Family Outdoor Activities
Module 3: Tool Skills

Teach your children to use knives and tools safely for crafting activities, building trust and independence.

Family Outdoor Activities

Module 3: Tool Skills

Empower Your Children To Use Tools

Teach your children to use knives and tools safely for a range of crafting activities, and build trust and independence. Learn which woods are best for different activities and where to find them.

You will learn how to make your own Palm Drills (hand held drills for children) and discover which are the best wood types to use and where to find them.

We will show you how to make your own charcoal and turn it into a charcoal pencil using an elder branch and a tent peg.

What Will You Learn?

  • To safely use different hand tools for a range of applications with your family or group
  • To support your children's development of perseverance and risk management
  • To encourage the use and value of green woodwork
  • To cover all health and safety considerations

Take a look at some of the activities you’ll learn

Elder Pencils

In this video, we are going to use elder to make an elder pencil. We need to have our tent pegs at the ready to make the hole in the soft inner wood and can then put the charcoal that we made in the previous lesson inside the pencil. If we are going for the full pencil, we may want to finish it off with a knife but for younger children, the basic pencil is more than adequate.

Making Charcoal

We often make charcoal when we are wanting to do some art, or make elder pencils. Willow is best for drawing on paper but any type of wood will make charcoal. Ideally you would use knives for peeling the wood. With early years lots of people feel safer using a potato peeler. Either way follow your knife protocol when using sharp tools. Once again, as with creating char cloth, you will need an old tin, put two holes in it, willow, secateurs and a good fire.

Basic Whittling and Knives

In this video clip we go over basic principles of whittling a stick with a knife and talk about how to do this safely with young children. They might want to clean a stick by removing the bark to toast a marshmallow or just enjoy the empowering experience of learning to use a knife safely.


Marina is the most wonderful instructor.

Marina is the most wonderful instructor, she balances explaining the risks of forest crafts, as well as the opportunities for transdisciplinary learning with incredible insight and passion. The simplicity of instruction and the open narrative that is left by the videos has already empowered me to try new activities when in the woodland with our son.

Henry TurnerParent & Home Educator

Such a great module to bring to my home classroom

Such a great module to bring to my home classroom - it gave me the confidence to allow my kids to begin using knives and other tools. They quickly became independent in the use of these tools, created some cool if not whacky nature crafts, and I saw in them an enormous sense of achievement.

Deborah LewisParent & Home Educator

I would recommend this course to any parents.

Excellent and very informative course. The safety around using tools is explained in great detail which made me as a parent more confident in introducing tools to my 3 year old. Videos are very easy to understand and enjoyable and have given me so much enthusiasm for making the most of being outdoors. I would recommend this course to any parents.

Sinead CarrollParent and Early Years Practitioner


Welcome to the Tool Skills Online Course

About the instructor

Safe Use of knives and secateurs (16:32)

Whittling a rolling pin (2:03)

Make your own palm drills (3:09)

Palm drills, hand drills, bit & brace (5:43)

Making a wand (4:58)

Tent pegs as tools (1:39)

Making a Duck Caller (8:27)

Making charcoal (6:25)

A simple elder pencil (3:25)

Where can I buy or find wood for crafting? (1:28)

What woods could I choose for crafting? (4:03)


Best Woods for Crafting

Guidance note – UK Knife Law

Tools - Risk Benefit Assessment

Tools - Maintenance

Simple Woodland Crafts Risk Benefit Assessment

What's Included in Module 3?

11 video lessons full of tips, ideas and essential safety knowledge designed for anyone who wants to work safely in the outdoors with tools. Learn how to use tools safely from knives to tent pegs, make your own palm drills and charcoal and use it to make a pencil from an elder branch.

Each module includes a 'Certificate of Completion' issued by The Outdoor Teacher

Plus downloadable resources:

✔️  A Tools Risk and Benefit Assessment

✔️ A Simple Woodland Crafts Risk and Benefit Assessment

✔️ Guide to Tool Maintenance

✔️ Best Woods for Crafting

✔️ FSA UK Knife Law Guidance

What will you learn?

✔️ To safely use different hand tools for a range of applications with your family or group
To cover all health and safety considerations

✔️ To support your children's development of perseverance and risk management

✔️ To encourage the use and value of green woodwork

✔️ To cover all health and safety considerations

The Family Outdoor Activities Course

Are you a parent looking for activities to enjoy as a family in the outdoors? This professional online course has 36 step by step Forest School inspired video lessons that mix fun and games with crafting and skills.

Single modules are £37 +vat or save £21 and get the 4 module bundle for £127 +vat

Whom you learn from matters

I'm Marina Robb

I'm the Founder and Managing Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery Community Interest Company and The Outdoor Teacher Ltd, and a qualified teacher with over 30 years experience in outdoor learning and nature connection, and a leading Forest School endorsed trainer and practitioner. I'm a national expert in nature based education and therapeutic interventions and my aim is to share my knowledge and experience with teachers and others wishing to work outside the classroom. I've pioneered nature programmes within the health sector for my work with teenagers, families and young people with mental health issues, disabilities, dementia and early psychosis.  

