We haven't published an update for a while, but our children are enthusiastically exploring and learning in the forest, under the expert eyes of our Forest School leaders. The Kelly Kettle is bubbling, the wellies are mud-covered, and the smiles are wide...
This week was the first forest school experience for many of our three to four year old children, some were a little apprehensive about what would lie ahead and what ‘forest school’ is all about. However, as we arrived at our woodland site those feelings of uncertainty quickly turned to excitement and intrigue as the children marvelled at the natural environment. All children suited and booted and wrapped up warm!! Ready for what would be a magical and imaginative day.
As we walked through the woods, we began listening to all the sounds around us. The children discussed who may live in the woods, giraffe, elephants, Squirrels, a bear, a giant? A GIANT!!!!!! Oh no, a giant, really? Only one way to find out! As we ventured out to find the inhabitants of the woodland, we discovered a dark and secluded space beneath some bushes. But who could live here? Perhaps the children were correct and it was the home of the bear. Riley and Walter creeped inside but they were quick to point out that there was no bear inside. Well, let’s keep looking, we look from the highest hill!
Patrick and Inez thought we may be on a bear hunt! Well we had found one cave! After discovering a huge hill to explore, Sima, Theo, Jonah and Yannik were mesmerised by the biggest, muddiest area we had ever seen! There was only one thing for it – let’s get in! However, this soon turned into a rescue mission. Riley’s idea of a long stick to help pull them out was a great idea, he held out a long stick to support his friends escape and Meg, Inez and Patrick supported the effort with rescue ropes. Would we save the children in time? After some hard work everyone was safe. Well that was the squelch squelch of the bear hunt, where should we go next?
As we walked along the path, we discovered a hill. Tara thought someone was watching us and sure enough there were two muddy faces in the tree. We all tried to make some more muddy faces before blasting off in our rocket ship to the giant’s castle. We all creeped up the winding path until we discovered the castle and an open door. But no one was inside, then we heard, “Fee Fi Fo Fum”. It’s the giant, run!!!! Theo discovered the giant’s treasure. It was definitely time to leave and get lunch. We may see the giant another day!
After a tasty and tummy-warming lunch under our shelter, we decided to go climbing. After searching for the best trees to climb, we discovered a huge fallen tree. It was immediately changed to an aeroplane. “Let’s go to the ice cream shop” shouted Inez. But ‘oh no’ we had run out of petrol. Luckily, Jacob and Yannick were on hand with some spare petrol, (sticks are a super resource, fantastic for petrol pipes) Soon the aeroplane was ready to go. Hold on everyone. Lets go!
As it was their last session in the forest, the children were feeling sad as they did not want it to end. They decided they would like to visit as many places as possible as it is all soooo… exciting!! Our first stop was our forest school site, where we continued to explore the woodland. We were looking for signs of the birds, at the bird houses and the feeders and then continuing with the painting from the previous week. After lunch, we wanted to visit some of the sights, so the children chose to see the windmill and St John's Castle.
As the children prepared to leave the site to venture to the windmill, they decided they would like to leave a present for the forest as it was almost Christmas. A group of children collected a ball of string from the trolley and began weaving the string amongst the twigs of a small bush. They decided this would be their Christmas tree, as the string looked like decorations they had on their own trees at home. Once the tree was decorated, they began to sing songs around the tree; a favourite was ‘Oh Christmas Tree’.
Happy that we had left our site clear and ready for Christmas, we made our way towards the windmill. This was an exciting time, as the children could look inside the windmill and discovered there were bats living at the very top. We then ventured to St John's Castle.
Upon arrival at St John's Castle we began looking at the ruin and discussing why it no longer looked like a castle. There were many interesting questions, such as "Where have the windows gone?", "Did the castle have stairs?" We used the information board as a point of reference to gain information about the site. The children also enjoyed capturing photographs, so that they could show the children back at nursery the amazing sites at forest school.
To continue the interest in the birds and their natural habitats we looked at spaces in the woodland that the birds may choose to live and it led to a discussion about the different types of trees and leaves that the birds may use to build their nests. After we had used the Kelly kettle to heat the water to wash our hands, we decided to let the ashes cool and use them as part of our paint mixture so we could continue our painting from last week. We added the ashes to mud and water and made a lovely gooey paint which the children used to paint the small bird houses we brought that the children wanted to hang up in the trees. The children wanted to ensure the houses were camouflaged really well so they worked together to paint every side of the house.
Following on from last week’s activities of making bird feeders, the children were excited to discover that the birds had eaten all of the food and the feeders had disappeared! The birds were obviously hungry and the children must have done a great job creating their own feeders!
This week the children enjoyed exploring creating their own marks using natural media, it began when the children found puddles on a fallen tree and began to splash and create patterns on the log. This developed into the children choosing to dig in the mud and found small puddles to explore. With the children, we created natural paint brushes using twigs, leaves and string. We then collected mud in a small container and added some water from the puddle and mixed up our own paint.
This week the children were very excited to continue to discover the world of birds and wondered if any birds had returned to the feeders to eat the food that the children had previously left out for them. As we ventured through the woodland towards the feeders the children began to creep slowly down the hill looking to see which birds they could identify. The children were astonished to see the food we had previously left had been eaten, this began a conversation as to who had eaten the food?
Was it a bird?............. Was it a squirrel?.................
The children used the cameras to capture images of the surrounding areas looking for clues, we continued on our way to the forest school site discussing the mystery of the missing food. The children became inquisitive about the variety of trees we passed on our way, looking at the holes and spaces they discovered within the trees. They found trees with holes at the top which lead to discussions about which kinds of birds may hide in holes at the tops of trees.
Once on the forest school site the children engaged in a planned session and enjoyed independently creating their own bird feeders using pine cones, lard and porridge oats. The group explored different ways to transfer the lard onto the pine cone beginning using a spoon which proved rather tricky as the lard did not want to stay on the pine cone, some of the children attempted to use sticks and then resorted to using their hands as this proved to be the most effective and allowed the children to push the lard into the gaps and then roll the cone in the oats. Once the bird feeders were ready the children talked about the best place to hang them, we discovered a tree close by that was perfect for hanging the bird feeders, we were excited to see what we would find the following week.