Last year, after attending the Skogsmulle International Training Course in Sweden, I thought it would be prudent to organise some sessions to help me learn more about the approach. Very kindly a P1 class were up for the experiment so we went out for six sessions, just into the semi-wooded grounds to find out how we would get on.
My real interest and aim was to see how the children coped with the “Swedish-ness” of the approach. The Skogsmulle sessions are uniquely Swedish because of the use of four different characters that are used to engage children when outside. Below is “Skogsmulle” himself. There is no direct translation of the name, perhaps “Wood Creature” is the nearest.
In other countries, the children have had no difficulty accepting the names or traditions of the Swedish character. In fact one child in Japan once asked a Swedish friend if they had “Skogsmulle” back in Sweden.
My experience during these six weeks seemed to suggest the same. The children quite happily greeted Skogsmulle with “Hej Kollicok” at the start of each session. The story of Skogsmulle works very well as the animals and plants are similar in Scotland to Sweden. So it’s a matter of debate whether or not the names should be changed to reflect a Scottish culture or simply left (your opinion here is welcomed).
Naturally, six sessions was not enough especially since they were only 75 mins long, but we all enjoyed ourselves. Most of the time was spent acclimatising to being outside during class times. We played a lot of games. In the photo above, this was “Guess the Leaf” where by you and a partner collect some leaves and spread them out. One person closes their eyes and the other gives them a leaf to feel, which is then put back in its place. The person opens his eyes and then has to work out which leaf was the one he felt.
We played various games which helps teach children safety outside through a fun way and through linking the activities to a story about a little boy who got lost and remembered what his grandfather had told him. Below the children are building a big nest seat to sit upon. They decided that adding portable seats made it more comfy.
The most exciting times were definitely random acts of discovery such as these mealworms under the leaf litter. This is something I love about being outside when the interruptions are nature based.
As we came up to Christmas, we decided that the wildlife might need a helping hand to stay warm so we put out lots of sheep fleece. Given that it disappeared very quickly through the spring months, I think this gesture probably was appreciated 🙂
Parents were invited to come along and support the sessions. We could not have had a nicer group. They were great at joining in and having fun! So many thanks again all who freely volunteered for this role.
We looked at ways of decorating trees and how to hug them, especially if lost! And almost all the children adored the chance to climb trees. In particular, the one below was just at the right height and size for most children to get up and back down quite happily.
All-in-all, it was a good project. Sadly I’m too busy to do a continuous stretch at the moment, and I also feel it needs at least a couple of hours to do the children justice and allow for a good mix of free play and structured activities. However, I’m sure in due course another opportunity will happen. One of the other course participants was Darren Lewis who is based in South Wales. He runs Skogsmulle sessions for local children and more information can be found on his website, Cyfleon.