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A nice week for Cherry class to begin their Forest School journey for the year. We didn’t even raise the main shelter (which has been a major feature for the last few weeks) so there was a chance to get cracking from the off.
The Year 5 children in this class had recently had experience of Forest School during their residential trip to Nethercott Farm. As a result of this they were full of ideas they wanted to try and it was a good opportunity for the session to be as child led as possible.
A swing was raised pretty swiftly (and muddily!) and we talked about the knots needed to raise the rope in order to ‘Leave No Trace’. We spoke about how this was important in order to help preserve the environment as much as possible and return it to a state that was as good as or better than when we arrived. The motto is carried across all areas at Forest School from harvesting materials to making fires and using tools.
With regard to the fire, some of the children were keen for this to be a major part of their session. The were able to independently collect the resources they would need and then they set about igniting the cotton wool and trying to light themselves a small fire. In their haste however they paid little heed to the advice about having lots (and lots) of very thin sticks. As a result the children struggled for the most part. In doing so this also brought another problem, the ability to share resources efficiently and fairly. With less than an hour of the session to go the children had exhausted the supply of cotton wool and their fire lighting efforts were brought to a very swift halt. We talked about the use of different sorts of tinder but in the damp spring conditions there were no viable options like ‘old man’s beard’.
One of the most exciting ideas the children had brought back from Nethercott Farm Forest School was the game of ‘tribes’ they had played in the woods there. When the children had their own shelters up in the valley, many of them were keen to reintroduce their tribes and there were mock running battles in and out of the trees. The children attempted to fashion different sorts of weapons to defend their imaginary realms and, under a few watchful pairs of eyes, they whooped and hollered around the valley, raiding bases left, right and centre.
As we progress into the children’s second week and are joined by Mrs Nightingale (who missed the first week due to her PPA commitment) the focus will become more firmly focussed on the use of tools. We will further strive to develop the area of the valley we use for the benefit of the children and community.
Until next time,