Updated: Jun 14
This part of our blog is geared towards showing the ins and outs of Forest School. Here we'll recommend tools, gear, training and various ways we've found to be most beneficial in facilitating learning in the great outdoors. You may find these resources helpful if you are a teacher looking to incorporate aspects of outside learning into your day, an administrator considering forest school practices, or a parent looking for outdoor homeschooling ideas.
We use a variety of hand tools in the kindergarten. Prior to using a tool we talk about safe use of the tool. Here are some of our basic safety procedures for specific tools.
Forest School Leader checks the blades of the saw for rust or damage. Check handle and other parts to make sure it is working properly. Check to make sure blades are securely in place.
Use dry cloth to wipe away sawdust, dirt, sap. Use mineral oil (WD40 will work) to clean metal parts. Clean handles with a rag. If the blade is sappy or rusty you can use sandpaper. You can use a toothbrush to wipe the blades clean.
Put cover on saw blades or shut pruning saw (when possible). You cannot sharpen the blades unless you do each individual blade. You would most likely replace the blade when it becomes dull.
Put guard on or close.
Bow Saw: Use to cut bigger limbs or when you have plenty of space to use the saw. The bow saw is helpful because an adult can hold the other side while an inexperienced person saws at the handle end.
When using bow saw put both hands on the handle or put non-working hand through and hold the wood. Wear long pants. Person holding the wood can use gloves.
Loppers and Trimming Shears
Forest School Leader does pre-check of the equipment to make sure it works; check for rust, sap, or other damage.
Use dry rag, toothbrush, sand paper (to remove sap/rust). Use oil (mineral or WD40).
Put cover back on. Sharpen blade. Remove rust or sap with sand paper. Oil.
Shears-close ends using the clip. Store in a bag away from where the children cannot reach (hang high on a tree). Participants should ask before using the tools. If there is a case, store in the case.
Loppers- find place away of direct access to participants (or talk about using with adult supervision).
Shears- only cut something as big as your pinky.
Loppers- only cut something as big as your thumb.
When using put both hands on the handle. You can use loppers by putting one end on the ground and pushing down on upper handle.
Person holding the stick or near the cutting side should wear a glove.
When passing the loppers or pruning shears you should hold the cutting end and pass toward the next user while saying their name.
FSL check that knife is in good working order. Make sure blade is in lock position (if not fix blade). One adult per child using a knife.
Note for purchasing: round ones are not recommended because kids don’t see them as sharp, less cautious in use. Fix blade is preferred.
Wipe with a dry rag. Oil using WD40 or BIO Clean
Use sand paper to clean rust.
Put in sheaf. Keep in locked position. Put in waterproof bag away from participants access. Participants should ask adult prior to use.
Knife use should always be in 1:1, adult to child ratio. Determine area of use by laying a tarp or a rope around working area. Sit with legs together and to the side (femoral artery runs between the legs, avoid exposure of this area). Make sure everyone is beyond your “safety circle” (can’t touch anyone with your knife). Watch fingers when you pull the sheaf off. Tuck stick under your arm. Draw blade away from your body.
Uses may include:
-whittling figures, spoons, sticks for roasting on the fire, etc.
Whittling a spoon example:
Whittling a roasting stick example:
FSL check drill bits are fully inserted and tightened. Check all parts are working properly. Check proper bit is inserted for job to be done (size, wood bit, etc.). Check that hand holding the wood has a glove.
Use dry rag or toothbrush to clean bits. Wipe handles with a rag. Oil parts.
Use machine oil to clean as needed. You can sharpen using a drill sharpener or replace.
Take drill bits out of the drill. Store bits in a metal container. Store bits in a moisture-free area.
When using do not put drill against a body park. Put wood to be cut on a flat, sturdy surface. Hand that is holding wood should have a glove.
Cutting holes in wood cookies. Making bug houses