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Forest School @ Birstwith Autumn 2019

Year 5

It has been absolutely brilliant to start Forest School again this year and to see the children return with increased confidence, ever growing enthusiasm and the ability to retain all the saftey advice to ensure their tool use is handled with respect and due care.  The children could remember how to do things like make zip wires, build awesome fires and the year of absence from the woods has shown they have matured too in their own social groupings.  

Another really successful day in the woods. It has been amazing to see the children grow year on year in the woods and to see how much more confident and at ease they are in conditions that are not always preferrable.  Today, they immersed themselves- literally in the over flowing brook that flows through the woods.  They demonstrated a love for Harry Potter as some whittled wands and cast spells on others.  Some of the boys were successful in lighting a fire in very damp conditions whilst the main camp fire was cranked up so we could bake orange muffins and chocolate bananas... a real success and a lot has been learnt from our first attempt last year! 

Looking forward to more culinary skills to come...watch this space! 

Well, the sun shone for us again today! The children did loads of different things and showed further independence.  I spent some time demonstrating fire making and lighting under damp conditions. Mrs Walker was busy again prepping the dough for our most successful and yummiest ever bread wit hcheese or chocolate! Some of the children made little spa shops for a forest pampering whilst some made Harry Potter wands and broomsticks and others created a super slippery mudslide (sorry mums and dads!) It's been great to see the children finding further things to entertain and create. Last one for Year 5 next week; hope for more sunshine and scrummy food! 

Forest School @ Birstwith Summer 2019

Year 2

Heading into our third year of Forest School and we still have expereiences that we have never had before... Today, the Year 2's had the priviledge of attending their second Forest School within a year! They are becoming real naturals in the woods, their organisation, independence and enthusiasm is incredible.  They could remember so much from 8 months ago which enabled them to build dens, whittle sticks, use saws, loppers and knives as well as totally independently start fires that were well managed, burnt for over 2 hours and we used them to toast marshmallows and boli the water for hot chocolate.  Well done everyone!!  Another first that we had the pleasure of witnessing was the whittling of a pheasant foot... possibly not one to be repeated but hats off for the originality and confidence to even consider it!  

Week 2 and the rain kept on coming... This did not deter the enthusiasm though.  More dens were built, the fire was started immediately and there was a hive of whittling children, making all sorts of sharp sticks - from little pencils to 6ft javelins.  A very busy crowd.  Great to see everyone working alongside each other so well and sharing their skills. Well done all of you!

Well, Forest School for the summer of 2019 has come to an end and what a way to finish... The Year 2's have been amazing and also very lucky.  they were fortunate to have two forest school experiences this year and it has been wonderful to see them progress, retain their learning and explore further with their tool use and craftsmanship.  

We were fortunate to find a dead badger today- fortunate in the sense that it gave the children the opportunity to see a one of our native species up close- something that is quite tricky as they are nocturnal and usually only seen squashed on the side of the road. The children's enquiry was wonderful and they were gripped as they had a closer examination of its huge claws, beautiful stripes and razor sharp canines. Along with this, a huge fire was built in some pretty bleak circumstances and the children were able to enjoy another Forest School first - Toasted wraps, courtesy of mrs Walkers fine ingredients! The children loved them and followed that with a huge marshmallow.  Whilst all this was going on, some of the boys learnt how to split wood with an axe whilst others nested in their well developed dens and others cared for poorly snails.  

On the way back to school, we found moths, frogs and watched a buzzard circle overhead- possibly eyeing some of the prey we had enjoyed viewing! 

Let's hope next year is as equally successful.  Thank you to all the children for taking part and making it such a unique experience and to Mrs Walker, who without her assistance, none of this would be possible! 

if any adults would like to visit forest School or even give up some of their time to share the nature, please feel free to speak to me! 

happy holidays, 

Mr Roy

Year 6

Like ducks to water; the Year 6's started their Forest School session as if they had never left in Year 5! They were the first class to try Forest School in the darkest, snowiest conditions last year and this year they have had the glory of spring to enjoy the woodland.  We saw a lot... from the muddiest bog snorkler to successful fire lighting.  The children took part in a myriad of activities; whittling wands, splitting logs, creating tattoo palours and building multi person swings, as well as exploring the woods and hanging like koalas in trees enjoying their hot chocolate and marshmallows.  It was lovely to see how confident they all were, how well they all remembered their tool safety and their fire lighting steps. Let's see what the next few weeks bring...

As ever, the Year 6's got on with things very independently.  It was super to see some fires being lit and controlled completely by the children- strong enough for us to do all our cooking on.  Dens and tree climbing has been popular as well as good old fashioned games such as 'Hide and seek'! 

The last week for Year 6 was another one of firsts... We foraged wild garlic, made some wild garlic pesto and cooked spaghetti on the fire. To accompany this, we roasted dough balls with wild garlic butter inside! We had a sumptuous feast which was enjoyed by everyone.  Alog with all of this, more dens were made and personalised by their inhabitants.  

