Nothing better than hearing from those we've worked with:
"Einstein Class would like to say a big leafy thank you to Mark of Wild Times Woodland Adventures for their wonderful adventure at forest school. The children experienced lots of different aspects of the great outdoors, from den building, mini beast hunts, to using a saw to make woodland pendants and cooking popcorn on an open fire. Mark is approachable and passionate about letting the children be independent to explore and learn through forest play. Mark spoke to the children about being safe in their surroundings and gave the children clear safety boundaries for the forest. The children were then free to explore allowed to choose a particular activity or make up their own games and experiences. It was really lovely to see some of the changes in the children as they gained more and more confidence in their woodland surroundings.
WE ALL HAD GREAT FUN”.
And more from the children themselves (KS2):
MC – “At Forest School, we not only grow in confidence and teamwork but also learn helpful tips along the way. A brilliant experience!”
JT – “I really enjoyed it when we made dens and learning about nature.”
IG – “Forest School is amazing because you get to learn things about the woods whilst having loads of fun. You even get to build fires!”
NW – “I love making dens because I learnt how to work as a team and help each other out. I also learnt a new type of leaf although I can't remember the name of it.”
RW - “This Forest School is amazing! It gives young people the chance to work together as a team and allows young people like myself a chance to prepare for future life. The activities are very grown up but it is safe and secure.”
JW - “Forest School is excellent because it gets children and also adults to bond with nature. Forest School has lots of activities to do so you will never get bored. Forest School is also extremely fun!”
RS - “The thing that I really like about Forest School is that it is a fun and enjoyable activity that has definitely encouraged me to get out and explore more.”
"We had an amazing time at our first Forest School session yesterday. We were very busy digging for minibeasts, playing in dens, collecting dry firewood, making a fire and climbing trees! We also enjoyed some yummy popcorn that we cooked on the fire. We can’t wait to go back and get muddy again next week!"
"Many thanks for the fantastic Forest School sessions today. The children (and staff) had so much fun and it was lovely to see how much they enjoyed being wild and exploring nature. I have passed the photo's on to A and I have asked her to send you some suitable ones. I hope we will be able to have more sessions very soon. (They have and are now looking to book for most of 2015-6 one day per week)"
"I tagged along to Forest School as a parent-helper for six sessions. For me it was a wonderful experience watching the children flourish over the weeks as they became more independent and adventurous. They were given the opportunity to explore the woods and join in many activities including making dens, cooking marshmallows on an open fire, creating pictures from from natural objects they could find around them (sticks, leaves, berries), using wooden bows and arrows made from sticks, swinging on the rope swing and climbing on logs/branches which was made into an adventure trail, using tools, digging and looking at plants as well as learning to stay safe. They learned so many skills from taking turns, self selecting activities they wanted to participate in and team working and building up relationships with their peers without even realising they were doing it. The enthusiasm from Mark was instrumental to the children having a great time. He loves what he does and it shines through and the children all adored and respected him and the rules of the woodland. It was a superb experience for everyone involved."
"Sycamore Class have had a taste of the Bear Grylls adventure over the last few weeks as they have been spending some time in the Wild, Wild Woods of deepest Bearsted. Learning how to survive just in case they ever get stranded. It was great fun with the pupils building dens and starting fires. They also cooked marshmallows – often found lying around in deserted woods."
A Year 5 Living History Day to bring alive the book 'The Boy with the Bronze Axe':
"We thoroughly enjoyed our day with you all in Liberty Woods. We really enjoyed
making the fire because we found it such a challenge to use the striker! We found
it interesting how hard you had to push down on the striker to create a spark.
Using the cotton wool and the petroleum jelly was a great idea to start the fire!
It was also rewarding finding the silver birch, to act as kindling.
Throughout the day, we were busy venturing through the forest finding materials
to make our Stone Age villages. Naturally, we became very competitive and worked
very hard to make our Stone Age villages the best! It was really generous of you to
make us a Stone Age arrow for the winning team.
Another one of our favourite activities was making our bow and arrows and shooting
them! It was great being able to take them home too to share our creations with our
families. On that note, thank you so much for providing each and every one of us with
a flint arrow head to take home.
We really appreciated you making us the ‘dugout canoe’. When we came to that part
in the story of ‘The boy with the bronze axe’, it really brought it to life! Your knowledge
of the book really shone throughout the whole day. For example, shaving the chalk and
then drawing the coloured tattoos was exactly what they did in the book. In addition, it
was great seeing Dave’s weapons, tools and cow drinking horn. All of these objects
really helped us visualise the story and learn about life in the Stone Age.
We saw that you put a great deal of effort into this amazing school trip. You really
helped bring our learning to life in a fun and exciting way.
