Twigs n’ Stix Forest School is set in 11 acres of ancient woodland in the heart of Nidderdale, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is located on the outskirts of Glasshouses village, down a little country road, surrounded by farmland with a view of the National Trust site of Brimham Rocks. All in all not a bad place to spend a morning!
Liz Milner, a qualified Level 3 Forest School Leader and owner of Twigs n’ Stix, led the session. We met in the small car park on the edge of the woods. Once everyone arrived Liz started by explaining the safety rules first before we moved to the campsite deeper in the woodland. The campsite is set in a small bowl-shaped glade with a fire pit in the centre with benches made of tree trunks surrounding it. Liz sent the children off to find good dry (or “snappy”) sticks for the fire so they could have hot chocolate and roast marshmallows. Knowing that marshmallows were going to be involved seemed to be a good motivator for them to collect lots of sticks and, according to my son, roasting his own marshmallows was his favourite part.
During our session, which lasted about two hours, the kids got to splash around in the stream that runs through the beautiful woodland, make mud pies, play hide and seek, climb trees, learn how to light a fire using flints, create some fabulous art pieces out of clay and natural materials that they found themselves, and build some pretty impressive dens all while making new friends as they worked together as a team. They loved it all. Exploring the woods around them with their friends with whoops of laughter and giant smiles on their faces. My daughter especially liked learning how to safely and efficiently light a fire without matches. Although Liz was there to safely oversee the process she was able to do this independently, giving her a great sense of achievement.
According to the Forest School Association, Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.
When asked why she set up Twigs n’ Stix Liz says it grew out of a desire to provide children with the sorts of opportunities she simply took for granted and enjoyed every day growing up; the freedom to play; build; explore and discover in a natural environment. Through giving children the freedom and skills to interact with and use our ancient woodland Liz says that each child’s innate connection with the natural world is nurtured, their responsibility for its conservation strengthened and their self-esteem and confidence supported.
The beautiful setting for Twigs n’ Stix really does allow the children to get in touch with nature, a world away from modern-day childhood staples of TV or computer screens. My kids were interacting with each other and me in a happy, positive way. They can’t wait to go back.
Twigs n’ Stix Forest School caters for children of all ages from toddlers to teens, with Liz providing unique, tailored experiences for all. Boys and girls alike are encouraged to get hands-on, muck in together and have fun. There are no gender barriers here. With a variety of activities on offer, it is guaranteed that your kids will have fun and come back covered in mud so old clothes are a must!
The kids all left tired and happy, looking forward to future sessions and exploring the different seasons in this part of the woods.
If you want to book a Forest School session you can contact Liz via her Facebook page, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07715 001394. Mention Mumbler for a FREE taster session for either the Tuesday or Friday classes. Liz also runs classes for school groups and Forest School can provide a unique birthday party experience. Talk to Liz directly for details.
Mumbler received this session for free in exchange for an honest review. To see more photos from our Forest School experience like our Ripon and Nidderdale Mumbler News Page on Facebook.