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Forest School

The Forest School initiative gives our children a wonderful opportunity to explore the local area, learn about the environment and develop key learning attributes in an informal environment.


Qualified Forest School instructors from Forever Green Forest School deliver engaging sessions during which the children complete a range of tasks that could include; scavenger hunts, working with tools, making dens, solving problems.


Benefits of Forest School:

 

  • Development of Learning Attributes - opportunities to build resilience, perseverance, collaboration, creativity;
  • Personal, Social and Emotional development - work as teams, independently and in small groups, improving communication skills;
  • Environmental education - learn about the environment and how to take care of it;
  • Physical Development - opportunities to develop fine and gross motor skills.

 

 

2023/2024

4.7.2024

 

And so we reach the end of another year of Forest School adventures with the Kerem children. It has been wonderful to see how much they have grown in so many ways this year.

 

Year 4 started their session with our welcome routine, a chance to play our alliteration name game (which had been requested!) and a question of the day: What have you noticed today? The different answers were delightful to listen to and included noticing a purple haze on the grass, the grass looking greener in the sunlight and how a blue sky day makes our bodies feel happy and calm. Next, we invited the children to take part in a nature connection activity where they all went to find a stick and get to know it. They walked around with their stick asking it questions about where it had come from, what it had seen and looking carefully at it. After some time, they then introduced their stick to a friend, sharing its story. After this, the children worked in pairs to move as one, holding the sticks between them with only one finger touching the end of each stick. They worked together to move in different ways, keeping the sticks from falling. It was wonderful to see how creative and focussed they were with their movements and challenges for themselves. At this time of year the grass is long and the leaf coverage is good, which makes it ideal conditions for our stalking game called Eagle Eyes. The children hid at the far corners of the site and had to move back to the tarp without being seen, hiding in new, closer spots when Emma closed her eyes. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some were keen to build a football goal. They worked together moving sticks and then pegging them into the ground. Others were keen to whittle pendants, which they decorated as a keepsake. We also had lots of children taking an interest in making cobra bracelets using paracord. This is initially quite tricky, but they were focussed and determined and kept going to make bracelets they were really proud of. At the end of the session, we invited the children to reflect on their forest school experience this year. Many shared that they feel a connection with the environment, recognise that being outdoors makes them calm and that they have become more of a community and less competitive.

 

Nursery arrived at the site excited and remembered our welcome routines and rules. They confidently shared their names with an action in our name game, showing their creativity. Next, we played our 1,2,3 Where Are You game to recap the boundaries of the site and their confidence to use their voice and move within it. They enjoyed hiding in the long grass this week and finding Emma when she hid too. After this, we invited the children to join us on a pirate adventure. We swam out to Emma's pirate boat and climbed aboard to play a game of corners. The children had to listen carefully to Emma's instructions and perform different actions including scrub the deck and climb the rigging. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed using their imagination and continued to play on the 'boat'. We also had an opportunity to make a pirate eyepatch, where the children learnt how to thread elastic through the card and tie an overhand knot. They also could make a pirate flag, which involved using pipe cleaners to secure the flag to a stick. Lots of fine motor skills! We finished our session with a song of Princess Pat, who sailed the seven seas.

 

Reception started their session with our welcome routine before we jumped back into our pirate world. Today, we tested our pirate strength as we lined up to throw some cannon balls (pine cones) as far as we could. Each time we fired them, we tried to get them further than before. It was feeling hot, so we gathered under the shade of the trees to listen to Emma tell the story of The Singing Mermaid by Julia Donaldson. The children listened well and then used this as an inspiration for our play. Some children had another opportunity to whittle sticks, creating a surface to draw on and decorate. They used wool, pipe cleaners and leaves to create mermaids and mermen. They had to work out how to use the pipe cleaners to attach hair and leaf tails. Other children enjoyed walking the slackline and building dens with sticks in the woods. The children have grown so independent over the year and it has been wonderful to watch. We finished offering them the opportunity to share their highlight of the year. Some included digging a big hole, climbing trees and making things.

 

Thank you again for another wonderful year. We hope you have a restful Summer holiday and we look forward to seeing you all again in September.

 

Emma and Carrie.

27.6.2024

 

Year 4 started the session with a check in on the children’s needs. We tuned in to our energy levels and feelings and then took a look at a selection of needs cards to identify one that we connected with. Today lots of children identified a need for rest, freedom and fun and play and we thought about ways these could be met. Our first activity involved going on a smell walk. We thought about animals that rely on their sense of smell and the way in which they sniff. We then took time to crush and smell leaves of the willow, the bramble, ivy and a lime flower. The children thought about words to describe the smells and made connections to other things they know. Next came the challenge. The children paired up, with one person wearing a blindfold. These four plants were crushed and smelt by the blindfolded child who had to guess what they were smelling. They really found some peace when challenging each other and were pleased when they guessed correctly. Next, we gathered together on the tarp and listened to Emma tell the story of How the Stars Came to Be. The children listened well and were intrigued to know whether the story was true or not. We love stories that have been passed on and aim to explain our world. For the rest of the session, the children chose how to meet their needs. Some returned to playing in the long grass, jumping and enjoying the sensations. Others were interested in the cut grass, mixing it with water to make hay balls. Those that explored in the woods enjoyed the shade and comfort of the hammocks and some returned to their den building and top walk ways that they had been interested in the previous week. Finally there were some who enjoyed using the watercolours and natural materials to explore patterns. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to reflect back on the needs we expressed at the start of the session and how these were met at forest school today.

 

We were excited to welcome Nursery children to forest school today. They gathered at the tarp where we shared our welcome routine including our song, counting and our name game. After going over our rules and boundaries, we played a game of 1,2,3 where are you? The children had to the count of 10 to run somewhere in forest school. They then had to respond to Emma’s call with “1,2,3 Here I Am!” They enjoyed hiding in the long grass and under the willow before running back to Emma when she called, "1,2,3 Come back to me!" Running over uneven ground is a great way to develop gross motor skills and balance as they navigate the way around the site. For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own ways. Lots of children enjoyed looking for minibeasts in the long grass, using the sweep nets and magnifiers. Others enjoyed using the cut grass to make homes for the Forest Friend soft toys. There was an opportunity to make bubbles using willow bubble wands and finally lots got creative with pieces of elder wood. They used palm drills to push out the soft pith leaving a hollow tube which they threaded onto pipe cleaners to make bracelets. To finish our session, we gathered back together and sang the song Grey Squirrel. The children were great at joining in with the actions.

 

Reception started their session with our welcome routine and returned to our pirate ship game. The children helped to build the boat and they were quick to follow the actions that Captain Emma gave. After this we showed the children a paper scroll that Emma and Carrie found at lunch time. As we unrolled it, we were excited to discover that it was a map of forest school. The children worked out the different landmarks on the map and we orientated ourselves before setting off on a hunt for X marks the spot. It was so exciting when we found the treasure bag and when we opened it up there was lots of pirate gold inside. For the rest of the session, some children chose to make their own pirate dubloon by sawing and decorating a wood cookie. They also used a hand drill to create a hole to make it into a pendant. Other children had a go at making their own treasure map using charcoal. We also had an opportunity to walk the plank (the slackline). They had lots of fun balancing and wobbling along. To finish the session, we gathered back together to sing our pirate song Princess Pat. The children were great at joining in with the singing and actions.

 

Have a great week.

20.6.2024

 

We basked in the sunshine today for the Summer Solstice.

 

Year 3 and Year 4 started today's sessions with our chant and a question of the day: If you could swap places with any animal, what would you swap with and why? We reminded the children of the importance of creating a community space, where everyone can feel heard, not judged and truly listened too. The children really respected this and shared some very thoughtful answers with some wanting to be animals that could run fast, fly and soar amongst the trees and swim and dive in the water. Next, we invited the children to take part in a sit spot activity. The children have done these before, but today they really got into the practice of this. We explained that a sit spot encourages us to be in the present moment and could be achieved in a number of ways: by focusing on our breathing; focusing on our senses or by doing something like sketching. Everyone took a sit mat and found a place to be. Once everyone was comfortable we sat for five minutes. On returning at the end of this time, the children were keen to share with each other their experience. We invited the children to share things that they noticed. It was wonderful to hear their connections: noticing the colours of the leaves; the movement of the trees and grass; the textures and smells around them and the sense of wonder and beauty. After this, the children used our sensations posters to identify the sensations they felt in their body whilst they were doing the activity. Common sensations included feeling grounded, balanced, warm, cosy, and open. We briefly discussed the Summer Solstice and found out that it is also called Litha. Some children chose to be creative celebrating the Sun by making sun weaving patterns with hoops of willow or dreamcatchers. The shade of the woods was very welcome for some, with a space to relax in the hammocks, making swings from the trees and some Year 3 children progressed their den building skills from the previous week. It was wonderful to see them working in their own groups, putting into practice some of the skills they learnt recently. Some of the Year 4 children enjoyed using tools to build a bee hotel, which has been taken back to school and hopefully will provide a great habitat for some new residents soon. Finally, there were children who enjoyed the fun to be had in the long grass, racing and diving. To conclude our session, we gathered back together for a Summer Solstice reflection. The children shared some of the things they love about this time of the year. 

 

Reception started with our welcome song, counting and name game, before introducing our theme for the next few weeks: Pirates. We invited the children to play our pirate game, where actions and instructions were called out and they had to follow them as quickly as possible. They had to really focus and listen to move quickly from one part of our boat to the next. Next, Emma shared the story How To Be A Pirate by Isaac Fitzgerald. In the story CeCe is told by the boys that she can't be a pirate and so goes and asks her grandpa, who she suspects was a pirate, how to be one. We learnt about all the character traits you have to have to be a pirate including independent, fun and brave. We also thought about how it feels to be left out and what we could do in this situation. For the rest of the session, some children made eye patches using card and elastic. They learnt how to thread and tie an overhand knot to secure their elastic, working on their fine motor skills. These were then decorated with a range of natural materials. Another option which many children enjoyed was making a pirate flag. The children decorated the flags and then worked out how to use pipe cleaners to secure the material to the stick, twisting the pipe cleaner. Many children also enjoyed playing in the woods, with some creating X marks the spot using sticks. They really enjoyed getting into the character of a pirate and this came into their imaginative play as some of them built a boat out of logs and set sail. To conclude our session, we gathered back together and sang Princes Pat together. They enjoyed joining in with the actions.

 

Have a great week.

6.6.2024

 

We were blessed with beautiful sunshine for the first session of the half term and once again it seems that everything has grown so much over the half term break. The mud is finally starting to dry up and so we had the chance to be back in the woods amongst the trees today.

 

Year 4 started their session with a check in using our animal feeling cards. We asked the children to reflect on their energy level and whether they had a pleasant or unpleasant feeling in their body. Lots of children were feeling excited about exploring and relaxed sitting amongst the tall grass. Next, we recapped our teamwork skills, which we had been working on lots the last time they were with us. The children were put in three teams and given some lily pads with which to travel from one side of the river to the other. They had to work out how to get their whole team across without stepping off the lily pads. This presented lots of challenges where the children wanted to be fast by spreading the lily pads apart, but this meant that they fell off and had to start again when they couldn't jump between them. Through discussion at the end, we reflected on the need to be patient and recognise when a plan isn't working. It takes a lot of courage to change plans midway through a task and start again. There was lots of improvement in the way the children celebrated their success, however, this is something we will continue to work on this half term. After this, Emma shared the story of The Cracked Pot. This tale comes from China and tells of a woman who carried water back from the river in a cracked pot every day. Even though it leaked water she used it for two whole years until the pot shared that he was sad that he was not able to do his job correctly. The cracked pot found out that the lady knew that he leaked water and had used this skill to water wildflower seeds that she had planted along the walking route. The children were great at recognising some of things they could learn from the story. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. One of the main interests today was invertebrate hunting. The long grass provided a lot of excitement, with the sweep nets being used to find a variety of insects. Others returned to their favourite digging sites and then there were a selection of children who enjoyed using willow to make tension trays. This took great patience and problem solving skills when the willow came undone. We concluded our session with an opportunity to share moments of gratitude for the 'more than human' around us.

 

Year 3 began their session with our welcome routine and a game that focuses on the group's need for fun. Today we played Secret Stone. This is a popular game amongst the children as they enjoy bluffing and chasing one another to get the secret stone through the opposing team's goal. There were some difficulties where children were focussed on which team was winning, which led to discussions about making the game fun for all, rather than on a need to feel more accomplished than another person. After some discussion, some children were able to identify elements and moments that made the game fun and enjoyable. We will continue to work on these skills through more games such as this one. Next, we took the children into the woods to recap and practice some den building knots. We recapped the timber hitch and the marlin spike, which the children practiced before setting off on the challenge to construct a tarp den with their friends. This group has been really into den building, but it was great to see that with a recap of some useful knots, they took their den building up a notch. They were able to work in their teams to construct a range of different structures. Some would give shelter from rain or wind and others were shade from the sun. To conclude our session, we opened up a space for children to share something that was successful about their team. They recognised where they were able to work taking different roles they were quick. Also they noticed that by agreeing to ideas, they had fewer problems and consequently had more fun.

 

Reception started their session today with our welcome routine before a game of Eagle Eyes. This is a fun game to play at this time of the year when the grass has become really long. They really enjoyed finding different hiding spaces and then sneaking back closer and closer to the log circle when the Eagle had their eyes closed. Lots of children were able to show self control, staying hidden until it was safe to move and return to the tarp undetected. Next, we gathered together and Emma showed everyone a piece of long grass with its feathery flower.  We asked the children what it was and no one knew. We are so used to seeing our grass cut, that many children often don't recognise the grass flower as a piece of grass. We set the children a challenge of looking for different grass flowers and they were excited to see how many different types they could find. We looked at the different types and thought of different ways we could describe them. Lots were feathery, tickly and some even looked like animal tails. For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own ways, meeting their own needs and following their own interests. Some children were keen to use the discovery resources to investigate minibeasts. They used magnifying glasses and binoculars and enjoyed using the books and guides to find out more about the creatures that they found. Others were pleased to be back in the woods, swinging on the hammocks and climbing the trees. Finally some children enjoyed using their knot skills and Y sticks to create weaving frames for their grasses. It was tricky but the children persevered and worked out how to move the grasses in and out of the strings to fix them in their frames. To conclude our session we gathered together and learnt a new song Earth, Stone, Feather and Bone. We also had a moment where children could share something they enjoyed today.

 

Have a great week.

23.5.2024

 

We were relieved to have some sunnier weather for our forest school sessions today. 

 

Year 1

We started our session with a gentle welcome routine and a check in with our animal feeling cards. Some children chose to not share today and lots felt quite tired. We then recapped one of our calming strategies: Progressive Muscle Relaxation. We squeezed and relaxed our muscles starting at our faces and working down to our toes. After this, we invited the children to think about the names of some bees that they know. They could name the Bumblebee and the Honey Bee and thought that all bees are yellow and black striped. Emma introduced us to some other types of bees including mining bees that make holes in the ground and leafcutter bees. We saw that they had lots of different colours and patterns on their bodies, not just black and yellow. The children then all went on a hunt for pictures of the different bees. When they were found, the children had to look closely at the features of the bee pictures and match them to the bigger bee pictures. This activity involved focussed observation and comparing and contrasting skills. After this, we talked about what bees do. Some children thought that their job was to make honey for us, but through discussion we learnt that bees are needed to pollinate a huge amount of our food. Without bees, much of the food we eat would not be able to grow anymore. Next, we gathered together to hear Emma share the book Are You A Bee? We found about the different roles that the honey bees have in the hive and how important they are. For the rest of the session, some children used pine cones and alder cones, felting wool and sycamore seeds to make fluffy bees. They had to pull out the felting wool until it was thin and then carefully pull and wind it around the cones. Other children helped the bees by making some wildflower seed balls using compost and clay. They rolled them into balls and put them inside a matchbox, which they enjoyed decorating. There was also lots of invertebrate discovery using the sweep nets to collect creatures in the grass. The children were keen to use the guides and books to identify what they found. It was wonderful to see them getting so excited and wanting to share what they had found. To conclude our session, we gathered back together and shared the name of our favourite minibeast.

 

Year 3

Year 3 started their session with our welcome routine and a check in with our animal feeling cards. Again there was quite a mix of energy levels. After this, we talked about the different bees that the children knew. They then were introduced to several different types of bees before going on a hunt for bee pictures and matching them with big pictures. They had to look really carefully to spot the different colour and shape differences. Next, we gathered together to hear Emma share the book Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees. We learnt that to look after the bees we need to make sure there are enough flowers and trees for their food and places to live. For the rest of the session, lots of children were excited to explore the long grass for minibeasts. We found some cuckoo spit and the little froghopper nymphs inside. They enjoyed using the ID sheets to discover the names of the different things we found. Other children created using ropes and logs to make dens and swings in the trees. Some others enjoyed helping the bees by making wildflower seed balls, which they plan to plant in their gardens. To conclude our session, we asked the children to share some ideas of things they wish to do next in Forest School.

 

Reception

We started our session with our welcome routine and name game, before asking the children what they know about bees. Some children thought that their job was to make honey for us, but through discussion we learnt that bees are needed to pollinate a huge amount of our food. Without bees, much of the food we eat would not be able to grow anymore. The children were then tasked to become bees using pipettes as their mouthparts to collect nectar. When a good source of nectar was found, the bees (children) performed a waggle dance to their friends to help them find it too. The bees were certainly busy and managed to collect most of the available nectar in a short space of time. Next, we gathered together to hear Emma share the book Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees. We learnt that to look after the bees we need to make sure there are enough flowers and trees for their food and places to live. For the rest of the session, some children used pine cones, felting wool and sycamore seeds to make fluffy bees. They had to pull out the felting wool until it was thin and then carefully pull and wind it around the cones. Other children helped the bees by making some wildflower seed balls using compost and clay. They rolled them into balls and put them inside a matchbox, which they enjoyed decorating. The mud kitchen was also a popular place to be. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to sing a new song called The Ant, The Bug and The Bee.

 

Have a great half term.

16.5.24

 

It was a bit of a drizzly one today, but it didn't dampen our spirits and the children enjoyed exploring the site with all the long grass and wildlife.

 

Year 1 children started with a check in with their animal feelings that were introduced in a previous term. This really helps everyone to get an idea of the energy levels of the group. There were a lot of tired hedgehogs today. We started with a teamwork challenge involving working in small groups. The groups were given a curtain ring with 5 strings attached. They were then tasked with balancing the ball on the ring, holding onto the strings and then moving in different ways. It was not easy at first, but each team tried different techniques and all teams managed to transport the ball and move in different ways. Next, we gathered in the shelter of the trees to listen to the story of Conker the Chameleon which is all about a chameleon who is sad because he can't change colour and feels different. As chameleons change colour to show how they’re feeling, he’s worried the others won’t be able to see how he feels. During the story he discovers using words is a more effective way of sharing our feelings and by the end of the story, while he still can't change colour, he has changed his mindset and feels happy about who he is. The children shared their thoughts about the story and different emotions and it also provided opportunity to discuss the benefits of talking about our feelings to others and rather than displaying them through our behaviour i.e. Shouting, being unkind, rude, hurting others etc. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Many children enjoyed exploring colour changes using cabbage water and various powders. Cabbage water is an indicator solution and changes colour when acids or alkalis are added. They really enjoyed exploring mixing the different liquids and solids together and seeing the range of colours they could create. Others relaxed on the tarp together making stone spirals, like Conker's tail and then moved onto challenging themselves to balance stones. There was a continuation of the debris den building from last week, some fascination in the variety of insects that can now be found and exploratory play in the mud kitchen, making chocolate ice cream. At the end of the session we gathered together to share and reflect on our animal feelings again.

 

Year 3 began with a reflection on their animal feelings too. They then moved on to the same ball and curtain ring challenge. It was wonderful to watch how focussed on their group and their own personal challenges they were, rather than comparing themselves to other groups. There was great communication and support within each group. Next, we gathered under the shelter of the trees to listen to the story of Climb. This story teaches us about the importance of finding our own qualities and special abilities. The children were invited to think of their ball team and consider some of the strengths and qualities of those in their group. For the rest of the session, some children used Y sticks to create their own slingshots. Once they were made, they had to work out how to use them to make their projectiles go the furthest. We then moved on to thinking about designing a target. The children are keen to come back to this next week. Others enjoyed working together den building using logs, tarps and ropes. Some children learnt how to use tripod lashing to make a structure where a swing could be attached. There was also a lot of creature exploration, with some children finding a variety of beetles. To conclude this session, we gathered back together and invited children to share moments when they had spotted another member of the class' strengths and personal qualities. They were keen to share these.

 

Reception started their session with our welcome routine and a game of Beetle Tag. The children were excited to play this again and enjoyed chasing and tagging each other, hopping and needing to balance when their legs got tagged. Next, we gathered together to hear Emma tell the story: How the Beetle Got Its Beautiful Coat. This story comes from Brazil and teaches us to refrain from judging and instead find the time to really get to know each other. We found out that some beetles, like the ladybird, have hidden wings and can fly. For the rest of the session, children were free to follow their own interests. Some enjoyed using clay again and had a go at making their own beetles, using our plastic clay beetles for ideas. They were careful to count the number of legs that they gave their beetle ensuring they added 6 legs and 2 antennae. They also used sticks to make patterns on their bodies. Other children were excited to use the bow saw again to cut wood cookies which they spent time decorating with pictures of different beetles. The mud kitchen continues to be popular too. We finished the session with an opportunity to share the name of your favourite minibeast. They really varied and it is great to see how much they like creatures.


Have a great week.

 

9.5.2024

 

We were blessed with a beautiful, sunny day today, which was very much welcome.

 

Year 1 and Year 3

We started our session in a different way today. The weather was warm and the site has changed so much since we were here last that we felt a need for a calm start, grounding ourselves and listening to the bird song. The children all lay on their backs with their eyes shut and we shared a guided meditation, calming our bodies and tuning into our senses. Our next focus was a creative game called: This is not a stick. As the stick was passed round, each child completed the sentence: this is not a stick it's a... We were so impressed with how creative and imaginative they were with their ideas. We love this game, as there is no wrong answer and gives the children the opportunity to have their voice heard and be funny, without being too self conscious. After this we showed the children a grass flower and asked them if they knew what it was. There were lots of ideas, but most were unsure. We are so used to seeing short, cut grass, we forget that grass has a flower too. We invited the group to explore the site to see how many different types of grass flowers they could find. As they explored we discovered all sorts of creatures hiding in the grass. Next, we gathered together to hear about the festival of Beltane, which is celebrated on the 1st May. Emma then shared the story of Beltane, where the Fairy Queen and the Oak King are woken up from their long Winter sleep and fall in love.

For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some children welcomed the opportunity for whittling green sticks, which some children used to make Fairy Queens. They had to think carefully about how to use the resources to connect decorations to their stick people, which involved lots of problem solving. Den building was also popular with the children enjoying working together to create dens in a new location this week. There was also a lot of interest in making willow crowns. Again this involved carefully manipulating the willow branches to make them curved enough to weave into a circle, which they then decorated. Some children took this further, inventing their own hoopla game, throwing the willow hoops over sticks. There was also an abundance of invertebrates to explore and identify. Finally, we gathered back together and reflected on what we are looking forward to this season.

 

Reception

It was lovely to have some sunshine today and the site is noticeably growing and changing, providing more to explore. After our welcome routine we headed out into the sunshine on to the grass to play a game. We started with the Caterpillar Mat Race. The children were divided into two teams, with each member of the team sitting one  behind the other. They had to pass a high five from the front to the back and once it reached the back, the children jumped up and ran to the front to start the process again. It was tricky to keep focus, but once they got going, they enjoyed racing each other. Next, we gathered in the shade to hear Emma tell the story Slug Life by Moesha Kellaway. We found out some amazing facts about slugs including that they have 27,000 teeth and that they evolved from snails. For the rest of the session, lots of children enjoyed playing in the mud kitchen, making various concoctions. Others had a go at making snails out of clay. They used a rolling technique today, creating long sausage shapes with the clay and then rolling it to create a shell. We also had some children who worked together carrying long sticks and balancing them on a tree to create a den. There was also an abundance of wildlife to explore and identify. 

 

Have a great week.

28.3.2024

 

Due to the forecasted high winds today, the children demonstrated their flexibility of mind and enjoyed an inside version of Forest School.

21.3.2024

 

It was officially the first day of spring yesterday known as Spring Equinox, where we have an equal amount of day and night. Finally the days will be getting longer and hopefully warmer and this was very much our focus for today.

 

The Year 2 children started their session with a check in of our feelings and energy levels. The warm sunshine made lots of us feel grateful and relaxed, or energetic and playful. Our first group activity was a game of Giants, Wizards and Elves. This involves quick thinking as the children need to work out if their character needs to chase the other team or run away to not get caught. The children enjoyed acting out their characters and chasing each other. Next, we gathered back at the tarp to hear Emma tell the story of Ostara and the Hare. We found out that Ostara is the Celtic festival celebrated on Spring Equinox. In the story we find out the reason behind the hare or rabbit being associated with colourful eggs at this time of year. The hare is confused when he lays a colourful egg and asks Ostara, the spring goddess why this has happened. The hare finds out that he was once a rainbow coloured bird, Ostara was worried that its feathers would freeze in the lingering Winter weather and so changed the feathers to fur. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests and met their own needs. Last week, many were interested in using the willow branches to make Spring crowns. This week they took this skill a bit further and made hare headdresses to act out the story of Ostara and the Hare. They enjoyed hopping around with them on their heads. We also had an opportunity for whittling practice today. The children used peelers to whittle pieces of willow, which they then decorated using wool, material and pipe cleaners to make Ostara the spring goddess. These creations then became part of their imaginative play and focus of their games. There was also a sense of teamwork and community in the woods where many children worked together to build a den using a tarp, rope and a long stick. This has not been much of an interest before and was wonderful to see the children working together to create something amazing. To conclude our session, we lit our candle for our Spring Equinox and shared a moment of gratitude for something we love about spring.

 

The Year 6 children were excited to arrive at Forest School. Today we asked the children to think about their needs that they wanted to meet during their session. They shared this along with their name. Contributions included a need for freedom and fun and play. Next, we introduced a new game called Fly Robin Fly. This was a great game to play at Forest School as we could use all of the space on the field and we all had a great run as the Spring Sprites chased the Red Robins. The Spring Sprites were tasked with hiding the spring essence  (green cloths) while the Robin's job was to find the spring essence and bring it back without getting stopped by the Spring Sprites. Some of the children  thought about how to play the game to make it fun for everyone and thought about some way to adapt the rules to make this happen. It is always a balance between making the game achievable, challenging and therefore fun. The children successfully adapted the game to make it more fun and achievable. Next, we gathered together to hear the story of Spring Equinox. The children spotted some similarities between this and other cultural and religious festivals. For the rest of the session, many children chose to use the bendy willow branches to weave and tie hearts, which they decorated with raffia and string. Another opportunity was to make seed paper, by creating paper pulp, mixing in wildflower seeds and then pressing it out into a flat sheet of paper. Finally, a popular choice was a self directed game, where the children created tribes and sought to capture one another. They were encouraged to think about the risks as they played to ensure that the game could be fun without anybody getting hurt accidently. It is important for children to get the opportunities for risky play as this is where they can learn how to manage their own risks, with the support from adults where needed. To conclude our session, we lit a candle and shared moments of gratitude for spring and the gifts it brings.

 

The Reception children arrived on site and began their session with our song, count and name game. It was wonderful to look up into the branches of the willow tree and see the changes it has gone through each week. The children spotted that the leaves have become longer and the catkins are much softer and fluffier this week.

After a recap of our rules, we played a game of Squirrels. The children have not played this for a little while and were noticeably much more confident following the squirrel actions and finding partners to escape from the fox. Next, we gathered at the tarp to listen to the story of Ostara and the Hare. This is a story from the Celtic tradition, telling the tale of the Spring Equinox, where Hare lays a colourful egg and is confused why this has happened. Some children took inspiration from the story and used their willow weaving skills again this week to make Hare headdresses. They manipulated the willow to make it curve, before measuring it to the size of their head and weaving it in and out to form a hoop. They then used their twisting skills to create ears using pipe cleaners which they attached to the willow. Over recent weeks, the children's confidence in their own abilities has really increased. They have become much more independent and are happy to explore and try things out. An opportunity to explore with natural paintbrushes and paint was also given. Lots of the children explored mixing colours together to create brown to paint the trunks of the trees and then different patterns were created for the leaves using catkins as a painting tool. There was also exploration using the binoculars and magnifiers and an interest in making mini dens for the Forest Friends. We concluded our session with our Spring Equinox ceremony. We lit a candle and shared a moment of gratitude for the things that we love about spring.

