Year 4 had fun making bird feeders today.
Year 4 having some mindfulness time in their Forest School session.
Out and about in our local area.
School may be shut but for Reception, Year 3 and Year 4, Forest School has been timetabled (online) into their weekly lessons. Thanks to the fabulous Forest School team, we also have plenty of Forest School activities for the other children to try in their spare time.
We had three great sessions today with the groups who were all so focussed and supportive of each other.
We started our sessions with a game of Secret Stone. This is one of our favourite games involving great teamwork and cooperation. It is made even funnier when the adults join in and get competitive, supporting their teams with thinking through tactics.
After this, we brought the children together to recap on the fire triangle and the three things that are needed to be able to have a fire: heat, oxygen and fuel. We talked through the steps to stay safe: checking ourselves, being a safe distance from others and getting in the respect position. We started by creating sparks with our fire steels. This took lots of strength in our fingers, but we all managed it. The next challenge was to light the cotton wool fuel. This was much harder. We were very proud of the children that managed this tricky task and stayed safe around their small fires.
As a reward for all their efforts this half term, Year 1 and Year 2 finished their sessions enjoying some tasty marshmallows toasted over the fire.
We are so proud of how far the groups have come this half term and wish everyone an enjoyable and restful holiday break.
We had planned to do fire with the groups this week but obviously this was not possible with the weather so we took the story How To Catch A Star to inspire our Forest schoolers.
We started our sessions with a game of 'detective' under the tarp. We all had to watch carefully to copy the person who was changing the pattern so the detective wouldn’t notice who it was.
After the story, some children chose to use willow and pipe cleaners to make glittery stars. Others enjoyed creating rockets and dens with the ropes, tarps and sticks and then we had our worm explorers digging in the mud.
Fingers crossed for dry weather next week and we will aim to do fire and marshmallows.
26/11/2020 This week at Forest School
Reception and Year 2
We started today’s sessions with a game of Forest Fire to warm ourselves up and build a bit of energy. The children enjoyed running around and catching each other to spread the fire.
After this, we gathered back at base camp for the story Where The Wild Things Are with everyone joining in with roaring their terrible roars and gnashing their terrible teeth. This led us on to building a camp of tarp dens. Reception class were new to this and learned the timber hitch knot using Sammy the Snake rope to create their ridge line and hang their tarp on. They then used the mallets to peg out the corners. Year 2 remembered lots from last year and so were able to take the extra challenge of using a truckers hitch. This task focussed on the children’s teamwork, communication and problem solving skills. Some groups in Year 2 were able to work out how to move the pegs to make the inside space bigger. They were also able to investigate the best angle to put the pegs in to make them secure.
Year 1 came out in the afternoon and we started with our Hunter, Fox, Mouse game which they enjoyed in the previous week.
After this, we sat back at base camp for Where The Wild Things Are.
The Year 1s used the story to inspire their play and creativity. Some children chose to make Max stickman using sticks and pipe cleaners. They had to focus on their fine motor skills to pinch and twist the pipe cleaners to secure the sticks together. They then used the scissors to cut out clothes for Max and crowns using leaves. Some other children worked with Abby developing their gross motor skills climbing trees and as always, the trowels and digging was a popular choice.
Have a good week.
19/11/2020 We won't let the rain stop us from having fun!
It was a bit of a rainy one today but we still had lots of fun.
Reception and Year 1
Reception and Year 1 started their session with the name game and a chat about the current season of Autumn. We thought about the types of animals that might live in a British woodland and what they might eat. We took the children for a walk around the park to look for food for the forest friends. It was quite difficult to find food at this time of the year, but by looking carefully we found some acorns, horse chestnuts, ash keys, blackberries and hawthorn berries. We realised that lots of animals need to be prepared and gather food early for winter and some will hibernate.
Next, we split into teams and each team had a forest friend that they needed to look after and make a home for. The children worked very hard balancing sticks, gathering leaves and mud to make a variety of homes. We then took a look at the different homes to share our successes.
In Year 2s session today, we started with a game of Hunter, Fox and Mouse. The children really like this game and enjoyed playing against their peers. We sheltered under our tarp in the woods in the rain for The Rainbow Makers story. The children were great at joining in the story and had some ideas for what to do following the story. Lots of children were keen to make bows and arrows, learning and using the clove hitch knot. Once the bows and arrows were made, we had to learn how to use them which was quite tricky.
