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  • upstreamforestschool

Grey Squirrels, 19 Oct

Our class of explorers went up the hill with binoculars to survey the scene from the highest point. Building class cohesion exploring new areas as a group, these adventures develop trust and an intrinsic sense of appropriate boundaries, while looking out for each other.

A tree was discovered en route that piqued the interest of the group and so we went there afterwards to investigate. This new cluster of trees turned out to be a marvellous play spot. New connections developed and the physical play in this space was rich and impressive. Abigail saw a big branch as a gymnastics bar and balanced and spun around gleefully. A big trunk attracted lots of climbers, reaching new heights. The climbing and balancing challenges the children took on in this space expanded their confidence and gross motor skills, while developing ways to help, support and teach each other and model effective climbing strategies.

Playing in new spaces found through student-led exploration, benefits everyone as the children affirm their sense of safety and trust in their peers and the teachers, encouraging adaptation and creativity and providing an organic sense of reward for trying new things. We find the play can be richer and the opportunity for new friendships to develop can be an adjunct benefit.

"I want to make something" was the cue for us to bring out tools. The children took up their tools with gusto... with paired attempts with big bow saws to cut through huge logs, whittling with pocket knives, carving with fine carving tools and using drills and chisels, it was an exciting time seeing the problem solving, the team projects and the great sense of personal accomplishment. The strength and perseverance required to use the tools to acheive a desired result is no small feat. Tool work is excellent for allowing children to set their own ambitious goals and strive for them. Working hard physically, testing their commitment and developing fine motor and dextrous control along the way. The sense of accomplishment when they achieve what they wanted as well as the acceptance and adaptation in their approach when they don't, are some of the ways tool work nurtures the children and their development.

A visiting lady bug, which stayed with us for a long while, was a source of fascinating conversation and cultivated in the children an automatic gentleness and reverence for nature in the ways they interacted with the ladybug, watching and passing it around.

We reflected upon our experiences with a 'whispering story' about our day, this round robin exercise building on each others' partial description of the day to create a full story of all of our experiences. Eager contributions then flowed into sharing our favourite things about forest school and then unbridled sharing about everything from birthdays, friendships and favourite tools. Encouraging circle spaces and the self-expression and sense of being heard they cultivate are some of the reasons we utilise debriefing activities every class. We find these circle spaces build connection with peers, develop trust and help the children to feel they belong and that their voice is heard and appreciated.

Connection Questions

-what did you see from the top of the hill?

- what tools did you use?

- what did you share in the circle?

- what was your favourite thing you did at forest school today?

- did you climb several trees?

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