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World Mental Health Day and Forest School

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 21:28

Year four had slightly shortened sessions today due to their workshop for World Mental Health Day with Jenny Langley. It was a beautiful day - we heard and saw buzzards, robins, and wrens. The children found frogs and we also watched several large but amazing hornets flying down the 'ride' created in the woods by the tree clearance. The sun shone through the trees creating beautiful sunbeams.

Tawny Owl decided that as they had worked so hard over the last few weeks to rebuild the deadwood hedge, plant our vegetables etc. they deserved to have a true Forest School session. Those that wished to continue to help out began digging a trench so we can plant a willow screen around the tree bog. This provided a detailed study on worms, along with perfecting the technique of digging.

Wren and Dragonfly set themselves the task of redesigning and making a new ‘tippy tap’ structure, which Phoebe and Tyler helped with after lunch. The rest of the group played hard in the dens they had made in previous weeks. 

Dragonfly created a beautiful picture using autumn leaves. Do you recognise any of the leaves?

Wren also learned about how to use a Kelly Kettle from Tawny Owl.

Return to Stump Central

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 21:11

Year six had the task of moving back to Stump Central today. In spite of the reduction in numbers today due to Bikeability, the children worked hard to move the lovely new sitting logs into position (and they are much larger and heavier than our original logs), sweep the cobwebs out of the tree bog, and set up the kitchen again. Some of the group closed up our temporary gap in the deadwood hedge, and added more brash to the length which remained rather low.

Whitebeam Group enjoyed popcorn cooked over the fire. Dogwood group enjoyed their first hot chocolate of the year.

They decided that as next week is their last session for them until the summer term, they would like to cook one of their favourites…damper bread. There will be savoury as well as sweet options available.

Exciting Times in the Garden

Submitted by tawnyowl on Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 17:08

Tawny Owl and Wren received an exciting parcel yesterday.

Our veg plants had arrived. The label on the box suggested we needed to unpack them urgently, but we decided to put them in a cool place for the night.

Tawny Owl was back at school early today, so she could settle herself in the greenhouse with some white trays and carefully unpack the treasure within! We had been sent so many plants; she had to be careful to make sure we didn’t lose the labels. She sorted them into trays of salad, brassicas, etc.

Have a look at the photos to see how many plants we received!

Willow group then spent the morning planting out the little plants. They dug a small hole which they then put some worm cast fertilizer in, followed by the tiny plants. They were then firmed down and watered. Finally, we put some netting over the top, to stop the pigeons from munching our veg before it has a chance to grow.

While we were learning, Hippos came over to find out what we had been doing. They were very enthusiastic and particularly loved learning about worms (and worm poo).

The group also finished off weeding and preparing the raised beds at the front of the school.

Both groups were lucky to have the opportunity to eat some delicious apples which Eva had picked for us from her farm. They were beautiful, shiny and rosy red.

Field Maple group also helped today. They worked hard to finish clearing Stump Central in the woods, so we can (hopefully) return next week. They added to the deadwood hedge supervised by Oak, and also did a great job of picking up all the small sticks in Stump Central, with the help of Wren, Truffle and Tawny Owl. Everything is beginning to look much tidier and Tawny Owl is feeling really optimistic about the learning we can get underway ’back at camp’.

12th October is National Forest School Day, and although we will not be in Forest School on that day, Tawny Owl would love to celebrate by being back in our original space, having a fire again, and cooking popcorn (October is also Popcorn Popping Month), as well as celebrating with hot chocolate!

Anyone who has ever helped at FS is welcome to join us next week for a short while to help us celebrate (Monday, Wednesday or Thursday). Just let Tawny Owl know so she can make sure we co-ordinate transport.

Hard Work is Fun!

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 16:52

Both year four groups really enjoyed working on the deadwood hedge today. They moved a lot of brash to clear Stump Central, which is almost ready for us to move back.

We still need to wait for one more tree to be felled, which hopefully will happen before the end of this week.

The children enjoyed working really hard, and appreciated the feeling of working in a team to contribute to making our forest school area ready for us to use again. There was a discussion with Chestnut group this afternoon about what they might cook when we get the fire place up and running again! Some children enjoyed using a bow saw, Laplander saw or loppers.

It was warm in the woods, so there were lots of insects to be seen – spiders, wasps and other flying insects. Buzzard spotted an amazing caterpillar, which turned out to be the caterpillar of the Pale Tussock Moth. The caterpillar was amazing but we were careful not to touch it, as hairy caterpillars can make us itchy.

Both groups only had a short period for play, but they were very understanding because they had had so much fun.

Hav a look at the class gallery for more pictures.

Hedge Building

Submitted by tawnyowl on Monday, October 1, 2018 - 19:18

Year 6 carried out further work on rebuilding the deadwood hedge today.

However, they seemed to find it difficult to appreciate the learning involved, unlike year 3 last Thursday. After each session we discussed the learning.

Whitebeam Group were shown how to use loppers and saws safely and enjoyed using them to create a very neat section of hedge.

Some children worked really hard on the task, while others spent a lot of time doing very little. Needless to say the children who worked hard enjoyed their session while those who didn’t were less enthusiastic about their learning today.

More Conkers!

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 17:06

Holly group began their session finishing off the task which Year 6 began on Monday. In spite of their size, they managed to move a lot of lovely topsoil into the raised beds ready for the vegetable plants. They also did a fantastic job of sweeping up afterwards.

We then travelled to the woods where the children enjoyed playing in the sunshine. Some helped sorting some large boxes of conkers which Monty’s mum had sent us. We ended up with a bog basket full (and there were still some on the ‘reject’ pile which the children continued to find and play with.

Many of the children worked really well as a team, showing amazing perseverance to push down a dead tree they found. They learnt about using levers, and also ensured everyone’s safety.

Chestnut Group unfortunately took a long time getting ready today, so they had a shorter time in the woods. However, they settled to their learning really quickly. One group managed to disturb some wasps which meant a couple of children were stung (as well as Tawny Owl, who was removing the wasp from some clothing). The boys were really brave and soon settled to playing happily again.

Tawny Owl then organised a game of Blindfolded Caterpillar – this involved trust and taking risks, which some of the children found challenging. The group discussed afterwards how they felt – they felt anxious, frightened, scared and worried. They also found it rather disorientating moving through the woods unable to see. However, they all overcame these feelings and gained a sense of achievement. The leader and the person at the end had to use their skills in spoken communication to convey the dangers the caterpillar as it travelled through the woods.

Have a look at the year 4 gallery for more lovely pictures.

Conkers

Submitted by tawnyowl on Monday, September 24, 2018 - 17:30

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.

What a wonderful day!

Submitted by tawnyowl on Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 16:30

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).

Woven Willow Tipis and Plant Printing

Submitted by tawnyowl on Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 16:43

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.

Year 4's very busy first session of the year

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 17:02

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.

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