Early Years Forest Play

Seeing as so much of our play is inspired by the outdoors, I thought it would be nice to begin my blog with an account of what started it all, my passion for forest school!

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My first experience of Forest School came a few years back when I was working in a children’s centre. My manager sent a few of us off on training, I went with only a little knowledge which a quick google search had given me, I returned after 5 days training in a chilly December forest with a newly found passion for outdoor play and learning! I was so inspired by what I had experienced and learned, that I can honestly say it changed my life! The experience opened my eyes to a whole new approach to early years play and education.

And unsurprisingly when Little Moo came along a few years later, I was quick to get her out playing in a woodland environment as early as possible!

You can find out more about the history of forest schools here,
http://www.forestschools.com/a-history/

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I believe children are never too young to be introduced to the natural world! As a young baby I would lie Moo under a beautiful big oak tree in our local park and she would be captivated by the leaves and shadows swaying in the branches above. I always carried a cheap small bottle of bubbles in my pocket, and would lie next to her blowing bubbles up and she would watch them float up towards the branches. It was a peaceful quality time for us both (and only cost the price of a 50p jar of bubbles!).

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From the moment she could sit up, I would sit Moo on the woodland floor and allow her to play with the leaves, sticks, pine cones, and explore the different scents and textures, providing her with an enriched holistic play experience.

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Once she turned two, I searched out our local forest school and family woodland groups-
http://www.wackywoods.co.uk
and
http://naturetonurture.co.uk/
The experience has been fantastic, Moo loves being out in the woods, I have loved seeing her confidence grow and I am often amazed by her ability to master the uneven terrain. Most weeks she has a little tumble on a tree root or leaf-hidden hole, but she is un phased, she just gets up and carries on saying, ‘I stumble tripped again, mummy!’.

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One of her favorite activities in the woods is making cakes, such as her brilliant ‘googleberry cake’. I am usually sent out to find the ingredients for her while she does the mixing.

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We recently made mini acorn-cup cup cakes for the fairies! It is so nice to just have a moment to stop, sit, and play with Moo without any interruptions or distractions. We chat and bond over mud cake making!

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I also love how she is learning to manage risks. She learns and respects the rules around the fire circle and has even sat and practiced whittling on a carrot…

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And used a hand drill to make a hole for a mast on her bark boat…

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She loves to crush acorns with the mallet to add to her cakes…

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And drill holes in conkers to make a conker necklace…

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Some people ask how I keep her away from all the brambles and nettles, but even from such a young age she learned to identify them and keep herself away from the ‘spikey plants’ and they’ve never been a problem. Just the other day she successfully negotiated her way around the brambles to get to a berry and picked it without a scratch!

Being in ‘the wild’, Little Moo always comes across lots of little creatures.
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She investigates every single one, holds them, lets them crawl up her arm.
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She isn’t phased or alarmed by their tickley legs or slimey skin, she’s not afraid by some of them looking like nothing she’s seen before.
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I’ve even seen her stroking a big beatle like it was no different to her pet rabbit! (We could learn a lot from three year olds!) 😉
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Every week she has practiced balancing on the ‘balancing tree’…

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Just recently she took 4 big steps all on her own! When we first started she couldn’t even stand on it unaided! The look of joy on her face when she stepped and shouted, ‘look, I’m balancing!’ was priceless!

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From starting off holding on tightly to me at all times, now she lets go of me voluntarily and isn’t afraid to fall, she’s learned to judge and trust the falling distance and she just gets back up and tries again.

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And she’s always rewarded with a tasty campfire toasted s’more at the end of it all!

I could easily talk forever about the enjoyment and benefits we have both gained from forest school! Over the last year, Moo has learned such a lot about the changing seasons by being there, seeing and feeling the changes for herself.

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The experiences are on going and I plan to continue to take her along to sessions for many years to come. We love going home smelling of camp fire and covered in mud!

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I hope this personal account of our woodland experiences has sparked a desire for you and your little ones to get out there and make adventures of your own!

For those of you in the north west of England, I highly recommend,

http://www.wackywoods.co.uk

and

http://naturetonurture.co.uk/

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Thanks for visiting.
Come back soon! 🙂

Posted by Cheryl

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2 thoughts on “Early Years Forest Play

  1. Deb

    fab, fab, fab, my little man and I have always spent lots of time in the park but I didn’t even know things like this existed until just recently. Going on our first session with Nature to Nurture this weekend, can’t wait x

    Reply

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