 

Have a great week.

14.03.2024

 

It was a day of all weathers today, which certainly reflected our focus on the changing seasons.

 

The Year 2 children enjoyed exploring the ever expanding puddles on the way to Forest School today and arrived excited to see that it was still muddy. As part of our welcome routine today, we recapped the animal feeling cards and expanded on them, inviting the children to describe how they were feeling using some of the associated feeling words, which they were able to do. Next, we played a quick focussing game of Head Honcho. The children really enjoyed taking a turn to be the detective, carefully watching their peers to guess who was the Head Honcho changing the actions. It also really encourages concentration and observation skills. We gathered back at the tarp to hear Emma tell the story of Saving Spring. At the moment the weather seems to be changing between winter and spring and back again. Stories about this time of year often tell a tale of a battle between Winter and Spring and that is certainly what it feels like at the moment. Saving Spring is an old Scandinavian folk tale where Old Man Winter captures and traps spring and she needs to be rescued by a little boy called Oscar. This story inspired lots of play and creativity. Some children used willow branches to weave spring crowns. They had to manipulate and bend the willow, which took strength and resilience as it is not easy to do. Others used pipe cleaners, wool and a fork to make dandelion flowers. The mud was very popular as always and whilst exploring the woods, many children found interest in fungi and colour hunts. There was also a group of nature protectors who took care of the toy birds, building them a sanctuary and preparing for spring. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to share a song: I am awake! We also had time for a reflection of moments of pride and learning.

 

When the Year 6 children arrived at Forest School they saw a selection of personal qualities laid out. We can imagine that we have a treasure chest inside us with all our special qualities that make us who we are. These were laid out and we took time to consider what character traits we feel we have. It was really great to hear the children could think of a positive quality they have and felt confident to share it with the group. Our Year 6 group then moved on to a focus on teamwork. We recapped the teamwork skills we shared last week and split the class into two teams for the Lily Pad Challenge. Each team was given 5 coloured mats to use as lily pads to get from one side of the 'river' to the other. The children got into a huddle to discuss their ideas and then set off. Some teams had the initial ideas to throw the lily pads far apart from each other and jump from pad to pad across the river. They became aware that this was not working since not all people could jump as far as others and so needed to adapt their original plan. They worked out that they needed to put the lily pads closer together to allow everyone to get across. It seemed slower, but meant that nobody fell off and had to start again, so ultimately it was quicker. Recognising when we have made mistakes and need to think again is an important skill and they used this today. Emma shared the story of Saving Spring with the children and this inspired some of their craft. Many were keen to use pipe cleaners, a fork and yellow wool to create dandelions. They enjoyed making them so much that they continued to make whole bunches, which they tied with ribbons. Others enjoyed climbing trees and exploring in the mud. We gathered back together at the end of the session to reflect on the qualities we spotted in one another during the session. It was joyful to hear the children sharing positive things about each other. 

 

The Reception children were excited to see the mud and puddles again. We shared our welcome routine and introduced a new game.  We asked the children to think about their breath. The children took a breath through their nose and then a long breath out through their mouth. We changed our breath out into a hum, then an ahhhhh and practiced stopping when we ran out of breath. Once we got the hang of this we had a go at running for as long as we could whilst screaming and stopped when we ran out of breath. We went back to the start and tried to run further and beat our previous attempt, which many of the children did. Having had a good run, we gathered back at the tarp to listen to the story What Small Rabbit Heard, which tells of a rabbit who did not want to go outside to play because it was too cold, he was too busy and too tired. We recognised times when some of us have felt this way too. We all laughed as Small Rabbit misheard the instructions of Big Rabbit and ended up getting up to lots of fun outdoor adventures on a very windy day. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Lots of children were thinking about the wind today and having a go at making a weather vane. For this they had to use their cutting skills to cut a leaf into an arrow shape, and insert it on either end of a straw. The trickiest part was using our strength to push a pin through the straw and into a stick. The best bit was watching it spin as the wind blew. We also had some children who put their knot skills to work tying ribbons on to sticks to also show which way the wind was blowing. Finally the mud provided lots of opportunity for exploration and for those children who were fascinated by the feel of it squishing under their boots. We also had some children who enjoyed exploring and spotting the different colours that spring is starting to bring. To finish our session, we gathered back at the log circle and sung 'I am Awake! '

 

Have a great week.

7.3.2024

 

We were able to get our tarp base camp back out on the grass to enjoy the field area of Forest School today after a little while of sheltering in the woods. It was also great to see some new signs of spring with the hawthorn trees in full leaf now and a few leaves making an appearance on the Willow trees. 

 

The Y2 children started their session with our welcome routine before recapping the animal feeling cards that we introduced last week. They were able to remember the different animals that represented the different energy levels and pleasantness. There were quite a few 'hedgehogs' today and lots of children reported feeling tired, with low energy. We shared that they might have a need for rest and relaxation in the hammocks or to do something mindful. Next, we introduced the game Jelly Fish Tag. They enjoyed running around chasing one another, stinging each other and putting on 'hand' plasters. We paused for a moment after to check in with our body sensations, noticing our hearts pumping and our breathing getting quicker. A few children commented that they had started to feel more energised like a 'squirrel'. We gathered back on the tarp to hear Emma tell the story Every Breath A Smile. This thinks about how we breathe and how it can calm our bodies down and then help us to notice and feel grateful for the wonderful things around us. For the rest of the session, the children explored and met their needs in their chosen way. Lots had a need for rest and so some children spent time swinging in the hammocks. Others enjoyed being creative on the tarp. Some decorated pots and planted sunflower seeds in them. Others used heart hole punches to cut heart shapes out of leaves which they put in tiny pots to create pots of love. Other children had a go at using willow to make willow hearts. It took a lot of patience to bend the willow without snapping it and secure it together to make a heart shape. The sticky mud also provided a great opportunity to spot footprints of visiting animals. Bird prints and some smaller mammal prints were discovered which was really exciting. To finish our session, we gathered back together to share something that we noticed today and a song of Bele Mama.

 

Year 6 started with our welcome routine and a game of Wolf and Deer that we introduced in the previous week. It was lots of fun this week as the children got the idea of working together to hunt down the children who were deer. They were great at developing strategies and their game play. For the rest of the session, we set the children a teamwork challenge. We recapped the skills and steps that should be used when working in a team and then set the groups off with the challenge to be able to keep a stick upright without having any of it embedded into the ground. Some groups recognised that they could use ropes and other sticks to create guy rope structures and keep the stick standing. Some children were able to delegate and ensure that everyone in the group had a role, meaning that they worked through the challenge quickly. Others found it challenging to focus on the group's shared need of achieving the task and focussed on their need for fun and play. We all have needs, but it helps to recognize that sometimes it is not possible to meet those needs when the group needs are the focus. A shared motivation to achieve is also helpful. We will continue to work on these skills, balancing our needs and the group's needs in the coming weeks.

 

Reception children started with their welcome routine and calling to the different trees. This half term, we will be focussing on our body sensations and our feelings. We thought about how we might be feeling if our bodies are all tight and scrunchy. The children recognised that this was an uncomfortable feeling like anger, worry or sadness. We also thought about the more comfortable feelings like calm, relaxed and happy and how our bodies feel loose, warm and open when we feel like this. We shared a technique that the children can use if their body feels uncomfortable called Flower Breathing. We all imagined holding a dandelion clock and slowly breathing in and out, imagining blowing the seeds off. The children recognised that as they breathed out their shoulders dropped and relaxed. After this, we played a quick game of Eagle Eyes. The children enjoyed hiding and creeping closer to the tarp when Emma had her eyes closed. We gathered back on the tarp to hear Emma tell the story Every Breath A Smile. This thinks about how we breathe and how it can calm our bodies down and then help us to notice and feel grateful for the wonderful things around us. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests and met their own needs. Some children decided to get creative and make gifts for their mums and loved ones. Some decorated pots and planted sunflower seeds in them. Others used different hole punches to cut shapes out of leaves which they put in tiny pots to create pots of love. We also had some children who bent pieces of willow and put their knot skills to work securing the pieces together to make willow hearts. There was also some mud exploration, returning to their puddles. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to share something we were proud of that we did today. Lots of children were proud that they were able to make something for their families.

 

Have a great week.

29.02.2024

 

It was great to be back enjoying the mud with the children of Kerem today. Although sometimes as adults, we find rainy weather challenging or unpleasant, it is wonderful to watch the children embrace it and we were even told that this was the ‘best forest school day ever!’ by a child in Reception. If we are dressed for the weather, it is wonderful to see all of the adventures that we can get up to.
 
Year 2 were excited to be back at Forest School today. We shared our welcome routine and our animal feeling cards. These encourage the children to check in with their bodies and think about their energy levels and their level of pleasantness in their body, with different animals being linked to the different states. There was a mixture of calm, relaxed foxes, energised squirrels, a few low energy hedgehogs and one deer. Sharing our energy levels and whether we are having pleasant sensations in our body or not, really helps those around us to understand what is going on for one another, so that we can respond in an acceptable way to one another.
Next, we took everyone out onto the field to play Creeping Comanche. We thought about the animals who are predators and have to move slowly to hunt their prey and practiced moving without making a sound. Next, we introduced the drum and incorporated this into the game. The children all started away from the drum and had to slowly creep back, only moving when their drum was beating. If it was silent, they had to stay completely still. We found out that if they moved too quickly and forgot to creep, it was very difficult to stop. However, if we crept slowly, it was much easier to focus on the drum and stop when we needed to. After this, we shared the story Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. This fun story was a stimulus for problem solving and collaboration with some of the children. For those who were interested, various animals were stuck and in need of help. This resulted in a lot of great discussion and creative thinking as solutions were generated. Different methods were trialled. Long sticks, which had to be thick enough (after trying thinner ones), were a popular choice and needed co-operation, safe handling, and communication throughout for successful rescue operations. As soon as they got them down they were keen to hide them again. Other children chose to make catapults, finding Y sticks and attaching the rubber bands and leather. This took a lot of patience as well as fine motor skills to thread and manipulate rubber bands around the Y stick. Finally there was great interest in the mud with the children thoroughly enjoying slipping and sliding. We concluded the session gathered together and reflected on things we enjoyed in the session. Lots of children enjoyed playing in the mud, working in teams and listening to the story.
 
Year 6 children were very excited by the amount of mud as they arrived. We gathered under the shelter from the rain to share our welcome routine and a question: What do you enjoy doing the most at Forest School? Contributions included being crafty, building things, building dens and playing in the mud. Next, we introduced a new game called Wolf and Deer. Everyone was given a deer tail and there was one wolf who had to catch the deer by grabbing their tail. Once their tail was caught they became a wolf and joined in the hunt. It was lots of fun running around with the wolves working together to catch the deer. It certainly warmed us all up. After this, the children were free to follow their own interests and meet their own needs. For some, this was spent under the shelter using the watercolour paints or learning a new knotting technique to make cobra bracelets from paracord. This took lots of focus and they got the hang of it quite quickly. Other children met their need for fun and play in the mud, sliding in it and chasing their friends. We also saw some children return to the den building with ropes and tarps. It was amazing to see the development in their building skills since the last time they attempted this. We gathered back together and shared a moment of gratitude. Some contributions included being grateful for the shelter, for the mud, for the game and for the chance to run about.
 
Reception children were keen to squelch in the muddy puddles as soon as they arrived. It is wonderful to see their confidence and excitement in this environment more. We shared our welcome routine and then introduced our game Creeping Comanche. The children thought about animals that need to move quietly and then stay still when they stalk their prey and had a practice at moving in this way. We lifted our feet up slowly and put them down carefully to move without making a sound. Next we introduced the drum. The children had to listen carefully and only move closer to Emma when the drum was playing. As soon as it stopped they had to freeze and not move. They were really good at this and understood the need to move slowly. After this, we gathered together to hear Emma tell the story Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. In the story, Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree and throws up lots of different things to knock it back down but they all get stuck.
 
Our Forest Friends had been exploring today and had also gotten stuck up the trees. Some children chose to work together to manoeuvre long sticks to poke them down. Others had a go at making slingshots, cutting holes in leather, threading through springy rubber bands and then attaching it to a Y stick. This took lots of patience, particularly when it broke or came undone. These are important challenges to go through, as the children recognise and learn that  they have the skills to fix it, or come up with a way to make it better. We also had a giant catapult, which some children used to fire the Forest Friends across the woods. There was also a great amount of mud play and exploration. We finished with our goodbye song.
 
Have a great week.

8.2.2024

 

The puddles were deep and the mud was squishy! But what fun we had on the last day of forest school for this half term! 

 

Y1 gathered under our tarp for our welcome song and a reflection on our energy levels with our animal feeling cards. There was a good mixture of energy today with some excited squirrels and some tired hedgehogs. We introduced a new chant called ,”I am awake!” which involved us tapping our bodies to a rhythm. This movement helps to regulate our nervous systems and bring us into the present moment. Next, we paired up to play 1,2,3. This activity focuses on concentration and really works your brain as you take turns to count alternate numbers, then even more concentration is required as we add in sounds and movements. Lots of children challenged themselves to go faster making it even more tricky but fun. After this, we huddled together to hear the story of The Great Race. This tells the tale of the Chinese Zodiac and how the years within the lunar calendar got their animal names. This year is the year of the dragon. Lunar New Year is celebrated by many people in many different countries across Asia including the Philippines, Singapore, North and South Korea. For the rest of the session, the children followed their interests and needs. Those that had a need for shelter and creativity enjoyed using charcoal and watercolour paint to draw Chinese characters. Others had a go at making dragon's by threading leaves onto a string and tying them to sticks, finally adding a clay head and some natural decorations. We also had those that enjoyed 'The Puddle Project'. This involved lots of children working together gathering buckets of leaves to make a dam to stop the water from getting into the woods. They also had a go at making channels to divert the water away. We finished by reflecting on how well the children have done this half term with developing their confidence and resilience in some challenging weather conditions.

 

Year 4 were incredibly excited by the huge puddles that had formed everywhere and were keen to get going today. We shared our new song, 'I Am Awake,' and tapped our bodies to get them ready for the session and tuned into how we were feeling. Many of the children shared that they felt like a 'frustrated deer' today because the rain meant they could not do the things they wanted to do at forest school. It was strange to find that they felt this way as the weather doesn't have to stop them and actually they can have lots of fun doing what they enjoy, which is usually digging in the mud! However this belief does come from a belief in society that we need to stay in on rainy days. It is great that these children are having the opportunity to learn that they don't have to. Next, the children got in pairs to play our brain energising game of 1,2,3. We challenged them to see how fast they could go with their partner and there were lots of giggles when it went wrong. After this, we shared the story It Fell From The Sky. This story told of small invertebrates finding a 'Wonder' and displaying it in the art gallery called WonderVille. We discussed that it was funny that the creatures saw our man made objects as beautiful, but the things that filled WonderVille were litter. Nature and the creatures are the real 'Wonders'. For the rest of the session, lots of children were drawn to the big puddles and worked together to make a bridge using logs across the water. It was wonderful to see their teamwork and playfulness as they sang and pulled logs into place. They were excited for the group to see their creation and enjoyed taking a photo together with it. Others used paint and charcoal to draw Chinese characters. Others helped collect sticks and place them in a spiral around a tree and as ladders between branches in the tree to create our own 'Wonderville'. Once again it was great to see children partake in this group art project, helping build something together. We finished the session reflecting on the class's achievements this half term. They have noticeably got better at working together, communicating their needs and ideas better and finding the fun, rather than looking outwardly to compete against others.

 

Reception were also very excited, jumping in the puddles as soon as they arrived. It was wonderful to see their joy and carefree playfulness. Today we focussed on Lunar New Year which will be celebrated by many different people on the 10th February. We gathered together for our song, counting and name game before our first activity, which was a hunt for 12 small animals of the Chinese Zodiac. They ran around looking high and low. Once they were all found, we gathered back together to hear the story: The Great Race. This is a story about how the Chinese Zodiac came to be. This year it is the year of the dragon. As the story was told, the children used the toy animals to join in. For the rest of the session, some children made dragon puppets. First this involved threading leaves onto a string for the body. They then used their knot skills to tie each side of the body to sticks: one for the front and one for the back. They squashed clay on to the front stick and shaped it to create a head, adding natural materials for eyes, ears, a mouth and fire. Some took their dragons for a fly around the forest. Other children enjoyed the mud, climbing on the 'boat' and singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat' together. They enjoyed exploring and testing the depth of the different puddles with their wellies. To conclude our session we gathered back together and sang our song Boom Chicka Boom, encouraging the children to find their voice. 

 

Have a great week.

1.2.2024

 

We were in the woods again, enjoying the sun as it shone over the trees to warm us up.

 

Year 1 started with our welcome routine and another check in with our animal feeling cards. The children have really got to grips with the differing energy levels that the animals represent and today used some other feeling words in connection to the animals to share how they were coming to the session. We started with a new game called Fly Robin Fly. This was a great game to play at Forest School as we could use all of the space on the field and in the woods and we all had a great run as the Frost Sprites chased the Red Robins. The Frost Sprites were tasked with hiding the fire  (red cloths) while the Robin's job was to find the fire and bring it back to the fireplace without getting frozen by the Frost Sprites. Some of the children  thought about how to play the game to make it fun for everyone and thought about some way to adapt the rules to make this happen when we play next time. After this, we gathered back at the tarp to share the story of Imbolc, which falls on the 1st February. This is the point in the year where we are exactly halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. For the rest of the session, some children used our Spring Spotter cards to go and look for signs of spring. They noticed that the buds on the trees are starting to get a bit bigger. The hammocks were very popular as well as digging. We also had some children using their knot skills to make people out of wheat. This took great concentration and patience to secure the wheat together at different points and follow the instructions. They then used lavender to decorate them and make them smell nice. It was wonderful to see how their confidence in their abilities to do things for themselves is growing week on week. We finished back together with a song called Spring is Coming. Singing is a great way to bring the community together and it was lovely to share this with the children.

 

Year 4 also shared our feelings with the others in the group at the start of our session. They are being more authentic with their responses and showing more empathy with each other as they listen and make each other feel heard. This again is improving week on week. They too played the new game Fly Robin Fly. The Year 4 children were able to apply more tactics to their game by hiding the red fire in clever places that meant that it was very hard to get back to the fireplace without being frozen. They worked as teams, sharing their tactics and supporting one another. Next, we gathered back together to share the story of Imbolc. The children were able to make connections between Imbolc and other festivals as we read the story. When it came to free choice, the children are still fascinated by digging in the mud for discoveries. They enjoy getting really muddy and the strength they feel in their bodies as they dig. A few children had a need for creativity and challenge. They had a go at making a Brigid's Cross out of rushes. This was incredibly tricky as it involves holding the rushes at right angles as you fold and add another each time. The children stuck with it and were rewarded for their hard work with some beautiful craft that they felt proud of. Again we gathered together for our Spring Is Coming song, but also had time to hear from the children what their favourite thing about spring is?  They enjoyed being able to play outside more with their friends, wearing less clothes and swimming in the pool.

 

Our Reception children were met at the gate to the park to spot some signs of spring. We were excited to see that the daffodils are starting to grow, and some of the hawthorn buds have burst open to reveal their new leaves. Once we were ready to get going, we invited the children to have a go at passing our jingle bell around the circle without making a noise. Once we were used to this, we extended the challenge by inviting someone in to play the wolf. They put on a blindfold and listened out for the sounds of the bell, pointing in its direction if it was heard. They moved the bell with lots of care to prevent it from masking a sound. We played a quick game of Eagle Eyes to give the children some movement before we invited the children to learn a new knot: the first part of the reef knot. The children used our ropes with coloured ends to help them and all were really successful. For the rest of the session, many children put this skill to work. They made snowdrop folk by whittling a willow stick, drawing on a face and then tying on green fabric, using their knot skills, for leaves and securing white felt petals on the head using a pipe cleaner. Each week, as they attempt challenging activities like this for themselves, seeing they can do it with some guidance, they are building their belief in their own abilities and self esteem. We are continuing to work on their belief in themselves in the next few weeks. Today, it was wonderful to see some children show an interest in the mud. They were encouraged to dig for treasure, but once they began finding things, they were very keen to keep going. Messy play is such an important part of a child's development, with opportunities to meet their sensory needs and providing loads of opportunities to investigate cause and effect. They had a great time.

We finished back together sharing our Spring Is Coming song. The children joined in with the words and actions.

 

Fun at Forest School - 1.2.2024

26.01.2024

 

It was great to have some warmer weather today for exploring at Forest School and wearing a few less layers meant that we could move about a bit more freely.

 

Year 1 started today's session with our chant, counting and body check in. Last week, we introduced our animal feelings cards and so we had a quick recap of the different animals thinking about the energy levels and how pleasant our bodies felt. Lots of children were a bit tired and curled up like the hedgehog today, we also had some relaxed foxes. We will continue to focus on the sensations inside our bodies and how they give clues to our emotions over the next few weeks. It was lovely to see the children dressed up to celebrate Tu Bishvat today and so we had a focus on trees. We started with a partner game called Tree Hugger. The children got into pairs and one put on a blindfold. Their partner then guided them safely to a tree, making sure to think about looking after their partner, avoiding obstacles. Once they got to their tree, they took time to feel it, describing the texture, smell, size and any other distinguishing features. They were then guided back away from their tree where they removed their mask and were tasked with identifying their mystery tree. They were great at taking care of their partners and some children even chose to continue this game in their choice time later in the session. After this, we gathered together on the tarp to listen to Emma tell the story What Do You See When You Look At A Tree. This story gets us to think about the importance of trees in our lives and of the lives of the people before us. The children then shared some of the trees that they are fond of or are special to them at Forest School. It always gives us a warm feeling to know that the children are so connected to this place. For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own way to meet their own needs. Lots of children enjoyed using the watercolours to paint pictures of trees. Others practiced their knot tying skills, tying coloured ribbon to willow sticks and cutting them into tree shapes, they then added an eyelet screw and a cord to make a tree necklace. Digging and debris den building was also a popular activity. Finally we invited the children to write a pledge or a statement of gratitude on a piece of material and add it to our pledge tree. We finished the session gathered back together at the tarp to share our gratitude and pledges. Some of these included: for giving us fruit, paper and oxygen, for letting us go in the hammocks, because I like climbing and  for giving animals homes.

 

The Year 4 children also started with our body check in, relating their energy levels and feelings to the four animals. There was a big mixture of energy levels in the class today. As with the Year 1, we invited the children to get into partners and play Tree Hugger. They were so great at guiding their blindfolded partners through the woods and enjoyed challenging each other. Again, we shared the book What Do You See When You Look At A Tree. The children listened attentively and were keen to share the trees that they felt connected to at Forest School. For the rest of the session, the diggers had fun in the mud, spreading it on their faces and hands to camouflage themselves as they played. We reflected that mud contains special chemicals that are absorbed by our bodies and actually improve our wellbeing. No wonder it feels so good! Others got creative with the watercolour paints, sitting together in different places in the woods to paint pictures of the trees. We also had a few that used willow, flexing it to make a hoop, which they then added wool to, to make a woven tree. Our stone collectors and debris den builders continued on their exploration and structures and all were invited to add their pledge to the pledge tree. At the end of the session, we invited the children to share their pledges and gratitude for the trees. These included: for giving us oxygen, giving us shelter and support, they take car of us and feel like real people, for the wood my bed is built out of and that without them we wouldn't even be here.

 

Reception children started in the field with our welcome song, calling to the trees and our name game. After recapping the rules we invited the children to go on a bud hunt. We talked about what buds were and acted out being a bud on a tree, getting bigger and bigger and bigger until it opened up to show the new leaves that are hiding inside. The children were then given a bud stick from a mystery tree. We looked at the buds and described their colour, shape and size before going on a hunt to find the mystery tree they came from. We identified the Willow buds, the hornbeam buds and the oak tree buds. We had a closer look at some willow buds and enjoyed feeling the soft furry catkins before sharing The Tale of the Pussy Willow. A story which tells of how the pussy willow and weeping willow got their names. Storytelling is a lovely way to introduce the children to nature and the environment while helping to build their vocabulary and developing concentration skills. All the children listened well and joined in with some actions and sound effects. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed relaxing in the hammocks. With spring just around the corner, some of our activities involved looking at buds closely. The children had the opportunity to identify more of the tree's buds using our bud ID poster and then used them to get crafty. Some children rolled out clay tiles and used the buds to imprint patterns into the clay. Others had a go at using them with clay to make Spring Kittens like in the story. They also had the opportunity to use the charcoal that they enjoyed last week and the Lime tree was appreciated as they used one of the branches to make a swing. We finished back at the log circle together and everyone shared the name of their favourite bud.

 

Have a great week.

18.1.2024

 

It was another beautiful, crisp winter's day and so we set up basecamp in the woods with a windbreak to create a bit of a sun trap as the sun rose through the trees as the day went on.

 

Year 1 children started with the welcome chant and our name game, before getting busy, moving our bodies with the game Nest Robbers. The children found a partner and chose where to build their nest on the site. When Emma said, "Go!" they had to run to the bird feeder and collect a piece of food and bring it back to their nest without getting caught by the Red Kites. Once all the bird food was gone, we noticed that children who had built their nests in the same area as the majority of others got caught more, whilst those that built their nest in a different place, on their own, were not as targeted by the Red Kites. The children then got the chance to move their nest to a different location for round 2. This involved a new group of birds who stole from unguarded nests, Lots of the children were very careful not to lose any bits of food this way and made sure that their nest was guarded at all times. It was much harder for the Red Kites to catch birds this time as they were more spread out. After our bodies were warmed up, we made sure our coats were zipped up and our hats, gloves and scarves were on to trap the warmth we created. We snuggled together to hear Emma tell the story The Winter Sleep, which was a story about hibernation. We found out that lots of different animals hibernate including invertebrates and mammals and reflected that winter is a time where we also slow down. For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own ways. We invited them to go for a hunt for hibernating homes as explained in the book, which some chose to do, spotting nests in the trees. Others enjoyed swinging themselves in the hammocks, meeting their need for movement and rest. We also had some meeting their need for creativity by making their own Forest School sketch books by attaching a cardboard cover around some special cartridge paper and using some charcoal to sketch. We also had some keen diggers. We ended the session gathered back at the tarp and used our shaky eggs to sing our Hibernation song.

 

Year 4 children started with their welcome routine and then a hunt in teams. We gave each team a selection of close up pictures of different parts of the woods and asked them to work out what they were. The teams worked really well together, giving each other encouragement and support when they identified the different mystery objects in the pictures. With teamwork being the focus, we gave the groups a second challenge called Penguins on an Iceberg. Each team had to stand on a tarp and for each new round, they had to fold it in half making it get increasingly smaller.  Every team had such a shared motivation to achieve and it was wonderful to watch. They also were all able to look into their team and feel proud, rather than looking out and comparing themselves to other teams. This is something we have been working on and it was great to see them achieve this today. We reflected on how this felt in our body and agreed it made us have a warm feeling in our heart. We shared the story The Winter Sleep, hearing about the different animals that hibernate, before setting off on our own adventures. Digging for rocks is still a great interest in the group. They are really enjoying washing them to discover their different colours and patterns and using this to identify them. Others enjoyed making Forest School sketch books by fixing a cardboard cover around some cartridge paper and using charcoal to sketch. We also explored making an elder pot necklace by hollowing out the elder and creating a lid that could fit inside. It was fun experimenting and problem solving each step. To finish our session, we gathered back together and shared a moment of gratitude. Again the children really impressed us with their authentic, thoughtful responses, some including that they were grateful for the seasons, for having time with their friends, for their warm clothes and for the sunshine.

