Last week I was lucky enough to spend the week on Forest School training in Queens Wood and in the beautiful – yet very well hidden – Meadow Orchard in Crouch End. It is a community area located very close to Park Road Pools which features fire pits, stone buildings, a beautiful meadow with a variety of trees & wildlife and most importantly – a very unique loo! The center runs Forest School sessions, weekend children‘s activities and adult meetings. More details can be found on their website here:
During the week myself and 10 other teachers from a range of settings across London were taught important Forest skills including building dens, tying ropes, tool handling, fire skills and games involving the great outdoors. Many of these activities can be adapted to younger ages and can be implemented within Pre School – both as stand alone Forest School sessions and as daily activitie
s in the front garden which we are planning to develop into our own green playground.
For me personally there were two stand out lessons. The first was about the way we move when outdoors – walking heel first is a relatively recent development for humans and we were designed to walk on the toe part of our feet first. To highlight this, we covered our ears and eyes and walked normally, then walked on our toes. It was surprising how much noise and vibration moved up our bodies and explains why young children often start off by walking toe first. It also means that the noise vibration is also going down, which could impact the wildlife hiding beneath the ground.
The second lesson involved taking a handful of very wet mud and rolling it for several minutes into a smooth ball. As this was happening, a sense of calm fell over the group – demonstrating how mud is known as nature’s Prozac and antibiotic. It can have beneficial effects on our immune systems as well as on mental wellbeing. One leader of the group had run ‘mud counselling’ sessions with children who had survived the Grenfell Fires, with great success.
The next Pre school Forest School session will begin in a few weeks and we will also be developing our outdoor provision in the front garden for all children, so if you find a child up a tree covered in mud whilst tying their Key Worker up with rope, it is all in the lesson plan!