Forest School was a totally new concept to me when we started our home education journey. It bears no real relation to anything I remember learning in school apart from perhaps nature walks which may have happened once a year or so.
What is Forest School?
Forest School is about getting outside and learning in a hands-on way in natural and woodland surroundings. In typical fashion, I decided if we were to do Forest School we needed a forest. So we have moved to a rural spot with our own small forest and a larger one at the front of the house. I know this sounds like absolute madness but it probably tells you everything you need to know about me along with the fact that months into our forest life, we have done very few Forest School activities.
However, with a new positive approach to our home education journey. I have resolved this is going to change.
Today we started by listing the equipment that is needed for various projects. This shows how much I have learned whilst home educating as too often I set off with enthusiasm and then realise I have not got the kit or did not read the instructions correctly if at all. My 12 year old son is very vocal about the important of reading instructions – he is so like his Dad! My daughter and I are a bit more free-thinking or chaotic – call it what you will!
My list of equipment included nearly 50 items which looked very daunting. My husband read off the items so we could make it a bit like a treasure hunt with the children identifying where we could find the resources along with the gaps if we did not have them. The children were talking over each other so we decided that we would be a better team if my husband allocated different items to each child in turn. This worked much better.
Resources and tools
Some of the items were basic things easily found in the house such as bags, soap, water, bowls, chopping boards and scissors. My husband made me smile inwardly when he used this little adventure as an excuse to say we need more chopping boards. He does like plenty of chopping boards for some reason.
Some items were tools such as a palm drill, a hammer and a hand-held folding saw. The children and myself were not at all familiar with the names of some of the tools so my husband could really help on this score. It was decided my son and husband would do the treasure hunt for tools outside in the garage and the shed later. I was surprised that my children did not know what secateurs were. I guess part of home education is working out what they already know and what is totally new to them. Tea strainer was another item they were not familiar with but it was good to hear my daughter coming up with other ways we could strain the nettle tea we hope to make soon.
We need a stick as thick as a forearm which may be challenging but perhaps not considering where we live. We wondered whose forearm we should use as the measure. Pine cones are not a problem here as we have hundreds on the ground and hanging from trees.
Pipe cleaners caused some debate with my son wondering why pipes needed cleaning in the first place whereas my daughter has used them for crafting purposes for years. Pencils, papers, felt tip pens, permanent markers and wool are always easy to find in our house. With an artistic daughter, I have probably bought way too many such resources over the years but it does mean we have plentiful supplies. We do need to get some tracing paper, craft beads and some coloured cardboard.
We giggled when toothpicks appeared on the list as my husband always has loads of these. Mind you, the same could be said of me and blankets also on the list.
We all agreed a new flask would be worth purchasing in any event.
My daughter was nervous about the idea of using a pen knife and was shocked that Swiss Army knives are legal. My son was very keen to use such items. Funnily enough, I have always wanted a Swiss Army knife.
There was debate on where we would find clay and I guess this depends on the activity we choose to do next.
I love it when we absolutely throw ourselves into home education projects as a team. With more heads on the case we all learn more and there are so many laughs along the way too.
We are using this book to get us started.
Wish us luck as we embark on our Forest School journey with gusto!