 

Reception children began their session with the welcome routine followed by a game where they had to find the different coloured woolly worms around the site. Even though we had put out the same number of each type of worm, the children found more bright blue worms than any other colour and the fewest worms were brown. The children identified that the brown ones were the most camouflaged in woods against the tree trunks, whereas the blue ones stood out. Next, we listened to Emma tell the story of Pine and the Winter Sparrow. We told the story as we flew around the site, meeting the different trees as the Sparrow visited them. This story introduces the fact that Evergreen trees like the Pine keep their leaves throughout the winter, whilst deciduous trees shed their leaves. For the rest of the session, the children enjoyed using the charcoal to draw some of the birds that live in the woods. They also worked together to drag logs through the woods and use them to build a giant nest. They played with the soft toy birds and enjoyed finding out their species by matching them to our giant bird poster. At the end of the session, we all climbed in the giant nest and shared the name of our favourite bird. Lots of children chose the robin, which we then sang a song about. It was lovely singing all together.

 

Have a great week.

11.1.2024

 

It was wonderful to be back with the children at Kerem today and while the temperature was low, we welcomed the gorgeous winter sunshine and blue skies and we had some magical moments with the children.
 
Year 1 started the session with our welcome chant and counting, followed by another reflection on our feelings. This week, we introduced the children to our animal feeling cards: the red deer, the blue hedgehog, the green fox and the yellow squirrel. The children identified the animal that they were most in line with today. Many of the children felt quite energetic and excited like the busy squirrel today and some were calm and relaxed like the fox. Next, we got our bodies moving with a new game called Wolf Hunter. Everyone was given a deer tail and there was one wolf who had to catch the deer by grabbing their tail. Once their tail was caught they became a wolf and joined in the hunt. It was lots of fun running around the field with the wolves working together to catch the deer. It certainly warmed us all up. After this, we gathered together to hear Emma tell the story The Precious Stone. This told of a man who had lots of money and bought lots of expensive things, but was not happy. He sought the secret to happiness and found out that it was not found in our possessions, but  in carrying a heart full of love and kindness. For the rest of the session, the children chose how to explore and meet their needs. Last week there was a great interest in rocks and so this week we gave them the opportunity to use the rock ID guides to identify their findings. They enjoyed working together and washing their findings to bring out the colours and patterns to help identify them. We also had the opportunity to be creative with some flat smooth pebbles which some chose to decorate with pens and others chose to try out rock wrapping, attaching sticks to their stones. 
 
Year 4 started with their usual welcome routine before playing our new game Wolf Hunter. We thought about the predator and prey relationship and discussed the tactics that wolf use to hunt in packs and catch their prey. They were able to use these skills to work together to round up deer during the game, once again with the aim of developing their teamwork skills. Once our bodies were warm, we were able to come together to hear Emma tell the story of The Precious Stone. This told of a man who had lots of money and bought lots of expensive things, but was not happy. He sought the secret to happiness and found out that it was not found in our possessions, but  in carrying a heart full of love and kindness. We reflected that being outdoors and enjoying time in nature can make us happy and it costs nothing! For the rest of the session, lots of children chose to work together to dig up stones and look for treasure. They also used the ID guides and were excited by their finds. Some children explored the flat stones, and tried out some rock wrapping. We also had a group of children that were enjoying the debris den building. Their structure is developing each week and now has different areas for relaxing and has even been decorated. To end our session, we gathered together for a song of 40 Years on an Iceberg.
 
Reception children started with their usual routine followed by their names and actions. We needed to warm our bodies up, so we returned to an old game with them called Nest Robbers. In this game the children had to get pieces of food back to their nest, without being caught by the red kites or having their food stolen by the corvids. They worked really well in their pairs, ensuring their nests were guarded and evading the predators with some great dodging. Once our bodies were warmed up, we gathered together to listen to the story of Jack Frost. We thought about all of the fun things that can be done in winter and how beautiful it is. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Today, they had the opportunity of becoming birds trying to get food out of a piece of ice. They used sticks as beaks to peck at the ice and get the food out, which they really enjoyed. Other children worked together to create a picture of a snowman on the ground using flour and natural materials to decorate. The children had to share their ideas and collaborate as they added on features such as the hat, the scarf, buttons, a mouth and eyes. We also had some children using sticks which they secured together to look like snowflakes. We ended the session gathered together to share our favourite thing about winter.
 
Have a great week.

4.1.2024

 

It was great to be back at Kerem today and see the changes that have happened over our holiday break. There was lots of puddles and mud to explore and we all made the most of it.

 

After our welcome routine and introducing ourselves with a focus on our feelings, Year 1 children started their session with a new game called Jelly Fish Tag, which got our bodies warmed up and ready for the rest of our session. The children enjoyed running around, chasing each other and tagging with their tentacles. Next, we gathered together to listen to Emma tell the story of The Water Goddess. This story told the Cambodian myth of Moni and Ream who competed against each other to gather the most dew from the morning grass to show their teacher, Lok Ta, who was the most  worthy. In the story we find out why there is thunder, lightning and rain (which we have seen a lot of in the last few days!) For the rest of their time at Forest School, the children were invited to explore the water puddles on the site. Some took up the challenge of collecting as much water as they could using buckets and trowels. We saw that it was very dirty and muddy and so we thought of ways we could filter it. Some children worked together to collect natural materials such as moss, pine cones and dried grass and used these to fill a plastic bottle to create a filtering system. We tried pouring the water through the filter to make it cleaner. There was a lot of problem solving involved as we rearranged the items in the bottle and tried different things to get the water cleaner each time. Other children were excited to be back in the woods and made the most of their time playing games with each other in the woods, digging for clay and using the ropes to make swings. We finished our session back at the tarp with a song to bring our community together.

 

It was Year 4s first Forest School of this year and was lovely to welcome them back. They have grown so much! We started today with our welcome routine and a hunt called Dotty Spotting. The children ran around the site looking for letters on coloured dots, which they then unscrambled to make two words in teams. They worked quickly together and found that the letters made the words, 'New Beginnings.' At the start of the year, people often think about what they want to get better at or things that they want to shed, which gave us a focus for our session. Last time the children were with us, we learnt how to do square lashing. As with all tricky things, we need to keep practicing them to feel more confident and so today we had another go. It was wonderful to see the children's patience, resilience and persistence as they worked to get the hang of this lashing. Some of the children who mastered this technique were great at supporting others who were finding it more challenging. Those that wanted to, used their square lashed sticks to create New Year mobiles, writing affirmations and intentions for the year on wooden leaves, which they attached to their frame. They focused on their knot skills and had great discussions as they worked together. Others were keen to get back into the woods to develop their den building, with some using ropes and tarps and some, who wanted a more permanent structure opting to continue developing a debris den, which they hope to add to as the half term progresses. We finished the session, with a quick reflection.

 

Reception children were dressed and ready to enjoy the mud and puddles in the afternoon. To start our session we introduced the children to a new game called Giants, Wizards and Elves. This game involved group decision making and concentration, as the children had to work out if they needed to chase the other team or run away from them. They really enjoyed acting as the different characters. Next, we gathered together to hear Emma tell the story of Facing the Giant. This story tells of a lady who faces the giant even though she hears terrible things about him and he is much bigger than her. As she gets closer to him, he gets smaller and smaller until he eventually disappears. The children listened to this story so well and some children were able to think of challenges they faced and fears they overcame. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed creating their own mobiles of intentions. They used a willow frame and decorated it with pipe cleaners and tied on a wooden leaf that they decorated. Some children were also brave enough to try some Silver Birch Twig tea. They used the secateurs to cut branches into small pieces. They then poured on hot water and left it to steep before adding a small drop of honey. We watched as the water changed colour and the honey dissolved and then enjoyed the warming, cleansing drink. There was also a lot of exploratory play in the puddles and mud. To finish our session, we gathered together to reflect on the challenges and fears that we faced today.

 

Have a great week.

 

7.12.2023

 

This term seems to have flown by and I can't believe we have reached the last session of 2023.

 

Year 2 and Year 3 started their session with our welcome routine with Year 2 sharing their name with an action to warm our bodies up and Year 3 who shared a 'glimmer' that they noticed: something that they saw and made them feel good or connected with them. It was wonderful to hear some of the 'glimmers' being things in their natural environment including bird song, watching a bird fly low, frost on the trees and having a hot chocolate after playing football. Noticing little 'glimmers' everyday can really boost our mental health and wellbeing, making us feel more positive. Next, we played a few games of Eagle Eyes. It is a lot harder to hide in the winter when there are few leaves on the trees, but the children were very stealthy at moving through the trees and bushes and enjoyed playing and running as fast as they could back to the safety of the tarp without getting caught. After this, we gathered on the tarp to hear the story The Oak Tree by Julia Donaldson. This book took the children over a period of 1000 years, through different historical periods as they saw the oak tree grow from a tiny acorn into a giant oak tree, which eventually was uprooted by a gale. We saw how many different plants, animals and humans used the tree over the years. It got us thinking about the trees in the Forest School site and the many things they must have seen over the years. For the rest of the session, the children explored and met their different needs. Those who had a need for creativity, strength and purpose had the opportunity to use the bow saw and hand drills today to cut wood cookies. Many children chose to turn these into snowmen, linking the wood cookies together and decorating them. Others used their knot skills, tying pieces of blue and white fabric onto a string and attaching a wooden disc at the bottom, which they decorated with a chanukiah, to create a Chanukah decoration. The children also love exploring in the woods. Today we found a variety of different fungi including Witches Butter, Trumpet Fungus and Silverleaf Fungus, which they enjoyed identifying. Year 3 children used the ropes to make swings, dens and zip lines through the trees, using the pulleys to lift and lower the Forest Friends. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to share some reflections of the half terms achievements.

 

Reception children had a bit of a rainy session, but they put up their hoods and had great fun enjoying the muddy puddles. We started our session with our name game and welcome routine before playing a game of Squirrels that was introduced last week to warm up our bodies. Next, we asked the children to find something in Forest School that they could make a sound with to create a woodland band. Some children chose sticks to hit together or drum with, others found leaves to swoosh together and we found bumpy things that could be scratched to make a sound. We gathered back together and Carrie taught us a song about the chanukiah, which we sang together. This inspired us to make some musical instruments using small bells. The children used pipe cleaners to thread the bells on and wrapped these around some willow sticks. They then learnt how to tie strips of blue and white material onto their sticks. It took a lot of concentration, fine motor skills and patience to manipulate the pipe cleaners and material. It felt frustrating when it fell off, but we learnt how to make the pipe cleaner more secure by twisting it, which tightened it around the stick. We now have a new phrase: I can do difficult things! Other children used peelers to whittle elder sticks to create elder candles, which they added a small yellow leaf to, to make it look like a flame. There was also fun in the hammocks and fungus hunting in the woods. The children were very excited to find a Trumpet fungus that was as big as their hand. To finish our session, we gathered back together to sing our chanukiah song again accompanied by our jingly chanukah sticks.

 

Happy Chanukah and see you next year.

30.11.2023

 

It was one of the coldest days we have experienced so far this year. The children did so well keeping their bodies warm and were very excited to be back in the woods.

 

Due to the cold weather we changed our plans for our sessions today with all focussing on moving activities and activities to get our bodies working with a story linked to the exceptionally cold weather.

 

After our welcome circle, we played a fast paced running game the groups enjoy called Squirrels.

 

Once the warmth had built up in our bodies, we gathered together to hear Emma tell an old folktale about the Winter solstice called Deer Mother. This story tells of the courageous Deer Mother travelling to Southern lands to bring back the Sun to break the endless Winter. 

 

After our story, Year 2 and 3 got up and running again with a game of Ostrich Tag before we set the children off for their own exploration.

 

Children in all groups were so excited to be back in the woods, they grabbed ropes, mallets, tarps and trowels and headed under the trees. Swings, dens and digging amongst the leaves and spotting fungus were popular activities. The children were also enjoying the movement and containment of being in the hammocks again. Reception children also thoroughly enjoyed going on a worm hunt with Carrie and climbing the trees, identifying together if they were safe or not, by looking for buds on the branches. They were particularly excited when they found some eggs and found out that they were snail eggs.

 

Today, we had our bow saw out to saw logs, which were then drilled with our hand drills to make Reindeer like the one in the story. They decorated them with a face using pens and cut and inserted branches of silver birch or alder as antlers. This week is also National Tree Week. Another activity that some children explored was using cow parsley and the hapazone technique to print on material to create a tree print, which they also enjoyed decorating with pens to bring the woodland scene to life. Finally, the children helped look after the birds. At this time of year it is much harder for them to find food and so the children threaded cheese and apple on to wire and hung it on the trees for them.

 

To conclude our sessions today we sang 40 Years on an Iceberg together. This is a fun movement song that felt particularly relevant today.

 

Have a great week.

23.11.2023

 

We were able to enjoy being outside today, enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful blue sky, which brought a lot of joy.

 

Year 2 started today with our welcome routine and a game to get our bodies moving. Our game today was Nest Robbers, which the children had played in the woods before. They partnered up and found a place to build a nest before taking on the task of retrieving as many pieces of food as they could from the birdfeeder before it ran out. They also had the added challenge of having to evade the adults who took on the role of Red Kites and were able to stop them bringing the food back to their nest. We played the game a few times and each time thought about what impact their chosen nest site had on their ability to get food. It definitely met the need for movement for many. Next, we gathered back together to listen to the story The Dawn Chorus. This book told the story of a Nightingale who couldn't figure out why he could sing really well when he practiced in the evening, but could not seem to sing in the morning with the other birds for the dawn chorus. It teaches us that we are all unique and our differences are to be celebrated. For the rest of the session, the children chose from a selection of activities that were brought. Lots of children were interested in making clay birds. They took great care in looking at the identification guides and chose particular birds to create. They looked carefully at the shapes of the beaks, tails and wings to make their individual models. Others used watercolours to paint pictures of their favourite birds, once again taking great care to observe the details of the particular bird they were painting. We also had some children who created games with their friends using the eggs and bird toys and those that used the willow to try to make a football by weaving the pieces in between each other.  It is so great to see children thinking of something that they want to do and solving problems to create using the resources that they have. To conclude our session, we gathered back together and shared the name of our favourite bird. Lots of children shared that they liked the nightingale from the story.

 

Year 3 began their session with our opening circle and a game to move our bodies. This week we played Giants, Wizards and Elves. This game focussed on making a group decision, using the skills of making a group huddle, including everyone and listening to one voice. The children showed great improvement in their ability to do this and focussed on the fun of the game, rather than getting upset when winning or losing. Next, we gathered together to listen to Emma tell the story of Pine and the Winter Sparrow. This is an old folk tale that teaches us why the deciduous trees lose their leaves in the Winter and the Pine tree hangs on to its needles. This story also helps us think about being kind, especially when we have a lot: a theme that the children were able to identify. For the rest of the session, the children chose from a range of experiences. A popular choice was using faux leather to create tinder pouches. This task took a lot of concentration as it involved using fraction knowledge to mark out the holes to be cut, cutting the material itself, and then weaving cord through the holes to make the drawstring. It was wonderful to see how supportive the children were with each other, taking it in turns to hold the material while their partner cut. They were really proud of their finished pouches. Others had requested the ropes and pulleys be brought. They were very creative with them, making zip lines for themselves and to transport buckets. Once again, it was wonderful to see them working out how to take turns and play together. To conclude our session, we gathered back together and shared our song Earth, Stone, Feather and Bone, a lovely calming song.

 

Reception children gathered at our tarp to share our welcome routine with counting and our copying name game. Today was all about dragons and so we started with a dragon egg game. Emma (who was blindfolded) was a mother dragon looking after her eggs. The children took it in turns to creep up to steal one of her eggs. They had to move really quietly to avoid being heard by Emma as if they were heard they had to return to their seat empty handed. Next, we shared the story: The Trouble with Dragons, which told of a group of dragons that used all of the Earth's resources and were left on their own. It taught us about how to be kind and look after our planet. For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own ways. Some children continued playing with the dragon eggs and soft toy dragons. Others enjoyed creating ride along dragons. This involved lots of problem solving. They stuffed a sock with newspaper and had to think of a way to attach it to a stick using pipe cleaners. They then decorated them with pens and pieces of material for the fire and tail. This was not an easy task, but the children persevered and were proud of their creations. Another crafty activity that many children enjoyed was using wool tops to wet felt and create dragon's eggs. This is a very mindful activity that took a lot of time and patience, but once again brought a great sense of pride. Others used the hazel sticks to build dragon dens, balancing the sticks one on top of the other over a frame. This again was a great problem solving activity as they had to think about using the right length sticks to make it stay up and not collapse. To conclude our session, we gathered back at the log circle. We asked the children to think about, if they had a dragon, what kind of dragon would it be. It was wonderful to hear them use their imaginations and tell us about their magical dragons.

 

Have a great week.

16.11.2023

 

The drizzle meant that we were inside today, but the children inspired us with their adaptability once again.

 

We were keen to give the Year 2 and Year 3 children a good amount of time to explore today, so after a quick welcome circle and a chance to check in with our bodies, we played a game of Look Down, Look Up. This game builds on the skill of being able to look someone directly in the eyes with confidence and hold their gaze. It also brings an occasional giggle when the children find themselves out by looking at another person that is looking at them. We discussed with the groups the need to be honest with themselves in this game, as only you can decide if you are out or not. Many children were able to demonstrate this important skill and quality and it was lots of fun. Year 3's also had the opportunity to hear Emma tell the story of How the Stars Came to Be. The children really enjoyed listening to the story which told of a special fish that if caught was able to feed a family forever. The fish got so big that the fisherman threw it back overboard, leaving behind its eye, which also continued to swell. The villagers threw the eye up into the sky, where it froze and got broken into bits by the villagers, forming the stars. For the rest of the session, the children chose to follow their own interests from a selection of different opportunities. Some used hole punches and coloured autumn leaves to create pictures and patterns. Others used the hazel sticks and ropes to work collaboratively to make dens. This is something they are really enjoying and are getting much faster at working out different ways to achieve this. Year 2 particularly enjoyed using pieces of willow to build square based pyramid structures, which they decorated with material and pipe cleaners to make mini tipis. This task took so much perseverance, but the children were incredibly supportive of one another taking it in turns to hold the pieces of willow while their partner secured them. They showed great kindness to one another and produced creations they were immensely proud of. Some of the Year 3 children also requested to make fungi pendants again this week, which involved focussed whittling and drilling. To conclude our session, we gathered together again, checked in with our sensations and shared some songs. 

 

Reception children started with their welcome routine and another game of Forest Fire. They really enjoy chasing each other and being chased. Next, we gathered together to listen to Emma tell the story of How the Stars Came to Be. The children enjoyed joining in with actions and sound effects as Emma told the story. For the rest of the session, the children chose to follow their own interests to meet their own needs. Some children chose to make a den with Carrie using ropes, tarps, mallets and pegs. They worked together to tie a ridge line  which they hung a tarp over and then tied out together. This involved lots of teamwork and communication. Their hard work was rewarded when it was finished as they enjoyed going inside and using finger torches to play. Finally, they used clay to make candle holders or diva lights. They pinched and shaped the clay, then decorated them with coloured leaves and patterns, finishing it with a tea light candle inside. There was also lots of fun to be had using the hazel sticks and ropes again, building mini dens for the Forest Friends. At the end of the session, we gathered together at the log circle to share some of the things that we learned and enjoyed.

 

Have a great week.

9.11.2023

 

It was great to be outside today and enjoy the fresh air with the children.

 

Year 2and 3 were excited to be back at Forest School today and started their session with our welcome circle, before playing our first game Secret Stone. This game allowed the children to run and move their bodies, whilst working on the skills of gathering in a circle, making a collective decision and recognising that we all can have an important role in a team. Winning is very important for some of the children in the groups and can cause upset when this is not achieved or there is a perceived injustice. This gave us an opportunity to talk about choosing to enjoy and have fun in a game, rather than choosing to react in a frustrated manner as this does not make our bodies feel nice. We can recognise others achievements without it having an impact on our own success. Next, we gathered back together to listen to Emma tell the story of The Silver Acorn. This story helps explain the seasons and why they change as well as thinking about sharing with others. The children listened attentively and could predict parts of the story as it was told. For the rest of the session, the children were given the opportunity to follow their own interests from a selection of activities that were on offer. Some children enjoyed working together to construct tripod dens using the hazel sticks, which they lashed together. Others found calm and relaxation in using the watercolours to paint pictures of trees and natural scenery, some which were used to decorate around the stick tipis. Weaving was another popular choice, with children using black and red wool to weave poppies on lolly stick frames. This is a tricky activity, but they persevered. Finally, both groups had a go at tool work. Year 2 used the palm drills to drill conkers and acorns, which they threaded onto cord to make necklaces. Year 3 children used the peelers to whittle some hazel and a palm drill to drill an acorn cap. They then secured these together with an eyelet screw to create a fungus pendant. Lots more children have asked for the opportunity to do this again next week. It is really great that the children have the opportunity to guide their own learning and they are coming with lots of ideas. To conclude our sessions, we gathered back together and reflected on the sensations we had in our body during the session. Recognising and being aware of the different sensations inside our body can really help us to understand our emotions and learn to self regulate.

 

After our usual opening circle, the Reception children gathered together to play Forest Fire. The children had to think of animals that lived in the British woodland and when their animal was called, they ran past the 'fire' and tried to reach the safety of the other side without getting caught. If they got caught they became the fire and helped catch. They really enjoyed this running and chasing game and thought about the sensations in their bodies after all the running around. After this, we listened to Emma tell the story of Fox and Fire. This story teaches us about the wonderful benefits of fire such as warmth, light and cooked food, while also reminding us to be respectful in order to avoid getting burnt. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests and met their own needs. Lots of children had their first experience of whittling. They used peelers to remove the bark from pieces of Elder and then palm drills to hollow out the ends. They then decorated their rocket by pushing material strips in the end to make the tail. It was fun seeing the children enjoying flying their rockets through the air. Others used sticks and rope to build tripod dens for the Forest Friends. They tied the sticks together and then started balancing sticks on this to make it warm and dry for the Forest Friends. We finished the session back together with a song: We are the Wild Ones. Some children enjoyed joining in with the rhythm by clapping and patting their knees.

 

Have a great week,

Emma and Lenka.

19.10.2023

 

This half term seems to have flown by in a blink of an eye and we have come to the end of our Forest School time this year with some groups, so today was about recognising what we have achieved this half term.
 
After our welcome chant, counting and name game, Year 1 split into three teams for our game of caterpillar race. The children in each team sat on their mat one behind each other in a line and had to pass a high five from the front of the line to each person until it reached the back of the line. That person then ran to the front. The children really enjoyed this team game and gave each other encouragement to stay focussed on the task. Next, we gathered together to hear Emma tell the story of A Little Leaf's Journey. This story helped us think about life cycles and the cycles of the seasons. For the rest of the session, the children chose between a few different activities:
  • Exploring oak leaves, acorns and conkers through drawing and using the magnifiers.
  • Drilling and threading acorns and conkers to make necklaces.
  • Weaving spider webs.
  • Using the power of flapping to move a ball around a stick maze
  • Throwing food into the animals mouth.
Again they were so creative and really persevered at some of the challenging craft activities. We finished with a reflection on what we have learnt about ourselves this half term and a few of our favourite songs.
 
Year 5 started their session with a question: If you could swap places with an animal, what would you choose and why? This was a great discussion and many of the children wanted to climb or fly above the trees and so choe animals that did these things. Our first game this week was called Heads or Tails. This involved the children choosing a side and indicating by putting their hands on their head or their tail. They had to watch and think about whether they lost a life or gained a life. Our next game focussed on working as a larger team. Everyone apart from one person had a sit mat, spaced out in the hall which they sat on. The group needed to move from one space to another, without the standing person being able to sit on a mat. This helped meet our need for movement and fun. For the rest of the session, the children chose between several opportunities:
  • Exploring natural items with the magnifiers.
  • Creating wool bracelets using a new weaving technique.
  • Drilling and whittling fungi pendants
  • Using knots and lashings to make structures with hazel rods.
  • Exploring animals and plants through books.
We finished sharing our achievements for this half term. Lots of children enjoyed developing their drilling and whittling skills and being creative.
 
Reception started their session with our usual welcome routine followed by a new game of Nest Robbers. The children created nests using sticks with a partner and then had to run to the bird feeder to collect pieces of food to bring back to their nests. After this, we gathered together to listen to the story of The King of the Birds. This tells us of some different birds and what makes them special. It also teaches us that even if we are small, like the Wren, we can do incredible things. For the rest of the session, the children chose between a selection of activities:
  • Making bird feeders using string, pine cones, vegetable fat and bird seed
  • Making nests and playing with the toy birds and eggs
  • Making clay birds.
The children really enjoyed learning about the birds and how they can help them. We finished gathering back together, and shared some of the names of the birds we learnt.
 
Have a great half term.

13.10.2023

 

We were so pleased to be able to continue with Forest School and see all of the children today, despite a bit of a different environment. Thank you so much for accommodating us in the school space.
 
Year 1 started their session with our welcome song, counting and name game followed by a quick group focus game. We all put our hands out on the floor in front of us and placed them in between the hands of the people on either side of us. We then had to try to pat our hands on the floor in the order of the hands. This game sounds simple, but we found it quite tricky to know when we had to tap our hands down as they were not in front of us. We thought of ways to get better like looking at the hands as the tap was passed around and supporting each other by gently tapping a person's hand if they forgot to go. We were pleased to be able to go faster and have fewer mistakes the second time we tried. Next, we played a game of squirrels to get our bodies moving. The children really love this game and are improving each time at supporting one another by calling out the names of children that need help finding where to go. After this, we gathered together to listen to the story You're Called What? This story made us all laugh as we heard about a range of animals with unusual and funny names. We couldn't believe it when we found out that they are actually real animals! For the rest of the session, the children chose between a few different activities:
  • Exploring Fungi and drawing them using coloured pencils.
  • Playing some nature board games and jigsaw puzzles
  • Weaving cordage using a card circle loom
  • Weaving flowers and ribbon into a frame.
They were so creative and really persevered at some of the challenging craft activities. We finished with a new song about Conkers and a squirrel, which we enjoyed singing together.
 
Year 5 started their session with our chant, counting and name game before our first partner activity: 1,2,3 Game. Partners worked together to count to 3, taking alternate numbers. Once we got the hang of this, we moved to Level 2 challenge, which involved swapping a number for a sound. This proved a bit trickier but provided lots of laughs when we made mistakes. Finally, Level 3 challenge was to swap a final number for a movement. Some children really concentrated hard and were able to laugh and start again if they got it wrong. Our next game focussed on working as a large team. Everyone sat in a circle with their legs out straight in front of them. Without a pattern or order, everyone had to pull their legs in and say a number, counting up from 1. The rule of the game is that no one is allowed to say a number at the same time. We had quite a few goes at this with the children offering ways to improve game play and work as a team to finally achieve getting the whole way to number 19! We were so proud when we finally managed to do it and considered what had changed to make us able to be successful in the end. We agreed that we had slowed down and let everyone have their own moment, rather than rushing and thinking of ourselves. For the rest of the session, the children were presented with a challenge. We recapped the needs that we have looked at this half term and considered whether birds would also have these needs. They were then presented with the challenge of being architects and designing a nest that would have an invention to solve a problem, which the children could pick. Some chose to invent a nest that would prevent eggs from falling out, others thought about ways to entertain the chicks and get food and water. We finished sharing our nest inventions and some children are keen to try to build them when they return to the Forest School site.
 
Reception started their session with our usual welcome routine followed by a new game of Squirrels. The children were great at listening to the different instructions and performing the different actions, getting into pairs to escape the fox. After this, we gathered together to listen to the story The Squirrels Who Squabbled and thought about how sharing is much better than arguing and missing out. For the rest of the session, the children chose between a selection of activities:
  • Drilling acorns and conkers to thread on a necklace.
  • Apple printing
  • Making clay hedgehogs.
The children were really proud of their creations and they showed great imagination, strength and perseverance, particularly with the drilling which was very challenging.We finished gathering back together, and shared a counting conker song.
 
Have a great week.

5.10.2023

 

Today was all about seeds with the groups, giving us some wonderful autumn fun.

