Forest School is an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning.

The Forest School approach has been successful with children of all ages who visit the same local woodlands on a regular basis and through play, have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. Through Forest School learning, children will develop: self-awareness; self-regulation; empathy; good social communication skills; independence; a positive mental attitude, self-esteem and confidence. Many of the strengths and qualities we teach as a Building Learning Power school.

Mrs Todhunter (Forest School Leader), Miss Hamilton (Forest School HLTA) and Mr Watson (Forest School volunteer) will be taking groups of children to the Forest School site at Whinlatter every Friday. All children in Years 1, 3 and 5 will have approximately  6 sessions (morning or afternoon).

Fairfield Primary School is committed to Forest School and outdoor learning.

Why Forest School and why Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) is important to Fairfield?

Learning outside the classroom is about raising achievement and allowing the most fulsome personal development possible for all the pupils and students involved.  It is an approach which uses the pupils' and students’ experience in new environments as a stimulus so that they learn about themselves and the world around them more effectively and faster than ever before.

It is thus about helping young people learn everything - from facts about the world in which they live, to facts about themselves, their responses, their interests and what drives them on.

Above all it is about helping all pupils and students make the most of their attributes, their lives, and their experiences so that ultimately they can lead lives which are varied, fruitful, and fulfilling for themselves, and which make a contribution to the society in which they live.

In this regard Learning Outside the Classroom is about raising achievement and raising the individual’s awareness of the self through an approach to learning based around direct experience.

Thus it is about what we learn, how and where we learn, and who we are.

Academic Year 2020 - 2022

We are really looking forward to starting our Forest School curriculum, with the Year 3 children.  Due to the diseased tree in Whinlatter Forest, we have moved sites (again!), as they are currently cutting all trees down in our old Forest School site.  We have moved back to Setmurthy Forest and have found an amazing new area to set up our new site.  The children will be starting at the site this week (06/09/2021) and they are really looking forward to their outdoor learning.  We will post weekly updates, to show you all the fantastic work the children have been doing in the outdoors!

Academic Year 2020 - 2021

COVID-19 changed our forest school slightly this year.  After putting in the necessary measures, we were still able to take the children out into the forest in their separate bubbles, which was brilliant news for everyone!  Due to isolating bubbles and lockdowns, some of the children did not make it out into the forest, so other sessions were put in place later on in the year, to accommodate all the children and make sure no-one missed out on their outdoor learning sessions.

YEAR 1 - Forest School Summer Term 2021

We were able to take Year 1 back into our Forest School site, at Spout Force in Whinlatter Forest.  During the Summer Term, the Year 1 children were learning about birds and trees, so we used this as our focus for our Forest School Sessions.  Each class had 5 sessions each in the forest, in their own bubbles.  1RE attended Forest School in Summer 1 and 1SR attended Forest School in Summer 2.

Week 1 - Nature Art and fat balls

In forest school this week, we asked the children to make pictures of birds using the natural materials they could find around them.  The children made some fabulous art work!  Miss Hamilton made fat balls with the children, 1RE placed their fat balls around the school site and 1SR placed their fat balls around the Forest School site.

Week 2 - Making Birds Nests

Carrying on with our bird theme, we asked the children to get into groups and make a giant bird's nest, using the natural resources they could find around them.  The children showed great collaboration skills and there were definitely some future leaders!

Week 3 - Bird Watching

This week in the forest, we took the children for a walk to see if they could spot any birds.  We could hear lots of bird chirping in the trees, but we decided, due to the wet weather the birds were not as active as they had been the previous week, when it was sunny.  They children used a bird identification sheet when they spotted a bird.  We saw a robin and a wood pigeon!

Week 4 - 1RE completing Birds nests / 1SR new Forest School site.

The children from 1RE in Summer 1, completed the birds' nests they had started on Week 2, they did a brilliant job! 

1SR moved to a new Forest School site, in this week in Summer 2, this was due to a diseased larch tree in our forest school area.  All of the trees within 4 hectres of the diseased tree needed to be cut down, with help for Nathan Fox, who we liaise closely with from the forestry commission, we managed to get a Forest School site for the last 2 weeks of the Summer term.  On this week for 1SR, they explored the new site, found some birds feathers, a few caterpillars and most importantly, two tree swings!

