Day 4 - Forest School Practitioner Training. Find your Tree. Catch your leaf. Love your forest!

The start of the day involved having 3 life lines on my hands coloured in.  Try it! If they join together they look like a sapling. Then go off to the woods and see if you can find your tree whose shape matches your hand. Alas I didn't but I did have a nice traipse around Quaker woods. The previous night was a full moon and I went for a bit of a moonlit wander so I wanted to retrace my steps.

Lily’s cuckoo called us together and taking full advantage of the breeze and Autumn fall we were set the task of catching a falling leaf. I found the harder you try the more difficult it is and you risk running into a tree.

Rather than find a leaf it found me – in fact it nearly hit me in the face. It was a straggly thing and I started to get leaf envy seeing what the others had caught. Still! In the pocket it went to give me good luck for a year and a day.

We then played Rock Paper Scissors Forest School style. Bird Fox Maggot would be great for food chains and webs.

Then we played pass the mouse which I enjoyed immensely until it was my turn to see who had the mouse. At this stage everyone had cottoned on to being sneaky sneaks and identifying who had the mouse proved hopeless and a bit frustrating. Its well worth empathising with the pupils that play this and lose. How does a practitioner manages kids losing at games in a way that builds their self esteem? That’s tomorrow!

To review yesterday we produced a timeline with cord and added whatever we could to represent activities. Quite abstract but the explanation gives credence to our creations.

Back to the meeting room we cover Land Management, Environmental Impact Assessments and Development. This is bread and butter to me with my previous experience working on a nature reserve where I had the privilege of developing it for education purposes.

I love the idea of Forest School Practitioners being custodians of the wood and the environment. This is why I've included Sustainability as one of our values and we have a woodland promise to leave no trace. In actual fact you could work with a land owner to vastly improve the wood for example, removing excess bracken, removing invasive foreign species e.g. rhododendron, or reporting dangerous trees, ash dieback, etc.

I firmly believe having walked through woods in the UK and on the far side of the world in New Zealand that forests are special places. They’re our green temples. They’re the lungs of the world giving us the air we breathe. You should give back more than you take. I’m incensed by companies including some outdoor education companies, which treat forests as a commodity to be used and nothing more.

The afternoon is more practical. Lily makes an impressive fire which we work around. Simon whittles a spoon which is pretty impressive. Alison whittles a mushroom. This inspires me to make a wooden mushroom that I can put my logo on. And my love of fire is rekindled again by making some char cloth in a Harry Potter pencil case – Incendio!

Now I know why Lily calls her Forest School 'Kindling'.