Forest School Level 3 Course: Day 2

Day two of the course started rather wet and windy – I’m really glad I made a conscious effort to pack the waterproofs in the car as they were needed straight away. To warm the group up the trainers tasked us with building ‘dens’/shelters either using man-made or natural materials – our choice.

I was in a group with two other women and straight away we set about building a simple, quick shelter amongst three trees…

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The tarpaulin was held up by a rope (one of the women was a sailing instructor so knew her knots!) and held down by logs. Simple yet effective.

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Others created more creative shelters using natural materials or a mix of both. Our was the only one to use the tope to hold up the material.

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It was fun. It was designed to get us moving and warm but also as a reflective exercise. Do young people need a lot of instructions or do they get creative? Is it by trial and error they need to learn or by guidance from their peers or an adult? It was very interesting reflection discussion which guided the group on to discussing learning theories, how children learn and develop and considerations of a Forest School leader.

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We were given a few discussion points as well to consider within groups – especially the barriers to outdoor learning and What is a Forest School? That sparked an interesting discussion about the different connotations of the word “school” can provoke. As you can probably guess, it’s half term, therefore, a lot of attendees are school-based (except one).

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After lunch, we were given mini nerf guns and told to go play in the woods- yes really! “Was this Forest School learning?” we were asked after a good half an hour shooting neon form darts at each other. “Does everything have to be able learning?” “Can we learn through play?” Lots of reflective thinking and thoughts challenged. There is a lot child can learn/develop through play but does it all need to be structured and target driven?

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By the afternoon the wind and rain had completely cleared and the sun was shining again so the last activity of the day was Kelly Kettles. To describe a Kelly Kettle “… an efficient portable device for boiling water outdoors using twigs and other small combustible materials; these devices consist of a water jacket surrounding a fire chamber which creates an upward chimney draft ensuring efficient and rapid boiling even in windy or wet weather.” (Wikipedia, 2018). I just think they’re good fun.

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We watched a quick demo and in pairs had a go ourselves. The lady I was with hadn’t used one before so I helped as she set about preparing and striking the flint and steel.

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It took quite a while to start with all the wet wood about and the wind blowing out the small flames to being with. Eventually, we got it going, boiled our water, enjoyed our hot chocolate, reflected on the practicalities (or lack of) of using these with Forest School groups, packed up and were on our merry way home…

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So day two was an enjoyable day of reflective thinking, discussion and listening to other’s viewpoints interspersed with fun activities in the woods. The assignment accompanying this course does look long, with many different things to write about, but we’ve been given good guidance each day – I’m interested in learning more about the different theories when I come to write about them.

Just Joanne.

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