‘It’s so relaxed out here: the sun and the leaves moving. This is the most chilled we’ve been all day!’
The Forest of Dreams is an art and storytelling project to make a multi-sensory textile forest. My ambition, writes storyteller Marion Leeper, was to take SENSE groups out into a real forest.
This seemed a big undertaking, but once we started looking, a forest wasn’t so hard to find: we found leaves, wind, and wildness in a city park, a garden, even a clump of trees round the edge of a car park.
When it was really impossible to get out, we built our own indoor forest. The forest den was really simple: a few canes joined with masking tape and cable ties, draped with leaves and branches, and a roll of turf for the floor. The children loved it!
‘That’s my kind of DIY’ said one parent. I could do that at home.’ Tips on how to make a den are available here: https://earlyarts.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Using-Den-Building.pdf
It was great to see all the different ways children explored the outdoors. We adults tried to see the forest from the children’s eye view, and it made the forest a magical place for us. Some children investigated the leaves closely: even children with not much vision were gripped by the way they moved against the sky.
Others collected treasures: pine cones, blossom, a snail shell.
Geordie found a big stick and found out what it felt like to bash a tree trunk.
We followed a string trail around the garden.
Dawn, the education officer at Hylands House, took us on a sensory walk through the wood, and everyone made a sensory ‘memory stick’.
In the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, we found textured sculptures, and a big metal tunnel that reverberated loudly.
In Wales, we explored just one tree! We shared a story about a face in a tree, and then made our own clay faces to peer out of the trunk.
In Bristol, Karen with her guitar took us on a magic adventure. We recorded some sounds to make a musical sound track for our forest.
When we put up the finished forest, it blew in the wind just like the real forest.
I wonder what open space near you could be your forest? What magical adventures could you have there, especially if you revisit it many times? Tweet us a picture of your favourite forest @sensetweets #forestofdreams. Or tell SENSE about playing in the forest here