 

Year 1 started their session with our welcome chant, calling our number to the trees and sharing our names with creative moves. After a quick recap on the rules of Forest School, we got going with our first activity. The children needed to work in small groups to sort a pot of mixed seeds and natural materials into separate piles. After this, we had a brief discussion about how to work well in a team by being aware if another team member is sharing ideas, and making sure they have the space to be heard, without talking at the same time. This is a really hard skill that we develop as we get older and so giving children a time to focus on developing these skills and reflecting on them is important. The children had the task of working in small teams to use their sorted natural objects to create a pattern. They enjoyed thinking of ideas about how to do this and got busy quickly. We reflected on our teamwork skills and noted that it works well when we use kind voices and the teams that worked well were great at ensuring that everyone in their group had a role or a job to do. We can support those who are unsure by giving them a role or we can ask our team mates for a job if we are unsure of how to help. For the rest of the session, children followed their own interests. Following on from our seed sorting, lots of children made conker soap, using their mallets to break open horse chestnuts, crumbling up the white flesh into pots, before adding water and shaking to release and activate the saponins. They then filtered the mixture using cheesecloth to leave a soapy liquid. It was not easy to smash the hard conker shells, but even though it was challenging, the children persevered and were really proud of their efforts. Some children enjoyed the motion they experienced in the hammocks, whilst others got busy making debris dens with logs and rope. Another popular activity was using clay. The children really enjoy the sensory aspect of clay as well as giving them a chance to express their creativity. We finished our session back at the tarp, taking time to 'settle our glitter' and tune into how our bodies were feeling. We then shared this with the group taking a turn when we held Chester the Horse Chestnut.

 

Year 5 started their session with our welcome routine and this week's carefully selected question: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? It was lovely to hear everyone's dream destinations, often including seeing or spending time with family. This can be a very emotive topic, where we want to share our thoughts about places with each other, but everyone was very respectful and listened with kindness once again today, giving space for their peers to be heard, without feeling the need to share their anecdote. Our focus activity today involved tuning into our senses in an activity we call Prickly or Tickly? The children all had an explore around the site to find a natural item that was both prickly and tickly. They then asked their partner to put their hands behind their back and proceeded to use their natural item to touch their partner's palm, top of hand and wrist with either the 'prickly' or 'tickly' item. The person who was receiving the experience then had to share if it was prickly or tickly and guess the item. Taking away our sight in this game really helps to heighten our sense of touch, giving our bodies a different experience. We also reflected that we really needed to trust that our partner would not scare or hurt us, building on our sense of community. For the rest of the session, some children used the palm drills to drill into seeds and conkers to make seed people. Again this took a huge amount of patience, focus and strength to drill and connect the seeds to make the creations. It was lovely to see the pride when they finished and their conker people were brought to life. Some children also learnt how to make cordage from reed mace leaves. This is a calm and grounding activity, again requiring care and patience as the fibres are twisted together. Finally we had some keen whittlers who enjoyed shaping their wood into throwing spears.To conclude our session we gathered together to reflect on our bodily sensations. We took time to connect with our bodies and think about the sensations we experienced. This is quite hard to identify, but can be a really useful skill in understanding our emotions and help us regulate them.

 

Reception children arrived with a flourish of song today, showing their excitement. We began with our welcome routine, counting and sharing our names with an action. After a recap of the rules and a quick game of 1,2, 3 Where Are You, we got ourselves into small teams to sort a selection of seeds including conkers, acorns and acorn caps. The children had to observe them carefully and work out a place to put each object with their team, the start of team working skills. Next, we gathered on the grass to hear Emma tell the story of The Nut Thief: A story about a young squirrel who mistakenly believed another squirrel was helping themselves to her precious pine nuts and started to think bad thoughts about her. It turned out it was actually she who had been taking the nuts. We talked about how she felt when she thought her nuts were being taken and how she felt when she realised her mistake. Storytelling supports the development of language and emotional literacy while promoting brain development and imagination. Our free choice exploration included using spikey teasels and clay to make squirrels, with the tails made from teasels. They had to hold them carefully to ensure they didn't spike their fingers. Squashing and squeezing the clay into shape helps to strengthen children's hand and finger muscles needed for writing, while manipulating the teasel into place encourages the children to manage their own risk and safety. Other children enjoyed rolling painted seeds around in a tray to create beautiful pictures. Digging, playing in the mud kitchen and relaxing in the hammocks was also a popular choice. For our reflection at the end of the session we sang some songs with the group including Grey Squirrel, which the children are getting really confident at now, and we introduced Inside I'm Wild! 

 

Have a great week.

28.9.2023

 

We were blessed with a beautiful day today for exploring at Forest School. 

 

Year 1 started their session with our welcome routine before moving on to a challenge: to create a leaf slide. Every child was given a black card frame and then had to find a beautiful leaf to put inside. It needed to be held up to the light to activate the light. It was lovely to hear the children's excited comments to each other as they did this, spotting new patterns, colours and shapes that they had not seen before. We gathered back together to share some of the leaf slides with the group. Next, we shared the story of Conker the Chameleon which is all about a chameleon who is sad because he can't change colour and feels different. As chameleons change colour to show how they’re feeling, he’s worried the others won’t be able to see how he feels. During the story he discovers using words is a more effective way of sharing our feelings and by the end of the story, while he still can't change colour, he has changed his mindset and feels happy about who he is. The children shared their thoughts about the story and different emotions and it also provided opportunity to discuss the benefits of talking about our feelings to others and rather than displaying them through our behaviour ie. Shouting, being unkind, rude, hurting others etc. For the rest of the session, the children followed their interests. Lots of the Year 3s were keen to try out wet felting acorns. This is a long process which involves separating wool fibres, before rolling them in soapy hands until the fibres knitted together and form a small, hard piece of acorn shaped felt. They then glued these into acorn cups to make beautiful, colourful acorns. It was a long but satisfying process taking lots of patience and perseverance. Other children used the different coloured leaves to cut out and create collage style pictures. We also had our usual keen diggers and those that enjoyed some movement and relaxation in the hammocks. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to think about what colour emotion we felt during the session. Some children shared that they experienced more than one emotion and we reflected that our emotions change all the time. The best thing to do is to talk about them.

 

Year 5 started their session with another question today: What do you use every day that you do not need? This was a great question that provoked lots of thought about things that bring us joy, make life easier or things we hold on to, but we can do without. Everyone listened with kindness and no judgement and we thought about gratitude for the things that we shared. After this, we shared an activity called Webbing. Emma asked a series of questions about the trees and animals in the environment, recognising that trees need light, water, and in turn other creatures need the plants, others decompose the plant matter. As each child gave an answer, they held onto the piece of rope, passing the rest on to the next person who answered until we had a web of rope. To see how the things in the environment are linked one person tugged on the rope. Those who felt the effects of the tug, then also tugged on the rope and again until we were all feeling a tug. We reflected that we are all connected and the actions of one creature can have an effect on everything else in the environment. Next, we asked the children to find a beautiful leaf to create a leaf slide show. The children were quite amazed that when they held their leaf up to the light, its veins, colours and patterns were revealed and became clear. There was a real sense of awe and wonder as we lay on our backs with our leaf slides and passed them round for each other to see. It was really joyful to hear their comments and the excitement when their original leaf was returned to them. For the rest of the session, they followed their own interests and needs. Some children returned to the peg loom to complete their weaving started last week. Others investigated conkers and found out that they can be used to make soap. They enjoyed smashing the conkers into pieces using the mallets, mixing them with water and then filtering the solution with cheese cloth, creating a natural soapy solution. We also had some children returning to their own ideas drilling conkers and whittling willow. Finally there was lots of fun to be had in the hammocks and play swings. We finished our session with some instruments and a song of Earth, Stone, Feather and Bone.

 

Reception children were excited to arrive at Forest School. We sang our welcome song, counted and called our number to the different trees. The children are becoming familiar with the Silver Birch and Willow trees and remembering where they are located on the site. Next, we shared our names with an action. Some of the children were feeling a bit shy to join in today, but we hope with the regular routine they will develop more confidence and creativity as they share each week. Next, we played 1,2,3 Where Are You? The children are getting more adventurous each week and exploring further, which is great to see. They were really good at listening to where Emma was hidden and running to her voice as she shouted, "1,2,3 Come back to me!"

Today we focussed on the autumn leaves and the trees in our Forest School. Chester, our cuddly conker, showed the children some different leaves from the site. They thought of describing words for the leaves: long, thin, wavy, bumpy, and then went on a hunt for the trees that they came from. The children were able to identify and find the Willow tree and the Oak tree. We gathered back at the tarp to listen to the story What Do You See When You Look at a Tree. This story shares the differences between the trees and gets us to think about what the trees might have seen, heard and felt in the long time they have been standing there.

For the rest of the session, they followed their own interests and met their own needs. Some children enjoyed returning to the mud kitchen, pouring and mixing potions to meet their sensory needs. Others got creative, threading a variety of leaves onto wool to make leaf bracelets. Other children used the different coloured leaves to cut out and create collage style pictures. We also had our toy birds out, which the children made nests for using sticks and leaves. Finally some children had a first go at whittling Willow using peelers. This took lots of concentration and focus and the children who had a go enjoyed the satisfaction gained from removing all of the bark. We finished our session with a song of The Trees in the Woods, thinking about what animals live in and use the trees.

 

Have a great week.

21.09.2023

 

After all the rain we had over the last few days, it felt good to see the sun today and enjoy playing in the woods and field area of Forest School.

 

After our usual routine, the children in Year 1 felt the need for some movement and so we played Ostrich Tag. The children enjoyed running around chasing each other and we were quite out of breath when we sat down together again to learn to tie a reef knot. The children worked really hard to develop their knot skills, becoming more confident. Next, we listened to the story of The Glass Cupboard: a tale about a kingdom that lives in peace due to their magic glass cupboard. Anything you need, you may ask from the magic glass cupboard and in return you place something back in that you no longer need. When the glass cupboard is stolen and broken, the Queen collects the pieces and makes it into a glass globe. The glass globe reminds us that the earth is a fragile place and we need to give back whenever we take something from it. The children enjoyed sharing ideas of things that they would ask the cupboard for and what they thought they could learn from the story. For the rest of the session, lots of children chose to continue working on their knot skills to make journey sticks. They found a stick that they connected with and used wool, ribbon, feathers and elder beads to decorate their sticks. They showed great perseverance and became increasingly more confident with their knots as the session went on. Other children took the tarps, mallets and ropes into the woods to create dens. They also enjoyed exploring the paint, using the rollers to cover leaves and print. To finish their session, we gathered together and shared our peaceful song We are the Wild Ones.

 

Year 5 began their session with another lucky dip question: What makes you feel angry? How do you know? Where do you feel it in your body? There were a range of answers including, when I'm blamed for something I didn't do, when I get things wrong and when people make fun of me. We thought about how this manifests in our bodies in clenched muscles and 'busy' heads where we are unable to think straight. Our bodies have a flight or fight response in these situations where cortisol and adrenaline are produced. Our bodies then need to discharge and release this through movement, or breathing. Understanding why our bodies feel the way they do when we are experiencing different emotions and recognising what we need to do to help regulate our bodies is so important in managing the different challenges we face each day. After this, we felt a need to move our bodies, so had a quick game of Ostrich Tag, before sitting down to play 'This is not a stick, it's a...' This was lots of fun as we listened to each other's ideas as the stick was passed around and became a telephone, a banana, a launcher to name but a few. This game encourages creativity, quick thinking and listening skills amongst many others and made us laugh. Next, we gathered together to hear the story of The Glass Cupboard: a tale about a kingdom that lives in peace due to their magic glass cupboard. Anything you need, you may ask from the magic glass cupboard and in return you place something back in that you no longer need. When the glass cupboard is stolen and broken the Queen collects the pieces and makes it into a glass globe. The glass globe reminds us that the earth is a fragile place and we need to give back whenever we take something from it.  For the rest of the session, the children followed their interests. Last week some had shown an interest in weaving, so this week Emma brought her peg loom. Some children worked together making a start at creating some woven wool. This takes lots of patience to create something big enough and they hope to carry it on next week. Others embraced the conkers that are beginning to fall. Some used the drills to make necklaces with them, whilst others made conker games which they played together, inventing rules and scoring systems. Once again, bringing out their creativity. We had the hammocks for rest and relaxation, the play hammock for movement and the Willow workshop was open again, with some children choosing to whittle. We finished the session with a song request, developing from last week, where we sang We Are the Wild Ones as a round.

 

Reception children were excited to be back and were dressed for the weather in their waterproofs. They are becoming really familiar with the welcome routine now and confidently shared their names with an action. This part of our session helps the children be creative as well as developing skills like rhythm through the call and response nature of the game. We had a quick game of 1,2,3 Where are You? This has become a bit of a favourite part of the session and it is nice to see the children becoming more confident at moving in the area, exploring further and connecting with their favourite hiding places. Next, after a song of 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes', we worked in two groups. Each group drew around one of their members on a piece of paper on the floor. We then thought about how we could work together to add features such as eyes, a nose and a mouth, hair, shoes and trousers. The children enjoyed running around, collecting grass, leaves and sticks and putting them on the person shapes to bring them to life. Moving over uneven ground is a great way to build core strength and stability, which in turn supports the children in school. For the rest of the session, they followed their own interests. Many children returned to our mud kitchen area today, enjoying pouring and mixing potions together. Others explored the clay, adding balls to sticks and then adding features to make clay people. We also had paint and rollers out, which the children used to paint and print leaves onto a large roll of paper. There was also lots of fun to be had in the woods as well making swings and sitting in the hammocks with the Forest friends. The children were great at putting away the resources at the end of the session and we gathered together to sing Boom, Chicka Boom, again developing our call and response skills.

 

Have a great week.

14.09.2023

 

The Sun was out today and so we were able to offer both the woodland and long grass field area for our Forest School today, providing lots of variety for adventures and exploration.

 

 

Year 1 arrived on site ready for fun and after our usual routine, we played a game of Eagle Eyes. This is one of the children's favourite games and involves keeping their bodies hidden until Emma had her eyes closed and they could sneak a bit closer to the tarp. Lots of children were great at being stealthy and managed to return to the tarp without being seen. After this we gathered together to hear Emma tell the story 'The Dirty Earth', a story of a foolish King who wanted to clean the earth so that he didn't get dirty feet. We thought about how we don't mind getting dirty at Forest School, how we feel connected to the earth and feel good when we are outside sharing it with the other things that live there. The children then got to follow their own interests. The hammocks and play swing were busy being used by the children to calm and regulate their sensory system, developing their sense of proprioception. Other children enjoyed digging, working together and using logs to move and sweep the leaf litter into great piles. We also had some creative individuals who used the palm drills to drill acorns and acrn cups to thread onto cord and make necklaces. We concluded the session back on the tarp where the children lay down on their backs and took part in a meditation called Autumn Imaginary Journey. They really enjoyed this and many did not want to get up!

 

Year 5 children started their session with a mystery question that was selected from a set of question cards to use as our introduction. The question was: If you had to keep only one thing from your home, what would it be and why? It was lovely to hear that many children wanted a family photo because their family is so important to them. This group has become very good at using knots, so today we introduced another useful one: the Marlin Spike. This knot is great for using to make swings and rope ladders. Once again, they were very supportive to their peers, sharing their knowledge when they became confident at tying the knot and recognised others needed support. The children had requested that they have some more team challenges, so today we set them the challenge of making the longest line, with the only rules being you can use anything from the environment, your body and anything on your body. They had four minutes to do this and worked together to gather long logs which they held between them and had the extra challenge of being as long as they could within this time. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some children got creative using harvested lavender to make lavender wands by tying ribbon to a bunch of stems and weaving it in and out to encase the flower head. This took great concentration, patience and resilience as it was not easy, but they were very proud of the result. Others used clay, extending their interest in ots from last week and this week using maple leaves to make leaf trinket bowls. There were also some busy exploring the play hammock and our resting hammocks, enjoying developing their sense of proprioception, movement and friendship as they swung each other. Finally there were a few children that used their newly learnt Marlin Spike knot to make swings in the trees. We concluded the session with a song of We Are the Wild Ones.

 

Reception arrived in the afternoon, ready for some fun. They remembered so much of the routine of Forest School from their time with us in Nursery and were keen to get going. We sang our welcome song, counted and shared our names with an action before practicing our 1,2,3 Where Are You call and response. The children enjoyed hiding in the long grass, under the Willow trees and running quickly back to the tarp when Emma called 1,2,3 Come back to me! Next, we took a wander through the woods and gathered some leaves, sticks and berries, which we brought back to the tarp. We introduced the makaton sign, 'happy' to the children and thought about how to use the items gathered from the woods to make a happy face on the tarp. The children then had a turn at creating their own faces on the tarp by themselves or with a friend. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Lots of children enjoyed using the water and large paint brushes to paint the trees in the woods. Others got creative in the mud kitchen area, mixing up potions using natural items foraged from the woods. We had some keen explorers who enjoyed moving through the small spaces created by the branches of the willow tree. As they explored they noticed different creatures, catching some in the sweep nets and making lots of observations through their binoculars. Finally others worked together to collect sticks and balance them together to make a small den for our Forest friend soft toys. This involved balancing skills and stick sorting to construct a free standing den. We finished back together at the tarp and shared something that made us feel happy today at Forest School. It was lovely to hear that all the children had fun meeting their individual needs.

 

Have a great week.

7.9.2023

 

And so another year begins and what a beautiful day to be back exploring at Forest School! The summer is still hanging on, even though there is lots of leaf litter on the floor and the site is full of Autumn blackberry and elderberry scents.

 

The Year 1 children had a much longer walk than they were used to last year, coming from the main school building across the park, but settled back into the swing of things under the shelter of the lime tree. We had our familiar welcome routine and shared some stories of friends that we had made on our Summer adventures. The children looked a bit puzzled when Emma said that she had lots of friends in the woods and even more so when they heard that these were the leaves, the stones and the sticks. They were then tasked with going for a wander to listen out and see if they could spot a woodland friend calling out to them. This was a bit confusing, but once the children got going they were soon meeting lots of new woodland friends, finding out about them and introducing them to each other. We often do activities like this as they aim to build on the children's nature connection and love of their world. After this, we gathered back together to hear the story of Mama Africa, which tells of a time when there were no animals and the land was quiet. Mama Africa uses clay from the land to create different creatures that walked, flew and swam on our Earth. This story reminds us that we are all connected and are all made from the earth and things that grow or live on the earth. The children were then free to follow their own interests. Some chose to take inspiration from the story of Mama Africa and use clay to make Blobsters. They thought about the different features of their Blobsters, adding natural materials including leaves and sticks. Some chose to tell stories about how they moved and what they liked to do. With the abundance of blackberries and elderberries this year, it was a great opportunity to explore creating our own paints with these. We found out that by adding acids and alkaline solutions to the berry paint, we could create even more colours for our paintings. We also had some children keen to look after the forest friends, building them shelters and resting in the hammocks. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to share our experiences and sang Earth, Stone, Feather and Bone together. We even managed to sing it in a round, which gave us a happy tingly feeling. 

 

It was lovely to have the new Year 5 back again today after seeing them last in the Summer. They have lots of ideas and are looking forward to trying some new challenges in the next few weeks. We started today with a nature connection activity. The children were asked to find a stick, about the length of their arm, and get to know it. Where did it come from? What has it seen in the woods? How old is it? They then introduced their stick to a friend, before trying out a partner challenge. With their partner they put the two sticks between them, touching the ends of the sticks with their fingers and not holding on. They then had to try to move slowly with their partner without letting the sticks drop. This took lots of concentration and also invited the children to challenge themselves to move in different ways and encouraged slow, mindful movements. Next, we sat back on the tarp and invited the children to think of different sensations that our body experiences when we have different feelings. They then each put a blindfold on and were given an object in their hand. We invited the children to think about whether they knew what it was, whether they liked it or not, how they knew if they liked it or not and what sensations their body had as they held it. It is really hard to really switch off our quick thinking brains and tune into our bodies, however this can be a really helpful skill to develop. Some children recognised that their muscles in their hands tensed when they felt unsure and when they knew not to be scared, their muscles relaxed. When it was time to follow their own interests, many children chose to experiment with creating different pigments with the base of elderberries and blackberries and then adding acid and alkalis. They were amazed by the different colours they could create. A couple of children got a chance to extend their whittling skills today by learning the push cut technique, which they used to make hazel flowers. It was very tricky and took a lot of strength and persistence. They also wanted to use clay to make pots, which they decorated with the berries. They hope to paint them next week. To finish, we gathered back together and shared some of our ideas of what we would like to learn more about this year.

 

Have a good week.

 

   

2022/2023

6.7.2023

 

And so we have come to our last Forest School of the year at Kerem! It has been another wonderful year where the children have built on their personal skills and their connection with the natural world. We are so proud of all they have achieved this year.

 

Year 4 started off at the tarp with our usual routine and an opportunity to share how we were feeling and a need that we had today. The children have got really in tune with this over the last few weeks. After this, we returned to a game they enjoyed called Look Up, Look Down. This game always brings a nice calm to the group and the occasional giggle when the children find themselves out by looking at another person that is looking at them. For the rest of the session, some children chose to make pendants out of hazel branches. They all used a sheath knife to whittle and shape the wood and then used a pyrography tool to burn a design into the wood. Both of these activities require concentration, care and patience which the children demonstrated really well. Their hard work paid off and they felt really proud of their creations. Other children enjoyed using wool and willow branches to make their own creations. There was a lot of wildlife today and those that explored with the sweep nets were rewarded with finding some large crickets in the long grass. We also had some children enjoying the calm rocking motion of the hammocks in the shade. To conclude our session, we reflected on the skills or knowledge we have gained this half term at Forest School. Reflections included building on their nature connection, learning and feeling more confident with knots and building on their friendships and relationships.

 

Nursery were excited to be out in the grass area today for their session. They have really settled into the rules and routines well over the last few weeks and their confidence in the environment is clear. After our welcome routine today, we swam over to Emma's pirate ship, climbed on board and played a game where the children had to listen to Captain Emma's instructions and follow them. The children climbed the rigging, scrubbed the deck and ran from sharks to name a few. They really enjoyed being in Pirate mode. For the rest of the session, some children made eye patches using card and elastic. They learnt how to thread and tie an overhand knot to secure their elastic, working on their fine motor skills. THese were then decorated with a range of natural materials. Another option which many children enjoyed was making a pirate flag. The children decorated the flags and then worked out how to use pipe cleaners to secure the material to the stick, twisting the pipe cleaner. Another popular choice was to climb aboard our pirate ship made of logs and improve it. They brought in ropes and enjoyed tying them. To conclude our session, we gathered back together and sang Princes Pat together. They enjoyed joining in with the actions.

 

Reception started their session with our usual routine followed by a game of Eagle Eyes in the woods. This game involves developing our spatial awareness, where the children need to hide and slowly make their way back to the Eagle's nest. They really liked finding different places to hide and were excited when they got back without being caught. The rest of the session was a bit of a celebration. We thought about the different seasons we have experienced together over the year. They have learnt how to look after their bodies in the different weathers and we decided all together that we deserved a medal. The children used the bow saw to cut wood cookies, which were then drilled, decorated and threaded. Again they were very proud of their achievements. Others enjoyed making hapa zone bandanas and getting some camo face paint on. We finished by sharing some of our best moments of the year and a song We Are The Wild Ones. 

 

Have a great week.

Emma

6.7.2023 Fun at Forest School.

30.6.2023

 

Happy International Mud Day! We had a great day celebrating in the wonders of mud, made a little bit easier by the rain this morning!

 

Year 4 started their session under the tarp with our welcome routine followed by an introduction to our needs cards. For the last two weeks we have focussed on feelings, so this week we moved on to focusing on our needs. We discussed the needs we have to survive, which the children were able to identify quickly and then thought of the needs we have to thrive. The children looked at a number of needs cards and tuned into their current need, which they shared with the group. It was interesting and informative to hear what they felt their need was, some including fun and play, creativity, community, rest and freedom. After this, we set a group challenge called Tap Stick. We all stood in a circle holding on to a stick. One person led the group to lift their stick and tap it on the ground at the same time. Once we got into a rhythm , we tried tapping our stick down, letting go of it, moving round the circle and catching the next stick. Everyone was very focussed and there was a real sense of a shared motivation to achieve. Next, we took it in turns to point our sticks into the middle of the circle, placing one on top of the other until they were all connected. We then raised them up and placed the ends we were holding on the ground to form a cone. It stayed upright for a very short time before falling into a pile and creating a game of pickup sticks. This simple game drew the children's focus in as they watched carefully to see if any of the sticks moved as one stick was taken out at a time. They were very supportive, sharing what stick should be taken out next and providing encouragement for their peers. We reflected on how calming, but exciting this game was. For the rest of the session, some children chose to embrace International Mud Day and create Bogolan paintings on pieces of cloth. They used different shapes and symbols to represent themselves, which they painted on using mud and a stick. Others chose a creative, calming activity, learning how to use knots to make cobra bracelets and keyrings. They worked really hard using concentration and patience. We also had some children that met their need for fun and play working together to create a zip line between the trees and taking turns to play on it. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to reflect on our original need and whether we managed to meet it or not. We thought about how we feel when our needs are met: content, proud and chill.

 

Nursery children have noticeably grown in confidence over the last few weeks and today they happily ventured into the woods and gathered at our tarp to share our welcome routine. They are getting more creative with the way they share their name in our name game and are great at observing and copying each other. Today we focussed on birds. The children started with working with a partner to make a nest on the ground using sticks and leaves. Once their nest was made they were given the task to fly to a bird feeder and collect one piece of food at a time to feed their baby chicks. They really enjoyed running back and forth collecting the food. This activity helps to build their confidence at negotiating uneven ground and being observant of the obstacles around them. For the rest of the session, some chose to use mud to paint pieces of cloth, making different shapes and patterns with their muddy sticks. Others looked after the toy birds, building them nests in the trees and on the ground. We also had some children who enjoyed learning how to use string, knots, a pine cone, some vegetable fat and bird seed to make bird feeders. They tied string around their pine cones and then used lolly sticks to spread the fat over the cone, finally dipping it in the bird seed until it was completely covered. I know they will make some birds very happy. To finish our session, we gathered together and sang Two Little Dickie Birds. They really enjoyed the rhythm and action part of this rhyme.

 

Reception children arrived at Forest School full of songs, which was lovely to hear. We started with our welcome song and routine before playing our first game: Pirate Ship. Carrie had used the logs to create a boat shape on the grass. We all climbed aboard  and then Emma gave calls and instructions that they need to follow to stay in the game. It took lots of quick thinking to choose the correct direction to run in. Next, we shared the story The Singing Mermaid. The children listened attentively and were great at making predictions about the feelings of the mermaid at different points in the story. For the rest of the session, lots of children had a go at making boats and testing to see if they floated. This involved them securing sticks together using pipe cleaners, adding in leaf sails and then testing and adapting them. Other children enjoyed returning to whittling, where they used peelers to whittle willow sticks. They then decorated their sticks with faces, wool hair and a leaf tail to make their own singing mermaids. They were really pleased when they were able to secure things by themselves. Some children also enjoyed exploring mud paint today. We finished the session back at the tarp with a song of I Walk Into the Forest as requested by one of the children.

 

Have a great week.

23.06.2023

 

We had another fun day in the shade of the beautiful woodlands and looking after our bodies in the heat.

 

Year 4 started their session under the shade of the Lime tree with our welcome routine. Today we focussed on our character traits or qualities that we have, which were introduced at the end of last session. This time we had time for the children to look in more detail at them and focus on one of their special traits, which they shared with their name. Next, we played a game on the tarp called Look Down, Look Up. This involved the children standing in a circle and when Emma called 'Look down," they all looked to the floor. When Emma said, "Look up," everyone looked at someone in the circle. If two people were looking directly at one another they were both out. This left one person by the end of the game. There was lots of giggling when the children got out by looking at each other and we enjoyed playing it several times. After this, we had a short recap on some of our useful knots and lashings: the clove hitch and square lashing. It is really wonderful to see year on year how the children's ability to do these knots and lashings has come on. Several are confident enough now to support those still finding it a bit tricky - everyone got there in the end today. We set the children a teamwork challenge today, which required them to use logs, rope and their knots and lashings to create a structure to transport one team member off the ground from a start to a finish line. They were quicker to choose their team this week and got to work planning and building their structures. While they worked we were able to observe how their communication has really improved. They are working hard to use language to encourage other team members to stop and listen to new ideas, they are being more open to trying something, even if it might not work and many are now recognising that they can adapt a plan to make it better, rather than give up or start from scratch. We also observed some really supportive children who could spot things that needed doing in their team and used their initiative to do them without being asked. When it came to the testing time, all teams managed to lift someone on their structure and carry them over the finishing line. They showed great positivity to one another's achievements. To conclude our session, we gathered back under the lime tree and reflected back on the character traits/qualities that we lived in our session today. The children really understood themselves and shared traits that we could see that they had lived too.

