News story from St Joseph's In The Park

A Gruffalo Appearance on Den Day Open Morning

The Gruffalo surprised and delighted visitors by appearing in the Forest on the Den Day Open Morning at St Joseph's In The Park

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29th September 2021 — A Gruffalo made a surprise appearance in the woods at the September Early Years Open Day at St Joseph’s In The Park and visitors enjoyed a morning of fun filled Forest School activities.

The sun shone and many families took advantage of the fine weather and were happy to make the most of the parkland setting and the great outdoors. The Year 6 pupils gave guided tours of the school and teachers ran various activities including den building, story-stelling, forest school art sessions and even marshmallow toasting on the woodland campfire. Families tucked into hot dogs and home-made Gruffalo fairy cakes in the café.

The school has a dedicated Forest School practitioner, John Mould who runs Forest School sessions as a key part of the curriculum, growing from the belief that children learn through discovery, exploration and curiosity. The school is perfectly situated in a parkland setting with a large wooded area. There are huge mental health benefits to outdoor exploration and studies have shown that children do not always learn best solely in the classroom environment. Offering practical and outdoor learning can help keep them stimulated and physically active whilst learning. A study by the Forestry Commission identified positive benefits such as social skills, language and development along with physical skills.

The school places enormous value on outdoor learning and children spend as much time outside and in the fresh air as possible. There is even a dedicated outdoor classroom area with seats and desks. Starting from Nursery and Reception age, the children’s minds are ready to be flooded with experiences that just cannot be taught in the classroom. The children learn early movement skills such as climbing trees safely and managing their own risk, whilst progressing up to lighting fires, roasting marshmallows, den building, knot tying, wood cutting and whittling. Older children even use equipment such as saws and drills that they would only have access to in secondary education.

Providing opportunities to develop skills in co-operation, communication, problem solving, risk taking, and leadership are all a vital part of development and outdoor learning facilitates this in spades.

St Joseph's In The Park (Coed 3-11) is a day school in Hertfordshire.

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