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.
‘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.
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