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Forest school is all about the children having the freedom to be themselves; to be in charge of their learning, have fun, get dirty, laugh, take risks, make decisions, use tools, solve problems, achieve success and learn new skills that they will have for life.

At Brize Norton Forest School, we want to inspire and encourage our children to blossom into confident individuals. By taking them outside and giving them freedom in the natural environment, they are able to follow their own paths of learning.

The smallest of tasks at Forest School can provide a host of new skills; a simple task of building a den provides opportunities to work as a team, learn new skills, solve problems, lead, develop confidence, build on fine motor skills and communicate with one another.

Climbing a tree teaches a child to measure and take risks; it allows them to make discoveries about themselves, develop gross motor skills, uses their senses and gives them a feeling of achievement.

What is a leaf? Well, it can be anything...children are free to unleash their creativity. It can be a boat, a dress for a fairy, a roof of a house, a dinosaur scale, an animal's ear or a flying carpet for an ant; with imagination, the list is endless.

At Forest School, we are providing opportunities for the children to enhance their social, physical, intellectual, communication, emotional and spiritual development (SPICES).

Children in the Foundation Stage take part in Forest School for one afternoon per week, all year round, whatever the weather. What they learn depends on the season, the weather and whatever they want, but we use tools, build shelters, make fires and cook on them, explore the pond - and they develop their confidence, team work and understanding of the world around them.

But we do not want only our youngest children to enjoy this opportunity! Children from Year 1 to Year 6 take part for half a term each during the year, also for half a day a week. What they learn and do will be different, but the ethos remains the same. 

"We did it! We started a fire! What are we going to cook on it?"

Dinosaur Discovery

We've had a great first half term of Forest School with the Buccaneers and Lancasters. They have listened carefully, shown great imagination, creativity, team work and perseverance.

On one of our wettest sessions so far, the children loved discovering a nest of dinosaur eggs that they felt and shared around with lots of talking about what they could be. They talked about how they could free the dinosaur by making it warm (so we put a couple over the fire) - or by smashing them!  We also showed them how salt could be used to melt the ice.  

Some of the children have had a go at whittling sticks 1:1 using a knife, to make a charcoal pencil, while others have watched wax pellets melt on the fire to make their candles.

Lots of Creations

We had a busy last Forest School session before the half term break with lots of the children getting involved in making 'fat balls' for the birds during the colder weather, creating 'scary satsumas' to take home and eat, building miniature scarecrows for their gardens at home and, of course, stuffing and building a Forest School Guy for the village bonfire!  It was lovely to see the children working together and happy in their learning...and an added bonus that we had such beautiful weather!!

Autumn's here!

We have been talking a lot about the changes that come with the seasons and what that means for wildlife.  We discussed hibernation and what this means - and also about what a nocturnal animal is.  The children made animal homes for soft toys, created clay hedgehogs and built ladybird houses to hang in their garden.  They have also loved using the new bug hunting kit to hunt for mini beasts!  We have picked blackberries and used them to make ink for drawing - as well as saving some to have with pancakes. The children have been very busy sawing, drilling, climbing, swinging, creating and having Forest School Fun!

Dinotastic Fun!

The Lancasters and Hurricanes love digging and discovering which often leads to imaginative play.  This week, they explored the site and found a nest of dinosaur eggs! They used different methods to help the dinosaurs 'hatch'; salt, heat and chipping away with a mallet.  Some budding archaeologists dug up some dinosaur bones to put back together, while others took bones to measure and match.  Lots of sawing took place to make dinosaur tree cookies using charcoal and wooden embellishments.  Bug hunting was popular again with the discovery of a ladybird to pop in our ladybird house and a very cool looking caterpillar!

New Pond!

The children love searching for life in the pond at Forest School - but it has been difficult over the last 6 months to keep our frogs, toads, tadpoles and other creatures happy because the water kept disappearing!

Armed with a new pond liner and some tools, a small team of volunteers cleared out plants and muddy water, built a frame and put in the new liner - ready for our next session on Monday.

A huge thank you to Dave Golding, Annie Blake and her husband Rod for giving up their time.  The children will love it!!

Fun in the Sun

The children had a great time at Forest School on Tuesday.  They took inspiration from activities and came up with some of their own ideas and creations. They sawed, used knives to whittle charcoal pencils, made bird feeders, climbed, cooked in the mud kitchen, made hapazome flags using nature and lit fires.  A very busy and productive afternoon!

Buried Treasure

The children arrived at Forest School this week to find an 'x' that marks the spot! they immediately began digging and found gold and jewels!!

We had lots of pirate activities from parrot bird feeders to pirate tree cookies; the children sawed and created, found life in the pond and climbed trees to be on lookout!  Plenty of imaginative play as well as learning new skills!

First sessions at Forest School

We had two lovely sessions this week.  The children were really happy to get outdoors and take part in the various activities - from creating a hapazome flag to whittling a wand and planting seeds.  There was plenty of imaginative play, with one group finding 'treasure' as they were 'digging to their new home in Oman'!

