A to Z

A recent article in The Guardian newspaper declared “Oxford Junior Dictionary’s replacement of ‘natural’ words with 21st-century terms sparks outcry”. The article explores the decision to replace words in the Oxford Junior Dictionary such as “acorn” and “buttercup” with “attachment” and “blog”. In a recent blog posting, Wilson Waffling explored the possible contradiction between“Technology vs The Outdoors”. The question is can technology and the outdoors go hand in hand? Do we have to have one or the other? As full time primary teachers and Forest School practitioners we use technology everyday and this includes outdoors.

Technology plays a key role in our risk assessment. Whenever we make a pre-visit to a new woodland, you will see us wandering around, with mobile phone in hand, looking for a mobile phone signal! This is not so we can tweet, but for our site risk assessment. Each site risk assessment includes information about mobile phone reception (or lack of it!) and which mobile coverage is available. Also included on the risk assessment are the GPS coordinates in case of an emergency.

Last year a teacher at our school used mobile phones and QR codes to great effect in our woodland, creating a scavenger hunt with a difference. QR codes (Quick Response Codes) are a matrix barcode and the teacher generated a series of codes with information embedded in each code. She then hid the codes around the woods. The pupils looked for the codes and then used mobile phones to access information before heading off to the next code. A great combination of technology and the outdoors.

Of course all our children use digital cameras to record their activities. Only last week, a group of children used video recorders to record their version of Winter Watch, offering advice about how to look after wildlife during the long winter months.

In the classroom we use technology to support our learning outdoors. Our children use the wealth of websites available to identify the creatures they have found, for example iSpot. They take part in national surveys including the annual RSPB Big Schools Bird Watch. They can interact with other children who share their passion for the outdoors. As wireless becomes more widely available we can see the time when an ipad will accompany us to the woods ready for the times those instant identifications are needed!

Our children know about acorns and algorithms, beech nuts and blogs. We use technology outdoors frequently, but there are also times when technology firmly takes a backseat and skills such as fire lighting, tree climbing and shelter building become the focus. Technology and ‘outdoors’ are not in competition with each other we feel, each has their role to play in our children’s future.

So, back to the beginning, the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Just for fun, we have compiled our own A-Z dictionary of Forest School activities. Did your favourite activity make the list? If not let us know what you would include.

A is for accelerated learning, art and adventure
B is for bill hooks, bow saws and bushcraft
C is campfires, climbing trees and camouflage
D is for dens, dragons and digging
E is for emotional intelligence, elder jewellery and each week
F is for fire lighting, flow state and fairies
G is for games, glo sticks and gaining confidence
H is for homes for nature, hide and seek and hot chocolate
I is for ice breaker games, in groups and individual
J is for jumping, jokes and jolly good laughs
K is for kicking leaves, knots and knives
L is for leaves, logs and the layers we wear when it is cold
M is for magic, mud and even more mud
N is for nature, natural paints and nettle crisps
O is for outdoors, orange chocolate muffins and ogham
P is for potions, pond dipping and puddles
Q is for qualified, quality and quiet time
R is for risk, running and rope swings
S is for shelter building, stories and senses
T is for treasure hunts, tracking, trees and tarps
U is for under canvas, underground and unbelievable fun
V is for vibrant autumn colours, viewfinders and very happy children,
W is for waterproofs, willow weaving and wands
X is for xylophones, x marks the spot and excited children (Ok I know we cheated!)
Y is for young children, yelling and a ‘yes we can’ attitude
Z is for zip wires, in the zone and zooming through the woods.

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