And so we have reached the end of the year and what a fantastic year it has been!
We started today’s session with a reflection of our time in our Forest School site. We thought about where our favourite place was in Forest School and went to sit there quietly with a piece of paper and a pencil. While we were sitting, we drew what we heard, what we felt and where we were. Lots of the children enjoyed listening to their surroundings and were peaceful in their favourite spot, After this, the children chose to use the bow saw to saw wood cookies, which they drilled and threaded to make Forest School medals. Some children enjoyed using the ropes and tarps to build in the Forest area. They also enjoyed using the mallets and the hapazone technique to create woodland bandanas.
Year 5 started their session with a team game which involved each team passing curtain rings along their line on sticks without dropping them or letting the rings touch their hands. It all got very competitive and stick selection was very important to ensure the ring was not dropped! After a few rounds of the game, children had the opportunity to create hapazone bandanas using the mallets and different leaves. They also whittled hazel wood to create different shapes. They then attached a screw eyelet and threaded through some cord to make a necklace as a memento of their time in Forest school this year. Other children enjoyed returning to exploring with the ropes and tarps making ladders and hammocks.
To finish we thought about the skills that we have gained this half term and what we would be able to bring back with them into the classroom.
Have a great summer,
Emma and Caroline
I hope you've had a good week. Here is what we got up to today:
We started our session today with a game of Beetle Tag. This game involved all of the children (and adults) being 'on'. We all had to run around and tag each other on our limbs. If we were tagged, we had to put that limb behind our back or hop. Once all our limbs were tagged we had to lie in the grass on our backs until someone freed us. It was great fun running around and lying in the long grass. After this, we went into the wooded areas to recap on our den building with ropes, tarps and mallets. We reminded ourselves of our timber hitch knots and how to put up a ridge line, hang our tarp over the top and peg down the corners. The children worked really well in their teams and got their dens up together, working out how to make the space bigger inside so they could all fit in. After the dens were complete, the children enjoyed adding features like mattresses, fires, stoves and kitchens. We even had some great storytelling inside.
Year 5 started their session with a mindful sit spot moment. We all took a small piece of paper and a pencil and found somewhere to sit alone, away from others in the field area. Once we settled down, we sat in our spot quietly, listening for the different sounds around us and making marks on our paper to represent the sounds we heard and their location. It was interesting to hear the children's reflections on returning. They really enjoyed being quiet and calm and were amazed at how many different sounds there were. After this, we recapped the fire square and what is needed to create fire. The children remembered what kind of fuel burns best and how to stay safe around fire. They had a go at using the fire steel to create sparks and then used the sparks to light cotton wool. Some children found they were capable of doing this so moved on to lighting silver birch bark. This proved incredibly tricky, but is a skill to return to next year. We finished our session toasting a marshmallow on the fire and reflecting on what we had learned about ourselves today. The children gave some very thoughtful reflections including that they were persistent using the fire steel, everyone sees the world differently and how much they enjoyed the peace and stillness of the sit spot activity.
Nursery began their session with a walk through the woods to collect sticks the same length as our arm. The children were great at measuring the sticks by comparing them with their arms. We then collected and sorted different leaves including the bumpy oak leaf, the jiggy jaggy hornbeam leaf and the long willow leaf. Once we had a good collection, we used the natural items to make happy faces on the ground. For the rest of the session, the children explored leaves in different ways. Some children used clay to create prints of the leaves, some enjoyed threading leaves onto some wool, others used the crayons to create bark rubbings of different trees and finally, some enjoyed using the paint to do leaf printing.
We all had lots of fun and shared what made us happy at Forest School today. A popular answer was 'everything!'
This half term is flying by!
Reception started their session today with a 'green' hunt. We enjoyed exploring around the site and collected as many different shades of green as we could find, arranging them from light to dark as we collected. It was quite hard to find dark green and we had to look really hard.
