I should probably apologise. If your child has been coming home and making arrows from anything they can get their hands on and appropriating foods during meals, then I apologise for any lost property and distracted children at the dinner table.
Then again, at least they have been inspired by our Forest School focus over these past few weeks! Our Den children have been getting to grips with the tricky concept of directions and navigation as well as learning about how and why we use arrows. When I first tried these session, I underestimated how complicated the concept of making and deciphering an arrow could be for some. I took their understanding for granted, and quickly realised I would need to rethink how to physically deliver the activity into a much easier way for the children to understand.
Initially, we looked solely at the creation of an arrow. Discussions started by asking how we know which way we need to travel? The children came back with answers like maps! and signposts! which eventually brought us to think about the ways in which we direct each other every day. Our fingers! We instinctively use our body gestures in many ways when we communicate, but we quite subconsciously point in particular directions when we are describing a location. Even the little Forest Schoolers do, especially before being able to effectively communicate verbally. The children pointed to various features on the cabin before I handed the children a peeled piece of willow (homegrown, obviously) which we used to point in a variety of directions. So far so good. These sticks were our "Pointing Sticks". Don't worry I'll explain...
We popped these finger sticks on the floor and again asked the children if they could point the stick in the direction of one of their friends. They used their fingers to help them line up the sticks (hence the name), but we soon realised the sticks could be pointing in two different directions both towards the child and away from them. What was missing from our arrows? The roof of course! Two extra sticks were then offered and they made the universal roof shape over their heads, mirroring the shape of the cabin. These little hats were then popped onto the finger sticks and voilà! The arrow is complete. We had a little practice, honing the understanding of the creation and direction of the arrows before unleashing the children and their creations out onto the world!
The next stage of the sessions was a game of hide and seek, but with a twist! The first group left a trail of arrows along a child-led route and then hid (we definitely need to work on their hiding skills). The other group, which in the meantime had been peeling sticks with knives or practicing their arrows, would then follow the trail and attempt to find the other group. We continued this theme, focusing the prepositional and directional language pertaining to the arrows: Should we travel along the left path or the right path? Should we explore straight ahead or go over/under here? It was great fun being able to use the whole site, creating winding pathways and testing the children's skills of navigation and teamwork. We did find the arrows needed to be slightly hidden or spaced out widely as the children ended up looking for the shapes like stepping stones, so it turned into following the trail of symbols as opposed to reading the arrows and thinking about where they should be going.
These weeks gave the children plenty of scope for creativity, and freedom to carve their own pathways wherever they wanted, but also allowed them to put to practice their new knowledge through the universally adored game of hide and seek. It was a real test of their critical thinking as some wanted to leave one arrow pointing in the general direction they wanted to travel, then off they went to hide! It took some dedicated problem solving to plan a route with an ending already in their minds and fantastic to see the pride in their faces as they realise that they have cracked the creation of arrow making. Moreover, it gave the children the freedom to find their own pathway to succeed. And to be honest, who doesn't like hide and seek?
I'm really chuffed with the weeks success. Excellent sessions all round. Enjoy the photos, and do leave comments if your child has shared with you about it!