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Holly Group

Week 9

A beautiful, bright (but very chilly) morning greeted Holly Group for their final session in the woods. Many of us were wearing Pudsey ears for Children In Need Day and our Little Larch friends had left us some toasting forks wrapped with a spotty band. We also found some tree cookies that the children were able to make into a memento of their time at Forest School. 

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The first task of the day involved everybody gathering fuel before a group of children were given the responsibility of lighting the fire.
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Making souvenirs

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The boys put the finishing touches to their secret hideaway whilst others enjoyed simply 'hanging' around in the woods!
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Babes in the wood

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After a busy morning, we all enjoyed delicious toasted marshmallows and a picnic lunch around the camp fire.



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It has been a pleasure to work with  the children in Holly Group and I look forward to welcoming them into the woods again next year. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Robin (Ms Starkey) and our wonderful parent volunteers who have helped Holly Group this year: Catkin (Katy Green) and Frosty (Mrs Frost) for their continued support of Forest School- we really couldn't do it without you. Thank you.

Week 8

A wonderful surprise this week:  Mrs Tompsett (aka Dormouse) joined us for our Forest School session! It was lovely to see her again and we all enjoyed chatting to her as we made our way to the woods.


On arriving at the woods we found that our Little Friends had been so impressed with our perseverance over the last few weeks that they had left us a book about Walter, the spider, who tries very hard to spin the perfect web. Can you guess what our challenge was this week?

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Web wonders

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 Some of the children were keen to practise their fire lighting skills in preparation for our  camp fire next week. They showed great resilience because it is not easy to light a fire with a flint and steel. The smiles show how thrilled they were when they finally achieved success!

Fairy fires

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Several children attempted to make a natural shelter... but it was hard work. Luckily, they were able to relax by having a snooze in a hammock.
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Time for a nap

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Bracken and Robin also enjoyed 40 winks!

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Week 7

After 2 weeks absence from the wood, Bracken was not confident that the 'squirrels' from Holly group would remember where they had hidden their acorns. However, she was wrong! Several children were able to locate their secret stashes although the woodland animals and bird had discovered many of the hidden acorns - an extra tasty treat for them.


We were able to enjoy our own tasty treat  as we feasted on toasted chestnuts.

The first job was to slit the sweet chestnuts to ensure that they didn't explode when we roasted them over the fire. Meanwhile, the children who had worked very hard gathering firewood at our last session were given the task of preparing the camp fire with Catkin. 

Preparing the sweet chestnuts

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Fire making

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Once the fire was ready we were able to toast the sweet chestnuts.

They only took a few minutes to cook.

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Tasting time!

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Most of the children tried the sweet chestnuts. They seemed  popular with the boys who decided that they would take some for emergency rations in the mine that they have been busy excavating! 

Supporting beam for the mine shaft.

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The children all worked very hard and also made time for some creative play activities.

Craft activities

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A fairy home.

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Muddy fun!

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Week 6

This week our theme was 'Harvest' and we considered the ways the trees and animals prepare for winter. We thought about the squirrels and jays busy collecting food and wondered if we would survive the winter if we were squirrels! Everybody gathered 5 acorns and  marked them with their initials before hiding them around the wood. Our challenge is to remember where we hid them for next time. Everybody is hoping that the woodland birds and animals won't find their secret stash!


We also spent time gathering firewood and sweet chestnuts for our special woodland harvest. We are looking forward to roasting them over the campfire after half term.

Nature's harvest

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Nature's harvest 2 Searching for sweet chestnuts
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Picture 1 Working out how to shell a sweet chestnut
Picture 2 The shelling station!

Gathering firewood for our log store

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Acorn and leaf art

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We missed you Bracken!

Week 5

Bracken is on the residential this week so both groups came together  for their Forest School session this week. We welcomed Miss Glewis who was set the challenge of coming up with her Forest School name. She was given various suggestions including: Blue tit, Tree, Bark, Bluebell and Stump!!! I can now announce that she has decided on.....Acorn! Thank you for the suggestion, Eva.

We read the book, 'NOT A STICK' and then spent some time looking for our own not a sticks. There were rollercoasters, fairy trees, llamas, drills, sledgehammers, fishing rods and paint brushes.


We had a great game of Vanish. How close could you hide to the seeker without being discovered?

There were lots of opportunities to play. Holly Group was keen to continue excavating their mine and they let Oak Group help them make improvements such as making a fence.

Some children dabbled in a little 'Leaf Art' and others made alterations to the see-saw.

We discussed the concept of LEAVE NO TRACE and scoured the camp for discarded string.

