Wild Forest School
Thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust has received valuable funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, enabling us to run our Wild Forest School project since January 2015. Wild Forest School provides fun, engaging opportunities for children in Leicester - some of whom have never had the chance to explore the outdoors – to experience the natural world and discover nature through a range of wild activities.
This year, Wild Forest School activities include:
Forest School sessions with children from Leicester primary schools
Forest School sessions with groups of home-educated children
Running Wild Tots pre-school groups
Delivering training sessions on our Wild About Learning teachers pack
Running a story-telling competition for Leicester city primary schools, with the top prize being a bespoke story-telling area for the school grounds
Wild Tots is for nature loving 2 – 5 year olds who like to get outside and explore. Wild Tots is a stay-and-play style session for parents/carers and their children to enjoy together. Groups meet outdoors, whatever the weather.
Making things out of natural materials
Listening to stories
Wildlife themed games
Identifying trees and other wildlife
Our Wild Tots sessions are generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Wild Tots is an 8 month programme, running March to July and September to December during school term time. The programme is repeated each year, but children are welcome to attend for two or more years. There are 4 Wild Tots groups, meeting in Leicester and Oadby. Wild Tots meet monthly on Wednesday mornings at Belgrave Hall and Gardens and weekly on Monday and Thursday mornings at Attenborough Arboretum and weekly on Thursday mornings at Lucas Marsh Nature Reserve in Oadby.
Home Education Forest School
Wild Forest School sessions for home educated children and their families
We run seven groups for home educated children, fortnightly on Fridays in Leicester and Oadby and fortnightly on Thursdays in Oadby. The sessions are led by Martha Rose, who home educates/unschools her two children; and by Sophie van den Bergh and Dani Pattuzzi.
Activities include natural arts and crafts such as making beads, string and decorative items out of wood; tool work; games, trails and treasure hunts; fire lighting and cooking; wildlife spotting and identification; story-telling and poetry.
Wild About Learning teachers' pack
Our curriculum-linked teacher’s pack is designed to support and encourage teachers to take their lessons outdoors.
Wild About Learning consists of 2 hour numeracy and literacy lesson plans for each KS1 and KS2 year group, plus links to other packs and resources.
Lesson plans have been designed to:
Work in any school grounds
Use commonly found natural materials
Need minimum preparation time
What we've achieved
The Wildlife Trusts are very lucky to receive generous support from players of People's Postcode Lottery. People's Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery in Great Britain where players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes whilst raising money for charities.
Thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, The Wildlife Trusts are inspiring and connecting people to nature through precious species and wild places, provide thousands of children of all ages with opportunities to spend time in nature through a series of Forest School and outdoor learning activities and will stand up for and defend wild places when they face significant threat.
Since 2015, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust has worked with nearly 1,500 children in Leicester, thanks to the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. With the help of funding, the Trust has been able to provide children from ages 2 to 16 with the opportunity to learn about and experience nature in ways that simply weren’t possible before.
We have worked with 39 groups of primary school children. Teachers say that Forest School helps with regulating emotions, communication, listening and physical skills; boosting confidence, becoming more independent and building friendships.
We recently ran a short story writing competition for KS2 children in Leicester city.
7 schools entered 26 stories. The stories were judged by:
BBC Radio Leicester presenter Jimmy Carpenter
Leicester Mercury News Editor Linda Steelyard
Environmental Education Co-ordinator for Leicester City Council Lee Jowett
Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Grow Wild gardener Matthew Herbert
The three winners were:
Phoebe from Christ the King Voluntary Academy won 1st prize - a storytelling chair and area for her school.
Rafi from Leicester Preparatory School won 2nd prize - a story trail for his school grounds.
Ruqiya from Sparkenhoe Community Primary School won 3rd prize - a bundle of wildlife themed books.
Read the winning stories below
With the support of players of People's Postcode Lottery, the Trust's team of Grow Wild gardeners have created 5 wild areas for children and wildlife to enjoy.
