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Science and Damper Bread

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 - 22:15

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.

Bug Hunting and Fishing

Submitted by tawnyowl on Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - 17:54

Year one were saddened to be having their last session in the woods today. However, they made the most of every moment – searching for bugs (they found centipedes, beetles, slugs and lots of empty banded snail shells - which the children decided should be called 'Tiger Snails'), digging, ‘fishing’ (Jemima and Tilly 'cooked the fish they caught over a camp fire' - delicious), playing in the stream, looking at the nature books, playing in the hammocks and climbing trees.

Tawny Owl read the story about Scaredy Squirrel to both groups while Hedgehog acted it out with Scaredy Squirrel puppet .  Then there was time to talk about things which scare us, trying to make links with the story and realising that a lot of times we are scared of the ‘unknown’, and actually we are scared for little or no reason.

Miss Wilford visited for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Her Forest School name is Butterfly.

The adults observed excellent learning; particularly resilience, helping each other, and independence. We noticed today especially that the children manage their own stinging nettle stings without fussing, small injuries were just brushed off and everyone is becoming much more robust.  There are also far fewer requests for help from adults in many tasks.  Great progress!

Sneezing Dragons and Shelters

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 17:10

Year four enjoyed a wonderful sunny day in the woods today. Both groups began with a time of reflection and thought – Birch Group used their fox walking into the woods, and then set up the area. We then took off our socks and shoes and continued fox walking around the area in silence. On Tawny Owl’s final ring, we took off our ‘cloaks of silence’ and shared the things we were grateful for.

The children then settled to their own learning. Some used ‘sneezing dragons’ – all very easy now, so they were set the challenge of finding tinder within the woods to see if they could find the right material. Tawny Owl worked in the tool area with children – either working on kazoos, or whittling sticks. The children are becoming quite competent now and most are able to remove their own knives from the sheath safely. Some need a little more support yet, but everyone worked really hard and everyone felt proud of the results. For those who got as far as putting their 'reed' into their kazoo, they learned how to tie a clove hitch, and also to identify safe plants to put in their kazoo.

The stream was a popular attraction today, and Larch group planted their second Oak tree. They all knew what was needed to help it grow healthily and chose a spot in the middle of our area.

Wren (Mrs Mitchell) joined us in the woods for most of the day, as she wished to see what we get up to. She was really skilled at using the bow saw – cutting some timber for the log shed. Thank you Wren! Hopefully, we will cook next time you visit. Miranda and Sarida also worked as team to help. Thank you, girls.

Some of Birch group built an amazing shelter (with a rug/bed and attic), which we tested to see if it was waterproof. There was only one leak!

Larch group finished their session with a game of Name Game. House points were awarded for correct identification of an Ash tree and a Sweet Chestnut tree. Harley learned the difference between a Mountain Ash or Rowan and Ash, we also mentioned Horse Chestnut and Anna now knows how to identify a Beech tree.

A great day of learning. Everyone returned to school hot and happy.

Take a look at the class gallery for more photos.

The Anderson Shelter continues...

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - 20:26

Yet another beautiful day in the woods today - how very fortunate we are!

Tawny Owl was a wee bit late, but Goldcrest ably lead at the start with help from Bumble Bee and Lopophorus; the fire was alight, the kettle had boiled and peach dump cake was in the oven before Tawny Owl joined them!

We then spent some time sitting knitting, setting up shelters, playing in the hammock or continuing building the Anderson shelter! One group found an empty egg shell, which Tawny Owl believes to be a Blackbird’s egg.

The Peach dump cake was enjoyed with custard by most of the group, and drank either fruit tea or Y1’s Elderflower Cordial which they made yesterday.

Birch group are becoming quite adept at using knives so they all had instruction on how to safely remove a knife from it's sheath, and then return safely after use.

Larch group had less time today, but began with Silent Spot. We then played the Magic Stick Game which lead to a number of emotions: frustration, irritation, excitement as well as huge satisfaction and pleasure when successful.