 

The Nursery children were very excited to be back at Forest School again today and have quickly settled into the rules and routines. We sang our welcome song, counted and shared our names, today with a choice of action. The children are trying some new actions out and are great at looking at what their friends are doing to be able to copy it back. We played 1,2,3, Where Are You? The children are very confident at exploring the woods now, finding lots of different hiding places whilst staying in the boundaries of Forest School. Carrie then shared a guess the minibeast book. The children knew their minibeasts and were able to use the clues to guess what minibeast Carrie had in her book. For the rest of the session, children followed their own interests. Today in addition to our hammocks, we also had our slack line out. The children were very brave climbing on and balancing along it using the hand hold rope. This equipment is great for building core strength and balance. Other children focused on our minibeast theme and got creative. Some children used the clay to create different minibeasts, adding sticks for legs. Others used the bow saw to cut wooden discs which they then decorated as ladybirds. We also had some children who were keen to hunt down minibeasts for themselves. We finished back under the shade of the tarp and sang the song The Ant, The Bug and The Bee. The children enjoyed joining in with the words and actions.

 

Reception children arrived singing and were very happy. We sat in the shade to share our welcome routine, before playing our Pirate Emma Says game. The children were taught all of the different commands and the actions they needed to do. The children had to listen really carefully to make sure they were only carrying out the action when Emma Says. After this, Carrie shared with the children that she had found a map at lunchtime and that she believed it to be a treasure map. We opened it up and there on the paper was X marks the spot. The children were very excited and so we decided to follow the map and find the treasure. The children were able to match the pictures on the map with locations around forest school and we found the treasure hiding near the fence under a X marks the spot. It was so exciting to see the treasure box filled with pine cones, hornbeam seeds and golden leaves. For the rest of the session, some children decided to make their own maps drawing out the site with pens onto paper then rolling it into a scroll. They learnt the overhand knot to tie their scrolls and stop them from unravelling. This knot was practiced again with those children who wanted to make a pirate doubloon. They used a bow saw to cut a wood slice, which they decorated and drilled to hang around their neck on a cord. We didn't have a plank to walk, but we did have a slackline, so the children tried to get across from one side to the other. It was very hard, but lots of children made good progress on it. The mud kitchen was again popular, with all sorts of concoctions going on. Finally, following the children's interest last week, we brought owl pellets to dissect. The children were fascinated as they worked together to find skulls and small bones. We concluded our session back at the tarp with a question: What is Your Special Treasure? It was great to hear all of the precious things children have that they consider to be a special treasure.

 

Have a great week.

15.6.2023

 

What a beautiful day we got to share with the groups today. It was a hot one, but the shade and breeze under the trees meant that it was one of the coolest places to be. Being out in all weathers means that we need to learn how to look after our bodies in the cold and the heat and so this was discussed with the groups today. We spent time in the shade, played less running games, encouraged the children to wear a hat and made sure we had our water bottles with us.

 

Y4 started with our welcome routine and invited the children to share their name along with a feeling they had identified from the Marc Brackett Permission to Feel cards. Today there was a lot of low energy and mostly pleasant feelings as we sat enjoying the shade. We recapped the skills and challenges we found last week in the Lily Pad challenge and asked the children to build on these with a new challenge we call Tarpaulin Flip. This week the children worked in small teams, beginning by standing on one side of a tarp. They then had to work together to flip over the tarp and stand on the other side without touching the ground. Most groups achieved this very quickly and took time to try out other ways of achieving the challenge. We brought the group back together once every group had achieved the task and agreed that teamwork was much better this week. Children were more open to trying different ways to solve the problem, they used kinder voices and they recognised their achievement rather than focusing on 'the win' and comparing themselves to other groups. There was also much more laughter. The children then got time to follow their own interests. Some children had expressed an interest in catapults last week, so this week they were provided with rubber bands, material and bungee elastic to create different individual sling shots. It took a lot of problem solving to work out how to attach the bungee section to the Y stick. It then took even more resilience to get the slingshots working effectively. Some children took their sling shot back to the mat to make adjustments to its design and construction to make it more accurate and easier to use. Other children had been very into Nordic Braiding in previous weeks, so this week we showed them another way to make cordage using card discs. Some children took this idea up, but others were keen to Nordic Braid again, meeting their need for friendship and a shared goal. Finally some children set their own creative task of using wool to wrap sticks in different patterns. This used their knot skills and creativity. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to introduce our character trait cards to the children. Carrie explained that we can imagine it is like having a treasure chest inside us with all our special qualities that make us who we are. These were laid out and we took time to consider what character traits we feel we have lived in today's session. It was really great to hear that the majority of children could think of a positive quality they have and feel confident to share it with the group. 

 

Nursery children were excited to be back at Forest School today, this time being located in the woodland area. We started with our song, counting and names and the children were keen to share our rules with us. To help the children familiarise themselves with the woodland area, we played 1,2,3 Where Are You? The children had to look up, down and all around as they moved through the woods, navigating the trees and bumpy earth. They did really well and had a great time finding different hiding places. After this, we recapped on safe tool use and the children set off to explore. Today we had elder beads available. The children used palm drills to hollow out the elder beads and then threaded them on to pipe cleaners. This activity takes a lot of finger strength and supports fine motor skill development as the children work to thread the bead on the pipe cleaner. Other children enjoyed exploring the paint making marks with different nature paint brushes. We also had bark rubbing and bubbles. Finally we had our hammocks up to enjoy in the sun. The children learnt how to get in and exit a hammock safely. What a great place to be on a hot day! To conclude our session, we sat back together and learnt the song Grey Squirrel. Carrie gave us lots of clues to guess what animal the song would be about and we enjoyed singing together.

 

After our welcome routine, Reception children had a go at the game Eagle Eyes. They have played this before, but playing in the woods makes this game so much fun as there are lots of great hiding places. Today we explored pirates with the children. We sat together to listen to Carrie tell the story How To Be A Pirate by Isaac Fitzgerald. In the story, CeCe is told by the boys that she can't be a pirate and so goes and asks her grandpa, who she suspects was a pirate, how to be one. We learnt about all the character traits you have to have to be a pirate including independent, fun and brave. For the rest of the session, the children had different things to choose from. Some chose to make pirate flags by drawing on some material and using pipe cleaners to attach it to a stick. They were very good at manipulating the pipe cleaners independently and were very proud of their achievements. Some children also enjoyed making eye patches by threading elastic through the holes on either side of the patch and then tying the ends with a knot.  They also decorated them with natural materials such as grass seeds and clover flowers. Others were fascinated in using the magnifiers to look for footprints. They found a few and had fun guessing who they belonged to. This led on to a discussion about the nibbled trees in our site and then a poo hunt to find out who had eaten the trees. The children enjoyed looking at the guides to identify different poos.  We also found a bee, who inspired a great discussion about skeletons and then to owl pellets! What great learning can come from a child led approach. We finished with a fun Pirate Song called Princess Pat, which the children enjoyed singing together and performing the actions.

 

Have a great week.

08.06.2023

 

It was great to welcome the children (and the sun!) at Forest School today. The site has grown lots since our last time here and the children enjoyed exploring and hiding in the long grass.

 

Year 4

This half term we are going to focus on feelings and being able to recognise and share these. Today we introduced the Permission to Feel cards by Marc Brackett to help the children tune into their energy levels and how pleasant a feeling they had. We discussed the importance of being able to recognise, understand and then express how we feel to others around us. As we shared our name, we also shared the feeling that we had selected from the card. Many of us had a low energy, pleasant feeling. Next, we focussed on teamwork. The children were split into two teams for the Lily Pad challenge. They had to work together to move their team from one side of the pond to the other, only stepping on the lily pads. They only had 4 lily pads per team, so they had to work out how to move them back and forth to get the whole team across. This challenge provided lots of discussion around getting stuck in an idea that is not working so well and having the awareness to stop and try something new. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. The long grass provided lots of interest in the different types of grass flowers and in the great variety of wildlife that is now there. They used the sweep nets to catch grasshoppers and ladybirds and used our ID guides to identify them. Many children thought that the yellow ladybird that they found was poisonous, but we found out that this is a common myth. Yellow ladybirds are actually a different species of ladybird. We also had some children who enjoyed learning how to use the rope to lash together sticks to make a tripod. They then attached some bungee cord to make a giant slingshot. It was lots of fun exploring how to make the catapult fire further and higher. The hammocks were popular for meeting the children's need for rest and relaxation. We ended the session back at the tarp,  where Emma shared the story of The Cracked Pot. This story encourages us to not focus on our flaws, but instead find the beauty in others. We took a moment to think about our special qualities.

 

Nursery

It was great to welcome the Nursery children to the site for the first time today. They gathered on the tarp and we shared our welcome routine, which included our song, counting everyone and then sharing our name.

We then shared our rules with the children: No pick, no lick. Be careful how you carry a stick. While we are out in the large space of Forest School, the children have a boundary where they need to stay inside. To help them become familiar with this, we played our game: 1,2,3 Where Are You? This is a call and response game and involves the children hiding in the long grass and responding to my call with: 1,2, 3 Here I Am! They had great fun finding different hiding places before running back to gather together again. For the rest of the session, the children had many activities to choose from. Lots of children were interested in finding minibeasts using the sweep nets in the long grass. Others had a go at hapazone, a technique involving using a mallet to extract the pigment from leaves and flowers onto material. They learnt how to use the mallet with two hands and some went on to using it to tap sticks into the ground to make dens for our Forest Friends. We used bubble wands made from branches of the willow tree to blow large bubbles and finally there was lots of paint exploration, using sticks and flowers as paint brushes. We finished back at the tarp with a song about bees. The children did so well on their first visit and seemed to have lots of fun.

 

Reception

Reception children were excited to be back. Today we moved to a new sensory circuit including a game of 'Emma Says...' for our alerting phase, throwing and catching with our partner for our organising phase and army crawling through the long grass for our calming phase. The children crawled back to the tarp and were ready to begin with our welcome routine. Next, we used our superhero eyes to spot items that had been dropped and left in the woods. The children followed a rope trail through the woods and were tasked with spotting mislaid items. Three children managed to correctly spot that there were 8 items showing great observation skills. After this we sat on the tarp to listen to the story A Worm Called Wallace. We found out that worms are superheroes and without them, the plants and animals would not exist. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some children used the pestle and mortars to grind up plant material and make paint to camouflage material. Others used the plant material and extracted the colour from it using a mallet and the hapazone technique. This encouraged children to name and collect a variety of plant material and test which worked the best. There were also children who used the palm drills to hollow out pieces of elder to make elder worms. This took lots of patience and strength to push out the pith. Lots of children also enjoyed finding shade in the woods on this hot day, swinging in the hammocks and making dens for the Forest Friends. We concluded the session back at the tarp and shared a song about a worm called Wiggly Woo.

 

Have a great week.

18.5.2023

 

What an utterly gorgeous day it was for Forest School today. Each week there's an additional explosion of growth to explore.
 
Year 1 and Year 3
The children started their session with a sensory circuit involving jumping over logs, working in small groups sorting ivy and hawthorn leaves and putting them in a repeating pattern and then Forest Bathing focusing on the sense of smell. The children were amazed at the different smells they found by crushing up leaves and grass between their fingertips. Next, we gathered on the tarp for our welcome routine. Today we asked the Year 1 children to share their name with their favourite smell. It was lovely to hear some of them share that their favourite smell was something they find outdoors like buttercups, roses and lavender. After this, we introduced a new game called Caterpillar Race. The aim of this game is to focus on fun, teamwork and communication. The children were split into two teams, with the children in the team sitting one behind each other on mats. The person sitting at the front of the line had to pass on a high five to the person behind them until this reached the end of the line, where the person at the back would race to the front and start the process again. Some children found it quite challenging to focus on their team, allowing their thoughts to stray to the other team and how well they were doing. We reflected that it doesn't help to focus on what others are doing and can change how effectively and calmly we can play. We will try this game again next year to see how their focus develops. Next, Year 1 gathered at the tarp to listen to Carrie tell the story Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees. In the story Betsy helps teach her friend about why bees are so important and how we can help look after them by making sure there are lots of trees and flowers in our gardens. With Year 3, Carrie shared some facts from The Bee Book. We learnt that they have five eyes, no nose and breath through holes in the sides of their bodies called spiracles. For the rest of the session, lots of children decided to get crafty using alder cones to make bees. They wrapped pieces of felting wool around the cones and added in maple seeds as wings. It took a lot of concentration and problem solving working out how to attach the seeds as wings, but they managed to do this with success. Other children enjoyed sowing wildflower seeds into paper pots which they made from newspaper. This was quite a tricky process and took a lot of concentration to make the roll of paper tight enough to hold the pot together. There were also some keen den builders who enjoyed making improvements to their debris dens, with the added feature of a doorbell. To conclude our session, we gathered back together and shared something that we could do to look after the bees. Children shared that they wouldn't pick wildflowers and they will p;ant bee friendly plants in their garden.
 
Reception
Reception children also started with their sensory circuit of log jumping, creating a repeating leaf pattern using oak and ivy leaves and then practicing Forest Bathing by crushing and smelling the grass. After this, the children were tasked with becoming bees themselves. They were each given a proboscis (a pipette) and had to find sources of nectar. They used their proboscis to collect the nectar and bring it back to the hive. We also learnt that bees communicate to each other using a waggle dance to show the other bees where the source of nectar is, so the children enjoyed waggling to each other when the source was found. After this, we gathered back on the tarp to hear the story Betsy Buglove Saves the Bees. In the story Betsy helps teach her friend about why bees are so important and how we can help look after them by making sure there are lots of trees and flowers in our gardens. For the rest of the session, lots of children decided to get crafty using pine cones and alder cones to make bees. They wrapped pieces of felting wool around the cones and added in seeds and leaves as wings. It took a lot of concentration and problem solving working out how to attach the seeds as wings, but they managed to do this with success. Other children made homes for solitary bees by using the loppers to cut sections of bamboo which they then secured together using pipe cleaners or string. This again took strength to use the loppers and focussed on knot tying and twisting skills to secure the bamboo sections tightly together. The children were fascinated with all the creatures they are finding now and are enjoying using the sweep nets in the long grass. They have become very caring for the creatures and want to make sure nobody hurts them. We finished back at the tarp to share ideas about how we can look after the bees. We then sang a song about bees with Carrie.
 
Have a great week.

11.05.2023

 

Year 1

We started today’s session with a sensory circuit again. Our first alerting part was log jumping which the children are increasingly focussed on and improving in their ability. The second organising phase involved sorting a box of ivy and hornbeam leaves into two piles and finally our calming phase involved a bit of yoga poses on the tarp. After this, we played a game of beetle tag to get everyone running about and laughing before sitting on the tarp to listen to a new story, Climb. This is a great story all about personal qualities and the differences between us, which was a focus for our session. For the self directed part of the session, some children chose to reflect on their own qualities. They hollowed out pieces of elder and wrote their own personal qualities on the beads, which they threaded onto a necklace or bracelet. Other children followed their interest in invertebrates and used the sweep nets and tree shake techniques to find a variety of creatures including ladybirds, spiders and caterpillars. Other children worked together to make homes for the forest friends in the woods and dug for gems. We finished the session with a question: What special quality or strength do you have? The children shared that they were good at finding gems, good at caring for the creatures, good at gymnastics and kind to everyone.

 

Year 3

Year 3 completed their sensory circuit to start their session today with three stages: log jumping, leaf sorting and pressing palms together with their partner. After this, we gathered at the tarp for our welcome routine and alliteration name game. It was lovely to see how creative the children are with their chosen adjectives now. Next, we set the children a teamwork challenge called Lily Pads to focus on teamwork and communication. They were split into two teams and given 6 coloured mats to use as lily pads to get from one side of the 'river' to the other. The children got into a huddle to discuss their ideas and then set off. They had to use flexibility as both teams had to adapt their method as their original ideas were not successful. It took a while for each group to be able to get to a point of working effectively together focussing on allowing each other to be heard, and focusing on the needs of the group, rather than our own personal needs. It is very challenging for some to move away from the idea of needing to 'win' and making comparisons and judgements of the other team. At the end of the task though, they were able to see that the moment they focussed on their own team and ignored the other team's progress they were much more successful. This challenge took a long time, but being able to work through difficulties and see something to the end is an important skill to learn, along with managing the emotions that go along with a tough challenge. The children used the time that was left to hollow elder to make beads for necklaces and bracelets. They also worked together to carry logs and build debris dens together. These structures are becoming more creative and sophisticated each week as they become more skilled at working together. To end our session, we gathered back at the tarp to reflect on our achievements.

 

Reception

Reception did ever so well today at coping with a disruption to their session due to thunder and lightning. We managed to fit in our sensory circuit with log jumping, leaf sorting and pressing our palms together against a friend before we had to relocate to the school. Back at school we heard the story Tadpole's Promise. This story tells of a caterpillar and a tadpole's friendship before they go through metamorphosis and no longer recognise each other. The children had great understanding of the different life cycles and were able to apply this to their story predictions. The storm passed and so we were able to return to forest school where the children were given the task of hunting for nine different pictures of the frog life cycle. Once they had found them all, the children worked together in small groups to put the pictures in the correct order of the life cycle. They had to look very closely to spot the small changes between the tadpole pictures. For the rest of the session, lots of children got creative and used watercolour paints to create pictures of the trees and rainbows at Forest School. They enjoyed experimenting with dipping their pictures in the puddles and watching the effects it had on their pictures. There were also keen minibeast hunters who explored the site using sweep nets and the tree shake technique. We were very excited to find a number of yellow ladybirds and two different types of caterpillars. At the end of our session, we gathered back at the log circle to sing The Little Green Frog.

 

Have a great week.

04.05.2023

 

Year 1 started their session with a sensory circuit again today, which was changed up a bit. We started with our log jumping, (vestibular & proprioceptive stimulation), turning over cones (motor challenge) and calming our bodies by pressing our hands against a partner's hands (relaxing our senses). After this, we gathered at the tarp to share our welcome routine and then our first challenge: Found Sound Round. They had the task of finding a natural object like a leaf or stick and thinking about what sound it made, using their mouth to make the sound. Once we all found an object and returned to the tarp we took it in turns to share our sound with the group. Emma started with the beat and we took it in turns to add our sound when Emma pointed at us. As each sound was added, it got louder and louder until we were all playing together. Then Emma pointed at each child in turn to stop their sound until it was quiet. It sounded great when we all made our sounds together. Following on from our musical theme, we demonstrated how we can use objects to create musical notation. Emma put a stick on the floor and we agreed what sound this would make. When Emma added a stick we had to do two of that sound. Emma then added in a leaf which represented a different sound and we had a go at following the objects to make a musical code which we performed together. The children were keen to have a go at making a musical code of their own and so they set off in partners and small groups to gather objects, which they laid on the ground as musical code and then practiced. It was great to see how well they communicated with each other and see their creativity in the sounds they made as they worked together. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some children enjoyed making their own shakers. They had to locate objects to put inside their shaker and test the sound that it made before sealing it with a lid and decorating it. We also had the opportunity to use the sheath knife and mallet to cut wedges in sections of wood to make guiros. The children really enjoyed feeling strong and powerful as they used the mallet to hit down on the back of the knife to cut into the wood. This also is a great way to build strength and work on gross motor skills. We also had our keen diggers and creature explorers, who today found lots of worms and the first ladybirds of the year. To conclude our session, we gathered together to sing Music Man. We enjoyed thinking of the different instruments we had made and how these would be played.

 

Year 3 started their session with the sensory circuit as well. The children enjoyed completing the circuit but found some elements of it difficult to focus on. As this becomes more familiar and with practice, we hope they will be able to connect with their bodies a bit quicker and therefore find it easier. Once we felt calm we headed to the tarp for our welcome chant and count. We then tasked the children with the Found Sound Round. As with the Year 1's, the children found a natural object and thought of the sound it would make using their mouths. We put all the sounds together and the children really enjoyed having the freedom to be loud. Next we listened to Emma tell the story of The Little Songbird. This story tells of a bird that goes on a journey to find his song. We thought about the journeys that we go on to find our true selves. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests with many children enjoying using the sweep nets to explore the creatures in the long grass. There were also keen debris den builders. We focused on managing our own risks and carrying and moving the sticks safely. We also had some children following the musical focus using sheath knives to make guiros and tubes to make shakers. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to reflect on the discoveries that were made in the session.

 

Our Reception children completed the sensory circuit with great focus today before settling down on the tarp for the start of the session. Next, we played a favourite game: Hibernating Hedgehogs. The children snuffled about pretending to be hedgehogs. When Emma called, 'Hibernating Hedgehogs,' everyone curled up in a ball with their eyes closed and one child was hidden with a tarp. The others had to guess which hedgehog was hidden and still hibernating. They were great at noticing who was missing from the group and identifying the hibernating hedgehog. Next, we gathered on the tarp and listened to Emma tell the story of How the Hedgehog Got His Spikes and shared our ideas about what the message of the story was. The hedgehog in the story had to look inside and think about who he truly was to be able to get his spikey coat. For the rest of the session the children had fun returning to some of their favourite activities - one of which is digging and using the mallets. Some children looked up facts about hedgehogs while others made clay hedgehogs, using pine cones to make the spiky prickles. We also had the sweep nets and the ID guides out. The children loved exploring in the long grass and finding lots of different creatures. To finish the session, we gathered back around the tarp and sang a song about hedgehogs.

 

Have a great week.

04.05.2023 - Fun at Forest School

27/04/2023

 

Despite the chill in the air in the early morning, the day was bathed in sunshine and just what we needed for the dandelions to open up for our exploration today.

 

Year 3 and Year 1

We started our sessions again today with our sensory circuits, focussing on improving our jumping, balance and coordination; preparing our bodies to be ready for the session. After our welcome song and numbers, we asked the children to share their favourite tree along with their name today. It was great to hear everyone's favourite trees from the site or a tree they have a special connection with in their outdoor spaces at home. Once again, building a connection with nature and being able to name it increases its importance. 

The children have been spotting all of the changes to Forest School over the last few weeks and so today we went on a colour hunt. Everyone took a little piece of sticky card around the site with them to collect as many different colours as they could.  We observed children sharing their interesting finds with their classmates and wondering about the beauty of the environment as they collected and explored. Next, we gathered back at the tarp to hear another tale of Conker the Chameleon who previously had learnt how to express his feelings by using his words. This time the story was called Conker and the Monkey Trap. The story told of many brave exploits of Conker and his friends and how he chose to be kind and help others he didn't know. The children enjoyed hearing another tale of this colourful character and identifying the lessons that he learnt. For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own ways. Many children enjoyed playing in the woods, swinging in the hammocks, making homes for the toy birds, finding clay and den building. Others enjoyed getting creative using watercolours to paint around leaves to create a beautiful effect. 

To conclude our session, we gathered back at the tarp and shared a moment where we had been brave like Conker. Some children reflected on a time in Forest School where they had to be brave trying something for the first time, facing a fear of climbing or holding a creature. Others shared moments outside of school where they had an injection or got lost. 

 

Reception

The children enjoyed completing the sensory circuit again today, focusing on improving their jumping and balancing before coming to the tarp to calm our bodies with some squeezing ourselves into a ball and rocking our bodies. After our song, counting sand name game, we returned to our game of Eagle Eyes. This game is lots of fun now the grass has started to get longer, the leaves have appeared on the trees and the cow parsley is taller. There are lots more hiding places and the children loved lying down in the long grass to hide. After this, we introduced the children to the dandelion, a flower lots of them recognised. We shared the story of Christopher Nibble by Charlotte Middleton about a clever guinea pig who resisted the urge to eat the very last dandelion and was able to reintroduce them to his community. We talked again about only picking plants that are in abundance to ensure some are left for the pollinating insects and to reseed. For the rest of the session, many children chose to plant some seeds. The children decorated their biodegradable pots and filled them with compost and some seeds. We look forward to hearing how tall they will grow. Some children continued on our theme of dandelions, using Willow to bend into crown shapes which they then decorated with pipe cleaners and dandelions. Other children had a go at using the dandelion flowers and leaves to paint pictures. They enjoyed exploring how the colours mixed to create new colours. The hammocks were also popular with many children enjoying the sensory stimulation from the enclosed feeling and the motion of the hammock as they swung. To conclude our session, we gathered back at the tarp and shared the name of our favourite flowers. It was lovely to hear that every child could name a flower and some had special connections to their outdoor spaces at home.

 

Have a great week.

20.04.2023

 

It was so lovely to be back at Kerem today and see how much the site has sprung to life during the holiday break. Each group today focussed on how we can care for our Earth as it is Earth Day this Saturday. This is an annual event which is dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring action to tackle the various environmental challenges facing our planet. We also started each group in the same way today with a sensory circuit to regulate our bodies and support sensory integration before getting to the tarp. This involved the children jumping over logs, balancing along a rope, weaving through flags and finally lying on our backs to ground ourselves and breathe. Once we were on the tarp, we sang our song, counted and shared our names, today also sharing something we noticed that had changed in our environment. 
 
Year 1 and Year 3
After our welcome routine, we introduced a new game called Earth, Air, Water. This is a game that aims to support children's hand eye-coordination, quick thinking and listening skills. An object was thrown to a child and either 'Earth', 'Air,' or 'Water,' was called as it was thrown. The catcher had to respond with an animal that spends the majority of its time in that place. It was great to hear how many animals the children know. After this we gathered at the tarp to hear about the impacts of plastic on the Earth and the creatures that inhabit it. Year 1 listened to 'Somebody Swallowed Stanley,' read by Carrie about a plastic bag and Year 3 had a look through a book called A World Without Plastic. We thought about how long plastic stays on this Earth and does not rot and biodegrade. For the rest of the session, the children had a variety of different options to choose from. Lots of children brought in a plastic bottle which they reused to create a variety of different things. Some children enjoyed making it into a plant pot, decorating it, adding compost and some seeds. Others created fairy houses and some children created bird feeders. Their focus, independence and creativity was great to see. It is not easy cutting plastic! Other available options were using mud paint to create bogolan prints which are a handcrafted African textile (using mud paint to create patterns and symbols which have different meanings and stories), using the mud to paint ourselves and trying out our new play hammock. We concluded our sessions by reflecting on the beautiful nature around. We discussed that if everybody does little things every day to help look after the planet it can make a big difference. Each child thought carefully about this and then shared a wish for the Earth or a pledge for one small thing they could do to make a difference. We were impressed by the reflections and promises the children made.  
 
Reception
This half term, we are going to start each session with a sensory circuit before we sit down at the log circle. We hope this will help with sensory integration for the children and allow them to regulate themselves more throughout the session. Today's circuit included jumping over logs, balancing along a rope line and calming our bodies by grounding ourselves on the tarp. The children really enjoyed completing the circuit as many times as they could before heading to the tarp for our welcome song and names. Next, we played a quick game of Animal Actions. This is a fun action game which relies on good listening skills and sorting fact from fiction! I called out an animal’s name with a movement (for example, ‘frogs jump’) and if it was true the children had to move like that animal but if it was false the children had to stay still. They were very good at it! After this we sat to listen to ‘The Earth Book’ by Todd Parr.  On Saturday it is Earth Day and we discussed this with the children. It is an annual event which is dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring action to tackle the various environmental challenges facing our planet. For the rest of the session, some children were inspired by our discussion about Earth Day and enjoyed creating special Earth Day birthday cakes with mud and other natural items. This required creativity, imagination, teamwork and problem solving skills. Some children also returned to whittling elder to create candles for their Earth Day cakes. Another popular choice was to plant some sunflower seeds. The children decorated their biodegradable pots and filled them with compost and some sunflower seeds. We look forward to hearing how tall they will grow. The hammocks were also popular with many children enjoying the sensory stimulation from the enclosed feeling and the motion of the hammock as they swung. We concluded our session by reflecting on the beautiful nature around us and Earth Day. We discussed that if everybody does little things every day to help look after the planet it can make a big difference. Each child thought carefully about this and some shared an idea of one small thing they could do to make a difference for the Earth. 

