The Scottish Skogsmulle Sessions

25 August 2012 · 2 comments

in International

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.ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!ย 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.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna C August 25, 2012 at 09:49

What a lovely experience for all concerned. I think it’s nice ot keep the original Swedish terms. as the idea came from there & who knows someday in the futrure these childrne may meet a Swede & be able ot use a few words of Swedish with them. I am curious to know, how different these sessions felt/were from an ordinary forest session you would normally engage in? Kierna

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Juliet Robertson August 25, 2012 at 10:22

Compared to working with nursery aged children, the sessions were more formal. The first few were about establishing boundaries and in the available time lacked the child-initiated, child led approach that I would be ideally seeking. This is why I think there is a need for classes to do this on a weekly or fortnightly basis because the children tune in better to the approach and the class can move beyond settling in. I felt the class & I needed more time than 75mins.

Also we were in school grounds which lacked the wildness of a forest. I think this makes a significant difference.

Where this approach does work is as a way of integrating curriculum work as needed with a nice mix of structured and free play that a Primary 1 teacher could quickly pick up and run with. And it can be done in a less than pristine natural space or a public park. The characters used are lovely and very much aimed developmentally at 5-6yr olds. This is where Sweden’s approach is very clever in that the pedagogical progression is clear and appropriate activities developed in tune with this. Not everyone will agree with some of the decisions or points, I’m sure. For example, knife use tends not to be introduced til 6yrs or thereabouts. The reason for this is that they want children to look forward to the responsibility as a milestone as they grow up. (Correct me if I am wrong, please, any Swedish Skogsmulle leaders reading this)

Also I had 22 children which is much bigger than a standard Forest School session. Skogmulle is flexible in its approach but generally 40 hours over a year is what is offered in 20 x 2h sessions with more happening in the spring and autumn than other times of the year cos of holidays, weather, etc.

Hope this helps ๐Ÿ™‚

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