Another group of children really enjoyed making a spider house out of natural materials and even wanted to test how watertight it was.
Have a great week,
Emma and Carrie
What a lovely day with the different groups!
Today we started our session with a game of Forest Fire that we introduced last week. The children enjoyed running around catching each other and it was a lovely way to warm ourselves up and get us all laughing.
At this time of year, there are lots of festivals that have light and darkness as a focus. Last week we thought about fireworks and bonfire night and this week we thought of other festivals such as Diwali where light is used. We worked together to create a large mandala using sticks and different types of leaves. The children very much enjoyed dragging and carrying large logs to make this and are also getting to know the different names of the trees on site. We stood around our artwork and thought about what it reminded us of. Some children thought it looked like the sun or an exploding pattern.
For the rest of the session, some children had a go at using clay to make diva lamps, decorated with natural materials including silver birch catkins. Others had a go at making Rangoli patterns by sticking leaves on a pattern template. There were also a lot of children that enjoyed digging and exploring the spider web ropes amongst the trees.
Year 2's session started with a game of Hunter, Mouse, Fox. This is a quick game a bit like Rock, Paper, Scissors and definitely got our brains working and lifted the energy levels. We laughed and discussed how good it felt to run around and laugh.
We headed back to base camp for the story of The Happiness Tree. The children listened attentively to the story, joining in and going on the adventure with the girl in the story. We found a glitter worm who showed us where the Happiness Tree was and how to use one of the branches to make a happiness crown. This inspired some different exploration. Some children used their weaving skills to make their own happiness crowns from the willow branches. We decorated them with pipe cleaners and oak leaves. We also made glitter worms of our own and finally, some children looked for webs and enjoyed digging. One group got so involved in the digging, they found large pieces of clay which they enjoyed making into balls and polishing them.
Year 1 have come on leaps and bounds in the last few weeks. They are being much quicker to settle and more focussed in group discussions. We started with a quick game of Hunter, Fox, Mouse to lift the energy, before coming together at base camp to listen to the story of The Rainbow Makers. The children joined in making the sound effects of the rain in the story and helped to bring it to life.
After the story, we asked the children for any ideas they had following the story. They were very creative, thinking that they wanted to make rainbows with natural items, printing rainbows with sponges and making bows and arrows. The children worked hard to have a go at tying a clove hitch to attach the string to the bow. Once they were made, we then had the difficulty of working out how to fire the arrow. It was lots of fun and provided a good bit of discussion around how to play with the bow and arrow safely.
Have a great week,
Emma and Abby
It was a beautiful misty morning today in the park and it is definitely getting colder. Well done to all of those that attended with warm, waterproof gear. It really will make the difference over the upcoming weeks.
We started our session today with the game 'Forest Fire'. The children were split into groups of different animals and they had to run past the 'fire' without being caught. If they were caught, the fire had spread and they became the fire too.
This game got us warmed up and ready for a hunt. Today is Bonfire Night and we decided to make a group artwork using the different coloured leaves. First, we collected some sticks to make the fire and then used yellow, orange and red leaves to make the flames. We stood around the fire and pretended to keep our hands warm and cook marshmallows.
After this, the children chose how to explore for the rest of the session. Some children made fireworks out of elder, material and clay. We enjoyed flying these through the sky and seeing how far they could go. Other children enjoyed using paint and splattering it on paper to create firework pictures. Finally, some children enjoyed digging to find worms, following their interest from the previous week.
Year 1 and Year 2
Year 1 and 2 had a session on spiders.
We started with a game of 'Beetle Tag' to warm us up. It was lots of fun lying on the ground when we lost our limbs if we got tagged.
After this we read the story Aarrghhh Spider about a spider who wanted to be a family pet. The family did not like spiders until they realised how clever they are at building their webs. We went on a spider hunt with the children and spotted lots of webs suspended between the branches of the trees. Year 1 was lucky enough to spot a very large spider on one of the trees.
For the rest of the session, children chose to use the trowels to dig for worms. This also allowed some of the children to make the discovery that clay is under the soil. The children looked carefully at the spiders on the ID chart to make their spiders life like with three body parts. We set up our own rope webs among the trees to see how easy it would be to avoid touching the spider's web. Lots of concentration and balance was required moving through the spider maze.
