New to Forest School?

Newly qualified or still training?

By now you will know that Forest School training focuses on safe practice in working outdoors, educational theory and providing the trainee with a basic practical skills set, such as lighting fires and handling wood. It places the responsibility for the development of a curriculum that is appropriate to your setting on you, the practitioner.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ or National Curriculum for Forest School.

Forest School is rooted in the principal that working in Nature is good for us; Nature heals. The guidance offered here is based on one approach – that of activities based on practical skills, whether it is sewing or sawing, shelter building or jewellery making.

Forest School Freebies is a tool to add to your armoury.

A collection of ideas that will support your own creativity.

Activities

Forest School Freebies offers a range of basic ‘off-the-shelf’ activities with the non-specialist in mind. If you work in school grounds and see your groups on a regular basis, this is for you. We offer free activity plans which you can download and print. We provide explanatory Skills Builders for some of the activities to help with set-up and delivery.

Skills Builders

Our Skills Builders are here to support you with activities that may require a new skill set.  Some explore basic Forest School skills such as the safe use of saws and hand drills and sewing and weaving with tapestry needles. Others address more complex activities and how to approach them for example shelter construction and labyrinth building.

Our Forest School Skills-Builders are provided as online PowerPoint presentations for you to watch at your own speed. Why not check them out?

Short sessions on the school field?

The activities on offer are designed for the 1 – 2 hour session. It reflects schools that offer brief Forest School experiences to children on a weekly or bi-weekly basis as part of a broader outdoor provision. The activities are ideal for combining with a mixed programme.

Group sizes

We need to tackle this one at the start. The activities on offer have half classes or fewer in mind; that’s 12 – 14 children at maximum. Small groups always work best and the benefit diminishes as the group size grows. Where sharp tools are in use, an assistant will be necessary to achieve acceptable adult:child ratios. Children with additional needs may need one to one support. Don’t be told otherwise. If it feels unsafe put pen to paper and submit a report.

Materials

If you are new to building your materials arsenal you will discover it is no easy task if you are school-based. Do you have any tree-surgeon parents? Is there a local scrap store? Have you tried parent appeals for materials?

By ‘materials’ we mean a mixture of gathered-from-nature items, such as firewood, hazel sticks, hay, willow, vine, leaves, conkers, sea and mollusc shells and pebbles, together with manufactured items, such as wool, fabrics, split cane, tarpaulins, card, tape and rope and twine.

Inability to access materials significantly curtails what you can do. Check out our Skills Builders section for more information.

Tools

Some of the activities outlined on this site and in our literature require the use of tools. Using an age and ability appropriate tool set must be your goal, and such choices can only be made by you and in context. Nonetheless we intend to provide what guidance we can about the types of tools that are appropriate for the primary setting.

The important thing is that you should be safe and competent in their use. Practice makes perfect and trying out the tool-based activities yourself first will enable you to assess their suitability for your children.

Safety

If you are Forest School trained you will know that safety is the paramount concern.

Safety is about being clear about your competencies and working within them. Think ‘qualifications and experience’. If you want to try something new get the advice and training first. Do the paperwork. Write an activity specific risk assessment that considers individual children and appropriate supervision ratios. Discuss the activity with your line manager.

The Forest School Level 3 qualification requires an in-date appropriate outdoor paediatric first aid responder certificate. Always follow your school guidance on how to deal with a medical incident.

Using this site

The site enables you to access 3 types of information –

    • Activities: A range of free Forest School activity plans that you can download and use in your setting.
    • Skills Builders: These are online PowerPoint style presentations that you can work through to support the development of your activity repertoire.
    • Books: Offering over 250 outdoor activities & projects our reasonably priced books are available to buy.

We welcome your ideas and input to help us improve.

The Books

Forest School Freebies works in tandem with our publications

Book 1 - Forest School for the Primary Setting

Woodland stories, Role-play and Craft Activities for Children

Activities for 4 – 10 year-olds with age adaptability in mind. Each of the 52 lesson plans has an accompanying story, based in an imaginary wood. The stories provide a context for the craft activities as well as providing a framework for engaging children in imaginative play. Illustrated with photographs. See our Books page for more details.

Publication Date Spring 2024

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Book 2 - The Power of Outdoor Learning

107 Lesson Plans & Projects for Schools

2nd Edition

This is the second edition of our activities for children and young people aged 11 – 16 and contains over 100 activity plans, together with explanatory diagrams and photographs. Many of the  activities in this book are intended for half day sessions. There are also projects that require several sessions to complete.

 

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Book 3 - The Power of Labyrinths

 100 Activities & Projects for Schools and Community Groups.

Written for schools and community groups this book provides guidance in the construction and use of labyrinths in educational settings with 100 activities for all age groups. This is a valuable additional tool for Forest School Leaders and curriculum leaders wishing to expand outdoor learning and spiritual and emotional development. Fully illustrated with diagrams and photographs.

Third printing Spring 2024

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