The forest as a space for learning and experience
In February and March 2020, our kindergarten was transformed into a forest kindergarten for a few weeks. Every day we were out in nature with our 7 children. Here is a “travel report”:
It is calm in the forest. Birds chirp. The wind stirs the eucalyptus leaves. There is a rustling, there is a little movement. It’s our kindergarten children in the middle of bushes and trees, leaning against a trunk or lying on the ground. They stay at their power places; they chose them themselves and have visited them almost every day they have spent in the forest. Today their task is to listen. “What did you hear and perceive?”, they are asked afterwards, gathered on the forest sofa. The list is longer than expected because tigers and fairies were also in the forest.
After this guided activity, the children return to their free play. Discovering, researching and following one’s own curiosity are the central elements in the forest kindergarten. The children have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the countless possibilities that the forest offers them. Alone or in small groups.
Construction continues on a “house” and a role play is resumed in a small hut there. Two children hang together on a swing and spin. Later they continue to carve their sticks. Others drag a large branch and place it over a pit so that they can balance over the branch.
The accompanying adults are hardly needed. Sometimes they give impulses and leave it up to the children whether they are accepted or not or at what time. The children help each other with challenges, for example: climbing a tree. There are plenty of ways to have distance to those with whom you are not able to work cooperate so well. The curiosity and enthusiasm (e.g. for a bird egg shell) brings the children together again and again. Conflicts very rarely arise between them, also because the children can move and act according to their natural need for movement. The versatility of nature also stimulates her imagination and creativity. And perceiving with all senses supports fine motor skills and a sense of balance.
The 3 hours in the forest pass quickly. Often it seems, too quickly. With a song we thank the forest and all its creatures. On the way home we find animal faeces on the ground “Who is it from?” Some children want to know. A marten appears to have passed here last night. What will we find tomorrow? Which questions will arise and which riddles will have to be solved?