Unfortunately, this would be the last Forest School session for the Year 6 crew.  I trust they have learnt a lot about their natural environment, themselves and improved on their confidence as well as their resilience when it comes to problem solving, working together and resilience in some testing conditions.  Well done all and all the very best in the next stage of your lives. 


Forest School @ Birstwith Spring 2019


The little reception children took part in their first Birstwith Forest School experience this Tuesday.  They were super prepared and ready before me which was great to see.  

The children entered the first small copse and we spoke about how to be safe in the woods and how to respect all the new spring life that was just coming out.  The children were very knowledgable and showed that they really cared for the environment.  Once we had loaded the tool box and the children knew the first place to visit, we set off across the field to find some coloured strings to make 'Dragon Breath' bracelets which helped the children remain safe in the woods.  The bracelet making is a way of getting children to work in pairs and allow me a chance to assess how children get on with new tasks, their fine motor control and how they deal with having to wait their turn.  All the children did really well and whilst some were waiting, we spotted animals in the clouds. 

Once in the woods, a huge exploration took part.  Bridges were built, dams were made, fairy houses were constructed...Trees were climbed, fires were lit and nearly half of the group were able to use a flint and steel to create a spark.  It was lovely to see such freedom and creativity amongst them all.  The day finished with some well received hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows which I am sure will be on the request list for next week!!  Oh they found the mud too! Well done all of you. 

Week 2 and the kids just got muddier! These little reception children throw themselves into everything... they really have some vitality and it is lovely to see them explore their limits in the woods.  Once the trolley of tools had arrived safely at the base, the children set about collecting wood for the fire.  Following that, they got some sticks to use as claves and marched over to the Forest School Limbo poles... here they tested their flexibility to bend their way under the ever lowering pole.  From here, the children went off in little groups- some built dens, others explored the swampy waters whilst others practised their flint and steel use.  Some of the girls have got so good with the flint and steel, they were able to set the tinder alight - awesome.  The day continued with some woodland art, the boys experimented with dousing fire sticks, everyone got their wellies stuck in the mud and wooden frames were turned into organic climbing frames.  Once again, marshmallows and hot chocolate were on the menu and after a tumbling return back to school, the children were back with their parents, suitably exhausted ( I hope!) 

Well, week 3 and even more mud!! The children were amazing this week.  Firstly they set about piling up loads of old tree protectors for future use.  Some climbed trees, others turned into mud monsters, whilst others found a sunny spot for some stream beach sun bathing! They had loads of fun what ever they did and we ended the day with a stream stomp and grassland bum shuffle to try and reduce the dirt that the little cherubs were trying to get in their parents cars! 

It's a shame it's the last week, but, we filled our bellies! The mud monsters returned for more swamp action, a group spent a long time practising their climbing skills and some of the girls were very successful using the flint and steel to spark the tinder.  This week, pushed the boundaries of food... Sausages in rolls were the starter, washed down with hot chocolate.  The main was baked dough balls  and the dessert was a gooey mess of molten marshmallow mixed with chocolate drops scooped up with finger biscuits... A very sticky way to end a wonderful and memorable first Forest School for Reception. Well done everyone! 

Year 1

Year 1 started their first Forest School session brilliantly.  They were probably the most prepared group Mrs Walker and I have ever met! They had all the right clothing on and were raring to go.  The children had a quick introduction to the forest areas with focus on managing themselves and being safe.  Then we went for a walk to find traces of dragons.  The children found some dragon thread which they wove into bracelets then they went on a mission to create fairy houses and dens for themselves.  The session ended with a huge fire which the children collected all the wood for accompanied with hot chocolate and marshmallows- Yummy! With the second session, we were fortunate to be joined with by Ash- he is training to be a Forest School Practitioner and he enjoyed showing some children to make swords whilst I was teaching  another group of children to whittle sticks to make marshmallow toasters.  the children were amazing with their knife safety and we all enjoyed a good munch on some smiley marshmallows at the end of the day.  other children, lopped branches, made dens, further fairy houses, climbed trees and generally investigated the woodland area.  The wood collecting was enthusiastic again which meant another roaring fire!! Well done everyone :)

Straight back to it after half-term.  The weather has been fabulous so we managed a stop-off on the way to the woods to kick back and let our imaginations float away with the clouds as they conjured up images of cupcakes, trains and cricket bats.  Once in the woods, the children worked in a myriad of ways- some doing a blind fold walk, some building dens, others, bridge-making, wood collecting and some even tried to light their own fires. Once again, the evening finished off with some marshmallows and hot chocolate which were eagerly consumed! 

Well, what a nenergetic bunch the Year 1's are! After a whole day at Harlow Carr, they still managed to get fulled togged up and venture into the woods for their final Forest session.  They were eager to get started, the wood lady and the woodman led the way- collecting all the right sized wood, sourcing dry sticks from some magical place! Once the fire was roaring, some children started to make charcoal sticks to go and create their own art with on the nearby trees.  Others made mud-slides whilst others made more dens, bases and climbing apparatus.  