Finally, some children used bamboo skewers and wool to make spider webs. This was quite tricky, but the children are becoming more independent and are happier to have a go themselves. Well done!
Reception having fun at Forest School - 5/11/2020
Year 1 enjoying Forest School - 5/11/2020
Today at Forest School with Year 2 - 5/11/2020
I can't believe we have reached the end of the first half term already!
Reception and Year 1
We started today's session with a game of Eagle Eyes, which the children were introduced to last week. They are very good at hiding and moving stealthily to play the game.
Since both groups have enjoyed the mud so much over the last few weeks, we decided to focus on worms today. We shared the book Yucky Worms where the children found out lots of fascinating facts about worms, their bodies and where they live. We went looking for worm casts in the muddy areas of Forest School and found lots of them, along with the entrances to their tunnels. Just like in the story, we poured water over the ground to encourage the worms to come to the surface. Some children also enjoyed digging for worms. Lots of children were brave enough to hold a worm and had a go at identifying the head and tail end and looking to see if it was an adult or juvenile worm. Some children also enjoyed hollowing out elder beads to thread on to pipe cleaners to make bendy elder worms.
Year 3 had their last session for the Autumn Term today. They have worked so hard over the last 6 weeks on their listening and teamwork skills, so after a game of Eagle Eyes, we returned to fire lighting. The children recapped what was needed for a fire, how to stay safe and then how to use a fire steel to create sparks. All children managed this, so we moved on to lighting the cotton wool. We discussed the feelings that we were going through: feeling frustrated when we couldn't make a fire and feeling proud and excited when it finally worked.
Some children helped build our fire in our fire pit and we all had a go at toasting marshmallows on it. We needed lots of patience to toast them until they were golden brown instead of rushing and burning them in the flames. We all agreed that they were incredibly delicious.
To finish the session, we shared something that we were grateful for.
Have a great half term holiday and we will see you in November.
Reception at Forest School - 22/10/2020
Year 3 at Forest School - 22/10/2020
It's getting colder and the colours around the park are beautiful. There is also mud, which the children are thoroughly enjoying playing in during their sessions.
This week, Reception children focussed on birds with the children working in two teams to find hidden birds and then match them to a bingo board. They had to look really carefully to spot the differences between similar looking birds, they also drew upon their knowledge of words and letters to support them in finding a match.
After warming ourselves up running around, we enjoyed the story Owl Babies back at our base camp. The children enjoyed joining in with Bill and acting out the story. For the rest of the session, some children chose to make bird feeders using pine cones, seeds and vegetable fat to encourage birds to visit our outdoor environments. Other children used clay (sourced from my builders digging the foundations for my extension!) to make birds using other natural materials and nests.
We finished by sharing how we felt at Forest School today.
This half term has really flown by and I can't believe we are at week 6 already! The children have come on leaps and bounds and have really enjoyed getting into the Stone Age spirit over the Forest School experience this year.
We started with a new game, Eagle Eyes, and the children enjoyed hiding amongst the trees and behind bushes. Soon there won't be many leaves left and this game will be a lot harder!
The children have been very keen to tie stones onto their spears and make bows and arrows and so we started by going over the reef knot and clove hitch. The children really persevered with these and we are really trying to encourage them to be more independent. They stuck at it and many of the children went on to use these knots to make bows and arrows during the free choice time.
In the afternoon, Year 1 joined us for some tent building and focussing on our teamwork and communication skills . Many of the children remembered the timber hitch knot from last year and successfully attached Sammy the Snake (the rope) to the tree. They then learnt a new 'Humpty Dumpty' knot to complete their ridge line.
The teams worked together to hang a tarp over their ridge line and peg it out using sticks and mallets. A lot of problem solving was needed to work out the best sort of sticks to use, ways to increase the space inside their tents and ways to stop the string coming off their pegs.
We all had a go at going inside the tents when they were finished and just in time too as the rain started to pour from the sky!
Have a great week,
Emma and Abby
The weather is definitely starting to change and we had a bit of a wet one today, although this did not phase the children at all who enjoyed exploring the mud! The colours of the leaves are also going through their changes and it is lovely to return to the same place each week and be able to notice these small changes week on week.
