One of the things that the littlies at our stay and play sessions were learning last half term was about how they use their senses. This worked really well in the outdoors as there are so many things to see, smell and hear. Forest School by nature is child led and whilst some of the experiences we offered were primarily adult led we still tried to allow plenty of opporunities for children to explore and discover on their own terms, I view the stay and play sessions as being a snapshot of what children could experience in a full session, however it's fair to say that not all sessions went as planned as the children had lots of their own ideas!
It's been fantastic to watch some children gain in confidence from week 1 (sight) when they didn't want to wear a blindfold to week 3 (touch) when they tentatively put their hands in feely bags and guessed the contents to week 5 (taste) when they were very enthusiastic about categorising items in our taste test - cocoa powder did not taste as they expected but there were a surprising number of children who enjoyed eating lemons!
It was interesting in week 2 (hearing) to see how wearing ear defenders affected balance on the obstacle course both positively and negatively depending on the nature of the learner. This surprised me, I thought it would be more difficult to balance (it certainly was for me) but some learners were able to concentrate better with outside noises muffled. This example of adults and children learning alongside one another is typical of many Forest School settings; rather than a teacher passing down perceived knowledge, forest school leaders empower children to make their own discoveries and are happy to accept that they don't have all the answers - we're all learning!
Favourite activities included making smelly playdough with herbs and flowers and the follow up activity during our touch week which involved squeezing lots of squishy mud to create faces (and other artwork) on the trees. When planning sessions I try to ensure progression in the experiences offered so that there is some natural repetition and chance for children to extend their explorations and make links in their learning, this makes it more meaningful so it sticks.
We ended the final weeks sessions with snacks made on the campfire where we used all our senses to see, hear, smell, touch and taste our food as it cooked.