Forest School Adventure
Naomi Walmsley and Dan Westall
The husband and wife authors of this book are passionate about introducing children (and adults) to their wild side, to connect them to the natural environment. The book of more than 170 pages is profusely illustrated with photographs and after an introduction extolling the benefits and importance of outside play in nature, is divided into four sections.
In the first, Nature Awareness, there are such activities as making a bug hotel, creating natural collages and sculptures, leaf and flower plaques, playing with clay and making 3D maps.
Each activity is introduced with the suggested age range, likely time needed, the tools required and the materials to be used. My favourite in this section is Sit Spot – finding a place to sit quietly for ten minutes or more to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the natural surroundings.
The next section, with more than 80 pages, is Bushcraft and covers knots, shelter building all aspects of fire from lighting one without matches, types of firewood and fire lays, and carrying fire, collecting water, making cordage
and rope, using a knife safely, wilderness first aid, arrow and spear making, making pots and even making a lamp from nuts.
Section three has 25 pages on Wild Food including foraging tips and recipes for cleaver and nettle cordial, nettle tea, methods of cooking chicken and fish over a fire and cooking inside fruit and vegetables.
The final, briefest section, is devoted to games. My favourites were ‘seven second camouflage’ and ‘egg drop’ – making a protective nest around the egg so it doesn’t break when dropped from around 2metres.
Interspersed with all this are half a dozen episodes from the authors’ 5 months stone-age immersion experience in the USA.There’s also a list of resources at the back of the book.
I believe that forest school should be part and parcel of children’s early years and primary curriculum. However, despite the enthusiasm for it, particularly with early years staff, many schools stop offering it for older children claiming pressure from the supposedly more academic curriculum. Perhaps reading a book such as this could re-enthuse or introduce all adults working with children to the benefits of, and learning potential across the curriculum, of forest school.
Every primary school should have a copy.