Soggy Forest School

It was a tad wet on Monday but the children didn't let it stop them having fun.

They loved hammering out patterns to make tin can lanterns and the new trapeze was very popular for swinging around on.  The pond was bustling with life, with tadpoles, frogs and a water louse being spotted and identified by the children.

We came together for quesadillas around the campfire, a song and a game of camouflage.

Year 3 and 4 Outdoors

We had all of Year 3 and 4 outdoors this week and used it as an opportunity to tidy up the vegetable garden and plant some fruit and vegetables - as well as hang out in the Forest School area.  

The children work very hard with Jo and Miss Kearvell, weeding and digging over the garden.  They then planted tomatoes, onions, peppers and strawberries that they will need to look after over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, in Forest School, the workers were rewarded with some time to get creating, work together, play and enjoy a s'more around the campfire!

Nature Inspiration

Today we had some nature inspired activities for the children; they could paint mini beast bug pebbles, create a face using pieces of nature, make leaf animals and thread leaves.  These activities were popular with the children but some prefer to put up dens, go pond dipping, hang out in the hammock swing, light fires and put together appetising mud kitchen meals!

At snack time, the children had campfire rhubarb crumble, using freshly cut rhubarb, whilst listening to the story, Leaf Man.

Nature Inspiration

Today we had some nature inspired activities for the children; they could paint mini beast bug pebbles, create a face using pieces of nature, make leaf animals and thread leaves.  These activities were popular with the children but some prefer to put up dens, go pond dipping, hang out in the hammock swing, light fires and put together appetising mud kitchen meals!

At snack time, the children had campfire rhubarb crumble, using freshly cut rhubarb, whilst listening to the story, Leaf Man.

April

April comes from the Latin word, 'aperture' (to open).  With this in mind, the children planted flowers, created flower tree cookies. observed the new lie in the pond and used nature to make sun catchers. 

 Hercules have had a great first couple of Forest School sessions; the sun has shone and they have engrossed themselves in the various activities.  The mud kitchen is always popular - as is firelighting!

We have enjoyed sitting together around the fire to have a cooked campfire snack; new potatoes (in season) and cheese one week and good ol' s'mores the next!

Falcons at Forest School

It's been lovely to watch this group develop over the weeks.  They are becoming increasingly creative; looking at what could be done - but using this to inspire their own projects.  They've made dream catchers, dens in trees, nature tiles with plaster of paris and wooden animals.  The pond is always a hive of activity with frog spotting, chatter and laughing...the children even came up with a song that they later performed around the campfire!!

We were lucky to be given a parachute from the pre-school (thank you!) - which proved very popular; lots of fun and games!!

Busy Busy!

We have had a busy few weeks at Forest School.  Some of the children have been keen to learn how to use the knives safely to whittle sticks for swords; they showed great perseverance - as it takes much longer than you think!  It has been lovely to see others working together on their weekly job of creating a pond in the mud kitchen area; they have dug it out, added water (helped by the rain!) and, today, they installed a bridge!! Meanwhile, in the pond, we have been spotting frogs, frogspawn and tadpoles; a perfect opportunity to talk to the children about lifecycles.

Looking forward to Spring

We had a lovely first session back after half term.  The children were fascinated by the mini beasts that were crawling out of the dead wood and hiding under tree stumps, so some of them made bug hotels to hang up.  Others were keen to plant some onions out - which will hopefully be ready to use in some campfire cookery in July.

The pond was open for the children to go and look for life; the frogs were hiding, but they did spot some blood worms - using the ID sheets to help them.

Other children were keen to continue to make their own pond; they had done most of the digging at the last session, so put an old tarpaulin in and started to fill it with water.  

It was lovely to see the kids so 'at home' outside; they were relaxed, independent and keen to explore and creative; brilliant!

Fun in the Sun

It was great to welcome the Year 6's back out to Forest School; they immediately relaxed and went off, following their own interests.

Some children chose to light fires, whereas others set to working together to build dens.  The pond was open and it was great to see the wildlife waking up and eluding the children...my goodness, frogs are quick!!  Many children enjoyed getting creative in the mud kitchen - which I just love to see - whilst others got the tools out to whittle and drill.

It was a fab first session - made even better by the amazing weather, fun and laughter!

Bird Feeders and Creations

We have had a lovely few weeks outdoors with the Buccaneers.

We talked about the Big Garden Watch and made bird feeders to encourage birds to our site...we actually sat and watched a robin fly down to take some food from one of the feeders in a tree!  Some of the children took their feeders home to hang in their own gardens!

The children have been becoming increasingly independent and are showing great teamwork; they have helped each other light fires and build dens - and one small group decided to saw a branch into 4 equal pieces and make a table! Ingenious!!

Forest School in the Snow

We've had a great few weeks outdoors with the Year 5's.

