Are outdoor experiences enough?

forest children photo
Photo by Paul Stainthorp

This guest post has been shared with us by Caylin from Forest Schooled. This excellent website runs weekly posts linking Forest School experiences with research on education, child development, and general human nature.

Over to Forest Schooled ….

Recently I started to question whether providing fun and educational outdoor experiences for kids was enough. Of course taking them outside is incredibly important for a variety of reasons, but when it comes to learning I felt like there was more to it. After an encounter I had with a 9 year old boy named Samuel I became inspired to look a little deeper.

Samuel was constantly getting into trouble for the same behaviour which he exhibited day after day at the after school club I worked at. The adults in the setting consistently resorted to a rewards/punishments system of managing behaviour, but it was clear to all of us that it wasn’t changing anything. One day Samuel was given the ‘punishment’ of helping me tidy up after everyone had their snack and the one-to-one time gave me the opportunity to have a conversation with him.

I wanted to take advantage of this time to get to know him and and perhaps gain a better understanding of his behaviour. By asking questions that got Samuel to think more about the motivations and feelings surrounding his behaviour, I unintentionally facilitated a process of reflection. The result was that Samuel felt empowered to make positive choices about his own behaviour in the future and, when he did at a later date, he felt better about himself for not getting into trouble as much.

That conversation with Samuel made me realise how powerful reflection can be as a tool for learning. However, what I couldn’t quite grasp was how to effectively facilitate reflection for others in future situations. We all, as individuals, have our own methods for reflecting, whether consciously or subconsciously, on our own personal experiences, but facilitating it for others is much more tricky. I wanted to learn more about it all so I decided to do some research.

I conducted a survey asking for contributions from other Forest School leaders, teachers, parents, and anyone with any knowledge on the subject about it. I also attended a course with Dr. Roger Greenaway who has put a phenomenal amount of work into promoting and creating tools for reflection (what he calls reviewing) in education (see www.reviewing.co.uk). It took a few months to gather the information together, but the result of all that research became a 30 page guide called A Practical Guide for Forest School Leaders (or anyone, really!) to facilitating reflection in the outdoors.

The guide gives a host of practical advice and tips including activities to make reflection engaging and interesting. Here’s a couple activity examples from the guide:

Songs & Rhymes

Sign a song or say a rhyme together that sums up what has occurred (or will occur) during the session.

Example of a rhyme – this is great for working on memory:

The forest is deep.

The forest is wide.

The forest has lots of things inside.

It’s got _________

(This is where you ask the children what did you do or see in the forest today? If someone says, “A squirrel,” for example, you repeat the rhyme and add in “squirrel” at the end. Repeat as many times as your group wants to, adding in a new animal/item each time whilst also repeating in sequence all those that came before it!)

Thumbometer

Have everyone close their eyes then ask a question such as, “How much did you enjoy today?” Learners can rank their experience by either putting their thumbs up for ‘enjoyed it’, thumbs pointing sideways for ‘neutral’, or thumbs pointing down for ‘did not enjoy it’. This is a simple way to gauge the feelings of individuals and groups overall without anyone necessarily being put on the spot. Try to follow this up by giving the opportunity for them to discuss their answer if they want to, either in pairs or with the group. For those whose thumbs were not pointing up, you could ask them, “What would have made it better to make your thumbs go up?”

Object talk

Give your group a prompt and ask them to look for objects that symbolise or represent their response to it. You could do this whilst walking from one place to another or just give everyone time to go explore and look for things. Once everyone has an object, you meet back together and each person presents their object and explains why they chose it.

If you want to learn more about reflection and how to facilitate it, including more activities like the ones shared above, you can download a PDF copy (FREE) or purchase a printed version (£5) of A Practical Guide for Forest School Leaders (or anyone, really!) to facilitating reflection in the outdoors at www.forestschooled.com/resources.

If you feel like you could benefit by doing more than just reading through a 30 page PDF, the printed version of the guide includes an extra 7 Day Reflection Challenge to help make your learning more hands on. The challenge gets you practising reflection by utilising some of the advice and methods given in the guide. The goal is that by practising these techniques on ourselves, we’ll become better at facilitating them for others.

I hope the information shared in this blog and in the guide inspires you to find creative and meaningful ways to encourage reflection in those you work with. I know it’s certainly helped add a whole new dimension to my own outdoor adventures!

About Forest Schooled

Forest Schooled is a blog that explores themes and topics associated with the educational approach of Forest School. Weekly posts link stories about Forest School experiences with research on education, child development, and general human nature. The premise is that while we’re busy ‘teaching’ children, they are just as busy teaching us. If we take a moment to stop, notice, and reflect we can discover a lot more about ourselves and the world we live in – that’s what it means to get ‘Forest Schooled’.

