Today Whitebeam Group began their session working really hard to move the compost/topsoil from the bulk bag outside the back gate to the raised beds. They took it in turns to load, wheel and dig the soil into the beds to improve the contents ready for the winter vegetables.
They did an amazing job and it didn’t take as long as Tawny Owl thought it would.
We then went down to the woods. The children then helped to set up the area for our sessions. We had a look at all the results of the tree surgery which has been going on since last week. They have done an amazing job and an awful lot of unsafe wood has been felled. It has really opened up the canopy which has meant more light can filter through allowing plants in the understorey to grow. We noticed lots of birds flitting around in the undergrowth.
There is still a little more to do before we can begin clearing and tidying.
Do have a look at the photos to see what has been happening.
The children then enjoyed their own learning. Oscar had requested last week that we play conkers, so many children enjoyed choosing their conkers from the basket that Tawny Owl had collected, drilling holes using soft wooed drills and Conker Clamps. The difficult part for everyone was threading the string through and tying a knot.
Then the rules of the game were explained and was enjoyed by children and adults alike.
There are more pictures on the class 6 gallery.
Year 3 had a fabulous day in the woods today!
Tawny Owl and Wren were incredibly impressed with everyone’s listening and the way they followed instructions. They have really matured over the summer holiday. Well done everybody.
Both groups began with a safety chat, followed by a walk around our temporary site (‘Plan B’), including the arrangements for using the toilet. They then had plenty of time to lead their own learning. We observed shelter building, ‘mining’, tree climbing, as well as the building of some quite intricate structures. Tula and Abi spent a long time creating a beautiful space for people who are lonely to go and be with others.
Willow group played the same game which year 4 had played yesterday (Plant Duplication). They listened well and used some amazing memory and observation skills which meant that they were extremely successful in finding the leaves Tawny Owl had in her set.
By the end of the game, the children had learnt a little about Oak, Ash, Rowan, Holly, Beech, Hornbeam, Chestnut and Hazel.
At the end of both sessions, we walked the children round to Stump Central to look at the work going on to clear the dangerous trees. Willow group were lucky enough to watch Tree creepers on the Ash and Oak. They also watched Blue-tits going in and out of the hole in the big Oak on the other side of the stream.
Joshua decided that we should use some of the timber which is being cut down to make a special structure to make a designated tool area. He had a definite idea in his head about what it would look like. By the end of the day his design had become 2 storeys high! I think Mr Bowyer (Mighty Oak) may have been encouraging his monster design!
If anyone has the skills or inclination to take this idea forward, please let us know!
Have a look at the picutres to see a little of what we did today (and do look at the other Forest School Blogs too).
Year 4 enjoyed a varied day in the woods today. As on Monday, we were camped at the other end of the woods – now aptly named ‘Plan B’ by Sam.
We spent a while on arrival ensuring that everyone knew about the new, temporary boundaries which had been put into place as Fernshire Tree Services (Rob Twyman and friends) were busy clearing the dangerous trees today. We heard lots of chainsaw noise over the rustle of the trees (it was a little windy today, but not too windy fortunately).
The children then enjoyed free learning time. The activities were varied – some made shelters for animals, shelters for themselves and the wolves, there was a game involving lots of recall of the facts about WWI (this contained a lot of negotiation and discussion about rules of the game), one group made a rainbow stick using lots of different coloured leaves which was beautiful. Chestnut Group welcomed Phoebe and Tyler who enjoyed looking for chestnuts and insects. The minibeasts they found included a stripy snail, centipede and spider. One group also found a tiny Toad.
Holly group played a game of Plant Duplication which involved Tawny Owl revealing some leaves for the children to look at (which dragonfly had collected earlier in the session), and then she covered them up. In groups, the children then went off to see if they could find a leaf from the same species of tree. They did really well, but realised that they needed to look really closely at the leaves e.g. several groups found Ash leaves and thought they were the same as Rowan, so realised when they looked closely that the leaves of Rowan are serrated, darker and smaller than Ash leaves.
The sessions today were happy and calm, in spite of the fact that it was a little windy on the other side of the hill.
At the end of each session, Tawny Owl walked the children carefully to our Stump Central area (having checked and agreed a time with the tree surgeon), so the children could see the changes. Holly group could not see Stump Central at all, there was so much brash around. However, by 2.45pm, this had been almost cleared. It has made the area so much lighter. We can’t wait for it to be finished.
Have a look at the gallery on the year 4 pages for more pictures.
Our camping toilet arrived on Friday, so we were able to return to the woods.
Both sessions began with Tawny Owl walking the children around the wood to explain the new safety boundaries - the children now all clearly understand the areas they need to avoid due to the dangerous trees, and to give people privacy in the forest toilet area.
We then had some jobs to do to set up our new camp.
Whitebeam group spent a lot of time moaning and chatting but did eventually manage to create a private space for the toilet – digging a trench for the boys and putting up tarps to create privacy for all. The other half of the group carried sitting logs to our temporary site – making use of a great den which was built by someone else. They had a short time to play.
Dogwood group worked much more efficiently to create a new, temporary entrance to our space, as well as making a defined path, and setting up a washing up area.
The woods were warm and sunny today, and the children enjoyed playing in a different area, although Dogwood group returned to the ‘Bridge end’ to play. Whitebeam Group found puff balls, and noticed the sweet chestnuts and Field Maple seeds falling, having been eaten by small woodland animals.
Have a look at the class gallery for more photos.
We had a beautiful day today for Forest School; the sun shone and everyone was relaxed.
Each group began with a game of Palm Tag – interestingly, Willow Group really entered into the spirit of the game, while Field Maple Group seemed a little bit weary and less enthusiastic.
