Welcome to Wellspring

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Working Hours
Monday - Friday 09:00AM - 17:00PM
Saturday - Sunday CLOSED
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Class Descriptions

Forest Teacher Institute / Class Descriptions

Introduction to Forest School

Class sessions will include observation and debrief of FS video clips and group discussions of assigned articles.

101      Foundations and Key Features of FS 

Forest School takes many forms and is conducted in varied settings  The shared characteristics, referred to as key features or core elements have been defined over a period of time by individuals in many countries.  Participants will study these features to answer the question:  What is Forest School? The learning framework of forest school is based upon many significant and widely practiced philosophies of education, teaching strategies and theories of learning.  Participants will discover how these philosophies, strategies and learning theories support and undergird Forest School practice.  

102      Benefits of FS 

The benefits of forest school are well-researched and documented, both nationally and globally. Participants will review some of the research and participate in discussions. Participants will also discuss how stewardship is fostered in FS.  After viewing video clips of children in forest school programs, participants will debrief by identifying key features, benefits, and correlation with other learning philosophies.  This class will also include a short presentation about FS in China and South Korea.

103      Naturalist Studies:  Observing Nature through a Child’s Eyes

Participants will gain observation skills by experiencing daily sit spots, guided by a naturalist. Participants will learn techniques and strategies to increase sensorial observation skills and to deepen a personal nature connection. 

Forest School Teacher

Trainees will participate in observation, debrief and discussion sessions, panel discussions with Forest School Teachers from around the US and the world, group work and individual projects.

201 Forest School Observation and Assessment Strategies

Participants will observe children through video clips and live streaming at various forest school programs around the US and around the globe.  Participants will record observations, using a variety of methods, noting teacher and student behaviors and actions, connecting philosophy to practice, and other aspects of forest school teaching and learning. Debrief sessions will follow observations.  Through observations and debriefs, participants will understand the defining characteristics and skills of effective forest school teachers.

Participants will learn how to assess their students using authentic assessment tools that have been developed in forest school programs including:  observations, interviews, performance tasks, journals and others.

202 Developing Rituals, Schedules and Mindfulness

Forest School is the ideal setting for mindfulness and silence—time for deep reflection and sensorial observations.  Participants will learn to use beginning and ending rituals, songs, storytelling and other practices to create respect and love for nature, for themselves and for each other.

203 Naturalist Studies

Through video clips and live streaming, participants will work with a naturalist to gain knowledge and skills that will build confidence in their understanding of ecology and how to use inquiry-based learning to help children explore and discover the world around them.

204  Parent Education and Involvement

During this class session Amina Hoosain, Founder and Director of Blooming Kids Forest School in Cape Town, South Africa, leads a panel discussion to explore the ways parents, teachers and children partner in forest school learning.  Panelists include parent educators from around the world.

*Seminar for FS Teacher (July and August): 

FS Curriculum Development

Participants will discuss how to integrate child-led learning and academic, standards-based learning.  They will interact with a panel of Forest School teachers from a variety of venues, including public and private schools.

*Lab class for FS Teacher (July and August):

Foraging, Wild Edibles and Cooking

This class will be taught by Amina Hoosain from Cape Town, South Africa.

Forest School Director

Trainees will participate in observation, debrief and discussion sessions, panel discussions with Forest School Directors from around the US, group work and individual projects.

205 Site Development and Assessment

This course is designed to provide virtual field experience in establishing forest school sites on public and private land.  Participants will spend time at a specific site—currently being used as a FS site, or a proposed site to assess and survey.  As a group they will use and analyze their site surveys to create site concept maps  that will become a component of their forest school proposal.  Participants will also interact with a panel of Forest School Directors at various venues to discuss site development.

206 Developing Forest School Culture and Identity 

This class will encourage forest school directors to engage their imaginations and cultivate an intentional mission for their own schools. We will analyze the valuable process of creating a mission and vision statement for your organization. We will also look at how to develop school culture by implementing yearly rhythms and rituals that will shape your school’s community and create deep connections between children, staff, parents, and community partners. 

 207 Staff Development and Program Assessment

Participants will interact through Zoom, with forest school directors from public and private schools, nature centers and arboretums and other venues, to discuss staffing configurations and program assessment. Each participant will create their own staffing plan and program assessment plan that will become a component of their forest school proposal.

208 FS Proposal Development and Marketing 

Participants will learn how to create a proposal that will include narrative description of the site with supporting documents and photos, concept map, tentative budget for site development and maintenance, a forest school marketing plan, and any other elements that are needed to complete a forest school proposal.  

*Seminars (July and August):  

Forest School in China and Korea

Participants will learn about the growth of forest school in China and Korea through photos and videos taken by Jean Lomino during her visits to these countries.  Participants will interact in a real-time panel discussion with leaders and teachers in Guangzhou, China and Seoul, Korea.

*Lab (July and August):

Art in Nature

Participants will create art, using nature’s loose parts, including ephemeral art, miniature villages, fairy houses, clay sculptures, nature looms and other projects.  Activities can be adapted for children of all ages and help to instill a deeper connection with the world around them.  

Forest School Leader

Trainees will virtually visit forest school sites around the world, participate in observation, debrief and discussion sessions, panel discussions with Forest School Leaders, group work and individual projects.

301      Case Studies in FS Development

Participants will work in groups to read, analyze and provide solutions for issues in forest school development, implementation and management including, but not limited to:  staff relationships, parent interactions and conflicts, organizational partnership issues, administration and board relationships, site development, and others.  Participants may virtually meet with forest school personnel who submit their case studies for review. 

302      FS Observation:  Visits with Admin & Faculty 

Participants will gain new perspectives as they visit, through live streaming or taped sessions, forest schools around the country and the globe to see their sites, observe classes and meet school personnel. 

303      FS Advocacy

Learning to become an effective advocate is an important skill for forest school leaders.  Participants will meet FS Leaders from around the US to discuss how to grow this movement.  They will learn the nuts and bolts of making presentations to diverse audiences and how to work with local media.  Participants will also practice writing articles for social media, print media, and learn the most effective ways to engage an audience through interviews, both on TV and the radio. 

304      Creation of a complete FS program: Group Project

The cohort will work together and in small groups to assist a school or an individual in the development of a complete forest school program.  The end product is a proposal to include: site concept map, budget, marketing plan, staffing plan, and any other elements that are needed for the proposal.  The cohort will work with the school or individual to present the plan to a group of stakeholders.

305      Meet the Leaders:  Global Roundtable Discussion

The culminating class for FS Leaders is a roundtable discussion with FS Leaders from around the world, including teachers, directors, and possibly government officials and others who support the work of forest schools at local and national levels.

Seminar and Lab Classes TBA

Stand-alone Classes

  • Minimum enrollment of five students for stand-alone classes to be scheduled
  • Each class is 1-1.5 hours in duration
  • $45 per participant for each class session 

Advanced PR/Marketing

Sustainable Education in Forest School

Establishing a non-profit organization/board development, etc.

Licensing and Accreditation:  how to navigate the regulations

Forest Schools and Forest Gardening

Advanced Naturalist Studies by Topic

Nature Journaling 

Art in Nature

Music in Nature

(Others to be announced)

Special Topics:  $95-$150

2-3 Hours:  Designed for individuals or small groups with personal instruction and consultation with FSTI faculty members