Outdoor Learning Experiences

Supporting learning and engagement with the natural environment for all ages

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Autumn activities

The weather is just beginning to turn cooler, and some schools are already e-mailing in to secure their dates for Forest School. Personally I think Forest School is best in the autumn, when there are so many colours in the woods, and leaves, acorns and beech nuts provide lots of materials for art and craft activities. There are still opportunities for schools to come for Forest School sessions. Another popular activity is to come and visit the walled kitchen garden, which is full of blackberries, plums, grapes and many varieties of apples and pears,  as well as being the site of vegetable growing for a box scheme. Schools can link this to harvest festival, or just allow children the chance to taste fruit as they pick it straight off the tree.

Autumn is also the time for my favourite event, Art in the Woods, which will take place on October 13th in Hitch Wood (2-4 pm). Further details on the web site. This event is always enjoyable. A clearing in the wood becomes the site for  range of creative activities using natural materials. Hot drinks and cakes are sold by Emily’s tea shop, so that whatever the weather  adults and children can keep warm and fed. Parents are generally amazed at how engrossed children can be, and its even better when the parents become engrossed too! Several local artists come together, and for the past few years there has been a communal sculpture which everyone can contribute to, and at the end of the afternoon it is hung in the trees, for walkers to enjoy in the weeks to come. This is also a great opportunity to check out the forest school site, and get a taste of what forest school has to offer.

 

Summer camp success!

Our Forest of Frogs summer camp was a great success. Over two weeks from mid – late August,  children aged 6-12 came to the gardens of St. Paul’s Walden Bury for a mixture of forest school, nature art and craft, and drama workshops. Each week we started working with the children to identify characters and draft a plot, which was then turned into scenes. Script were written and dance routines choreographed over the course of the week. Children also enjoyed map reading, camp fires, smores (toasted marshmallows sandwiched between biscuits), and lots of creative work with clay and natural materials.  We used the resources from the garden to make props, including some beautiful headresses  and crowns made from woven willow, flowers and leaves. Each week ended with a fantastic afternoon of theatre, as both the younger (aged 6-8) and older (aged9-12) children put on their shows. The plays were staged in different parts of the garden. The children really enjoyed it, and some are already urging their parents to book for next year. After the success of this year, there will definitely be a summer camp next year: we will post dates and photos soon.

Forest of Frogs Summer Camp

This summer we are offering a new summer camp experience, bring together Forest School activities with theatre classes.

Forest of Frogs summer camp brings together our experience leading outdoor learning, and the experience of Box of Frogs Theatre School run by Lou Davidson. We will be combining elements of each to provide an interesting but unique summer camp experience which will include forest school activities, drama workshops, and nature art and craft. Children will enjoy the grade 1 listed gardens of St. Paul’s Walden Bury which provides a natural environment in which to be inspired to write plays, create props using natural materials, and engage in games and activities which allow them to explore and develop their understanding of nature. Orienteering, camp fires, music, drama, art and craft.. Opportunities abound for fun and inspiration!

The camp will be taking place in August. Book for Aug 12th-15th, and / or August 19th-22nd. The camp is open to children aged 6-12, and will run from 10 am- 4 pm, with breakfast and aftercare available if you need to stretch the day from 9 am – 5 pm. The cost is £160 for 4 days, but those booking before June 30th can receive an early bird discount to reduce the cost to £140 for 4 days. All bookings must be made through Sarah Cash at Box of Frogs Theatre School, email sarahcashbofts@btinternet.com, or call Sarah Cash on 07971 163880.

For further information see Forest of Frogs Summer Camp flyer

 

What’s in a name?

Why Outdoor Learning Experiences? Well, everything we do is outdoors. Children spend most of their time at school indoors, but sometimes there’s s a real benefit in moving outside the classroom, away from the same desks and tables, and learning in a different way. Learning can involve using all our senses, listening, feeling, smelling, seeing, touching, and even sometimes tasting. I have heard some teachers claim that quite a lot of the primary school curriculum could be taught out of doors.  While I am not sure I would go that far, I do think that much more can be taught outdoors than is done so.

So much of science and geography lends itself to outdoor teaching, and aspects of history can be taught outdoors too. It’s about exploring the world and discovering what is out there. Outdoor learning makes things more relevant, and breaks down the separation between “book learning” and “real world learning”.

Learning outdoors, in the natural environment, makes learning a more memorable experience.  Learners experience the weather, whether it is sunshine on their faces, or a memorable rain storm. They smell the aromas, feel the textures of things such as leaves, bark or mud, in their fingers or beneath their feet. They run up or down hills, experience the darkness of the woods and the brightness of the sunshine.

Outdoor learning is not separate from indoor learning: they are linked. Outdoor learning can develop a wider vocabulary, and be the topic of new writing back in the classroom. Visiting a farm or allotment at harvest time can contribute to RE teaching at Harvest festival.  FACE (farming and countryside education) sums this up in a fantastic diagram which depicts all the topics surrounding a tractor, and can be seen among the images appearing on the educational visits page.

Outdoor learning also allows children to develop “soft skills” alongside curriculum topics, outdoors. So team working, overcoming challenges, assessing risk, developing social skills – all these can also be enhanced with learning outdoors.

Take your children outdoors to experience a new way of learning!

 

Welcome to Outdoor Learning Experiences

Welcome to outdoor learning experiences, a web site which brings together outdoor learning practice and research. This site covers a range of themes from forest school , farm education, science field trips, to current debates and research about learning in the natural environment. Feel free to pick up on the strands that interest you most.

Summer events

This year Open Farm Sunday will take place on June 8th, and we will be offering farm walks alongside the gardens of St. Paul’s Walden Bury, which will be open to the public for charity on the same day. So drop in for gardens, tea and cakes by the WI, and to learn more about farming.

Later in the summer, we are hosting a summer camp. Forest of Frogs summer camp brings together our experience leading outdoor learning, and the experience of Box of Frogs Theatre School run by Lou Davidson. We will be combining elements of each to provide an interesting but unique summer camp experience which will include forest school activities, drama workshops, and nature art and craft. Children will enjoy the grade 1 listed gardens of St. Paul’s Walden Bury which provides a natural environment in which to be inspired to write plays, create props using natural materials, and engage in games and activities which allow them to explore and develop their understanding of nature. Orienteering, camp fires, music, drama, art and craft.. Opportunities abound for fun and inspiration!

The camp will be taking place in August. Book for Aug 12th-15th, and / or August 19th-22nd. The camp is open to children aged 6-12, and will run from 10 am- 4 pm, with breakfast and aftercare available if you need to stretch the day from 9 am – 5 pm. The cost is £160 for 4 days, but those booking before May 30th can receive an early bird discount to reduce the cost to £140 for 4 days. All bookings must be made through Sarah Cash at Box of Frogs Theatre School, email sarahcashbofts@btinternet.com, or call Sarah Cash on 07971 163880.
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