Wilder Woods

Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partnership

Get Outside for Inspiration: woodland training day for schools and practitioners

by Deb Millar - May 14th, 2012.
Filed under: Events.

‘Get Outside for Inspiration’.  March 16th at Hallr Wood.

Report by Jenny Cater 

This practical workshop for school staff, forest school leaders and others working in the educational field was attended by 18 people from across the south west region. The start of the day revealed the range and mix of practitioners and their reasons for attending – teaching assistants delivering Forest School, BTCV volunteer co-ordinator wanting to make links with the curriculum, a couple from Arnos Vale cemetery, Bristol getting ideas for outdoor learning, teacher from north Devon looking for more inspiration for his Bushcraft and Country Way woods, teachers from a special school seeing how to use the outdoors for life skills, and teaching staff from a range of schools from Bath to Dorset wanting inspiring ideas for getting outside in their school grounds.

 The main aims of the day were to get ideas, games, inspiration and confidence to deliver a range of literacy, numeracy and cross curriculum topics outdoors. In the morning sessions the 3 groups, Early Years and KS1, Special Needs, Secondary and outdoor practitioners rotated around activity based workshops set in different parts of the woodland.

 Jacky King, (Arts projects, creative writing, author, outdoor learning in schools) took them on a journey of discovery to open up ideas for using the outside for literacy – woodland consequences, description and adjectives for poems, story telling and trails for spicing up the senses

Jenny Cater (Space 2 Play. Outdoor Learning Environments and FS leader) used ‘nature’s natural numbers’ on wooden cookies to create curving number lines to jump on and use for a range of numeracy skills. Journey sticks were made into 3D shapes and Pythagoras’s theorem of 3, 4, 5 triangles were used to make large scale quadrants.

Deb Millar (Outdoor educationalist, archaeologist and FS Leader) enticed the different groups into a world of fantasy with the creation of miniature habitats, getting enthusiastic about fantasy bugs and mapping out the environment using sensory trails.

 After a welcome lunch of hot soup to warm everyone (thanks Karen!) the afternoon session by Jenny gave a brief introduction to the process of designing and landscaping your own space to get outside and be inspired to learn. Finding out how everyone feels about their environment, zoning different areas (fire/cooking, access points, tool activity, woodlands and wildlife) and deciding on a project they could take back and put into practice were the key elements. By the end of the day, the wind had whistled through the trees and we were getting chilly but there was a buzz of enthusiasm and requests for more learning outside workshops in the woods. Perhaps the greatest inspiration had come from being in the woodland environment with so many like minded people and sharing possibilities and ideas for getting outside and using our natural surroundings to inspire our teaching and learning.

 Feedback: What Inspired you today??

 A great mix of ideas and discussion. Lots of ideas to work and develop. Great atmosphere generated. Thank you.

 Best bit is ideas sparked from each other

Made me feel that outdoor (FS) learning is fulfilling and has spurred me on!

 Whole day was inspirational and supportive. Love the space. Great soups. Very helpful grounds talk.

 Stimulus for literacy I found useful and will definitely organise. Particularly developing a story trail, what happens where…..

 What inspired me? Numeracy line and literacy games.

 Seeing the site and realising what can be done in our compound (which is going to become an outdoor learning space)

 Enthusiastic organisers. Inspiring site.

 Being creative. Something good from natural materials.

 Fire circle, chatting, sharing. Thank you!

 Many thanks. Sharing ideas. Camp fire – central point. Freedom within self and the surrounding area.

 Opening circle – network of like minded people.


 Great ideas to practically use.

 Great ideas. Meeting people