News from Norway! The 2019 Forest Games

With inspiration from the Forest Olympics in Latvia, the Forest Games were established in Norway in 2015. Four different forest and nature school organisations cooperate, with the Forest Extension Institute leading the work.

The aim of the Forest Games is to increase knowledge of forests, and to create more physical activity in school. Teachers and pupils are encouraged to use their local forest during school hours, not only for hiking and playing, but also as a “class room”.

This year, the Forest Games were conducted at the national level for the third time, in Norway. All pupils in 5th grade were invited to participate, and 126 schools accepted the invitation. As a total 2360 pupils were involved in the event during 2019.

The participating schools received two different challenges: one in January with snow and winter, and one in April with spring. The first task was a nature trail that invited to pondering and wondering! The next challenge gave the schools six different tasks to choose from. While the first one was easy, the second challenge demanded quite a lot of dedication from the participating schools. Feedback from the teachers showed that although they already used the forest quite a lot, they learned a lot and got many new ideas about how they could teach about the forest to their pupils. Many of the schools also had forest days with their local Forestry Societies, which gave them an extra motivation and inspiration.

Our experience is that the teachers had very busy days. If they had to participate in an event like this, it must be more than an event. It must be in accordance with the school curriculum.
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All the schools were given individual feedback on their work. Seventeen schools qualified for the finals, which was held at the Norwegian Forest Museum on 5 June 2019. Many of the participants came the night before, giving them the opportunity to spend the night in an old forest hut or in a lavvu (sami tent).

The finals consisted of both practical and theoretical tasks, such as recognizing tree species, wading over a river, measuring the height of a tree, determining the age of the tree, recognising bird sounds, making various knots, building wooden bridges, and finding English names for different insects.

Our experience is that The Forest Games is a good way for different organisations to cooperate, and to work towards the same goals. It is also a good way to inspire and motivate teachers to involve forests and forestry actively in their teaching.

Bjørn Helge Bjørnstad, Project coordinator at Forestry Extension Institute

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