1.3 Children’s experiences of the outdoors
In the video in the following activity, you will hear Donna explain why play is important in the forest school. After viewing the video, think about the experiences the children have in the forest and how those experiences enhance their learning and development. In the video you will see children mark-making on the ground with sticks. Take particular notice of what the children are doing, as this will form part of the next activity.
By the time you have completed this activity, you should be able to:
- recognise why play and creative experiences in the forest are important for children
- understand the connection between play and positive learning experiences.
Watch the short video below, showing a group of children playing in the forest school, and listen to Donna explain why play is so important for children.
- Select from the list below the top three things you consider the children to be gaining from the forest school experience. Write your three choices in the table below.
- Physical movement
- Handling oversized objects such as the sticks
- Making marks with the sticks on the ground
- Running through the leaves
- Throwing the leaves in the air
- Being able to move around in the forest
- Moving on different terrain, e.g. paths, leaves, around trees
- Social interaction with other children
- Verbal communication
- Non-verbal actions
- Fun and excitement
- Exploring the space
- Now explain briefly why you have chosen your first selection, keeping in mind that your decision should focus on the children’s experience.
In this relatively short video, there is quite a lot happening: you can see children engaging in different experiences with different natural materials found in the forest. This engagement and playing, exploring and experimenting supports children’s learning and development. Donna focuses on the gross and fine motor skills that children are practising; however, the social aspect of the play and the way in which the children are communicating is equally important. From a child’s perspective, they will remember having fun and the excitement of experiencing the freedom of the space for the first time. It is the adult that places significance on what the children are gaining from the experience.