Lea Primary – Forest Schools Programme Update and Ideas

Tales of Forest Folk (Lea Primary Forest school programme 2012)

Glyn Woodruff, Lea Primary School, Teacher and Forest School Leader

For many hundreds of years the houses of Europe and beyond have been swept clean using besoms. The besom is made using twigs of the forest (silver birch brash is good) tied to a light and sturdy handle. It only took a little imagination and the finding of a perfect wand before the idea of the besom ‘took off’ in class 3.

Foggy days are fantastic when you are dressed warmly. Sounds are dull; like listening through cotton wool and some of the children found out that the world turns upside down when you look at it through a hanging drop. Others found that drops can be used as magnifying lenses. 

It’s a great time of year for fungi, and we found that our woods are full of different sorts. We don’t touch but we do look and some of the children are becoming real experts. Other children searched for lichens. The lichens told us about pollution. The children found that the pollution in the area has decreased so much that very special lichens now live in some of our trees. Experts were shown the lichens and were surprised and delighted.

 The older children are able to use tools. Augers, bow saws and sheath knives are used to drill and shape wood. Small stools, tables and bullroarers have been made and taken home.

Autumn is a time for hibernating. Our woods are full of creatures preparing for the months ahead. Sometimes the only way to find out what it is like to be a wild animal is to become part of the environment yourself. That’s just what some of us did – burying themselves deep in a pile of dry leaves. Perhaps, when we have all taken time to imagine ourselves as creatures of the wild we will understand our role as custodians of the forest.

Roundhouse at Lea Primary 

Thousands of years ago our valley was full of people like us in many ways but who relied solely on themselves and the people around them. Year 6 are learning to work together to build a replica of a bronze age round house. The main wall posts are now in along with the secondary ‘hedge-laying’ posts. Wood has been gathered and the weaving of the thin branches for the wall has begun. There is much still to do and we don’t expect everything to go smoothly as we have lost many skills over the centuries.

 To continue our learning without taking too much from the woods we would appreciate any green wood (wood that is not seasoned or worked) including brash (the flexible twiggy bits).

It’s a busy time for forest folk and forest creatures. Our aim is to have fun, learn from each other and look after each other. We are better as a team than on our own.

Forest School Activities 2012/13


1-2-3 where are you?

Dragon’s treasure

Mammoth, caveman, mouse


Capture the flag

Wide game

Water pistols

Hide and seek

Echo location game

Going for a walk leading someone that has their eyes shut

Identify trees with our eyes shut

Which tree did I take you to? Eyes closed game.


Sheath knife

Bow saw




Things to make with tools

Tent peg




Rolling pin


Stargazing chair


Three legged table

Christmas candle holder




Teachest drum

Claves – tuned tapping sticks

Corrugaphones made from corrugated tubing

Flowerpot bells

Tin can drums

Hollow wood zither or box zither

Balloon zither

Advanced zither

12 sting fishing line zither

Floating bowls

Sandpaper rasps


Balloon shakers

Scrap wood xylophone

Bamboo wood blocks

Tubular chimes (made from metal pipes)

Wind chimes

Stamping tubes (made from carpet roll tubes)

Mailing tube lute (cardboard tube & empty squash bottle)

Bamboo pan pipes

 First Aid

Sending for help

Open airway position

Cleaning your own cuts

Applying plasters to yourself

Helping with someone else’s cuts

Sprains and strains


Dealing with a bleeding nose

Head injuries

The school emergency procedure


Bandaging arms

Bandaging legs

 Fires & Cooking

Setting out the fire pit area

Entering and leaving the fire pit

The respect position

Lighting fires

Putting fires out

Dealing with minor burns yourself

More serious burns

School emergency procedure

Cooking and hygiene.

  • Marshmallows
  • Hotdogs
  • Hot drinks
  • Toast
  • Soup
  • Stews
  • Own recipes

Caring for the cooking pots and utensils

Dealing with waste


Friendship bracelets


Making nets

Granny knot

Square knots

Clove hitch

Shear lashing

Square lashing

Figure of eight


Tension knot

Double fishermen’s


Whittle shelter

One man shelter for hide and seek

Two man play camp

Group shelter

Using tarps

Free standing wooden frame using knots

Free standing wooden frame using knots and tarps.

