Outdoor learning is an important aspect of the curriculum here at St. Giles CE Primary School. We follow the Cornerstones Curriculum, but every exciting topic we undertake will have a dedicated aspect of outdoor learning, from using natural materials for shelter building in Heroes and Villains, to low ropes courses in Scream Machine, and of course bush-craft skills,
We are fortunate that our grounds lend themselves to enhancing and supporting the learning we undertake.
The Staff and Governors recognise the value of outdoor learning as part of the school's curriculum and they have the enthusiastic backing of the parents. Forest Craft is a really exciting addition to the school curriculum and will benefit the whole school greatly.
Our Forest Craft programme is unique to us. We have high expectations at St Giles CE Primary School. The children work extremely hard in their lessons and are supported by very committed teaching staff. We are a very driven school but haven’t lost sight that children still need to be children and so decided that we would take our learning outside. Forest Craft gives our children freedom, time and space to thrive in the great outdoors.
Here is a whole half term of Forest Craft with the Infants.
Our Mud kitchen offers a great opportunity to work alongside our outdoor learning and Forest Craft Philosophy for our early years setting. It gives our children a great sensory experience and the chance to find their own natural resources. It really is great fun! Children love making amazing recipes from their own experiences and observations of cooking. A Mud kitchen provides a whole variety of different learning opportunities. The children connect with the great outdoors and are lost in role play, communication and creativity
A Forest Craft session is always packed full of outdoor activities. For the Infants it could be - Finding the lost stick men, environmental art, shelter building for teddies and fire making with a fire steel and birch bark. Whatever the weather. There is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing. The children bring in their Forest Craft clothes.
Both groups met up at the same time in the woodland opening. We then got to work. Survival skills and team work was this week’s agenda. We needed to clear the area of leaves and twigs, collect firewood and build a trap shelter. In the two groups the children started work, one collecting firewood and ground clearing while the other started to discuss where they wanted to build the shelter.
The group who started on the shelter checked the area for trees and a clearing. As a group of children gathered in one area another child held back in a different part of the wood. After a discussion the group decided that they should change to the area the other child had found. This was team work at its best.
The emergency whistle was blown and the children immediately gathered in the middle of the field and swapped tasks.
As the shelter began to take shape it was a great opportunity to teach knife safety. Mrs Swift had her bush craft knife out and held it out at arm’s length and turned a full circle, explaining that this is called the Forest Craft knife circle and nobody is to enter it. A discussion started about why a knife circle is needed. The children were very aware of knife safety and the implications of why it is necessary.
The wood pile was growing and will be needed over the coming weeks. Both groups came together and sat under one of the shelters. We had built our survival shelter and now it was time to talk about fire lighting. It was raining and the children were shown how to make a fire in wet weather using a fire steel and silver birch bark. They now know that the best place to collect firewood in a woodland is above their shoulder height from fallen twigs in the trees and to be patient. The fire was lit and some of the wood we collected was used. But all too soon it was nearly time to pack up and go back inside. Another great learning opportunity arose and the children were given a lesson on how to put a fire out safely and leave the area exactly as they found it.
We gathered up all of our equipment and headed inside.
Due to the nature of Forest Craft we didn’t do everything we found in that diary entry. Nevertheless we did have fire and shelter and we will have plenty of time over the coming weeks to follow in the footsteps of the anonymous, intrepid bush craft diarist.
So what do we do in Forest Craft?
The Juniors found a diary entry about what somebody else had been doing many years ago and decided we would try and trace their footsteps.
Once the children had changed into their outdoor clothing we gathered together with our outdoor survival rucksack and set off.
Walking up to the woodland area we followed red tracker markers that lead the way. However we split into two groups as we found two different tracks. We walked in silence, listening to what we could hear around us and used signs to communicate. The children were engaged with their surroundings on the whole trip to our Forest Craft Area.