Devon Forest Kindergarten
Welcome to Devon Forest Kindergarten at Children of the Forest: A Forest School Outdoor Kindergarten for children aged 3-6
Our aim is to deliver the highest quality of care and education in a unique outdoor setting, giving your child the chance to grow and learn in nature.
This prospectus aims to provide you with an introduction to Devon Forest Kindergarten, our routines, our approach to supporting your child’s learning and development and how we aim to work together with you to best meet your child’s individual needs. This should be read alongside our Childcare Terms and Conditions for a full description of our services.
Lewis Ames and Gemma Southerden are both former teachers who have gone into business together to focus on what they are passionate about: giving children and families meaningful learning and play experiences, in the great outdoors. Since becoming qualified Forest School Leaders, and starting with a few small groups, Children of the Forest is now a well-loved part of the Mid Devon community.
What do we do?
We run forest school sessions in our beautiful, private 3 acres of Gaddon Woods near Uffculme. We run three weekly toddler groups, a Saturday morning club and holiday clubs for 6-12 year olds, and monthly events for families. Activities include campfire cooking, nature learning, natural crafts, shelter building, fire lighting, woodwork and tool use and much more. In our sessions, children can explore and follow their own learning journeys, supported by qualified teachers and forest school leaders. Our mission is to give children real skills, real freedom in their play, and reconnect families with nature.
Devon Kindergarten HQ is a separate, fenced off section of our main woodland site, specifically for the use of our young kindergarten children. Our setting allows children to play outdoors in all weathers, experiencing the natural world and exploring through the seasons. We have lots of large shelters in case of rain, and a cosy bell tent with books and blankets for children to use whenever they like.
You may notice that we don’t have a lot of the usual ‘toys’ that you will see at an indoor nursery. What you will see are things like spades for digging, bug hunting kits, ‘loose parts’ such as string, clay, wood and lots of tools for children to make their own toys, whether that be designing and building their own see saw or sawing and decorating a gnome doll and its home, all with our support. We believe play should come from the child’s imagination rather than be prescribed by toy manufacturers!
Hours and Fees
The kindergarten is currently open on Mondays, from 9am-3pm, term time only.
Children attend for the full day. We take children from their 3rd birthday. For those who wish to home school or defer school entry, we take children up to their 6th birthday.
Fees are paid half termly, in advance.
We accept government funded 30 hours and private funded places. 50% of our places are funded. Our hourly rate is £6.
In line with our Forest School ethos, we have much higher adult to child ratios than a normal
nursery. We currently have just 10 places for children in the kindergarten.
Our adult to child ratios allow us to:
- give time and attention to each child;
- talk with the children about their interests and activities;
- help children to experience and benefit from the activities we provide; and
- allow the children to explore and be adventurous in safety.
Lewis Ames (Director)
Qualified Primary School Teacher
PGCE in Primary Education
BA Hons Music
Level 3 Forest School Leader
Paediatric First Aid
Forest School First Aid
Child Protection & Safeguarding Training
Prevent Duty Trained
Gemma Southerden (Director)
Qualified Teacher (9 years experience)
MA in Teaching
Diploma in Drama
Paediatric First Aid
Forest School First Aid
Child Protection & Safeguarding Training
Learning and Development
We have a forest school, child-led, play-based ethos, whilst following the
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
A typical day
No two days are the same in the forest. The child-led play based nature of our setting means that the children’s interests and imaginations lead our planning of activities. However, a typical day will always include music making (Lewis and Gemma play drums and ukulele among other instruments and lead lively singing and dancing sessions!), storytelling, crafts, cooking, games and lots of free play.
A typical day might look like this:
9 - 9.15:
Children arrive and are registered. Settling in activities will already be available.
9.30: Circle time and reminder of our three rules: Look After Yourself, Look After Each Other, Look After the Woods. Free play and opportunity to engage in many activities: play cooking in the mud kitchen, make a wooden toy, build a den, bake bread over the campfire…the possibilities are endless.
10:30: Snacks around the campfire, followed by singing and music making.
11:00: Exploration of the woodland and nature based activities: bird spotting, bug hunting, tree and plant identification games, obstacle courses, physically active group games.
12:45: Free play and outdoor art and craft, storytelling, drama.
13:45: Cosy story time in the shelter or the sunshine!
14:15: Afternoon snack around the campfire, circle time with reflection and gratitudes.
14.45: Get ready for home time.
Children’s Learning Journeys
When your child is enrolled with us, we create a Learning Journey for them using the Tapestry software. You will be provided with a log in, so you can view updates with your child’s progress, and are encouraged to add your own comments and observations of your child’s development.
Key Person and Settling In
Every child is assigned a key person who takes responsibility for the child’s welfare and learning at the kindergarten. They are the first port of call for parents and carers. Our policy on the role of the Key Person is available from the ‘Policies’ section of our website. We will work with you to decide on how to help your child to settle into the setting.
We welcome involvement and input from our parents and families. We see ourselves as partners with parents in providing care and education for their children. There are many ways in which parents take part in making our setting a welcoming and stimulating place for children and parents, such as:
- exchanging knowledge about their children's needs, activities, interests and progress with us
- helping at sessions of the setting;
- sharing their own special interests with the children;
- helping to provide and look after the equipment and materials used in the children's play activities;
- being part of the Kindergarten’s Parent Teacher Association or Parents of the Forest group
- taking part in events and informal discussions about the activities and curriculum provided by the setting;
- joining in community activities, in which the setting takes part; and
- building friendships with other parents in the setting.
Children will bring their own packed lunch and snacks each day (we have a cool box to store food in warm weather). However cooking healthy snacks on the campfire is a regular activity at the kindergarten. Clean drinking water is always available and children are provided with warm drinks in cold weather.
What will my child need to bring / wear?
As well as a packed lunch, snacks and a drink, children will need to wear suitable outdoor clothing. This includes wellies, full waterproofs, and thermal layers, hats and gloves in cold weather; sun hats in warm weather.
Forest school is all about play outdoors in all weathers. There is no such thing as bad weather: just bad clothing! We have a traditional hazel ‘bender’ shelter as well as parachute and tarpaulins for rain and cold.
However, there are certain weather conditions that will affect the running of the Forest School:
High winds can be dangerous in woodland because of the dangers of falling branches and damage to shelters. We monitor the forecast and our site closely. Our site is fairly sheltered from Southerly and Easterly winds, but, being on a hill, is exposed from the other directions. This means that we will have to close if winds are:
Gusting 39mph from North or West
Gusting 45 mph from any direction
The staff will stay informed of the weather conditions via the Met Office Web Site. We will always try to give 24 hours notice, however we may need to cancel on the day if weather changes suddenly / overnight. We will inform parents by text and email.
Our site may also close if snow and ice make the roads too dangerous for travel. As above, we will monitor the site and forecast closely and aim to give at least 24 hours notice by text or email.
We can explain and show you all our policies and many can be found on our website for parents to view, under ‘Policies’.
You are welcome to ask us any questions -
please email email@example.com