Continuing our mini-beast theme, this week the children have been revelling in the delights of the pond and all that lurks in it's murky depths. These past few weeks have been great for the children as they have an innately curious nature when it comes to exploring creepy crawlies, and nothing has proved this more than the last few weeks. As I mentioned in the previous Forest School blogs, the emphasis on these sessions has been all about looking after our little friends that live their secret lives beneath our feet, out of our sight so when our little explorers do find a bug, their first instinct isn't to squish it, but to carefully pick it up, perhaps look at it and learn, and then put it back into safety to go about its important business. That's what's key to these kind of sessions: making sure there are plenty of opportunities for positive interactions with these creatures, so they can better understand them, their roles, and how they can protect them for the benefit of all.
I was very impressed at how responsible the children took this task to hand. Before starting the dredging of the pond, we discussed how we should locate ourselves around the pond in order to make us as safe as possible for when we stretch our rods into the water. Our general rule for when the children are on the pond platform is to lie prone on their bellies and lean over the side; children are less likely to lean over too far this way as the majority of the weight is behind them, and they are also nearer the water too for an up-close and personal with the pond snails. For the nets we opted for an 'on our knees' approach. After the first dips into the pond, the children learnt an important first lesson: you have to be sneaky to catch pond life and know where to place your net. Simply sloshing your net through the water will unfortunately only net you a bunch of pondweed and probably a wet face! Also the children had to think carefully about what they did with their nets. The nets are quite long, and once the children retrieved them from their dipping there was the problem of inadvertently poking the child next to them, or dragging a muddy wet net across a child's head enroute to the identification tray.
Despite it being quite a quiet time for pond life, we were still graced with a pretty good range. We found Pond Snails, Flat Ramshorn Snails, the tiny Wandering Snail, Water Slaters, Water Boatmen and Backswimmers, Damsel Fly Larvae, Dragonfly Larvae, and Flatworms. It was important the children felt what they were netting was of value, so everything that came out was made a fuss over, and made sure that the children were told about the value of what they had found, even if it was yet another pond snail! On a few of the sessions we were also entertained by a Hawker Dragonfly who was very intrigued by what the children were up to!
All in all, a very successful week of pond dipping!
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