The power of the internet is quite simply outstanding... only a few weeks after officially launching my Instagram page I received a lovely message asking if I wanted to collaborate. I could not have missed out on the opportunity to work with Rosie Parsons, an award winning photographer! So a date in the diary was placed and I got to work on putting together a Forest School session for her four young children.
Forest School can be interpreted differently by the person delivering it, personally I like to create sessions around building the children's confidences, igniting their imagination and exploring the natural world around them. I decided that I would use my famous (well almost famous) 'magic box' and wrote a personalised letter from 'Wendy The Weather Fairy' to the children. Wendy had had a terrible time during the stormy weather which resulted in her wand being dropped into a lake, meaning it wasn't working properly and she could no longer manage the weather! Wendy kindly asked the children to build her a new fairy home where she could dry out her wand properly and take control of the weather again!
This simple story sparked the children's imagination and directed them on a journey of discovery, exploration and play. I am never too worried about the session going exactly as I had planned because children are fluid and I want them to lead their own paths, and our fairy house ended up far better than I could have ever imagined! Covered in glitter, sticks, ferns, materials, and we even made a washing line!
Next we ended up creating a pretend fire, threading leaves onto sticks and 'cooking' our leaf kebabs - this was completely unplanned! The fairy house was finished (the children occasionally going back to add little decorations) yet they were still happy exploring. My initial idea was a natural art picture, however one of the children put a handful of leaves in the centre of stick frame I had placed on the ground and our imaginations took a new direction - this is the beauty of forest school, the environment provides us with so much open ended play.
At this point the boys were off discovering the immediate area, looking at sticks, climbing on logs, fallen branches and creating their own play - which is great. The point of forest school is to be there for the children and if they want to engage in a specific activity then fantastic - but it is equally fantastic if they wish to be independent learners too, as soon as you force children that are not interested into doing a certain activity you loose all the creativity, enjoyment and spark of learning. This is not to say the boys did not participate - they did and they kept coming back to see what was going on but they enjoyed 'doing their own thing' too.
We then ended the session inside a den, that was already put together for a story. I had bought along a few books for the children to choose from, I adore books and reading with children so this naturally was a good way to conclude our morning. The children chose 'Oi Frog' by Kes Grey & Jim Field (a fantastic book if you have not read it!), it was a nice wind down and moment to come together.
It was a wonderful morning and thank you to Rosie, who took such amazing photographs! If you are interested in Forest School and wish to learn more do get in touch and I hope this has given you an insight into the possibilities that the outdoor environment can provide!
Do check out -www.rosieparsons.com