and young people. They include Forest School, woodland crafts, sustainable
development and environmental education, green woodwork skills and conservation
• To engage children through woodland activities to promote confidence, self-esteem, social skills and
health and well-being
• To encourage children to respect and care for their natural environment, working towards an
environmentally sustainable way of living
• To work with similar minded projects to create a strong network of people on a local and national level
to support each other and develop our work.
In a nut shell
Forest School is facilitating groups in a woodland setting through activities which
engage all of their senses and allow the opportunity for self directed and deep play;
which maximises learning. The facilitator focuses on the social and emotional
impacts of each individual child which are affected by building positive relationships
based on trust, allowing children to take appropriate risks, using tools and fire safely,
gaining confidence and social skills, making a connection to the natural
environment and learning through reflection. Forest School happens all year round
in all weather except high wind.
The History of Forest School
Forest School originated in Scandinavia, children there begin school at the age of 7
and prior to that they attend pre-school which is centred around play and Forest
School. In the 1980’s Denmark also adopted the concept as a means to improving
play because of a lack of indoor facilities. In 1993 nursery nurses visited Sweden and
witnessed Forest School, they were impressed by the positive impacts and they then
set up training for Forest School in the U.K.
Forest School has become a very popular over the past decade and it is becoming
more and more widely accepted as an effective way of learning. It has been
integrated in to schools, early year’s settings, youth and environmental charities and
organisations, parenting strategies, mental health programs and much more.
Benefits of Forest School
A 13 month study of children in Sweden attending Forest School at a rural pre-school
compared with children of similar backgrounds attending an urban pre-school. The
study showed the children attending Forest School are more balanced and socially
aware, they are less likely to be sick from school and their concentration skills and
co-ordination were significantly better than the children from the urban pre-school.
Research backs up that children and young people are stimulated by the outdoors
and the hands on learning experience of Forest School. Over time they increase in
their self-belief, confidence, concentration, enthusiasm, communication and
problem solving skills and their emotional well-being. All of these skills are transferable
and can therefore be taken back in the classroom to improve a child’s performance
in the classroom environment.
What happens at Forest School?
Before we begin a Forest School Programme one of our trained Forest School
Practitioners will visit you initially to see how we can link the Forest School program
with the curriculum and any other learning objectives you would like to achieve.
We will decide with you on a suitable space for the Forest School program to take
place. The Forest School Practitioner will then produce risk assessments and
environmental impact assessments of the site.
A Forest School Program typically lasts for 12 weeks and and works best with a group of about 12 children. Two teachers generally support the 2 hour sessions assisting the
Forest School Practitioner in positive encouragement through language and setting
achievable but appropriately challenging tasks for the children to help to develop
their self esteem and confidence. The sessions are child led and encourage free
play. The theme of the session can be agreed to link with the curriculum or your
learning objectives. Reflection is an important part of the process and the children
will be encouraged to look back at what they have done and see how far they have
come personally and as a group, this is done in fun and creative ways.
Activities they will engage in…
Building dens, lighting fires, tracking, making potions, discovering wildlife/habitats,
woodland art, using simple tools, story-telling, camp-fire songs, making instruments,
carving simple wooden objects, understanding eco-systems, toasting
marshmallows, play, games, orienteering and bush-craft skills to name a few!
Polelathe and the shave horse - a shave horse is a combination of a work bench
and a vice, we use it to prepare wood to roughly form cylindrical billets to go onto
the pole lathe. Shaving the green wood along the grain with a draw knife is a very
satisfying experience and it leaves a lovely polished finish. The billet can then be put
onto the pole lathe. The pole lathe works by using a long pole as a return for a spring
treadle. Pressing on the treadle with your foot pulls the cord which is wrapped around
the billet of wood being turned and is attached to the pole. This makes the billet turn
and using wood turning tools it is then possible to carve the wood accurately and
easily. Pole lathes have been used for over 1000 years for making chairs and simpler
items. At Firefly Forest we use the shave horse and pole lathe to give children the
experience of carving wood using these ancient methods and to make simple
wooden items such as candle sticks and mushrooms.
Living willow structures – we can come to your own grounds and make a fun and
child friendly living willow structure, and the children can get involved and help too.
Choose from a tunnel, an arch, an arbour or an animal sculpture such as a dolphin
or swan, or whatever you can think of. Weaving willow structures with children is very
educational as they learn new words and phrases, how to use simple horticultural
tools, numeracy, patterns, fine and gross motor skills and working as a team. This is
done with schools and youth groups for children of all ages and abilities.
Garden & Wedding Arches - We create living willow structures for gardens and
weddings, a willow arch is a beautiful addition to a special place or a special event.
We have also created woodland scenes for plays and pantomimes with willow; it is
a very effective prop.
Weaving ‘dried’ willow – willow withies which have been cut for a while need to be
soaked and they can then be used to create baskets; these workshops are more
suited to teenagers or adults due to the fine detail needed. Decorative stars and
wreaths (ideal for Christmas decorations) willow fish or bean runners for growing
plants up are great for children to get familiar with this naturally flexible material.
