6 Practical Themed Session Ideas aimed at KS3

6 practical themed session ideas for KS 3/ older children/ PRU pupils, put together by Maria Desborough  (Groundwork Derby & Derbyshire) on behalf of South Derbyshire District Council Environmental Education Project


This age group are probably going to be more able with tools and resources however they are also more likely to be impatient, and may more easily harm themselves or others.  It is very important not to assume that just because they are older young people that they are capable with tools.  Be sure to go through the same procedures and safety regulations as with any other age group.


It’s also important to recognise that this age group are still children and given the right situation and atmosphere, they will most likely enjoy the opportunity to just play.  We have worked with PRU children who enjoyed rolling down a hill and KS3 children who enjoyed making fairy houses!




Make it your own


It’s important that the young people get some ownership of the space you use.  So you might introduce them to the space by describing it’s origins and previous uses, perhaps how the wood has developed, touching a little on the succession of woods.  This could generate a conversation on how they themselves have used this or other woods and green spaces.


Move on the conversation to talk about how you could create a space here that will be your own.  Think about who/what else uses the wood and how you can look after the wood as well as using it to your own advantages. 


This should hopefully generate lots of ideas for making and arranging/ organising things in your space – perhaps take this opportunity to name the space.


Ideas you might try;


  • Enclosure for your fire area – this could be a simple woven structure from wood collected on the ground requiring few if any tools.


  • Simple seating – 2 short logs lashed to one longer log..


  • Coat hanging area  – hanging sticks for coat hangers

















Different lengths of string and rope.

A knowledge of simple knots and lashings.

It is not essential to use tools but if you wanted to a bow saw and loppers might be useful.



Circle activities


Whittle a Withy

Once your young people are competent with tools your choices to make things are endless.  Even so many people, children and adults alike enjoy just sitting and whittling a stick.  You might get young people to personalise them in some way, make their own name sticks or to whittle a talisman. 


In the same way it is often enjoyable to learn a knot, splice or lashing in the companiable comfort of your log circle.






Make a den


Whatever the age we all like this one, get the young people to work in teams or individually depending on what you are trying to achieve.  You could give them resources e.g. blue tarps, rope, or if you want them to be more resourceful give them no resources only the materials from the woods.  You might need to give them some encouragement or hints on what could be best to use e.g. brambles for string. 


You will also want to talk about not damaging the woodland, what is acceptable or not to use.  Perhaps take some Ray Mears or similar tips e.g. only use ¼ of the resource this will ensure the plant or whatever will have enough left to regenerate.









Not essential but you might want to use tarps and ropes?



Nettle string


This can take a while to produce enough to use but is essentially one that our ancestors used for making clothes and for other more pliable uses.  Use your cord to attach your talisman and make a pendant; or make a bracelet.  If you make enough you could knit a cover or weave a seat..


1. Pick nettles – leave to dry overnight

2. Open up stalk using your nails

3. Strip out the hard pith

4. Split lengths into 2 and leave to dry

5. Twine or plait together to make a stronger twine.



Archaeology for schools: traditional skills





Gloves, scissors


Manage your woods


Older children may enjoy getting involved in the management of your site.  If there is a management plan why not invite your landowner to explain it to the group and find out if there are ways you can help them to achieve it, e.g. tree thinning, planting, brash clearing etc..


Look at btcv handbook for some easy to understand guidance on this area.




Wide game/ team games


There are loads of books around with ideas for various team games.  A wide game is the obvious choice for this terrain and could last anything from ½ hour to all day! 


Basically split your group into 2 teams, each have a base, with a flag, to defend, with a 2m dia exclusion zone – this is the space that the defending team are not allowed into. 


Each individual has a ‘life’, this is a ‘tail’ tucked into trouser belt.  Lives can be stolen by the opposite team at which point the individual MUST return to safety to get a replacement – each individual gets a total of 3 ‘lives’- when these are used up the individual is out of the game.  The aim is for one team to take over the others ‘den’ by stealing their flag.  Once the opposition flag is alongside their own, the game is over.


This is a great one for building team spirit and getting a group to work together.  It is also useful to talk through and debate at length what worked and what didn’t work. How people were useful or a hindrance.  A very good tool for discussing group dynamics and to find out strengths and weaknesses.  Needs to be handled carefully to ensure all feel they have participated or if not how they might participate fully on another occasion.



















2 x poles with flags – you might make these on a previous week?


Material for tails/lives





For practical advice and tools use try btcv; handbooks are accessible on the internet – you can also buy them from their on-line shop – both are at: www.btcv.org.uk


Team games books, there are loads about, try Scouts Association who have a lot of resources including backwoods skills and wide game ideas.




Ray Mears Essential Bushcraft by Ray Mears


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