I'm the co-author of ‘Learning with Nature’ a must-have book for Forest School & Outdoor practitioners, and ‘The Essential Guide to Forest School and Nature Pedagogy’ which contains everything you need to know from theory to practice.

I'm also the host of The Wild Minds Podcast.

money back

14 day Guarantee

Risk free

14 Days Money Back Guarantee

If you are not happy with the course, you can contact us with an explanation and claim a full refund within 14 days.

laptops and tablets

Know that your course is available on all devices

The Family Outdoor Activities Course is mobile friendly and available on all devices.

If you have an iPhone, you can download the 'Teachable' app from the Apple Store and download the videos onto your phone.


When does the course start?

If you are paying in full, you will get access to all 8 modules and all bonus materials as soon as your purchase is complete.

How long do I have access to the course?

You will have lifetime access to the course! Unlimited access to the lessons and videos for as long as you like, across all your devices.

Is my tutor qualified?

Yes, Marina Robb is an author and UK Forest School Association Endorsed Trainer and has been training Forest School Leaders since 2011. She has been working with groups in nature since 1995 and you can read more here.

Our organisation can’t pay using a credit or debit card – can we still buy the course?

Yes, we understand that many schools and other organisations can’t pay by card – contact us and we can send you an invoice to pay us by bank transfer in UK Sterling, Euros or Dollars. We can also accept cheques from UK bank accounts.

Can I access the course on my mobile?

Yes, the course can be accessed on all devices. If you have an iPhone, you can also download the free ‘Teachable’ app from the Apple Store and complete the course using the app, downloading any videos you like onto your device.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

If for some reason you are not happy with the course, contact us in writing within your first 14 days for a full refund. You will need to include an explanation of why you want the refund.

Does this course qualify me to run Forest School sessions?

This course is not a qualification but is Certified by The Outdoor Teacher and based on Marina's experience and expertise in this field.
All practitioners in the UK need to follow health and safety law, which requires us to provide risk assessments and be competent to deliver activities. Teachers for example are already qualified already to take their practice outdoors but are likely to need a course like ours to get the practical skills in place.
The Level 3 Forest School training and Forest School programmes (long term) are an educational approach and the training is excellent. If you intend to offer long-term forest school programmes, then I would recommend you doing the qualification.
We have a page about Outdoor Learning Myths and a recent webinar where these issues are addressed:

How is this course different from the Level 3 Training?

This training resource does not give you a formal qualification in Forest School Leadership.

It has been designed at the same standard and beyond as a Level 3, by Marina Robb, an endorsed Forest School Association Trainer with 30 years experience. The course aims to enable and equip people with the practical delivery of Forest School-based activities to a high competency, with all the correct health and safety and pedagogy weaved through the course.  

There is no requirement to have a Forest School Qualification to take children out of doors to learn and play. As a teacher or practitioner, you are legally obliged to have risk assessments in place and insurance relevant to practice offered.

How many hours is the course?

This is a self-paced course so you work in your own time from pre-recorded materials and videos with 2 additional live webinars. The course is organised into the seasons so designed to be worked though over the calendar year.
We estimate that it will take a minimum of 36 hours to complete the course but you will also need to factor in time to practice the activities on top of this. 

We don't have access to a woodland - can we do these activities in a playground or park?

Yes, you can. Whether you are near a woodland, park or school playground - all the activities can be adapted for different circumstances.

We have run activities using fire, tools, games, wild food, crafts, swings & ropes, shelters in school yards and playgrounds.

It does take more preparation and consideration of equipment. If you wanted to make fires, you would either designate a small green area of the playground for this purpose or use a fire bowl to lift the fire off the ground. We have also taken many groups on short walks throughout the seasons to gather some plants for many activities.

Posts can be put up to replace trees, so that children can still set up various rope bridges or constructions and with a little thinking you can easily set up a rope swing and tarpaulin shelters.

In schools we often ask parents to contribute a log for our wood pile and ask for help to bring in useful materials we may need over the year.

Can I share my course with my colleagues?

No - the license is granted for 1 user to view the contents of the course. This access must not be shared with any other person and only the named user will receive the certificate.

See next question for bulk licencing queries.

Can we purchase multiple licenses for our staff team?

Yes, please contact us for bulk purchasing discounts. We can set up the user accounts for you and send you access codes and you can pay by invoice

Do I get a certificate?

Yes, all our courses come with a ‘Certificate of Completion’ from The Outdoor Teacher Ltd.

How can we contact you if we have a question?

Yes feel free to call or email us with any questions - our contact details are on the contact page.

Our commitment to Nature & People:

The Outdoor Teacher, alongside its sister organization Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC aim to transform health, education and family through nature.

We are whole-heartedly concerned about the safeguarding of future generations, human and non-human alike, and the growing understanding of reciprocity between humans and nature. Whilst we are advocates for all people accessing nature and its benefits, we know that this is only healthy if we prioritise the care for the natural world and address issues of equality.

The Outdoor Teacher is working towards becoming a certified B-Corp. Certified B Corps are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. We aim to be part of this community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using businesses as a force for good.

We are using Monzo Business Banking which is listed as an ethical bank:

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