5 activities for children to do in the middle of the forest

NATURE – Leave the Classrooms A breath of fresh air, isn’t that every child’s dream? Today is no longer a dream. More and more schools are launching initiatives to teach in nature, following a very precise pedagogy. This is developed in the book. the forest school. Co-written by journalist Pascale D’Erm and the network of pedagogy By Nature, edited by La Plage, explains this educational system and offers a wide range of activities to do in forest.

Following the principle of “taking care of oneself, of others and of nature”, these games aim to develop the senses, emotional intelligence, knowledge of the forest or even communication and cooperation. And among the twigs and the pinecones, the footprints and the animal soundstrees, water and flowers, the forest is full of means and the possibilities of activities are enormous.

We have selected five from the book, which we reproduce below:

1. My friend the tree

The ideal way to spend a quiet moment for the child with

©Pascale d’Erm (around the fire)

Ideal to spend a quiet moment for the child with the tree “his friend”

This activity takes place:

  • Cooperation
  • the communication
  • the trust
  • take care of him

The children are in pairs; in turn, blindfolded (or closed, if the child feels more comfortable that way), they are guided by their friend towards a tree. The guide will take care of his companion, slowing down, indicating if there are obstacles or branches to overcome.

Always with their eyes closed (above all, don’t take off their mask or scarf right away!), they will touch its bark, assess the number of low branches, its location, smell and smell the aromas that emanate from it, and then try to find it. once I get my sight back. To do this, the boy is returned to the center of the field by his partner and his mask is removed.

His comrade then accompanies him on his investigation, prompting him with clues if necessary. Once the tree has been found, the child can spend some quiet time near “his friend” the tree. If he can’t find it, it doesn’t matter, pick another one!

For the little ones, an adult-child binomial can be relevant, especially when it comes time to be guided by the little child. A great opportunity to trust and let go!

The opinion of the author Pascal D’Erm

“Sight is a dominant sense for us and this game teaches us to develop the sense of touch. There is also an emotional bond that the child maintains with her tree throughout the year”.

2. Clay painting and sculpture

Contrary to popular belief, forest mud is actually very clean.

©Pascale d’Erm (around the fire)

Contrary to popular belief, forest mud is actually very clean.

This activity takes place:

  • Cooperation
  • the imagination
  • the communication

While mud is sometimes referred to as dirty, forest mud is actually very clean; It has also been shown to strengthen the immune system and improve mental health. Also, the mud washes away, while the memories of good times in nature do not go away! From the bottom of our hearts, we invite young and old to paint with mud on paper, fabric (a large leaf), trees… with a stick, nature brushes (a branch with a bit of moss, leaves on its limb, a feather…), or simply with the hands, the feet…

You can also make clay sculptures – faces on trees, or alternatively 3D, clay castles, clay ball towers (different sized clay balls stacked on top of each other that you can cover with different materials if you want) : dry earth, moss, grass, etc.).

Throw mud balls at a target or a transparent shower curtain (possibility of being behind the curtain for guaranteed fun).

Dorogando: Japanese art of the polished clay ball.

The opinion of the author Pascal D’Erm

“There is something extremely liberating about getting dirty in mud, contrary to the education they have received. In addition, painting with clay is a very old artistic gesture that refers to the creativity of the first humans today restrained by a hygienist society.

3. Nature painting

The opportunity to discover many small treasures of nature.

Pascale d’Erm (Around the Fire)

The opportunity to discover many small treasures of nature.

This activity takes place:

  • attention
  • the observation

Adult picks up 5-6 forest “treasures” (pine cones, tree leaves, blades of grass, small branches, pebbles, etc.), preferably on the ground. He arranges them on a piece of cloth, like a painting from nature, and the children have 30 seconds to fix it firmly in their memory. They then close their eyes tightly to capture the mental image of what they saw, like a camera. The adult covers the nature picture with a small tablecloth and then the children must find the same “treasures” in the forest and rebuild the picture.

Don’t hesitate to show the table again if a child hasn’t found it (it’s a game!) and even reverse the roles: the children prepare a table to rebuild it for the adults.

The opinion of the author Pascale D’Erm

“Children focus on details in nature that they normally skim through without really seeing. They become much more observant.”

4. The miracle of water and ice

The miracle of water and ice is an opportunity to talk to children about the water cycle

©Ruth Joiner (Association L’Ecole buissonnière)

The miracle of water and ice is an opportunity to talk to children about the water cycle

This activity takes place:

  • the creativity
  • the wonder
  • the senses
  • understanding of the world

A game to play in the winter of course, but also all year round if you have a freezer!

The children begin by collecting various elements to hang them on the ice: pinecones, twigs, domes of acorns, dead leaves, pebbles, feathers… They choose various containers and fill them with water. Children put their objects in the water, some sink, others float: it is already a source of fun.

A rope is then placed in the container, with both ends hanging out of the water. A few drops of natural food coloring (beet juice, etc.) or food coloring can brighten up your frosting job. Then it remains to put the containers outside (or in the freezer) for the night. The following days, we took out the little mobiles and hung them on a tree branch. The light reflected there will illuminate the eyes of the little ones…

This winter work of art is also an opportunity to remind children that water is 70% of us, that it gushes, evaporates, flows according to an unchanging cycle for millions of years. The transformation of liquid water into ice and its return to a fluid state will be an opportunity for them to discuss cycles, transformations, changes.

The opinion of the author Pascale D’Erm

“This game allows you to marvel at water, which is the basis of all life.”

5. Prey and predators

This activity takes place:

  • Cooperation
  • Problem resolution
  • the communication
  • the senses

Combining the exploration of the concept of predation and the discovery of tracking, this game often builds a strong team spirit in children. First of all, it will be necessary to help the children to divide into two teams: the prey and the predators. It is up to you to decide together which animals you want to embody.

The prey have 10 minutes (or any other time the group decides) to hide in the forest. But like all prey, the children of this group will leave traces of their passage. To do this, they will walk in single file pulling a large branch behind them, slightly marking the ground. After about 8 minutes of walking, the prey stops and hides where they left their tracks.

Once the 10 minutes have elapsed, the predators go in search of the prey, observing the tracks of their passage. It is possible to set a time limit for predators to find all prey, or allow any missed prey to jump to surprise predators. It’s fun for kids (even if it’s not really what happens in the animal world, which is explained to them).

It is possible to leave arrows made with sticks on the ground to mark the path of the prey, but also pieces of natural wool of a fairly neutral color, or even very small pinches of flour thrown on the ground or on the trees. These different brands will create different levels of difficulty.

The opinion of the author Pascale D’Erm

“Sometimes it is difficult for children to name predators other than wolves, foxes and lions. This game teaches them about the prey, the predator, who eats who, and the food chain.”

The activities of L'école de la forêt aim to teach children about nature.
The activities of L’école de la forêt aim to teach children about nature.

See also in The HuffPost: These plants that invade all of Europe are given a second life in Montpellier

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