Is your school situated in an urban environment? Having no trees and greenery in your grounds may be forcing you to get all of your children on a minibus, and take them to a park or nature reserve. This may make for a fantastic day out, but what about when you want to bring the same learning opportunities back to your tarmac space. Below are some of our own simple ideas for you to enhance your tarmac play area and develop the learning every day.
Use the most hidden or unused area of your school. Children love going to areas that they usually wouldn’t go. Most schools have a patch of ground, space or an awkward to get to zone. Use it – no one else is!
Make an entrance – creating an arch or a secret route into the space makes it instantly feel like another place, away from the typical playground and the classroom. There are many ways to implement them into your Forest School through use of planters, fencing and seating in order to section off your space. If you need any ideas on how these might look take a look at our arches for inspiration!
Add some planters, greenery, herbs, or willow; simple planting boxes can create a screen that creates a zone. Ask garden centres for the unsalable plants, use our planting guide to ensure they are safe for children (planting guide).
Dedicate an area to storage, designated to small items such as old phones, cardboard tubes, netting and sheets, boxes and anything else you can use which is safe but can become the building blocks of imaginative play and learning.
Get some different materials. Designating a box or area for mud, sand, and forest materials such as sticks, leaves, and cones allow children to explore natural materials with ease. Try hiding them in places they are typically found so they can hunt for the items themselves.
Invest in some Synthetic Grass – keep all of the offcuts for your junk box. Instantly, the look and feel of the area will change making it softer and a great place to sit and plan activities.
Install Den Building Posts – all of your loose materials can then be used to build dens and shelters. Our posts are in keeping with the forest feel, making use of dark green and earth coloured materials will allow children to experiment with camouflage while providing themselves with a shelter to sit in and talk, read or play hiding games.
Get some movable balancing and active items. You can enhance this equipment with logs and other bits from a local tree surgery firm. They will also double as seats and benches or become part of the den building. If you ask tree surgeons or ground maintenance companies, they will gladly give you what you need.
Buy or make a Mud Kitchen. Messing about making mud pies, potions and perfumes will help to teach children about nature and the materials it has to offer. Try to build or buy one with a water pump for added fun.
Include water in your play – this can be in the form of guttering, a Water Play Wall or water table. By using junk items and tubes, hours of fun and learning can be had as your young explorers become aqueduct makers.
Keep a selection of old hats or dressing up clothes, doing so adds to children’s imagination as they take on the role of builder, cook, explorer etc.
It does not have to cost a fortune to produce the educational value of forest schools. By adding a little imagination, some careful selection of recycled material and a few more core items, you can create a creative forest space which is just a few paces away from the classroom.