Week 5 - Final Forest School Day

On the final day of each classes time at Forest School, the whole class went into the forest for the whole day, rather than going in two groups (morning and afternoon).  When 1RE had their final day, we were joined by Miss Peile, the trainee teacher in Year 1.  Miss Robinson joined 1SR for their final day in the forest and Mrs. Studholme made an appearance during the day, to see what the children had been doing.  The children brought along their own packed lunch and Miss Hamilton cooked sausages on the campfire for them too, which was expertly lit by our Forest School volunteer Mr. Watson.  The children also toasted their own marshmallows on the campfire for their pudding.  An excellent day was had by everyone!

YEAR 5 - Forest School - After school club 2021

Due to the country bring in lockdown for most of the Spring Term in 2021, the year 5 children did not get out into the forest. Instead sessions were put in place, as an after school club on the school field, from 2:30pm until 4:30pm, so the children did not miss out.  Each of the classes had 3 weeks of forest school, completing activities based around the book 'Treasure Island'.  During the Spring Term the Year 5 children learn about the Victorians, 'Treasure Island' was written during this period.

Week 1 - Making Bread and Butter

In groups the children made bread dough, following a recipe given to them.  The children then toasted the dough on a stick, over the camp fire.  The children were given a jam jar and some double cream, they turned the cream into butter by shaking the jar as vigorously as they could, separating the fat from the butter milk, they found this quite hard work!  They children then enjoyed tasting their bread and butter.  For the second class, we decided to use a wok and make the dough into small flat breads, as we found it cooked quicker.

Week 2 - Mapping Skills

Referring to the book 'Treasure Island', we asked the children to get into groups, next we gave the children a blank piece of paper and a pencil. First, the children needed to draw a map of the school field, adding in all the significant features.  After that, the children needed to decide where they were going to bury their treasure.  Next, the children made instructions for another group to find their treasure, to make it slightly difficult, we had areas of the field, which we said were swamp lands and they needed to be avoided.  The children complied their instructions, using different directions and turns (Using their mathematical skills) and by saying how many steps were needed to move.  

Week 3 - Raft Building

To get the treasure back from the Island, like in the book 'Treasure Island', we asked the children to make small rafts.  They were given some materials, but the other materials they used were found on the school field.  Some of the children used the small hand saw and the loppers, to help make their rafts.  The children made some amazing rafts!  The big test came when we asked them to put their rafts into the water, to see if they would float.

YEAR 3 - Forest Schools Autumn Term 2020

The children (and staff) were extremely excited this week, as Forest Schools started again for the Year 3 children.  The children's focus in Forest Schools, was once again based on the History topic the children are learning about, which is 'Who First Lived in Britain?' (Stone Age).

Week 1 - Shelter Building

Myself (Mrs Todhunter) and the children, discussed how the first Stone Age people from the Paleolithic Period (old period), built their houses.  The children came to the conclusion, the Stone Age people built their houses from wood at this period in time.  The children also went on to explain what the main needs were, when building the houses.  They decided the houses needed to be: waterproof, warm and strong, so they did not fall down.  The children put themselves into groups, and found an area they thought would be good to build a shelter,  They then set out to build their own version of a Stone Age shelter.  The children collaborated really well together and made a great start to their task.  Unfortunately, for the afternoon group the weather was not in our favour and it was very wet, but this did not damped the children's spirits!

Week 1 - 3ET Shelter Building

 

Week 2 - Making Fire

This week in History and English the children have been looking at Stone Age tools and weapons.  The children had a discussion on how important fire was to the Stone Age people.  They discussed how the Stone Age people needed fire to: cook their food, keep them warm, ward off dangerous animals and to use as a torch for light when it was dark.  This week in Forest School, the children have all had a chance to use a flint and steel, to light a small piece of cotton wool.  I explained to the children, the Stone Age people will have used pieces of flint to make a spark because steel had not been discovered.  They all said it was more difficult than they expected, but they had a great sense of achievement when they saw a flame.  They were very resilient and determined to make a fire.

3ET - Making Fire

 

3GT - Making Fire

Week 3 - Hunter / Gatherer

This week at Forest School we discussed what the Stone Age people ate.  We talked about how the Stone Age people would hunt for animals for food (linking to our English text Stone Age Boy), we also talked about how they would forage for berries, nuts, seeds and wild herbs around where they lived.  We went on a walk to see if we could find any signs of animals, using our Animal Footprint ID sheet.  We also used a Berry/ Seed ID sheet to identify any food which could be foraged in and around the Forest School Site.  We found some different animal footprints and faeces, so the children decided deer and rabbits live in the forest.  We also found Rowan berries, elderberries, brambles and acorns in the forest.

