I started back the weekly forest school I facilitate in West Cork in early February. We were welcomed back with bright blue skies and heat. It was so warm in fact, that on our first day back the kids got themselves into some serious water play. Happy faces all round. I was keen to continue to follow the kids interest in wildlife and flora and through this hoped to encourage the children to develop their listening, communication, observation and literacy skills.
We began every session with a Welcome Song and passed around the talking stick to give those that wanted to share an opportunity to do so, and those that didn’t an opportunity to listen. I brought feeling prompt cards for the first few sessions just to help us along.
We walked the forest, quietly, resting and listening for birds so we could identify a good place to set up our bird watching spot for Spring. As we sat quietly in the new bird watch out, we were welcomed with chaffinch, robin, blue and great tits.
Every morning we played an Animal Scavenger Hunt. The kids had to find letters hidden in the woods. They named what letters they could before hearing clues and guessing about the animal hiding in the letters.
We played Nature Doctor Detectives. Finding and learning about some of the medicinal plants growing right under our feet. The kids knew quite a lot about these with very little prompting from me. Plaintain for munching and stings, gorse for munching, cleaver and nettle for tonic, comfrey for fractures and breaks and navel worth and dandelion leaves for munching.
There is always an abundance of time available for the children to free play and for me to follow their lead and curiosities. Climbing, running, mud cooking, building bug hotels, wooden animals, drum kits and imagining the hours away.
We have been getting into the habit of taking 45 minutes of our 3 hour session in the cabin. We do story and movement. We stretch, shake, roll, crawl, freeze, and dance. I don’t know where this lovely co creative adventure is taking us but I do know it continues to be a lot of fun.
Written by Niamh Geoghegan Co-ordinator and co-founder at Mucky Boots Forest School