Pile of wood at Bellever Forest

This method works well if either circle time or presentations are already part of your woodland sessions or if your group are accustomed to this activity in their usual setting. For example, it may suit school groups where circle time is part of the normal school day.

Research method Preparation time Time to gather data Time to analyse data Not suitable for ... Does data indicate wellbeing? Who, what, where people experience wellbeing? Is it an activity in itself?
Circle time and presentations Short – but need to decide on focus or give some guidance for presentations Presentations 2-10 mins each, Circle time 10-15 mins Slow if analysing video/audio where group dynamic is problematic - people who don’t like to talk in public - One-off activity days where people don’t know each other Yes, if people talk freely Yes, with appropriate guidance Yes
 Suitable for:

  • school/college groups where presentations are part of normal learning
  • regular groups where people know each other
  • people who don’t mind talking in public
  • presentations – older children and adults
  • circle time – may be more appropriate for younger children, adults with learning difficulties (if able to communicate).

What information is collected?

  • as this is a fairly loose method it will depend on what people talk about and how they talk about it
  • you could prepare circle time questions that specifically link to the wellbeing indicators
  • you could ask people to prepare presentations based on a who, what, where or particular indicators of wellbeing.

How is information collected?

  • audio/video recording
  • written notes
  • materials that people have used during presentations.

Watch out for:

  • some people can feel embarrassed during circle time if they don’t know other people very well
  • some people may feel under pressure to say something rather than nothing, or try to be funny to ‘perform’ in front of the group
  • presentations may feel like ‘school work’ to older people or if your project is trying to get away from a more structured environment
  • putting a time limit on presentations can keep people more focussed.



Materials needed: audio / video recorder and/or pen and paper.

Method: people might prepare presentations in small groups or individually. You could suggest that they pick a particular place in the woods to give their presentation. It’s good to give people a presentation length e.g. five minutes, to help with focus. You could ask groups to prepare at home or give them time in the woods. Presentations could be demonstrations of newly learned skills, a walk through the woods, about a particular topic or a play.

Adaptations: you could prepare some questions to ask at the end of people’s presentations which are loosely based on the indicators or provide more information about who, what, where people accessed wellbeing. Or ask open questions such as ‘does [what they’re talking about] make them feel good or bad? Why do they like/dislike [what they’re talking about]? Why did you choose to talk about [topic]? Why is it important to you?

Pros and cons: if you leave participants to decide what to talk about and how to present it your research will be much more open. You may discover things about your woodland practice that you hadn’t expected and discover things that you could investigate further in your research. On the other hand, this could provide you with a range of information that may take a long time to sort through and analyse as it has no clear structure. You may find it difficult to compare different people’s presentations. However you can find out what people giving presentations consider to be significant by their choice of topic and the examples they might use.

Circle time

Materials needed: audio/video recorder or writing equipment, possibly an aid such as a ‘talking stick’.

Method: ask the group to form a rough circle, making sure they are relaxed and warm (it can be good to do this around a fire). Introduce the talking stick if using. This stick is passed around the circle and only the person holding it can speak, everyone else must listen. Anyone can pass the stick on if they don’t want to talk.

Adaptation: you could prepare some topics for people talk about at circle time and change these each week if you are working with a regular group. If people are worried about speaking you could ask people to finish a sentence.


Materials needed: pencil and paper for drawing.

Method: on return to usual setting, ask people to draw their memory of being in the woods; this might be a place, a thing that they did or a feeling. Then, using the picture as a prompt, each person tells their story of being in the wood.

Adaptations: this method works best with groups which exist outside of the woodland activity session and that you have contact with after the woodland activity has finished. It can be a useful way of seeing what memories of the woodland endure. With a group such as a school group, you may need to ask the teacher to lead this activity.