Can’t see the sticks for the trees…

Louise Graham is a primary school teacher and forest school leader working near the source of the River Tamar on the North Devon – Cornwall border. She  supports school groups, teachers and childcare professionals to take their learning outside. Visit for details about training, forest school training, research projects and consultancy with the Natural Learning team.

Louise also works with collaborations of schools across North Devon as hub leader for the Naturally Healthy Devon Schools project.

“Oh no children I forgot the paintbrushes! How will we paint the woods today?”

The children coming to forest school think I’m very forgetful (and let’s be honest they’re often right), but forgetting the paintbrushes, or another important piece of kit, has become a regular “problem” for us.  We’ve been painting the trees to wake them up for spring, and the children love this activity so much they have lots of suggestions to resolve my forgetfulness.

“I’ll go back.” There is always a thoughtful, helpful child or adult in the group.

“We’ll use our fingers.” That particular child would have used their fingers, paintbrush or no paintbrush, but maybe we don’t want to get quite that messy so early today. Continue reading

If you want to learn to navigate throw away the map!

This week’s post comes to us from Dr Chris Loynes. Chris is Reader in Outdoor Studies at the University of Cumbria. He recently worked as an educational adviser on the Learning Away Initiative. He is also a member of the Nature Connections network and chair of the European Outdoor Education Network.


Navigation using maps has been a ‘core skill’ of outdoor learning since it’s early days. I heard myself saying ‘I’d be lost without a map’ at a conference in Australia in conversation with local practitioners including an aboriginal national park ranger. He laughed saying ‘I always know here I am’. A Finn, an Australian and I decided in that moment to experiment. What kind of experiences could we facilitate in the wild travelling without maps?

Continue reading