After this, the children explored the site in different ways. Some children are thoroughly enjoying using the ropes and tying them between trees to create special dens and traps. Others really enjoyed exploring the long grass using the sweep net to catch a variety of different grasshoppers and beetles. Following on from our pirate theme, we also invited the children to use their creative and problem-solving skills to make boats that would float on the water. They used sticks and bark, which they secured together with pipe cleaners, a drill to create a hole for a mast and added colourful flags. Sometimes they floated and sometimes they sank. It was lots of fun working out why and trying to make the boats better.
Year 5 began their session with a body percussion orchestra. We thought of different sounds we could make with our bodies and used these to beat the syllables in our name. Everyone waited for their turn to join in adding their sound to the orchestra and it sounded amazing. We reflected that it was lots of fun because you had to concentrate on what you were doing as well as listening and fitting in with others.
After this, Year 5 also went on a 'green' hunt, finding lots of invertebrates as they did. This led to lots of exploration with the sweep net in the long grass. The children enjoyed using the ID guides to find the names of the species of grasshopper they had caught. We also used an app called Picture Insect, which helped us identify some of the beetles we found and learn a bit about them. We even found a Stink Beetle!
There was lots of exploration with the ropes and tarps, with the children putting their knot skills to practice. They built swings, hammocks and their own balancing line. It was fantastic to see how proud they were of their creativity and achievements working in unguided groups to create these. To conclude the session, the children reflected on what skills they had brought from previous weeks into making today's self-guided exploration successful.
Nursery started their session with a hunt for pictures of an unknown creature's life cycle. We first saw the larvae stage and nobody knew what it was. Once we collected the pictures of the eggs, larvae, pupa and adult stage, we found out that it was a ladybird and compared the stages it went through to the stages of development of a butterfly. For the rest of the session, the children chose to explore in the woods, find and catch invertebrates and some children had a go at creating a wooden ladybird necklace. They coloured their wooden disc in, then used the hand drill to drill a hole in the wood and thread some string onto it. The children also worked with the adults, learning how to tie the string with a knot to be able to put it around your neck. It was quite tricky, but lots of children persevered.
Reception began their session today thinking about how they were feeling and matching it to their own ‘weather forecast’. They shared their weather forecast with the group and lots of children said they had a sunny weather forecast because they were happy about being at Forest School. After this, we had a quick pirate game, running to the different sides of our imaginary boat and performing shipmate tasks like climbing the rigging and scrubbing the deck. Next, we found a treasure map and figured out that it was a map of Forest school. We matched up the landmarks and then followed the map to find treasure. It was very exciting. For the rest of the session, some children used the bow saw to cut wood cookies and make pirate dubloons, which they decorated, drilled and threaded onto string.
Year 5 started their session with our Art Gallery game, where the children had to spot and replicate the rule to get their drawing in the art gallery. We were able to discuss how we feel when we don’t know something that everyone else does. Next, we brought the children into the woods and taught them some knots to tie out tarps. We then split them into groups to challenge them to put up a shelter. It was not easy to work in our teams, but many groups were able to create great shelters. It was great to see such a selection of ways that the problem could be solved. At the end of the session, we took time to discuss and assess our teamwork skills.
Nursery children started their session with a game of 1,2,3 where are you? Which they thoroughly enjoyed. After this, we listened to the story Aaaaahhhhh Spider. We thought about how the characters in the story felt and where we might find some mini beasts. We split into groups and went hunting. We found slugs, worms, snails and even a shield bug. At the end of the session, we sang a new song ‘The Ant, the Bug and the Bee.’
We had a great day with the different groups, enjoying the sunshine. Well done to all of the children that came with their hats on today. It is important to look after ourselves and dress appropriately in the sun as well as the rain.
The children were excited to be back at Forest School this morning and we went on a pirate adventure. We set sail on our pirate ship and thought about what treasure we could find at Forest School. Everyone had a wander around and came back to the log circle with their treasure, which they shared with the group.
