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How to dress & what to pack
for a day at forest school

Children should be dressed in weather-appropriate clothing that is comfortable and enables them to be physically active. Please keep in mind that your child will get dirty at Forest school. We believe in messy play! There is no bad weather, only bad clothing!


Label! Label! Label! It can’t be emphasized enough; all outdoor clothing, shoes, hats, boots, sweaters, lunch boxes, etc. must be labeled. We all shop at the same stores and young children are not great at identifying their belongings. We have an account with Mabel’s Labels if you are interested in using them to label your child’s belongings. Look for Chelsea Forest School at and 20% of the profits will go back to the school! 

Fall & Spring

  • Baseball Hat/Brimmed Hat: For those sunny days please send your child with a hat to keep the sun off their head and face. It is also good protection against bugs.

  • Running Shoes: For use in early Fall and late Spring on dry days. Open-toe shoes are never acceptable (flip flops, crocs, sandals).  Running shoes or closed-toed shoes are accepted but remember that it may be dry where you live but very wet in the forest.


  • Long-Sleeved Shirt and Long Pants: Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are recommended to decrease bug bites and scrapes. Long pants should be tucked into socks.

  • Rain Jacket: It should be of good quality and big enough to wear layers under.


  • Rain Pants: Rain pants (not splash pants) please ensure that they are truly waterproof- with elasticized bottoms that can be pulled over boots. Think sitting on the wet ground! As an example, the MEC rain gear is quite good. We love to play IN the puddles, splashing, sitting, etc.

  • Rain Boots: Check that your child’s boots don't leak, and have room for wool socks inside! We spend a lot of time wading in puddles and hanging out on the edge of our pond. By late Fall insulated rain boots will be necessary. (Bogs, Kamik, etc). 

  • Wool Socks: Merino wool socks are not itchy. They can be worn in all seasons. Not only are they warmer than cotton, but they can wick moisture away from the skin. We will get wet. We play in the puddles, slushy snow, and deep snow. Cold feet can ruin an otherwise fun experience for everyone. All children should also have extra wool socks in their backpacks. Cotton socks are never acceptable.

  • Gloves/Mitts: Light gloves/mittens for those cooler days. (Please do not send your child with gloves if they are unable to put them on by themselves in a timely fashion). 


  • Extra Clothes: Always pack extra clothes as we spend a lot of time in puddles and the pond at this time of year and can get wet!

  • Loose clothing: Oversized t-shirts, basketball-style shorts, skirts, and dresses should be tucked in or not worn at forest school due to the danger of catching on branches, etc.  



  • Snow boots: Make sure that your child’s boots are waterproof and WARM. The all-season boots such as Bogs (they are rated to -30) work well for many children. That way the same boot can be worn from October through May. However, less active children find that they are not warm enough on our coldest winter days. We are out in ALL temperatures if even for a short time.

  • Waterproof Winter Mitts: The ones with the long elasticized cuffs that pull on over the snowsuit are ideal.  Short mittens leave a gap between sleeve and mitten which gets full of snow and is uncomfortable and cold!  Please send your child with at least 3 pairs of mittens for full-day programs, and 2 for half days. 


  • Gloves are not acceptable in winter as they do not keep hands warm enough. As we strongly encourage independence, children should be taught to put their mittens on last. Do not put them under their snowsuits! We are often taking our mitts off and on for a variety of reasons and this makes it very challenging. As well, this means they are unable to put on the rest of their clothing independently. 

  • Neck Warmer/Buff/Balaclava: Scarves are choking hazards around trees and are not recommended. Every child should have at least two neck warmers/balaclava. They get wet and soggy after playing outside and it is nice to have a dry one to put on after lunch. 

  • Base layer: Wool or synthetic (not cotton) base layers are necessary, again this helps children stay warm and dry. They help wick away moisture and keep the body heat in. Layering clothing is the best option as this allows children to take clothing off as they get hot and put clothing on as they get cold. It's always better to have too much clothing than not enough!


  • If you are having trouble getting your child to dress appropriately for Forest school, don't fight them. Let them wear what they want and bring the appropriate clothing to school with you and we will handle the situation. Children tend to be more receptive when they arrive at school and see what everyone else is wearing and when the rules are explained by a teacher. 


  • Although specific stores/brands have been mentioned (i.e MEC, Bogs) there is no requirement to purchase from these retailers. They have been mentioned simply to provide an example of the quality and/or type of equipment we require. Second-hand stores often have amazing deals on outgrown quality rain gear and boots.  

We're excited to meet you!

If you're curious about us... here's a little more information to get to know us better.

Chelsea Forest School is a beautiful part of my kids' childhood!

Forest School Day is my son's highlight of the week. Most mornings he looks out of his window and regardless if it rains, snows or the sun is shining, he declares that we have perfect forest school weather and that he should be able to go more often during the week.

We have had kids in different forest school programs for the past 5 years and even though my oldest daughter was already in grade 5 when she attended, she loved the freedom to explore, create, climb, and relax in a marvelous setting just as much as her younger brothers. I notice how the kids learn to take calculated risks in nature and are confident in making good decisions outdoors. 
The teachers are calm and patient and always have kind words to share about each child during pick-up, and my son has remarked that he feels understood.

Esther Shoemaker, PhD.

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