Forest School Days

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR WILD SIDE

WHOLE FAMILY WOODLAND IMMERSION EXPERIENCES

LEARN, PLAY, TOUGHEN UP & GET DIRTY!


WEDNESDAYS 10-1 - RAIN OR SHINE - EAST CENTRAL INDIANA WILD SPACES

semester 2: January 18th-May 10th 2023

UPDATE 1/13/23: Accepting new families at this time! To join our Forest School playgroup please text: 765-227-8582 with your name and kids ages. There is no commitment or fees. You will be messaged details & the locations for Forest School weekly (some locations will require RSVP and others wont).


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

THE BASICS


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”


WHERE: Rotating wild spaces throughout East Central Indiana. Call or text 765-227-8582 to get reminders & updates about locations week to week or for any questions. Locations will also be posted to this page so check back. Some places we meet: Fall Creek Woods in Mechanicsburg, in a small private woods on the west side of Anderson, 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.

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!

2023 DATES TO KNOW:

January 18th- Forest School Days restarts for our 2nd semester of sessions.

February 8th- Forest School Field Trip to Salamonie Reservoir area 11am-6pm (CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!)

May 3rd- Forest School Field Trip to Cool Creek Park 12pm-6pm

May 17th- Last Forest School Day of the season

LATE MAY/EARLY JUNE DATE TBA- Forest School families camping trip at McCormick's Creek State Park (RSVP by April 1st so we can get adjacent camp spots and also get cabins reserved in time for those who are unable to camp) Options to join for a day only as well (we will be exploring a cave!).

August 14th-18th Forest School Restarts with a daycamp-style intensive! Five days, five amazing locations, fun in the sun and water play to kick off a new semester of Forest School days! Times TBA


THE NITTY GRITTY


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: 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 will be pointed out clearly at the start of each gathering. 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.

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.

photos by Richane Robbins :)