We played a quick running game and then shared the story 'How To Be A Pirate'. This gave us a launch for the rest of the session.
Some children enjoyed using the ropes in the woods, following on from the interest they developed in the last half term. Some children got creative making flags, eyepatches and maps. They had to apply their knot skills to tie on the flags and the elastic on their eyepatches and then enjoyed running around the site playing at being pirates.
It wasn't that long ago that we were with Year 5, but it was great to see them again. The site has changed so much since they were last here and so we had a collecting challenge for the children. They had to find 10 different natural items including silver birch catkins and different types of grass. The children are very confident at exploring and are really developing a connection with this environment.
We recapped the clove hitch knot with the children and then set them a team challenge of making a stick stand up horizontally without hammering it into the ground. The teams had to work on their communication and teamwork skills to solve the problem. It wasn't easy, but they all managed to achieve the challenge and it gave us lots of discussion about how to work well as a team.
Nursery were at Forest School for the first time today. Their session started with learning the rules of Forest School and the boundaries of the site. We practiced calling out '1,2,3 here I am' and coming back when we heard, '1,2,3 come back to me'. It was fun hiding in the long grass.
Next, the children were given three items to find: an oak leaf, a willow leaf and a small stick. The children were very confident at exploring over the uneven ground and were able to locate the different items using their observation skills as they moved around the site. For the rest of the session, the children explored hollowing out pieces of elder wood and threading them onto pipe cleaners to make bracelets. It took quite a lot of strength to push out the pith, but they didn't give up and were very proud. They also had a go at using the mallets to bash leaves onto material: a process known as hapazone. It was like magic, watching the colour appear on the material. We are looking forward to exploring with them again next week.
Reception thought about being nature superheroes today. We started with a game of Secret Stone, which the children have become fond of and then listened to the story of Who Swallowed Stanley? The story tells us about Stanley the plastic bag and his journey through the sea.
Next, we looked at a selection of litter and thought about what each item was made of and whether it would rot/biodegrade or not. The children identified metal, plastic and plant material and linked the effects of dropping these and not disposing of them properly to the story.
After this, the children chose how to explore. Some children reused plastic bottles to create bug hotels. We poked holes in the bottles and threaded string through to be able to hang them in the tree. We then filled them with hollowed-out elder, pine cones, moss and dead wood. Other children had a go at creating wildflower seed bombs to encourage insects to come to their garden. Some children enjoyed exploring with the ropes and tarps to create hideouts.
Year 4 enjoyed their last session of the year with a calm game of 'Art gallery'. This game focussed on the children's observation and listening skills, which has been a focus this half term. Most of the children got the 'rule' of the game quite quickly this time and we supported others to work out the rule for themselves. For the rest of the session, we focussed on den building. We recapped the timber hitch and tightening knots used in the previous term and introduced the slip knot. To extend their problem-solving skills, the children had to put a den up in their own way using these knots. It was quite a challenge, but the children persevered and were really proud of how they worked as a team.
Lots of the children recognised that they stepped out of their comfort zone and reflected that they are now more prepared for things not to be perfect and they are much happier trying for themselves.
Our last session of the day was with Year 2, who finally got around to some fire lighting fun. We recapped the fire triangle and were so impressed with how much they had remembered about safety and what is needed for the fire. Everyone was able to create sparks and had a go at lighting the cotton. We also learned how to identify dead wood in the willow tree and some of us had a go at using it as fuel.
We finished with a toasted marshmallow and a reflection on what we were grateful for and a skill or improvement that we are going to take away from forest school.
Have a great half term.
We were so lucky with the weather today for once and were really pleased being out and not having to take shelter under the tarp.
