Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors

May 26, 2014

My Forest School Adventures

It’s been a very busy time, running my Forest Schools sessions. I’ve been trying to get ready for my assessment, but it’s given me such a variety of outdoor experiences and adventures that I never would have predicted. It’s been great!

This week, I had a lovely experience with one of the boys from the group, and I’d love to share it. The activity was ‘Tree Faces’.

For this activity, all the children have is a ball of clay. They have to create a face on one of the trees in the forest. They can use twigs, fallen leaves, stones (etc) to decorate their faces, but we introduce a rule of “no use of living plants or trees” for the activity. This develops the learners’ sense of respecting nature. This is such a lovely activity where children can work with a partner, or on their own, and just take some quiet time to develop their own, individual creative skills.

A selection of our masterpieces!


All the children created wonderful faces on the trees, and I had a lovely time wandering around looking at them and chatting to the children. I asked them about their ideas and influences for their pieces of art.

My favourite part was talking to one particular boy. He’s getting so much out of Forest School. He jumps on the bus, so very excitedly each week, and I can’t believe how his imagination seems to grow with every activity. After taking a photograph of his creation, he came up with a wonderful ‘Tree Faces’ story that was an amazing example of his imagination.

Meet Frank….


 ‘Frank is a tree monster that lives at Forest School all the time. When we go home, Frank stays there so that he can watch and protect the forest. When horrible people sneak in at night-time, Frank will make scary noises and shout really loud. His blue eyes light up and frighten the horrible people who leave the litter and don’t tidy up after themselves. When they have gone, Frank turns nice. He talks to the birds and all the animals who live in the forest. He watches them to make sure they are safe and is there in case they can’t find their way home. He loves it when we come to Forest School, because he loves seeing all the children play nicely and he knows he doesn’t have to shout, as we tidy up after ourselves and never mess up the Forest.’

This was the lovely story he told me about his tree face. He was able to create such a wonderful story with just a little bit of clay, some natural resources and some free time.

The difficulty in promoting Forest Schools (and the ethos of the setting) is that some people mistake it for just playing in the woods.

They don’t fully understand the learning that comes when children take part in the sessions. This activity could be used as a tool back in the classroom to develop a childs creative writing. The child that I spoke to had the start of a brilliant story, and he came up with it all by himself. When we returned to the woods for the next session, he went straight over to Frank, asked how he was and was everything ok in the forest. It was amazing to see, in a child that has difficulty in a “traditional” classroom setting.

Clay tree faces…. a simple, but effective, activity that sparked the wonderful imagination of everyone……. and speaks to us all.

This post was linked in with…

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning for Life
Mini Creations

32 thoughts on “My Forest School Adventures

  1. Hi Kim, these children have a great imagination though I wouldn’t want to meet any of their creations. Please let your little friend know I’ll clean up after myself as I don’t want to meet Frank when he’s angry.
    You’re giving these children a future many wouldn’t normally have. A chance to see nature close to and the opportunity to learn not just to enjoy it but to respect it. That respect may carry over to other things. And your little friend is proof that such creativity can come from imagination when stimulated so I’m behind you all the way in passing your assessment.
    xxx Massive Hugs to you all xxx

    1. kim says:

      Hi David,
      I really couldn’t wait to share this story from my week, made my day to be a part of something so special for this little boy. If the children go away from Forest School with one little bit of respect for the environment then I have done my job!
      Wonderful comments from you, you always make me smile.
      Thank you,

  2. I love that you run a forest school. I so wish we had one in our area. I think my son would do awesome. The tree faces are awesome.

    1. kim says:

      Thank you, I love spending time in Forest Schools with the children. I think we all are getting so much out of the experience.

  3. kid GLloves says:

    Lucas says – What an AWESOME thing to do. I love Frank – he should so become an honorary member of the GL Gang. This looks like so much fun. Do you think we could go to Forest school all the time instead boring normal school?????

    Thanks for linking to #minicreations

    1. kim says:

      Thank you Lucas! We do love Frank and thats amazing that he could become a honorary member of the GL Gang. I’m sure that most children would choose Forest School over normal school, even my daughter’s teacher who comes with us loves our Forest Schools days.

  4. TheBoyandMe says:

    Hurray for clay faces! You know already that I’m a massive fan of them but how wonderful to see a child using the exercise in such a creative way. It could almost be extended more by taking pen and paper (or even an iPad?) out into the field to start writing straight away.

    1. kim says:

      Hi, yes clay faces are brilliant! I think the pen and paper idea sounds great as it would then make the activity process. I was thinking of introducing a camera and maybe making story boards from photographs to keep the ideas from children flowing.

  5. Oh I LOVE these – like the “Green Man” 🙂 Really good idea! #letkidsbekids

    1. kim says:

      Thank you, a great activity that doesn’t take alot of time or use huge amount of resources but worked really well.