Tommy's tree did (against all the odds; rough treatment, heavy rain and rabbit) survive and is looking quite healthy. Several children were amazed to think about the time it would take to grow as large as the old one on the other side of the stream.

They then had time to play – some continued with the Anderson shelter, while others used tools to complete projects already begun, or began new projects.

Elderflower Cordial

Submitted by tawnyowl on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 21:13

Both Y1 groups spent a few minutes at the start of the day today identifying and collecting Elder flowers, The children looked at the tree, smelled the flowers, and collected some in a bag to take to the woods, We learned about why plants have flowers and that if we leave some on the tree, they will be fertilised by insects, and then berries will form in the autumn.

Alder group then carried these flowers to the woods to add to the ones Tawny Owl had collected in the woods earlier (which involved much stumbling around and falling over and being stung by the nettles)!

We soon got on with the task of boiling a large kettle of water and taking the flowers off the stalks. Tyler and Harry were particularly good at this, although Miles was the most entertaining! All the children had a go at this task.

While this was going on, some of the group had a go at using a very sharp knife to cut up the lemons. All this was put together in a large pan, with the water and sugar and put over the fire to brew! The children had decided they felt like they were making potions and there was talk of wizards in the woods!

Tommy thought he had seen a bear after spotting bare claw marks on one of the trees – this prompted a great game involving lots of howling wolves.

While we were waiting for the Elderflower Cordial to brew, we played a game of ‘What am I – Nature’. The children chose a card out of a basket and on the card was the name of a woodland plant or animal, and the children either had to give clues, or do an impression! We didn’t have time to do them all, but we had: a primrose, fox, honeysuckle, nettle, hazel, and bramble.

Most of the children tasted the Elderflower Cordial – most deciding they liked it, but some found it rather too sweet. We discussed making it again with less sugar. We will see what the other Forest School Groups think later in the week.

Rabbit visited us later in the morning to share in Silent Spot.

Tyler explained to Hornbeam group how the Elderflower had been made, and then the children enjoyed playing hard in the woods. There was lots of playing in trees, a walking stick game (which evolved into) a ‘comic game’, where the children slid down a piece of timber with a piece of stick which they hoped would break so they fell on the ground for the others to laugh at! The children also enjoyed playing in one of the hammocks again today.

Everyone agreed that a happy time was had by everyone.

Bugs and an Anderson Shelter

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 19:53

Year 4 had a very busy day in the woods today. We began by talking about being observant and thinking about our Fox walking from last week, and learning about how much better our hearing can be when we use our 'Deer Ears'.

Larch group then learned about the oak sapling which Tommy found in his garden. They talked about the conditions needed for it to grow successfully, then went on a search to find a suitable site. Once this was done, a group dug the hole, planted the sapling (sadly now missing some of its tap root due to some rather over zealous handling), watered it thoroughly and then protected it by using one of the many spare tree protectors in the woods.

India took charge of the Larch Group Woodland Book, while Emelia offered to look after the Birch Group Book.

Both groups worked on creating an Anderson shelter (suggested by Miss Limbu), as well as enjoying a wonderful Silent Spot session. They also spent some time in the tool area - Larch group continued to work on their mallets and sharpening sticks, while Birch group had a go at making kazoos. Larch enjoyed some very refreshing Sticky Weed Juice which they had made.

There was a lot of bug hunting today, and a dinosaur shelter was built; complete with working sewer!

The French knitting begun last week was continued and the flower stems are becoming longer.

After half-term, the groups will swap sessions. They have asked to have some time revisiting fire-striking, and Birch group have asked to cook Peach Dump Cake with custard for their first session. Bumble Bee was very excited about the cake!

We had beautiful sunshine all day; the rain beginning just as we finished.

Walking Like Foxes!

Submitted by tawnyowl on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 20:21

We played a new game today which involved taking our boots and socks off and walking like a fox - the aim was to walk so silently that we couldn't be heard. Most of the children were happy to take off their boots and socks and we discussed how the ground felt as we stalked across the woodland floor. Tawny Owl was really proud of the children as they listened carefully and tried the exercises very sensibly. We discovered that by walking like a fox, we were able to feel if there were thorns on the ground before putting the weight on our feet; thereby avoiding sore feet!

