Forest School explorations at Hackney Marshes

On the 22nd March I attended an under 5s drop-in session led by Lauren Mills on Hackney Marshes. The children who attended were aged 2-4 years old and from different areas of Hackney. It was a wet, cold, spring day so we were all dressed in our warmest (and most waterproof) clothing. We met at Clapton Park Children’s Centre and then walked over to the Forest School camp area at Hackney Marshes:

forest pic 1

The first thing we did was make a shelter – the children and their carers used tarpaulin and string (provided by Lauren) and attached it to the trees to make a cosy, dry den. The children and adults then explored the natural environment. Lauren also set out some tools for digging:

forest pic 2

When Lauren brought some clay and wooden cuttings out the children gathered around her with enthusiasm and demonstrated excellent shared attention skills – it was fantastic to see such young children so engaged in an adult-led activity. The language that the children used was also very impressive. Even the youngest child used comparatives in phrases such as, “mummy make it smaller”.

When the weather worsened we all went to the den (that was made at the start of the session) for a story and snack. During this time the children were given insects to hold and explore and Lauren discussed their different features. The children used lots of spontaneous descriptive language to describe the bumble bees and asked the adults lots of questions.

It was then time to pack up and pull Lauren’s special trolley back to the children’s centre. Despite the cold, wet weather the children had clearly had a lot of fun and their parents and carers reported that the children really enjoy their Forest School sessions. One parent also said that she feels the sessions have helped develop her child’s language skills.

Emily Alton, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist