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.
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.
It was lovely to welcome lots of parents this morning for our Maths Open Morning. The school has recently introduced a 'Singaporian approach' to learning Maths called Inspire and today was a perfect opportunity for parents to see first hand how we now teach Maths at Goudhurst & Kilndown and how engaged our children are as a result. Many classes took to the outdoors and much of the Maths equipment that the PTFA had kindly donated was also in full use. See the short 'Spark' video below.
One parent commented:
Dear Mrs Roberts,
Thank you for the opportunity to see Maths in action this morning. It was a delight to see such creative and enriching teaching and learning in every classroom. Every child I spoke to was engaged and eloquent about the thinking they were doing and they were all so happy and relaxed. Wonderful!
I would like to thank all the parents who joined us this morning and I am sure you will join me in thanking the staff for their dedication and of course all the children for all their continued hard work.