Reception started their session with a game of Secret Stone, where one team member had to conceal a grass flower and attempt to get it to the other team's goal without being tagged. The children had lots of great ideas about tactics to use to beat the opposing team and all the running about warmed us up. Next we gathered around to listen to the story of The Magic Ring and this gave us lots of ideas for our exploring today. Some children enjoyed using natural materials to decorate magic rings and magic bracelets that made sounds just like the magic ring in the story. We thought about what we would protect with our shields too. Other children enjoyed looking after the Forest Friends again, building pulleys and mazes for them using the ropes. Finally, some of us had a go at whittling some willow to create magic wands which we decorated with coloured pipe cleaners. The session flew by and was over before we knew it!
Year 4 had a brighter, less rainy session today, so after a quick game of Secret Stone, we sat on the tarp together to play an observation game. Emma drew a picture of a face, with two eyes, a nose and a mouth using her finger on the ground and we all had to copy what she did in order to pass the game. It took us a while to spot the secret action she was doing before drawing and we discussed how we felt when we didn't understand the rule of the game. All of the children focussed on not being frustrated and giving up, but staying positive and focussed on observing. We all got there in the end and had a good giggle once we had all worked out the rule. For the rest of the session we focussed on fire lighting. We recapped on the fire triangle and had a go at using the fire steel to create sparks again and then light the cotton wool. The children are really gaining confidence and showing how safe they can be. We finished the session with a delicious toasted marshmallow.
In the afternoon, Year 2 joined us. Once again we had a game of Secret Stone before turning our focus to music. The children worked in pairs to create a musical code using natural materials from the environment to represent different sounds. We performed our musical codes for the rest of the group and we felt so proud with how supportive they were of each other. For the rest of the session, some children chose to use the ropes to make booby traps in the woods. Others had a go at using the beautiful long grass to be creative. Finally, some children enjoyed being introduced to the billhook for the first time. The billhook is used to split wood, which the children then drilled and began to think about making xylophones. We had to use lots of strength to split the wood as well as concentration to ensure we were being safe using the tool. It was great fun. To finish our session, we asked the children to share how they stepped out of their comfort zone during the session.
It was another rainy day, but the children embraced it and had a great time in the mud!
Reception started their superhero session with a game of Eagle Eyes. They were great at finding hiding places amongst the trees and long grass and enjoyed sneaking back quietly without being seen by the eagle. Next, we tested our superhero throwing skills. We all had a few goes at throwing pine cones into a target zone to gain points. After this we sat under the cover of the tarp shelter and listened to the story 'Stuck' by Oliver Jeffers, which told the story of a boy who got his kite stuck up a tree. We used this as a springboard for our exploration for the rest of the session. The Forest Friends were back today, getting up to all sorts of problems and needed the Reception children to get them out of the trees and transport them between them. The children were provided with ropes, pulleys and buckets and used them to explore different ways to transport the forest friends. They were incredibly creative and great at using their problem-solving skills to create pulley systems and zip lines. At the end of the session, the children shared with the group someone who they had seen had had a good idea during the session.
Year 4 started their session with a game of Head Honcho, which focussed on their teamwork skills. It was lots of fun trying to guess who was head honcho and the detective had to move quickly to spot them as they changed the moves. Next, we played a game called Tree Creeper. One child in each team stood with their back against a tree and their eyes closed. The rest of the team had to move silently towards the tree and touch it without being heard and caught. The children tried hard not to make a noise, lifting their feet up and trying not to snap sticks underfoot. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed having a go at using the sheath knives and hazel to make May whistles. They were able to carve a mouthpiece, but we all struggled trying to remove the outer bark in a tube without it breaking. Although we were not able to complete making our whistles successfully, we recognised that we had been working on other skills such as resilience and patience!
Other children enjoyed having a go at making a Dragon's Eye using sticks and a weaving technique. Once again, we had a great discussion about the uniqueness of each piece of art that was created and the beauty of this.