A day in the woods with Firefly Forest is an ideal way to celebrate the end of a term
at school or perhaps as a youth club activity during the holidays. It is a fun day of activities which will include fire- lighting, campfire cooking, den- building
and more. They can be tailored to suit any seasonal themes
e.g Halloween, Christmas.
Our team building activities in the woods are great for groups as this series of tasks
are designed to help you understand why effective communication is essential to
getting you to work together as a team.
Firefly Forest takes on young volunteers and our qualified youth worker is able to
accredit the time that they put into their volunteering through the ADSAN alternative
accreditation award. With the ‘Community Volunteering Award’ there are different
levels which are equivalent to GCSE’S or 50 UCAS points. Firefly Forest can help the
young person through their portfolio while they gain valuable experience in working
with children (this is subject to a CRB check).
What is Sustainable Development Education?
Sustainable development means a pattern of growth which uses its resources
responsibly to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these
needs can not only be met now, but also for generations to come.
Sustainable development in education means embedding sustainability themes
within the curriculum and learning outcomes, and in the life of the school or the
program of which a child attends. These themes will develop children and young
people as global citizens and equip them with skills, values and attributes for
learning, life and work; as jobs in the green sector will undoubtedly rise in the
What we do…
Sessions in Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship are often integrated
through our woodland site. The woodland has a cosy eco structure, a compost
toilet, bee hives and a green woodwork workshop. These can be used to show how
natural building techniques can provide sustainable homes, natural systems can
reduce pollution and how we can produce simple craft items by hand without the
use of large scale machinery. The children also learn about conserving wildlife such
as bees which are integral to our survival as human-beings.
We also deliver games, practical activities and discussions with emphasis on climate
change and peak oil. Our Sustainable Development workshops consist of the flowing
topics and we can tailor them to suit different age groups and abilities and run them
for varied lengths of time.
* Work out your own carbon – footprint or for younger children play our own-made
giant snakes and ladders eco game.
* Take part in our renewable energy activities; one of which involves making a solar
BBQ to cook marshmallows or together we can build a pizza oven for your school
or youth project grounds.
* Create recycled gifts which include magazine jewellery and gift bags, juice carton
purses and tin can tea light holders. We can also discuss how the children might
be able to sell on what they have made and use the funds to make their own
school or youth project more sustainable.
* Bicycle maintenance is taught to give young people the basic skills they need to
look after their bicycle such as finding a puncture and changing an inner tube.
* Discover where our food comes from and how many miles it’s travelled through fun
practical activities such as apple pressing and bee keeping introductions.
You can come to us or we can come to you… whether it is in the classroom or at
your local youth project.
Who was John Muir?
John Muir is a very inspirational guy. He is the founder of the modern conservation
movement. He was the first person to call for practical action to safeguard and
cherish the world’s wild places. John Muir dedicated his life to protecting wild places
and he campaigned successfully for the establishment of National Parks to
safeguard vast tracts of wild lands, including Yosemite Valley in California. He was
born in Dunbar, Scotland and he grew up there exploring the wilderness and playing
with his brother. He was famous for walking 1000 miles across America and for his
Wallace and Gromit style inventions which included a clock which was attached to
the leg of his bed, would loosen a large stone that, in turn, kicked out the leg of the
bed. Young John was then dumped on the floor.
He was also famous for his poetry…
“Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a
mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean”
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”
What is the John Muir Award?
The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It
encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of
fun, adventure and exploration. There are different levels of the award; Discovery
Award is 4 days (or equivalent), Explorer Award is 8 days (or equivalent) and
Conserver Award is 20 days (or equivalent). Each award consists of discovering a
wild place, exploring its wildness, conserving by taking personal responsibility and
sharing your experiences with others. We deliver all levels of John Muir Awards in your
own community or we can integrate it into a Forest School program.
The award schemes are suitable for schools, youth projects, special schools, NEET’s,
adults with mental health issues and community spirit in new social housing areas.
Anyone can do the award scheme.
Firefly Forest can provide a wild birthday party that your child will never forget!
Celebrate the day in a beautiful woodland near you.
The special day can be tailored to your child’s interests and favourite things.
The activities include making the fire, building a den, whittling sticks and toasting
marshmallows, playing games and making items to take away.
Parties are usually
10am – 12pm or 1pm – 3pm, can be later in the summer.
Firefly Forest’s practitioners are fully trained in Forest School and outdoor first aid and
always carry a first aid kit, CRB checked, and insured with a lot of experience of
working with children of all ages.
Have a go at traditional crafts and learn new skills. Firefly Forest can deliver a fun
and creative workshops tailored to your event or project needs. From felt making,
paper making, recycled crafts, willow weaving, spoon carving, whistles, charcoal
burning artwork, clay firing pottery, environmental art.
We work with schools, youth projects, festivals and more.