Find out more or get in touch here…

www.forestschooled.com

facebook.com/forestschooled

twitter.com/forestschooled

instagram.com/forestschooled

Outdoor Learning & Play – Why bother?

rain photo
Photo by grongar

It’s a hassle

Do you remember the time you really wanted to get outside with your class or group of children and the sky darkened?
What did you do?
Chances are you mentally pictured a bunch of wet kids (and hours down the road a bunch of annoyed parents) and did u turn and switched to some more covered or indoor activity.
It’s understandable that that becomes the instinctive reaction because:

  • most of us have grown up in a country where rain stopped play is part of the national identity (along with the wrong sort of leaves on the line stopping the trains)
  • most schools and children’s groups lack the basics when it comes to getting outside

Is that really the problem?

As a parent 12 years ago, I found that really frustrating. Surely the benefits outweighed the down side of my children getting a bit wet and a bit muddy?

I spoke to parents, I looked on forums online I asked everybody I knew if they could see the benefits of learning and playing outside for children.

I created massive lists to convince people to let my children and everybody’s children be outside, year round.

The evidence stacked up from round the globe:

  • Children are drawn naturally (without any interference from us) to earth, water, air and fire. Given the chance and opportunity they will learn and play for hours
  • Self belief, learning capacity, personal confidence, enthusiasm, communication and problem-solving ability, social awareness and emotional well-being all improve when children get outside or are taught outside regularly
  • Children learn to appreciate the environment and get a sense for how what we do impacts the environment
  • It addresses educational inequality –  getting outside positively re-motivates some children who just don’t get on in a traditional indoor classroom

and so it went on…. there’s masses of research to be found here too, on the site of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

and then the penny dropped.

It’s about the right tools for the job

It’s not about enthusiasm for outdoor learning and play it’s about the right tools for the job. The why is not the problem. It came down to the how.

Most teachers want more outdoors

Most teachers deeply value outdoor activity, learning or play but are just not equipped properly to deliver on it. I owed the world an apology.

Time to change focus. That’s when 12 years ago I stopped the why preaching and began to focus on the how to make it happen practically for enthusiastic schools, forest schools, groups and classes.

When I listened to teachers and joined their forums online I found the focus was on things like:

  • what clothes are strong enough to survive in schools?
  • what’s better – all in one suits or 2 pieces or bib and brace?
  • should I invest in waterproofs which are also breathable and windproof?
  • is it false economy to buy a cheaper waterproof suit in order to kit out the entire year group?

Those questions 12 years ago informed our business development and led to the Adventure Togs Schools & Groups Clothing Audit. This is a simple checklist for schools and groups to see if you’re properly equipped:

Adventure Togs Schools & Groups Clothing Audit

Does my school:

1. Have wellies available for all children? YES / NO
2. Have waterproof suits for all children? YES / NO
3. Require children to wear a sun hat? YES / NO
4. Require children to bring their own sunscreen into school? YES / NO
5. Have extra clothing available for layering in cold weather? YES / NO

With the right tools anything is possible.

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

All-in-One Waterproof Suits for Your Child – How To Choose

Children love playing and exploring outdoors and rarely let anything spoil their fun. When it rains, puddles become prime jumping spots, while in the snow there are entire families of snowfolk waiting to be built.

There is no need to let a bit of rain or cold weather stop kids from being
active, especially when the UK is prone to cold and wet spells. In
Scandinavia, school children in Forest Schools are encouraged to play outside every day, no matter the weather.

Why not invest in a good waterproof suit for your little one? The
Adventure Togs team has put together a list of points to consider
when choosing the right waterproof clothing for your child.

Go for maximum cover

Waterproof one-piece suits (also known as all-in-one suits, waterproof
onesies or splash suits) offer head-to-toe cover and prevent cold
from entering through air gaps that are common in separate
items of clothing. They are also more cost-effective and available in a range of fabrics. All-in-one waterproofs are often preferred for younger children over a combination of jacket and trousers.

Check the seams

Choose a 100% waterproof suit with taped seams, which is vital for
preventing water from getting in through the stitching.

Is it breathable?

Ideally, waterproof suits for kids should be breathable. If the item of
clothing is non-breathable, active kids can become hot and sweaty.

Windproofing or weatherproofing?

If you’re after a suit to keep the rain out and your little one dry, a
waterproof material is essential. For longer periods in cold, wet weather, a suit that is both waterproof and windproof will help to keep your child warm.

