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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.

Art at Trosley Country Park

Submitted by class5 on Friday, June 8, 2018 - 20:25

We had a fabulous day at Trosley Country Park today. Travelling up in the minibus and 3 cars, we arrived slightly late, but soon settled into our activities. Gemma from Outdoor Studios reminded the children about the Ash Tree; following up on the information they were given on Monday. 

They began by using charcoal to do some observational drawings of the Ash trees surrounding the outdoor classroom area. Then off we went on a short walk to another part of the wood. On the way we took a short break at the climbing bars. At the next stopping point we observed lots of fallen trees, blown over by the wind; some of these were Ash. Amazingly, in spite of the damage many of them were still growing. The children found flint and chalk. The chalk they used to draw the root of the trees, along with some charcoal. Mrs Stanford had a little 'woodland envy' as this area was a wonderful space for children to play and learn.

We returned to the centre to prepare for lunch - a thorough hand wash.

After lunch, another time to play - lots of millipedes kept the children entertained for quite a while.  Then we had time to create sun pictures and bark rubbings of ash trees. The children had lots to do, and the time rushed by, so it was soon time to leave for the return journey.

Thanks should be extended to Mrs Ridout, Mrs David and Mrs Newton who very kindly gave up time in their busy lives to transport the children. Thank you ladies!

We were blessed with amazing weather, and everyone agreed it was a great day. Certainly a great venue to visit if you haven't been there. We would recommend it.

Have a look at  the amazing photos taken by Mrs Newton (and a few not so good ones taken by Mrs Stanford). Most are in the year 5 gallery.

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 photos...do have a look at the class gallery to see what a happy day we had.

Rabbit's Day in the Woods

Submitted by tawnyowl on Friday, May 11, 2018 - 16:18

Rabbit joined the children in the woods today. She had a lovely time. Indeed Rabbit commented, “ It was wonderful to watch and listen to the children immersed in their activities. There was so much learning taking place without the children even realising it.”

The children enjoyed helping with topping up the woodshed. Look at the dragonfly they found! 

Tawny Owl was lucky to be attending a Forest School Conference in West Sussex. She also learned much, and has returned with more ideas for our Forest School. She also made a platter/basket which she plans to try doing with the older children and adults. 

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.

 

Chocolate Mud Ice-creams

Submitted by tawnyowl on Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 20:15

What a busy day today!

The sun shone which allowed Tawny Owl to dry some of the equipment which became so wet yesterday. The birds sang, and Willow group were able to do some tracking on their way to the Forest School area. We spotted deer footprints in the mud on the footpath, and also talked about rivers as the heavy rain yesterday had left a dry river bed on the footpath.

We began to create Woodland Journals today - each child created a leaf print and a bark rubbing to help learn how to identify some of the variety of trees on our woodland.

The children were keen to make bows and arrows like year 4, so Goldcrest helped some of them learn how to ties a clove hitch by using the story: make a fishy, then a dishy; place the fishy on the dishy.

The mud created after the rain was just the right consistency to make mud ice-creams.

The music tripod os also coming along and several children enjoyed creating melodies, while nearby others hunted for worms, centipedes and woodlice under the sitting logs.

One boy from Willow group also continued the work year 6 had begun on making a bridge.

Look at the class gallery for more photos.

Peach Pudding

Submitted by tawnyowl on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 20:01

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.

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