Interested in dabbling in forest school?
This week, we decided to take our lessons on trees outdoors for a hands-on experience with nature.
From leaf identification to beautiful nature books, I’ll show you how we took a closer look at the world in our backyard—and how you can take a closer look at yours.
What is forest school?
Forest school is a nature-based philosophy that education is best conducted in the wild.
It’s most typically geared towards play-based, child-centered early education from pre-k to kindergarten.
Full-time forest schoolers spend most of their days outdoors, using the habitat around them as a kind of informal classroom.
Not all forest schoolers are homeschoolers. Some preschools and private kindergartens offer forest schooling.
But whether you decide to take the plunge into full-time forest schooling or just want to dip your toes in the woodland creek of it, any child benefits from a little more time outside.
Nature walk class.
We started with a trip to our local nature preserve, which offers pristine trails to trek through the woodlands.
I love going directly to the source to learn about nature. The lesson felt especially relevant because staying local forced us to learn about local trees.
Focusing on trees you see every day opens up your child’s awareness (and yours!) of the natural habitat around you in a lasting way.
We collected leaves from a few trees and took them home to look them up on an online leaf identifier.
Once we identified 5 or 6 of the trees most common to our area, it became easy to find them over and over again.
We made a game of spotting trees we knew for the rest of the week.
I try to incorporate some art into all our unit studies. It always makes the subject feel more rounded to me.
And I never miss a chance to do my own version of the project! Painting and crafting with kids brings out my inner child. I’m not a painter at all, but doing it with kids gives me permission to do it badly and just enjoy the process.
For this lesson, I was inspired by a simple technique using q-tips.
Let the kids decide what season they want to paint. Give them green and yellow for summer, yellow and orange for fall, pink and purple for spring, or blue and white for winter.
There are so many gorgeous kid’s books about trees, but (affiliate link ——>) The Magic and Mystery of Trees by Jen Green completely entranced us.
It contains beautiful imagery and art, plus clear, concise explanations about things like how root systems work and why trees drop their leaves in the fall.