Wildlife and environment

Knowledge of trees in the wood

Identifying trees with eyes shut

Knowledge of common birds

Knowledge of life in the pond

Knowledge of common mammals

Knowledge of local invertebrates

Knowledge of local fungi

Knowledge of local reptiles

Life cycles of each of the above


Food chains

How the seasons affect each of the above


Tracking animals in the snow

Tracking animals on a clay board at a feeding station


Camouflage Natural

Camouflage using face paints

Tree rubbings

Textures in the environment

Green man


Faces in the bark and rocks


  • Looking up
  • Looking closely
  • Using reflections
  • Finding creatures
  • How things grow
  • Using filters
  • Changing shutter speeds and photographing water
  • Zooming in
  • Depth of focus
  • Composing
  • Editing the picture

Painting and sketching

  • Looking up
  • Looking closely
  • Using reflections
  • Finding creatures
  • How things grow
  • Altering colour
  • Pointillism
  • Kaleidoscopes
  • Using natural paints
  • Leaf and twig pictures

Land art

Wind art

Using containers to make a moving water sculpture


Green man

Coil pots fired in the fire or bread oven

Thumb pots fired in the fire or bread oven

Clay statues fired in the fire or bread oven



Protection from the sun, wind, wet and cold


  • New growth
  • Sowing and planting
  • Emergence of insects
  • Birdsong
  • Nesting
  • Migration
  • Early flowers
  • Frog spawn
  • Early activity in the pond


  • Quickening of growth
  • Eating from the garden
  • Variety of insects
  • Ivy crowns with summer flowers
  • Maintenance and closing down for summer
  • Y6 summer activity


  • Besoms
  • Sowing and planting
  • Collecting berries
  • Harvesting
  • Hedgerow food
  • Catching cobwebs
  • Leaf pictures
  • Firework art
  • Fungus watch
  • Christmas wreaths
  • Table decorations


  • Ice art
  • Snow pictures on the walls
  • Tracking animals
  • Snow lanterns
  • Snowmen
  • Snow art
  • Snowball fights
  • Snow castles

Woodland maintenance

Maintenance of paths

Maintenance of steps

Maintenance of fire pits

Maintenance of willow dome

Maintenance of pond

Removal of excess dead wood

Re-sowing of seeds

Planting of bulbs

 Rhythms, songs and dances

Whole notes, half notes quarter notes and eighth notes.

Cup rhythm

Echo songs

Part songs

Rounds and canons (Sing up  Butterfly, Rain on the green grass, senwa dedende, o re mi, nanuma)


Round house

Robinson Crusoe’s shelter

Air raid shelters

Camouflaged shelter

Camping out

Building a bread/pizza oven

Building steps

Repairing tracks

Replanting in the woods and grounds.

Nest boxes for birds and bats

Feeders for birds

Maintaining the pond

Washing combing and spinning wool

Dyeing wool


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Positive learning environment;





Relaxed and stimulating

Sense of wholeness and worth

Emotional Intelligence

Self worth

Self esteem

Understanding how others feel

Putting ones self in the position of others

Valuing others

Learning to negotiate

Learning to compromise

Learning to delegate

Learning to work with the ‘unfriend’

Working for each other

Accelerated learning

Wide range of methods

Open and flexible

Totally engaging

Appeals to all learning styles

Energizes and humanises the learning process

Makes learning enjoyable and exciting

Children become committed to results

Self motivated

Motivated and energizes in groups

Collaboration amongst learners – developing a learning community

Internally focused


Contextual learning


Role play

Multiple intelligence

Spoken language             -Listening-Discussion-Compromise


Pictures and imagery

Problem solving

Physical activity

Natural environments

Interactive activities

Reflection and review

 Role Play


One response

29 03 2015
Dawn Phipps

My daughter went to Lea school for year 6 and really enjoyed the fact they had forest school there, she loves been out doors and the learning out in the wood is amazing I loved it when parents could go. Well done lea school and most of all thanks to Mr woodruff for making this enjoyable.

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