Week 4

Today's challenge was to create an art gallery in the woods for the Sneezy Dragon. The children responded to this in many different ways:some chose to draw pictures, others created sculptures out of mud and natural materials whilst others made jewellery items for exhibiting.

Week 3

We took extra care as we entered the woods today. Rain had made the Troll Bridge very slippery. We did not want to fall into the muddy ditch and risk waking the trolls!

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Our first task was to gather firewood. We all worked very hard. Would we be able to gather enough dry kindling to get a fire going in this wet weather?
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The warm, wet weather had encouraged the growth of many different types of fungi.
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A group of children worked with Catkin to get a fire going whilst others decided it might be a good idea to put up a shelter as it started to rain again. Despite the rain, the children were able to get a fire going so we were all able to enjoy smores at snack time!

Survival skills-fire and shelter!

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Meanwhile the rain had not dampened the enthusiasm of other members of the group. Instead they embraced the opportunity to play in the mud!

Mud larks

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A brief dry spell enabled some children to use tools to create interesting craft pieces.
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Week 2


We started our activities this week with a team challenge. Could the children work together to move tennis balls around the edge of a tarp without any falling off? The children soon realised that they needed to communicate with one another calmly and watch carefully so they could take action to avoid losing the balls!

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Tarp Challenge

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After improving their listening and communication skills, Holly Group worked together to learn how to tie some useful knots. It was great to see how they all helped and supported one another.

Knot Skills

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The children then chose their activities for the morning. These included:practising fire lighting skills, craft activities, constructing shelters  (for our Little Friends as well as ourselves) and having fun on a see-saw.

Fire lighting

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Shelter building

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See-saw fun

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Craft activities

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Week 1

The children were excited to be back in the woods - this time their base for the next 9 weeks will be Larch Camp.

After reminding ourselves about how to keep safe in the woods and look after our environment, we set off to explore our new camp. We made journey sticks as a memento of some of the things we discovered on our walk.

Journey sticks

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The children were keen to play one of their favourite Forest School games - Vanish. They  have certainly perfected their hiding skills. Can you spot anybody under the coats and bags?!

1,2, 3 I'm coming!

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We finished the session by surprising our wonderful helpers with a little gift to say 'Thank you' for all the time they devote to Forest School. Watch out for them in their new hoodies. I wonder who has chosen the best colour for camouflage in the woods when playing Vanish?

Hug a hoodie!

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REMEMBER - Those of you who bring a leaf from a tree NOT found in our wood (sweet chestnut, oak, silver birch, hazel, willow, holly and beech) will be entitled to an extra marshmallow!!!!

November 18th - Session 8

We raced through our agreement cards today. Every child contributed and was able to give a reason why we needed to agree to this at Forest School. For example:

 - We don't touch fungi because it could be poisonous. We should leave it so it can  do its job for nature.

 - We don't move around with our hands in our pockets because if we fell over our head would be the first thing to hit the floor.

Great use of connectives!

The children were set an ID challenge this week. There were 5 leafless trees by the message stump and the children had to turn them back into 5 different trees. THey worked together to make:

An oak tree, a sweet chestnut tree, a beech tree, a hazel tree and.......who can remember the last tree?

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The children are very keen to have a fire. We discussed the 3 things necessary for a fire to burn - HEAT. OXYGEN an FUEL.. I made heat with the sneezy dragon (fire steels) and the woods provided lots of lovely fresh air full of oxygen - the children were set the challenge to find fuel so that we could dry int out in readiness for our final session.

A group went off with squirrel to find string thin larch will will work as excellent tinder to start the fire, the remainder of the group went on the hunt for fuel to feed to our fire. They organised the wood into piles - finger thick sticks that needed to pass the snap test through to logs as thick as their arms. We witnessed excellent teamwork and problem solving skills when they found fallen branches that needed breaking up.

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The children showed real team spirit in their approach to their challenges. They are calmer and more focused and much more independent and adventurous. They had a good deal of time to choose their own activities. I brought the trowels (but only 3) and the children took it in turns to dig and explore what lies beneath our forest floor - they were fascinated by the changing texture the deeper they got. I had brought some fungi and leaf ID sheets and the children used them to decipher the vast array of fungi that has appeared over the last month. We were also lucky enough to be joined by 'Puffball' (Mr Pickles) who is a fungi forager and enthusiast. Amongst the fungi discovered were: Amethyst deceiver, Stinkhorn, Honey fungus, Candlesnuff and
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November 11th - Session 7

It was great to be back in the woods on a glorious Autumn day and what a difference!

