For the past few weeks we have been attending Footprints on the Moon forest school classes in Plessey Woods, Northumberland. A not-for-profit organisation, Footprints on the Moon is a fun outdoors class for preschool 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. I often think that if you’re having a bad parenting day – get outdoors – even if you’re not fed, your kids haven’t brushed their teeth, whatever – get outside and the whole mood changes. You can go back and do the other things later, but being emotionally more stable is more important than a combed head of hair, at times!
Footprints on the Moon Forest School
I was asked to review the Footprints on the Moon 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 two boys but none have been outside. Kids often spend so much time indoors, even at school, and I think it’s great to see new classes like this in our area. Footprints on the Moon offer children regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.
Footprints on the Moon – forest school in Northumberland
Our classes have been led by Sarah and Annie. Each session runs for two hours and is different and varied every week. The class consists of several structured activities including a story time, a hands-on activity involving finding natural materials in the park and using them to create the given task and a fire in the camp, in which we gather together at the end of the session. We have made cards for Father’s Day using objects we found in the park, played with water, found fresh water shrimp in the river, and used tools to make a wooden medallion.
Forest School in Plessey Woods with Footprints on the Moon
Our latest session was a bit rainy, and we actually were the only ones who turned up for the session. Can you believe it?
The forest is so interesting and different in the rain than the sunshine, so it was with interest we went for a walk to find the big river. We have plodged in the stream often, and it is one of Noah’s favourite things to do. After the first week at forest school, he knew exactly where the stream is, and encouraged us to walk there more quickly, even though we had approached it from a different angle the second week. His confidence at the sessions has really grown, although he was obviously welcome and happy at the first forest school session, now he is trying to push the boundaries to see how much further into nature he can go.
Footprints on the Moon forest school near Cramlington
It’s lovely to see the children amongst nature, making discoveries, talking to each other and being so enthusiastic about their little task. Noah just loves it, although I think he might have got more out of it, friendship-wise, if there were other regular attendees.
The setting in Plessey Woods, where our classes are held is beautiful. I had never been before, and I love how familiar it’s become so quickly thanks to exploring it as a group during the forest school sessions. 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. I love chatting to other parents (it’s a real sanity reset) and there is something very refreshing and relaxing about having the class outdoors.
The children just potter on, and there’s none of the snatched toys or crying because “he’s got that which I want” element you often find in an enclosed sports hall play setting.
Forest School in Northumberland with Footprints on the Moon
Like with many things it does take children a few sessions to get used to the setting and structure of the classes. Noah has been excited about going since the very first session since it was chucking it down that first week, and he was thrilled to have the opportunity to jump in some really good puddles.
Getting outside in rain or shine at forest school
The warmer weather actually threw me off a bit – I couldn’t decide what to dress Noah in because a head to toe puddle suit is the obvious answer in downpours but what do you wear to plodge in a river when it’s 30’C heat?!
A few things to note:
I’ve really enjoyed the classes myself and know Noah loves them. The ages in the group all range from 18 month – 4 years and I think my son’s age (2.5) is ideal. Classes are held on Tuesdays to Thursdays, and last for two hours. The sessions are really good value at just £5 per child. If you don’t have waterproofs or wellies, there’s a good chance Footprints on the Moon can loan you some for the session.
Classes include a drink and small snack for the children – one week we toasted our own marshmallows on the fire. If you think about it, when else is your toddler going to get to try that?!