Bioregional Forest School

The Bioregional Forest School is a blended learning opportunity for K-8 students in Oak and Orca's Hands-On Home-Learning DL Program. Led by qualified wilderness mentors and BC certified teachers, it operates Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the regular school year. Students spend up to two days a week outdoors (rain, snow, or shine) in the beautiful forest of Mount Douglas Park and P'KOLS.

At Forest School, students have weekly opportunities to connect deeply with nature and learn and practice wilderness skills, while meeting BC curriculum standards and becoming stewards of the land through experiential learning, inquiry, and nature games. Students may also participate in special field trips like a fire skills day or trip to a farm where specific forest school related skills can be practiced in appropriate environments.

Seasonal Themes

While all of these activities occur throughout the Forest School year, we are more focused on specific activities seasonally.

Fall
Orientation and Mapping
Shelter building (shelters are dismantled daily)
Stalking and Awareness
Art and crafting
Nature Journaling
Survival Skills


inquiry learning: butterfly lifecycle - coming out of the cocoon - drawn by an Oak and Orca School teacher Winter
Fire Making and Keeping (learning at Pkols, practicing at other venue)
Storytelling
Music and Dancing
Gratitude
Woodcarving (wood is supplied by instructors)
Invasive Species Removal


inquiry learning: butterfly lifecycle - first steps - drawn by an Oak and Orca School teacher Spring
High energy play
Discovery
Planting
Nurturing
Bird Language
Cycles
Interconnectedness


inquiry learning: butterfly lifecycle - first flight - drawn by an Oak and Orca School teacher Summer
Tasting berries
Exploration
Beach Life
High energy play
Celebration
Aliveness and Agility

P'KOLS

We are thankful to Saanich Parks and our school acknowledges that we work as visitors on the traditional territory of the WS'ANEC' (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation. While Saanich Parks and Recreation is currently tending the land, P'KOLS is sacred to the First Nations peoples as a traditional gathering place of the area. Our meeting spot location is in the forest at the foot of P'KOLS, also known as Mount Douglas Beach. We have the privilege of using this area to learn and grow, while doing our part to take care of the forest, stream, and beach nearby.

Goals and Intentions

Bioregional Education
Create an understanding of the contrast between active and passive relationships with the natural world, and model how an active relationship can be beneficial.
Encourage an appreciation for all life and educate students on the interconnectedness of all things.
Build a knowledge and awareness of different environments (Ocean, Forest, Riparian, Meadow), while building a skill-set to interact with those different environments and encourage responsible action.
Embed natural teachings in the seasonal changes that affect the environment and our relationship with it.
Learn about the local First nations' relationships with the land and the history of local places.
Develop a relationship with a specific place.

Community Focused Learning
Students learn together as a community of their peers and teachers, building self respect and confidence in communal situations, and respect and strong working relationships with their peers.
Introduce students to members of the larger community that have skills and experience living close to nature.
Build a relationship with the natural world in a way that the students see non human life as part of their community.
Build a relationship with local First Nations and learn about their traditional ways of living in community.

Imaginative Education
Find ways to engage student's own excitement and enthusiasm for different topics in ways that encourage them to take ownership of their own learning.
Encourage students' imaginations in learning and teachers' imaginations in teaching to make knowledge in the curriculum vivid and meaningful.
Use different modes of expression including storytelling, dancing, singing, and roleplay to expose student to multiple creative ways of sharing knowledge and expressing oneself.

Inclusivity
Diverse students are active participants in developing their own projects and curriculum.
The program is inclusive of knowledge from many different cultures and times.
Knowledge, opinions, and ideas of students, parents, and teachers are all encouraged and respected.

Typical Activities

Play - Learning through social and imaginative play and exploration
Learn - Exploring place and finding out what each day brings
Know - Natural history, community heritage, aboriginal awareness, and science of place
Share - Hearing, seeing and experiencing each other's interests and passions
Discover - Traditional skills and survival skills, discovering what we can do and what we cannot
Tinker - Creating with natural materials, which are returned to the land with minimal impact
Come Together - Building our own community
Give - Helping the wider community, through invasive species removal, clean-ups, and planting native species
Visit - Field trips to learn about our local places

Curriculum Ties

Students gain experience in both the content and competencies in these subject areas

Science
- features and adaptations of living things in the local environment
- common objects and local patterns in events that occur on Earth and in the sky
- water sources, the water cycle, and local watersheds
- biodiversity in the local environment
- observable changes in the local environment
- how organisms in ecosystems sense and respond to their environment

Social Studies
- diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives within the local and other communities
- key events and developments in the local community, and in local First Peoples communities
- natural and human-made features of the local environment and the relationships between a community and its environment
how people's needs and wants are met in communities

Aboriginal Studies
- cultural characteristics and ways of life of local First Peoples and global indigenous peoples
- aspects of life shared by and common to peoples and cultures
- interconnections of cultural and technological innovations of global and local indigenous peoples
- governance and social organization in local and global indigenous societies
- oral history, traditional stories, and artifacts as evidence about past First Peoples cultures
- the history of the local community and of local First Peoples communities
- Aboriginal knowledge of the sky and landscape, life cycles, and ecosystems
- traditional and contemporary Aboriginal arts and arts-making processes

Physical and Health Education
- proper technique for fundamental movement skills and different types of physical activities
- relationships between food, hydration, and health and effects of different activities on the body
- practices that promote health and well-being, including those relating to physical activity, nutrition, and illness prevention
- caring behaviours in groups and families. emotions and their causes and effects, and managing and expressing emotions
- ways to monitor physical exertion levels and benefits of physical activity and exercise
- hazards and potentially unsafe situations, and strategies and skills to use in potentially hazardous, unsafe, or abusive situations

Career Education
- risk taking and its role in self-exploration
- cultural and social awareness
- roles and responsibilities at home, at school, and in the local community

Arts Education
- elements in the arts, including dance, drama, music and visual arts
- processes, materials, movements, technologies, tools, and techniques to support arts activities
- symbolism as a means of expressing specific meaning
- personal and collective responsibility associated with creating, experiencing, and performing in a safe learning environment

Fees for the Forest School

Fees are paid in 3 instalments throughout the year, September, December and March.

While we understand that this is a significant cost for a family, it is necessary in order to provide quality programming with a low student-teacher ratio.