In Year 2's session, the children started with our Head Honcho game and also had a go at Tree Creeper. They had fun trying to sneak quietly around the back of the tree detective's tree to go unnoticed. For the rest of the session, some children showed great patience in learning how to make a Dragon's Eye using wool and sticks. They were incredibly focused and patient and put their knot skills to good use. Other children enjoyed returning to whittling. They whittled pieces of hazel and then used the earth pigments to decorate them.
Last but not least was the fun provided by the mud. There were many children who just loved digging in the mud, exploring for worms of which we found lots! The children are very knowledgeable about worms now.
We had all of the weather today! It was definitely a challenge to be outdoors and busy for some of our groups, especially as the rain and hail were not expected.
Continuing with the theme of superheroes, we started this week's session with a game of Eagle Eyes. The children enjoyed hiding in the woods and sneaking back closer each time without being seen until they were able to reach base camp and back to the Eagle's nest.
Next, we enjoyed a group activity. The children were split into five groups and each team had to create a superhero shield/badge or symbol using natural materials. Some of us used sticks to create letters for our superhero and some enjoyed getting creative making different shapes like a lightning flash to show how fast our superhero was.
For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed making superhero stickmen, securing sticks together with pipe cleaners and cutting out capes and masks for them. Other children enjoyed sticking natural material on card to make camouflage masks and some children enjoyed digging superhero hideouts.
We had lots of fun and lots of us had great ideas.
Year 4 had a challenging session surviving the heavy rain. We started with a Found Sound Round. We all had a wander on the site and found an object. We thought about the sound our object might make linked to its shape or a property or texture it had. Then we took it in turns to add our sound into the group performance. There were some fantastic, creative sounds and the performance made us smile. It was fun working together. Next, we had a game of Secret Stone as requested by the children. This game involved hiding an object from the opposing team and trying to get it to the opposing team's goal before being caught. It was lots of fun and Year 4 were good at sharing their tactics to improve their game.
We had hoped to use the children's interests in knots to challenge them to make a structure that could carry a teammate between a start and finish line, but this was abandoned in favour of putting a shelter up as the rain came down. We put our knots to use and created dens to hide under. Some of the children also invented their own games, involving challenges on the slack line.
In the afternoon, the sun came out for a bit. Year 2 began their session with a game of Eagle Eyes like Year 4. After this, we listened to the story of The Happiness Tree about the Willow Tree and how it was used to spread happiness. We enjoyed using this story as a hook for the rest of the session. Lots of children were keen to use the bendy property of the willow branches to create willow crowns and willow star wands. Other children created booby traps to catch baddies and others enjoyed digging and looking for worms.
We had a great day with the different classes today.
In Reception's session, we carried on with their topic of superheroes, today focusing on superhero invisibility (camouflage) and super balance. We began with a game of Eagle Eyes, where the children had to hide far away and sneak back to the base camp without being seen. After a few goes, the children were very good at taking small steps closer to the base camp and hiding in places that were gradually closer.
After this, we thought about what camouflage meant. The children gathered up leaves, grass, sticks and other natural materials and we had a go at camouflaging our hands amongst the grass.
For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own way. Our superhero balance task involved the children balancing along our slackline which was hung between two trees. It took lots of core strength and balance to keep going without falling off. Other children enjoyed creating camouflage superhero hideouts for the forest friends and the mallets. The children enjoyed working in small self-chosen groups.
At the end of the session, we asked the children to stand behind someone who was kind to them today. The children were very thoughtful and the children that shared their reflection gave great reasons.
Year 4 had lots of ideas about what they wanted to do today and in the next few weeks. It is lovely that they are really taking ownership of their sessions.
We started by asking the children to find a natural object that represented themselves. They then brought it back to base camp and explained what their chosen object showed us about them. There were lots of very thoughtful reflections. We then had a go at a body percussion round. Everyone thought of a way they could use body percussion to 'play' their name. They taught it to their partner before taking part in the group performance. Each child joined in one at a time, increasing the volume and then we stopped one at a time until we were left with just the beat. It sounded fantastic.
