This was one of a regular series of skill share sessions organised by Birmingham Forest OAKS. The focus of this skill share was outdoor education in the Early Years Foundation Stage, and took place at The Oaks Day Nursery, University of Birmingham.
The day began with an introduction to the nursery and their approach to outdoor learning, specifically Forest School activities. The nursery has a real outdoor ethos and they have dedicated Forest School leaders for each of the three age ranges: under 2s, 2-3 years and Pre-School. They also run parent workshops, family events and ‘Forest School Sundays’ where parents (particularly fathers) go along to help with maintenance of the site; preparing planting beds, conserving pathways etc. Attendees were then taken on a tour of the nursery buildings and the Forest School site, which has an outdoor classroom, fruit trees, an allotment area, fire circle, mud kitchen, a bridge over a swamp and much more.
After a short break, I gave a presentation about how environmental education can be embedded across the Early Years Foundation Stage, with suggested activities to cover each of the Prime and Specific Areas of Learning. There were also links to
SMSC (Spritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development) and promoting British values through outdoor learning.
The final part of the day took place outside in the Forest School area. The Forest School leaders demonstrated tool talks, which show how tools are introduced to children so that they can use them safely and effectively. We then all worked together to build a new ‘bug hotel’ for the nursery, which we located near the trees to enable invertebrates to access it. This collaborative activity enabled the attendees, who were a mix of early years and outdoor learning practitioners, to share skills, ideas and information. A great morning!
Birmingham Forest OAKS (Outdoor Activities and Knowledge Sharing): contact Jan Tomlinson: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This feature was first published in Environmental Education Vol 110, in October 2015. To read more articles like this, you can join the Association and receive three journals a year.