The Greatest Outdoors

Category: Our Curriculum Page 1 of 5

What’s next?

Well, quite a lot actually…

The Goddess Journey

Starting in February, at Imbolc, we will be starting a series of workshops honouring the feminine and everyone is invited, regardless of gender.

We will be taking a voyage with Brigid (Imbolc), Macha (Bealtaine) and the Cailleach (Samhain) through the course of the year. Along with the goddesses, we will be working with trees as well as the land. The venue is being confirmed now, but it is quite close to being confirmed! So we are most excited about this.

Cailleach by Siuban Regan

After Schools

We will continue our After Schools club in Holywood Steiner School. But if you are interested in having one for yours, please contact us and let us know.

Easter Scheme

Processing potatoes…

The dates for the Easter scheme are the 4, 5 and 6 of April.

Summer Scheme

The dates for the summer scheme will be confirmed soon.

Fostering Network

We will continue to work with the Fostering Network. We are planning a session over the February half term already for somewhere in Belfast!

If you are interested in any of these activities or getting in touch with us email hello@elementsschool.net or call us/ WhatsApp 07540075991. You can also drop in on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/elementsschoolni/.

Oíche Shamhna

and Halloween was back! Sadly we didn’t get too many photos of it, but here are a few that were captured by the parents. It was a collaboration between Elements and the Parents and Friends of the Steiner School. over 150 people attended despite the downpour! It was a truly memorable evening.

This was Emma Foley’s station – the amulet making
Apples anyone?
The shadow play by Siuban Regan
Art by Siuban Regan as part of the cailleach story
The eternal other
We turned the portacabin into a shadow play theatre! It was rather magical!

So, what’s next?…

Working with the Fostering Network

We were very lucky to work once again with the Fostering Network, this time in Antrim. We operated out of the Compass Network farm in Ballymoney and went through four native trees here.

The activities centred around the birch, alder, ash and oak. The sessions which lasted four weeks included storytelling, knife skills, den building and working with trees.

We worked with ten children regularly, ages between 7 and 12 years, with varying abilities. Some of the feedback was…

We learnt…

❤️‍🔥How to survive

🌿Everything about trees

⛺️How to make things

😍How to stay alive

🪵Doing whittling and deciding to do woodwork for GCSE said an 8 y.o… 😘 the rain stayed off. Thanks to CAN for the use of their barn and baby forest. Can’t wait to go back and see it in 20 years time. 🌈

Learning how to make a fire
Making smores on the last day
Learning about the oak
Whittling

We hope to work with them again in the future!

What have we been up to?

I must apologise for not updating the site since June! Unforgiveable!

In my defence, it has been extremely busy the past few months though.

Here is a run down on what we have been up to:

After School Sessions at the Holywood Steiner School

We have had full session of up to 18 children here on Monday afternoons between 3 to 5 pm. The children who attend these sessions are now so well seasoned, that they engage in deep play. We set out our activities and the children then self direct play. There could be some who play int he hammock.

Others choose to hone their knife skills.

Yet others play in the woods, creating worlds which are limited only by the imagination. Others build dens. It is the sort of thing which you really want to do after school, with friends…

Here two students have made a bug house on their own…

After that, most importantly, we all have a good feed…

Bon apetit!

And that’s just one thing which we did!

Learning and play

Here are a few thoughts after ten years of Forest School… yes I started teaching Forest School in 2012…

Here is one of the wee gnomes on the Forest School flag we still use…
Here it is being made…
Literally my first Forest School class… those kids are now 17

Well, my thoughts… what always inspired me was the wish to have children understand and be connected with nature. Yes, true it was about how nature was great for children. How nature was important to us. How they are the future and therefore they are entrusted to nature. And from the very start to was always linked to the unseen beings, the invisible law of physics or pharies, you choose, that surrounded us. Always.

Beach school…. we also did beach school

The most important thing though – along with working with all of nature – was bringing this joy, this constancy of love. If the activities were overprescribed and joyless, then it would defeat the purpose.

So Forest School would always be a place of learning, yes, but also magic and play…

Fast forward ten years… that’s ten years of being a Waldorf teacher, ten years of Forest School, two years of Covid, two years of starting our own social enterprise… and here we are…

Here are the top 5 things I have learnt as an outdoor teaching practitioner:

  1. Plan, plan, plan with the children and the activities in mind.
  2. Have everything at hand.
  3. Health and safety of course, but also boundaries they can explore and grow into.
  4. Always read the children – see where they are and what they need.
  5. Have fun with it! Make sure that there is always space for fun.

It has been a wonderful 10 years and with any luck there will be another 10 to go! Thank you everyone who has helped along the way.

Why we do what we do

I found this picture on social media and it inspired me to write this…

As a teacher I see the importance of play. Children are not mini adults. Their brains are different, their hands and bone structure is different, they learn differently. And they long to learn. They are enthusiastic about life. And it is universal. A child in Asia is exactly like a child in Europe. It is astonishing how they have the exact same characteristics and go through the same developmental stages.

When a child plays they engage every fibre of their being. Their bodies, their imagination, their thought and their will. They enter into a world which they utterly believe and they are creating the future. We do them a greatest service in being able to keep those boundaries of childhood as free and as joyful for as long as possible. It is in their sense that the world is GOOD and BEAUTIFUL that they will seek its TRUTH with a hopeful, beatific will.