After this, we had a recap on the clove itch which the children learned in lockdown. They were keen to put it to use in real life. Many children chose to work in self-chosen groups to make log swings in the trees. They had to identify whether the tree they hung their swing on was going to be safe and give reasons why. Many of the children wanted this activity done for them, but when given some encouragement they all worked to solve their difficulties with the task and there were quite a few 'yes' moments when they did it for themselves.
Some other children enjoyed using the natural pigments to tie-dye material.
We also finished this session by standing behind someone who was helpful. Through this discussion, they realised that being helpful is not always helpful. Instead, we can encourage our peers to have a go for themselves rather than it being done for them.
Year 2 joined us in the afternoon. We started their session with the body percussion round. They were able to create different sounds and followed the conductor to stay in time.
After this, we shared the story of The Tree People. This told of the first tree in the world: the pine tree and how all the other trees came to be. It was lovely sitting on the grass listening to the story. The children then played the 'find my tree' game in partners. They took their partner to a tree with their eyes closed and used their other senses to feel the tree and get to know it. When they were led away, they had to look around and identify the tree they had been feeling.
For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own ways. Some enjoyed using the natural pigments, material and rubber bands to create tye-dyed fabric. Other children enjoyed using the slack line for balancing.
It was great to be back at Kerem today with Reception and our new Year 4 and Year 2 groups and what lovely weather we had!
Reception children began their session with a game about superhero mini beasts. The children listened to facts about the superpowers of the mini beasts and then had to run to the mini beast that had that superpower. They had to think really hard but learned lots of facts along the way about ladybirds, ants, earthworms and bees.
It was a beautiful day to sit in the sun and enjoy the story of Superworm. Lots of the children enjoyed joining in with the story and the rhyming patterns.
For the rest of the session, the children chose to look for minibeasts. We found a great variety of ladybirds and tried to match them to the ID sheet to find out what type of ladybird they were. We also found some stripy slugs and even a caterpillar by shaking trees and hunting amongst the long grass. Some children had a go at climbing through our rope spider web without touching the rope. It was quite tricky, but lots of fun.
To finish our session, the children thought about what superhero minibeast they would like to be and why.
Year 2 were very excited to be back at forest school, having not come since the Autumn. They started their session with a hunt for 10 natural objects to orientate themselves to the area again. There are so many different new leaves, catkins and blossoms to explore and they showed lots of interest as well as remembering a lot.
After this challenge, we sat in the sunshine and heard the story of The Old Oak Tree and The Young Oak Tree, which tells the story of the young oak tree going through the seasons and overcoming the fear of change.
We used this as a launchpad for our felting activity, which some children chose to do. They chose different colour wool tops and used the process of wet felting to create colourful acorns. Some children also enjoyed making dens amongst the trees with tarps and rope. They remembered a great deal and were very proud of their achievements.
We finished with a discussion about fears and anxiety and thought about ways we could help people if they felt this way.
In the afternoon, we were joined by Year 4, who also started their session with a hunt for natural objects. Once again, we were amazed by their focus and interest in their surroundings. Since it was Earth Day today, we had a discussion about what this might be about and why we might focus on it. The children then took some time finding a sit spot on their own. We sat in our sit spot for two minutes and thought about what we could see, hear, smell and feel. There were a great number of interesting observations, including one child who said he now knew what people were talking about when they said they were connecting with nature. It was a very calming and relaxing activity, which some children found challenging, but rewarding.
After this the children explored in different ways. Some children had a go at rock wrapping, using cordage to wrap a stone and a stick together to create a natural artwork. Other children enjoyed making felted acorns and some children worked together to build dens using the ropes and tarps. Time flew by and the session was over before we knew it. The children shared some ideas of what they would like to do in their future sessions.
We had a fantastic day with all the groups of children today.
