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Project Based Learning

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Our rich curriculum comprises of many interactive experiences and hands-on activities that engage and challenge our students. By immersing our students in a specific project, we can provide an in-depth investigation of a real-world topic. A recent inter-disciplinary project focused on ‘building’, or ‘jenga’ in Swahili (our school theme for the term was ‘Jenga’). Some of the objectives were to explore the following questions through a student ‘chair construction’:

  • What does it mean to ‘jenga’?
  • How do we build?
  • What could we build that would utilise our mathematics, science/physics, and artistic knowledge and skills?
  • What skills would we need to learn to build something out of wood?
  • What tools would we need, and how will we be safe?

The project involved meticulous planning and research of the different types of chairs and how they are built. The students interviewed experts and undertook training on how to use the tools needed to safely complete their projects.

The research was followed by sketching of their designs in art and sourcing of lumber to bring their designs to life. The students used maths to calculate the surface area and volume of the chairs and to determine how much paint or varnish to purchase. After building and painting their chairs, the students presented their designs to teachers, parents and their fellow students. 

Here’s a preview of what the chair construction project entailed:

The School in the Forest

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‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is a term coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. This is not a medical condition, but a description of the human costs of alienation from nature and the damage it does to children. In a world where the landscape is becoming increasingly urbanised and man-made, a school located in a forest may sound like a fairytale. Woodland Star International School is not only a school that follows the principles of Forest Schools, but is also located IN the 40-acre Brackenhurst Forest

How Nature Helps Children Learn

Without a doubt, our school enjoys one of the most beautiful, spacious and green campuses in Nairobi. Interactions with nature, the forest and the green spaces all around us are baked into our everyday curriculum.

Greater Good magazine published an article highlighting the Six Ways Nature Helps Children Learn“Nature improves children’s psychological and physical well-being and that can impact learning. But it also seems to affect how they attend to and engage in the classroom, how much they can concentrate, and how well they get along with teachers and peers.” Here are some of the ways nature can help children learn:

  1. Restores attention
  2. Relieves stress
  3. Helps children develop more self-discipline
  4. Outdoor instruction make students more engaged and interested
  5. May increase physical fitness
  6. May promote social connection and creativity

Non-Traditional Classroom Setting

Our unique forest environment, including an onsite agro-forestry project and seed bank, gives our students the opportunity to learn more deeply about nature and conservation, as the trees and vegetation provide a source-based learning experience that is difficult to replicate and often neglected in traditional classroom settings.

Woodland Star – ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ Antidote

The forest that surrounds our school has played a vital role in our curriculum development. Our students use weekly nature walks through our indigenous forest as part of their learning. Regular engagement with surrounding nature and exploration of our wide, open spaces is part and parcel of the school life of every child at Woodland Star. The environment and setting of our school is regularly mentioned by past students and their families as being a critical part of their educational experience. “WSS is a place of acceptance where all are valued for being unique individuals. Our children Ned and Hana became more empathic, caring and giving because of it. They climbed trees, played with mud, grew fruits and vegetables, built eco-friendly structures, explored the forest and released orphaned owls.”

If you want to find out more about the benefits of our school in the forest for your children, you can book a tour here: https://www.woodlandstarkenya.com/schedule-a-tour/ 

Peace Education: Possible and Crucial

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Woodland Star School’s Festival of Peace is a product of the inclusion of peace education into our evolving and innovative curriculum. It’s a full-day event, where the school’s students sing, act, drum and dance on a beautiful outdoor stage, all for the purpose of peace.

Peace education isn’t a new phenomenon. Created by Elie Pritz in 2013, it was a way for children affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to learn about peace, understanding and healing in an environment marked by violence. It aimed to introduce students to real-life heroes who prioritised peace above all, thus earning its name as the Peace Heroes curriculum.

This form of education has gained recognition around the globe and Woodland Star International School is one of a small number of schools selected to pilot the Peace Heroes curriculum in Africa. 

Woodland Star International School was recently featured in the Peace Heroes newsletter which stated: “We wish teachers and administrators around the world could visit this inspiring school to see that peace education is not irrelevant or idealistic. Peace education is possible and so crucial in this divided and fearful world. Woodland Star School proves that intentionally teaching kids peace instills students with compassion and empowers them to heal the brokenness around them. We can’t wait to see how these amazing young people change the world in years to come!” You can read the full article here.

We are proud that, through our peace heroes curriculum, we have been able to instill values of compassion and understanding in our students which they can use in the future to bring about change in the world. 

peace education


Wild Wednesday at Woodland Star International School

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At Woodland Star, we end every Wednesday with a Wild Wednesday.

“I like Wild Wednesday because it has a variety of activities.” – Liana.

During Wild Wednesday, the whole school gets together in one of our amazing nature spaces and one of our classes shares what they learned with the rest of the school in a fun, engaging and sometimes messy way.

This is one of the ways in which we build a community as our learners interact with one another across age groups and where we live out our values of connectedness, passion, innovation, environmental conservation and respect.

Wild Wednesday is just one of the opportunities at Woodland Star for every child to be, belong and become.

If you are interested in finding out more you can schedule a tour here.

Emphasising each child’s unique gifts

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“Our curriculum is the bridge between our vision and reality. Through child-centered teaching, we place emphasis on the unique gifts and challenges that each child has, highlighting the importance of growth mindsets as opposed to fixed mindsets.”

Washington Mito of Kenyans.co.ke recently published an article outlining the growth of Woodland Star International School since its beginning in August 2011 with just seventeen students.  “The combined efforts of the visionary team were like rain seeping down to awaken a long-buried seed.”  Read the full article here.

If you are interested in finding out more you can schedule a tour here.

Daily forest walk

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At Woodland Star, our kids start every day with a 20-minute forest walk in our indigenous forest. This gets the blood flowing through their bodies. The fresh air and sounds and smells of nature awaken their brains and get them into a great place for learning.

“I like forest walks because there’s fresh air, trees, parkour made out of trees, what’s not to love!” – Nicki.

“I like forest walks because there’s a waterfall that I get to play in. So when I’m going for a forest walk, I climb trees and get to see nature.” – Elijah & Harry.

Woodland Star International School is based in an amazing green campus, we are surrounded by a 40-acre indigenous forest and beautiful tea fields, within the Brackenhurst Botanic Garden. Find out more about our green campus.

If you are interested in finding out more you can schedule a tour here.

MURAHO!

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At Woodland Star School we have embraced a Kinyarwandan greeting – “Muraho”. “Muraho” is much more than just ‘hello’, but has a deeper translation of “I celebrate your presence”. This word, “Muraho”, is a key expression in the story-language of our school. As our story unfolds, we want to embrace ‘muraho’ in every step of it. The structures, values, and policies that shape Woodland Star help us found relationships that celebrate the diversity and the unique gifts and talents within our community.