What does your child pack for school each day? Gumboots? Mosquito spray? A sense of adventure?
Surprising as it may seem, at Garden International School, this is exactly what some of their children pack - ready for Jungle School!
At GIS, learning experiences are not confined to the classroom. In fact, a core part of the school’s provision for younger children is their bespoke Jungle School programme.
But what exactly is Jungle School - and how does it help GIS children get #packedforlife?
In a nutshell:
Unique to Malaysia, GIS’ Jungle School programme has been running since 2014, and was originally inspired by the European ‘Forest School’ concept.
The programme gives GIS children aged 3 - 7 the exciting opportunity to develop confidence and core learner skills, through regular, hands-on learning experiences in an outdoor jungle setting.
Teachers follow a responsive approach to planning opportunities where learning from class can be extended to the outdoors and where new questions and interests sparked at jungle school can be brought back to the classroom.
What do the children do?
Once the children arrive at their Jungle School ‘base camp’, they are able to explore and get stuck into whatever inspires them that day: tree-climbing, boat-making, stick-collecting, mud-mixing, spider-watching: the list is endless!
It is always wonderful to see the levels of engagement and excitement about learning. The GIS teachers know just when to step in to scaffold and extend a child’s learning, as well as when to stand back and give them independence.
What do the children learn?
No matter what activities the children choose to engage in at Jungle School, they have plenty of opportunities to develop key learner skills such as communication, risk taking, problem solving and resilience - all in a natural environment.
These are all skills that will support their academic, social and emotional development in years to come, ensuring they are #packedforlife.
In addition, the school’s Jungle School programme inspires the children to enjoy nature, understand how precious it is and become invested in protecting it for the future - a mission closely linked to the school’s sustainability and environmental initiatives.
What about safety?
When planning Jungle School sessions, the GIS leadership team ensures that the children’s safety is paramount.
Each session is run in an outdoor location that is carefully selected for suitability and safety, and thorough risk assessments are always completed prior to every Jungle School visit.
Clear rules and location boundaries are very clearly communicated to the children, ensuring that they can enjoy their outdoor learning experiences safely.
Jungle School Magic at Home
There’s no need to wait for a jungle school visit - there are plenty of ways you can help bring the magic of the outdoors into your own home and help support your child develop key skills in the process.
The Duplication Game
A variation on the classic ‘Kim’s Game’! Gather a small collection of items from the local environment, like feathers, pine cones, pebbles and leaves. Your child’s challenge? Search the area for the same objects, and then come back to see how many they’ve managed to collect!
This game will help them develop their memory and observation skills.
Potato Peeler Whittling
Whittling sticks is a great outdoor activity that can be almost meditative, and providing a potato peeler rather than a knife makes it much safer. Children can use the peeler to whittle the bark off a stick, and then use felt tip pens to decorate it.
Stick a feather to the end, and it becomes a magic wand - or wrap it in strips of white paper and add googly eyes to make a miniature mummy, perfect for Egyptian projects!
Whittling helps hand-eye coordination, and decorating the whittled sticks promotes creativity and imagination.
Clay is a great natural modelling material, and can be combined with things that your child finds outdoors to make fascinating creations.
Playing with the tactile material is good for fine motor control and developing the muscles needed for handwriting, and has the same satisfying sensation as making mud pies.
One fun idea is to get children to make a hedgehog body out of clay, and then stick pine needles in to make its spines.
Children can also combine clay with pebbles, pine cones, feathers and more to create their own realistic or abstract masterpieces. The possibilities are endless!
Construct a labyrinth
In a park or playground: Using sticks, children can create a maze of any size on the ground for friends and teachers to find their way around by following the paths they’ve laid.
This activity also ties in well if children are learning about Ancient Greece in class.
Come and see the magic of GIS’ Early Years Programme for yourself.
Explore our innovative purpose-built learning spaces and learn more about how we’re inspiring our children to become Ambassadors of Nature.