Friday, 12 September 2014

Outdoor Play party - Alfreton N.S - Forest school sites.

Fab little mud kitchen in Granny Greenwood's Garden.
During our 3 day visit to Derby we were lucky enough to spend a whole day at the incredibly inspiring Alfreton Nursery School. I have already written posts on their indoor & outdoor space but their forest school sites - yes that is plural - need a separate post altogether.
Alfreton Nursery first established a separate site to offer a forest school experience within their school grounds, they fenced off an area & called it 'Granny Greenwood's Garden' - they have a puppet called Granny Greenwood who lives in there. The site is only 8 years old but it feels so much older & is well established with a willow tunnel & cave, over 50 silver birch trees, some fruit trees, meandering paths, a seating area & bug wall.
This space felt so established & there was so much evidence of it being well used by the children, with a lovely rough mud kitchen in sight & lots of little piles of leaves & bark chipping dotted around.
The nursery use this space in their first few terms at school with focussed forest school sessions. It really feels like it is much further away from the main playground than it actually is. 
The bug wall.

Little dens tucked away.
Hard to believe this site is only 8 years old.
Ugly fencing is screened off.
Then when they are more confident they progress onto the much bigger woodland site the nursery has established in the past 18 months. This site was gained from some green space owned by the local secondary school & is a little further away from the main playground but all still within walking distance. Again, it was hard to believe this was only 18 months old as again the trees looked so established. I think the large patches of wild grasses & floweres helped it look so inviting too. Within this site, they have a brilliant plastic bottle green house with loads of little plants all thriving away inside. 
Built on a Saturday morning by staff, governors & parents.
There are bug houses, willow dens & a fire circle. Recently the parents, staff & governors came together to build a polytunnel with a view to creating a big greenhouse but then discovered that it was too hard to get water to this facility. So now the plan is to make into a big den for the children to enjoy with camouflage netting etc. 
A much bigger space.

Seeing both these sites was a brilliant experience for us all - our little wooded area is so much smaller but I was able to get lots of ideas to take back to help make Bear Woods an even more inviting space - like creating bark chipping paths through the trees & grass. For one of my colleagues it was inspiring for her to see what can be done with a blank green space in a small matter of time.

If I took one thing away from my time in Derby visiting the various schools, it was to try & create as much of a wild area within school grounds as you can & that it is possible to achieve it in a short space of time. I was so glad that we had already taken a step in the right direction with planting our woodland areas in 2013.

If you would like to read more about Alfreton Nursery School, please check out this case study.

Once again thanks to Peter, Nicola & Angela for all their patience with our many questions!
Many thanks to all those linked up & supported the last Outdoor Play Party, it's always brilliant to see so many post about enjoying the outdoors. My favourite from last time was from Mum in Search on how she & her children had taken part in a tree planting activity & on revisiting 2 years later, the children were excited to discover they had created a little piece of bush! This post reminded of how amazing it has been to have our own woodland area developing over the past 18 months. I can't wait to see it as it matures like the sites at Alfreton.

  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!

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    1. Perfect. Inspiring. Thanks for sharing your experience at the Forest school.

      1. It was certainly very inspiring, loads of great ideas for me.

    2. What an amazing place and very inspiring to know that forest schools like Alfreton exist. Thank you for featuring my post, too!

      1. Thanks, Tat & for linking up your great posts.

    3. Thanks for posting about Alfreton again Kierna. I've been waiting for this one for a long time.

      1. I had to wait for Angela to come back from holiday! Their outdoor spaces are amazing.

    4. What lovely school grounds, they have obviously worked very hard. What a lovely place to spend time in, I bet their students get so much out of it x

    5. Brilliant! Bear Wood will be established and wild in no time x

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