The Foundry At Home: School In The Forest

The Foundry At Home: School In The Forest

Sometimes it's all we can do to breathe. But, life (and work and choices and seasons and bummers and triumphs) goes on. SCHOOL GOES ON.

It feels like literally every single person we know has spent the last month-ish talking about "school and what to do about it". And here we are. Apples are ripening, leaves are fluttering to the ground, pumpkins are popping up, and a case of freshly sharpened brand-new-pencils *still* smells like heaven no matter the desk-circumstances. All that to say—wherever you are with it: we are sending you the biggest love and blessings for calm and grace for the d̶u̶m̶p̶s̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶f̶i̶r̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶f̶l̶a̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶c̶r̶a̶p̶ ̶o̶p̶t̶i̶o̶n̶s̶ choices you've had to make.



Like so many things at this current moment, there is no path forward for anyone that feels 100% great and that's always 100% the worst (if you haven't been privy to the existential turmoil/privilege checking catch 22 that has been quietly incinerating every parent-text-thread-google-doc-angst-plosion since March, we send you blessings as well/can we hang out/also feel free to tune out until we get to the Montessori-Meets-Blair-Witch-"good-stuff" coming up shortly).



Wherever you are with it—distance learning, in-person learning home schooling, unschooling, just-trying-to-be-a-human-of-any-age-in-the-world-ing, or any combination of the above—you can also be somewhere else at the same time. Namely, in the forest. If you haven't heard of Forest School, we wrote a whole little love letter to it a while back (check it out here), but in short: Forest School is both an ideology and an educative methodology that creates a process of inspiration by having humans interact with natural spaces. Whoooo-eee. Never has that idea felt more like a salve to the soul than right now. 



Inspired by our beloved Forest School Books, our intrepid creator Heather headed out into the wilds of her neighborhood/backyard to take some deep breaths and explore what feels possible with a little fresh air and a commitment to curiosity. From Heather:
Being in the woods these days is extra refreshing. And, even if you're like me and live in the city, the woods can be surprisingly closer than you think! As author Julia Cameron once wrote, "Survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention...the capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention." In this time of extra craziness, with the world as it is (and also with "school starting"), taking a moment to breathe and focus on the world immediately at hand is indeed a welcome gift we can give ourselves.

To set an intention for an afternoon exploring outdoors, I decided to pick a craft from the Forest School books. Well, more like I combined two crafts for myself. One (from Play The Forest School Way) is about how, as you are walking in the woods, you can find little pieces of nature here and there to attach to a walking stick, and then all of those treasures can remind you of how lovely your walk was. The other, from A Year of Forest School, is about creating your own "found" musical instrument! You find a sturdy Y-shaped stick, and stretch some string across it however many times you'd like, and string along some bottle caps or buttons or some collection of objects that rattle to make a fun form of music!

If you don't feel like there's a great "forested" green space anywhere near you, try just walking around your neighborhood and seeing what bits and bobs are left behind! Crafts like these can be done in any park, even if there are just a few trees. If you look close enough, you will find all sorts of sticks and seeds moved around by squirrels, or bottle caps and lovely leaves! Maybe even a feather!
This activity is all about paying attention to the world around you, and looking for treasures as a way to connect with your surroundings, even if that treasure is an old nickel wedged in the sidewalk. You still found something that everyone else passed by!
Although I roamed the woods behind my in-laws' house for my sticks and acorns, I found a lot of my treasures in my own backyard! A bluejay feather in a bush, a chunky piece of glass in the bushes (Achtung, baby! Had to make sure it wasn't sharp before palming it!), and even parts of the former owner's old rock collection by the compost bit! What!
I took things I found in the woods and in my yard, and combined them with some bottle caps, strung them up all wild, and made a swishy-clanky-chattery musical instrument! It's fun to listen to the maple seeds whoosh as the walnuts clunk and the bottlecaps clink against stones I found with holes in them. Another sensory way to experience nature.
In the same way a mantra works to give the mind a set path towards finding quiet, having a simple, focused activity like this gives brains and bodies of all ages a reason to get out in the natural world and experience a release. Once we're out there in it (perhaps with a Little Chari foraging basket full of acorn caps), our hearts slow their racing, our minds pause their roiling, our blood ceases boiling, and our breathing becomes deep and measured. It's such a simple pleasure—and a sweetly sustainable (and barrier-to-entry-free) way can we marshal our reserves for whatever may come next.


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