
Marina Robb

Founder & Director, Circle of Life Rediscovery
www.circleofliferediscovery.com | 01273 814226 | info@circleofliferediscovery.com

We provide nature based experiences and programmes that are educational, fun and often life-changing. We run funded projects with our partners that directly support health and well-being for vulnerable members of our society.

 

We offer days for schools or family days in the woodlands and bespoke residential camps and Forest Schools. You can gain a qualification in leading your own Forest School programme; improve your knowledge and skills with our adult training CPD days.

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