Teflon coating for protection against dirt

Look out for Teflon-coated fabrics, such as Togz kids waterproof suits which do not allow mud and dirt to penetrate the fabric.

Don’t forget watertight zips

A waterproof coating on the suit will keep the rain out, but
your child could still get wet if the zips aren’t watertight.
Look out for suits and jackets with storm flaps which provide a waterproof cover.

Is it adjustable?

Ensure the ankles and wrists of the suit are elastic or adjustable for a
better fit. There’s nothing worse than water seeping in through
sleeves or wind blowing up hems.

Lightweight & packable

Some designs of waterproof suit are made from lightweight fabric and easily packable. Perfect to pack and store away in a
backpack, when rain is forecast later in the day!

Will your kids want to wear it?

Choose a suit in bright and fun colours, made from a soft and comfortable fabric so your kids will be happy to wear it. Reflective safety strips are also important!

Kids Waterproofs – What Features Should I Look For?

Adventure Togs range of kids waterproofs are perfect for keeping kids dry on wet and windy days. We stock a wide range of quality kids waterproof clothing which are windproof and breathable as well as waterproof.

Children love to play outdoors regardless of the weather and usually don’t mind getting muddy! Parents often worry about keeping them warm and dry and want quality waterproof clothing to protect kids and keep them cosy when playing outdoors.

Our range of outdoor gear comprises of waterproof all-in-one suits, jackets and over-trousers and matching waterproof clothing accessories. We also stock several brands of 2 piece waterproof suits which provide excellent value for parents and teachers when purchasing for outdoor learning and Forest Schools.

What to look out for when purchasing kids waterproofs:

  • Fully waterproof garments with sealed or taped seams to prevent water seeping in.
  • Windproof and breathable (to prevent build up of moisture when kids are running around).
  • No air gaps around the waistline – ensure jackets do not ride up when the child bends over. An all-in-one waterproof suit is perfect as an head to toe kids waterproof.
  • Easy on/off – we want our children to be responsible for dressing themselves so the waterproof clothing needs to be easy to put on and remove without the help of an adult.
  • Reflective strips or pattern – Provides high visibility and therefore safety.
  • Choose lightweight, soft, comfortable fabrics so children can move around freely and play in comfort.
  • Stirrup straps or ankle adjustment so that waterproof trousers don’t ride up the leg.
  • A well fitted hood will not blow down in the wind and keep the ears and head warm and dry.
  • Kids waterproofs should be colourful and fun for kids to wear.

Childrens Waterproof Suit for Outdoor Playgroups, Nurseries, Schools and Forest Schools.

Little Nipper Suit - Keeps Kids Dry!  Perfect for Outdoor Playgroups, Nurseries, Schools and Forest Schools.
Little Nipper Suit – Keeps Kids Dry!
Perfect for Outdoor Playgroups, Nurseries, Schools and Forest Schools.

Little Nipper Suit – Keeps Kids Dry!
http://www.adventuretogs.co.uk/…/target-dry-kids-little-nip…
Perfect for Outdoor Playgroups, Nurseries, Schools and Forest Schools.

 

Didriksons Slaskeman Suit – Product of the Week

Slaskeman Waterproof 2 Piece Set by Didriksons
Slaskeman Waterproof 2 Piece Set by Didriksons

New in Adventure Togs for 2014 is the Didriksons Children’s “Slaskeman” set.

The Didriksons brand is based in Grundsund, Sweden and they aim to make high quality durable clothing for children and adults in the outdoors. They are the market leader for functional clothing made to suit all weathers and seasons. Their Slaskeman suit is a 2 piece rain set that is specially developed for particularly harsh weather, and will keep your kids warm and dry when they’re out and about.

Using PU fabric with welded seams, it is 100% waterproof, windproof and is perfect for outdoor play in the rain, mud or snow. Featuring an elasticated wrist, waist, and hood, you can be sure that the rain will have a tough time getting in! The set is generously sized to allow room for warm under garments and growth for your children.

We offer the sets from 6 months all the way up to 10 years of age and in two bright colour combinations; Opti Blue and Poppy. With a detatchable hood along with a fleece lining along the collar, this rain set is the perfect addition to your child’s wardrobe for the changing seasons!

The suit is available to buy from Adventure Togs for £35.99.

Click here for more details and to buy!

