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Blog posted on 24th February 2017 by Ashleigh Cleet
We love creating fun, experiential and immersive spaces for forest schools. The outdoor environment gives children first-hand contact with weather, seasons and the natural world, and what better way to enhance this experience than with a well thought out play scheme that appeals to all the senses?
The true definition of a Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers learners of all ages regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment.
The Forest Schools concept actually originated in Scandinavia and widely adopted in Denmark in the 1980's. It came about as they needed a solution for the lack of indoor facilities for pre-school children. Since then it has been widely adopted throughout the world.
The natural world and natural learning go hand-in-hand with these nature-focused play schemes. Children are fascinated to discover more about their outdoor environment.
With this in mind, we ensure that our designs draw wildlife in so that children can see what’s happening close up, and study it first-hand. Our nature designs feature many exciting wildlife inspired elements such as bird stations and bug hotels, where children can observe bugs and other animals right in front of them and identify what they are see using illustrated nature boards.
Children love to grow things. Our gardening schemes feature planters with or without seating and in a range of sizes. They can be used in any configuration you want and will allow children to learn the basics of gardening from simple digging to nurturing plants and flowers. It’s the ideal way to encourage budding interest in gardening and wildlife!
We can install a number of different elements in your Forest School, which will be suited to their surroundings and in fact, enchance the outdoor play area. How about a nature resource centre, or a big welly rack for those muddy exploring boots?
We also love to include a bespoke outdoor stage, or perhaps a wormery, bug hotel and nature boards, all designed together in harmony with carefully chosen landscaping and pathways, as well as ponds and dipping platforms.
We created an outdoor shelter at Sutton Primary School which sat among the trees, and offers room to study, play and store equipment.
Here's another Forest School we created a couple of years ago in Millbrook, Stalybridge near Manchester. Our initial specification was to have a place for every childs pair of wellies. In total, there is room for 245 pairs of wellies; 64 pairs in the doors alone!
This was quite a challenging installation due to the location of the shelter, as it was up on a mound and the ground was very uneven. To combat this, we created an entrance and a walkway up the sloped ground with decking steps and a handrail.
The school approached us with the requirements for an outdoor resource centre to store outdoor clothing and dirty wellies. Although they are very fortunate to have a fabulous forest within their grounds, children were going out to play and trailing mud and leaves back through the school. We thought that this was an incredible solution to this problem, and the school tell us that it is working well for them.
Another outdoor space that we have helped to completely evolve is Lord Deramore's Primary School in Heslington. They were looking for ways in which to utilise the little space they had, so we created a quaint walkway through the trees and a cute Hobbit Hole in the grounds, which the children absolutely love!
We believe that our Hobbit Hole is something completely unique to what our competitors are offering, and creates a play space that is exciting and incorporates the fantasy element very well into play time.
The icing on the cake for this play scheme is the wooden Gruffalo which sits in the grounds. Hand carved by our managing director, Steve Danby, this adds a lovely rustic element to the entire play area. What's also great about this piece, is that the children were able to take part in the creation of it.