Tag Archives: Outdoor Learning & Play

A new Forest Education Network teaching resource

The Forest Education Network is producing a Primary Forest & Woodland Teaching Resource pack.  FEN says that if you are looking for lesson ideas and activities you can deliver in a forest or woodland environment, then its resource packs will help inspire you.  FEN says that the pack will be equally useful for those new to using woods and forests as a place for learning and those with more experience who wish to try something new.

The pack aims to help you plan curriculum linked activities from a few minutes long to a one-day visit to the woods. Some ideas will help children to adjust to the new, and perhaps unfamiliar, environment. Others support sustained learning in this natural classroom. Overall, this pack offers a range of activities to enable teachers and pupils share a memorable few hours of learning and fun with the trees as your teachers.  Packs will be available later this autumn, but can be pre-ordered.  Find out more about the pack here.

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Timber!

Timber! is a new website providing free, cross curricular, and creative resources, activities, and practical ideas on British trees and forests and their value.  Many of the resources have been developed and used with young people both indoors and outdoors by teachers and Forest School Leaders in Oxfordshire in partnership with the Sylva Foundation team.

Timber!says:

If you are an early years practitioner, primary or secondary teacher, Forest School Leader or educator at an environmental education centre or museum, you are sure to find inspirational and unique ideas here!  You can also share your own ideas and resources on British trees and forests and their value. Be part of this exciting national resource that aims to increase young people’s connection to our trees and inspires learning about woodlands and forestry and their importance to all our lives.

 

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Happy Christmas from the Training Staff at the Forest of Avon Trust!

We’ve seen an unprecedented demand for our Forest School & Outdoor Learning Training Courses in 2016 and we are very much looking forward to training more of you in the future!

Having run accredited Forest School training since 2010, we pride ourselves on the training and support we have provided many teachers, nursery leaders, outdoor trainers, support workers and others.

We gather feedback after the courses and have loved reading your comments – some of which you can read below:

A huge thank you to Sara (who took Level 1, Outdoor First Aid & Level 3 with us this year), for sharing her wonderful photography.

“Enjoyable. Inspiring. Informative. Relaxed. Lovely venue. Everything we required was accessible. Trainer knew her subject very well and passed on her knowledge clearly. Loved the ‘learning by doing’ aspect.

Level 3 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“Overall it was a very enriching and fascinating week.” 

Level 3 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“I really enjoyed the applied practical element of the course – this made it so much better than other First Aid courses I have attended.”

ITC Outdoor First Aid Trainee, Oct 2016

 “It has been my First Aid course, so I found it truly interesting and helpful. The trainers were both knowledgeable and very kind, taking the time to ask us our impressions and feedback. The course was very well scheduled, altering outdoor and indoor sessions, and I particularly appreciated that we did a lot of practice. The First Aid Manual they gave us, is a great tool to keep and to study on.” 

ITC Outdoor First Aid Trainee, Oct 2016

“The venue was ideal – beautiful grounds and perfect location for Forest School training. The trainer – Jon, was excellent. He was patient, encouraging, knowledgeable and supportive. I fully enjoyed the course and would like to take it further….”

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“Had a fantastic two days. Clarified my thinking about what a Forest School is, the history and the ethos. Gave lots of ideas for activities in the forest, some new to me, some I’d seen before, but useful refresher. The course increased my confidence, made me realise what I knew already to some extent. I know it’s hard to cover all bases on a two day course but Jon built in lots of time to chat, exchange ideas, build relationships, he was friendly, approachable, adaptable, really good leader, thank you!”

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“Thank you so much for such an awesome 2 weeks, I truly cannot wait to get going with the next stage of my Forest School journey. The course was everything I wanted, and more. It’s one thing delivering a course to people attending because they need new skills and knowledge, it’s another delivering to those attending because they have a desire for it to be the start of something big and new, to change their path in life – and I know I speak for everyone when I say your approach, style and just general loveliness meant we are all on a solid track to doing just that!!!”

Level 3 Forest School Leader Trainee, July – Aug 2016  

“Very friendly, helpful trainer. Have lots of new ideas as well as gaining an insight into the administration/rules & regulations regarding Forest Schools. I am currently a parent volunteer and feel I am able to offer more within the Forest Schools sessions now – thank you.”

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, March 2016

“It was a wonderfully grounding experience and I can’t wait to share some of the activities with both my pupils and my own friends and children.

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, March 2016

Interested? In February 2017, we are offering: More »

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Free Trees for Primary Schools

The Forest of Avon Trust has teamed up with national charity: the Woodland Trust to provide a great FREE shrub/ tree offer to local primary schools.

The FREE tree packs contain 30 shrubs/ trees and you can choose between species suitable for a small hedgerow or copse, meaning that the many benefits of trees can be brought to your school, however small your space is; we also provide guidance to help you decide what is best. 

The packs of 20- 60cm shrubs/ trees are ideal for planting by school children and each comes with a spiral guard and cane for protection.    

The Forest of Avon Trust can advise on site suitability, planting density, species choice, longer- term care and how to get your free trees. 

The deadline to order this winter’s tree packs (up to 2 per school) is January 6th 2017, (for delivery and planting in March), so please get in touch with Anna Brunton for details of how to get them by emailing: woodlands@forestofavontrust.org or by calling  her on 0117 963 3383.

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Local Schools Plant Orchards

10 schools from across the area learnt about the benefits of trees and planted orchards as part of our Schools Orchard project this year. Supported by Western Power Distribution, worked with schools in Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, some of which were also part of the Natural Connections outdoor learning project.

