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What is Forest School?

Forest School is an inspiration process which benefits learners through regular visits to and opportunities in a woodland environment. It aims to develop the whole self, fostering independence, resilience and free thinking. The process immerses the learner in nature, deepening connections with both the natural world, others in the woodland community and with themselves. It is a specialised approach which sits alongside other types of outdoor learning and opportunities for play.

Muddy Puddle Club offers a variety of types of Outdoor Learning sessions, our Forest School sessions are never one off sessions or activity driven. Our focus is on developing a holistic approach to learning over a long period of time which allows every learner to develop and learn at their own pace and time. 


The principles of Forest School underpin our practice at Muddy Puddle Club. These are set out by the Forest School Association;

  • Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than a one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.

  • Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

  • Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.

  • Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.

  • Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

  • Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice


The British model of Forest School developed as a result of early years practitioners seeing the huge benefits of outdoor play in Scandinavia, where playing and learning outdoors is an integral part of society and early childhood. Since the early 1990s the Forest School movement has grown and it is now a widely recognised method of outdoor learning in early years settings, community groups, schools and beyond.

Led By Children

Forest School sessions are fundamentally child led, with a very loose structure. The leaders role is to act as facilitators and provide a managed environment which gives children the freedom to explore and use natural materials found in the forest and to take supported risks.

By attending regularly, children feel secure and confident to move away from close adult interaction and to become more responsible for each other and for themselves. The Forest School leader is there to scaffold learning when appropriate and to provide support when it is requested by the learner.


The focus of each session is time and space for children to explore natural resources in the woodland and to interact with other children and adults. We supply simple items such as water, bowls, paint brushes, pegs, spades, tools, hammocks, books. The woods provide everything else. Children often choose to do things like tree painting, mud castles, climbing, building, making sculptures, and bug hunting. Risk taking is developed through tree climbing, campfire cooking, mud play and use of simple tools when they are needed.

We usually come together for a break halfway through the session for a small fire. This is to heat water for a hot chocolate to go with our biscuit. Over the weeks the children learn how to respect fire, how to light it using a flint and steel and how to stay safe around the fire square. At the end of each term we all cook together on the fire, sharing food at the end of each term is a wonderful way to bring the community of families together and to reflect on our experiences over the past few weeks. 

holistic learning

At Forest School we aim to develop a holistic approach to learning, which means developing the whole self at the same time. 



Gross motor skills - tree climbing, den building, running, balancing.

Fine motor skills - whittling, playing with sticks, mark making



Respecting one another and the woodland environment. Taking responsibility for our actions.



Forest School is built around a strong community with the same children and families attending every week. 



A strong connection with nature and the environment. A sense of belonging and community.



Time and space to address emotional needs and development. Resilience, independence and reflection.



Working together, discussion, reflection, development of vocabulary.

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