Read Part One here.
4. Embrace the mess. Wet weather = messy weather. End of story. The sooner you accept the fact that you and all your students will be covered in mud, the better. Just think of it as a little immunity boost.
5. Stock up on supplies. These 3 essentials will be your savior in wet weather: a tarp, ziplock bags, and plastic sheet protectors. The first
time it rained at a Forest Friday I arrived home with a backpack full of soggy emergency forms and disintegrating tissues. Never again! Now I stick everything in ziplock bags or sheet protectors, and they’re good as new even after a deluge. The tarp is great for sitting on or for covering up backpacks or lunches so they don’t get soaked. I have yet to try this, but I have plans to attempt making a “roof” out of the tarp for students to sit under at lunchtime. Some other supplies that are nice to have but not crucial: rain covers for backpacks and waterproof journal covers.
6. Leave the umbrellas at home. Seriously, just do it. I’ll admit, this one’s a little bit personal for me: umbrellas and I have never gotten along. We have what you might call an antagonistic relationship. Past feuds aside, though, umbrellas are a direct obstacle to connecting with nature. If you’re worrying about keeping your umbrella from flipping inside out with every gust of wind, how will you notice the way the wind whooshes through the trees? If you’re toting an umbrella overhead, how will you fit into the tiny opening at the mouth of the rock cave? If one hand is holding an umbrella, how will you keep your balance when you make a tightrope out of a fallen branch? Umbrellas are ineffectual at best and burdensome at worst, so do yourself a favor and just leave them at home.
7. Follow the children’s lead. This is actually my advice for all things forest school, but it is especially important when the weather is unpredictable. Children’s moods and stamina can change just as quickly as the weather, so be extra vigilant for short tempers, unsafe behaviors, or general ickiness. Don’t be afraid to head home a bit early if it means avoiding complete and total meltdown in the forest. That being said, though, remember that pushing kids out of their comfort zones is the fastest way to build their confidence and to help them LEARN.
8. End on a wet note. With apologies to the families and cars of my students, I always try to schedule our forest trips for the end of the school day so I can immediately shuttle the soggy, muddy children into their waiting vehicles before the discomfort and complaining begins. If the timing does not work out in your favor, refer back to number 3. Did I mention the dry socks?
Have any other good tips for making the most of unpredictable weather? Leave a comment below.