Shelter building at Picnic Point

Our Learning story so far……

I run Forest School at a Toowoomba Childcare centre at Rangeville, which is near the top of the range. A lot of the time we run the activities at the centre itself, but with the cooler weather we have started to use an allocated area at Picnic Point. The children have a 20 minute walk to and from the Forest School base camp.

The area we use was chosen with the help of the Park ranger. For this session we are going to experiment with shelters. We elected to use bamboo poles that we had sourced in Brisbane to premake the tripods for the children to use. Bamboo is nice and light to work with, but make sure to file off the sharp bits. It is plentiful in Brisbane and Toowoomba, and most places are happy to allow culling, especially when you explain that it will be used for forest education.

We lashed the poles together following this method

Additionally, we had some Jacaranda branches to supplement the bamboo, but this time, the children elected not to use them. The night before, I sewed 2 large sheets together purchased at an op shop. We had lots of rope, clothes pegs, clamps as well as tent pegs and rubber mallets – all available for the children to use. Trees, poles and tripods were used to secure the shelter.

Once we set up the tripods, the children were keen to add the sheets and some of the adults helped to make a bigger shelter for the whole group to sit under. The children were really keen to use the rubber mallets with the tent pegs. I noticed some lovely role play going on under the trees and in a ‘Dragon’s Den’!

What else went on

Our base camp is a large tarpaulin which we place under the shade of the trees when it is too hot, or out in the sun when the children need to keep warm. We have a designated smaller oak that can be climbed with supervision.

We had the ‘Bug Detective ‘ kit as well as the bird watching charts and 2 sets of binoculars. A password was needed to get into a secret shelter and there was lots of running around in the open space and sunshine. A group of children enjoyed watching Mr Denis string some bows. One of the children found a beautiful millipede which we carefully looked at then placed it back in it’s tree. Other children enjoyed sharing the binoculars and discovered kookaburras, magpies and miners. Some children enjoyed collecting little mounds of spiky seeds and leaves then sitting on them!

There was lots of teamwork, co-operation, sharing and fun going on throughout the session. At the end of the session we reflected on how many of these skills could help us if we needed to build things in the bush or find shelter. Back at the centre we reflected on what went well and what we could improve.

Educational Links

Early Years Learning Framework

  • 3.2: EYLF – Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical well being
  • 4.1: EYLF – Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity
  • 1.2: EYLF – Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency
  • 4.4: EYLF – Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.
  • 1.1: EYLF – Children feel safe, secure, and supported
  • 5: PRINCIPLE – Ongoing learning and reflective practices
  • 2.4.2: LOC – Child demonstrates knowledge of both natural and constructed environments

Link to Theorists

Theorist – Sara Simlansky – role of childrens play in learning

Where to Next?

We will need to practice coming more quickly when the teachers call “1,2,3,…Back to base camp!” We will continue with most of the above activities and add more tools and show the children safe tool use.