The following activity guides have been developed by Rachel Tomlinson for the Forest of Avon Trust to help groups and families use their senses to explore and discover natural spaces that have trees growing in them.
These activities can be used during a walk, picnic or as a more formal education session to learn about the natural world.
The first two activities relate to Kingsweston Estate in Northwest Bristol and are set out to be part of a walk to explore the area around the house. However the spaces to play and explore guide has activities that could be used elsewhere. Kingsweston Estate is a public park with a cafe.
Kingsweston Estate Activity Guides
Tree Treasure Hunt at Kingsweston Estate (pdf)
Spaces to play and explore around Kingsweston Estate (pdf)
Explore & Discover using your senses – games and activities
Woodland Collecting Game (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Natural Textures – page1 (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Natural textures – page2 (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Natural Shapes – page1 (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Natural Shapes – page2 (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Looking – page1 (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Looking – page2 (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Listening – page1 (pdf)
Woodland Bingo – Listening – page2 (pdf)
This year, the Forest of Avon Trust has over £1,000 to fund native trees/ shrubs for local communities and schools to plant. All we need is a great idea, the agreement of the landowner and a commitment to look after the trees.
We are looking for applications from across the whole of the Bristol & West area (formerly Avon). The scheme is open for as long as funding is available and planting will need to be undertaken between mid November- mid March.
The trees/ shrubs supplied are bare- rooted and less than 90 cm tall. Rabbit guards will be funded, where necessary, for small schemes.
For further details and an application form click: Free Trees Form 11_12.
Great thanks are owed to Trust sponsors, Friends and to Nicola Mason, for her fundraising efforts, who have made the Free Trees Scheme possible.
Some quiet time to reflect.
Children playing outdoors and groups being taken in to natural spaces is nothing new. Forest School in the UK has been developed over the last 15 years through influences from Scandinavia but also from a long history in the UK of groups playing and learning outside.
What is starting to develop now is a wealth of both informal and formal observations and case studies of the benefits of supporting groups of all ages to access nature. Anyone who has come across Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods will be more than convinced by the need to get children out in to green spaces. Over the last 10 years Forest Research, which is part of the Forestry Commission, has expanded its research to explore in detail the ways in which trees benefit wider society. The breadth of evidence presented by Forest Research of spending time in woodlands along with books such as Sara Knight’s Forest School for All helps to establish the importance of these experiences for all of us.
Common themes emerge from Richard Louv’s overview of global research and of the work of Sara Knight and researchers at Forest Research. Experiences in nature, particularly but not exclusively for children, have the potential to provide the following key benefits: Increased confidence; Increased social skills; Improved language and communication; Improved motivation and concentration; Improved physical fitness and ability and increased levels of interest in and concern for nature. An important point as highlighted by Richard Louv is that if society does value the benefits of spending time in the natural world then it is important that children develop a lasting and caring relationship for it as they will be its future stewards.
Locally the work of the Natural Connections project, at the Forest of Avon Trust, and Rowena Kenny, of Forest Foundations, have explored these themes through case study projects in the Bristol area.
Rowena’s in depth Exploratory Case Study of Forest School in the Early Years Foundation Stage and her wider work can be found online here.
Jon Attwood’s case study project in partnership with Twerton First Steps Nursery in B&NES can be downloaded here.
Exploring natural colours in the woods and creating a Natures Palette
Sessions run by Natural Connections to work with Adults with Learning Disabilities are being further developed through a new project ‘Into the Woods’. The development of a new partnership with the Silvanus Trust and the Faculty of Education at the University of Plymouth has made it possible to extend this work and explore in more detail the potential benefits. The project is being developed and run by Nicola Ramsden and Rachel Tomlinson for the Forest of Avon Trust and has three main aims:
- To explore what people think and feel about their involvement in woodland activities and how their experiences contribute to their personal and social wellbeing;
- To help people providing these activities to establish the benefit they have;
- To share the results and any lessons for best practice, with other people who provide woodland activities, as well as funders and researchers.
Information and feedback will be collected before, during and after the six sessions being run with the groups, from Shirelink day care centre and City of Bristol College. A report will be produced evaluating ‘Into the Woods’ and findings will be used to inform best practice.