 

Have a great week.

24.03.2023

 

We had all the weather today, but it didn't stop us from having lots of fun exploring the trees.

 

After our welcome chant and routine, Year 2 tried out our regulating technique: squeeze hug. This involved using our arms to give ourselves a very big hug. We also tried giving ourselves a more gentle hug and tapping different parts of our body. We are all different, with some of us liking a firmer touch/pressure than others and so we encouraged the children to think about how they felt. It is National Tree Week this week, so we focused on our knowledge of trees to start. To get the children moving and thinking, we played, "You're safe when you are touching a..." and Emma called the names of lots of different trees on the site. Lots of children knew where to go to find a Hornbeam tree, a Silver Birch tree, a Hawthorn tree and a Willow tree. As we found each tree, we looked at the bark and the buds and described them. We noticed that some trees like the Hornbeam have their catkins at the moment and some tiny leaves. After this, we gathered back at the log circle to listen to Emma tell the story The Tree People. This story tells of a time when there was only one type of tree and one tiny village of people and how there came to be a variety of trees. For the rest of the session, the children followed their interests. Some children used bendy willow branches to make a circle, then used wool to make a tree inside the circle. This took lots of patience, concentration and knot skills and they were really proud of their outcomes. We also had the clay out today which the children used to make faces on the trees, inspired by the story of the Tree People. Another option was using a variety of tools to paint trees on a long strip of paper. The children enjoyed adding different natural materials to the scene that they painted as well as the paint. We also had some keen creators in the woods who made a walking zip line for their friends to use, with someone taking the role of safety inspector and even the need for an oyster card reader to get on. To conclude our session, we gathered back together to share the name of our favourite tree with each other. It was lovely to hear the children's reasons and hear how connected they are becoming to the world around them. 

 

After our chant and welcome routine, we gave each Year 6 child a feelings card which showed a range of emotions ranging in low to high pleasantness and low to high energy. They had to tune into their bodies and share the feeling that they were experiencing with the group. It is good to share our feelings and understand others so that we can support one another. Next, we shared a regulating technique called progressive muscle relaxation. This involved the children focusing on a different part of their body, clenching and squeezing the muscles before relaxing them. This helps us to feel how to relax our muscles, so that when we are feeling tense or experiencing uncomfortable emotions, we can relax our bodies and calm ourselves. After this, we introduced the children to the game Giants, Wizards and Elves. This game focuses on the skills of including everyone in a group huddle to make a decision about what character their team should be and the skill of making decisions as a group. This can be extremely challenging when there are lots of people trying to work together, but they got the hang of it. It was very funny when several times both teams seemed to be psychically linked and chose the same character. For the rest of the session, some of the children were keen to return the mud and the pit they have been making for the last few weeks. They really enjoy playing together and using their imaginations. We also had some children who were keen to make swings and some that were keen to have a go at making a willow whistle. We selected the correct size willow branches and whittled a mouth part, before tapping the bark to loosen it and slide it off. Unfortunately, we were not successful with this and it was disappointing. It is hard trying to do a project when time is against us, but the children dealt with this well. I promised I would send a link to show how to make a whistle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTvdDCHDKT0

 

We finished by reflecting on our favourite memories of Forest School.

 

Reception started with our song, counting and name game before coming back to our peaceful place technique to calm our bodies. The children breathed in deeply through their nose and out through their mouth, imagining their peaceful place. It helped to calm our bodies. The Forest School site is starting to come to life with more and more growth each week and so this week we came back to our tree knowledge and played: You're Safe When... This involved the children running around to locate the different trees that Emma called out the names of.  The children gathered back at the tarp to listen to Emma tell the story of The Tree People, which tells the story of how the world went from having one type of tree, the Fir Tree, to a whole range of trees. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests, with many enjoying the swings, hammocks and mud. Lots of children also took inspiration from the story and used clay to make tree people, by adding faces to the trees on site. We also had children bending willow branches into crowns, which they enjoyed decorating with pipe cleaners, cherry blossom and hornbeam catkins. Other children enjoyed having a tug of war on the grass, working on their core strength and teamwork skills. At the end of the session, we gathered back together to share the name of our favourite tree and sing a song: Our Tree.

 

Have a great week.

16.03.2023

 

 

Today was all about teamwork, with many of the children developing these skills in challenges and their own play.

 

After our chant and counting, the Y2 children shared their names and their favourite smell. This is a time where we encourage the children to think about the way we listen and respond to others. We work in trying to develop a safe space where we can share who we are without feeling judgement from others. Today’s calming technique was called Tuning Into Nature. Some of the children are really developing the ability to switch off from their surroundings and have a mindful moment, focusing on their body. Today we focussed on our different senses, one by one. After this, we set the children the lily pad challenge. They were split into two teams and given 6 coloured mats to use as lily pads to get from one side of the 'river' to the other. The children got into a huddle to discuss their ideas and then set off. They showed great flexibility as both teams had to adapt their method as they went. We were able to have lots of discussions about winning. It is very difficult not to get caught up in thoughts of winning or losing, but these often lead to some children getting very frustrated or upset. During the last few weeks, we have been encouraging the children to think how their actions affect others around them and while celebrating successes is important, we don't want to make others feel bad. It also provided an opportunity to discuss how to focus on our team, rather than ourselves or the other team. The children were great at reflecting on their qualities that they brought to their team after the challenge was complete. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some children enjoyed making pots of love hearts, using our heart hole punches to collect leaf hearts, which they put in small pots to give to someone. They also enjoyed returning to the mud in the woods, building swings and using the ropes. We finished our session reflecting on our achievements in our activities.

 

Year 6 started their session today focusing again on the character traits. We spent time looking at the different traits and considering which ones connect with who we are. We recapped the skills needed for teamwork and introduced today's challenge. Each team was given a sponge with four strings attached, one to each corner. The children in the groups had to hold the strings and were not allowed to touch the sponge. They then had to work together to dip the sponge in the paint and use it to paint a picture together. This task involved lots of communication and patience. The children were able to reflect on the character traits that might be expressed in this task. For the rest of the session, some children returned to their mud puddle created last week. They enjoyed using role play together to act out a ceremony and really enjoyed the mud. Other children used the heart hole punches to create pots of love and finally, some children had a go at working together to make paper pulp. Wild flower seeds were added and this was then shaped into hearts, pressed and dried. The children hope to write on their paper and give it to a loved one. At the end of the session we gathered back together to share a character trait that we expressed in today's session. 

 

Reception children started with their song, counting and name game. Today's regulation strategy was called Feelings Awareness. The children were taken through a guided meditation, focussing on the different parts of their body and trying to relax each part from our toes to our head. Next, we introduced them to the game Eagle Eyes. This involves the children finding closer and closer hiding places in order to make their way back to the tarp without being seen by the eagle. They really enjoyed being sneaky and remaining hidden and some children decided to continue playing this in their own choice time. Lots of children were interested in making paper pulp in the blender to make seed paper. They really enjoyed the sensation of the wet paper pulp and also enjoyed kneading in the wild flower seed. It took a lot of patience to shape the paper pulp and press it, but lots of children stuck with it and had some great success. Other children enjoyed using the heart hole punches. Finally we had some children return to swing making. Today they built a new type of swing and enjoyed investigating the different swinging possibilities. We finished back at the tarp and asked the children to share the name and actions of someone who made them happy today.

 

Have a great week.

09.03.2023

 

 

Forest School is all about following the children's interests and today everyone was interested in the mud!

 

It was very cold today and so we needed to get our bodies moving. After our welcome routine, Year 1 and Year 6 started off their sessions with a game of Head Honcho. The children really enjoyed taking a turn to be the detective, carefully watching their peers to guess who was the Head Honcho changing the actions. It also really encourages concentration and observation skills. Yesterday was the Hindu festival of Holi, which is a very colourful festival that celebrates the start of spring. So this week, we brought some colour with us. After warming up our bodies, the children gathered under the tarp to hear Emma tell the story of How The Birds Got Their Colours. As the story was told and each bird got ready to be painted, the children were keen to guess which bird it was. It was lovely to hear their guesses and the excitement when they guessed correctly and the bird they were thinking of was pulled out of the bag. It really showed us how much they are learning about the birds in the environment. For the rest of the session, Year 2 were fascinated by the mud and the largening puddles. Many children chose to work together to dig the hole to make the puddles bigger. There was also a lot of transporting of water from one puddle to another. This is a chance to develop their transportation schema. More information about schemas in forest school can be found here. Year 6 also were fascinated by the mud puddles, with one group of children working together to put a den up to create a lagoon around the puddle. Other Year 6 children returned to their favourite activity of Nordic braiding again. They love the swinging motion as well as the repetitive calm and companionship found doing this activity. Both groups also enjoyed throwing Holi powder paint at a white sheet to create beautiful patterns. It was fun watching it float through the air and added a bit of colour to the mud. To conclude our sessions, Year 2 sang a few songs to warm themselves up again. Year 6 reflected on the needs that they had met during the session. Fun and play was a need that was identified as well as creativity and movement. 

 

Reception joined us in the afternoon where the rain took a break. After our initial welcome routine and a recap of our Welly Boot Stomp regulating technique, we got moving with a game of Ostrich Tag. We had great fun running around and chasing each other's tails, whilst trying to avoid anyone tagging our tails. Once we were all warm, we gathered under the tarp to hear Emma tell the story : How Colour Came Into the World. This told of a time when all the world was grey: The Age of Grey and a tiny butterfly who used all his strength to bring colour into the world. It proves that everyone, no matter how small they are, can be creative because this comes from our heart. For the rest of the session, the children were definitely inspired to get creative. They thoroughly enjoyed throwing Holi paints all over the sheet (and themselves). It was quite a colour explosion. They experimented with making their own coloured material, dipping their fingers in and enjoying the sensory sensation. They also really enjoyed finding worms and different rocks as they dug in the mud. We finished our session with some of the children's favourite songs: 40 Years on An Iceberg, In the Forest and I Walk Into the Forest. 

02.03.2023

 

Spring seems to have disappeared for now and we were faced with some cold weather today. At this time of year, it is really important to prepare ourselves for all sorts of weather by dressing in layers that can be removed if and when the sun comes out! So please keep bringing in hats, scarves and gloves as well as layers to wear under a warm winter coat.

 

Year 2 started with their usual song, counting and name game before recapping our Makaton sign for calm and introducing our new regulating technique: Welly Boot Stomp. This involved the children stomping their feet into the ground, shaking out their body as they do so, wiggling their toes and rocking on their feet to really feel the connection with the ground below. Lots of children enjoyed this way of calming their bodies down and getting them ready for Forest School. After this, we returned to our game of Giants, Wizards and Elves that we introduced last week. The children worked hard at including everyone in a group huddle to make a decision about what character their team should be. They really focussed on using kind and inclusive language to make decisions as a group, which can be quite challenging when there are lots of people trying to work together. It was great to see them enjoying themselves playing the game. Next, we returned to the tarp to hear Emma tell the story of The Wind and the Sun. The children listened to the story and were able to identify some of the themes in the story including to be kind and you will achieve great things rather than being bossy and showing off. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests, with some returning into the woods to explore with the pulleys and ropes to make a zip line to transport the toy birds. We also had some children thinking about the wind today and having a go at making a weather vane. For this they had to use their cutting skills to cut a leaf into an arrow shape, and insert it on either end of a straw. The trickiest part was using our strength to push a pin through the straw and into a stick. The best bit was watching it spin as the wind blew. Finally we had some children working together to make a giant catapult. We learnt how to use the rope to lash three sticks together to create a tripod and then tied bungee cord on to it with a piece of leather material to hold the object being fired. We tried out different ways to make it travel further and marked the distance with flags. We gathered back together at the end of the session to share some positive moments in the session and share the feelings that we had experienced. Some children felt proud of their ability to work together to test out new ideas.

 

This week we introduced our character traits to the Year 6 children. Carrie explained that we can imagine it is like having a treasure chest inside us with all our special qualities that make us who we are. These were laid out on the tarp and we took time to wander round and consider what character traits we feel we have. After this we played a quick game of Look Down, Look Up. This game encourages the children to look into each other's eyes confidently and provides a bit of fun. It is also a calm, quiet game that helps everyone to focus. Next, we set the children the lily pad challenge. The children were split into two teams and given 5 lily pads to use to cross the river. They had to work together to find the solution, passing the lily pads along when they needed to, to allow them to all get across without touching the floor. It was so delightful to see how well they communicated and worked through the problem together. When they came across difficulties they were able to be flexible and try another method. For the rest of the session the children followed their own interests. Some children returned to the giant catapult from last week, adapting the material that was being used, which made it break less when the strain was out on it. They then were inspired to make their own individual sling shots and enjoyed investigating the different ways to make these too. Other children came back to Nordic braiding, really enjoying the community aspect of making something together. We also had children who worked together exploring the pulleys to make a zip line. We finished at the tarp looking again at our character traits and shared what part of our character we felt we had expressed during the session. We had lots of determined children.

 

Reception children started with their usual routine, followed by the introduction of another regulating strategy. This week it was squeeze hug. The children enjoyed lying on the tarp so much last week, we did this again. This time we added in some movement. We wrapped our arms around ourselves and started by tapping our arms, we added more and more pressure and thought about how we felt in our bodies. This helped some children to feel calm. Next, we developed our listening game from the previous week. Today the children all found a space in the field and put on a blindfold. They had to listen as Emma played the drum to determine what direction it was coming from and then follow it. Some children found it very challenging to keep their blindfold on, worrying that they might fall. We talked about different ways to slowly move our feet to make us feel more comfortable. We gathered back at the tarp to listen to Emma tell the story What Rabbit Heard, which tells of a rabbit who did not want to go outside to play because it was too cold, he was too busy and too tired. We recognised times when some of us have felt this way too. We all laughed as small rabbit misheard the instructions of big rabbit and ended up getting up to lots of fun outdoor adventures on a very windy day. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Lots of children enjoyed relaxing in the hammocks today.  We also had some children thinking about the wind today and having a go at making a weather vane. For this they had to use their cutting skills to cut a leaf into an arrow shape, and insert it on either end of a straw. The trickiest part was using our strength to push a pin through the straw and into a stick. The best bit was watching it spin as the wind blew. We also returned to our giant catapult, testing out some new material for the sling part and some new positions of the bungee cords. The toy birds were launched really high and really far which was very exciting. To finish our session, we gathered back at the log circle and sang Bele Mama, a beautiful calming song and we had a request for 40 Years on An Iceberg, which we fit in too.

 

 

23.02.2023

 

It was great to be back at Kerem today after the half term break. 

 

Year 2 started by focussing on the feeling of calm and so this week when the children shared their names, they also shared what makes them feel calm. It is so important to recognise the different emotions we have and how they feel in our body. Lots of children shared that they feel calm sitting on their sofa watching tv or reading a book. We then introduced this week's regulating technique: flower breathing. We all imagined a dandelion in front of us and took a deep breath in through our nose before breathing out slowly through our mouth. After a few goes, we thought about how relaxed and calm our bodies felt. Next, we gathered everyone together to play a teamwork game called Giants, Wizards and Elves. This game focuses on learning how to include everyone in a group and making a group decision that everyone is happy with. As the game progressed, their skills in using kind and inclusive vocabulary really improved. We gathered back at the tarp to hear Emma tell the story Facing the Giant. This story tells of a lady who faces the giant even though she hears terrible things about him and he is much bigger than her. As she gets closer to him, he gets smaller and smaller until he eventually disappears. The children listened to this story so well and some children worked out that the giant represented fear and that when we face our fears they often disappear like the giant. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed exploring the clay, making their own creations as well as mini giants. Others had a go at Nordic Braiding with their partner, finding swinging the wool back and forth really calming. Some children experimented with making a pair of stilts so they could be as tall as the giant was originally. They worked together to use the bow saw to cut log sections, then had to use great strength to twist in eyelet screws to hold the paracord in place for the hand loops. So much problem solving was involved in working out how to fix the screws and considering what length the paracord needed to be. Next week, we are going to try to master the art of walking on them! Finally we had a group of children that were keen to further investigate the 'human pulley'. It is great to see that they are still trying to develop and perfect this idea. We look forward to seeing where they take it next week with some new resources. At the end of the session, we gathered back at the tarp and learnt the Makaton sign for calm. We thought about which activities were quite calming today such as manipulating clay, swinging the wool to make braids with a partner and sitting in the hammocks.

 

Year 6 started their session with our chant counting and for their names, they shared something they were grateful for. They were lucky enough to see a rainbow as they were walking to Forest School and many children chose this as their moment of gratitude. We also introduced our flower breathing technique and thought about how our body responded as we breathed in and out slowly and deeply. Next, we invited the children into the woods to play a partner game, working on communication and knowing our role. Each pair had to send one person to look at a picture made of natural materials, who then had to communicate to their partner, 'the maker' , to make a copy of the picture, being as accurate as possible. At the end, we discussed how hard it is to only talk and not pick up items and be the maker. They had to think really carefully about the specific instructions and information they were sharing to be as accurate as possible. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed working with their partner to do Nordic braiding, creating a friendship bracelet for each person. Some children communicated so well, they were able to work together at quite a pace. Others worked together to create a large catapult using bungee cord and a tripod of logs. It was fun experimenting with the different attachment points and the angle that the projectile was being launched. We also had some children that really enjoyed playing together in the woods hiding and seeking. At the end of the session, we gathered together to share our moments of calm that were experienced in the session.

 

Reception were keen to get back to Forest School today and after our usual welcome routine, we tried out another regulating technique called Peaceful Place. This involved the children lying down on their backs on the tarp, closing their eyes and focusing on their mindful breathing as Emma walked them through a visualisation. They did so well at focusing on their breathing and imagining as Emma spoke. Lots of children found that this was their favourite technique so far. Next, we played a listening game called Drum Stalker. Emma stood in the middle of the field and banged her drum. When the drum was playing, the children could creep closer to Emma, but when the drum stopped and Emma opened her eyes, the children had to be still. They were great at listening and creeping so slowly! After this, we gathered at the tarp to hear Carrie tell the story Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. The children joined in the story telling and we found it very funny. For the rest of the session, some of the children helped get some of the forest friends down from the trees as they had got stuck at lunchtime. The children had to think of ways to poke them or shake them down from the trees, whilst keeping others around them safe. Other children enjoyed exploring the pulleys, buckets and ropes. They worked out how to raise and lower the forest friends in the buckets and also create zip lines for them. This involved lots of teamwork, discussion and problem solving. Finally some of us worked together to build a giant catapult. The children worked out how to attach the bungee cord to the frame of the catapult and we tried different ways to launch the forest friends and clay balls. To finish our session, we gathered back together and thought about the calm activities we did and the fun and busy activities we did. These feel different in our body and the children were able to understand the difference.

 

Have a great week.

09.02.2023

 

This half term seems to have really flown by. The children have done so well, adapting to quite a range of different weathers but we finished today with some sunshine after the chill of the early morning.

 

Year 1 started their session with our chant, counting and our name game. After this we recapped the different regulating techniques that we have learnt this half term and thought about the one that was most effective for us. Flower breathing was the most popular, so we took time to breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly, before introducing the children to a number of different budding winter twigs. We looked closely at the buds, observing their differences and similarities before heading off on a bud hunt to find the trees they came from. Hunts are a great way to not only develop the children's knowledge of plants, trees and life cycles but it also helps develop a deeper connection with nature and their forest school site. We are reminded of our Forest School motto, Caring for our Earth, as we carefully look and touch the buds on the trees. When we looked at the willow twig with its soft furry buds it reminded us of a story 'The Origins of the Pussy Willow' which Emma shared with the group. There's something magical about storytelling that draws us together as a community. 

For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some explored the clay, rolling it into balls before squashing it flat between the palms of their hands to make clay bud prints or to combine the buds from the winter twigs to make other amazing creations including Spring kittens. Some children had a go at some winter twig weaving in a Y stick frame, weaving in twigs and pine cones that they found. We also had our keen builders who enjoyed tying the ropes between the trees. We concluded the session back at the tarp and shared something that we felt we had learnt or got better at this time in Forest School. Lots of children felt more comfortable in nature, enjoyed making new friends and learning more about the plants and trees.

 

Year 4 started their session with our usual routine before looking at the different buds from the trees in Forest School. The children worked in pairs to describe the buds' shape, structure on the twig, colour and texture before setting off on a hunt to find the tree they were from. It was amazing to see how well the children know the site and the names of the trees. It really showed us the connection and knowledge they have developed over the years with the Forest School site. For the rest of the session, some children challenged themselves to apply their knowledge of knots and lashings, making a square weaving frame, which they then used to weave coloured threads and winter sticks. This task took a lot of patience and perseverance and once again it was delightful to see how supportive the children were of each other as they worked. Another group of children were inspired by finding some Y sticks and decided to have a go at making catapults. They didn't quite have the right resources to make these today, but it didn't stop their problem solving and exploration. To finish our session, we gathered back together to hear everyone's reflections on this half term's Forest School. Some children found a greater sense of calm, a greater connection with the outdoors and a deeper knowledge of knots and their uses.

 

Reception children shared their song, counting and name game before recapping the different regulating techniques we have learnt this half term. We thought about which ones were our favourite and chose to do the muscle relaxation technique again, squeezing and relaxing the different muscles in our body. Next, we showed the children the different buds. For each bud they were given, they looked at the colour, shape and texture of the buds before hunting the site to find the matching tree. The children enjoyed running around and shouting 'Found it!" when they had located the correct tree and were very good at naming the tree when they found it. We gathered back together on the mat to hear Emma tell the story of Pussy Willow and the Spring Kittens. For the rest of the session, many children liked exploring the clay again. They used the wool around the clay, which they put on sticks to make microphones and then proceeded to interview people. Others used the buds to make prints in the clay and even a little elephant with white willow bud tusks. Some children had a go at weaving the bud sticks into Y stick weaving frames, which they found challenging but persevered with. We also had some keen forest explorers, enjoying the hammocks and using the ropes. We finished our session at the tarp and learnt a lovely calming song called Bele Mama. After a few times, we split into two groups and sang it as a round. It sounded beautiful.

 

Have a great half term.

02.02.2023

 

Today was all about the Spring Equinox and the coming of Spring and there was a real sense of it in the air today.

 

Reception and Year 1 started today's sessions with their usual routine and then we introduced the groups to this week's mindfulness strategy: Tuning Into Nature. We closed our eyes and took time to tune into each sense, listening to the sounds around us, feeling the sun and air on our faces and the earth beneath our feet. It made some of us feel calm and warm. After this calming moment, we played a quick game of Squirrels before joining Emma at the tarp to listen to the story of Mother Buzzard: the Return of the Light. This story is about Imbolc or the Spring Solstice which is on the 1st February and is the time of the year where there is an equal amount of daylight and night. The story told of a mole that helped make it night by pulling all of the light into the tunnels below the Earth and pouring darkness into the world. It also told of a Mother Buzzard who flapped her wings to drive away the darkness and bring back the light. The children enjoyed flapping their wings like the buzzard and mixing potions like the mole. Before the children followed their own interests, we had a look at the signs of spring coming. We spotted some of the buds on the trees getting bigger, some very tiny green leaves and some daffodil bulbs beginning to come up. After this, some children used the peelers to whittle hazel and willow sticks to either make magic wands or snowdrop people. They worked safely remembering to peel down the stick, away from their hand to remove the bark. Once again this technique is very calming and mindful as the different layers of the bark are removed. It also involves lots of focussed concentration. They then chose to decorate their sticks with pipe cleaners, leaves and white felt to create snowdrop people or magic wands. We also had some children interested in den building, creating a superhero den or homes for the forest friends. The hammocks were also a popular place to go to relax. To end our session, we gathered back together and shared some calm moments we had today before singing a new song: Spring is Coming.

 

After our usual welcome routine, Year 4 also had a go at Tuning Into Nature, closing their eyes and focussing on their senses one by one. After this, we gave them a challenge we call The Rope Shape Game. Everyone held onto the circle of rope, closed their eyes and then had to work together to get into a triangle shape. This game focuses on communication skills: finding your voice, not talking over one another and problem solving. We then had a go at getting into a square shape. It was more difficult than they thought as it was hard to make sure that they were listening to one another as well as sharing their ideas. For the rest of the session the children followed their own interests, with all children coming with a clear idea about what they wanted to do. Some children were excited to return to the Nordic Braiding that was introduced last week. Each partner holds two strands of wool with weights (pine cones in our case) on the end. They then work together to swing the cords from person to person, back and forth. It is a relaxing, mindful activity that involves some concentration and lots of communication. Other children were keen to use the willow to make bows and arrows. This involved them returning to their clove hitch knot, which many are growing in confidence with, to secure their string to their bow. They then had to cut the correct length of willow for their arrow and learn to shoot it. We even made a willow hoop target to see if we could fire our arrows through it. To end the session, we gathered together and shared moments of calm we experienced today. We also learnt the song Earth, Stone, Feather and Bone. It's always joyous to sing together.

26.01.2023

 

The ice of last week had almost gone and left some very muddy, wet puddles for the children to enjoy today.

 

Year 1 and Reception started their session with our usual routine followed by introducing our calming technique: Progressive Muscle Relaxation. This involved the children tightening and relaxing different muscles in turn starting with our shoulders and hands, our faces and eventually working through our body down to our toes. This week, with the Big Garden Bird Watch happening this weekend, we focussed on birds. Our first activity involved the children being split into two teams and hunting for bird cards around the site. They then raced them back to the bingo board where they lay them on top of the matching bird. It involved lots of very careful observation, especially when the birds looked similar in shape or colour. These sorts of activities also really encourage children to move carefully over uneven ground, managing obstacles and navigating their surroundings. After the game, we gathered together to hear Emma tell the story of The Pine and the Winter Sparrow. This is an old folk tale that teaches us why the deciduous trees lose their leaves in the Winter and the Pine tree hangs on to its needles. We flew around pretending to be sparrows visiting the different trees and being told to go away. This story helped us think about being kind, especially when we have a lot. For the rest of the session, some children chose to thread cheese, and apple on to a wire to make bird feeders which they hung in the trees or took home to feed the birds in their garden. There were also lots of children who thoroughly enjoyed role playing with our soft toy birds. The birds were seen visiting different trees and being cared for in different nests. Other children explored the bird books. They enjoyed finding out that female blackbirds are not black at all; they are brown! Some of the children enjoyed dragging the large logs on to the field and worked together to create an assault course, which had lots of jumps and needed lots of energy to get across. Finally we had some really determined children who had a go at finding out how hard it is to make a nest. They took bendy willow branches and wove them in and out of each other to create willow nests. It took great strength and resilience to keep going as it was not a quick task! We finished by gathering back together to sing a group song. Today we chose the Little Robin song.

 

Year 4 started with their chant and a mindful moment in the sunshine. We thought about what we were grateful for at that present moment and shared it with the group. Next we introduced our Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique. The children were great at focusing on the different parts of their body as they tensed and relaxed their different muscles. Once again, the children were split into two groups and sent on a hunt for our bird cards. Learning about and recognising the birds in our environment is a great way to connect with nature and some of the birds are becoming familiar to the group. It also is a great way to warm our bodies up as the children race around the site, navigating the uneven ground. For the rest of the session, some children returned to their knot skills, picking up where they left off with the chair project. They have now worked together to lash two sections of the chair together. We hope to complete it next week. Other children used their time to get creative with the flexible willow branches that were brought today. Some children really challenged themselves to weave a willow Swallow. This took a lot of patience and problem solving as the branches needed to be bent and weaved in and out. Other children enjoyed seeing where their creativity took them. There were willow hearts, a willow hot air balloon, a crown and a willow nest. They are a really creative bunch! We finished by gathering back together and sharing our favourite bird and thinking about something we were grateful for in the session.

19.01.2023

 

It was an incredibly cold forest school day today and the site looked beautiful.

