Hammer Time

Forest School this week saw the children extend the bashing of last week into this week with the activities being based around the gross motor skill of bashing, hitting and crushing. Many the children during last weeks Forest School focus enjoyed using some mini mallets to aid them in their structure and building activities, allowing them to bash the pegs in, develop their games and play as well as knocking over a few carefully stacked pieces! Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to extend this element of the session and use it as main focus for a mix of activities this week. So our little Free Rangers had the pick of using their gross motor skills alongside some finer skill sets creating some art work alongside the building activity from last week as well having a go with our biggest mallet, aptly named 'Thor'! I could have named it after Thor's actual hammer from Norse mythology, but I don't think the children could pronounce 'Mjölnir' very easily! Prior to anything else, the children were once again charged at finding some of the poisonous Lords and Ladies, so they know to avoid them, which was especially important this week.

The main activity involved making willow paintbrushes by pummelling the end of the stick with the mini mallets to fray the ends. Then, the children had to source and make their own paints usual natural pigments. It was popular, and there were some great pieces of art created. However the children struggled a little to make the paints, especially the green, as they really needed to give the harvested green leaves (primarily grass, broad dock leaves, and cow parsley) a jolly good bashing to extract the pigments so adult assistance was needed to aid in this. Then we had to get the water ratio correct: too much water and the pigment is too diluted with little effect on the paper and too little water means too little paint for the children to use. It's a tricky business! The black and brown pigments (charcoal and mud) would prove to be much easier to make and apply. Alongside this activity the children also made some excellent structures and stacked pieces of wood as well as making great use of Thor to bang in some pegs. As always, the children altered and made the activities their own. Pegs were lined up and hammered in to make cages to keep dinosaurs in, towers and castles of ash made for princesses and kings as well as the children exploring sound on different surfaces with the mini mallets. Bug hunts were also on the cards and saw the children rooting around with magnifying glasses for little creepy crawlies, lifting heavy logs and scrabbling through the grasses and cow parsley.

There was mixed appeal across the week, with many children starting the activity by making a brush, but not wanting to make any pictures. The bashing was great fun, and a few children who wandered to other activities soon came back to experiment with the mark making. I wasn't too worried that many of the children felt they didn't want to make a picture. We focus at Free Rangers much more on the process and learning that happens on the way to the end product over and beyond the end product itself, as it within the journey that much of the progress and development happens. I think the next time I run this session I will remove the end product element completely. I used kitchen roll as a canvas as it worked well picking out the pigment of the green, but the brown and black worked really well just on the wooden floor of the cabin, so this could be a route to go down in the future. I am also enjoying the mix of activities again, as did the children. Bug hunts proved to very popular as well and this is something to continue next week too!

Until next time...

Red Fox