Year 4 thoroughly enjoyed a day in our Outdoor Classroom at school today.
We began each session with a time of silence. Birch Group then spent some time discussing the things which they had really appreciated since getting up. Some children found this really difficult, but with encouragement everyone ended up thinking of something – these ranged from seeing some amazing wildlife at home, or on the way to school, being woken early by birdsong after a good night’s sleep, making a quiche before school, having breakfast, and being alive! There were others, of course.
Both groups then became very quickly engaged in the activities Tawny Owl had planned. They made natural inks from Lime leaves, King Alfred’s Cakes, and Cornflowers. The mortar and pestle we used was generously given to us by our link school in Malawi - Lungamadzi. It was a very special moment.
The results were very interesting as the colours did not behave in the way most people were expecting. Some children used herb potions to add to the inks to make them smell lovely. While this was going on, other children used Elder wood to make charcoal pencils; we agreed they were not as easy as we had though they might be either.
After this activity we then went to the pond where the children had great fun pond dipping, and searching for minibeasts around the pond area. They found some amazing creatures - beetles, worms, centipedes, water louse, diving beetles, newts, dragonfly nymphs (and a case from a newly metamorphosed dragonfly), water boatmen, and pond skaters. A great collection.
The final activity was using the charcoal pencils and inks to draw pictures of what they saw.
There are lots of pictures today, so these are just a few. Please look at the year 4 gallery to see all of them.
Today Ms Lane received notification of the outcome of our Artsmark application.
"Thank you for your submissions to Artsmark.
Your Statement of Commitment and Case Study have been reviewed by our assessment panel and we are delighted to inform you that Goudhurst and Kilndown Church of England Primary School has been awarded an Artsmark Gold Award. Congratulations!
The panel has made the following comment about your submissions:
The panel was delighted that Artsmark is ‘held accountable’ for such positive change in your school! Your commitment to the arts as a vehicle for learning, well-being, confidence and sheer pleasure is evident. You have further enhanced your focus on pupil voice and choice through the implementation of Arts Awards, your Arts Council and Arts Festival; you have extended your range of offer and have engaged parents and the wider community. The testaments provided with regard to children’s self-awareness and self-confidence are moving and powerful. Going forward, you will wish to continue to develop partnerships with outside organisations and should use this and other means to share your example and advocate for the arts, using your pupils as ambassadors.
Congratulations on your Artsmark Gold Award!
As a Gold Artsmark school Arts Council England celebrates your commitment to arts and cultural education at a leadership level and the opportunities embedded across your provision. Your children and young people have equal opportunity to plan, experience, participate in, and evaluate a diverse range of high-quality arts and cultural activities and you recognise the importance of development opportunities delivered by specialists for your staff in these areas. You engage with a range of arts and cultural organisations and can evidence the positive impact of these partnerships. Your children and young people have an opportunity to further develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of arts and culture and you are working to share the expertise you have established.
Once again, congratulations on your Artsmark Gold Award.
With warm wishes,
Arts Council England
I think you will agree this is an amazing achievement and demonstartes our commitment to providing all children here at Goudhurst & Kilndown a rich curriculum that places equal importance on providing high quality teaching and learning of the 'Arts' as it does on high attainment in Reading, Writing, Maths and Science.
We have also been awarded a Music Mark from the Royal College of Music and we are a Trinity College accredited Arts Award Centre.http://www.artsaward.org.uk/site/?id=64
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.
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.
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 photos...do have a look at the class gallery to see what a happy day we had.
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.
Year 4 had a very wet day today. Mrs Omer (aka Beetle) joined us today; she seemed to really enjoy spending time outside with her class, even though it was very wet all day.
It was Goldcrest's birthday and therefore Larch group had Peach pudding, which seemed to go down really well; there wasn't much left!
Tawny Owl worked with a group of children making bows and arrows. They were taught how to tie a clove-hitch (which we linked with handwriting a double 'e'), and reminded how to use knives safely to make a point on their arrows; they had progressed from using scout knives to larger Mora knives as their hands are larger this year. They then chose something to write on their arrows linked with forgiveness.
Bumble bee was sporting a spectacular dressing on her finger as a reminder of how we should take our time when using knives!
Birch group arrived in a particularly heavy downpour and it was decided to not try cooking as time was short. Several children arrived dressed inappropriately for the weather (no waterproofs, and/or not enough warm layers), so we went for a tree adventure to keep everyone warm. Tawny Owl showed the group some trees and talked a little bit about each one and how to identify them. We looked at Horse Chestnut, Hornbeam, Beech, Holly, Rowan, Oak and Cherry. One of the most exciting observations was a pool of foam at the bottom of a cherry tree. We traced it to water running down the trunk from the canopy and mixing with alkalis on the way down causing the foam.
When we returned to Stump Central the children noticed the same thing happening on a Hornbeam.
Here are a few photos - have a look at the class gallery for more.
Last Thursday 26th April, Emily Hanna came in to teach us all about the art of storytelling. The day began with assemblies for KS1 and KS2. Both assemblies were amazing and children had a wonderful time. We learnt about how to tell stories using different voices, actions, narration and emotions. These qualities really bring stories to life.
Each class then had their own workshop which again, was outstanding. Year 5s learnt a Viking Tale, Year 3s learnt about pirates and Year 6s heard a ghost story. These experiences really inspired the children to get involved and join in with her storytelling and will help us all in the future.
Overall it was a great day!
Year 2 had a wonderful day learning in the woods today.
They climbed trees and had a go at making shelters. Ratty showed the children how to create some woodland art, and Tawny Owl, Goldcrest, Blossom and Cuckoo worked together with Eva and Sebastian to begin creating a music stand. Thank you to Blossom who took the xylophone bars home to drill as using the brace and bit was really hard work, although Eva persevered to drill a hole in one of the bars with Goldcrest and Blossom's help, even though the wood was really hard.
Field Maple group sat quietly when they arrived, trying to see if the Thrush would visit it's babies in the nest in the Ash tree to feed them. Sadly the children did not see this happen as they were so keen to go and play! They all ran around playing noisily before settling down to make a see-saw, which the children enjoyed, and worked together to ensure everyone had a happy and safe time.
Tawny Owl showed the children a wood wasp nest which she found in the shed. Lily explained very well how the wasp makes the paper to create it's nest.
We had lovely weather today, although Field Maple groups had to rush to put their coats on when we had a heavy April shower.
Have a look at the class gallery to see more photos.
What a wonderful day with year 4 today!
It is over 18 months since this group were in the woods, but an independent observer wouldn’t have known this.
Following an excellent period of time around the fire circle, when both groups explained the safety boundaries quickly and efficiently, and an explanation about how the ‘new’ hand washing facilities work, the children settled to learning remarkably quickly.
Within a short time, we saw some amazing creations being developed in the woodland.
The children demonstrated their ability to learn independently, with little or no adult input. Some amazing shelters were built, a zip-wire put up, role play began, lashings and knots were learned, music was played and one group enjoyed our very simple mud kitchen for a short while.
At the end of each session we had a period of time to think about learning; and what a variety of points were discussed!
Amongst all participants (adults and children) we learned how:
- To tie knots
- To put up a tarp successfully
- Working as a team, speeds up a task, and helps everyone learn new skills
- To resolve disputes
- Consideration of others
- Tidying up can be as entertaining as the activity
- That rope can burn skin
It was true April weather with sunshine and showers, but a beautiful spring day in the woodland.