Waterproofs for Schools and Nurseries – A Guide

Choosing waterproof clothing for your school or nursery shouldn’t be difficult. The foundation stage in schools puts a great emphasis on outdoor play and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors, you will need a robust and durable suit which is preferably breathable and windproof as well as waterproof. With so much choice in waterproof suits and separates nowadays, there will certainly be a suit to meet your needs. We’ve put together this short guide which will help your decide on the most appropriate waterproofs for your school or nursery.

Remember ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing’

1. Think Practical – Will the children be dressing themselves? If so, think about how easy the suit or separates are for children to put on and take off. If purchasing for a range of sizes, think about buying one colour per size, e.g. all the 3 year old’s wear Royal Blue, 4 year old’s wear Red and 5 year old’s wear Navy.

Togz Shell Waterproof All-in-One Suit
Togz Shell Waterproof All-in-One Suit

2. Think Fabric – How durable is the fabric? How you want a heavier duty waterproof suit or something lightweight and packable for easy storage? E.g. You may like the robustness of the Togz waterproof all-in-one suit, but when it comes to storage, the Target Dry Little Nipper suit takes up much less space and is equally waterproof and breathable.

Little Nipper Waterproof Rain Suit by Target Dry
Little Nipper Waterproof Rain Suit by Target Dry

3. Think Warmth –  Would you prefer a winter suit or a shell outer suit for all seasons? An unlined shell waterproof can be layered under in winter with a fleece to keep the children warm and dry.

4. Think Style – A one piece waterproof or separates? An all-in-one rain suit will prevent any gaps around the waist, keeping children warmer, particularly on windy days. However, a 2 piece suit such as the Mikk-line over-trousers / dungarees and jacket set or Mac in a Sac waterproof trousers and jacket is ideal for more flexibility.

Mikk-Line Waterproof Dungarees and Jacket
Mikk-Line Waterproof Dungarees / Trousers and Jacket Suit

For more information on waterproof clothing for your school or nursery, see the Schools & Groups page of our website and sign up to our schools and groups newsletter.

Kids Outdoor Clothing and Accessories Since 2004

Happy Birthday Adventure Togs
Happy Birthday Adventure Togs

This week is quite special, since it’s 10 whole years since we launched Adventure Togs. My youngest child was only a two year old and we had just moved home, I must have been mad! Somehow, however, I managed to slowly launch a childrens outdoor clothing business whilst working part-time as a pharmacist, without the help of social media. It was all flyers and phone calls back then, with a bit of eBay here and there!

 It wasn’t long after we launched that we started selling to schools, playgroups and nurseries and more recently Forest Schools. Thank goodness children (and parents) are rediscovering the art of outdoor play …. it’s kept us in business for 10 years!

 

'Little Nipper' – A Colourful Waterproof Rain Suit for Kids

Little Nipper Waterproof Rain Suit by Target Dry
Little Nipper Waterproof Rain Suit by Target Dry

The Target Dry ‘Little Nipper’ Suit is a new colourful all-in-one waterproof rain suit for 2014!

Manufactured by the trusted Target Dry brand, the suit is 100% waterproof (3000mm) and breathable (3000gsm), providing head to ankle protection even on the wettest days.

Made from a lightweight and packable material (100% polyester), this suit will guarantee that your little ones can comfortably fit an extra layer underneath during the colder weather.

The age ranges on the Little Nipper go from 6-12 Months, all the way up to 11-12 Years!

The suit is available in four bright and bold colours; Aruba Strawberry, Navy, Riviera Vintage Car and Fandango Bow (only navy from 7-8 yrs). These suits would be ideal for school or nursery outdoor play as they pack up small for easy storage and will keep the children protected from wind and rain. With features like the easy access full length zip, integral hood and reflective piping, the Little Nipper is a must-have packable suit and will brighten up any children’s day!

The suit is available to buy from Adventure Togs for £27.50.

Click here for more details and to buy!

New Waterproof Suits for Rhigos Primary School

The children of Rhigos Primary School have no excuse for getting outdoors on wet and windy days. In the Autumn the school purchased some Togz Waterproof All-in-One Suits and they have certainly been making the most of their new outdoor clothing.

This week they sent us this lovely photo of them playing outdoors in the rain…..

Rhigos Primary School Waterproof Suits

 ….and this is one they sent before Christmas!

Are those old wellies hanging in a row in the background?

Or weatherproof stockings ready for Santa?

 

Rhigos Primary Waterproof Outdoor Play Clothes

Thank you Rhigos Primary for sending in your inspiring photographs and we hope you have lots of more outdoor fun in the future!

The Togz Waterproof All-in-One Suit is for sale in our online shop

http://www.adventuretogs.co.uk/togz-all-in-one-rain-suit-2249