At elements we do this. Nature, the greatest teacher, is given the space and we enter a partnership with her to create moments of magic and lasting memories. The child develops a confidence and a trust in the world, while also encountering the very limits of their experience.

The importance of Deep Play

Deep play is a state which all children and adults who are working at their best are able to achieve. This happens when you are so engrossed in an activity that time suddenly stands still.

You can see this with very young children when they play and older children when they are using their imagination to world build. We see this in Elements Forest School.

Being managed from pillar to post is something which our children are now very used to. They arrive at an activity and they are now used to being told what to do. This is fine… up to a point. But they must also be given space to breathe. Space to dream. Space to get bored. Space to be themselves. To have down time, as it were.

In Elements we blend the two based on the what the children tell us. Well, not tell TELL us, but we ‘read the room’ – or in this case, the Forest.

The Forest really is the star of the show. After that it is children. Then it is us. As a Steiner educator, and as a team that comes from that background or works intuitively with these principles, seeing where the children are is more important than trying to cram them with activities. The children will learn eventually – but most often the first step is just watching you and being at home in nature.

This is where Deep Play comes in. Deep Play is relaxing, it is freedom, it is delight, it is engaging with the best parts of yourself. It lowers the stress levels, it boosts immune levels, it allays anxiety, it helps ANYONE the opportunity to reconnect with meaning.

At Elements Forest and Garden School this is our top priority. And we believe it can be best – if not only – done in nature. Touching, feeling and discovering the natural environment is healing. Trees give off chemicals which are literally relaxing. Soil is full of bacteria which makes you happy. The air is cleaner in the forest which helps boost your oxygen levels. It is literally ALL GOOD.

Add to that the magic of the elements and you have some very happy children.

If you are interested in signing your child up or having elements are your school or working with your after school, let us know by contacting us on 07540075991 or emailing hello@elementsschool.net

We greet the spring!

I know that spring does not begin until March apparently, but as far as I’m concerned it starts on 1 Feb – the quarter day marked in Ireland by Brigid’s.

There was a real sense that the children who came back just wanted to be with the forest and the forest wanted to be with them, so we decided to keep the sessions loose.

Here are some pictures from the two session this week – which is not to say they did not have a ball!

There are no more spaces in the Steiner School but there are spaces in the Quarries which is a magical place! Especially in that sunset. Call/WhatsApp/Text 07540075991 OR email hello@elementsschool.net OR fill in this form to register.

Forest School begins!

As the years pass, and despite the pandemic, Elements has seen more 100 children take part in our Forest School sessions and other activities.

Our mission is to enable children to experience and get to know the world around them, and in our many activities to gain confidence, develop their sense of confidence and sensory experiences, as well as enjoy all of the seasons around them.

At the Holywood Steiner School, we are able to cook outdoors, explore the beautiful forest they have and put on a series of educational and fun activities.

Children are able to play on their own or join in activities. It makes for a truly rich and in depth outdoor experience.

Our classes in Holywood are now full and bookings will reopen in the Summer term.

New exciting year!

Check out what we have on this year!

Forest School

Holywood Steiner School

Forest School has started again. We are now full for the Holywood Steiner School! We have our full quota and class is closed!

The Quarries, Bangor

Arrow making

We are starting up again at The Quarries in Bangor. Located at 402 Gransha Road it is a beautiful traditional Ulster farm which has been sensitively managed by Joan Woods and Tina Kersting.

It is teeming with wildlife and is blessed with two forests – one more recently planted native woodland and a 200 year old forest which surrounds the Quarry.

Surveying frogs

We have looked for frogs, found a fallen buzzard, collected tinder from birch and found millions of mushrooms. Tales were told by the fires in winter and more discoveries will be made over the coming spring and summer.

If you are interested in joining, sessions are held on Tuesdays, from 3.30 – 5.30 pm. Each session costs £15.

Get in touch by filling in this form or contacting us at 07540075991. For the month of February we are offering half price for one session two or more new sign ups!

Arts and Crafts Sessions

Leaf made by first timer attending our copper smithing class. Two more are coming up in Feb and March.
No experience necessary

We are delighted to continue to offer our wonderful craft sessions this year.

Introducing our first adult course this year at the Holywood Steiner School

From Fleece to Fabric: The Hidden Magic of Wool and Coppersmithing with Lake and Oak will be running at the Holywood Steiner School.

Fleece to Fabric: 5, 12 and 19 Feb

Coppersmithing: 19 and 26 Mar

For both activities start at age 12+ years. Click onto the links to find out more about each course.

Here are some highlights.

Fleece to Fabric

In the first lesson you will learn how to wash raw wool
In lesson 2, we card and create yarn!

These pictures do not do the sessions justice. What takes place is nothing short of a review of the entirety of our development as human beings and the important wool and other fibres have played in our lives. From the story of Theseus and the Minotaur to the Wool Guilds of Florence to the songs of the women of the Shetlands, the course is a tour de force in Emma’s skill as a textile creative.

If you are interested in this course click on this link for a full description and to book.

Coppersmithing

Like wool, our relationship with copper is also ancient. A soft metal that can be worked easily it is also warm, bright and gorgeous. Spend the day creating something with will literally last forever.

If you are interested in this course click on this link for a full description and to book.

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