Therfield First School

“Bringing Learning to Life”

Forest School

Outside Learning

At Therfield First School, we place high importance on outside learning.  We recognise that learning does not always need to take place within the classroom.  We provide our children with many opportunities to learn in the natural environment and apply their learning in real-life and practical contexts.  In 2017, we launched our Outside School provision.  In 2018, this evolved to weekly forest school sessions.


Forest School

The ethos of Forest Schools is to ‘allow children the time and space to develop skills, interest and understanding through a range of activities which provide practical, hands-on experiences in a natural environment.’  Forest school helps children with their confidence and can improve their self-esteem, emotional and mental wellbeing.


What does Forest School look like at Therfield First School?

In addition to our emphasis on outside learning, all classes receive an enriching and inspiring weekly Forest School session.  All children keep wellies in school and wear weather-proof overalls during their 'come rain or shine' sessions. Each half term has an exciting over-arching theme which threads through all sessions for that half term. Sessions develop a range of practical skills (making dens, cooking around an open fire, using a range of tools etc), whilst supporting pupils to develop skills and knowledge from other curriculum subjects.  This includes the fieldwork component of Geography as well as Science, Maths, English, Art, DT, History and Music.


Each session starts with a song to focus attention to the natural environment, using Mindfulness techniques.  Rules of keeping safe are discussed and the learning objectives for the session are shared.  


Please read below for an overview of our 2021-2022 half termly forest school sessions. There is an accompanying slide show of photos to give you a snippet of the awe and wonder that our children experience.  For greater information, please see our weekly newsletter for a weekly Forest School update.  


Autumn 1 - Senses

The first topic ‘Senses’ was a very exciting theme that the children looked forward to each week. They enjoyed using the natural world around them to explore each sense.  A great example of this was playing ‘What’s that smell?’ The children used pots to fill with different items they could scavenge in the forest school space for their friends to guess… blackberries, rosemary and lavender were the most recognised. As well as this, when learning about ‘hearing’ the children created their own band; discovering different sounds, pitch and volume using a range of natural materials and objects which they then performed back to the group. The most favourite session for this topic was when the children harvested their own grown potatoes, cleaned them up and boiled them on the camp fire; ready to ‘taste’ with a range of sweet, salty, bitter and sour dips. The children were very sensible when learning about fire safety and all took part in building the camp fire.

Autumn 2 - Colours

The next topic ‘Colours’ was the perfect focus for our learning during the change of seasons.  We were lucky enough to work in a space full of ever-changing shades of colours.  Our first session was to observe this and help inspire us to find patterns within the environment.  The children created a whole school wind chime using sticks and colourful recycled paper tape.  Next, the children focused their attention to the large maple tree where we meet for each session.  We looked at the very bare branches and discussed the changes it makes throughout the year.  We gathered up a range of leaves and compared the different sizes and talked about the shades of colours we could see.  We then created bookmarks by matching the autumnal shades on the card.  To continue with the creative theme the children made autumn wreaths/decorations using natural objects found on the school field.  We recapped on pattern, colour and shape.  This then inspired them to plan, discuss and make their own unique design.  Once finished, they proudly presented their decoration to the group explaining the pattern they had created.  


An exciting lesson the children really enjoyed was when they had to make their own paint using fruits grown locally, mud, sand, grass, berries and other foliage they could find in the forest school space.  The children learnt the importance of how much water was needed to create a paste as well as learning about the different pigments of colour.  When creating the paint the children had to twist, squash, grind, rub and mash the different materials to bring out the dye.


To conclude our topic on ‘Colours’ we focused on the meaning ‘camouflage’.  We discussed how important this is for many animals when being hunted by a predator.  The children then continued to explore this by working in teams to hide ‘wooly worms’ (prey) around the forest school space, trying to disguise them by colour within the environment.  The other team (predators) then had a set amount of time to try to find them.  The children found that it was a challenge to find ‘prey’ hiding amongst colours like green, brown and black; whereas, the blue and purple ones were much easier to detect.