Adventures in Nature
When is the last time you really looked at a dandelion? Ubiquitous in urban and rural settings alike, you can find them nosily popping out of dry-stone walls, scattered amongst farmers fields and clutching onto pavements lining our town centres. There aren’t many places untouched by their resilient, yellow faces yet; they are often overlooked completely or pulled out before they take over perfectly mowed garden lawns. Take a closer look, find out a bit more about them and you might just be inclined to welcome the next one to pop up into your garden. (more…)
Cycling along the canal towpath on my commute between Saltaire and Keighley, I leave behind the busy roads and grey tarmac. Instead I start my day immersed in nature with so many opportunities to see many of the ‘lost words’ that Robert Macfarlane has penned in his spell book of nature poems, written to conjure up words that are feared to be disappearing from children’s vocabulary. I am always keeping an eye out for the flash of blue that signals my favourite bird, but am usually lucky enough to spot many more of these lost nature words.
When we were younger it was such a common sight, we never gave it a name. On winter evenings, we’d leave college and walk down to the bus stop on the Headrow, while starlings gathered in darkening skies above us. We’d look up and notice as thousands of birds swooped and swirled in unison, but never considered it a spectacle. (more…)
Children climbing high up a tree, playing out of sight of adults, cooking over an open fire and whittling with sharp knives are all common sights at a forest school, but which to outside observers, can appear dangerous. The Oxford Dictionary definition of risk is ‘the possibility of something bad happening at some time in the future, a situation that could be dangerous or have a bad result’. How then, you may ask, did risk come to form a fundamental part of forest school as one of its six core principles?
You may have heard it said that forest school can’t be single session, that a forest school should be a long term programme over weeks. But why does this matter? There are many types of outdoor learning that can be experienced as a one-off session such as environmental education, field studies or bushcraft, for example and they all provide a great learning experience for children. In fact, all these approaches share the type of activities that children enjoy at forest school session, such as lighting a fire, building a den or woodland crafts. However, the real magic of forest school happens when the sessions are regular, ideally at least every week, for an extended period of time and if possible, take place in the same woodland across months or even seasons.