We had Generals guarding the camp fire so the area remained safe and nobody tried to nab a roasting banana before they were ready.  As the day drew on, the bananas stuffed with chocolate and marshmallows were unwrapped and consumed with enthusiasm whist being washed down with hot-chocolate. To end, ALL the children took themselves off to the bridge where they all played and chatted amongst themselves whilst sinking in the boggy mud and getting a little bit wetter than they first set out to be! A thoroughly enjoyed experience, they have all been brilliant and they are already looking forward to their next opportunity...as long as more food is on offer it seems!!!   

Year 5

Year 5 got straight into the Forest spirit.  George turned up ready to take down any woolly mammoths we might encounter, then added to his ensemble of weaponry by creating his own mallet using a Billhook, a bowsaw and a sheath knife. A group- now called the 'Five Flaming Friends'- set to work on their fire making immediately and they were suitably rewarded with a super fire which was well controlled for the duration of the session.  

Other groups, made dens, bashers, camping areas, more fires and whittling and lopping was very popular.  As the sun set, we settled down to some cosy hot chocolate and everyone toasted their marshmallows on their own fires! Blissssss! 

The weeks have continued to bring new skills to the Forest School tribe; a group of children selected a range of wood, made charcoal and will see what the results will be soon... George took it one step further and produced some Neanderthal art by chewing the charcoal and spitting it around his hand onto a tree! Hats off to him for being so enthusiastic about it and we are looking forward to seeing his 'bright white' smile tomorrow!  The groups once again enjoyed toasting marshmallows and telling tales around the fire as others became more proficient at billhook use, bowsaw cutting and general fire feeding duties. 

Raging fires, scrummy sausages, more charcoal chomping and some super knot tying saw the Year 5 Forest School reach its finale.  The children al had a marvellous time in the woods but unfortunately it had to come to end...Till next year! 

Year 4

Well Year 4 kicked off Forest School with some enthusiasm.  The wind, rain and freezing temperatures didn't dampen any spirits as the team picked up pretty much exactly where they had left it last year! It was lovely to see how much they could all remember. Sophia returned with her special piece of zipwire wood, most of the children could remember the safety aspects surrounding tools and fires and even when darkness set in, the children comfortably sat around the fires toasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate...

The second week proved to be equally challenging...Possibly the wettest conditions we have had to date, but, all the children soldiered through, built dens, whittled and they even managed to enjoy another hot chocolate to warm their souls!!

Week 4 and the children brought their full Christmas enthusiasm! In a deluge of rain, we managed to get a shelter up and start to build a fire.  Some of the children helped build the main fire whist others perservered in their personal attempts to light their own fires and achieve their own success - in possibly the most trying environmental conditions! After a lot of hard work, we finally had a strong fire burning, Mrs Walker had made some of her (slowly becoming famous) dough and the children selcted their toasting sticks.  We backed cheesy twists and cooked sausages on the fire whilst belting out the Christmas production repetiore to warm our spirits. Well done Year 4 on a manic but successful time in the woods- better luck next time with your fire making endevours!!

Year 3

What a pleasure it was to have this group return... They had not been in the woods since June and they could all remember tool saftey and fire safety protocol.  It was wonderful to see them get stuck into it straight away, whittling, fire building, chopping and investigating. What a fantastic 4 weeks... we have had everything.  The children took on new experiences with gusto.  Some were very creative with sticks, others built their own furniture.  The boys worked together magnificently to maintain their fire for well over 10 minutes- it was so well organised, we had our hot chocolate around it!  We even tried to make muffins baked in oranges.  This is a work in progress but definitely an experience to remember! Well done all of you!!

Year 2

The children had a lot of investigating the larger woodland.  They worked really well individually, in pairs and in groups to leave their mark on the Forest School area.  New firsts for myself and Mrs Walker were the wooded bridge building, the toasting of green leaves and the shameless toliet stop! 

There is always something new :) 

Year 2

Week 2 and the children brought some fantastic imagination.  They started off using their senses on the midnight walk- the instructions were excellent and they all safely navigated their way through the winding labyrinth.  From this soome continued to explore with their senses, others created a fantastic ninja fox hunt game.  Some of the children experimented with fire lighting whilst others honed their knife skills, whittling sticks ready for marshmallows and hot chocolate! yummy:) 

Year 2

Well it's come to an end with Year 2 but what a fantastic time they have had...It has been so wonderful to see the children blossom in the woods.  Their enthusiasm and confidence was brimming over and they took part in a whole host of different adventures.  It was super to see the children experimenting with ropes and how they created a pulley system to hoist their friends onto a makeshift climbing frame.  Some children had their own stick war, others baked cheesy bread whilst others continues to build dens, make fires, whittle sticks as well as toast marshmallows! We even has our first Forest tooth fall out- possibly a result of all the sticky goodness the children consumed!! Hope you enjoy the pictures.  Thanks again to Mrs Walker; if there are any other adults that would like to get involved, please speak to me :)

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