Another Half Term over and what a week of extremes. We started with unrelenting rain on the Tuesday and ended the week with glorious sunshine. But despite the wet start, the children came and conquered, leaving with muddy knees (or on Tuesday muddy everything!), crafted objects and treasures in pockets, and a wholesome sense of achievement from the day.
The usual staples of our Forest School sessions were available as well as a few new extra activities for the children to get stuck into. Fire lighting, whittling, den and shelter building and river exploration were all on the menu along with some May whistles carved from some young sycamore branches. We also put our hands to boat/raft making, learning how to safely use an axe (splitting and carving) and different types of saw, freetime in the woods to explore, as well as two rather splendid mud slopes.
It never ceases to amaze how children can effortlessly create and play in our natural spaces. We always plan plenty for the children to do, most of which they will complete but many will create exploratory stories and games outside of our planning; these are usually “child only” and we adults are rarely privy to them, so it’s a privilege to be part of it. Sometimes they need to be policed as we have a mix of ages and abilities attend. Our general rule of thumb is if everyone is enjoying the game then it can continue. As soon as someone stops enjoying it, we either think of way to better it for inclusion or it stops. Simple and effective. Much of what we do as Forest School leaders is of a facilitating role. Yes, we ‘teach’ in a sense when it comes to how and why we for example use a knife, but much of what we do is aid in the children’s own exploration and learning, helping expand and further their time with us in the woods, and hopefully when they get home as well.
On Friday as well we were visited by some of the Pre-School children from the Nursery who came down at exactly the same time as we were about to have marshmallows. Far too convenient for my liking.
As a review process we ask the children what they thought of the day, what activities they enjoyed the most. One child reversed the question and asked me. My answer? Watching the children walk down to Otter Brook woods in their individual groups, but travelling back as one cohesive entity, new friendships formed through their time in the woods. Overall I was really impressed with the children. We have had several new explorers start and their existing knowledge and thirst to know more was really fantastic. We hope to see them again. Our veterans have also been excellent and it was nice to see some old faces from long ago! We’ve already had some great feedback from parents on how we’ve done but we’d love to hear more! Do get in touch.
Lovely stuff. Until next time...
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