What is forest School?
A Forest School is an outdoor learning environment with a child-centred learning process that focuses on play, exploration and supported risk-taking. Both problem-solving and self-discovery are important features of Forest Schools. Encouraging children to learn through hands-on experiential learning in a natural setting helps to develop their confidence and self-esteem.
Forest Schools encourage children to be physically active. The variety of sessions and activities that are offered provide a host of learning experiences for the child. As well as the physical and educational benefits of attending a Forest School, the social and emotional development of the child are at the forefront of Forest School learning.
Forest Schools are not limited by planned activities. Forest Schools are designed to be child-led. This means children are encouraged to direct their own learning. Learning is unstructured and is led by the child’s own curiosity and interests. Practitioners may scaffold the children’s learning, meaning practitioners will offer support and guidance to children and young people as they learn or develop new skills.
A woodland or forest environment is key to the success of this type of learning. Stimulation of the senses is a key aspect of Forest Schools, with children encouraged to learn through visual stimuli, sounds, smells and tastes.
Outdoor Learning Forest School Activities
We have plenty of fun nature activities to try, whether you're planning on doing forest school with a group or just with your own children. From super fun nature scavenger hunts to making clay faces on trees and learning about the butterfly stages, you'll find lots of engaging and interesting outdoor activities here;
Colors of Nature Scavenger Hunt
Explore the beautiful and vivid colors nature has to offer with our Colors of Nature Scavenger Hunt. Not only is this a fun way to get outside and get some fresh air, but toddlers and preschoolers will love finding items to match the colors on the printable. They'll build up quite a collection during the walk.
Gather items from nature to make paintbrushes to make your art a little more interesting. We have made loads of Nature Paintbrushes using flowers, leaves, grasses, feathers, and more. Don't forget to paint some art once your brushes are complete!
Bug Scavenger Hunt
There are plenty of bugs in the great outdoors, so why not learn a little bit more about what they look like using our handy Bug Scavenger Hunt printable. It's a creepy-crawly way to spend an afternoon.
Take some natural clay with you to make funny and silly Nature Faces using acorns, flower petals, sticks, seeds, berries, and other things you find along the way.
Nature Walk Treasure Hunt
Here's another idea to get you outside and walking about: Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt. Kids can look for squirrels, birds, caterpillars, rocks, water, and more.
Our Nature Owls made with pine cones and conkers are an excellent art activity for forest school. Gather lots of them to make all sorts of fun animals. These owls were easy, but perhaps you could try your hand at a bug or a squirrel.
Collect some items in a Nature Tray with toddlers, preschoolers, or even older children. You can let the kids pick any items they wish or focus on a certain category, like seeds, flowers, or leaves.
Stages of a Butterfly
Did you know you can easily demonstrate the Stages of a Butterfly using tree seeds? It's such a fun and visual way for kids to see what the butterfly looks like in each stage, from egg, to caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly.
Fairy Nature Art
Use gathered pieces of nature and a fairy outline to create your own Fairy Nature Art. You can do this outdoors or you can take your collection of nature back indoors to complete your artwork. This would work for any outline, or you could even draw your own picture and fill it with nature.
Nature Fairy Houses
Build some Nature Fairy Houses out of only items from nature like these featured on Red Ted Art. Grasses, stones, pieces of bark, fallen branches, sticks, flowers, and more are all excellent building materials.
Take some clay (or make some!) to create nature prints with the interesting things you find. You can use any sturdy flower, leaf, fern, etc., to make interesting prints.
Starting a Fire
Practice starting a fire with a magnifying glass. This activity from Go Science Kids is an interesting and wonderful survival skill for kids to learn. Strict supervision is required, and this should not be done when your area is in a fire watch or experiencing really dry conditions.
Forest Fairy Craft
If you're looking for a forest craft that the kids will be talking about for weeks to come, make these Forest Fairy Wings and Crown by Daisies and Pie. They're absolutely stunning and are best done when the fall leaves are at their peak if you want lots of colours. However, you could still do this in summer with green leaves and wildflowers.
Loose Parts Geometry
Flex your math skills outside with a bit of 2D loose parts geometry. Use sticks or stones or other items to make different shapes like circles, triangles, squares, hexagons, etc. The Wise Owl Factory details other ways to use loose parts in math, too!
You'll be surprised at how much time kids will spend balancing rocks. This can be done anywhere you can find some rocks and stones is a good place to try rock stacking.
Sink or Float
Forest School is a great time to learn about which natural materials sink or float.
“Engage with your urban forest through our home activities. Learn more about your local plants in your neighborhood. “
Check out these awesome resources to help you explore the local urban forest. Challenge yourself to a hunt or enjoy using a tree and shrub guide to learn about the species or plants around us. Don’t forget to snap and post some pictures of the shrubs you find and tag us in them on social media.