We practised the /f/ sound, by making sure we were biting our bottom lips! We came up with lots of words beginning with /f/: fox, forest, fire, foot, feet, flowers.

The children then had to search for a tree with an /s/ marked in chalk on it, and get to know it. Tawny Owl went round telling everyone a little bit about their tree, and the children enjoyed trying to help each other and compared their trees with each other. One pair even found a fairy hole in their trees.

Later on in the session, we used our 'fox walking' and our trees for silent spot. Hornbeam group had an amazing Silent Spot; some children chose to complete a charcoal drawing whilst sitting at their tree, and showed amazing maturity as they drew foxes and trees.

Other activities today were: tree climbing, playing in the hammocks, playing in the 'mud kitchen', and finding and collecting Hawthorn flowers for making a delicious tea (Henry sauggested it smelled like old hay, but we decided it tasted much better than that. Juniper thought it tasted like Lavender tea). Alder group had a shorter time, so they had nettle tea again. We decided the tea tasted differently to last week and that this was due to the plants maturing.

Here are a few have a look at the class gallery to see what a happy day we had.

Opportunities to Contribute to our Forest School Community

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 20:28

What a very busy day today!

Larch group began by gathering timber for cutting and splitting to put in the woodshed. They worked incredibly hard to find appropriate wood - even pushing down a couple of small dead but standing trees! Not only that but then gathering a team of people to carry it back to the Forest School area for cutting.

They then willingly cut the timber and split it. Meanwhile another group were emptying the woodshed so that it could be sorted and restacked.

Everyone worked incredibly hard.

When they weren't helping with this task, they played in the hammocks, or built amazing shelters, climbed trees, or sat and did some weaving. Tawny Owl had bought a couple of Bushcraft magazines and a story 'Weslandia' (which she read to Larch group), which some of the children had a look at.

Birch group did not need to gather timber, but still enjoyed working hard to help prepare it for the woodshed.

This group enjoyed the hammocks, as well as composing some woodland music; watch this space, as they proclaimed they would be making an album!

Tawny Owl is in the process of putting together a video of the day; she will let you know when it appears on this blog.

Meanwhile have a look at the photos below; there will be more on the class 4 gallery.

Nettle Tea and Nettle Pancakes!

Submitted by tawnyowl on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 19:50

The sun shone again today.

The woods were fully clothed in their spring green, hawthorn and elder was blooming, the birds were singing and we felt it would be a great day.

Tawny Owl lit the fire, so we could have hot drinks and toast 'smores'.

The hammocks were put up, and the children really enjoyed playing in these.

Tawny Owl took some of the children to find and cut hazel to make cooking sticks, and a small group were very patient, listening to how we can use knives safely. Henry and Rowan then had time to have a go at making their own cooking sticks. Sadly time ran out, but Tawny Owl promised the children could have another go next week.

Hornbeam group helped pick nettles to make nettle tea; several children tried it and thoroughly enjoyed it, deciding it smelled and tasted of runner beans. Some children enjoyed fruit tea, while others had water - they were all thirsty after their smores! Then, just as we were finishing refreshments, Kingfisher appeared having made some delicious nettle pancakes!

Alder group were all rather sleepy this afternoon, but enjoyed playing in the hammocks. Kingfisher worked with a group making friendship bracelets, trees were climbed and lots of fun was had. It was decided to wait for 'smores' until the children have their first session in the morning so they can harvest the hazel, make their cooking sticks and cook without a rush.

We also decided we should have a go at making nettle pancakes in the woods before the end of the term.

The adult noticed a few children becoming really mature in the way they approach the activities and were also really impressed with the children who carried the equipment to the woods - some of it is quite heavy but we observed some amazing teamwork today. Well done everybody.

Have a look at the class gallery for more photos of the activities.


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