Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Saplings Classes in Brighton - Forest School Review


For the past few weeks we have been attending Saplings classes in Brighton. Run by The Outdoors Project, Saplings is a fun outdoors class for pre-school aged children and is inspired by the Forest School ethos and principles. The outdoor approach has many benefits for children. It is shown that children develop their personal, social and technical skills through learning and play in a natural environment and this in turn builds independence, confidence and self-esteem.

If you read my blog regularly or follow my Instagram you'll know we love spending time amongst nature but I've only came across the Forest School principle recently. I was asked to review the Saplings classes and thought it would be a lovely chance to experience something different. I've been to so many baby and toddler classes since having my little one but none have been only outside. In an age where kids spend so much time indoors, something I try to resist, it's great to see new classes like this in our area. The Outdoors Project states "With long-term, regular access to nature and the outdoors, it has been proven that children are happier, less likely to be off sick, develop better levels of concentration, are less stressed and irritable, more respectful and have a high capacity to work in groups." 


Our classes have been led by Katie Scanian. Each session runs for over an hour and is different and varied every week. The class consists of several structured activities including singing (hello and goodbye song), story time, a hands-on activity involving finding natural materials in the park and using them to create the given task and a game of 'What's the time Mr Wolf'. We have made nests for the animals using objects we found in the park, held a teddy bear's picnic, searched for ladybirds and beetles with magnifying glasses and found the natural habitats for the characters in the Gruffalo book.

Katie reading the ladybird book

Our latest session included Katie reading us the book, The Disgusting Sandwich, a story about a badger and other animals trying to eat a sandwich which suffers various accidents and becomes inedible hence the title. All the children were fixated on the book especially as Katie has brought along soft toy animals to accompany the story. Our task was to find materials in the park and make our own 'disgusting sandwich'. So, each child was given a pot and we walked around the park in our group finding leaves, feathers, nuts, twigs and anything else little hands can find. The little ones were also given a pot to collect some mud that was used for the sandwich filling! It's lovely to see the children amongst nature, making discoveries, talking to each other and being so enthusiastic about their little task. My little two year old now says 'Look what I have found!' to Katie and the other kids in the group. The setting in St Ann's Well, where our classes are held is beautiful and I've discovered many new areas of the park I didn't know existed! It's nice finding things purely amongst nature and although we're out all of the time all of the activities and tasks we've done are purely unique. It's also lovely to meet other kiddies and sweet how they run around together finding little leaves and nuts and showing the other kids what they have found. There is something very refreshing and relaxing about having the class outdoors.


Making a 'disgusting sandwich'


Like with many things it does take children a few sessions to get used to the setting and structure of the classes and now my son gets excited when I tell him we're going to Saplings. He's also developed a strong liking for Katie and shows her everything he finds. The warmer weather has also helped enjoy our classes more and I'm looking forward to the summer term. I've really enjoyed the classes myself and know my son loves them. The ages in the group all range from 18 month - 4 years and I think my son's age (nearly three) is ideal. Classes are held across Brighton and Hove in St Ann's Well, Preston Park and Queen's Park. There is also a new saplings course in St Andrew's Park in Bristol. All courses cost £49 for 7 weeks. There are also after school and holiday clubs. See the Outdoors Project website for more information.

Many thanks to the Outdoors Project for providing us with classes for the purpose of the review. All words and opinions are my own.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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11 comments

  1. Hi, Really great effort. Everyone must read this article. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. My husband and do everything we can outdoors. Why be inside on a beautiful day, I say.

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    1. So true Sharon, we love nature and being outdoors. Thanks for the comment :)

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  3. What a fab activity to take part in, it's great that you've found something like this in your area. The activities that they have planned sound like a great way to get the kids imaginations working and a great way to inspire confidence. I'm sure as the weather gets even warmer it's going to be a fab way to spend some time with your son outdoors. Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

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    1. Thank you! It really is great that there is something like this locally. I forget sometimes how lucky we are living in Brighton because it really does have so much! I really do enjoy these classes as much as my little one & it's so nice exploring amongst nature. The activities you have at Coombe Mill look fantastic as well :-)

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  4. What a fantastic idea and activity: I totally agree that kids are happier when given the chance to be outdoors but I must admit i am sometimes lazy, especially during winters as long as the one we had here. They would really enjoy this and learn so much: I'll try get hold of the book, I am always on the lookout for good children books, we can never have enough of them! #MyFavouriteTrip

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    1. Thanks very much Marta, it really is lovely to be outside. The winter was long but we were lucky that it was quite mild here, handy with a very active little one! I think I might get hold of the book myself :)

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  5. I sure do love the idea of Forest School and Saplings sounds wonderful. Thank you for letting us in to a peek on your life and activities. #CountryKids.

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  6. I am a big fan of Forest School. Unfortunately, they don't have one here in Hitchin. There was one in development in Hackney just after I moved and now it is thriving. Saplings Classes looks so much great fun. I have to say £49 for 7 weeks is a really good price! #MyFavouriteTrip

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