 

Year 1 were very excited to arrive on site and see the puddles of last week frozen into large ice sheets across the grass. After our chant, counting and name game we introduced a new regulating technique called Welly Boot Stomp. We stomped our feet on the ground, wiggled our toes and rocked back and forth in our wellies to feel the ground beneath our feet. This weekend Lunar New Year will be celebrated in many countries around the world and this was a focus of our session today. We started with a game which encouraged the children to find their voice and be creative. They were each given an animal card and had to move around making the noise and doing the actions of their animal to find their matching partner. It was fun to guess the different animals and some children got so into character they crawled on the ground. For the rest of the session, the children followed their own interests. Some were fascinated by the ice and had a great time working together using the mallets to smash holes in the ice. Others used the broken ice to make sculptures, carefully manipulating and balancing the ice pieces against each other. Finally, we had some children who used a needle and wool to thread leaves before tying each end to a stick and adding a clay head to make a dragon puppet. 

The children gathered back together to finish the session with a song: I'm A Little Rabbit, with lots of movements to warm us up.

 

Year 4 started with their chant, counting and our name game to keep us moving in the cold. Next we played our Noah's Ark matching game. Each child was given an animal card and for the first round had to make noises and movements of their animal to help find their pair. For the second round everyone was allowed to ask yes or no questions to each other to help find their pair. It was very tricky and put to use the children's knowledge of animal classification. For the rest of the session, many children were interested in the ice, using the mallets to break it up and use it for sculptures. Others enjoyed using the bow saw and hand drills to make Chinese drums. This took a lot of perseverance as the wood was very thick and took a long time to drill, as well as the threading with cold fingers, but they did very well.

 

Reception were very excited about all of the ice to explore at Forest School today. After our song, counting and name game, we got moving with our regulation technique: Welly Boot Stomp. This helped to warm up our feet and feel the connection with the Earth under them. This week has been book week for Kerem children and Reception children have been finding out about Spiders, so we started with a spider game where we had to move around and perform spidery actions including freezing, gobbling insects and throwing web slingers.

For the rest of the session, some children used the bow saw and drill to make spider and spider web thaumatropes. They really enjoy using the tools and showed lots of persistence in threading and tying the rubber bands through the holes of their wood cookies. They then had to learn how to use it to make it spin. Other children really enjoyed exploring the ice, swinging in the hammocks and climbing the trees. We ended the session back together with a song: 40 Years on An Iceberg. 

12.01.2023

 

Year 1 started their session with their chant, counting and name game, before recapping our flower breathing technique. Once again the children were able to focus on their breathing and took time to breathe deeply and develop this calming technique. After this, we returned to our Giants, Wizards and Elves game. This week we really focussed on the skills in making a group decision: making a suggestion and asking if others are happy with the decision that was made. Next, we gathered under the shelter of the tarp to listen to the story of Jack Frost. We learnt the Makaton signs for frost and ice and used these to help tell the story. For the rest of the session, the children enjoyed exploring the mud, digging holes with trowels and jumping in the puddles. Some children enjoyed working together, getting creative and making a picture of a snowman on the ground using flour. They then worked together gathering materials to add on a scarf, a hat, eyes, a mouth and buttons. Other children enjoyed the comfort of the shelter and used pipe cleaners and sticks to make snowflakes. Finally, we thought about how the birds find it hard to get food at this time of the year. The children were provided with blocks of ice containing cranberries and were challenged to imagine they had beaks (sticks) and use them to get the food out of the ice. It took a lot of perseverance with a tiny beak and some children found it much quicker to smash the ice with the mallets. To conclude our session, we gathered back at the log circle and sang 40 Years On An Iceberg.

 

After our usual welcome routines, we asked the Year 4 children the question, what is your favourite thing about winter. Lots of us enjoyed experiencing the cold weather and then seeking warmth and comfort with a warm drink or a snuggle on the sofa. The children were keen to learn a new game Fox and Rabbit, which involved chasing each other and avoiding capture by linking on to an awaiting pair. This game provided lots of laughs as the children hurriedly darted in and out of each other. Last week some children showed an interest in making a chair and so we recapped some of our knots and lashings learnt in their previous years at forest school. As with many skills, it is important to practice them to gain in confidence and many children were pleased with how much quicker they were able to tie their clove hitch and square lashing this year. For the rest of the session, some children chose to work together to start the chair project. They are hoping to build a stargazer chair and began by sawing some logs and then lashing them together using their square lashing technique. Other children who have always enjoyed exploring the clay and mud, had a go at turning their clay into dorodango balls. This is a Japanese art of mud polishing and takes a great amount of patience to create a shiny mud ball. The children rolled their balls in their hands and rubbed the outside with sand to slowly dry them out. They plan to continue polishing these in the next few weeks. We finished our session with some group singing.

 

Reception children were excited to see all of the mud puddles on site and hurriedly jumped in them before we started our session with our usual routine. We played our Giants, Wizards and Elves game introduced last week with more focus on the skills of making a group decision. The children worked to include everyone in the decision huddle and used the phrase, "Is that ok with everyone?" to check that everyone was happy with the decision. We gathered back under the shelter to listen to our story of Jack Frost, learning the Makaton signs for Ice and Frost. This led on to some exploration of food trapped in ice. The children worked out that by putting the ice in a puddle it melted a bit faster. There were some children who really persevered whilst working on their fine motor skills as they twisted pipe cleaners to secure willow sticks together to create snowflakes. Finding ways to successfully and securely attach things together is something that we are working on this half term and it was great to see how proud the children felt when they were able to do this challenging task by themselves. Finally we had some keen mud painters who enjoyed climbing into the trees and painting them with mud, strengthening their core muscles as they balanced. Our Reception children love to sing and we always enjoy finishing our sessions with a song. Today we enjoyed sing: 40 Years on an Iceberg.

5.1.2023

 

It was lovely to welcome the children back to Forest School today and to see them all so excited despite the occasional drizzle. 

 

Year 1 began their session with learning the welcome chant, and our usual names and numbers. We then warmed up our bodies with a new game: Giants, Wizards, Elves. A take on Rock, Paper, Scissors, we thought about what the actions should be for each character and who beats who and why. We then got into two teams and for each round made a collective decision as to which action to use. Once played, the winning team tries to catch the others while they run back to their base. Anyone caught joins their team, continuing until everyone is on the same team. This game gives the children the opportunity to work on their communication and teamwork skills as they make collective decisions. Once we were nice and warm we returned to the tarp and listened to the story Facing the Giant. This story tells of a brave woman who faces a giant and realises that as she gets closer and closer to the giant, the giant gets smaller and smaller until she can hold it in her hand and it is no bigger than a grain of sand. The children shared their ideas about what the giant might represent and how when we face our fears, we can reduce them until we are no longer afraid of them. For the rest of the session, many children enjoyed returning to exploring in the woods, digging and using the mallets. We also had the clay out, which some children used to make giants, wizards and elves.  The children were invited to add a wish to our Wishing Tree near the tarp. We thought of our hopes and wishes for the year and wrote or drew them on wooden leaves, which the children attached to the tree with string. Some of the children also wrote wishes on pieces of Elder, hollowed them out and put them on a pipe cleaner to make wishing bracelets. Finally we had the slack line out today, which they enjoyed balancing along and facing the challenge of reaching the end without falling off. Returning to the tarp, we ended the session with the Makaton sign for our focus feeling of the week: scared and thought about the ways that this is felt in our body. We introduced a calming strategy: Flower Breathing, where we imagine we are holding a dandelion clock and taking a deep breath in, we blow the seeds and repeat. Once again this made us feel calm and relaxed.

 

Year 4 began with the welcome chant, count and names with a question of the week: What makes you feel scared? The children listened with kindness as they shared with each other their fears. We recognised that some of the fears are shared by many others in the group. Again, like Year 1, we played our new game: Giants, Wizards and Elves. It was a fun game producing lots of laughter especially when the actions were the same or when teams chased instead of ran! We listened to the story: Facing the Giant and thought about things that we are sometimes afraid of. We thought that the lady in the story was very brave facing the giant and learnt the Makaton sign for brave. Year 4 were able to guess that the Giant was called 'fear' and he shrank and disappeared as the lady bravely faced him, even though she was scared. We thought about times we have done something even though we were scared and realised it was not so scary after all. For the rest of the session, the children enjoyed returning to the woods, digging up clay and finding worms. Many of the children also put their rope and knot skills to work making swings in the trees and dens. The children are keen to challenge themselves in the next few weeks and enjoyed coming up with a plan for the next few sessions including making a chair and using their clay to make dorodango balls. We ended the session with our Flower Breathing technique and enjoyed the calming feeling.

 

After our song, counting and name game, Reception were asked to go around the site to find a natural object that interested them to introduce our mindful strategy: Mindful Object. Everyone enjoyed telling each other about their object and we looked at it carefully, even giving it a smell, to focus and do some mindful breathing. They also enjoyed learning our new Giants, Wizards and Elves game, which warmed us all up, before listening to the story Facing the Giant. The children learnt the Makaton sign for Scared and Brave and thought about how this makes our bodies feel. Sometimes when we are scared our tummies feel funny, or our chest feels tight or our legs feel wobbly. For the rest of the session, children explored in different ways including making rope swings in the woods, relaxing in the hammocks and balancing on the slack line. They also enjoyed adding their wish on to a wooden leaf and adding it to the wishing tree. Clay was also a popular activity, helping to develop the children's creativity and fine motor skills. To end the session, we had some requests for Princess Pat, which we enjoyed singing together. The children were also keen to sing our Earth, Stone, Feather and Bone song. They now know all parts of the song and enjoy singing it as a round altogether. It sounded so good it gave us goosebumps!

8.12.2022

 

It was a cold, crisp, sunny day for our final Forest School sessions of the term today.

 

Y2 and Y3 started their sessions today with our usual chant, counting and name game, making the most of the different actions to keep our bodies moving in the cold weather. The temperature has really dropped this week and so we thought about how to look after ourselves in this weather. As well as wearing lots of layers, we need to move our bodies to build up warmth, so we played some of our favourite games. We started with Squirrels followed by a quick game of Secret Stone. The children have really worked on their strategies and played the games with more confidence and skill. After this, we set the children the challenge of working in small teams. Each team was given a wooden ring with five strings attached and a tennis ball. The children had to work together by holding the strings and keeping the ball balanced on the wooden ring. They then set themselves challenges to see how far they could move without it falling off. It involved a lot of concentration, communication and teamwork. For the rest of the session, the children chose how to explore. Some of them enjoyed the rest they got from sitting in a hammock, others returned to their debris den that they have been working on this half term and some children enjoyed using the ropes and pulleys to build swings and people transporters. The children were also interested in hollowing out pieces of Elder with the palm drills and creating woodland jewellery by threading their beads on to cord. Finally, to warm us all up we lit the fire and all enjoyed toasting a marshmallow. Delicious! To conclude the session we gathered together for a warm up song called 40 Years on An Iceberg. Quite appropriate for today!

 

Reception children showed how resilient they were today in the cold weather. They came well wrapped up and thought about how to keep their bodies warm by putting on their layers and moving their bodies. After our welcome song, count and name game, we got ourselves moving with some running games. The children enjoyed playing Squirrels and then a game of Forest Fire. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed using the palm drills to hollow pieces of Elder and make beads, which they threaded on pipe cleaners. Others had their first go on the slack line and were great at balancing all the way to the end. We also enjoyed learning about the fire triangle, what is needed for fire and how to stay safe around the fire before lighting it and toasting marshmallows. They were delicious. To finish, we all gathered together again to sing 40 Years On an Iceberg.

 

Have a good holiday.

1.12.2022

 

Blue skies and sunshine were very much appreciated today as we enjoyed the first chilly day of December.

 

Year 2 and 3 children started with their usual welcome routine followed by our sign of the day: Angry, and our question: What makes you feel angry or frustrated? As well as being able to express the emotions that make us feel good, it is also important to be able to recognise and express when we feel uncomfortable emotions to help us understand each other more. Today, many children expressed that they felt frustrated when their siblings break their toys or destroy their lego, when they have their PS5 or iPad taken away and when they are not listened to. After this, we returned to our Nest Robbers game. Both groups were keen to take this to the next level, where they had the freedom to choose where to build their nest including the field and the woods. They could also choose to camouflage or hide their nest to prevent the Corvids from finding and stealing from it. They really enjoyed thinking through and analysing how successful their strategy was each round. They realised they needed to get a good balance between distance from the bird feeder and ability to hide. It led to some great discussions about the different techniques/strategies that real birds use to avoid predators. Having seen the fascination of worm digging and holding over the last few weeks with both groups, we shared a book called A Worm Called Wallace. This is a great book that tells the story of why worms are in fact superheros and explains the essential role they have on our Earth. It also brought out some discussion and awareness about how to look after the Earthworms. For the rest of the session, as well as our explorers and den builders, we had some children interested in using the pulleys today. They were keen to work together to construct a 'human carrier' and had to use great perseverance to be able to throw a rope high up over a branch as part of their construction. Many children returned to using the clay, this time to create Fungi. They enjoyed looking through our Fungi ID book and discovering all the unusual types of fungus and used sticks and berries to decorate and make marks on their clay creations. We also had some children try the challenging task of making a five pointed Winter twig star from a branch of Willow. They had to carefully bend the pieces and work out how to put them together to get the star shape. They used pipe cleaners to secure the pieces together drawing on their fine motor skills. To conclude the sessions, both groups were keen to return to our Earth, Bone, Feather and Stone song to learn the last part. We added this into our round and even had a go at just choosing which bit to sing. It sounded fabulous.

 

Reception children were wrapped up warm today and after our welcome routine , we played a new running around game to keep them warm called Den, Fire, Friend. This game involved the children listening out for different instructions which meant that they had to get in groups of two or three and perform an action. They had to make quick decisions to find the correct number of people to be in a group with the correct action. They were very good and we hope to introduce a few more actions next week. Next, we listened to the story of A Worm Called Wallace. There are so many worms in the muddy areas of Forest School and so we enjoyed finding out more about them including that they breathe through their skin! For the rest of the session, children enjoyed exploring with the forest friends and returning to the tools the bow saw and the hand drill. The children used the bow saw to cut wood cookies, which they then drilled. Both of these activities take a lot of hand strength and the need to be patient. Once their hole was drilled, the children had to problem solve to find the right size stick to fit in their hole. They finished by decorating their spinners to make dreidels and they were incredibly proud of them. To conclude our session, we gathered back together and thought about the sign Proud and shared some of the moments we felt proud of today. We also sang a song together.

 

 

24.11.2022

 

We were very lucky to avoid the rain today and had the full Forest School site available for exploring, which we all enjoyed.

 

We started our Year 2 and 3 sessions with our chant, counting and this week's sign and question: What makes you feel calm? There were a great range of answers including drawing and colouring, watching television, playing on my console, being out in nature and listening to birds. It is great to know what makes our bodies feel calm, as we can always go to this activity or space when we are feeling uncomfortable emotions like anxiety or frustration. Being outdoors is a great way to calm our nervous system and it was lovely to hear that some children have noticed this for themselves. Next, we played a new game with both groups called Nest Robbers. This is a great game for running around, keeping ourselves warm and moving our bodies as well as developing strategies. Everyone found a partner and used sticks and leaves to build a nest on the ground. They then were tasked with flying to the bird feeder and collecting a piece of food to bring back to their nest. For the groups that picked this up quickly we introduced a predatory bird, the Red Kite, who could tag the players, meaning they had to return their food to the bird feeder and fly back to their nest empty beaked. The next challenge was the introduction of a Corvid, who was able to steal food from unattended nests. The children worked well with their partner, thinking of strategies to escape the Red Kite and protect their nest from the stealing Corvid. It was lots of fun and the children are keen to try the next level of challenge in the game next week. For the rest of the session, the children explored in their own ways. As well as our keen diggers, worm explorers, hammock swingers and den builders, we had children exploring with clay. Many children chose to use pine cones, moss and leaves to create winter gnomes, protectors of the forest. They enjoyed manipulating the cold clay with their hands to create their creatures, some children commenting on how calming the activity was. Other children tried out an activity called Nordic Braiding; a technique used by fishermen a long time ago to make their fishing nets. They worked in pairs, swinging wool strands from partner to the other to create cordage. They enjoyed tying it and sharing it with their friend to make friendship bracelets. Once again, we found that the rhythmic swinging of the wool strands had a really relaxing, calming effect on our bodies and minds. We concluded our sessions with a new song called Earth, Stone, Feather and Bone. The children learnt the different lines of the song and we enjoyed singing it all together. It created a beautiful calming sound.

 

Reception started their session with our usual routine of our song, counting and name game, followed by the introduction of the game Nest Robbers. The children worked hard gathering resources to build their nests with their partners and enjoyed running to and from the bird feeder to gather pieces of food to bring back to their nests. It was also fun when the Red Kites were introduced. The children ran so fast, trying to get the food back to their nests, escaping being tagged. For the rest of the session, as well as exploring in the woods, many children had their first go at using peelers for whittling. We introduced the tool and the children really impressed us with how safely they were able to whittle the Elder wood. They were fascinated and intrigued by the different colours of the wood as the different layers were whittled away. By whittling the end of the Elder stick, we hoped to create the look of a dripping wax candle. The children hollowed out the end with a palm drill and found a yellow Silver Birch leaf, which they pushed in the end to look like a golden flame. They were really proud of their creations. We also had some children using the clay and pine cones to create Woodland creatures and even a clay candle, complete with Silver Birch leaf flame. We concluded our session sharing the song Earth, Bone, Feather and Stone. It seemed that the children really enjoyed this as they were singing it still as they left the site to head back to school. Singing together brings such a good feeling.

 

Have a great week,

Emma and Carrie.

17.11.2022

 

Year 2 and Year 3 started their session with our usual routines and asked the question of the day : What makes you excited? Next, we introduced a new game called Den, Fire, Log Pile, Bushes and Friends. This game encouraged the children to make quick decisions and get into groups of different numbers to perform the action: den, fire, log pile, bushes and friends. We have noticed that the children are really enjoying using the ropes to make dens in the woods, so this week we recapped and extended knowledge on some den building knots: the timber hitch and the truckers hitch. The children then had a go at working in self chosen groups to put a tarp up in the tree. This task encourages communication, negotiating and problem solving skills. To conclude our session we shared some of the teamwork moments that we spotted during the task.

 

Reception started their session with our usual routine before playing our Hibernating Hedgehogs game. This involved the children snuffling around each other and when 'Hibernating Hedgehogs' was shouted they curled up in a ball, closed their eyes and one child was covered with a tarp. The other hedgehogs then had to guess who was still hibernating under the tarp. They showed great observation skills, noticing who was missing from their class and guessing that they were under the tarp. Next ,we played a game where the children had to think about moving slowly, just like many animals need to, if they are hunting prey or hiding from a predator. We gave them a shaky bell, which they needed to pass around from one person to the next without letting it ring. They focussed so hard on not ringing the bell and did really well. For the rest of the session, many children enjoyed making the most of the mud in the woods, exploring it with their feet and hearing the squishing sounds. Other children used the beautiful leaves of autumn to create leaf lanterns. They used scissors to cut the leaves and glue to stick them on to their lanterns. We also had some children taking care of the Forest Friends and playing with them in the woods. We finished with some singing together with some actions to come together as a community.

10.11.2022

 

It was great to share a bit of sunshine with the children today after the days of rain we seem to have had.

 

Year 2 started their session with our chant, counting our group and our name game. This week's feeling was 'sad' which we learnt how to sign in Makaton before sharing something that makes us sad. Contributions ranged from when my friends leave me out or are unkind to me to when I get something wrong. The group are really showing respect and kindness to one another as they share something personal about themselves.

Next, we played our game Fox and Rabbit game. The children had to be observant to notice when it was their turn to run away from the fox. It took a lot of concentration and awareness of others to know when to run. We then gathered back on the tarp to enjoy some storytelling as Emma shared the story of how the hedgehog got its spikes. The children listened really well to the story and could guess the different animals in the story from the clues. After the story we played a game of Sleeping Hedgehog. At this time of year hedgehogs are beginning to think about hibernating and so this game made us think about that as well as our observation skills. Everyone closed their eyes and then one of the children was covered. When the children opened their eyes, they had to work out who the sleeping hedgehog was. For the rest of the session, the children had fun returning to some of their favourite activities - one of which is building with the ropes, tarps, logs and mallets. Some children looked up facts about hedgehogs while others made clay hedgehogs, using pine cone scales as prickles. We gathered back at the tarp to share a song together.

 

Year 3 started with the chant, counting and our theme for the week, which was exploring our needs. We all have needs to both survive and thrive and we shared some of these with the children. Everyone then took a turn to share the need that they hoped to meet today at Forest School. These ranged from peace and relaxation to fun and play and creativity. After this we came back to our game of Fox and Rabbit, which we played in the previous week. Last week, the children thought of ways to make the game more fun and enjoyable for more of the group. We played the game with the children's adaptation and it worked really well. Next we focussed on a team work task. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and to mark this day, we worked together to collect red and black leaves. We also gathered some sticks to make an outline of the poppy and then we filled it with the leaves. It took a lot of patience and collaboration to make this piece of land art. When it was finished we stood around it, closed our eyes and gave a thought to those soldiers who went to war and are still at war still to protect us. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed working around the fire again, making candle holders out of clay, which they decorated with natural materials and added a wick. We then made the fire and used it to melt wax, which was poured into the holders. The children are very aware of how to stay safe around the fire and enjoyed sitting around it, expressing how calm they felt. Other children had a go at creating willow square based pyramids, which they will cover in wet strength tissue paper next week to make lanterns. This took a lot of patience (and masking tape!) to make the structures strong. We also had the keen den builders who continue to develop and improve their den, this week focussing on the roof and back wall. Once again, this self guided activity really helps build the children's communication and negotiation skills as they work together to create something. To conclude our session, we gathered together and thought about how our needs were met in our session.

 

Reception started their session with our song, counting and name game, which everyone joined in well with. Next, we played our Forest Fire game again that we introduced last week. The children enjoyed running around and chasing each other and it warmed us all up. After this, we had a go at a teamwork activity. We showed the children some images of artwork created by James Brunt. We began our creation by identifying and collecting oak leaves, then yellow Silver Birch leaves, some sticks and some red Maple leaves to make circles and a great piece of collaborative art. For the rest of the session, some children enjoyed making clay candle holders. They shaped the clay with their fingers and added natural items they found. Others made some woven woolly poppy crosses. This took a lot of concentration and patience, but some children were really successful. We also had the ever popular digging and den building. 

 

Have a good week.

3.11.2022

 

It was a challenging weather day today, but the children all really enjoyed exploring the autumnal woods and feeling the cosiness of shelter under our tarp.

 

Year 2 were excited to be back at Forest School for their first session of the year. They started their session under the shelter of the tarp where we taught them the makaton sign for happy. Although it is nice to be happy, we can't be happy all of the time, but if we know some of things that help us feel happy we can help ourselves when we feel a bit low. The children all shared something that made them happy with the group, who listened with kindness and respect. Contributions included being with my family, friends, playing football and being at Forest School. After this, we ventured out of the woods to play a new game called Fox and Rabbit. This game focussed on the predator-prey relationship of the two animals and involved lots of running, which warmed us all up before we sat down to listen to the story of Conker the Chameleon. The story is all about a chameleon who is sad because he can't change colour and feels different. As chameleons change colour to show how they’re feeling, he’s worried the others won’t be able to see how he feels. During the story he discovers using words is a more effective way of sharing feelings and by the end of the story, while he still can't change colour, he has changed his mindset and feels happy about who he is. The children shared their thoughts about the meanings of the story and we discussed the benefits of talking about our feelings to others, rather than displaying them through our behaviour i.e. shouting, being unkind, rude, hurting others etc. The children were keen to have free choice to explore their ideas. Some children enjoyed using the palm drills to make beads out of conkers, acorns and elder, threading them on to string. Others used wool to make woolly spiders. They carefully wrapped wool around their fingers and used their knot skills to tie it in the middle before cutting the edges to make a furry pom-pom. They had to problem solve to think about ways to attach pipe cleaner legs. We also had many keen diggers, minibeast explorers and of course den builders.

To conclude our session, we gathered back together and thought about our energy levels and whether we had a nice feeling inside our bodies from being outside.

 

Year 3 were also excited to be back. For their names this week, we asked them to think about their feelings in terms of colour: red for anger, green for happy, yellow for scared, blue for sad, purple for excited and orange for calm. Each child shared how they were feeling with the group and explained why. Once again lots of children recognised that they feel calm under the trees or excited about what we might do at Forest School this half term. We played the Fox and Rabbit game again, which most children really enjoyed. Some children shared that they felt frustrated that they hadn't been chosen by the other players to be a rabbit and we thought about ways we could make everyone in our community enjoy the game and have fun. Lots of ideas were shared and it was agreed that we would try them next week and see how we felt with the improvements. Year 3 also listened to the story of Conker the Chameleon. This group was more able to identify the themes of the story: We need to talk about how we feel. Year 3 were all very interested in making dreamcatchers in their free choice time. They bent willow and wrapped it around itself to create a hoop. This was then secured with wool which was thread in and out to create the pattern. It was a really tricky challenge, but the children persisted. Other children enjoyed working in teams to build dens using the ropes and tarps. To conclude our session, we gathered together and we sang In the Forest, which they enjoyed joining in with.

 

Reception started their session on the grass, in a circle, sharing their names with an accompanying action. Each week this is getting smoother and flows more as the children gain confidence in the group situation. 

Today's session was focussed on fire and light as there are currently many festivals celebrating these things. We introduced our game Forest Fire, where the children chose four different woodland animals and had to escape past the fire when their animal name was called. This is a fun running around game and got us warmed up before we sat and listened to Emma tell the story of Fox and Fire. This story taught us all the wonderful things fire can do but reminds us to be respectful, otherwise we could get burnt. For the rest of the session, many children were keen to use elder sticks to make rockets. The children used a palm drill to hollow out one end, into which they pushed coloured strings to make a tail. They also used a small piece of clay to weigh down the front end. The rockets flew really well through the air. Other children enjoyed exploring the paint, using sticks to flick different colours onto the cotton sheet to create an exploding firework pattern. We also had our keen diggers and shelter builders. We finished our session by gathering back together and singing our song 'I Walk Into The Forest'. It was joyous to sing together.

 

Have a great week.

 

20.10.2022

 

It was lovely to be back with the groups today following their half term holidays, despite the changeable weather! It really is true that we can have fun whatever the weather as long as we are wearing the right clothes and fun is what they had!

 

Year 1 started their session under the tarp by the Lime tree, which felt lovely and cosy. We took a moment to listen and be aware of how quiet the woods were with the absence of bird song when it rains. We noticed a strange sense of quiet and felt really peaceful. This half term the children have been focussing on expressing their emotions and learning makaton to support them with this. Today we recapped all of the makaton we have used and asked the children to share how they felt today and why. Lots of children shared that they felt calm watching the leaves falling or being under the tarp. Others said they were feeling excited about playing in the mud. As there was a little break in the rain and we all had a need for fun and to move our bodies, we played a quick game of Ostrich Tag. The children all really love chasing each other, tagging others and running through the long grass: a great opportunity to navigate uneven ground. We gathered back under the tarp to hear the story of How The Hedgehog Got His Spikes and shared our ideas about what the message of the story was. The hedgehog in the story had to look inside and think about who he truly was to be able to get his spikey coat. For the rest of the session, the children had fun returning to some of their favourite activities - one of which is building with ropes and tarps and digging for clay. Some children looked up facts about hedgehogs while others made clay hedgehogs, using horse chestnut shells to make the spiky prickles. We gathered back together at the end of the session to reflect on our achievements tis half term.

 

Year 5 have also been working on their feelings a lot this half term, but today we asked them to start by thinking about their needs for Forest School today. They shared a need for fun and play, creativity, peace and discovery and thought about ways this might be achieved. After this, the students got straight into guiding their own time. Lots of students showed great perseverance, returning to their hedgehog pencil holder they have been working on for a few weeks. Today they used the drill and sheath knife to shape the wood. They followed the safety rules carefully to ensure they kept themselves and others safe. Some finished by decorating them with pens, clay and seeds. Other children enjoyed using the clay to get creative, making clay hedgehogs and finally we had some students setting up Nordic Braiding in the trees with their peers. They are really able to guide their own learning and it is a pleasure to watch how they engage with each other and their environment. To conclude our session we asked the children to reflect on how well their needs they shared at the beginning were met and how.

