Outdoor Learning Experiences

Supporting learning and engagement with the natural environment for all ages

Category: Research

Spring

The bluebell woods are coming into flower, and with the warmer weather there is a renewed interest in outdoor learning. If you haven’t had the courage to bring a group of school children to a farm or to forest school, have a go this term. I am happy to offer a farm visit which includes a “taster” of forest school, if you would like to give it a try without committing to a series of sessions.

On June 8th  Outdoor Learning Experiences is offering farm tours of East Hall Farm as part of Open Farm Sunday. Meet at St. Paul’s Walden Bury, where the gardens will also be open. Open Farm Sunday is free, but if you enter the gardens (for which a charge applies) there will also be teas and home made cakes for sale.  In addition to June 8th, the gardens at St. Paul’s Walden Bury are also open to the public as part of the national gardens scheme on April 13th, May 11th.

Farm Sunday has expanded to offer a wider season of educational visits for schools. Open Farm School Days runs from June 2-13th, and aims to encourage schools to come and visit farms. This is a great time to see a range of crops as they mature, as well as farm animals (including our calves).

Looking further ahead, we are planning something new this summer. Outdoor Learning Experiences is teaming up with Box of Frogs Theatre School to offer a summer day camp for children ages 6-12. Activities will include drama, music, nature art and craft, and of course, forest school. The camp will run August 12-15th, and 19-22nd. Further details will be posted shortly.

Winter

When the temperatures drop and the days are shorter the whole farm slows down. However that does not mean there is nothing to do. For one thing, the cows are brought in, and need feeding daily. Furthermore, there are many jobs to do which are more suited to the cooler weather. Woodland management becomes a key feature, and in particular, hedgerows. We have kilometres of hedgerows that need cutting to keep in shape.We also have newly planted hedgerows that need laying -a traditional country craft that ensures that hedges grow more thickly, and provide a denser barrier between fields. Hedges also provide habitats for wildlife, whether it is nesting birds or small mammals, and are long habitat corridors along which wildlife can travel in relative safety.

We are fortunate to have a highly skilled hedge layer (Donato Cinicolo) coming to St. Paul’s Walden twice. His first visit will be an informal talk about hedge laying, to be held at the Strathmore Arms pub on Jan 14th (7:00 for 7:30). He will then return to the farm on Feb 8th to run a hedge laying course. If you would like to learn this traditional country craft, please contact me. The day-long, hands-on course costs £60 and includes a hot lunch indoors.

The winter is also a key time for planting shrubs and trees. As part of our HLS agreement, we will be planting traditional fruit varieties in part of the walled kitchen garden: apples, pears, cherries and green gauges.

I already have several schools booking in for forest school or farm visit in the spring and summer. If you would like to bring a group please contact me to secure your place.

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.

 

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

 

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.