“Play is a biological necessity that puts the child in the driving seat.”
The play theorist Bob Hughes inspired the recent Forest School Association conference with his words about play. There were challenges in that speech for us all too. He talked about when children’s play becomes sexualised and violent. Play which makes us, the adult uncomfortable. He said that if we truly support the play process then we should allow it to ‘play’ out. That a child needs to have a range of experiences for their healthy development and the adult should not intervene with this process. For me and for others at the conference this conundrum is manifested regularly in the woods when we see a child’s interaction with living things and when those thing are killed or harmed because of the interaction.
When I walk into the woods it’s nice to try and see what invitations there are for the senses; a whiff of wild garlic, dappled light, a splash of yellow woodland flowers, birdsong, an uncurling frond of bracken, you know, the things that really invite your senses to come alive.
During my years as a Forest School leader one if the attributes that I find myself drawing on is flexibility. Being able to change plans, put aside my agenda because of the weather, a really interesting discovery in the woods, because of something a child needs or wants to do –my flexibility is core. [..read more..]
Working with Young People with Challenging Behaviour in the Outdoors
Level 3 OCN (3 credits) – with Jon Cree and Lily Horseman
When: 28th-30th September 2015
Where: Rookhow, Grizedale, Cumbria
Cost: £300 (includes basic accommodation in the bunk house)
Download a booking form to reserve a place on this course.
There are many ways that I have used over the years to set ground rules with children. It always boils down to this though… [..read more..]
Sitting around the fire at a recent Forest School conference a fascinating discussion developed about the nature of the pedagogy we employ. My friend Annie, of Get Out More, remembered a conversation she and I had had a few years ago. [..read more..]
I was just repacking and checking through the safety bag that I take into the woods with me and I felt like something was missing. There had been a lot more space in the bag over the summer but as the weather changes so does the contents of my safety bag. [..read more..]
Giving control over content and intent of play and learning to children. [..read more..]
I thought I’d share with you a little doodle I had in the last edition of the Forest School Association newsletter. This is based on something that happened with a group I was working with a few years ago.
When you follow the children’s ideas you end up in very interesting places!
I recently spent a week in Hamburg and Berlin with a study tour for play professionals co-ordinated by ip-dip.com and www.meynellgames.org. The tour took us to scrapstores, adventure playgrounds, public parks and playspaces, community provision, waldkindergarten and green school playgrounds. [..read more..]
Challenge: moving out of your comfort zone but still being able to function
“So, what makes you feel comfortable?” This was the question I asked a group of seven to nine year olds this week. [..read more..]
Sometimes I feel like describing ‘play’ is like drawing the wind. You can recognise it, you know what it looks and feels like, but it is somehow nebulous and hard to pin down. [..read more..]
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato [..read more..]
I’m slowly getting through the backlog of jobs to do brought on by having a wonderfully wildly busy six weeks. I just worked out that I’ve had six weeks where I was in the woods or working outdoors with children or training adults every weekday except one, some weekends too! [..read more..]
Last night a group of newly qualified reception teachers came to the Foundation Stage Unit where I am doing some work with three to five year-olds. The lead teacher was talking about the ethos of the setting where I work and how the planning is built around the children and following their interests. The effort and energy is put into recording, reflecting and responding rather than planning and preparation and the environment is set up to enable the children to access resources and ideas on whatever level they are at. [..read more..]
Leaping from the treehouse
Even in that frantic run up to Christmas the Foundation stage children (aged three to five) who had been working on the treehouse were reflective of their experiences. The tree house building which has been recorded here
ground to a halt when we found we had a structure that we could leap off
. [..read more..]
Tracking tracks in fresh snow
Snow that is covering lots of the UK at the moment and when I’ve been out and about I can’t help keeping my nose to the ground looking for tracks. Walking up on the moors on Sunday (before it got so deep) we noticed a regular little round regular mark, keeping pace with some human footprints. [..read more..]
Deep play – overcoming fears and apprehension
As the children had their lunch I went up to the treehouse site (if you are new to this project then catch up here
). I wanted to check things over and see what things looked like without half a dozen small bodies on top of the walls and door frame. A group of girls came out after their lunch and watching them playing in the treehouse distracted me so I didn’t get a chance to get any tools out. [..read more..]
Most building sites don’t down tools every time someone finds a worm!
Last week I began a child led project with a foundation stage group of children to build a treehouse.
It was a very process oriented project. The children were content to have moved from hammering, sawing and drilling around a table inside, to have moved to hammering, sawing and drilling around a pallet outside. This week however they were very keen to have something that felt like a tree house. To the two wooden pallets and small pile of wood I added some fence posts. [..read more..]
A tree house project would interest a lot of the children
After the popularity of the work bench in the Atelier
I was reflecting on how we could keep developing our skills with the tools and make a collaborative project. I also wanted to take the work bench outside. [..read more..]