Several times each week we go out and explore park and woodland (The Nuttery) areas in our community with small groups of children. By investigating and exploring our local natural environment we will be adopting the ‘forest school’ ethos into our teaching and learning provision.
Forest School Ethos
The ethos of Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and for their capacity to instigate, test and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children's right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world; and the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through all the challenges of social interaction, to build a resilience that will enable continued and creative engagement with their peers and their potential.
Children and young people are given encouragement to direct their own learning - this often requires catalysing either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through 'scaffolding' a child's learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors.
Significantly, and on many levels, a woodland environment is central in supporting this very dynamic approach to learning: the passage of time, from the changing of the seasons, to the contemplation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment - an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes; a range of visual stimuli from near to far, high to low, very big to very small; and the infinite layers of historical, cultural, spiritual and mythological significance that speak of our deep relationship with trees and woodland through the ages.
Our aim is for your child to experience nature and the outdoor environment in a safe, secure and hands-on way. The children are encouraged to investigate & explore but also to respect all living things. Children learn best from first hand experiences, exploring, playing and so learning using a range of activities is what outdoor learning is all about. Building a sense of independence, high self-esteem and team work are important, but health and safety considerations are always of paramount importance. We complete thorough risk assessments for all our outings and these are available for you to view in the setting. We also provide weatherproof suits for the children to wear and only request that each child brings a pair of wellies (although we will keep some spares).
Here are some of the things we have been getting up to on our trips:
We have been learning about local history and decided to find out more about Clare Castle. Clare Castle is at the heart of the Country Park. It was first built about 1000 years ago in 11th century by a rich Norman knight called Richard FitzGilbert. He later changed his family name to ' de Clare' naming them after the town. The castle was originally built in wood but rebuilt 200 years later in stone. There are parts of the stone castle that can still be seen today.
We found out that the castle was originally a 'motte-and-bailey castle' that was made up of two structures:
1) A motte (a type of mound) topped with a wooden or stone tower like structure known as a keep
2) A bailey, a fortified courtyard type enclosure built next to the motte.
We went off on a trip to investigate.....