S ince March 2019 in the City Forest of Pula, Croatia a group of forest pedagogues, teachers and educators is promoting a concept of forest pedagogy by organizing holistic workshops combining art, movement and didactic games with forest education.
This is an initiative of the Association „Model Forest“ whose objective is promotion and implementation of the forest pedagogy in Region of Istria, Croatia and by Ana Fornazar a member of the EU ForestPedagogy Subgroup together with experts in education, music or movement.
Forest pedagogy workshops are held every Saturday in Sijana Park Forest with children whose parents usually visit and spend time in these forest, and also new interested who come to participate in our workshops. Workshops are created for children age 5 to 12, and are done with the average number of 5 to 20 participants, in duration of 90 minutes.
Collective „Forest Stories“ consisted of experts and supporters combines forest education with movement and sound therapy, painting and art, observing and exploring, playing and storytelling. We teach through playing games and creating art pieces as it is the best way for young children to get familiar with new terms as for example tree species, forest animals or forest functions. Educational objectives used are; visual materials as photos and drawings, then natural materials found in the forest, instruments, forest fruits and herbs, colours, paper and textile waste…etc. The creators of the workshops in their activities emphasize recycling of materials and non-use of artificial materials.
In the 2019 spring cycle eight workshops of the „Forest Stories“ were created and each one is a unique performance of the members of the team.
Our workshops are: „Forest in Movement“, „Playful Forest“, „Forest Fruits“, „Magic of the Forest“, „Forest Games“, „Inhabitants of the Forest“, „Musical Forest“and „Creative Forest“.
With such a program, children get comprehensive, creative and different content in the frame of the forest pedagogy that we hope is a seed of the future similar activities in Istria and Croatia.
Until now, Forest Pedagogy in Croatia is mostly implemented by the Forest engineers of the State Company „Croatian Forest“Ltd. while another forest education programs are done by the rangers and experts in the nature protected reserves. There are several environmental education initiatives done by NGOs and are not implemented by the forest experts.
Together with the outdoor program, it is created a Facebook Page „Price iz sume - radionice za djecu“(Forest Stories - workshops for children) that promotes our workshops and own methodology and at the same time inform and educate parents about all the benefits of the forest pedagogy for the healthy development of their children.
Intention of the Association “Model Forest” is to further develop forest education programs for children all around the region and to enter schools and kindergartens. A final objective is to invent a certified program for teachers, experts and educators that can bring them a title - forest pedagogue. For the first time in the City of Pula, children have the possibility to experience a forest pedagogy in practice and enjoy all the benefits of such an innovative program based in specific knowledge of the authors and educators of the workshops.
Workshops are prepared in responding to the needs and interests of the children, so we also do experiment with the Flow method where children take the role of the workshop leaders and the structure of the workshop is transformed based on their inspiration and present natural environment.