We offer Forest School sessions on Thursday mornings. These, along with Music and Sports, make up the weekly rota of Special Activity Sessions which are available to your child. We ask for a supplement these sessions, due to the extra costs involved in providing this experience at Pippins.
At Pippins, we are lucky enough to have access to a wonderful woodland area on the site of Icknield Primary School. We run regular Forest School sessions, led by a qualified Forest School leader.
Forest School is a really important part of our preschool. Since we’ve started running sessions, we’ve seen children grow in confidence because of the time and space they have to explore their surroundings. They work together in groups, learning social skills and the importance of collaborating.
The children have so much fun exploring, using their senses and creating their own games within the trees and shrubs, with many of them forming friendships with new children. It is wonderful to see confidence shine out of the children as they climb a tree independently or take part in activities that are quite challenging.
Ropes are used to create a rope bridge and a selection of swings that the children can take turns climbing and balancing on. Some children have really persevered when it has been tricky, and they gain huge satisfaction through achieving their goals.
Staff encourage children to use all their senses and develop language skills – we talk about what things look like, feel like, smell like, and sound like.
Forest School is great for improving fine and gross motor skills: we pick up logs and branches, but we also look at (and often touch!) the tiniest insects. The children enjoy going on a minibeast hunt and know that a good place to find them is underneath the log seats where it is dark and damp. They understand how important it is to be very kind and gentle to our minibeast friends and that we must always put them back in the place where they have been found.
Some children practice using simple hand tools, such as the hand drill to make holes in wood cookies, which can then be threaded with wool to make Christmas tree decorations, or the secateurs so we can cut sticks in preparation for clay creatures.
We know from countless pieces of research that time spent outside is vital for health and wellbeing of children and adults. They learn about their environment in such a different way from indoors – we can look at books about birds, but it’s not the same as actually seeing and hearing birds in nature with our highly-qualified Forest School leaders.
More information on the benefits of Forest School can be found here.
Most importantly, the children really enjoy Forest School! They are all so excited about going out, shouting, ‘It’s Forest School today!’ while they put their coats on.
The children walk to Forest School as ‘Strawberry Soldiers,’ where they sit around the log circle to talk about our important rules. We often have a King or Queen who likes to sit on the throne and a Knight to guard the castle. During one session, an owl asked the children if they could build a nest for her, the children stepped up to the challenge gathering sticks and working together to make a wonderful nest.
The “mud mountain” is a firm favourite! The children use it to make mud puddles, dig for treasure and roll apples down that they’ve picked from trees in the wildlife area – just a few ideas they have created to use this popular spot.
Our Forest School sessions run throughout the year, in all weather. Exploring the world at different times of year is important, for the sensory exploration that comes with differing weather. However, our Forest School leaders always assesses the weather on the day of a session, and would cancel if it were unsafe or just too cold or wet to be any fun. Additionally, we maintain robust risk assessments and high child:staff ratios for Forest School sessions, to ensure that children are given the opportunity to test their own abilities in a controlled, safe way.