The children wanted to make swords, so before we went about doing this, we practised square lashing using strawberry laces; the incentive was that if they achieved it, they could eat it!  The following weeks, several swords were made!!

Many children have enjoyed digging and creating channels for water to flow.  Others have been working together to put up dens and create pulley systems and zip lines.

The cold and the snow has not put the children off, and we always come together around the fire for a hot snack and a warm drink.

Seasoned Forest Schoolers

We've had a great couple of weeks so far at Forest School.  

KS2 are studying Ancient Greece in Topic at the moment so the children explored the site in the first session by searching for Greek pictures that then needed ordering into a timeline.  They could then have a go at writing their name on a tree cookie using the Greek Alphabet.  However, as seasoned Forest Schoolers, many of the children were already keen to follow their own path of learning.

Some chose to build dens, whilst others whittled spears, lit fires, made charcoal, created pencils or built pulley systems.  The mud kitchen was popular, so we added some herbs the following week and the children created Harry Potter potions!

It's been so lovely to see the children working together outdoors; exploring, playing, growing in confidence, using their imagination and persevering when things don't go as planned.

Traditional Tales in the Trees

We've had a lovely time in our first two sessions.  The children recounted some stories around the fire that they had been learning in class.  We had Goldilocks and the 3 Bears in the first session and the Three Little Pigs in the second session.  

The children have loved the newly refurbished mud kitchen with new kitchen utensils, herbs and porridge oats.  They have become increasingly confident with the tools and understand how to use the saw, loppers and drill safely.  Some chose to make bear tree cookies, others have cut sticks to make a little pig - and others are more than happy to make up their own games, digging to New York looking for treasure!

We've cooked porridge on the campfire (very popular) and a large pot of soup (to keep the wolves away!!).  Looking forward to some more Forest School Fun in the coming weeks!!

Buccaneers take flight at Forest School!

What a lovely afternoon we had with all of the Buccaneers at Forest School today.  

It was so lovely to hear some of the Year 1's keen to explore and show others around the site - and they couldn't wait to share our important Forest School rules!

Apple peeling, sawing, fire lighting and going on the rope swing were very popular so it was nice to come back together for a sit down and to try some of our homemade campfire apple crumble.

Land Art

On Monday afternoon, we shared a book with the Year 1's all about Leaf Man.  Once inspired, we went off to explore the Forest School site, look for changes and gather up some bits of nature to take back to the classroom.  The children then used water colours and their leaves, twigs and seeds to create fab land art pictures!

First Forest School of the New School Year

The Hurricanes were a little excited to get out to Forest School on Tuesday!

They were excellent at recalling rules on how to stay safe before going off to explore, play, climb, create and build. Some of the children were keen to help do a little maintenance in the pond area (clearing some of the plants so that we could see the pond!) and topping up the water after our lovely, dry summer. Others helped to forage for blackberries to have with our campfire pancakes!

Busy, busy, busy!!!

We've had a busy few weeks with Forest School; from a Royal Feast prepared and served by James (he also boiled the Kelly Kettle and made coffee for the adults!), to making bug boxes, collecting nettles for cordial, learning to square lash, building dens, making natural firelighters with wax and pine cones and discovering a fox skeleton!  The children have had a great time and have built on their learning from week to week.

On Friday 20th July, we will have an extra Forest School session - more details to follow.

A right Royal time

We've had a lovely few weeks in the sunshine at Forest School.

To commemorate the Royal wedding, we had cucumber sandwiches, scones and jam - put together by the children.  Some of them also chose to make nature crowns, pictures and swords.  

This week, we had a go at making candles; we heated the wax up on the fire, added a wax crayon for colour and pure it into jars.

Watching and learning

At the last Nightingale session, Mrs Fairhurst popped down to see what was happening under the trees.  Some of the children took her under their wing and showed her how to light a small fire using a flint and steel.  They were clearly very good teachers, because she listened and watched carefully and was able to start her own fire!

Achievements and connections

We've been lucky with the fine weather over the last couple of weeks.  The children have grown in confidence and have been going their own ways at Forest School.  They all have their own interests - some of them working with others to create dens and others seeing something that they'd like to do and choosing to independently have a go.  Many are inspired by each other.  Some see what their peers are doing and offer to help; this week we had someone making a bug home for a friend who loves looking for bugs and animals. Other children offer to help with sawing - or collecting silver birch twigs to help feed the fire.  A great couple of sessions with new learning and time to for the children to reflect on themselves in the classroom, as well as outdoors.

Caution - photos showing lots of Forest School fun!

Curie Class had their first Forest School session of the year this week - and they were very excited!  After a quick recap of how to stay safe (they remembered all the rules!), they were off to explore.  Some went off to the pond, whilst others were keen to search for mini beasts.  Culinary delights were cooked up in the mud kitchen, shelters were built and trees were climbed.  Every child was occupied throughout the afternoon, smiles were in abundance and and there was a lovely sense of teamwork.  Firelighting was popular, with some finding it easy to make sparks - but not to catch the cottonwool.  However, other children would go over and offer help.  There was so much perseverance and resilience demonstrated and, hopefully, this will be transferred back into the classroom.

