During Forest Schools the class starts from basics such as looking for leaves and other interesting fauna and flora, this is to reach the learning outcome of “searching and exploring”.
The fragrant foliage on a damp day will inspire and differ from the same patch on a hot day. This is a great way to allow our students to explore their feelings and reset their mood and calm down.
While exploring the students discover the rich aromatic pine chippings that have been recently processed in the forest school’s area, these are a great source of fuel for later lessons.
To allow the students to gain confidence fire is introduced. The danger element of fire is a great way to get each student’s undivided attention. They quickly learn that they need to be in control of the fire and not the other way round. They are encouraged to make their own fires in a small container called a “Kelly Kettle”. This water boiling device is a great way to measure success, they either boil the water and drink hot chocolate or they must ask a friend to use their water if they do not succeed. This is a fantastic way to inspire the schools core values of perseverance, kindness and respect. Perseverance of making their own fire means they get that sense of achievement that comes with boiling water and seeing the fruit of their labour. If they persevere, they might be able to show kindness to a fellow student who has not fully succeeded in their task and share their boiled water for their classmate’s hot chocolate. Respect for the fire is absolute, no respect means a potential of burnt fingers. But the respect that is kindled into life is for each other, to see each student helping each other is extremely heart-warming and builds an esprit de corps.
Later lessons, the students learn to bake a simple bread on a stick, this is where history is slipped in to their unexpecting ears. An explanation of the brief history of damper bread, how it was lovingly called “Tommy’s” by soldiers fighting Napoleons armies as they crossed Portugal and Spain.
The primal element of sitting around a fire and telling stories is something that the students tend to do well, granted the stories from our cave dwelling ancestors would not include Fortnite or other Xbox games, but the conversation is respectful with plenty of laughter.
Finally, we add the pine wood chippings that are packed full of vitamin “C” to the fire. The release of the rich pine smoke adds flavour to the students bread.
Using different wood on a fire is a great way to teach our students about tree and leaf ID, thus enabling them to achieve the learning outcome originally given. they now understand how a basic knowledge of the woodland can make food taste better, calm them down and spark their imaginations.