As reported by Ms Francesca Cassar and Ms Sabina Sixsmith - Grade 1 teachers
The Forest Education concept goes back many years when Friedrich Froebel opened his first kindergarten in Germany back in 1837. He believed that the curriculum should integrate nature and play to provide children a place to grow. This unfortunately has changed through time becoming more academic. However there has been a great interest in his theory around the globe, resulting in many looking deeper into bringing nature back to children.
Due to San Anton School`s strong interest in this style of education, last Summer a team of 5 Kindergarten teachers including myself were sent for job shadowing to Wiesbaden in Germany, where we experienced this concept first hand, at Kastenienwichtel – a Reggio inspired Kindergarten setting. Following this experience, we shared all that we learnt and experienced with the rest of the Early Years educators.
We knew that we wanted our children to experience a Forest Education and decided to move our classroom to Ta' Qali for a week. This was no easy task as the logistics of transport and equipment needed was endless but there was no stopping us, as we wanted children to experience the freedom of playing outdoors as part of their learning. So our cars were transformed into a mobile classroom!
Our children are being guided through various learning experiences through nature throughout the whole week. Parent helpers have been indispensable and they have helped to make this experience unforgettable. A variety of activities have been planned, including a textured footpath encouraging children to remove their shoes and experience the feel of nature through their feet, building tents, using logs to build and construct, playing with mud, a nature scavenger hunt and much more.
The children have also been very busy preparing for their campfire evening as they practice campfire songs, drink hot chocolate and pretend to melt marshmallows. They have invited their parents to join them in the Nature Area at school for a campfire on Thursday evening; collecting wood and kindling has been high on the children’s agenda so they can use it for the real fire.
We both believe that this first-hand experience and being one with nature is the best way to teach the children to look after the environment. As educators and parents we need to work together to give the children what they truly deserve – the opportunity to play outdoors in nature, get dirty and be themselves.