We worked with the following schools, providing guidance, free fruit trees and helping out with planting where needed:

Cameley Primary, Bath & North East Somerset

Welton Primary, Bath & North East Somerset

Ashcombe Primary, North Somerset

Crockerne Primary, North Somerset

Westhaven Special School, North Somerset

Courtney Road Primary, South Gloucestershire

Longwell Green Primary, South Gloucestershire

King’s Forest Primary,  South Gloucestershire

Parkwall Primary, South Gloucestershire

The Meadows Primary, South Gloucestershire.

A big thank you to the hundreds of children who got involved and planted a grand total of 95 fruit trees.

If you would like to sponsor an orchard of English fruit trees at a local school, please email: jonclark@forestofavontrust.org

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Learning at Westonbirt

Westonbirt arboretum has a series of learning activities led by its own staff, as well as facilities available to groups led by others.

The in-house activities cover Key Stage 2 , Secondary , FE & HE and Initial Teaching Training , running until November 2016.

Here are the frequently-asked questions for self-led groups.

Westonbirt’s activity packs are free and can be downloaded from these links:

There are also Explorer backpack which provide resources for a whole class to use and there are two of each backpack available.

Each explorer backpack costs £15 to hire for the day and needs to be booked in advance. If you have any further queries, or wish to book a backpack, please email the learning team.

 

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The 2016 Nature Connections conference

The 2016 Nature Connections conference in Derby on June 15th, with a focus on Getting Connected to Nature.  The conference themes are:

  • Improving links between research, policy and practice
  • Latest research and perspective on the benefits of a connection with nature, getting connected to nature, and engaging people

The keynote speaker is Tony Juniper.  Looking at the draft programme, there is much here that is relevant to anyone interested in trees and woodland, and to the work of the Forest of Avon Trust, more generally.

We noted the following:

  • The potential for connecting to nature through forest school
  • Making Local Woods Connect: Social enterprise as a mechanism for reconnecting people with woodlands
  • Investigating the effects of ‘forest school’ on the mental wellbeing and environmental connectedness of young people
  • The impact of walking environment on connectedness to nature, mindfulness and empathy: a comparison of natural and urban locations
  • 30 Days Wild

 

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New Gruffalo learning pack launched

The Forestry Commission’s National Learning Team has developed an official Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack which is linked to the Early Years and Key Stage 1 curriculum and is themed around the well-known Gruffalo story and characters.

It’s designed to provide teachers with the tools and activities to help children learn about forests through hands-on, practical activities.

You can download the pack here, or email rachel.giles@forestry.gsi.gov.uk for more information.

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New report on outdoor learning

There’s a new report on outdoor learning in the UK drawn up by the Blagrave Trust, The Institute for Outdoor Learning, University College London, and Giving Evidence.

It’s title is: The Existing Evidence-Base about the Effectiveness of Outdoor Learning

Organisations, such as the Forest of Avon Trust, that get involved in activities that fall under the outdoor learning umbrella, will be interested in this report, but it may be a disappointing read for many as it does not paint an altogether positive picture of activity leading to effective learning – nor of the effectiveness of the research and evaluation studies that are routinely carried out by those involved in outdoor learning.

This is how the short ‘conclusion’ section ends [for some reason it starts with point No. 6].

We recommend:

6. Types and volume of activity: Pulling together the various data sources on this to give the current picture, and creating a system to regularly capture data on the types and volumes of activity.

7. Improving practitioners’ theories of change: both enabling them to create them, and to use them.

8. Convening practitioners, researchers and others to prioritise research topics.

9. Managing the resulting sector-wide research agenda, through relationships with funders, and possibly creating partnerships between practitioners and researchers.

10. Ensuring that both interventions and research are described clearly, fully and publicly.

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Training with the Forest of Avon Trust

Scott shows his whittled spoon

Scott Burnett is an art psychotherapist with a particular interest in working with people creatively and therapeutically outdoors. Scott hopes to combine his Forest School training with his art therapy training to provide environmental arts therapy workshops. This is Scott’s blog post about his experiences of the Trust’s Level 1 Forest School training:

“I did my Level 1 training with the Forest of Avon Trust at Lawrence Weston Community Farm. I was hoping to develop a basic level of knowledge and skills to lead outdoor workshops with groups of children or adults. I also hoped that this would provide a good introduction to the Level 3 Forest School Leader training that I’m also planning to do.

“I really enjoyed the two days of training. Jon Attwood lead the sessions very well including a good mix of practical and creative activities in the woodland. This was combined with some ‘classroom’ learning about things such as: the Forest School approach, effective risk management, assessing Forest School sessions, and what Forest School can provide to groups in terms of learning and personal development.

“With my art therapy background, I particularly enjoyed learning new creative activities such as making leaf prints on cotton, using natural clay to make animals, mud painting, putting clay faces into tree trunks and writing poems/reflections about our experience of a particular tree. I also enjoyed learning the more practical woodland skills such as making fire with a fire-steel, camp cooking and putting up a tarp shelter.

“A big part of the experience was sharing activities with a diverse group of fellow trainees. It was a really good opportunity to build networks with like-minded people and I have kept in touch with a few of the people following the training.

“The Level 1 training helped me to build confidence in working with groups outdoors and provided me with new skills as well as potential outdoor activity ideas. I’ve already incorporated some of the creative ideas into my own environmental arts therapy workshops.”

Scott has now started his Level 3 Forest School training with the Forest of Avon Trust. If you are interested in Forest School Level 1 or Level 3 courses or other training with the Trust, please go to: http://forestofavontrust.org/training/

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