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Birch class kicked off the new year at Laira Green with a session in the woods! Though we are into the depths of winter now the weather wasn’t too cold at all, certainly a lot warmer than the previous day!
We started the session with some tree identification. A lot harder than you think when a lot of the trees in the valley don’t have any leaves! Ivy abounds on a lot of the trunks, giving a false impression that the trees they climb are evergreen but we were after the twigs and buds. A quick survey of what we expected to find showed some good recall of our time in the woods with comments that we may see Sycamore, Ash and Beech. A good start and the children soon took their ID sheets and went off in small groups trying to identify at least 3 other species. It was a huge success and we ended up finding Lime, Elder and Hawthorn in addition to the ones the children expected to find.
Many of the members of the class had previously expressed a keenness to continue the development of their whittling skills with knives, improving on what they have learnt previously. The class were split into two groups and while some searched for suckers and other offshoots of trees we could ecologically harvest, the other revised how to unsheathe and sheathe a knife. The children at Laira Green are becoming extremely good at remembering all of the skills they we teach them and (along with ‘blood bubble’) their safety with the knives is, on the whole, excellent. They then proceeded to sharpen sticks which we would later use to roast our special treat!
The rest of the session was a fun one, revising knots and techniques for raising shelters and swings. The class (and the majority of children who come to Forest School with us) are pretty self sufficient when it comes to this, occasionally help is needed with the odd knot here or there and getting a rope over a high beam, but they are great at persevering until they reach the outcome they want!
As we drew closer to the end, the kettle went onto the fire and fuel was added to make sure we had plenty of nice hot embers. Hot chocolates were dished out and before too long the children were handed their treat for the week, marshmallow upgrade! This week it was not just any old marshmallows but MEGA MARSHMALLOWS! These things are huge and, though they took a lot longer to toast properly and the odd one caught fire and did get quite bitter, when the children got them just the right side of brown they tasted amazing! Clearly a winner for sessions in the future!
Birch have two sessions left after this and I look forward to seeing how the children can end their Forest School journey with Laira Green.