Forest School at Eigg Primary
Weekly Forest School sessions at Eigg Primary are held in a woodland area containing multiple opportunities for a great variety of activities towards meeting a wide range of learning outcomes. At the same time, an enthusiasm for the fauna and flora of the outside environment is developed while delivering aspects of the curriculum outside. The whole school (Nursery through to P7, a total of 8 pupils) now spend many Friday afternoons at Forest School, storms permitting.
Before we moved into the woods, the older children discussed risks and drew up their own risk assessment which led to our Forest School Rules. They are actively involved in planning their own activities which develops their skills in being able to manage risk. We identified and dug a fire pit and set out log seats. We have a cooked a wide range of foods including popped corn, cakes, baked potatoes & apples and Panini. The purchase of a Dutch oven and tripod extended our menu along with home-made reflective ovens and metal sieves for pop-corn cooking. Whittled green sticks are of course also used to cook damper bread and marsh mallows – a big hit.
Forest School provides a medium to teach our children the values of wisdom, compassion, integrity and justice through experiential learning in a natural setting. We have developed an inter-disciplinary cross-curricular approach with Health and Wellbeing ‘I can’ targets as our main focus. For example, while covering the Senses in science, we used our senses in Forest school to look at autumn leaves, make a picture together, listen to the sounds of the woods and trust our partner to walk us to tactile areas.
Forest School teaches our children to work independently and as part of a group – listening to instructions on how to use a bow saw; assessing how four children work as a team while lowering and raising a stick from the ground. Building a bridge across a ditch developed skills in technology – how do you build a bridge, what materials do you use; and evaluation – what did we learn from our bridge building?
Many activities are supported by parents and residents of Eigg who are happy to share their practical skills and knowledge with the children. We have recently completed a rather splendid tree house.
The Forest School environment is constantly changing and evolving but conserved through a Woodland Management Plan, researched and written by the children. The older children have worked towards their John Muir Discovery Award and plan conservation activities from the Management Plan. The lower school are working towards our Platinum Woodland Trust Green Tree Award which is currently developing their photographic and artistic skills when looking at the woods through the eyes of an insect.
Forest school contributes to the children’s wider learning. Their ownership and evaluation of activities builds self-confidence and social skills which are reflected back in the classroom. Being able to build a wood store, climb a tree or produce a piece of natural art has the potential to develop a child’s belief in their own ability to be a successful learner across the whole curriculum.
You can find out more about our latest Forest School news in our Forest School Blog Posts