Our Blue Bell wood Forest Schools site is all about enabling children to explore and experience the natural world through hands-on opportunities in the outdoors. The concept has proven to develop the self esteem and confidence of pre-school children through opportunities that involve creativity, working together and child-led learning. What was your happiest childhood memory? Was it watching TV or climbing a tree or paddling in a brook?
Our Blue Bell Wood Forest school site is in a small wood under a canopy of trees which has a positive effect on a child’s well-being, just being outside in nature is calming, and you can see that in how children behave.
The children put on their Forest Schools gear and travel by minibus to the Blue Bell wood site where they gather around the fire circle to plan the activities for the session.
What are the Benefits?
As children explore the natural habitat, they become in harmony with nature, bringing a sense of belonging and contentment. The site is also a place to assess risk in a safe environment. This challenging play helps develop self-confidence, competence, emotional resilience, and a sense of independence. Without risk and challenge, children are at risk of losing their sense of aspiration and ambition.
Children are given opportunities to experience challenge through tasks which are child led. The low ratio of children to adults mean the tasks are tailored to children’s abilities and interests.
What will my child do at Blue Bell Wood?
All learning is play-based and Child-led. Time and space are limitless and there is no constraints on how long one child engages in an activity. This makes holistic development easier to achieve than in a playroom. It is particularly important for children to have the freedom to choose and express themselves creatively. If not, their innate talents may be stifled.
Activities will include:
- Exploring the woodland and making dens
- Getting messy and creative in the ‘mud kitchen’ and digging hole
- Planting and cultivating crops
- Learning about fire safety through cooking on the fire.
- Learning about insects, animals, plants and trees through investigation and foraging
- Working as a team and learning to problem solving skills through making dens and structures
- Learning about boundaries and risk assessment
- Learning about the natural environment and how their actions impact upon it
- Learning safe use of tools, such as bow saws, whittlers, hammer, mini drills.
Will my child be safe?
During the sessions, we encourage children to take part in the ‘risk assessment’ process. This develops their own awareness and allows them to risk assess when climbing, digging etc. Although children are encouraged to assess risk for themselves, this is always with a close adult guidance. Before an activity, we do a lot of safety talks before the use of any tools, and supervision is tight, with adults observing each child and tailoring the activity to their ability. For some activity’s children are even supervised one-to-one.
The sessions are staffed on a 1 adult to 5 Children ratio, significantly higher and led by Forest Schools leader, alongside Nursery staff and a paediatric First Aider present at each session.
What you will be asked to provide to stay in the nursery:
Children will need sturdy boots (wellies), hat, water-proof jacket and trousers or an all-in-one suit, waterproof gloves and layers of clothing in winter. Long sleeves and trousers should be worn in summer to protect from sun, scratches, and insect bites.