Straight as an Arrow

There has been plenty of detective work on Forest School this week as our little Rangers have been tracking our outdoor space learning how to shape and follow simple arrows with sticks.  The aim of the week was to develop a sense of bearings and build upon their directional vocabulary (left and right, forwards and backwards), as well as shaping and then understanding the way an arrow points. This developed across the week as it soon came apparent using our fingers first to choose a direction enabled the children to better understand not only how to form the basic shape but also how to think about where the arrows should be pointing.


We started the sessions by discussing why we need arrows, raising interesting dialogue about where we find them in our community (signposts etc), including a slight tangent during one session to talk about bows and arrows, where we started to get mixed up with bow saws and tools. We came to agreement that all arrows are tools, either as instruments of direction or medieval warfare. As mentioned earlier, we (swiftly) moved onto looking at using our fingers as a subconscious gesture when giving directions and made it easier to explain where a location is. What we found was that by playing a quick pointing game with the children, first with one finger and then with two first fingers, tips placed together (to make a triangle/roof shape) similar to that of the arrows point. The children noticed the triangular shape and we pointed around the cabin at the triangles we could see in the 'cruck' frames and braces. This was invaluable when helping the children to decide where their arrows wanted to point later on in the session.


We then moved onto how we shape arrows. In true Forest School fashion, we had some peeled sticks of hazel and bamboo to construct them out of, as they stood out clearly on the muddy ground. The children made the 'roof' first and then placed the third in the middle to finish off the arrow. Once the majority of them had grasped the basic idea, we put it into practice. One group went to hide in the paddock taking it in turns to leave a trail of carefully placed arrows behind them, for the second group to follow. As each child made one, I asked them what direction they wanted to go (usually forwards, left or right) and then helped, if needed, to shape their arrow using my fingers as a guide. Once hidden, I had to make sure the children following the arrows left them alone as there was a risk they would pick them up before realising where they were pointing! As the children followed the route I assessed their understanding of direction, seeing if they could tell me where it was pointing until the group was found.

I was really pleased with how this energetic week went, and the levels of understanding across it. As to be expected, some children understood better then others, the younger of the Forest Schoolers struggling the most. It was interesting to note, that something we take for granted for us to make, structurally was quite confusing for the children. But I was glad that the majority of the groups managed it, which in turn helped those struggling to get a better grasp and helped the sessions flow. The weather again was against us, which despite togging our children up with their thermal waterproofs, still meant the sessions were shorter than normal, but aims and objectives were still met, so those wanting to stay out for longer could, whilst those who succumbed to the cold headed in to warm up. I was also pleased with how the new children have settled into the routines of Forest School in the Den, and the older children have helped in this transition. This week was a good team building task also, as the children would have to work together to figure out where to go, and shared the responsibility of leading. We have some very helpful, sociable children at Free Rangers. Well done them...

Who's looking forward to more wet weather next week?! Anyone else ready for some drier weather?

Have a great weekend, wherever it finds you.

Red Fox

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