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Forest School @ Birstwith Spring 2019

Reception

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! 

Forest School @ Birstwith Autumn 2018

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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