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Forest School Blog

Bugs and Beads

posted 7 Jul 2017, 04:29 by Rosy Ritchie

In our penultimate forest session we thought about bugs and minibeasts. We took 5 minutes to hunt them down and discovered that the forest is an excellent home for lots more than the creatures  we have thought about in our sessions so far. We discovered millipedes, centipedes, woodlouse, spiders, worms and much  more. The children were confident with handling and looking at our findings and we chatted a little about their habitats and food.

After our snack we all sawed, whittled and threaded some Elder beads. Our nature jewellery looked truly lovely.

Forest Homework: Bring a grown up (and sibling if you have one available) to the forest next week. Show them where all our forest fun has been happening this term. 

Paying attention to our world.

posted 1 Jul 2017, 01:30 by Rosy Ritchie

Today we became bird watchers. We found pictures of Woodpigeons, Starlings, Blackbirds, Robins, Great Tits and Blue Tits on our walk into the forest. We looked closely at the pictures and got into groups with others that held the same bird picture. We talked about facts to do with these native birds. 

At snack time we looked at the fire and thought about how the wood gives energy to the fire. We compared a burnt stick with an unburned one. We thought about the letter F for Fire and wrote it with our 'charcoal'. We used the burnt sticks to make marks on paper, dens and faces!

We found new wooden dens to explore and worked hard with the resources available to make new dens: Tarps, netting, rope, clips and pegs. Our new dens provide great dining rooms all over our boundary space today. 

Leaf detectives

posted 23 Jun 2017, 03:28 by Rosy Ritchie

The adult input for this weeks Forest School was all about Tree variety, leaf identification and features. As we walked into the forest we observed a group of trees in the distance. We looked at their height, colour, shape and how they moved. At our forest base we followed this up by looking in closer detail at the leaves from the Sycamore, Hawthorn, Hazel, Oak, Ash and Elder trees. We noticed their shapes and sizes.

Before snack a Burma bridge was built, children swung off trees and much creative play was to be observed and overheard.

Our adult led activity involved us making some forest crowns. This helped support the children’s investigations into leaf identification.

Forest Homework: Keep noticing and naming the trees when out and about. Dens and camouflage activities next week.

Celebrating the Men in Our Lives

posted 16 Jun 2017, 04:36 by Rosy Ritchie

We are taking a leisurely approach to our walk into the forest this year. Roughly 30 minutes it takes us. All are happy to stroll along, and its more about the distraction of the surroundings rather than a lack of energy.
Before revisiting the abseiling experience, we had a chat about litter and rubbish. We thought about how beautiful the forest is and how important it is to keep it this way by taking our rubbish out with us rather than leaving anything behind. Before snack we practised our whistle drill. All the child came quickly back to the tarp when they heard its sound.
The free forest play now has some fabulous established patterns: Children on tree trunk motorbikes/boats/horses riding to rescue friends/dragons/baby animals and children climbing trees, swinging from trees and hugging trees where ever you look. Wonderful.
For our main activity, we got out some real tools in the form of a saw and hand drills. We looked at how to use them safely. We made some gorgeous gifts for all our God Fathers and Fathers for Sundays celebrations. Hope the men in their lives like them we certainly enjoyed making them for you.
Forest Homework: We have noticed that the children are not confident at their tree names and identification. We’ll do lots more focus on this in the final three forest sessions. At home collect some leaves and make a labelled poster to help support this area of interest and knowledge. We’d love to share it at preschool carpet time.

Ropes n Rain

posted 12 Jun 2017, 04:19 by Rosy Ritchie

Having scored the weather forecast we decided to be hardy and go ahead with forest school yesterday. As the saying goes… “Theres no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” Our preschool where dressed for all weather action and we set off on our windiest walk into the forest yet. The adults love this walk as it’s a wonderful time to talk to individual children about what they notice, enjoy and think about things.

We found a shelter above our base tarp. We talked about how the shelter protects us and worked out that we should tie ribbons to the guy ropes to keep us from tripping over them.  Before snack we took two large ropes and went for an explore outside the boundary together. We discovered a high ditch (built as a tank trap in the 1940’s!). We tied the ropes to trees at the top of the bank then abseiled down to the bottom of the ditch. Everyone had a go and we could feel the children’s confidence grow as they persisted.

Snack time was arranged with a group effort, some children organising the mugs and others spooning our choc powder. How independent and responsible our Forest Schoolers are now.

After snack we used more ropes and string to construct at wobbly bridge, fishing rods, pulleys, swings and many other things.

We had made the right decision to proceed despite the shower forecast, the shelter of the forest saves us from much of the wind and rain and of course its exciting picnicking under a shelter together.