At snack time, we all came together to chat over our seasonal snack and to design a menu for the upcoming weeks!  Looking forward to next week already!!

Springtime!

We had a lovely session back at Forest School, looking at the changes to the site - both natural and man-made!  We have a new canopy up over our fire and seating area - after the last one collapsed under the snow.  We also have an amazing new pond area which is almost finished thanks to Dave Golding and his family.

Many children made use of the pond area - searching for frogs and tadpoles. Others enjoyed planting seeds, playing on the rope swing and using a flint and steel to make fires.

Signs of Spring!

Despite the cold, the children managed to get stuck in at Forest School this week.  We talked about signs of Spring and seasonal changes that we had already noticed or will be expecting to see - as the weather warms up!  

Some of the children used a range of skills with different tools to create wooden snails - from sawing to hammering and drilling.  Others chose to decorate tins and plant tomato seeds to take home and grow.  It was also the perfect weather (windy!!) to make flags and use natural paintbrushes to decorate them.

In between all of that, we managed to bring the children back to the fireplace to get warm with some hot soup and fresh bread!

'It's just great to be free!'

It was our last Hawking Forest School today (Easter Service next week), and so we finished our session by reflecting on what they have enjoyed about their time outdoors.  It was so lovely - after watching and observing them outside during the term - to hear what they had to say.  We as adults felt that they had grown in confidence, become more independent and creative, worked better as a team and had started to use more initiative.  This is what they had to say; 'I like being creative and making things'; 'I like coming together as a group and eating new food'; 'I like being able to play with my friends'; 'I like being able to play and be imaginative in the mud kitchen'; 'It's just great to be free!'  

Hopefully the children will take some of the skills that they have acquired at Forest School and apply them to other areas.

Fun in the sun

After the recent cold and wet weather, it was lovely to have a warm, sunny afternoon at Forest School.  The children went their different ways, enjoying the particularly muddy Mud Kitchen (!), whittling, creating dragons and make Elder pencils.  We even had our very own viewing of the Falcons when they 'dropped in' to a field nearby!

It has been lovely to see the children develop over the term and becoming increasingly creative and confident in all that they do.

The Ice Age

The temperature outside felt like the Ice Age...and then the children found dinosaur footprints along with a nest of giant frozen eggs!  After a chat around the campfire about how to free the dinosaurs from the eggs, we had some great ideas and set to it; one egg was 'melted' in the pan on the fire (not straight on the fire because the water would put the fire out!), one egg had salt poured onto it and 2 others were broken open with mallets!  

Due to the cold, the children were encouraged to keep moving and exploring and were called back to the fire several times for hot chocolate, toast, baked beans and moving songs to try and keep warm.

Nightingale Explorers

The Nightingales had fun searching the site for animal footprints and ticking them off their sheet; it was a great activity to get them moving, keeping warm and looking around at changes that had taken place since December.  

The children loved making bark owls and bird feeders that we have put up around the site to mark the RSPB Bird watch; we will enjoy checking them and using our senses to help listen and look for birds over the coming weeks.

The apple-peeler-corer-slicing machine was a hit with the children, and they went on to prepare a delicious apple crumble that we cooked in the Dutch Oven over the fire; mmmmmm!!!

Forest School Fun!

Hawkings Class have been enjoying exploring the Forest School site; bug hunting, pond clearing - and then dipping, using a flint and steel to start small fires, helping to prepare food for the campfire, using loppers, sawing and whittling and having fun in the mud kitchen.  Each week, the children have gone off and have been absorbed in their various activities; working together, persevering and having fun.  We have enjoyed each week and look forward to the rest of the term with them!

Festive Forest School

The last few weeks of Forest School were very busy, with many of the children choosing to create a variety of natural Christmas crafts.  We had tree cookie ornaments being sawn, snowmen being built, reindeer being created and santa sticks being whittled.  Some of the children hadn't used the tools before, so it was lovely to see them gain confidence as they learned a new skill.  

Other children that had been interested in using a flint and steel to start a small shell fire, learned to make natural firelighters using wax, sawdust and egg boxes; they then used these to create a larger fire in a fire bowl.  

The children have been trying lots of different food to warm them up on the colder afternoons - from crumpets to quesadillas (which were very popular!!) and good old hot chocolate!

We hope the children have enjoyed their term of Forest School; we will be welcoming back Nightingales on Mondays after Christmas and it will be the turn of Hawkings Class on Tuesdays.

Learning new skills...

We've had a great first week back at Forest School with Nightingales and Kennedy Class.  Many of the children were keen to have a go at whittling using a knife.  We showed them how to use a knife safely, and watched them carefully as they whittled sticks to make a point.  Some children turned their sticks into a witch by adding eyes and a nose and colouring the point black.  However, many of the Kennedy class were keen to make spears!!

We came together around the fire this week to have Jiffy Pop from Canada and hot chocolate - followed by a song!

Invaluable help

The parent helpers that come out to Forest School on a weekly basis, rain or shine, are absolutely invaluable.  They are full of enthusiasm and immerse themselves in all activities.  It would be impossible to have our sessions without these wonderful people; thank you Mrs Blake, Mr Wright, Miss Glennister, Mrs Shipway, Mrs Wright, Mr Roberts and Mrs Gidlow!

Dingle Dangle Scarecrow

We sang a different scarecrow song to the one that Nightingales sang in church last week, and then the children had the opportunity to make their very own scarecrow to take home for the garden.

Some children enjoyed getting their hands inside a pumpkin and talking about how it felt.  They scooped out the seeds and then safely used some tools to carve a face!

They enjoyed building, playing, climbing and helping to prepare apple fritters by using the special 'apple machine!'  It was a lovely season before the half term break.

Achievements

We had so many achievements at Forest school today. It was lovely to wander through Forest School and hear the children talking to each other about what they were doing and being eager to share their discoveries.  A few drainpipes and some water, and the children talked about creating 'rivers of water'...on further questioning, they were talking about how all rivers led to the sea, and this was being recreated in the mud.  When others came over to find out what was happening, they were encouraged to join in and help; some real teamwork!  This teamwork was everywhere you went - from building dens and camouflaging together to searching for frogs (8 found today!) in our newly opened pond!

We saw so many children overcome obstacles; persevering and succeeding.  Whether it was 'sticking at' a task - using a palm drill to drill holes in conkers - or using a flint and steel to light a fire for the first time.  A great afternoon!!

Hapa Zome

Sometimes you get to Forest School and you know exactly what you're going to do; today was one of this days!  It was a little windy today - the perfect conditions to make a flag!  The children found leaves and did some Hapa Zome (leaf bashing!) to make patterns on material, and then fixed it to a stick to make a flag!

Making, playing and exploring

It was a hive of activity on 26th September with Kennedy class in Forest School; every child was absorbed in an activity during every minute of their time there.  Whether it was working together to build a den, hanging out together in a tree, sawing and drilling to make a car, baking a cake in the mud kitchen, trying to keep a fire going - or just chilling out and chatting during snack time; it was all happening!

Story stones

We started off on the 25th September with some storytelling around the campfire.  The children then went off to search for story stones that the older children had painted and hidden around the site.  If they found one, they could then go off and hide it somewhere else for someone else to find.  

Plenty of sawing again this week, as well as looking at the seasonal changes happening around us.

Kennedy in the woods

What a beautiful, sunny afternoon we had for our first Forest School with Class Kennedy!  It was lovely to see how excited they were to get outdoors and hear about what they were keen to do today!!

After a chat around the fire about how we can keep ourselves and each other safe at Forest School, the children went off to hide their story rocks (made in class last week) and then went off to explore.  Every child was absorbed in an activity within seconds - whether it was climbing a tree, making a den, swinging around, starting a fire, blowing bubbles, identifying plants or making a tree cookie.  We even had a mud cake made for a birthday boy!!!  It was great to see the children working together, trying new things, persevering and succeeding.  After hearing, "I can't do this; I can't light a fire.  I couldn't last year either!'...we finally heard, 'I did it!!!'

We had a lovely snack together; campfire pancakes and apples picked from our very own tree.  We are already looking forward to next week!!

Exploring forest school

We had a lovely afternoon at Forest School.  Beforehand, some of the children had been excited and others had been a little wary - but by 3 o'clock everyone was smiling, having enjoyed their afternoon.

After a chat around the fire, the children went off to explore...some climbed trees, others tried their hand at starting small shell fires with a flint and steel, they played in the mud kitchen, went on the swing or had a go at cutting a tree cookie with a bow saw.

At the end of the afternoon, we all came together around the fire to roast marshmallows - at their request - and make s'mores!

Fab first Forest School session with Class 4

We had every type of weather this afternoon; sun, rain, hail and even some snow!!

The children embraced their time out at Forest School; they built dens, went pond dipping, dug holes, started fires, sawed tree cookies, did some natural weaving, made different Elder creations, learned to lash, toasted marshmallows and attempted to put up a hammock!!  There was so much teamwork, co-operation, discovery and perseverance naturally happening - it was lovely to see!  

Same again next week!!

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

It has been a pleasure to have Class 3 at Forest School so far this year; to watch them learn, grow in confidence, solve problems together and come up with new ideas from week to week.

Every week, they go off in separate ways, knowing what it is that they want to achieve; whether it is going down to the pond to see if anything has changed, using every bit of rope to create a seat in a tree, building a den with mates, starting small fires or using the tools.  The other week, a small group of children decided to make a zip wire; they found the resources they needed, and worked together to make it. However, they decided that it was too loose.  This week, they used some different knots and a stronger rope - but there was too much friction for anything to slide along!  So much team work, language, communicating and problem solving; I wonder what they'll do next week!!  

Rain, rain go away!

Monday doesn't seem to offer us the best weather - but Class 1 doesn't let that dampen their spirits!  Despite the rain, the mud kitchen kitchen will always need more water for recipes and to play with!!

The children cannot wait to get stuck into activities at Forest School quick enough; whether it is exploring the pond life, producing exciting menus, learning to use tools, having a go at lighting a small fire, making natural paintbrushes and creating pictures, looking for wildlife - or just hanging out for a chat by the fire!

However, on Monday 27th, the rain was playing havoc with our fire and watering our pancake batter down considerably; so, after managing to make a few pancakes, we finished our cooking indoors where the children were able to dry off and eat before their Book Week dance performance.

Welcome back to Forest School!

We had a lovely week back with Class 1.  We went around the site together to see what changes had occurred since last year.  We found and identified two different fungi - which included 'jelly ear' (or 'dead man's ear'!).

There was plenty of fun, team work and perseverance - with some children enjoying the rope swing and others being keen to start a fire with a flint and steel!

Guy Fawkes, broomsticks, tree cookies and lanterns 

Forest School has been a hive of activity over the last few weeks.  We started off by making a Guy for the village bonfire.  We gathered leaves and straw and spent a long time stuffing some old clothes that Mr Atkins had given us.  Those that attended the village bonfire on Friday 4th November will have seen him go up in smoke!

The children have also worked together to make besoms for Halloween...or Nimbus 2000's and Firebolts as the children liked to call them!  It took a lot of time for them to gather the right sticks and then tie them around a branch - but those that wanted to, did it!

Some of the girls made a bow with Mr Roberts this week - and then went off to practise their archery skills; they had a great time.

Meanwhile, a few children chose to use the bow saw and rotary drill to make poppy 'tree cookies' to hang with homemade lanterns on our remembrance tree.

The weeks have been whizzing by with some children making and creating whilst others have been using their imaginations and playing some fantastic games with dens made in trees!

Cutting, sawing, whittling and creating

The children have really settled in to Forest School now.  Once we arrive, we sit around the fire and they remind each other about how we can keep ourselves and each other safe.  Then, they're off!  Some go to the pond to search for our resident frogs whilst others go to make dinner in the mud kitchen.  Climbing trees and taking it in turns on the rope swing are also popular.  However, over the last few weeks, the children have been enjoying learning to use some of the tools safely.  They have used loppers to cut thinner branches, a bow saw to cut a 'tree cookie', palm drills and rotary drills to make holes and knives to whittle sticks.  We have seen the children work together, help each other and persevere when a task becomes difficult. They have made some fantastic creations - from halloween tree cookie faces to Stick Man!

Embracing Autumn

The children are becoming much braver and exploratory at Forest School; from climbing trees to playing in the mud.  We have talked about the seasons and the leaves changing colour, and some of the children have made leaf-print flags.  We learned that sometimes we could make symmetrical patterns - and that when the wind blew the flags, we could work out which way the wind was blowing!

Some of the children have shown great teamwork and patience as they found bits of wood and rope, worked together to tie them up and make a spaceship!  The imaginative play was fantastic and as they landed on the moon we heard, 'Righto lads, we're here!'

Some of the children learned to make mud by pouring water out and mixing it up with the soil; from this, they could make pies and cakes...or with more water, they had a puddle that they could jump in!

We used palm drills to make holes in conkers and threaded them on to string.  Some of the children then started to try and play the game of conkers.

It's no wonder that they are all hungry at snack time!  One week we made pesto pasta which was chosen by one of the year 1's, and another week we did hot dogs.  The fire is always lit and some times the children just like to sit and watch the flames or the food cook, and make observations about what is happening.   

I wonder what the children will get up to next week...

Whittling, chopping and creating

The children have really settled into Forest School and have become very independent in choosing what they want to do.  

After using a lot of willow the previous weeks, the children can now recognise it and talk about why it is good for various jobs.  This week, some of the children whittled the willow, measured and cut it with loppers and then put it in a tin in the fire.  After a short while, we took it out and saw that it had turned into charcoal - perfect for writing and drawing!

After talking about changes in weather and seasons, some of the children chose to help make a bug hotel using straw, leaves and sticks.  We hope that the mini beasts will love snuggling up in there!  One of the children even made a sign using our homemade charcoal.

The children give us ideas of snacks that they would like to make on the fire - one of which was fish n chips!  So, this week, we cooked fish fingers and fried potatoes on the fire - and every morsel was devoured!!

Please sir, can we have s'more?

The Class 1 children are really enjoying coming out to Forest School.  Last week, they said that they wanted to cook marshmallows - but we went one step further and made s'mores.  Before we could do this, we had to find some willow and use the loppers to cut it.  We talked about willow being a green wood - which doesn't burn as easily - and is, therefore, perfect for roasting marshmallows.  Once it was cut, the children stripped the leaves off it and we whittled the ends.

