Forest school adventures around the wooded areas of Armstrong Park in Heaton lead to some inspirational team work and individual ideas which support thinking, problem solving and extended learning.
This week, our initial walk to revisit the area of the large ‘fallen-down tree’, found the week before, offered opportunity for observation and investigating routes. The children spotted another fallen tree trunk early into our walk, Tara asked them, if it was the ‘fallen-down tree’ we were looking for, there were calls of ‘yes’, ‘no’ and mmm ‘maybe’… we needed to take a closer look!
On our approach the children unanimously said, ‘no, it wasn’t ‘our tree’ because this one has a huge puddle around it’. Further observations and ideas were shared. This wasn’t just a puddle! It was a river, no a lake, no, it’s a swamp!
…and guess what, there were living things in there:
- amphibians such as frogs and newts
- reptiles such as crocodiles and snakes
How deep was this river, lake, swamp, would anyone dare go in, was it safe?
How were we going to check how deep it was and if it was safe before anyone dare go in? Some of the children were adventurous and began to dip-in with the fronts of welly boots, others were much more concerned and suggested we wait until we found out how deep it was! But what could we use to find this out…of course a ‘stick’, a long stick or short? Should it be thick or thin? Oooh decisions, but a very long, thick and robust stick was found to do some measuring with!
The investigating began to present different themes and children worked in smaller groups. 4 were concerned with the measuring and safety before going in! 5 children were very imaginative and began exploring stories of what was in the water, maybe not just a crocodile but a swamp monster too. Another child who had explored around the area when looking for sticks found another large piece of trunk and wanted to explore ways of pulling it out from the water, could he do this alone or did he need help? Other children were quite happy to explore the sensation and sound of the water, great fun for splashing!
We hadn’t got very far into the area of the park land, however our learning journeys had begun, staffs and volunteers had to separate to support the strong emerging learning themes.
The group concerned about safety and depth of the water problem solved and took supervised risks to find a way to get to the other side of the water, by walking along the tree trunk. They became so confident very quickly and were able to use their new found knowledge to support adults who were nervous about walking along a tree trunk so close to water!!
The group investigating the living things in the water were developing their story skills, providing wonderful opportunity for rich language, new words, rhyming words and imaginary play… ‘was that two eyes peeping at us from below the water…’, ‘watch out, there’s a crocodile about’!!!
The splashing gave delightful squeals of joy to some and added to the fear of what could be seen in the water. These children were feeling brave and confident that they dared to put their wellies in and were able to add to the imagination of others.
The child who was intent in using his skills to pull this heavy stump of a tree trunk free from the water managed to drag it all the way up the hill to our camping area. The greatest achievement here were his solutions to retrieving the stump, with his idea of rope and his skills of knot tying which he’d learned the previous week. Best of all… his realisation that some work needs teams of people and that it’s great when you have support from friends to achieve your goal!!
And where did that one hour go?? We weren’t even near to camping down by the ‘fallen-down tree’ yet!!!