  6. What a wonderful post and how rewarding to have inspired this little boy’s creativity with a hands on experience. Nature is such an underused resource in this country for children’s learning but it’s great to hear that you have children visiting every week! Good luck with your assessment and thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

    1. kim says:

      Thank you,
      So glad I could share such a lovely story. The children go home every week covered in mud but very happy! The parents are brilliant too, we have children in old clothes and the mums love seeing how muddy the children are when they jump of the bus. Makes everything alot easier.

  7. Ooh looks awesome! Amazing idea to be protect the trees =) #CountryKids

    1. kim says:

      Thank you, a little bit of clay and we had a wonderful afternoon.
      Frank is our Forest School mascot!

  8. How wonderful. This actually brought tears to my eyes, to see a child who, as you say, has ‘difficulties’ in a classroom, being completed engaged by a learning activity and really letting his imagination go. Just amazing x

    1. kim says:

      Thank you, having a wonderful time being a part of Forest School. Enjoy seeing how much the children get out of each and how their confidence is growing with each session.

  9. Kierna says:

    Love it! Every forest needs a Frank. I actually think it’s an even bigger issue than people not getting all the learning going on when children are outdoors in a natural environment, many of our children are struggling in traditional classroom settings. More adults need to see the value of spending time in nature & all that it will bring to the learning when back at school. Thanks for your support xx

    1. kim says:

      Hi, we love Frank in Forest School. Our new mascot!
      I just think that we could all learn something if we provide children with a variety of learning methods. Some children would hate the idea of stomping around a forest but to some it would be just what they need to develop their confidence and understand.
      Love linking up!

  10. Cath Prisk says:

    Love this post! Fantastic story beautifully showing the joys and fears about shared use of space.

    Just one teeny thing – just playing in the woods is surely equally valuable too? It’s really important kids get to just be, to have time that is just theirs and not overlooked or organised, as well as adult led/facilitated experiences like forest school. One of the huge benefits of forest school is giving these children the skills and confidence to go play there (or similar places) themselves at other times or as they get older.

    1. kim says:

      Hi, I totally agree that free play on its own is a wonderful and valuable experience and also needed for children to experience. As I am in training in Forest Schools I have to produce six lesson plans and show a range of play choices for children. In every session the children have the chance to take part in suggested activities but can also choose to sit and just enjoy the environment if they want to. One of my sessions was to offer a total free play afternoon by just providing play equipment and the children choose what they want to do. When {fingers crossed} I pass I have my scope to offer freely chosen play sessions, I have to show a wide knowledge of skills and understanding of play while in training.
      My background before Forest Schools and Outdoor Pursuit was as a Playworker in Cardiff so I understand and champion free play for children and young people.

  11. MumLee says:

    Forest school session sounds exciting. My girl would love it. I understand what you said by how people usually tend to mistake such initiatives. The only way of “schooling” is yet the traditional one for many… 🙂

    Love this.!


    1. kim says:

      Hi, thank you for your comment. I just think we could learn lots by using a variety of teaching methods and experiences. Everything has its place and then we can offer children different experiences.

  12. Karen Bell says:

    Wow, what a lovely story and what great ideas to use clay like that to inspire children in a wonderful environment.
    I would love to send my kids to forest school.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    1. kim says:

      Hi , thank you. Forest School is turning out to be a great experience, feel so lucky to be a part of it.
      Glad to be able to link, thank you.

  13. jenny paulin says:

    i enjoyed watching my two have a go at making a clay face with TBAM last summer at Coombe Mill, they enjoyed using all that nature had to offer to decorate it and make a face. i really should get myself some clay so we can do this again.
    I love the sound of Forest school, Burton’s school has one but he hasnt started using it yet. xx

    1. kim says:

      Clay faces are great, such a simple activity without lots of additional bits!
      Forest School are such a lovely environment for children and adults, I having a great time being a part of it.

  14. How epic where those clay faces on the trees!!!! I want to make one of those now! lol! Amazing thing to get kids involved. x #LetKidsBeKids

    1. kim says:

      Hi, thank you. We all loved doing a clay face, such a simple but effective and enjoyable craft activity.

    1. kim says:

      Thank you, I’m lucky to be a part of Forest Schools, having such a lovely time.

  15. Your post just goes to show the power of Forest Schools. It truly is a wonderful concept and you are clearly doing an amazing job allowing these little treasures to grow and gain in confidence. Fab fab fab! I hope you can keep sharing your adventures over at the Outdoor Play Party 🙂
    P.s. I absolutely love Frank!

    1. kim says:

      Thank you for a lovely comment. Frank is very cool isn’t he, a new friend at Forest School. I am having such a wonderful time at Forest School, I love being a part of the adventures with the children.

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