Tuesday, January 5, 2010

outdoor play ideas from a forest school


Have you heard about outdoor or forest preschools? 

The urban forest preschool in the UK is one such preschool. 

Children spend their time outside in a natural forested area.

What do they do outside all day?  What do they learn?

What don't they do?  What don't they learn? 

Just look at the list of some of the experiences available to the children:     
  • make a den or shelter
  • leaf / bark rubbings
  • colour matching
  • natural collages
  • sculptures
  • make a story stick
  • shape hunt
  • exploring sounds
  • recording bird calls
  • animal prints
  • whittling (using tools such as potato peelers)
  • using tools
  • cooking over a fire
  • mini beast hunt
  • build a rope swing 
  • paint with natural pigments
  • making perfume
  • hide and seek
  • treasure hunt
  • making a map
  • making a hat
  • making kites
  • weaving
  • sketching
  • mud pies
  • knots
  • make a pulley system
  • make a walking stick
  • using a compass
  • animal homes
  • minibeast hunt
  • camouflage
  • make a mobile
  • charcoal drawing
  • pond dipping
  • attaching string to landmarks to mark a trail
  • marking a trail using chunky chalk attached to walking sticks 
While these all happen in a forest, they could just as easily be adapted to a preschool outdoor area.

Ahhh, the possiblities!

What about your ideas?  Can you add to the list?  


  1. I hope you don't mind, but I'm letting you lead me on this exploration. Thank you so much for learning these things and sharing them. You don't know how much you've inspired me with your posts on outdoor learning and playgrounds.

    Today, I challenged my oldest children -- as I do every year -- to think of something they want to make to leave behind for future generations of children. They want to make something for the playground! What better than a rock garden, stump stairway, sand pit or any one of the other terrific ideas I've seen here the past few days?

    I've just learned about an outdoor preschool/kindergarten not too far from my home called Cedar Song Nature School on Vashon Island (http://www.cedarsongnatureschool.org/index.php?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=10). I'm going to try to schedule a visit in the spring.

    I'm also expect to be meeting Michelle of Living Classroom fame next Monday when I visit their school in West Seattle. I'm very excited.

  2. I'm so glad you are enjoying it - its been really interesting for me too. Especially reading about other people's approach to outdoor learning, and catching their passion through their words and pictures. I checked out Cedar Song Nature School - what beautiful countryside. Its amazing that after you discover something they seem to pop up everywhere. I haven't found one in Australia yet, which is surprising because we are such a temperate climate.

    I have been reading the Living Classroom blog (and yours too for that matter!) for ages now, and it was you guys that inspired me to start my own. Enjoy your visit :)

  3. Greetings from Scotland

    I found your lovely blog via Google Alerts! A couple of things spring to mind, which you may find interesting and helpful.

    1) We have 3 outdoor nurseries in Scotland where children are outdoors 80% of the time all year round, based upon Scandanavian models. Google these phrases to visit their websites:
    - Mindstretchers Nature Kindergarten
    - The Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery
    - Woodlands outdoor nursery, Glasgow.

    2) I had the privilege of visiting Sweden 15 months ago and wrote some case studies which you may find worthwhile having a look on my website www.creativestarlearning.co.uk

    3) Have you visited or considered joining C&NN Connect? This is a great place to meet like minded people interested in getting children outside http://childrenandnature.ning.com/

    Best wishes

  4. Thanks so much Juliet for finding the time to post all those links. I've just finished reading through them all (although I haven't finished with your blog yet) and they were really inspiring. I love what you are doing with creative star learning. The thing I enjoy most about starting this blog is how it is providing me with access to information and inspiration and motivation that I may not otherwise have found :) Jenny

  5. Greetings from Ireland,
    I love your blog, getting some great ideas, thank you!

  6. Love this post...make a pulley system? Make perfume? That's so creative! Pinning this for sure!

    My latest idea for outdoor play is a scavenger hunt that incorporates all five senses (major bonus points if you find all three in the 'taste' category.) You can check it out here! http://www.morefunmom.com/2013/04/spring-sensory-scavenger-search-i-love.html