Forest School Adventure - Review & Author Interview

A few weeks ago we started our new Nature curriculum using this amazing book, Forest School Adventure by Naomi Walmsley and Dan Westall, packed with information, ideas and lovely colour photographs throughout. We have taken our classroom outdoors and into the garden, park and woods making bug hotels, 3D maps and leaf printing. The book is an excellent educational tool for all educators, and children who want to get up close to nature whilst learning how to make fires without matches, build shelters, cook on fires and how to forage.

From essential basic bushcraft and survival skills to fun outdoor play this has been the best book I've added to our growing Home Ed library this year! It's broken down into four main sections covering Nature Awareness, Bushcraft, Wild food and Games.

The kiddies have enjoyed looking through the book by themselves and have been inspired to get outdoors to try out new skills such as tying knots and going on a stalking walk. It's also been a new learning curve for me too as I've learnt all about plant identification & foraging foods, there are some great recipes to try out too! My favourite part has to be the 'Plants for wilderness first aid' which educated us all about the plants that contain healing such as the Common Yarrow with its antibacterial properties. I also love the fact that it teaches children about knives being an important outdoor tool and how to use them safely. The authors have also added their own experiences of outdoor survival through entertaining stories which we read together. 

Today I managed to catch up with Naomi, one of the authors, to ask her a few questions all about taking the classroom outdoors and the benefits of outdoor learning. So grab yourself a cuppa and have a read! ;)

What are the benefits of taking learning outdoors?

When children learn outdoors it gives them a wider environment to learn from. It offers opportunities for spontaneity, movement, creativity and also to learn about the world around them. I believe all subjects can be taught outside using nature as a tool for learning. Maths can be taught counting and sorting pinecones or acorns. Science can be outlines by looking at how things grow. Geography by studying the lay of the land, art by painting what they see or looking in depth at the intricate details of bark. The list here is endless.

What skills do children learn at Forest School?

Children can learn a range of skills at Forest school from Bushcraft, nature awareness and nature crafts. But above all else, it’s an opportunity to explore outdoors, watch the changing seasons, take calculated risks (climbing or balancing on trees etc) and connect to the outdoor environment.

What age would you recommend a Forest School curriculum for?

Forest school should be for all ages from around 2 up until adult hood if it was up to me!

Does it encourage children to ask questions about the world around them?

Absolutely! The questioning opportunities never end outside. Why? How? Who do these tracks belong to? What can this stick be made into? Who ate this plant? Why do trees grow here? Endless.

Would you say a Forest School encourages children to help protect and preserve their local area?

Absolutely yes. I believe that by learning about the outdoor world it will inspire young people to want to take care of it, preserve, respect and protect it.

What are the benefits of learning life skills at such young age?

If children have their curiosity sparked at a young age within the realms of Forest School then it will hopefully inspire them to respect their outdoor world as well as helping them grow into rounded, confident, creative individuals.

Do you have any advice for parents wanting their children to start a Forest School?

Do it! All children, of all ages should have access to a Forest School, whether on schools grounds, a woodland, a meadow etc, on school time or at the weekends. There is so much to learn outdoors and so much fun to be had. Let your children roam, explore, take risks, fail and try again and ask questions and I guarantee they will benefit from these opportunities to grow naturally.
Ask your school to start something if they don’t already.
Or start your own group at the weekends with a bunch of friends. Forest School has many disguises, create your own. All you need is a few children, an outdoor area and an enthusiasm to get muddy, get crafty and get stuck in!   

A big Thank You to Naomi for answering our questions! I hope you've all been inspired to get your children out and about learning in the wild! My kiddies certainly love learning outside the four walls of our Home Ed classroom!

Do you take your classroom outdoors? Do you attend a Forest School? If you're looking for a book about outdoor skills and play for children, then this is the perfect book for you! This chunky book is printed on thick, high quality FSC paper which can easily be picked up and taken out and about as you and your children explore the great outdoors on your wild, muddy adventure. There is something for all ages from messy play and bug hunting for the little ones and tool making and sourcing water for the older ones!

Forest School Adventure published by GMC Publications is available to purchase here.

Disclaimer: We were sent this book for review purposes and all opinions are my own.


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