Foraging, firelighting and fun!

We've had a fab couple of weeks out at Forest School with the Class 2 children really getting stuck in.  

During the first week, the children had the chance to explore and see how the site had changed since they were last there.  They played on the new slackline, went pond dipping (and met one of our resident frogs), make a range of culinary delights in the mud kitchen and - generally - had fun!

We came together around the fire to cook and eat drop scones - which we served with freshly picked blackberries.

This week, lots of the children were keen to make bows and arrows.  They learned to identify willow by the colour of the branches and the leaves, and they cut some using loppers.  There was a lot of teamwork and problem solving with this activity.

Other children chose to build a den or have a go at getting a spark using a flint and steel.  Some also made leaf prints on flags, and we saw how the wind blew them.

Cooking and eating s'mores proved hugely popular!!

If  you go out in the forest today...

...you'll find lots of children building, digging, playing, exploring and having fun!

We had our first Forest School session with Class 1 today.  After looking around and talking about how to keep ourselves and each other safe at Forest School, the children set to with playing together and learning new skills.  The pulley system was popular - as was the mud kitchen and slackline.  Some children even had a go at making their own miniature fire in a shell using a flint and steel!

We came together at the end for toasted bagels and to talk about the types food that they would like to cook on the fire over the next few weeks - from marshmallows to pesto pasta and steak!!

The big cookout!

The Year 5's had a fab last session with so much happening.  Some children chose to take part in a den competition which we judged at the end.  They had specific criteria that their shelter had to meet!

Meanwhile, the children were cooking their own toast this week.  However, one group of boys decided to start their own fire in the fire basket and cook breakfast! They were given the ingredients and went on to prepare and cook scrambled egg, beans and toast...we were VERY impressed!!

It has been great to have the Year 5's at Forest School - and they seem to have enjoyed their time in the great outdoors.

Sun, rain, hail, wind - but lots of smiles

This week we had a range of weathers thrown at us at Forest School - from sun to wind, rain and hail!  Lots of children chose to build shelters - which later proved even more fun when the wind got up and the children jumped on top of them!

Some children chose to make mini beasts using clay; all of the children remembered that insects have a head, thorax and abdomen!  We also talked about numbers of legs; insects having 6 and spiders having 8.

The pond was as popular as ever, with the children keen to see that the frogspawn they found last week had now hatched - and we have tadpoles swimming around!

Despite the weather, we had 'campfire ice cream' for snack - and popcorn!

So much happening

The children are loving coming out to Forest School.  This week, the pond was very popular; we discovered that the the frogspawn had hatched and we now have tadpoles swimming around!  Our resident frog caused much excitement with the children spotting it and then being keen to try and catch it...most of the time, it was just too quick - but it caused a lot of fun and laughter!

Many of the children are keen to use tools to make things; we had lots of tree cookies being made and designed using homemade charcoal.  Others preferred to whittle - and we did have a Harry Potter-esque wand created!  

The children played, created, worked together, persevered (when using a palm drill to create a hole!) and solved problems...phew!

Year 5's turn!

Year 5 came out to Forest School for their first session this week.  Once they'd had a tour and talked about how we need to look after ourselves outdoors, they all went off to different activities.  They built dens, put up a rope swing, made mud cakes in the mud kitchen, decorated themselves with 'war paint', went pond dipping (and found a frog) and made charcoal.  Many were keen to learn how to use the tools safely, and we had whittling going on to create pegs for dens as well as some tree cookies being made.

At snack, we had the traditional s'mores - which seemed to be rather popular!  In the coming weeks they would like to cook burgers and bacon sandwiches!

Springtime at Forest School

Class 1 have enjoyed coming back to Forest School - spotting leaves as they start to appear on trees and flowers that are beginning to bloom.  They have been learning a lot about animal and plant cycles in class so we have planted our potatoes, herbs, peas and some flowers to attract butterflies.  We are hoping to release some butterflies into the site soon as some of our caterpillars in the classroom have started to build their chrysalis.

Some of the children made insects and spiders using pebbles, sticks and mud, whilst others made nettle soup and miniature gardens.  Down at the pond, we spotted frogspawn and a bloodworm.  To fit in with our theme, we cooked 'butterfly' pasta on the campfire!

Den Building

We had such fun building dens with the children on Tuesday.  They all had different ideas for what they wanted to do - and so many problems cropped up that needed solving; how can we make the sticks stand up? How can we make it waterproof?  

Some of the children had a great idea of putting pebbles around the bottom of their den '...to make it stronger and keep the wolf out'!

We cooked popcorn on the fire and the children were able to invite friends to join them in their houses for a snack.  Whilst they were eating, some of the dens received a visit from the 'big bad wolf'.  When the wolf asked, 'Little pig, little pig may I come in?', the children replied, 'Not by the hair on our chin-chin-chins - we will not let you in!'