Our Grow Wild project can support your school or group to make the most of its outdoor spaces for you and for wildlife. Our team of experienced gardeners can work with you to:
- Design a wildlife, sensory or mindfulness garden, a Forest School area, a barefoot or minibeast trail or a wildlife-friendly vegetable plot
- Create a garden from scratch - there's something possible for everyone from window boxes to wildflower meadows and ponds
- Renovate existing gardens that have fallen by the wayside
- Maintain and improve your outdoor spaces
- Train your staff, volunteers and students in nature-friendly gardening techniques
We have worked with 39 groups of primary school children. Teachers say that Forest School helps with regulating emotions, communication, listening and physical skills; boosting confidence, becoming more independent and building friendships:
- "“A" was always excited and Forest School has helped him to regulate his emotions and be able to communicate his feelings maturely.”
- “Forest School has really helped "E’s" confidence and she is now more likely to share her opinions and ideas.”"
- “C" got to be a lot more independent and less adult led than he is at school and this really impacted positively on him.”
Our Wild Tots sessions have been encouraging parents and their young children to spend more time outside together:
- “I think this group is amazing. Every week we are having so much fun. Thank you for having us.”
- “[My son] has started communicating much better. He is comfortable with his surrounding and experimenting [with] things around him.”
21 teachers from 17 Leicester primary schools took part in our outdoor numeracy and literacy training sessions in 2017. 80% of teachers strongly agreed that the sessions had inspired them to use the outdoors for learning more frequently. Positive comments included:
- “Imaginative, creative ideas for both literacy and maths – adaptable for all ages.”
- “Fantastic ideas that are easy to resource but rich in learning that is directly linked to the curriculum.”
Read our winning Wild Stories
The Day in the Life of a Squirrel, by Phoebe
Hi, I’m Scampy, I live at the bottom of the garden of a big house, where a little girl called Pheobe lives. Every day I wake up to hear the sound of Mr & Mrs Blackbird tweeting with their babies in the nest. The first thing I do when I wake is say hello to my Mum, Dad and my big brother Waggy. Every morning my brother and I have to go out and collect our breakfast from the bird table, which is situated in the middle of the garden just past the apple tree. I love getting the food as there are so many different types to collect, such as: fat balls / nuts / bread / suet and if we’re lucky there is some left-over dried fruit.
My favourite is the fat balls, the only way that you can get them is to hang upside down. I hang onto the table with two legs and my tail, then I lean forward and drop down, using my paws to grab hold of the fat ball holder which is like a cage. I have to hold on really tight so that I don’t fall off and land in a heap on the floor below. I fill up my cheeks with as much food as I can before I let go of the cage and swing myself back up onto the table. It’s a long way down to the floor – I have to jump from the table to the nearest branch.
My Dad tells me to be careful when I go out as the garden can be a dangerous place to play in, especially with the other animals in the garden, like magpies, crows and pigeons as they try to steal the food from us. The most dangerous place is the rickety rackety shed as it could fall down at any time and it would squash us into jelly if it ever fell on top of us.
My journey back to our home can be exciting as I have to jump from the branches to the bird table and in and out of the bushes at the same time as racing my big brother. We race to see who is the quickest and the best jumper and the prize for getting home first is getting to eat the best food that we have collected. There is a huge black round object in the middle of the garden which has a metal frame around it, it is very springy and we have so much fun bouncing on it to see who can bounce the highest.
I mentioned the girl Pheobe whose garden it is, she is very kind and friendly as she makes sure that the food is put out every day for us to collect. She tries to talk to us but we can’t talk back in her language, we can only squeak back to her. I would love to be able communicate with her, maybe one day…
The Tale Of The Red Squirrel, by Rafi
Once upon a time there were two brothers. The eldest was called Max and the youngest was called Ace. One summer’s morning, mum was in the kitchen and the boys went outside to play in the garden. Suddenly Max and Ace spotted a red squirrel opening a peculiar blue door at the top of their tall, old oak tree at the bottom end of their garden.
