Forest school is a great way for kids to enjoy learning and being outside in nature
I’ve always been in love with the forest. Ever since I was a kid, the forest balanced my soul. Being in a woodland setting helps most humans become calmer, feel more complete or gain connection to seasonal rhythms and ecosystems.
Living in British Columbia Canada has offered us so many wonderful opportunities to spend a lot of time in the forest. As Charlotte Mason inspired homeschoolers, using the forest as our classroom has become one of our most cherished ways to learn.
I’ve personally never gone into the forest with a set plan of what we’re going to learn. I’ve always found it easy to just explore, observe, ask questions and learn by curiosity.
Not everyone is able to do this, some need some guidance or forest school lessons or ideas.
–> Check out my forest nature study
Forest school options
- Pay for your kids to learn with a teacher in a group forest school setting. There are many associations and organizations globally that offer these. Try googling forest school and your location.
- Go for many forest nature walks with the intention to learn from the experience, or just go outside and explore.
- Bring some local guides on plants (fauna) or birds, rocks etc and a notebook to observe what you see.
- Create a local group that enjoys learning outside in nature. Wild + Free groups or local homeschool coops might be interested in outdoor learning settings.
It helps to have one spot you go to to truly observe the changes in the seasons. This brings more connectivity to the seasonal rhythm. Kids might not notice that a water pond disappears in the summer but is present with the spring run off.
Forest School Activities using Great Books
Even though we love just exploring and enjoy observing nature, you can add in forest school activities to enhance the experience. If you can’t find or afford a local teacher, there are some really great forest school books full of activities like building and making fires, shelters, foraging and more.
- Nature scavenger hunt
- Build a shelter
- Gather firewood and enjoy a fire
- Learn some of your wild local food that you can eat and make a meal
- Do nature art like wild clay or using cooled down charcoal.
- Climb rocks or trees
- Bring a magnifying glass to look at moss, lichen, leaves or anything up close
- Compare leaves from different trees
- Observe wildflowers or elements of nature that have already fallen to the ground
- Bring back some pinecones or leaves to draw (always be mindful not to take too much of nature)
- Listen for birds and see if you can identify them
- Jump in puddles and play with mud if it’s raining
- Notice where the sunlight goes under the trees and size of plants depending on access to sunlight
Tip- be sure to dress for the weather!
Other Ideas for Forest school fun
- Enjoy a walk and observe the ground and the trees. Look for tracks, scat, signs of the seasons changing, lichen growing on the trees. You can often find nut left overs from squirrels at the base of trees.
- Record what you see with a nature journal outside or once you get home. You can buy a plain white paper journal, or use a specific nature journal that asks questions for you throughout the year.
- Allow kids to explore freely (within safety limits) and climb and play. Everyone has a different perspective when it comes to safety. I’ve seen parents be totally calm when their kid is climbing a high tree, others want their kids to be close by as they live in bear/cougar country. There are a lot of benefits to allowing kids to wander and play freely, but be mindful of where you live. Know the basics of poison ivy or poison oak.
- Learn about local plants, fauna, trees. You can usually find great guides of your local area laminated which are perfect for hikes and forest walks.
- Observe the change in seasons by keeping a seasonal nature sit spot.
Do you have any favorite resources or tips for forest school?