With the changing colours of the season, we focussed on colour with the Reception children in the morning. We began by looking all around us for different colours. When a colour was called, we had to look around at the different trees and run to the colour. There were reds, bright yellows, browns and greens. After this we went on a walk to look at the different leaves and made leaf kebabs as we walked. We counted the leaves as we put them on and noticed the different shapes, sizes and colours. Some of us decided to finish the kebabs off with a spiky conker shell. To finish our session we worked in teams to sort the different natural objects we had collected and used them to make beautiful circular patterns together.
Year 3 started their session with another game of Pheasant and Fox. The children had improved their tactics this week and therefore it was much harder for the foxes to make the pheasants move.
For the rest of the session, the children explored in different ways. Some children had a go at wet felting acorns. This is a long process, requiring lots of patience and gentle hands. It took them a long time, but they all managed to make a felt acorn. Other children continued with whittling and decorating their spears. Those that had done this then moved on to attaching a piece of slate to their spear or axe. It was very hard to lash the stone on and it involved a lot of problem-solving.
The children shared how they felt and the emotions they went through working on today's challenges. Many of them found it challenging but are resolved to come back next week and not give up.
The Year 1 children began their session with the Pheasant and Fox game. They really enjoy getting camouflaged with mud and leaves and trying to make their peers laugh and move to allow them to get an egg.
For the rest of the session, some children had their first go at wet felting. They could not believe how small their acorns became from starting with such a large amount of fluffy wool. Other children had a go at whittling sticks and decorating them with the dyes.
We finished discussing the different feelings and experiences we had today.
Have a good week,
We had our fingers crossed for a dry day today, but didn't quite manage it! But that's all part and parcel of the outdoor fun!
Reception children were excited to be out in the sunshine this morning. We started with our welcome and name game and then did a meditation activity with the children. They had to close their eyes and imagine that they were holding a birthday cake in their hands. We asked the children to take a deep breath to smell their cake and then gently and slowly blow the candles out. We repeated this as a way of taking long relaxing breaths and considered how it made us feel.
Next we lay on our backs with our eyes closed and listened to the sounds around us. We decided to be sound collectors and went on the hunt for hitting sounds, scratching/rubbing sounds and shaking sounds. The children brought back leaves to swish together and to tear and shake and sticks to hit and rub together. They were very creative and we made a band, following the conductor and playing loudly and quietly.
For the rest of the session, some children decided to collect natural materials to make shakers, others created their own instruments and finally, some children had a go at drilling acorns and threading them to make a rattle.
Year 3 started their session with a focus on being stealthy and focusing on our senses. They worked in partners, with one of the pair with their eyes closed, whilst the other was a helper if needed. I played the drum and the person with their eyes closed had to listen and follow it. We tried this on the grassy area which was safe and easy and then challenged them to keep their partner safe in the woods.
We discussed the methods and evidence that stone age people would have used to locate animals to hunt. The children recognised that they may have followed footprints, found poo or some fur snagged on a stone or branch. Some of us used this as a springboard for the rest of the session. We tried following trails that we made for each other with varying levels of difficulty. We left a trail by dragging a log through the grass and mud, using sticks to create arrows on the ground and we also used white stones. Other children enjoyed coming back to the tie-dying and pouch making.
Year 1 had a great start to their session, sharing their names and recapping the rules. We went into the woods to play the Creeping Comanche game we played last week. The children had to move amongst the trees without being seen to move and they really enjoyed this.
I shared the story of How The Dragonfly Got Its Wings with the children. They were joining in really well, but unfortunately, the heavens opened so we had to take the story into the woods for a bit of shelter and we lost a bit of focus.
The children just needed a bit of time to get exploring and they were great at this for the rest of the session. Some children enjoyed using natural resources and clay to make dragonflies. We had great discussions about what an insect is and that a spider is not an insect. We hollowed out the elder to make a solitary bee house together. Abby worked with some children hunting in the wooded area and making dens.
Fingers crossed for a dry week next week!
17th September 2020
Reception class are doing so well seeing as this is only their second week of Forest School. They remembered where to sit at base camp and remembered our rules to stay safe and look after each other. We started with a recap of the site, our welcome song and our name game. The children are so confident at taking a turn.