Problem solving, moving equipment around safely, team building, communication and imagination; just some of the skills used by the children at this session.

Mud Castles

Following on from the 3 Little Pigs theme, Class 1 were keen to carry on with building houses outside; in particular, they asked to make mud castles - so we brought buckets, spades and sun to Forest School!!  The children had great fun experimenting with mud and water.

It wasn't just the fire that was roaring...

Class 1 have been leading their learning outside at Forest School.  On seeing trowels and spades, they chose to be archaeologists and dig for dinosaur bones and fossils. Using pebbles and sticks, they were palaeontologists - putting stick skeletons and dinosaur footprints together.

One week, they discovered a nest with dinosaur eggs and worked together to break them open using various tools...of course some children explored the idea of trying to melt the ice by placing an egg in a saucepan and sitting it on the fire.

They have printed dinosaur footprints in clay to make into medallions, drawn dinosaurs with homemade charcoal and made dinosaurs from mud and sticks.  Of course, all of this hunting, creating, scientific and imaginative work left the children hungry so we cooked cinnamon whirls in oranges on the fire - mmmmmm!!

So many skills

Stick Man and Sticky Marshmallows!

It was chilly start to the year and the children were glad of the warmth of the fire and their roasted Marshmallow snack!

Many of the children had seen the animation of Stick man on Christmas Day, so we had a go at making our own 'Stick Family'.  Those that chose to, searched for an appropriate stick, whittled a face, tied arms on (a bit fiddly!) and drew a face using our home-made charcoal.

Other children played imaginatively in the stick den, explored for bugs - and sticks (!) using the ID sheets, and generally had fun!

I think some of the children are hoping to dig for dinosaurs at some point over then next few weeks, as they have been talking about this in class...I wonder what they will find!

 

Making charcoal

Class 1 came to Forest School and quickly disappeared with their own agendas.  Some children went to the pond area to search for creatures - and they weren't disappointed. At one point, a frog hopped out of the pond and sat with them on the pallets!  

Other children came to help with the fire, and were keen to help make some kindling. We started the fire early today as we wanted to heat it up for making baked apples - and to also make some charcoal.  To make the charcoal, the children peeled the bark off some willow, then they cut the willow so that it would fit in the tin and then they watched it in the fire.  When the tin stopped smoking, we took it out and put it to one side to cool.  Once it was ready, we opened it up and had real pieces of charcoal that the children took off to draw and write with!

The children stuffed some apples with marshmallow and raisins and then wrapped them in foil.  After baking them in the fire, the children noticed that the marshmallow had melted.  Some of the children enjoyed their snack so much, that they had seconds...and thirds!

 

He's got terrible tusks  and terrible claws and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws...

The children had lots of fun searching for the Gruffalo characters at Forest School last week.  Once they'd found them all, they used the masks in their own play and were inspired to make mice, snakes and Gruffalo's out of clay and natural materials.  They explored with the bug kits and some visited the frogs in the pond.

At snack time, we made batter and cooked pancakes over the fire.  Then, the children decorated them to look like the Gruffalo!

 

The footsteps...

On entering Forest School today, Class 1 found some footsteps...who had been here? They all decided that the footsteps belonged to The Gruffalo - and so began the great Gruffalo hunt.  The children discovered a log pile house - where the snake MUST live, and then someone found some 'snake skin', 'a poisonous wart', 'Gruffalo skin' and a 'black tongue'!

Alongside their imaginative play, several children created leaf pictures inspired by the book, 'Leaf Man'.  There was team work and turn taking with the rope ladder and rope swings.

The afternoon ended with the children roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, whilst chatting about what they had enjoyed.

Forest School Fun!

Today was a fun-packed session with plenty of building, exploring and problem solving.  A group of children went from wanting to build a swing to creating a winch to help them climb a tree - and then they moved on to make a rope ladder!  Plenty of children enjoyed pond dipping and several frogs were seen!  We picked apples from the orchard which the children mixed with honey, raisins and marshmallow and cooked over the fire in foil pouches.  Apple scented play dough was also enjoyed with some children creating faces on trees and others making nature heads.  Phew - I'm sure they'll all sleep well tonight!

Cheers!

It was another wet day at Forest School - but it didn't stop the children from having fun!  They made a rope swing, they made LOTS of mud cakes and some went bug hunting.  When the rain came down, we went into our shelter and relaxed with a hot chocolate and a biscuit!

Mud-tastic!

It was a wet day and the Year 2's loved adding an extension to our group shelter; then they had great fun making a squelchy mud bog underneath!

Mrs Shipway very kindly brought in an apple press and several children made apple juice whilst others collected windfalls from the story garden.  Next week, the children want to cook with these over the fire.

Some children hollowed out Elder twigs with a palm drill to make beads, that they then made into necklaces.

After a busy afternoon, we all came together to have fresh apple juice, hot chocolate and a well deserved biscuit!

Forest School

The Class 1 children had great fun on their first Forest School Day.