The Greatest Outdoors

Month: August 2020

The great unknown

How did we begin Elements Forest and Garden School? It came for the deep wish to bring art, science, spirit and nature together.

Children need to feel wonder with the world – and all too often, wonder was being taken out at too young an age. The other thing they needed was to be in nature. Whether it was at the top of a mountain or by the lough shore, nature and children belong together.

This connection has been shown to not only be good physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. And since children will be the custodians of the planet – we look after it for each successive generation – they needed to know and love it.

Studio GHIBLI Princess Mononoke Forest Spirit Elf Kodama glow in ...
Kodama – Princess Mononoke Forest Spirit

There was also the intuition that everything around us is alive and we are in partnership with it. So… we decided that we would ensure that this understanding and respect for the seen and unseen and everything in between would be an important part of our sessions. That it would be filled with world literature, traditions and activities which were nonetheless deeply rooted in the immediate place around us.

So our sessions will always include deep play. But in addition to that we will have seasonal stories which are never dumbed down. We will have activities which speak to the soul. We will learn skills without realising we have done so. We will always bear the cosmos in mind and our wider responsiblity to the world.

And we believe we can do this one child, one forest school session at a time. It does sound overly worthy but those were the reasons… however this does not mean that it won’t be fun. Because that’s what it is all about, fun. And I promise, they won’t even realise they are learning.

Pin by Vani Muthukrishnan on My kolam | Colorful rangoli designs ...
Kolam pattern – art and nature describing the ineffable

The thing about wonder is that it keeps us interested in the world… and it then inspires us to do something about it – and for it. And so we come full circle… Elements Forest and Garden School. We hope you’ll be able to join us.

About our Elements Sessions

Elements Forest and Garden School is run by Educators who have worked in some of Northern Ireland’s most unique settings – including 2 of the top School Visit sites. With a real passion for the outdoors and the many health and learning benefits that being in green spaces brings, Elements is proud to offer its STEM and Art focused sessions.

We will be engaging participants with the life and landscape of the location as well as getting hands on with investigations as well as natural crafts and art. With a “leave no trace” emphasis, children will leave with a deeper understanding of the place, supporting their learning as well as having had fun!

Who are Elements?

Elements is run by Stephanie Sim (RSPB, Waldorf Teacher) and Jonathan
McMurray (W5 Schools Presenter, Ulster Folk Museum Education and former SENCO). Between them Stephanie and Jonathan have a love of the outdoors, the environment, strong education and research backgrounds and a real knowledge of how children learn best. These sessions will provide a wealth of learning material to help school and home learning across a range of subjects.

Some Questions Answered:

How do I book?
Click here and fill in your details! (Note that until payment is received we cannot confirm your booking).

How do I pay?
Via PayPal or BACS. We will give you those details when we accept your booking. If you have questions about prices and payment methods get in touch at and we will help you to decide.

What if the weather is bad?
Provided there is no yellow warning issued, we will go ahead! We will inform you if the session is cancelled and you will either be able to get the session deferred or a full refund.

How much is it?
Check the sessions – we generally charge £18 per child for two hours – and there is a sibling discount. There is also a monthly booking discount.

What ages is this for?
Ages 6-12.

Do I need to stay with my children for the duration?
Not at all. Please leave them off and collect promptly at the end 🙂

Do we need to bring equipment?
Not for any of our activities – we provide those. However your child must be dressed appropriately and ready for the weather!

What are you doing to prevent COVID transmission?
Although being outdoors is a lower risk, we are COVID aware and will maintain all relevant government guidance at the time of the workshop. Currently this includes social distancing throughout, hand sanitizing and health checks. More info will be given to booking participants.
Please have a look at further posts for details of each week.

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