There were squirrels everywhere today in Forest School and so we were inspired to start today’s session with a game of Squirrels. The children pretended to be squirrels burying their nuts, chasing other squirrel friends and eating nuts. When fox (Emma) was heard the children had to either be a tree or go inside a tree to be safe from the fox. It made us laugh and warmed us up.
Next, we focussed on the frog life cycle. The children went on a hunt around the area to find pictures from the frog life cycle. Once all stages were found, we had to look really closely and compare the images to put them in the correct order with our team.
Emma told a story called 'The Tadpole That Wanted To Fly'. The children listened really intently and used the clues and their bird knowledge to guess the different birds that the little tadpole wanted to be.
For the rest of our session, the children had the opportunity to have a go at whittling for the first time using a peeler. They took great care to shape their stick, adding pipe cleaner arms and legs to make little stick frogs. Some children also enjoyed using the clay to make tadpoles and other children showed excellent teamwork skills making frog dens together using sticks and moss.
Year 5 and 6
With both the Year 5 and 6 groups we decided to meet them up at the school gate to give them a task to complete on the way to the site. The children had to find something natural to represent them or how they were feeling. We had some very thoughtful reflections shared.
Once we got to the site we sat on the mat to play a focus game. The children had to watch and listen to what Emma was doing. If they were able to copy the movement in the same way, they were able to pass the task. Some children had great observational skills and were able to pass the challenge quickly. It provided a great opportunity to discuss how it feels when other people understand something you don’t. The children all eventually worked it out and we had a good chuckle at this game.
For the next part of the session, we recapped on the square lashing and clove hitch we did in our google classroom lessons. The children really impressed us with how much they remembered and then we were ready for this week's challenge. The children were split into teams and had to build a structure to carry a team member from a start line to a finish line. They worked really well, taking in different roles.
At the end, we asked the children to reflect on what kind of team member they were and we also shared our observations.
All in all, it was a fantastic day and the children showed a huge improvement in their attitude, respect and focus.
It was amazing to be back all together this week at Forest School.
Year 5 and 6
Year 5 and 6 started their sessions with a recap of the rules and routines of Forest School. We then had a quick game of Hunter, Fox, Mouse to give us all a giggle and warm the group up. Next, we focussed on the site and season of spring. The children went on a bud hunt, to refamiliarise themselves with the area in the early Spring. We were very impressed that the children remembered some of the trees we spotted and they are really becoming familiar with them through the seasons and what the different trees can be used for.
After this, the children chose between using the ropes and tarps to build on their knot skills learnt during our virtual lessons, learning to wet felt sticks and some tie-dying using natural pigments.
Reception children were excited to be back. They confidently joined in with the song and their names. Some children even used alliteration to add a bit of challenge.
They went on a bud hunt, after carefully looking at the branches and describing them to their partner. We thought about the colour, size, shape and placement of the buds on the stick before going to find the tree they came from. Once again, many of the children remembered the names of the different types of trees and are building on their knowledge of the site in different seasons.
After this, we looked around the site for different characters and objects from the story Jack and the Beanstalk. We brought them together and told the story. This inspired the exploration for the rest of the session. Some children decided to use the mallets and sticks to build castles, others had a go at making clay giants using natural materials and some children enjoyed planting their own bean seed, which hopefully will grow all the way up to their castles, which were at the top of their climbing stick.
Reception are learning about the life cycle of a butterfly. Here is Jessica's butterfly that she made in Forest School today.
11.2.2021 The children had to be resourceful today when finding the resources to make a lantern for Forest School.
Year 4 made noughts and crosses boards out of willow and string.
Activities for Reception this week have been linked to their literacy topic - The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Today, they made a bridge and troll for the 3 billy goats.
Activities for Reception this week have been linked to their literacy topic - The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Today, they made a bridge and troll for the 3 billy goats.
Year 4 made noughts and crosses boards out of willow and string.
28.1.2021 This week at Forest School the children have had fun making bird feeders.
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!