Not only did this surprise them, but the red squirrel was dressed with a black top hat, a monocle on his right eye, a green, red and brown tartan waistcoat, a gold pocket watch tucked into his waistcoat, a black cape with a red silk lining, and a black walking cane with a silver handle. The red squirrel looked down at the boys from the top of their tree and said in a very posh English accent, “Good morning chaps. What a beautiful day! How are you my dear good neighbours?”
Max replied nervously, “We are fine, thank you. What is your name?” The red squirrel replied, “My name is Master Squiffy Jennings. May I ask what are your names, gentlemen?”
Max and Ace told Squiffy their names. The boys wanted to know if there were any other animals that were also dressed and could talk just like Squiffy too. Squiffy told them that he would introduce them to all the talking and dressed friends who lived locally. Squiffy said he would also introduce his other friends who did not live in the human world but, lived in another world through the magic door inside the tall overgrown hedge at the bottom of the boys’ garden. The boys were excited to meet Squiffy’s friends.
Squiffy had some shopping to do that morning and so he was happy to take the boys with him to meet other creatures just like him. Their first trip was to Uncle Robert’s garden, their neighbour, where behind his poplar tree lived a hedgehog called Penelope with a general grocer’s shop. Squiffy purchased his packet of butter.
Then Squiffy took them to Aunty Jane’s garden, their other neighbour, where behind her willow tree was a den where Fred the fox had a tailor shop. Here Squiffy had his clothes tailored. Their next visit was to another neighbour’s garden where a mole called Maurice lived under the ground next to the pile of terracotta pots. He sold the best honey in town. Their last visit was to next door Uncle John’s garden where a badger called Bert lived next to the brook. He sold the best mushrooms.
The boys were so happy to make new friends with all the creatures they had met that day. The boys waved goodbye to Squiffy as he disappeared up the tree and through his blue door of his home with his groceries. The boys skipped happily into the kitchen and told their mum all about their outing. The boys were excited to meet up with Squiffy on another day and to go on more adventures.
The Striped Fox, by Ruqiya
Alice Moon and Oskar Sarn silently crept into the old farmhouse. They were the best of friends. As soon as they pushed the door open, Rosie Sarn, Oskar’s mum, was standing in front of them.
“Where have you been?” Rosie asked.
“In the forest,” they both informed her simultaneously. The children loved visiting the forest as it full of fascinating wildlife.
“Well then, you better go to bed!” she exclaimed. Alice and Oskar ran up the stairs laughing.
“It was so much fun playing with the fox!” she told Oskar excitedly.
The next morning, Alice and Oskar had breakfast and went back to the forest. The fox that Alice had talked about last night was their little secret and nobody knew about it. A little while later, when the friends had gone into the forest, they found the fox waiting for them. It was orange and it had black stripes. They had named the fox, ‘Stripes’.
“Hello, Stripes!” Oskar called joyfully.
The fox yawned but looked pleased to see them. The three went deep into the forest, where they saw a chaffinch’s nest in a tall, oak tree. Before they saw what was in the nest, several other animals scurried past them in a hurry. There were rabbits, squirrels and hares. In the nest, was a beautiful, glistening egg. Suddenly, as the wind blew, a large golden eagle swooped pasted and stole the egg without leaving a feather.
“Oh no! We have to get the egg back, come on!” Alice cried.
The trio ran after the eagle in pursuit. After a while, the golden eagle landed on a pile of sturdy rocks and placed the egg in its nest. Stripes growled at the eagle but it remained. Stripes tried again but louder this time. Fortunately, the eagle was shocked for a moment so Alice used this opportunity to grab the egg.
Alice, Oskar and Stripes returned the egg to where it belonged. Alice and Oskar said their goodbyes and returned home exhausted.
“That was a crazy adventure and I loved it!” Oskar told Alice.
“Hopefully, we’ll have another adventure soon!” Alice beamed. The two knocked on the door and waited for Oskar’s mum to open the door and fill their heads with lots of questions.