Little Rays Forest School

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Posted 13th June 2019

Little Rays Forest School

Pauline Cheeseman

On Mondays during term time, Little Rays Forest School comes to the Watts woodlands for stay and play sessions. Explore nature through bug hunting, collecting, mud painting, shelter building, and more.

Little Rays Forest School is the only recognised Forest School provider in the area. We treat these stay and play sessions as a taster of what children can do at Forest School; we make artwork out of the sticks and leaves that have fallen on the ground, we make stick men and tell their stories, we do Gruffalo hunts in the woods (we've even painted a Gruffalo tree stump). We also make clay mushrooms, do leaf weaving and matchbox treasure hunts, make dream catchers and bird feeders with pine cones, and bring along our mini beasts to meet the children - the list goes on! Whatever we create, we always end the session by cooking snacks on the campfire: marshmallows and stinging nettle crisps to name a couple.

We started Little Rays in 2015 to bring children from the early years sector back to nature. Being out in all weathers benefits children in a number of ways. They grow to be calmer and more relaxed outside, and are able to use their imaginations so much more: a stick can be so many things, while a toy car is just a toy car.

Little Rays is a family-run business owned by me and two of my daughters. It is named after my husband, Ray, who passed away in 2010. Ray was in the army and enjoyed survival training and camping, something he did with all my children, instilling in them a love of the outside. This is what prompted my daughter to ask if we could set up our own outdoor preschool/forest school, inspired by the Scandinavian model, where children attend Forest School until they are 7 years old.

We started as an after-school club, while my 2 daughters did their Level 3 Forest School leaders training. We will soon have 6 level 3 Forest School leaders working for us.

Once training was completed, we searched for a site and were very lucky to be given use of Loseley Estates Nature Reserve. We later gained permission to use Watts Gallery - Artists' Village for our stay and play sessions with the parents joining in, which is proving popular.

I encourage anyone with young children to come along to share the woods and the outside with their little ones. The sessions help to cultivate a love and respect for nature and the outside, as well as offering an opportunity to create artwork together, learn safety around the campfire, and simply to have fun playing together.

Sessions are for under 5s.
Contact to book.