Set to a back drop of chirping Crickets and Grasshoppers, Forest School this week has looked at what it means to be STRONG! Against popular belief, I haven't been secretly training my own little Forest School army of minions ready to over-through Midsomer Norton and Radstock at a moments notice, so that I may final establish my Red Fox kingdom (although that does sound like fun).
These past few weeks have seen our little Rangers learning about health and excercise. It seemed only natural to progress to looking at strength especially with our pulleys and ropes and what it means to be strong? Now, when you ask a child if you think they're strong, they will always flex their arm muscles asking if you can, "see how strong they are?" We briefly talked off other ways we might be considered strong, be it emotionally or mentally, but for our Forest School purposes we were going to be looking at physical strength...or so I thought.
Forest School is a fantastic way of boosting the physical development and strength of children. It is an inherently active experience and is not only an ideal cardiovascular exercise but I feel is perfect at building up a child's stamina. At Free Rangers, the children are tasked to plenty of climbing, balancing and jumping, but there isn't much opportunity for lifting or pulling, especially something weighty. So once we had recapped on the previous weeks swinging and being healthy, we looked at what the children thought being strong enabled you to do. Most jumped to the obvious: you can lift heavy things. What was less obvious was what they thought they could lift, or rather perceptions of their own strength. To start with I picked out a child, usually one who thought they could lift me up, to see if they could lift a reasonably heavy log of the ground. Some could, others couldn't which was fine. I offered them the choice of picking a friend to help and we discussed whether it was easier or harder if someone bore the weight with them. Next, we moved onto an extra large double pallet, one which would need some serious shifting. Again I offered the chance for a strapping young child to show off their strength to see if they could lift it on their own. Then as a group the children lifted the whole thing. Most were surprised that they were managing to lift this monstrous pallet off the ground, but it was the start of their understanding that many hands make light work.
Moving on, I showed the children the same log we originally lifted and asked if the same child wanted to attempt to lift again, this time using the same pulley system we had set up for the swinging of the week prior. I securely tied on the climbing rope and the children had a go in turns to lift the logs, sometimes asking for a little assistance. With the idea still fresh in their minds that with more hands helping, a heavy item becomes much easier to manage, I quizzed the children as to whether they could lift the same log they were sat on. They all decided: "No! It's too heavy Red Fox!", to which I reminded them they had already lifted two very heavy items and the pulley was going to help shed the weight of the load too! Let's give it go!
I chose 4 children to have a go initially, and they could choose, if they wanted, to call on the willing bodies of the rest of the group to help in the objective. Not one group failed to lift the log, and I have to say, even I was a little surprised at the ease of which they managed it! The combined strength of 8 little bodies with the willingness to succeed, is not something to trifle with! Once the log had been fully lifted, I took the reigns, gave the children a count down and let the log come crashing down to ground below with a deep resonating thud, much to the delight and excitement of all! Who doesn't love a massive log hurtling towards the earth! Once they had had their fill of this, I let the children loose to see what other things they could pull or drag by making their own pulleys on the cabin, fort apple tree, or pretty much anything they fancied.
We witnessed some excellent role-play from the children. Some used the ropes to haul themselves up into the tree, whilst others hauled "fish from the sea", which turned into a pirate ship as they hauled their treasure aboard. If that wasn't enough, the children then created a zipline for the buckets! Clever beans. Others used their strength and teamwork to heave "Roofing materials" up to an imaginary roof in order for it to be fixed. What was interesting, was watching the children flex their mental strength here too as there was some serious logic, reasoning and problem solving being completed trying to figure out how to get the ropes over certain beams, and the right knots to secure the loads. It was super seeing the trial and error processes of much of the what the children were doing, as well as the heavy things they were trying to lift too. To finish the session, the children were given the freedom of the assault courses to further demonstrate their strengths, both jumping, balancing and climbing in the sunshine.
Excellent work my little Schwarzeneggers!
As always thanks for reading, enjoy my photographs and do leave a comment below if you would like to share your experiences.