Great to revisit a favourite woodland and Forest School activity.
The Basic Idea
In an area with a row or quite a few trees get your group to walk slowly under the trees while holding a CD or mirror flat at the end of their nose so they can look straight up in to the canopy and feel like they are walking through it.
This activity is most interesting when leaves are on the trees but can also be good to explore the structure of bare trees in the winter.
Age group and duration
Work with any age and can take from 10 - 20mins.
Resources you will need
Old CD's (ones that you have recorded onto will not work) or mirrors.
Find a good space with lots of trees – a row of trees along an edge of a field can work well. In advance of the activity walk the route yourself with a mirror. Make sure the ground is fairly level and free of trip hazards and that it goes under lots of trees with ideally both low (although not in your face) and high branches as this gives the best effect.
Talk with the group about how to walk safely and slowly - space the group out and keep an eye on them so they do not bump into each other. Also it is great if the group can stay quiet as you may see birds in the tree tops and will be able to focus more on what you are seeing.
Tell the group to put the CD or mirror on the tip of their nose – not under it as it will fog up – then angle it so they can just see their hair and then level off so this is just out of view and now they are looking directly up. Tell the group to stay looking in the mirror as much as they can as the feeling of being in the tops of the trees will grow. Slowly lead the group on their tree top walk.
On finishing come together in a circle to share experiences and explore what the group saw and how it felt. Discuss the different shapes of leaves and colours that the group saw.
How to take it even further or make it more challenging
You can ask the group if they can be quiet to look for birds in the trees if there are any about.
If the leaves are on the trees get the group to look for holes in the leaves. Following the activity you can then discuss what has made the holes and which insects might live and feed on different trees. You can then also discuss what might feed on these insects and explore food chains on trees.
A partnership project with Ben Carpenter founder of Grassroot Communities CIC
I am working to develop a new project exploring outdoor learning and forest school activities and programmes for all ages in my local park. All schools that are within walking distance of Greville Smyth Park are being offered the opportunity to benefit from learning outdoors in a local community green space which will connect them to nature through hands-on learning experiences.
Sessions will be tailored to the learning and developmental needs of pupils and will enhance learning across a broad range of subject areas as well as supporting the personal development of children through building confidence, self esteem, communication and inter personal skills. Progressive programmes of activity will be on offer which will have the most impact through building on the experience of each session which will be cumulative in its effect on children’s levels of engagement with learning. This will also develop a long lasting positive relationship with a local green space and increased levels of confidence for children being out in their local community. In addition one off sessions will also be possible to support wider learning in school settings.
Types of Sessions on offer:
Outdoor Learning – using the outdoor environment to enhance and support learning on a broad range of subjects such as english, maths, science and more.
Forest School Sessions – regular sessions focused on personal development particularly suited to small groups needing additional support and nurturing.
School trips – one of sessions to enhance specific learning topics and explore the green spaces in and around the park.
This project is being set up because we want to see parks used as learning spaces and because we have a deep belief that children need to spend more time learning and developing outside.
We are planning to meet with local schools to explore this further. We will also be running a twilight information and activity session on Friday 5th May at 4 – 5.30pm for local schools that are interested.
A theme that emerged from our Learning Everywhere conference in July was the idea of encouraging schools and other learning groups to use our fantastic resource of local parks to support and develop learning experiences for children in Bristol.
The current way in which our parks are used by learning groups varies significantly from place to place in part determined by the history of use of learning providers and relationships between the space and groups.
What is clear, and was reinforced at our conference, is that teachers do not usually live in the area where they teach and often do not have local knowledge of what green spaces or parks are within walking distance of their school. A fantastic resource to emerge in the last year is Bristol Parkhive - a fantastic app that will highlight local parks and green spaces nearby and provide useful information on what facilities are there, what different spaces look like and if there is a local parks group that works with the council to look after and manage the space.
Following on from the conference a group is coming together to collaborate to explore how we can create a template in Bristol that will provide schools and other learning groups clarity on how they can use parks to support their learning.
The meeting on the 5th December will be exploring the following areas:
It is hoped that an interest group will emerge from this to continue to work with Bristol City Council, as the main landowner, and parks groups to explore how we support and continue to develop both a culture of learning in parks and spaces that support it. Key to this will be developing a successful working partnership between the council, the local community and schools and learning groups to develop, use and manage these spaces.
Jon Attwood has been leading outdoor activities in the wider Bristol area for almost 20 years. He developed a passion for nature and a love of the outdoors as a child and was lucky to have a free range childhood with plenty of time exploring wild corners of rural Essex. Jon is a Forest School leader and trainer and is happiest in the woods sharing experiences with children and adults.