Friday, April 22, 2022
Book of Beasties takes Wellbeing into Forest Schools

Building on our earlier forum with Emily Edwards we have been looking for a chance to fuse Book of Beasties with a forest learning environment and see how this setting may compliment the dynamics of the Mental Wellness Tool.

Well this week the perfect opportunity came up, Book of Beasties visited a Forest School Holiday Camp in the wilds of Box Moor, Hertfordshire to support in the delivery of The Mental Wellness Card Game to a select group of children. Just as we sought, the setting was completely different to the usual aesthetic of a classroom but this proved to be an ideal scenario for a session with the Beasties.

On arrival there had been an altercation between two of the boys who were to take part in the game, and emotions were running high (a perfect opportunity to put a tool that focusses on emotional literacy to work). To add an extra challenge - the distractions of being outside and a promise of marshmallows cooked over a bonfire posed dual challenges to hold the attention of the group.

However, once the game was laid out, on a blanket of leaves and twigs, and we all settled down onto the muddy floor all the five boys (aged 7-10) engaged in the game, conversations and activities – perfect classroom management check in an environment with not a wall or chair in sight. At this point we got down to the work we know best…

Following the session, the group leader stated: "A couple of the boys were experiencing a rush of testosterone-fuelled frustration on your arrival which I witnessed dissolving into camaraderie and laughter through the BoB session in the woodland." Exactly the sort of emotional resolution we love to see instilled by our work!

It was highlighted that the majority of the children participating in the game were home-schooled, one of them did point out that, at first, the play-based tool "felt like something you would do at school", but upon meeting the Beasties, and taking part in the activities (paper boat races and yoga) they definitely did not let this deter them from joining in.

The group leader went on to add: "The children whom you [Book of Beasties] worked with seemed to benefit from engaging with the resources and ideas and we felt the session was really successful."

It was amazing for us to see that even in such an alternative setting, with the aforementioned potential distractions, the focus remained on the game and through this the learning we have seen in a classroom translated to the new environment seemlessly. The pupils engaged with the Beasties; which in this case were 'Populo', discussing her foggy brain and the benefits of deep breathing, and 'Gagatek', exploring feeing low and unhappy, and how having a 'comfort' can help to lift our spirits.

As is often the case, it was observed that a few of the children projected their feelings onto the Beasties and appeared to find it easier to describe particular feelings through the characters and activities (a form of ‘avatar psychology’) which is a key goal of this tool.

The group leader concluded: "I was particularly pleased to see one of our children name his feelings and describe, in the context of the session, how it felt for him being angry and relate to one of the characters." For us this showed that our character had equipped this child with the language and understanding to address and verbalise a strong emotion that otherwise could manifest in the form of negative, even self-destructive, behaviour.

If you would like to find out more about Book of Beasties and how we could support wellbeing within your school, camp, service or home, you can contact us here.

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