Overall we have rated this school trip 5/5!"
The Dazzling Dyson Class, The Discovery School
"Today's Stone Age Experience for my Year 5 class was tremendous! The children (and
adults) were transported back in time to the Stone Age era through our class book,
'The Boy with the Bronze Axe', being brought to life. The children had an opportunity
to build a Stone Age village, design Stone Age themed stone art, carve chalk, find out
about real artefacts and handle them, learn about bows and arrows, paint with chalk
and create fires-the highlight for most! It was a jam packed, highly educational day
filled with hands on learning. As well as all these experiences, each child bought home
momentos from the day, including their own bow and hand carved arrow head. The
children commented that it was the best school trip and the wished they could come
back all week. Plus it was lovely to go a full day without hearing children talk about
modern technology, but instead becoming excited about nature. A highly recommended
Stone Age theme trip to engage, enrich and encourage enjoyment in learning."
Hawking Class, The Discovery School
"I had the pleasure of working with Mark, as part of 'The Forest School.' Mark has a great knowledge of the woods and this is obvious in the way he talks to the children about it. He explains to the children about health and safety and fills the children with confidence. The children that I supported in the forest school this term had a wonderful, exciting time and the parent helpers learnt many new and exciting skills too."
Greenfields School, Biddenden (Childhood First)
After much preparation, thought and anxieties, Key Stage 2 finally embarked on their first Forest School experience on Tuesday 11th April 2016. All the children displayed signs of both nervousness and excitement when we picked them up at 9.15 in the morning. We explained how we were getting there and set off promptly, on our journey.
When we arrived, Dave and Mark met us and escorted us to the main site, avoiding as much mud as possible. The children were fascinated by their Land Rovers and quickly introduced and ingratiated themselves with both of them.
Having sat around the camp fire to discuss certain safety aspects of Forest School, Dave showed us around the site and pointed out interesting features he found on the way. We came across a hornet, a mouse-ear fungus, a king Alfred cake and searched for some newts by the pond. Dave spoke to the children about respecting the environment and the animals they may come across and reminded them all of the safety practices around sticks and climbing.
After this the children were able to explore the forest individually, which they did with gusto. For the first half an hour, many of the children contented themselves with hitting sticks against trees, but as the enthusiasm for this activity dwindled they began to explore other activities on offer such as wood carving, collecting fire wood, tree-climbing and hunting for minibeasts.
By half past twelve the children were very hungry and gathered together at the camp fire for fajitas and water. This was a valuable time for the children to come together as a group, discuss what they had been doing and think about what they may like to do for the afternoon.
Once everyone had eaten, the children began to disperse to follow their individual pursuits which included building a ‘fort’ at the top of a hill, playing in the clay mud near the pond, beginning projects such as totem staffs and making pendants using small discs of freshly cut wood.
At around 2 o'clock the children began to gather at the camp fire again and each child enjoyed toasting their own marshmallows, much to the delight of a couple of the children that have never done this before.
By the end of the day, most of the children had made plans for their next visit and all were appreciative and thankful to Dave and Mark, who they had spent time with during the day. Some quotes from the children from the day are:
‘Next time I’m going to make a bracelet.’
‘I really enjoyed it.’
In respect of a started totem staff, ‘I am going to finish this next time.’
‘I love the marshmallows.’
‘That was my first time in the woods.’
And from Dave to a member of staff: ‘What a lovely bunch of kids they are.’
All the children were filthy, tired and happy at the end of the day and looking forward to pursuing their individual interests and activities on their next visit. (The children attended for an additional 12 sessions)
'I have been taking my class to Forest School with Mark for the past 3 years now. His sessions are always such an amazing experience; they are fun, exciting, risky and pitched perfectly. Mark has a brilliant relationship with the children in the class and has a great manner with them. We have an amazing time in the woods building dens, making fires, making fairy dens, telling stories, making homes for cuddly animals and climbing trees amongst so much more. The children's personalities really come out and I love getting to see a different side to them. Their confidence is boosted and they all say that their favourite time of the school year is forest schools.' - Michelle Smith
'Thank you for an amazing 5 weeks at Forest School, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and my class had an awesome time.
I just wanted you to know the impact your Forest School has on some children who may find life in the classroom a little difficult.
Jacob for example sometimes finds it difficult to respond to different adults in the class setting but he really came alive in the woods. He bonded with you and wanted to please you like he does me in the classroom. He listened to the rules and boundaries and responded appropriately. Jacob told his mum in detail after each session what he had done at FS and how he had enjoyed his experience.