After this, we all went to find sticks in the wooded area. In our groups, we ordered the sticks by size. The children realised they needed to put the sticks next to each other to compare them and they were able to practice using lots of comparative language. Next one child in each group lay on the ground and we used the sticks to make an outline of their body. They stood up slowly, leaving the outline behind on the ground and then the children used different natural materials to decorate them. One even had a surfboard to ride on! Some of the children have started to be able to identify the hawthorn berries and willow leaves which is fantastic. We will continue to introduce them to new plants each week.
In the afternoon Year 1 joined us. We focussed on the skill of listening and talked about what this involved. We played our 'creeping commanche' game which involved the children listening to the drum and staying still when it stopped with the aim of getting back to the mat without being caught moving. We had to focus on moving slowly and quietly to avoid being caught.
We quickly recapped on some of the different trees that are on the site: the hornbeam, the oak and the willow. The children gathered these leaves and made a face with them on the mat in front of them. We then chose how to use the rest of the Forest School time.
Some children enjoyed using clay to make leaf print tiles and creatures using the natural materials they had gathered. Other children threaded leaves carefully on to wool to make necklaces and kites and some of us enjoyed using natural resources to make a whole stick person.
We finished our session sharing our feelings about what we did today.
Year 3 started their session with a welcome song and the name game. Then we focussed on our senses, in particular listening. We learnt how to play 'guard my tree' and discussed tactics to move stealthily without getting caught. The children played this in small groups in the wooded area.
Next, the children had the choice to explore in different ways. As they will be studying the Stone Age later in the year, we are doing some activities around this. The children made little pouches out of 'leather', which we hope they will use to gather useful resources over the weeks. Some children collected blackberries and used them to tie-dye some material and other children enjoyed exploring the woods, carrying sticks and creating things together.
We took time at the end of the session to focus on our feelings and achievements. Many of the children shared that they found the activities challenging. We discussed that they involved persevering, solving problems and learning to do things for ourselves. It was lovely to hear some 'yes' moments from them as they completed their challenge.
WELCOME BACK TO FOREST SCHOOL - 10th September 2020
The Reception class did extremely well despite only having been in school for four days so far. We took our time going over the rules and exploring the boundaries of the site with them at the beginning of the session along with our name game. Most of the children were very confident already in saying their name clearly with an action for us to copy. What a great start!
We practiced hiding and coming back when we were called.
Next we went off on our own to find five different things. We had to look carefully to make sure they were not the same type of things. Lots of children were able to collect different leaves from different trees, feathers, grass seeds, bark and sticks. We then used the things that we gathered to make a face all together. We used sticks for the shape of the face, smaller sticks for hair, willow leaves for the mouth and hawthorn berries for the eyes. Some of us also remembered we needed eyebrows and so pieces of bark were used for these.
It was lots of fun working together.
Year 1 were very excited to be back. We focussed a lot on the rules and routines at the beginning of the session, recapping on how to move safely around the site, how to carry a stick safely and calls for coming back.
They responded really well to the story of the Happiness Tree and got involved stirring the potion and exploring the site. After this they got the chance to explore in different ways like Year 3. Many chose to go looking for creatures with the magnifiers and the binoculars and some enjoyed making glitterworrms. They were very curious about the things that they found and asked lots of questions. One child found two different types of oak gall and eggs on an oak leaf and enjoyed showing them to the class.
Year 3 were very pleased to be back and had a clear idea of what they wanted to do at Forest School today. It is so great to see how confident and excited they are to explore in the outdoors. We taught the children our new chant and recapped on the rules and boundaries.
To test the children's stealth abilities, we played a game of Creeping Comanche. The children had to move slowly back towards base camp without being seen to move. Running fast did not work as it was difficult to stop and not get caught moving.
We shared the story of The Happiness Tree with the group and they joined in, moving around the site as we told the story. The children learnt about how to use the bendy Willow branches of the tree to make a crown and spread happiness. Some children used inspiration from the story to make different potions from the natural materials and others used their fine motor skills to twist natural items into a glitterworm. It was very hard to secure acorns in this way, but the children showed perseverance and kept at it. Lots of children had come with the idea of building with the loose logs and enjoyed working together creating wooden masterpieces!