Forest School Days





semester 4: January 31st-May 29th 2024

***Please read this whole page before joining us so you know what to expect.*** 


WHO: Home Educated Students* of any age & their caregiver/s

WHEN: Every Wednesday from 10-1 rain or shine (except for objectively dangerous conditions) 

WHAT: Will largely provide time for free nature play and exploration with other kids, however there will often also be access to books & supplies for learning and play, a story and/or a casual suggestion of craft or activity & occasional guest “teachers”. One of our Forest School Moms will be serving as a leader each week however the leader's role is to make suggestions for behavior, safety, how to participate in activities/hikes and boundaries for free play in the end each caregiver is responsible for their own child/children's level of participation and safety as this is a learning, social and nature connection experience for the family and not a drop off program.

WHERE: Rotating wild spaces throughout East Central Indiana. Join the email list by emailing your first name, phone number & kids ages and you'll get the scoop on where we'll be each week. Some places we meet: Fall Creek Woods in Mechanicsburg, Green Township Community Park in Fortville, Dutro Ernst in Muncie, Koteewi in Cicero, Minnetrista in Muncie, Mounds State Park, Summit Lake State Park, Falls Park in Pendleton and wild spaces along the White River and Killbuck Creek in Anderson.  

Free except park admission when at a State Park (Field trips and other special activities may come with suggested donations but you'll be notified ahead of time). 

Please wear weather appropriate, mess friendly clothes and bring a snack/lunch, water and extra clothing.  

*Preschoolers not yet enrolled in school and siblings on break are welcome!


JANUARY 31ST- First Forest School Day of the semester

APRIL 3RD-24TH - These four Wednesdays kids and moms will learn how to start their own nature art journal with Forest School mama Maria. Journal activities will be followed by the usual picnic packed lunches and nature play. 

MAY 22nd- LC Nature Park Field Trip 10-noon - Tour the preserve at LC Nature Park near Fort Wayne and meet the new Elk and Bison babies! (RSVP required to or 765-227-8582, 5$ per participating child, in arms infants and one adult caregiver per family is free)

MAY 29TH- Last Forest School Day of the semester


FOREST SCHOOL: Forest School is an education model in which kids are outdoors for the entire school day in almost any weather condition. Forest School practitioners believe that a child's natural sense of wonder will be their best and most important guide in their learning and that learning happens better, easier and more when the pupil is excited and self starting. Forest School Days is intended to supplement education for home schooling and unschooling families. There will not be any formally trained educators on duty.  

STRUCTURE: This is not a class. In the spirit of unschooling these are largely child led and unguided. Each Forest School Day will likely include a casual suggestion of an activity, a craft or a story to inspire play, some pointing out of plant/tree names and their human uses and access to some aids for exploration (guide books, tools, etc). Some days may be more structured as we will occasionally invite seasoned woodsy people and park employees/naturalists to help the kids learn about wild edible and medicinal plants, building a fire, making cordage, etc. Some days we may be having so much fun in the magical place we find ourselves in that no formal teaching/planned group activity will happen at all. Think of this as a super rad playdate with awesome people in the woods! We will inevitably be doing some work with group dynamics and boundaries- please encourage your child to lead this part as well speaking up for themselves and working out disagreements amongst each other without adults whenever possible. Kids will be involved in creating rules and expectations about our time together when the need arises.

POOP: We are sometimes not near a bathroom. There will be a poop kit available to assist doing business in the woods if someone needs to do that. 

BABIES/BABY POOP: Some places we meet will not be easily accessed by stroller so be prepared to carry anyone who doesn't walk well (hike distances and speeds will be planned with younger kids in mind though). If you have someone in diapers expect to not be near a trash can or your vehicle.

FASHION: This will be more fun if no one has to worry about clothing. Dress to be comfortable in the weather and wear clothes that you don't mind getting wet, muddy or torn. In rain/snow/mud a rainsuit is super helpful for staying comfy and taking pressure off kids to stay dry and clean. These rainsuits are not too warm for spring/fall days but made large enough to fit over bulky winter clothes. Bringing a change of clothes is also a good idea. When reasonably warm consider wearing hiking sandals or water shoes because puddles and larger water sources will be calling us for splashing. In the winter aim for lots of warm layers (over doing it is better than underdoing it) with a waterproof outer layer, insulated muck boots or waterproof snow boots, waterproof gloves/mittens, a hat/hood and bring extra footware and mittens if possible. There is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes!

NOURISHMENT: Bring as much water, snacks and lunch as you will need. Food swapping/sharing encouraged but food/snacks will not be provided. 

SAFETY- BALANCING CONFIDENCE BUIDLING/WITH HEALTHY LIMITS: Part of the Forest School model is engaging in "risky" play to build confidence, learn and bond with the group. We will be climbing logs/trees, tasting wild foods (identified by knowledgeable adults), playing amongst thorns, sticks and rocks and we will often be near water. A first aid kit will be available and at least one adult with knowledge of plants to avoid touching will be present. Hazards to avoid specific to the area and suggestions for how to avoid disaster will be pointed out clearly at the start of each gathering/hike however the parent present is responsible for their own child's safety and their rules and guidelines trump the Forest School leader's rules and guidelines. Each caregiver is expected to set limits that help their child stay safe while challenging themselves and keeping up with the pack.  If you find your child pushing limits (for example: climbing high, tending fire, risking getting wet in freezing temperatures) before pulling them away or discouraging them quickly consider what the worst case scenario is. If the level of risk isn't too high allowing them to explore without intervening will do wonders for their confidence and encourage a deep connection with the friends they're playing with and the environment we're getting to know.  

Another note about safety: We as parents naturally keep an eye on any children around us and please intervene if you can save someone some pain however at the same time we would like to see all parents relaxed and enjoying themselves in the beautiful natural areas we explore.  Caregivers present are encouraged to focus on the wellbeing of their own children unless explicitly asked by another caregiver for assistance overseeing their child/children (we all have different boundaries and expectations with our kids and that's okay). For example some mothers allow their babies to put soil and other natural materials in their mouths while others would panic at the thought...yet we would all prefer our babies be stopped if they're going to taste some scat or poison ivy....please be mindful of differences in parenting before taking action if a child is not in immediate danger. 

THE END GOAL OF FOREST SCHOOL DAYS: Free imaginative play and exploration led by the kids themselves in a beautiful natural area is the end goal of Forest School Days. You can help make this happen by allowing your child to move as freely is as safe for them and interact with the environment in their own way . It can sometimes be challenging and uncomfortable for adults to let go in this way but it's worth the effort. Also things may feel illogical, unproductive or slow moving when children lead so be prepared for a different pace; learning through play and exploration can't be rushed. 

Want to do Forest School more than once a week? Are Wednesday mornings bad for you?