When we returned to Australia (from the UK) earlier this year I knew I wanted Otto (now 3 yrs) to attend a Forest School program. I knew of two programs within our general area and mid 2020 we were able to attend our first Australian Bush School! The Bush School is based on the Forest School philosophy but as it is not run in a Forest, the term Bush School is more appropriate.
The obvious difference between our UK Forest School and our Australian Bush School is the climate. Our UK Forest School was often freezing and very wet (and muddy). Our Australian Bush school is often very warm and as you can see in these images, very dry. Our UK Forest School was completely child-led, and our Australian Bush School is more teacher-led. While at Bush School we have time for free play, there is a theme each week and activities the children participate in led by the teacher/Ranger. Themes are based on the season like eggs/nests and migration. Topics are scientific and full-on interesting for a three year old.
As we only have one week of Bush School left this year, it feels like a good time to share some of the highlights. Above Otto is playing in the mud. The dirt and mud in this area is very rich, it's almost red.
A nature made see-saw.
This climbing log is Otto's favourite and most used part of the Bush School.
At Bush School we use clay almost every week. I love clay, it's fantastic for fine motor skills and it's completely natural.
Lots of shelter building.
Otto is stirring his potion which we used to tie-dye some white t-shirts.
We tied the white t-shirts with rubber bands and soaked them in the children's potions. This is the wonderful result. Above are Otto's tie-dyed shirts.
Some of the other children's tie-dyed t-shirts.
Otto's most loved classes were those involving water. At every opportunity he would get into the pond.
Here the children are looking for frog's eggs and tadpoles.
The muddier the better.
The exciting part was we actually found some things. The Ranger gave us a large ID card to make it easy for the young children to identify what they had caught.
So interesting - the children used ice cube trays to keep the creatures separate so they don't eat each other. Only some of them are carnivorous.
Here the children wore blindfolds to heighten their sense of touch.
This is a cute forest creature (can you see the face?) made from clay and found objects.
To find out more about our UK Forest School experience (2018-2019) read: