Woodlands Words and Wonders
School children throughout Perth & Kinross have been going on their own amazing journeys, experiencing the joys of outdoor learning in woodlands close to their schools. The unique Woodlands, Words & Wonders project created by Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust (PKCT) uses characters in costume, a tipi and storytelling to connect children with their local environment.
The project, aimed at P4-P7, involves classes of up to 30 pupils in a full day of excitement and adventure. Children are met at the school by ‘Henny’ – professional storyteller Claire Hewitt – who leads them on a ‘wonder walk’ to the tipi in the woods where they settle in and listen to a series of stories. There is one from Henny, followed by local 19th Century plant collector David Douglas and then his Native American guide ‘Running Fox’.
Primed by exciting tales of life in the outdoors, and demonstrations of survival skills from Running Fox, the children spend an hour out in the woods in the company of one of the characters having their own adventures, following their own interests.
The day finishes with the children taking on the mantle of story-telling adventurers themselves, each group sharing a tale of their own creation to the whole company, incorporating something of their day’s discoveries and experiences.
Kirsty Scott, Promotion and Awareness Officer, PKCT commented: “The main aim of the project is to begin to foster connections between schools and their local woodlands to facilitate the idea of an outdoor classroom that can be used at any time. We have taken the children out in all weathers and the feedback from them has been consistently positive. It’s been a real joy for us to see how much the children just love being outdoors.”
A teaching resource pack created to complement the project has also been developed with very clear links to the Curriculum for Excellence. This has been distributed to all schools throughout Perth & Kinross and is also available on the Big Tree Country website – www.perthshirebigtreecountry.co.uk.
Woodlands, Words & Wonders is funded by PKCT and a Forests for People grant from Forestry Commission Scotland. The project is now in its third year and aims to reach all primary schools by the end of 2012. It is free to schools and demand from primary schools has been tremendous.
In addition, partnership working with PKCT and the outdoor learning team at Perth & Kinross Council has allowed for two CPD (Continuous Professional Development) training sessions for teachers entitled ‘Using Woodlands for Outdoor Learning.’
The training aims to develop confidence in teaching in the outdoors and provide experience in a variety of practical activities and ideas that can be used as a stimulus for learning across the curriculum. The session includes literacy, numeracy and creative use of woodlands.
Walk of the Week
Falls of Bruar
The woodland surrounding the Bruar gorge is a living memorial to the poet Robert Burns.