Craigievar School was one of the first schools in Scotland to become a Forest School. We are so fortunate to have a wonderful forest, owned by the National Trust, just a short walk up the hill behind the school. Since 2008, the children have been visiting the forest on a regular basis for outdoor learning. We try and have a Forest School session at least once a term, but we are also very lucky that we have our own wildlife garden and outdoor learning area within the school grounds (see section on Wildlife Garden).
We learn new things each time we go up to the forest and have cut down gorse to create bat runs, studied moths, made fishing rods, worm carriers, candle holders, learnt all the basics for lighting a fire, using saws and loads more.
It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, although on the whole we have been very lucky. We all wrap up warm and the camp fire provides a welcome source of heat if anyone gets a bit cold – usually the adults as they do not run around as much as the children! One of the best times to go is when it has been snowing – we get to see loads of animal tracks in the snow and try and work out what animal left them.
On several occasions we have put a motion sensor camera in the Forest to capture the animals that we don’t see during the day. The first time we were able to watch badgers as they came out of their set to play. The second time we were hoping to catch sight of a pine marten as we have found evidence of them in the Forest, but even the Rangers have not actually seen them. We smeared a tree with peanut butter, hid the camera, and when we looked at the evidence we found we had captured not one, but two pine martens having a lovely time licking the food off the tree!
We love it!