At The Outdoor Teacher, we have developed the idea of the Forest School Continuum, where at one end of the continuum we have a child-led ethos, that is supported by the Forest School approach and at the other we have an adult-led ethos, which is more usually the outdoor learning approach. We think that it is our role as professionals to provide as much person-centred education as possible within our context, using our expertise to link the learning we observe back to the curriculum where appropriate.
Snow to Water
For example, with ‘technology’ you could invite children to take part in an activity known as ‘Snow to Water’ where the purpose is to discover how the water quality differs depending on where you take the snow from. Take 15 minutes to fetch snow and allow time for it to melt (use buckets) and then see what’s floating in the water. You can filter the snow using a coffee filter. Let the children hypothesis about how the water looks and why, and how it relates to where the snow was taken.
Birch Leaf Detergent
Get ready for spring and make a batch of nature’s detergent from birch leaves! Make your own detergent by collecting fresh birch leaves in a plastic bag then add 100 to 200 ml of water. Shake the bag until white foam forms. Let the pupils wash their socks by putting them in the bag and shaking it a bit. The socks will smell nice once they are dried! You can discuss the impact of laundry and detergents. How is animal and plant life affected?
There are also endless ways of teaching mathematics and English in the outdoors too! It may feel daunting to take practical ideas and link them to formal education settings – but with a little inspiration and guidance there isn’t anything you may offer in the outdoors that doesn’t have place within formal education. Using our heads, hands and hearts really does make for a rich and fulfilling learning experience.
Our ‘Forest School Activities Online Course’ is full of ways to offer exciting ideas that link to education. Watch out too for new online courses as they appear, and many more that will be coming over the coming months!