1st Edition

The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy

By Jon Cree, Marina Robb Copyright 2021
    406 Pages 191 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    406 Pages 191 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book is a complete guide to Forest School provision and Nature Pedagogy and it examines the models, methods, worldviews and values that underpin teaching in nature. Cree and Robb show how a robust Nature Pedagogy can support learning, behaviour, and physical and emotional wellbeing, and, importantly, a deeper relationship with the natural world. They offer an overview of what a Forest School programme could look like through the year.  The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy provides ‘real-life’ examples from a variety of contexts, sample session plans and detailed guidance on using language, crafting and working with the natural world. This accessible resource guides readers along the Forest School path, covering topics such as: the history of nature education; our sensory system in nature; Forest School ethos and worldview and playing and crafting in the natural world. Guiding practitioners through planning for a programme, including taking care of a woodland site and preparing all the essential policies and procedures for working with groups and nature, this book is written by dedicated Forest School and nature education experts and is essential reading for settings, schools, youth groups, families and anyone working with children and young people.


    David Sobel


    Chapter 1 Nature Pedagogy, Forest School Ethos and Valuing Nature

    Chapter 2 History of Nature Education – the influence on the nature-based practice

    Chapter 3 Nature Pedagogy – the teaching within a nature-centric worldview

    Chapter 4 Nature Pedagogy Models

    Chapter 5 Our Sensory System – how nature stimulates sensory development and integration

    Chapter 6 Play and Nature – the ludic process and risky play

    Chapter 7 The Brain, Body and Place

    Chapter 8 Behavioural Theories – the underpinning of a healthy problem solving community

    Chapter 9 Strategies for creating a healthy problem-solving community

    Chapter 10 Planning a Nature-based Pedagogy

    Chapter 11 Planning to Action

    Chapter 12 Crafting – working with our hands in the natural world

    Chapter 13 Journey with Plants and Animals – working with the ecological

    Chapter 14 Nature’s Place in the World – teaching within a nature-centric worldview


    Jon Cree is an international trainer for the Institute for Earth Education and Founding Director of the Forest School Association, UK. He worked at Bishops Wood Centre, Worcestershire County Council’s award-winning environmental centre, helping establish Forest School nationally. He now works as a self-employed nature-based trainer and educator.  

    Marina Robb is Founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC (www.circleofliferediscovery.com) and The Outdoor Teacher Ltd (www.theoutdoorteacher.com). She is a leading author and practitioner in the outdoor sector, an international trainer in the design and delivery of nature-based experiences and an advocate for the integration of environmental, education and health and well-being services.

    "This is a stimulating and important book. It bridges the philosophical and practical and celebrates the importance of connection, play and discovery. Forest Schools are one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of nature connection in the world today and this book will help the movement to blossom further." - Tristan Gooley, author of Natural Navigator

    "I really enjoyed reading this. It is a wonderful mix of all the important things about being a Forest School leader and will make a great handbook. It provides a launch-pad into a myriad of eco-avenues." - Sara Knight, Forest School author and Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, UK

    "A very timely reminder of the importance of engaging with and valuing nature by engaging and enthusing current and future generations through Forest School and Nature Pedagogy approaches. A book to remind us of the vital role of nature in supporting learning and development, and the wonder, awe and interest it can inspire in all of us. Coupled with this are lots of case studies and practical examples and tips to improve understanding and provide ideas for all those who want to learn and improve their practice." - Liz O’Brien, Head of Social and Economic Research, Forest Research

    "This book overflows with great ideas and excellent advice. It also offers a thorough pedagogical rationale for the work. Buy it. Read it. Expand your practice. Before long this book will be your go-to source." - Dr Alida Gersie, writer and author

    "This book is an inspired, timely, and great resource for those who want to help young children love and care for the Earth. The  Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy contains everything a leader will need to plan and creatively craft life-changing outdoor experiences for young children." - Joseph Bharat Cornell, author of Sharing Nature, Deep Nature Play, and founder of Sharing Nature Worldwide

    "Marina Robb and Jon Cree are extremely experienced practitioners and two of the foremost teachers of Forest school approaches in the UK. Their book offers a broad overview of the theory and a deep dive into the practical realities of nature based learning from early years to adulthood. Many practitioners concerned about the health wellbeing and development of children will find it both rigorous and relevant: it would be a useful part of the training of any mental health practitioner or therapist working with young people. Interested parents will undoubtedly be inspired too. Robb and Cree show how Forest schools offer an alternative and a complementary approach not just in education but in health care too, and they offer nuggets of wisdom to the crucial debate about how to equip future generations for a more vital and healthy relationship with the natural world." - Alan Kellas (MBBS MRcPsych), consultant psychiatrist and representative for nature approaches, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK

    "Jon Cree and Marina Robb offer readers a deep, deep dive into the ideas that have shaped their seven decades at the forefront of outdoor learning. Drawing on neuroscience, play theory, dark green ecology and behavioural psychology, the book blends insight, reflection, research and practical advice. The result is full of wisdom and compassion, grounded in a profoundly spiritual conception of our connections with each other and the biosphere." - Tim Gill, play activist, researcher, author and independent scholar

    "The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy is a valuable and timely book that will help the cultural shift needed to embrace the future and to deepen and extend our relationships with each other and the natural world to which we belong. Let’s celebrate and share this book widely!" - Juliet Robertson, Creative Star Learning

    "With glowing endorsements from leaders in the field of Forest Education this book really fulfils the word ‘essential’: the text provides clear understanding of the essence of what Forest Education is all about, whilst also providing necessary knowledge and practical advice for providers; it is indeed a complete guide, and as such an excellent book to own. Cree and Robb passionately expound the learner-led approach to return control, creativity, and autonomy to the learner, within the context of the natural environment; an approach that directly addresses all intrinsic intelligences for a holistic nature pedagogy." - Stephanie Barclay, The School Librarian

    "It is a tome of information, full of case studies and pedagogy of naturebased learning. It considers forest school principals, the human sensory system, risky play and nature, the brain body and place, behavior theories, healthy communities, crafting, journeys with plants and animals, and nature pedagogy’s place in the world." - AS, Green Teacher

    "The theory is grounded throughout, in case studies and heartfelt stories, to show how it is applied not only with primary schools but also in programmes with disaffected youth, those with special educational needs and family groups... This is one for the serious student of forest schooling" - Rich Sylvester, Smallwoods