As we held Forest School on the school site again today, there was a choice of activities to participate in. We had a group making another willow woven tipi with mud walls, while others had a go at leaf sewing and made some mobiles. Cuckoo and Wren led very successful plant printing sessions – do have a look at the photos to see the results. We will be displaying them in school in the near future, so keep an eye open. The children found Mountain Ash berries, Blackberries, Dogwood berries as well as leaves to brighten up their printing.
Again, Wren worked her magic in the garden with the children, clearing more of the raised beds ready for autumn planting. Lots of invertebrates were found in the soil: worms, centipedes, woodlice, ants, slugs etc. She noted how gentle the children were with the creatures, which was lovely to observe. Be sure to notice the changes to the gardens as we go into the autumn, and appreciate the hard work which is going into providing lots of interest. They also planted some carrot seed in tubs in the green house to watch alongside the Radishes planted by year 4 yesterday.
The learning today was amazing. The children had to be vigilant and agile to be successful at Palm Tag, and patient and resilient while making the woven tipi. There was also some excellent team work and children were seen and heard helping each other. Many in the group learned that if things do not go right the first time of trying, then having another go often results in success.
Noah and Evie earned themselves Environmental stickers for spontaneously collecting litter while we were outside.
Everyone was pleased with their creations and several children experienced getting their hands muddy for the first time. Some really enjoyed it while others weren’t too sure.
We hope to be in the woods next week, but we will let everyone know.
There are more photos on the website in the Year 3 Gallery.
A rather grey day today. However, this did nothing to dampen the spirit of the children. Each group began with a game of Palm Tag, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. The children learned about strategy and also about being very observant in all directions. Tawny Owl compared the concentration they needed to how a prey animal feels when it is out in the woods – keeping watch for predators.
The groups then settled to gardening – preparing the raised beds for the vegetables and continuing the task which year 6 had begun on Monday, weeding the Peace Garden. Others began creating a willow Tipi with woven willow and ‘daub’ made from soil, sand, grass and water. The children really enjoyed getting their hands muddy and created an amazing structure. In addition, we also planted some Radish seeds in troughs in the greenhouse, hoping we will have some to harvest in a few weeks time.
As Chestnut group had four adults supporting, we were also able to offer fire striking, which several children chose. All the children worked hard at this, but found it really difficult. However, they persevered (no one gave up), and for Brandon this paid off as he managed to light his ‘fairy pillow’.
Do look at the photos to see the enjoyment on the children’s faces as they enjoyed their outdoor learning today. There are more pictures on the Year 4 gallery.
Our Forest School is evolving. We are endeavouring to increase the variety of learning this year (First Class Opportunities to Respond to and Explore our Surroundings Together). Time in the woods encompassing the Forest School ethos will be at the core of our sessions, but we are now aiming to include a wider variety of settings and learning to complement our curriculum.
Following a fun, warm up game of Beetle Tag, year 6 began their term’s sessions with a busy and sometimes challenging set of activities – they began the huge task of preparing our raised beds for some serious autumn/winter vegetable gardening, willow weaving, litter picking, weeding and tidying the Peace Garden. They all took part with enthusiasm and several children realised how satisfying and calming gardening can be. It encouraged teamwork, and perseverance as well as providing an ideal opportunity to learn about plant structure and propagation.
Take a look at the class gallery page for more pictures of our busy day.
Year four’s final session for this academic year.
There were some expressions of regret until Tawny Owl pointed out that it might be next term that they return to the woods.
Both groups had the opportunity to make and eat damper bread today, with the proviso that if they wanted to eat, they had to be involved in making and keeping the fire going (which included cutting and splitting wood), or mixing and making the dough. Several children were found to be rather resentful of this condition, which we talked about; we hope this might lead to rather more co-operation and collaboration in future – we shall see! In their defence, Birch group worked really well together to build an amazing shelter; and then equally well to clear it away, folding the tarps and getting them back in the bags afterwards.
It was lovely to see and hear from some of the children about how much they appreciate and realise how fortunate they are to benefit from their Forest School sessions. The damper bread was a triumph – the adults decided that the cheesy damper bread with Marmite was the best! However, one member of the group had cheesy damper bread with chocolate spread! It is of no surprise that the children who gain most from Forest School and return to the classroom with the greatest satisfaction and largest smiles, are those who contribute most to the session.
Birch group in particular were very good at helping begin the task of returning some of the equipment back to school for the holiday. Larch group also did their bit but were not so good at listening to where it all had to go back at school.
It was noted by the adults that the work that Mrs Omer had been doing back at school following the Paws b curriculum is already showing results. We observed some rather angry exchanges between a group of boys (lots of hitting trees with sticks and shouting); as it reached a high point, one boy removed himself from the group and took himself right away, sat cross legged on the woodland floor and was seen breathing deeply. After a short while, he returned to the group, and then very quickly chose another activity. Wonderful!
We met lots of examples of Science in the woods today – the question was asked about why the damper bread dough got bigger when it was cooked (the bicarbonate of soda reacts with the milk to produce bubbles of carbon dioxide); also, Mayfly joined us with her ink making kit, and we learned about acids and alkalis (watch this space as I am hoping she will give us a bit more information to add to this blog). In addition to this, we used the off-cuts of the hazel we used to make cooking sticks with to make charcoal. Mayfly explained to the children how, after burning off some of the wood (water and hydrogen) in the absence of oxygen, we are left with carbon.
Have a look at the class gallery for more photos.
Parents and family members then visited the school in the afternoon to celebrate all that the children have achieved throughout the year. I felt very proud, there was a real buzz in the school, a sense of community and a feeling of success! It was also wonderful to see so many people, the school looked amazing thank you to all the staff and children for their hard work and thank you to you for your interest and support.