Hannah is a very quiet and sometimes withdrawn member of my class, she thrived on this experience and came out of herself whilst in the woods. She enjoyed opening up to Miss Cambel and Donna, making and tasting things that she would usually refuse to do in the classroom but she felt able to do this in the woods.' -
Danecourt School (Special Needs)
My Class have benefitted from stepping outside of the classroom and in to the real world once a month in several aspects. Not only could the vast majority of our curriculum be taught through these means, but so many personal and social skills were gained too. Working with children who have social, emotional and mental health disorders can be challenging daily which sometimes amounts to unsafe environments; but every time we have been to Forest Schools my class are safe and 'free' from walled boundaries. They love spending time in the woods working on team projects independently, cooking on a campfire and exploring their surroundings. They always come back to school reminding each other of how they worked together and could be safe; and for me that is invaluable - Mrs Sarah Negus-Peek, Teal Class Teacher and Senior Management Team
I have a class of children who are ASD and have challenging behaviour. Trips to the woods and taking part in forest schools activities have provided them with various opportunities to explore and have freedom that they would not get on a day to day basis.
They have participated in self initiated role play activities, used tools and experienced cooking on an open fire.
Many of my children would not get the opportunity to take part in these activities outside of school. It has helped to motivate them in class and contributed towards better behaviour as they know that if they don't display safe behaviour in class they will not be allowed on the trips.
One particular pupil joined my class from a mainstream provision, he had low self esteem and confidence. Accessing the garden/woods allowed him an opportunity to express himself in activities he enjoyed. He was able to complete tasks and achieve something, this helped boost his confidence. He was able to apply his maths skills to real life projects - Zoe Smith, Orange Class Teacher
The Princes Trust, Chatham
Over the past two year the Prince’s Trust have been visiting the Wild Times Woodland Adventure site.
These sessions have focused on the personal development of the young people. Many of the young people that attend theses courses have come from of are currently in care, ex offenders and many with poor metal health.
The service is not only one that teaches young people practical skills but also teaches them skills that they can implement in to their day to day life. In turn this has given our young people the opportunity to succeed in life.
When on these session the young people also learn about the environment, wildlife, forestry skill, science and much more.
The Wild Times staff have a holistic approach for the young people ensuring all participants are fully engaged throughout the session which is often a battle when using other providers - Mark Birkbeck, Manager
Sandra, Parent Helper and Art Psychotherapist
What an absolute pleasure being part of the Forest School!
The children seemed completely transformed as soon as they entered the bush. Their eyes sparkled and you could get their full attention straight away!
They were relaxed but attentive, free but respectful of the boundaries.
Blue Bear the leader made everyone feel very welcome. His soft but firm presence created the feeling of safety that stayed with me all afternoon.
The only criticism I can think of is that we do not do this often enough. I think including forest experiences in a national curriculum would contribute to shaping a nation of mindful and more peaceful adults.
Sandra (M.S. and Post Dip in Arts in Psychotherapy)
Maidstone & Malling Alternative Provision (KS4)
Having 40 of the most emotionally vulnerable students, the Woodland has been pivotal in each child's progress within school. Over the last few years children have been able to engage in a therapeutic provision which gently guides them through the values of nature and the outdoor environment. Many of our children suffer the extremes of mental health problems and this peaceful environment has allowed them to open up in a safe way, which for many has been the beginning of successful treatment.
Staff have been fully supportive of each child and adaptations to delivery have been made which allows each child to have a personal experience which allows them to develop confidence and build self esteem. Peer mentoring in this environment has worked well and has allowed each child to feel fully supported and have somewhere to turn when they feel most desperate.
The natural environment provides tranquillity and learning about conservation has helped each child develop a caring gentle side to their nature which is valuable for future life skills. Those that suffer with mental health problems find the calming environment easier to deal with and they are able to make valuable contributions to their class activities and peer support.
It would be very sad if this provision no longer existed and we would not be able to find an alternative to this greatly valued resource.
Stacie Smith, Assistant Head Teacher
Childhood First work with children and young people who have suffered severe emotional and psychological difficulties. We work with them so that they can relate well to others, fulfil their potential and enjoy life.
As part of this process we underwent a term of activities with the team at Wild Times Woodland Adventures. For a number of our children, aged between 7-13, this was the first time they had visited a wood and engaged in woodland activities such as camp building, pond dipping, making a bow and arrow, searching for animal tracks, identifying fungi, collecting fire wood and making a staff. Besides coming together around the camp fire, something that many of our children find difficult to manage, the children also worked in teams to build a variety of dens and camps. Other children benefited from the large area that they could safely explore, enjoying time to sit beside the pond and talk about the insects and trees, climb trees or work safely with the fire and use the knives provided.
This has helped our children immensely, giving them a sense of freedom and supporting their emotional and educational development which has been severely limited due to the traumatic experiences they have been through.