 

We began the session with Reception talking about birds and introducing the children to the nest game, where they had to run around finding missing eggs and return them to the nest. This gave the children a great opportunity to move quickly over uneven ground, strengthening their core. Next, we had a go at making our own leaf nests by using our feet to move the leaves into a circle on the ground. Some children struggled with the coordination to do this activity, but persevered and enjoyed sitting in their finished nests. When we gathered back on the tarp to listen to our story, our resident robin enjoyed having a chat with our cuddly robin as we heard about how the robin got his redbreast. We learnt that you have to do the best you can with what you've got. For the rest of the session, the children had the opportunity to enjoy the bird resources and listen to their different songs. Some of the children enjoyed reading the information in the bird books and sharing their new knowledge with others. We also made bird feeders in order to invite some birds into our gardens and Forest School site. The children showed great imagination when making them, using the resources in different ways and coming out of their comfort zones when spreading the lard on their sticks or squashing it on with their hands. We taught the children how to tie the string onto their feeders using a double reef knot. Other children enjoyed exploring the clay and following pictorial instructions to make a clay owl. We ended the session with a moment of reflection and a song: Two Little Dickie Birds. We really enjoy singing as it brings the group together.

 

See you in two weeks time.

29.9.2022

 

Year 1 started their session today with our chant and then we introduced our focus feeling this week: ‘calm’. After learning the makaton sign for calm, we went around the circle and shared something that makes us feel calm. This part of the session is used to encourage and develop the group's ability to show one another understanding and value by listening respectfully to each other. Lots of children shared that being with their friends or sitting at home made them calm. It was lovely and warm in the sunshine today, so whilst we sat down on the tarp, we played a game we call mystery bag. Everyone took a turn at feeling the object in the bag and guessing what it was. It took a lot of self control not to say what we felt in the bag straight away and allow other children to take their turn. It was amazing to see what a connection some of the children have with Forest School and the objects in it. Our next activity was a sit spot. The children took a mat and a small piece of clay and found a spot by themselves. We listened to the sounds of nature around us, relaxed and created if we wanted to. During the reflection afterwards we observed how connecting with nature can help us to feel calm but can also be quite challenging as we are so used to our brains being busy and occupied..

 

For the rest of the session the children chose between:

  • a creative craft activity: making conker soap 
  • a problem solving challenge activity: nordic braiding
  • exploring with the digging
  • finding minibeasts
  • using the hammocks

We had lots of fun and challenges, particularly the Nordic braiding which involved lots of communication and teamwork. We ended the session with a new song, Belle Mama. A beautiful calm song, of unknown origin. Singing songs together encourages the children to step out of their comfort zones and helps to build a sense of community and connection. 

 

Year 5 had a good energy today and enjoyed our chant. We returned to our feeling of calm again today and thought how smells can make us feel calm and happy. Everyone shared what smell made them calm and answers ranged from freshly cut grass, a cup of tea, lavender and vanilla. As with Year 1, we played our Mystery Bag game, adding in some trickier, more specific items, which some children were able to identify from their shape: an oak leaf, and from their squishy pith in the middle: an Elder stick. The children showed great self control, keeping themselves calm and quiet as the bags were passed around, ensuring not to spoil the game for others who were patiently waiting for a turn. Last week, the Year 5 children did a Sit Spot with paper and pencil. We reflected on how this felt and how easy we found it last week and thought about ways to improve our mindfulness practice. We all then took a small ball of clay and found a new sit spot this week. Many more children were able to get into a quiet place today and focus on their bodies and the clay in their hands. Some children found that the clay was like a fidget toy, helping them to focus, whilst others enjoyed the mindfulness of creating. This week, one child realised that by being 'bored' for a bit of time, he then was able to have time with his thoughts and this was helpful. 

 

For the rest of the session, there was a variety of exploring going on including: 

  • connecting and creating with the environment: making conker soap
  • mindfulness with clay and relaxing in the hammocks
  • minibeast exploration

We also started a longer project where the children used a bow saw to cut a piece of hael log, then a billhook, which was used to split the wood in two. Next week, the children will whittle and drill the wood to make a hedgehog pencil holder. To conclude our session, we asked the children to return to the motto and share some of their moments that reflected the motto. We heard about lots of Knowing Me moments, where children expressed their joy and wonder at creating soap with natural materials.

 

Reception started the afternoon session with our song, counting and name game, with growing confidence in joining in. We all needed a bit of movement and so we played a game of Squirrels this week. The children enjoyed running around, chasing their squirrel friends and acting out eating their nuts. After the game we shared the story of The Nut Thief. A story about a young squirrel who mistakenly believed another squirrel was helping themselves to her precious pine nuts and started to think bad thoughts about her. It turned out it was actually she who had been taking the nuts. We talked about how she felt when she thought her nuts were being taken and how she felt when she realised her mistake. Storytelling supports the development of language and emotional literacy while promoting brain development and imagination. Our free choice activities this week included some seed rolling, placing the paint covered seed onto the paper and lifting it to roll down leaving a paint trail. Some children enjoyed painting the acorns and pinecones while others used them to create patterns and pictures. We also introduced a new tool: the palm drill. The children used them to drill holes in acorns and conkers and hollow out pieces of elder wood to create beads, which were then threaded onto a cord to make a necklace. It can take a lot of strength and patience to drill through a seed and it was lovely to hear the proud shouts of 'I did it!' when it was achieved and the children worked out how to do it for themselves. During our reflection at the end of the session the children learnt the sign for 'sad' in makaton and shared who they can tell when they feel sad. Lots of the children said they could talk to a friend, a parent or a teacher. 

23.09.2022

 

 

What a beautiful Autumn day! The dew on the grass highlighted all the hidden cobwebs and Forest School was covered!

 

There was a good energy from Year 1 this morning and this came through in their song, counting and then shouting the number of people up to the treetops of the hornbeam, willow and silver birch trees. This week our focus feeling was 'excited'. The children learnt the sign for excited in makaton and then shared something that makes them excited with the group. This part of the session is used to encourage and develop the group's ability to show one another understanding and value, by listening respectfully to one another. Contributions included, when I play with my friends and when I come to Forest School. We recapped our motto: Knowing Me, Connecting with my community and caring for our Earth. We feel that it is so important for the children to make real connections with the outdoor world and develop their knowledge and understanding of it, including recognising and knowing the names of different trees. To continue supporting this knowledge acquisition we played a new game called Twig In Your Wig. This involved one child wearing a wig/crown of willow with a twig from another tree tucked in. They then had to ask a series of Yes/No questions to be able to identify the unknown tree branch. Lots of children were keen to have a go and it really tested their ability to ask these types of problem solving questions, as well as supporting those answering to observe the leaves carefully to provide accurate feedback to the questions. After the game, we sat down and shared the book Conker the Chameleon. This is a great book that  has several themes, which we asked them to identify at the end. They were able to pick up the message that Conker was different to the other chameleons and it is good to be different. A message that they also spotted was that we should not think about how someone is feeling by guessing what they look like, instead we should use our words and communicate how we feel with one another whether this is a comfortable or uncomfortable feeling. We thought of different scenarios where we might tell someone our feelings and practiced trying out some different ways of starting our feelings sentences...I feel frustrated when...I feel scared when...

 

For the rest of the session, the children chose between:

  •  a calm, connecting activity: wet felting acorns
  • a creative craft activity: tie dying material
  • relaxing in the hammocks
  • exploring with digging

We all had lots of fun.

 

Year 5 started their session with our chant and this week's focus feeling: calm. We each took it in turns to share something that makes us feel calm, with responses including listening to the waves or moving water, hearing the birds and sitting in the sunshine. We played our Twig in the Wig game, with the wig wearer asking yes or no questions to identify the type of tree the twig in their wig came from. Next, we introduced the children to our permission to feel cards and asked them to identify how they were feeling:

Yellow: a high energy, high pleasantness feeling

Green: a low energy, high pleasantness feeling

Blue: a low energy, low pleasantness feeling

Red: a high energy, low pleasantness feeling

 

We talked about using focussed breathing to relax our bodies and invited them to find a sit spot in the grass to practice this for five minutes. Some children were able to focus on their breathing, whilst others felt a bit self conscious. When we returned to the group, we thought about how our feelings and energy levels had changed. For the rest of the session, the children chose to spend their time in different ways. A group chose to sit together and learnt how to wet felt acorns. This was a very calming activity, where we all had a good chat about self confidence and perfection. Lots of the children wanted their acorn to be perfect, but came to realise that nature is not perfect. All the acorns are unique and have their differences, just like ours. Other children took a piece of clay and found a spot to be calm and create; for some children this was sitting under the trees in the hammock. We also had a group who have been inventing their own tribe game, which they have been developing over the last few weeks. To conclude our session, we put out some word cards showing some of our human needs and asked the children to choose a need that they had met in the session today. Lots of children had a need for fun and play, others needed creativity, peace and freedom which they felt was met today.

 

Reception children are really settling into the rules and routines of Forest School. We started with our song and counted all the members of the group. Applying our maths skills outside in Forest School is another opportunity to practice and the children were keen to join in, pointing as we counted. We took turns to share our names with an action. We introduced the children to part of our motto: Caring for our Earth and explained that this involves learning about our world around us. We showed the children some leaves from the Willow tree, the Oak tree and the Hornbeam tree one at a time, making our bodies like the shape of the leaves and using words to describe them. The children were great at using their observation skills and already are developing a great knowledge of the site. They were able to work together as a team to locate the different trees, excitedly calling, "Found it!" when they did. Next, we gathered together, sitting on the grass, to listen to the story Leaf Man. This story shows Leaf Man's travels and the children enjoyed guessing what different animals and objects were created by the leaves. For the rest of the session, the children had the opportunity to explore the site. Many chose to make potions in the mud kitchen area, pouring, mixing and making different culinary delights, developing their imaginary play and social skills. Others explored the different shape leaves, using the glue to stick them down to create different pictures, just like in our book. We also had our hammocks out for the first time. The children learnt how to get in and out of a hammock safely and felt happy relaxing in them, feeling the comfort of the material hugging their bodies. At the end of our session, we gathered back together and recapped our makaton sign for happy. Trees can bring us lots of happiness and so we learnt a fun song called 'The Trees in the Woods', which we enjoyed singing together.

 

15.09.2022

 

This week our Year 1 group started their session with our welcome song and counting. Each week we take a deep breath and shout the total number of people to different trees around us on the site. This is another way to release some of our energy, find our confident voices, whilst also having a regular connection with the names of the different trees on site. The more we learn about our environment and build a connection with it, the more we will want to be custodians of it in the future. As we shared our names this week, we also asked the children to share something that makes them sad. Although we would love for everybody to be happy all of the time, it is also important to recognise that more difficult emotions are perfectly normal as well, The children confidently shared the different things that make them feel sad and listened to one another with kindness and understanding. A common response was that they felt sad when their siblings hurt them or their friends left them out; ideas that many of us could relate too. We recapped our motto: Knowing me. Connecting with my community. Caring for our Earth. Each week we hope to encourage the children to think about how the activities in the session, and what they choose to do, link back to this motto and its meaning. We chose to support the children in developing their knot skills. Knots can be a challenge, but they open up so many possibilities for exploring and creating when we get the hang of them, whilst supporting fine motor skills. This week each child used a rope to tie a reef knot around their leg and an overhand knot - two useful knots that they then were able to put to use in some of the activities. In our free part of the session today, some children used palm drills to make elder beads and drill acorns and their cups. These were then threaded on cord and those knot skills were put to work to create necklaces and bracelets. We also had the fire going today, which the children helped build. The group used it to melt wax, promoting lots of discussion on states of matter. The wax was then used for preserving the leaves by dipping them in the wax. The children needed to manage risks around the fire, taking it in turns to dip their leaves and then they tied them on to a string to make leaf bunting. Tying knots provides opportunities for developing many skills including dexterity, hand eye coordination, focus, problem solving and perseverance. We gathered back at the tarp and some children shared their 'knowing me', 'connecting' and 'caring' moments with the rest of the group. We finished with a song to bring our community together called In The Forest. The children enjoyed joining in with the funny moves, sounds and actions.

 

Year 5 started their session with our chant and counting. This week we focussed on the feeling 'sad' and thought about other synonyms for it. The children thought carefully about the most appropriate word for their 'sad' feeling and shared their response with the group. We recapped our motto: Knowing me. Connecting with my community. Caring for our Earth and recognizing that by sharing our emotions with others we are making connections as well as understanding ourselves more. Before our game today, we worked on developing the children's knot skills. This week each child used a rope to tie a reef knot, firstly around their leg and then developing this skill even more by using the reef knot to tie their rope to the ropes of those either side of them. We recognise that our learning language is so important in building confidence and self esteem. Many of us can fall into the trap of saying to ourselves, 'I'm no good at this,' or 'I'm rubbish at this,' but this does not help us in getting to a point of believing in our own abilities. We encourage the children to express how they are feeling rather than to say something negative about their ability e.g. 'I'm feeling frustrated because I'm finding this tricky.' Once they are able to express their emotions, they are open to receive support and the look of pride when they recognise they have achieved something challenging is a moment to savour. Our knot skills were then put to the test in our game The Longest Line. This game focussed on the children's problem solving and teamwork skills as well as providing an opportunity for some knot work. The children were split into two teams and had to work together to stretch out to the longest line possible. They worked out that by taking off their coats and jumpers, tying them together and holding them between people it made the line longer. Great communication and collaboration was shown as well as it being lots of fun. Many children enjoyed using palm drills to make elder beads and drill acorns and their cups to thread on to cord to make necklaces and bracelets. Doing something creative like this, can be a peaceful, mindful activity, allowing the children to relax. We also had the fire going today, which the children helped build and used it to make plantain balm. The plantain had to steep in coconut oil over the fire to release its chemicals and then it was mixed with beeswax. The children enjoyed being involved in the process and making this healing balm which is good for bumps and bruises. We gathered back together and learnt a new song called In The Forest. Singing is a great way to bring us all together with a shared focus.

 

Reception sang our welcome song and counted everyone. The children then shared their names with an action, which the rest of us copied. We were so proud to see how many of the children are already confidently joining in with this routine. Part of the Forest School principles involves the children experiencing risky play, where they think about and learn to manage the risks for themselves. Today the children were asked to find a stick and bring it back to the group. Lots of the children were already able to demonstrate an awareness of how to move around with a long stick by dragging it behind them or by holding it with their hands on the pointed ends. This is something we will continue to work on throughout the year. We thought about how to compare the lengths of the sticks by putting them next to each other to work out the longest and shortest stick, practicing using our comparative language. Our free exploration part of our session provided opportunities for the children to continue becoming familiar and confident at moving around the site. Lots of children were keen to explore clay again this week. They manipulated the clay in their hands and added it on to the end of sticks to make stick people. Like last week, the children enjoyed looking around for natural materials to add to the clay to create facial features. Naming leaves and seeds in our environment helps the children to make a connection to their world and a love for what's around them. Other children enjoyed exploring the shape and patterns of the leaves, by dipping them in paint and using them to print on to paper. They really enjoy the sensory experience of the paint and messy play. Following their interests in messy play, we also put out a potion area today. The children mixed seeds, grass, mud and leaves together to create different soups and potions. We finished our session recapping our makaton sign for 'happy' and thought about times we felt happy at Forest School today. The children were invited to share what they felt happy doing today. Lots of them enjoyed squashing clay and painting.

8.9.2022

 

Year 1 were excited to be back at Forest School after the summer break and see the changes. As part of our Forest School experience we support the children in developing their emotional literacy, communicating our thoughts and feelings to one another to express ourselves and resolve challenges we face. Today we started with introducing ourselves and sharing something that makes us 'happy'. Many children shared that being with their friends makes them happy. We also enjoy sharing stories under our tarp, which was definitely needed with the rain today. These stories encourage the children to learn about their Earth and how to connect with their community. Our story today, called The Dirty Earth, told the tale of a Raj who did not like to wash and when he finally did, did not like getting his feet dirty on the Earth. He instructed his servant to clean the Earth, but did not think of the consequences. The Year 1 children were not worried about the dirt today and were keen to dig for treasure, they also enjoyed mixing the mud and berries with egg yolk and water to make a paint and some children explored the art of creating mud balls or 'doradango'. They really enjoyed this type of sensory, messy play and those creating the mud balls enjoyed the relaxing, mindful nature of this activity. We encourage the children to take mindful moments, connecting and understanding themselves and their mental health. To finish our session today, we did an autumn imaginary guided breathing activity. The children tried hard to close their eyes and focus on deep, slow breaths which helped us relax our minds after a busy session.

 

Year 5 had not been to Forest School since the winter months and were surprised to see how many leaves were on the trees in the wooded area, making it shady. We sat under the tarp on the lime tree to welcome everyone with our chant and thought about the emotion, 'Happy'. The children understood that there are lots of different strengths of happiness and other synonyms of happiness might express whether it is a high energy or low energy feeling. All of the children shared their words to describe how they were feeling and this helped us to identify their energy levels of the group. We also shared our motto, which we will be working towards this year: Knowing Me, Connecting with my Community and Caring for our Earth. Year 5's also listened to the story of The Dirty Earth and we thought about how they have changed over the years we have worked with them. Many of them really enjoy the sensation and freedom of getting dirty now. They were keen to explore independently, with some children organising their own tribes and working together to build and protect a den, decorating their faces with mud. Others enjoyed exploring creating their own paint from natural materials ground up in the pestle and mortar and made sticky with an egg binder. Finally we had a group who got stuck in with the mud to create dorodango balls: a Japanese art of polishing mud balls. We finished our session thinking about whether we had any 'Knowing Me' moments. Some children shared how much fun they had in different roles in the groups and others said how calming it was rolling mud.

 

It was great to reconnect with the new Reception children we met last summer. They were great at remembering the Hello Forest School song, which we will sing every week at the start of our session. We counted the number of children we had, supporting their maths skills and used big voices to shout this number to the treetops. The children took it in turns to introduce themselves to the group by their name, a part of the session that will develop the children's confidence and creativity as the weeks go on. Forest School encourages the children to take managed risks. They play with tools and sticks amongst the trees. To support the children in managing these risks we have a few rules which the children remembered today: No pick, no lick. Be careful how you carry a stick. During the session, the children get the chance to follow their interests. Today lots of children enjoyed digging in the mud. This type of play supports their imagination and social skills as they work together. Some children also enjoyed mixing the soil with water to create sticky mud which they painted on to the trees and others squashed clay onto the trees and decorated them with leaves, seeds and fruits to create faces. They really enjoyed these sensory experiences. Finally some chose to take a Forest Friend and think of ways to make them happy.

 

Our Forest School sessions aim to support the children in developing their emotional literacy. Today we learnt the makaton sign for 'Happy'. We thought about how we could make the Forest Friends happy and then shared the song, 'If You're Happy and You Know It' using our new sign. We enjoy singing songs at Forest School to bring our community together.

 

2021/2022

7.7.2022

 

And so we have come to the end of the year! It was great to celebrate wit the different groups today.

 

Reception started their session with a discussion about all of the seasons that we have experienced this year. They shared their names and their answer to our question: What is your favourite season? Next, we thought about our favourite place in forest school. The children were given a piece of card and a pencil and sat in their favourite place for a period of time drawing their view. They were very keen to share their pictures afterwards with each other and are clearly really fond of the forest school site. After this, the children had the opportunity to use the bow saw again to cut a wood cookie, which they then drilled to make a Forest School medal. Many children were so proud of their ability to tie knots now in order to make their medal. They have made such huge learning steps over the year and it has been lonely to celebrate this and for them to recognise this in themselves. They also enjoyed making forest school bandanas using the hapazone technique and getting some camouflage face paint. We finished with a song: Boom Chicka Boom.

 

Nursery started their session again with their song, counting and names. They are really building confidence almost everyone joins in now. Today they went on a pirate adventure and started off with a game on our pirate ship, built out of logs. We all climbed aboard and had to perform different pirate actions as they were called out, such as climb the rigging, captain's coming and scrub the decks. It was lots of fun and got us all moving about. For the rest of the session, the children had different things to choose from. Some chose to make pirate flags by drawing on some material and using pipe cleaners to attach it to a stick. They were very good at manipulating the pipe cleaners independently and were very proud of their achievements. Some children also enjoyed making eye patches by threading elastic through the holes on either side of the patch and then tying the ends with a knot.  They also decorated them with natural materials such as grass seeds and clover flowers. We finished with a song: If you want to be a pirate, sung to the tune of If you are happy and you know it.

 

Year 3 started their session with a question: what is your special treasure? It was lovely to hear of all the important things that the children have that are special to them and they were also keen to share the reasons they are special. Next, we thought of words that summed up what the forest school experience was for us. We then used natural materials to make the words on the ground and decorate them. This was a lovely mindful activity and it was interesting to hear the different reasons the words were chosen. Words included: calm, nature and fun. For the rest of the session, the children chose to have a go at using a pyrography tool to decorate wood cookies with their names and patterns. This was incredibly tricky but they persevered. Others used the peelers to whittle hazel sticks to create pendants as a memory for their time in Forest School this year.  We finished by sharing our takeaways from the sessions this year. Many children shared how they have really felt a nature connection this year and enjoy being outside and being calm.

 

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the children and staff of Kerem again this year and we look forward to more Forest School adventures next year. 

 

Have a great summer!

30.6.2022

 

We were back in the open grass area today, having been hiding in the woods for the last few weeks from the sun and the rain and the children loved exploring in the long grass.

 

Reception started their session with the children sharing their name and their favourite colour and then we returned to our pirate skills. This week we practiced our throwing strength, by all lining up and throwing pine cones as far as we could, shouting, "Ready, aim, fire!" The children really enjoyed trying to beat their previous throw and each other. After this, we sat back at the tarp and listened to the story Pirates of the Scurvy Sands. The children listened well and then used this as an inspiration for our play. Some children used the peelers to whittle willow sticks, then decorating them with wool, pipe cleaners and leaves to create mermaids and pirates. They were incredibly focussed using the peelers really safely to remove all of the bark so they were ready to draw on. Other children enjoyed climbing in the trees, carefully working out where best to step and helping each other to manage in the different trees they attempted. We also encouraged children to get creative and see if they could build a boat for some Lego people and float it on the water. We finished the session with our song The Princess Pat, which has become a bit of a favourite song!

 

Nursery are becoming more confident each week with the rules and routines and most shared their name with an action for us to copy today. After this, we went on a wander through the woods to collect sticks and used them to make nests with a partner. Once our nests were ready, we played a game, which involved one of the children protecting the nest, whilst their partner ran to the bird feeder to collect a piece of food to bring back to their nest. The children enjoyed running as fast as they could and then carefully counted their food at the end of the game. One pair managed to collect a record twelve pieces of food! For the rest of the session, we carried on with our bird theme. Some children enjoyed getting messy and using vegetable fat to cover pine cones, before dunking them in bird seed to make bird feeders. The children used string and learnt how to tie a knot around their pine cone so that it could be hung up in a tree for the birds. They also enjoyed playing with the cuddly birds, listening to their bird songs and making nests for them. We finished the session with the finger rhyme Two Little Dickie Birds.

 

Year 3 started their session with our question: what is your special treasure? The children enjoyed sharing things that were important to them and some of the stories associated with them. After this, we played an observation game where the children worked in partners, one being the observer and one being the maker. The observer had to look at a picture made with natural materials and then relay this to their partner, who attempted to make it from the description they were given. It was incredibly tricky for the observer not to get involved in making at first, but when they really focussed in on using prepositional language they were really successful. Next, we recapped the clove hitch knot that was taught last week. Lots of children remembered this and then we moved on to teaching square lashing. These knots and lashings are quite tricky and they showed so much persistence and motivation. For the rest of the session, some children used their knots and lashings to build rafts and swings. Others opted to challenge themselves to make willow twisted staffs. It took a lot of finger strength to bend, move and hold the willow in place as they weaved. They are keen to come back to this next week. Children also enjoyed using willow for their own crafts. What a creative bunch! We concluded the session sharing how we felt in the session. The children are using a much wider vocabulary to explain their emotions now.

24.06.2022

 

The weather was quite changeable yesterday and instead of seeking shade from the sun, we were seeking shelter from the unexpected rain! It didn't dampen anybody's spirits though and we all had a great time.

 

Reception started their session with a recap on the ways to be a pirate, learned from our story last week. Lots of children remembered things from the story and were happy to share. To start our session, we thought about being sneaky. We split into groups with a Captain guarding a tree. The others in the group had to sneak to touch the tree without being heard and pointed at. They really enjoyed this game. Especially shouting a pirate Arrrrrggghhh, when they touched the tree. For the rest of the session, there were a lot of different pirate adventures going on. Some children enjoyed exploring charcoal and using it to make their own treasure maps. They practiced their knotting skills in order to tie their maps in a scroll. They also had a go at using the bow saw to cut wood slices and decorate them to be Pirate Doubloons. They used the hand drills to drill a hole in them, threading string through and once again putting their knotting skills to work.

To conclude our session, we gathered together to have another round of Princess Pat that they learned last week. They really enjoyed doing the actions and singing loudly!

 

Nursery joined us under the shelter of the Lime tree where we started with our song, counting and name game. More children were confident to share their names and actions again this week as they become familiar with the rules and routines. This week we began with sharing some Who Am I? riddles about three different minibeasts: the ant, the ladybird and the bee. The children enjoyed using the clues and the pictures to guess the creature and then we learnt a song: the ant, the bug and the bee. We found out that they all have 6 legs and are all insects. For the rest of the session, the children had the opportunity to hunt for creatures using the different equipment, which they enjoyed. They also put their fine motor skills to work, shaping the cold, wet clay into different minibeasts, adding stick legs and leaf wings as needed. Another exciting new introduction today was the bow saw. The children really enjoyed using it to cut wood slices, which they then decorated and made into ladybirds and other creatures. They carefully counted the number of spots and we found out that not all ladybirds are red with black spots. Some are orange or yellow and some even have white spots. We finished our session with one final round of the ant, the bug and the bee song.

 

Year 3 came back to the feeling cards, developing their emotional literacy. All children chose a card that represented how they were feeling in the present moment. They are becoming more and more confident at expanding on the reasons for feeling the way they do and understanding that their feelings are all valid. We decided to do a different sort of mindfulness activity this week. The children were keen to do another scavenger hunt, so they were encouraged to find the items on their list quietly as they wandered on their own. As the items were not specific, e.g. something fuzzy, they had to use their initiative and trust that their opinion of what was fuzzy or beautiful was valid. We encouraged them not to seek approval or validation from an adult and have confidence in their choices. We came back and shared some of our findings and it was great to see how differently we can experience our environment. Next, we sat in the shade of the Lime tree and learned the clove hitch knot. The children were incredibly motivated and persistent with this quite tricky knot. The joy on their faces when they achieved it was wonderful to see. They also had a go at supporting each other. Having learnt the knot, many children chose to use it in the rest of the session. Some children used it to make bows and arrows, whilst others used it to put up log swings in the woods. There was a real sense of purpose and pride in themselves. We concluded the session with a reflection on what we had learned about ourselves. 

16.6.2022

 

We set up camp under the trees in the woodland area today to keep everyone cool and it was delightful!

 

Year 3 started their session with our question: what is your favourite smell? They enjoyed listening to each other’s responses and there was a great variety. After this, we had a chat about mindfulness and why it is so important. We each took a mat, pencil and paper and found a ‘sit spot’ - somewhere on our own where we could focus on the moment and tune into our senses. Some children chose to draw what they could hear or see, whilst others enjoyed just being still and doing nothing. The children reported that they felt calm and peaceful. The children were keen to hear another story, so we shared The Magic Ring, a tale of a quest for a magic ring that once was owned by a magical lady of the woods who kept the world in balance. For the rest of the session, many children enjoyed going on a hunt for the ring, listening out for its hum and its glittery colours. Others used their timber hitch knot to put up a hammock to relax in. We also had some keen crafters who made corn dollies with ears of wheat. These took a lot of patience and concentration but looked great when they were finished. To conclude our session we came back to our feeling cards and shared how we were feeling and why.

 

We started Nursery's session with our song, counting and our name game. This week, some children moved on to sharing an action with their name for us to copy. We recapped the rules of Forest School and then practiced our 1,2,3 game again. The children remembered to stay inside the red flags and were very qu