Forest Homework: With a squeeze of lemon, some Elderflower heads and a little sugar you could make your own Elderflower cordial (Citric acid, available from a chemist can be added for an extra zing!).

Super creatures (including Hedgehogs!)

posted 19 May 2017, 03:20 by Rosy Ritchie

Thank goodness for today’s bright day, a whole session outside was very welcome after yesterday’s rains.  The children arrived in good spirits and we started by talking about todays planned activities for the forest. The six grownups were given a creature hunt cards and as we walked in, the children helped to spot all the creatures on route.  These activities encourage the children to make better observations on our walk.

During our welcome chat, one of the children shared their hedgehog game with the group and we also had a chat about his magnifying glass. We then explored our play space and discovered a little woodland house, complete with a leaf carpet, and little chairs. It inspired many to make their own.

After hot choc we used clay, sticks and googley eyes to make our own hedgehog creations. We chatted about hedgehog habitats, food, hibernation and nocturnal creatures.

Forest Homework: Using scrap, make a home for your clay hedgehog. Bring it into preschool for us to admire at carpet time. 

Super powers and Wild Garlic Pesto

posted 12 May 2017, 03:07 by Rosy Ritchie

With our Preschool topic in mind we thought about Super Powers today. On our walk in many children decided on what superpower they would most like to have. The children are very confident with our route to the forest base and were busy looking out for all the animal targets we had noticed last week.

We went through our forest rules today and talked about breaking one of the rules for today only. The rule says that “We only eat the food we bring into the forest”. We talked about the reason for this and the meaning of the word poison. However, today was our exception as we became forest chefs and made Wild Garlic Pesto: Foraged wild garlic, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, almonds/pine nuts and pepper. We tried our recipe with some crackers. Yum!

After a play including den building, rope swings and tree climbing we thought about super powers again. We decided to make some magic wands to conjure up the powers. We used Elder sticks, whittled the bark off, hollowed some pith out and put in some forest magic into the wand. Rosy’s stick made her have powerful words (Please and Thankyou!), the children’s wands varied in their powers from Super Bendy to Super Invisible.

Forest Homework: Next week is National Hedgehog week. Find out some hedgehog facts to share with the group. We’ll be making our very own spiky friends in the forest. 

Robin Hood eat your heart out!

posted 5 May 2017, 05:02 by Rosy Ritchie

The children walked into the forest in a relaxed and confident fashion this week. How quickly they have adjusted to our new Forest School arrangements. We were excited to hear that some Field Archers were coming to talk to us today and we walked in with keen eyes spotting their archery targets: A bear, a racoon, a fox and a crocodile.

Once at our base we looked in the activity bag and found the tools to make our own arrows: Peelers, feathers and masking tape.

After hot choc and our new less sugary biscuits we welcomed Patrick and Simon. The archers chatted about their sport and the children listened with brilliant attention. We looked at their equipment and discovered some of the origins of archery. The archers then kindly demonstrated how to use the long bows and the paper rhino was hit on target almost every time!

Forest Homework: Think of a superpower to bring to the forest next week, we’ll be making magic wands to help magic up these powers. 

Super Foresters

posted 28 Apr 2017, 02:42 by Rosy Ritchie

It was a bright morning that welcomed us to our first, full session at forest school. We are so lucky to have a garden to register and welcome our little group. We set off to find our forest base using a map that we had drawn. The group were great at walking, we got to our base in 25 minutes.

As will be our norm, we gathered together around the tarp, sang a song and talked about the forest rules. We talked about the importance of keeping safe in the forest so that we could have maximum fun! Most importantly we must stay inside the boundary flags and never go in the fire circle.  It was exciting doing a tour of the forest space we’ll play in, we even found the wild wee station!

Lots of children were keen to see how we set the fire and we had some great chats about smoke, steam and energy. After our hot choc, we read Superworm. Some woollen worms were hiding in the forest, we had to find them and make some forest creations with them. Some were easier to find than others so we talked about the word camouflage. Before our forest picnic the children could be found making fairy houses, climbing trees, balancing stick structures and playing hide and seek.

Forest Homework:  Ask your children what rules they can remember.  Look for photos and talk about Field Archery, next week we have a demonstration of the sport!

Forest Adventures 2016/17

posted 11 Dec 2016, 03:22 by Rosy Ritchie

Our Forest Fun continues all year round at Freshford PreSchool.

 In the Autumn Term, as the new children settle and the weather is cooler, we will take weekly local walks or Freshford field forest sessions. After Christmas, we will be venturing further afield to a wonderful scenic hillside. Will Mr Owl write to us again this year? In the Summer Term we will enjoy a full session in a local forest.

 The team are always happy to talk through the benefits, joys and logistics of our outdoor sessions.  

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