Since starting school Toby has been to dozens of birthday parties but he’s never had one of his own, other than small family parties at home. After his last birthday though he started asking if he could have a party for his 6th birthday with his friends from school.
We ruled out hiring a hall and having an entertainer because he’s always scared of them, we considered a soft play party but both he and Gabe quite often end up crying at soft play, and I didn’t really fancy 15 kids running round my house…. but then we found out that the forest school where we have been to a few family sessions also hosts birthday parties. And that was it, decision made!
Minibeast Forest School Party
There were lots of different options to choose from when we came to book the party with Roots to Branches – anything from a pirate party to fairies & elves or a castaway party with den building and fire lighting. Toby and Gabe decided they would like a Mini Beast party and we decided all their friends would enjoy looking for bugs and creepy crawlies in the woods too.
When we arrived Jenna who runs the forest school sat all the children down and explained what they would be doing and a few rules about staying safe in the woods. We had mostly invited Toby’s friends to the party but a couple of the boys from Gabe’s nursery came too. It isn’t Gabe’s birthday for another couple of weeks but he was about to leave nursery so it made sense to have a joint party.
The party got going when the children set off into the wood with Jenna so she could show them the best place to look for bugs. The older kids quickly got stuck in but I think it took the younger ones a bit longer to feel comfortable with what was going on.
Jenna is so good with children of all ages though – she runs sessions for toddlers right through to adults and she is great at getting everyone involved. In the picture above you can see her showing Gabe a buzzard’s nest up in a tree (although I’m still not convinced he actually knew where he was supposed to be looking!)
I think the girls we a bit bemused at Barry having the big camera out in this one…
Freedom to Explore
The woods have definitely become our new happy place recently. Roots to Branches use a private woodland not too far from where we live. There are four acres of fully enclosed woods and it really gives the children freedom to explore safely. I don’t feel the need to follow Toby around making sure he’s OK, he can wander off and I know he can’t go far. And if something happens and he needs help it’s small enough that he can just shout and someone will hear him.
A few of the parents stayed at the party and joined in too, and my mum and dad came along – you can see Gabe showing Grandma what he’d found in this picture (it was mostly woodlice!)
After lots of bug hunting it was time to get the fire going. Lighting the fire with a flint and steel is one of Toby’s favourite things to do in the woods. He didn’t manage it by himself at the party but he has done at another forest school session since. He’s not always the best at persevering with things but this is one thing he’s kept trying at until he could do it.
Jenna always makes sure everyone is safe around the fire – she provides these fire proof gloves for when they’re putting sticks on the fire. Although Gabe kept getting a stick in his gloved hand and then swapping it to the other one to actually put it on the fire!
Once the fire was going everyone enjoyed toasting marshmallows – well except Toby and Gabe who don’t actually like them! Toby will eat them cold but Gabe doesn’t like them at all so I just get him to toast them then give them to me! The party was in the afternoon so apart from the marshmallows we just filled a few bowls with crisps and popcorn, and some apples and satsumas, and that was all the food we did. And of course everyone got a piece of cake to take home…
A Wiggly Worm Birthday Cake
After producing some rather extravagant birthday cakes in years past (regular readers might remember our epic Numberblocks cake!) I decided to go simple this year. This was just a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, smashed up Oreo ‘soil’ and a load of jelly worms. Oh, and couple of bees on sticks to accommodate a last minute request from Gabe!
There was hardly any wind luckily so we managed to keep the candles alight long enough for the boys to blow them out!
While I was cutting up the cake for the party bags (more on those in a second) everyone had a bit of a sing song before it was time to go home.
Eco-friendly Party Bags
Just a quick last minute word about the party bags (I may still dedicate a post to them but anyway…) It didn’t feel right to have an outdoor party in the woods and then send everyone home with a plastic party bag.
The party bags weren’t entirely plastic free but I did my best. Unfortunately the paper bags I ordered from Amazon came wrapped in a ton of plastic so that’s one to watch out for if you’re trying to be more eco-friendly! The little magnifying glasses were plastic too, and disappointingly each one came in an individual plastic bag! Still the little wooden bugs I got were plastic free, as were the Usbourne ‘Bugs to Spot’ books.
It wouldn’t be a party bag without some sweets too – so I went for these little boxes of Smarties. They did come in a plastic bag but I figured one big bag is better than lots of little ones that might end up dropped and scattered around the woods.
The Best Party Ever!
As you can probably tell, the boys loved their forest school birthday party and so did all their friends. I was so pleased to find something a bit different for a party, and something that I knew Toby and Gabe would really enjoy. Price wise it was about the same as soft play party would have cost so we were happy with that.
Since the party we’ve been to a Mini Roots playgroup session, and Toby has been to an all day holiday club. We’ve got another Family Forest School session this weekend, and then next week we’re going to a Woodland Chillout session which Jenna is running with a yoga group – right up my street!
If you have a forest school near you I would thoroughly recommend finding out what sort of sessions they have on. And if you’re near the Fylde Coast / Preston area, then you can find out more about Roots to Branches here, or on their Facebook page.