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Hazel Forest School Week 5
As mentioned in my previous report, these last couple of weeks before Easter have provided a unique opportunity where only a handful of children have come to Forest School. These 9 children have been able to have a slightly different experience; getting more concentrated input and attention; getting access to a wider range of skills and knowledge and also being able to build relationships in a smaller group.
We started our final session with a litter pick but unlike the horror show that was last week’s effort (or maybe because of it), this week was very quick and we filled up less than half a bag. The children set about collecting sticks and very soon we had a fire going as the girls managed to spark the cotton wool and we were away. Once the fire was established we had another quick tool talk and took the secateurs off find out own sticks to use for marshmallows! Whilst looking for sticks I spoke to them about the different trees commonly found in the valley. We looked in detail at the buds which are just coming out on the Sycamore saplings which were close to where we work and found a few suitable branches to harvest.
Upon returning to the log circle with our sticks we then had a talk again about knives and their safe use. I also introduced the children to the method I use to sharpen the knives after a Forest School session. I explained that as they go into Year 6 and will have some previous learning to lean on, they may well get into using the oil stone to look after our tools. The children then set about using the knives to sharpen the end of their sticks to toast their marshmallows.
Given some free time to explore several children set about making a really detailed den (including a leaf carpet!), some decided to make a rope swing (with a little support) and others stayed in the log circle to look after the fire and continue to practice whittling with their knives.
At the end of the session the children (and Beth and myself!) all had the chance to use their self sharpened sticks to roast their marshmallows. For some this proved a bit of a challenge and we had several catching on fire, a few dropped on the floor and many sticky hands and faces! Judging by the squeals coming from some of the children I think they enjoyed it!
We finally left the woods after clearing our site and took our walking sticks with us. These were harvested last week and carved, whittled and personalised by the children using their knives of the course of the two weeks. They have been really looking forward to taking them home!
Though the whole of Hazel class were a joy to have, these last couple of weeks have been the most special. Fantastic weather and great attitudes (for the most part) have meant that we’ve been able to learn skills together impossible in a larger group/smaller adult ratio situation.
I look forward to Chestnut class’s time in the woods after the Easter Holidays.