Week 4 - Wind Chimes

This week at Forest School the children discussed what the Stone Age people may have used for musical instruments at gatherings or festivals.  We discussed  how the Stone Age people used wind chimes for musical instruments as well as, a way of warding off predators from their homes.  The children made their wind chimes in small groups then, they put them up next to the shelters they had made.

Week 5 - Making Tent Pegs

This week the children made tent pegs from sticks found in the forest.  The children used a sheath knife and learnt how to whittle a stick into a tent peg.  We discussed how people in the Stone Age would have made pegs, to hold down the animal hide on their tents.  The children also pointed out, that the people in the Stone Age will have used a sharp stone to whittle, rather than a steel bladed knife.  

3GT Snow Day!

Due to the amount of snow, which had fallen over night, we were unable to access the forest school site with the morning group.  This did not stop the fun though, we parked the minibus lower down the valley and went for a wintery walk.  After a lovely walk, the children enjoyed playing in the snow and had a short break for their hot chocolate and biscuit.  In the afternoon, we were able to gain access to the forest track.  We parked up and walked to a very snowy forest school site.  The children made snow angels and had a snow ball fight! 

 

Academic Year 2019 - 2020

YEAR 5 - Forest Schools Spring Term 2020

The Year 5 topic in Spring Term was 'The Anglo-Saxons', so we decided as the focus for our Forest School on becoming Anglo-Saxons and building our own Saxon houses .  The children were able to find their creativity and explore what life was like for the people of that time and the hardships / issues they faced when constructing buildings.

 

Week 1 - The children started to dig the foundations for their Saxon houses.

Week 2 - The children collected logs and brought them back to the Forest School site.

Week 3 - The children made the frames for the Saxon Houses

Week 4 - The children started to wattle the frames of their houses.

Week 5 - The children in 5ES were supposed to daub their Saxon houses, but due to the weather conditions, the children completed a reflection task in the classroom of their time in the forest.  Miss Hamilton and Mr Watson braved the weather and cooked sausages for the children at school in the Forest School area. All the children managed to toast marshmallows too.  Unfortunately 5EC did not manage to complete the final week due to lockdown.

5ES Photo Gallery

5EC Photo Gallery

YEAR 3 - Forest Schools Autumn Term 2019

The Year 3 topic in Autumn Term was 'Who First Lived in Britain?', so different aspects of the Stone Age was decided as the focus for our Forest School.  The children were able to find their creativity and explore what life was like in the Stone Age.  

Stone Age Shelters

In the first week the children sat around the fire circle and discussed what Stone Age houses looked like and how they could make a shelter themselves, they decided the shelters needed to be: waterproof, secure and warm.  The children chose the people who they wanted to work with and set off to create their shelters. From the photographs, you can see the superb shelters the children made and the fantastic effort all of the children put in.

 

Stone Age Hunter and Gatherers 

The next couple of weeks at Forest School the children discussed how the Stone Age people ate. First, they decided they needed to find animal tracks as this is how the Stone Age people would of hunted for the animals, they decided they could use the animals meat to eat, they also decided they could use the hide to add to their shelters and make clothes with. The children also discussed how they could use the animal bones to make tools and weapons.  The children went for a walk to find any signs of animals which may live in the forest.  After that, the children discussed what they could eat if they could not find any animals, they decided that they could gather different berries, nuts and seeds from the forest.  On the walk the children discussed how only certain foods would be available due to the different seasons.

 

Making Tent Pegs

The next part of our work in the forest linking to the Stone Age was making tent pegs.  The children discussed how they could secure the hide over the shelter from the animal into the ground so it did not blow away.  The children were given a stick from the forest and shown how to use a sheath knife to whittle the wood into a tent peg.  The children started by whittling one end of the stick into a point, the children where then shown how to make a notch in the opposite end of the stick to tie the string to.

 

 

Making Wind Chimes - Musical Instruments

The children discussed what the Stone Age people may of used as a musical instrument at gatherings or festivals.  They thought they may of used drums and rattles as they could be made from wood.  We discussed with the children how the Stone Age people used wind chimes for musical instruments as well as, a way of warding off predators from their homes.  The children made their wind chimes in small groups then, they put them up next to the shelters they had made.

 

Final Day in the Forest - Whole class

On the final day in the forest, the whole class come to the Forest School site together with their teacher.  The children enjoy a full day of activities and have their lunch of either a sausage or bacon sandwich in the great outdoors.  After lunch the children then toast marshmallows on the open fire for pudding!


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