3.1 – Evaluate each Forest School session and make amendments to next session plan as appropriate

Session 1

Today’s session went well and pretty much as planned. We toured the site and made sure the children knew the location of the wee tree and compost toilet and the tarp which is being used to store bags etc. and also houses the kettle and drinks. We walked a circular path around a central are of the woodland that we are using as a boundary for games to ensure children don’t stray towards either the reservoir edge or the pool without staff with them.

Some of the children know or have met each other before, some don’t and haven’t. All enjoyed making name discs. There were no conflicts and it looks like they are all going to work well together. I suspected that this group would have a different set of needs to original client group the sessions were planned for. The children have already shown themselves to be confident and keen to engage with activities.

Session 2

As expected there wasn’t much passive learning going on. There was variation amongst the group but all of the children were demonstrating levels of self confidence and ownership of the session, whether it was pairing/grouping themselves up or

The reflection activity was the least successful element of today with pretty mixed engagement. A couple took to and enjoyed it but generally the group, while very happy to talk about what they were going during and after activities, were far less interested in the actual reflection and we ended up playing another game of 1,2,3 Where Are You? Reflection activities are probably the ones I find most difficult to plan and I’m not sure with this group how to go about it. They were all very happy talking about what they were doing and how and why they were going it. It might be that rather than discreet reflection activities at the end of session opportunities for reflection are provided in this way.

Session 3

All of the group loved the Smell Detective game. It ended up with them splitting themselves up into two groups with two games going on independently at the same time. The outdoor art was enjoyed by the majority. A couple opted out in favour of building a den and one other, who was feeling less sociable this morning, took himself off and spent about half an hour quite contently sat in a tree.

We played Creeping Comanche in the morning and afternoon. It’s not a game any of them had played before and the rules in the morning game were a little ‘flexible’. This group are really good at conflict resolution though and a group consensus and group interpretation of the rules was reached pretty quickly. The afternoon game went well but bizarrely the rule changes from the mornings game seemed to have been forgotten.

The games are what this group seem to be enjoying the most and I don’t think we’ve played one yet which hasn’t involved active participation from all the children.

As a group these children have plenty of confidence and self esteem and empathy. It’s challenge in developing practical skills that they need and a shame we can’t use fire or tools during these sessions as I suspect they would thrive on fire building and cooking activities and with tool use.

Session 4

We made peg people/creatures today and a village for them to live in. I gave them little more direction than that. It’s always fascinating to watch the different directions they go off in and the variety of things they produce. I won’t be using stick on wobbly eyes again though, the pack was dropped and it was a but of a nightmare making sure we’d left none behind.

I’ve been really enjoying these sessions this week. Most of the time the children I’ve worked with need a lot more support/direction when it come’s to creative activities so it’s been a chance to play facilitator. I’ve found I’ve had more time than usual to step back and observe what they are doing and how they are interacting with each other.

It’s interesting to see how the group work in different combinations during different games/activities. A couple of groups often naturally form and there are a few friendship/sibling pairs that stand out but it would be difficult now to pick out which children knew each other before these sessions.

Session 5

We played 1,2,3 Where Are You? this morning and it was a great example of the group taking ownership of the activity. We’ve played it a few times now and, along with Vanish, it’s a firm favourite. They’ve already been organising themselves and sorting who is hiding and who seeking. They adapted the game this morning and decided that instead of calling out they would make animal noises. They spent over an hour playing they game and trying out a variety of different animal noises, comparing at the end of each game what they thought of that particular animal noise. In the end Wolf howl was crowned the favourite closely followed by Owl hoots.

I’d planned for them to make clay creatures and then construct habitats for their creatures. The extra time spent playing this morning meant we only had time for the making the creatures and skipped the rest. We had a quick final game of 1,2,3 Where Are You?  with Wolf hows and everyone went away happy. Building the habitats might be something we squeeze in tomorrow depending on time.

Session 6

We spent a long time, probably close to an hour, making the mini rafts today. Some of the older children finished earlier but were happy playing their own games whilst the younger ones finished theirs. We then spent what was probably another hour down at the edge of the reservoir testing them out. After a break for food and drinks we got the face paint and camo paint out before playing some Vanish and 1,2,3 Where Are You? . Today flew by.

It’s rained all week but today the showers were heavier. That combined with the visit to the reservoir edge to test the rafts resulted in a very happy but very wet and muddy group by the end of the day. Probably a good job it was the last session of the week.

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