"A flood of leaves" had swamped our little village and some hungry squirrels had enjoyed a feast atop the seats in the Chestnut circle. I set Holly Group  a challenge which was achieved with NO help from the adults. The children had asked me to bring clay so they could make farm animals for their farm but the farm had been consumed by sweet chestnuts leaves so they adapted their plans.. We talked about how the soil in this area is clay and they are very keen to dig down and explore next week - will they prove me right or wrong?? 

Holly group showed initiative, independence and ingenuity in the woods today.They ventured further, observed more closely and showed greater levels of respect for the environment and each other. Thank you Holly Group, it was a pleasure being in the woods with you!


I have set you all the challenge to bring in an interesting leaf to share with the group next week. I chose mine from this leaf rainbow my daughter made...


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Pictures taken by Sam

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November 4th 2016 - Session 6

This week, Holly group worked with Elder group as Foxglove was not very well. Please click on Elder group to see photos of this week's session.

Picture 1 Get well soon Foxglove!


I am adding a new tree to this quiz each day this week.

Can you identify them all?

Do you know anything else about these trees?

Which is your favourite and why?

Which is the odd one out and why?

October 7th 2016 - Session 4

The children started by bringing something to the circle that they found interesting. On first glance it was a selection of sticks, leaves and sweet chestnuts but Holly Group's imagination and knowledge brought far more: interest,creativity and a sense o awe and wonder for their surroundings. We were showed sticks that were useful for hooking things, pleasing to hold, helpful for walking. Oak leaves, elder leaves, sweet chestnut leaves, leaves that were not really leaves but musical instruments. Their contributions were authentic and thought-provoking and this week everybody felt happy to share and their voice could be heard by all.

They then were able to choose whether to work on some of the group projects: building the dragon's nest, adding a weatherproofing layer of bracken to Holly House, collecting resources for our maths lessons or creating homes for their own Little Chestnut friends.

We finished with a silent spot and Holly Group were much more able to enjoy some time to reflect on their session or simply enjoy the sounds or their beautiful environment.


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September 29th 2016 - Session 3

This week started the session with Silent Spot. A chance to have a special time in the woods; a time to explore our thoughts and appreciate our woodland setting.

The target was to be: Sitting, Separate, Silent and Still. 

We had greatly improved on last week and most of them were able to experience the woodland sounds. Fox heard branches tapping against each other, Catkin heard autumn leaves falling from the trees and some of the children were sure that they saw or heard one of our little chestnut friends.

We found a magical hazel rainbow that led the way to the Sneezy Dragon's Kingdom. He had blown his nest to pieces with an extra large sneeze! The children worked together to create a new nest for him. It was fascinating watching the children negotiate, co-operate. Some children were not keen to participate and invented their own games in the vicinity. A core group stuck with the task and Cody was nominated 'Master nest builder' in order to get the nest finished for a game. His helpers had to listen and take directions. They did a super job.

Each child has a home in the woods. A special tree they have chosen to get to know and to look after the Little Chestnut friends that live there. Libby's tree has a doorbell, Eva's has fairy nest, Charlie E's has a very comfortable, mossy seat for him to seat.

We had plenty of time to play today and many of the children wanted to make bows and arrows where they had to consider how to attach the string and work on their dexterity. Kyra-Bella decided that my Mr Sweet Chestnut needed some clothes so she made him a very fetching kilt - thank you Kyra-Bella!

Finally, we played a game of Dragon Aid - the children had to creep up to the Dragon's nest and deposit food  (sweet chestnuts) to help him get better. They had to be VERY quiet of the dragon (Catkin) might wake up, sneeze & blow them all back to the start!!

To reflect, we all chose an item from the woods that symbolised our experiences of the session. Sam chose his bow - he was proud of it, his friend had helped him and he hadn't given up when the string fell off - pride, friendship and that's some bow!

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September 22nd 2016 - Session 2

Today the weather was a lot kinder to us. The woods were dappled with sunshine and Holly Group's smiles were not hidden under their rain hoods!

They discovered a present on the Message Stump....the 'Chestnut Chat Stick' a present from the Little Chestnut Friends to help us respect one another's thoughts and feelings. We practised taking turns and listening in the Chestnut Circle. It also helped the group to identify features of a Sweet Chestnut tree.

The children worked together to discover this week's rainbow ring. Some of the bows were easy to discover but other's were a lot trickier so the children realised they had to work together to achieve the goal. Then they collected woodland sounds and their thoughts in a silent spot.  

Did anybody notice what species of tree their boundary bow was tied to?

The children then were able to choose what they wanted to do:  an army patrolling the camp "To protect our little Forest Friends"; shelter building from natural resources; several fairy houses (one complete with a clock); finding thrones in the Chestnut stools; close observation of their natural environment and interest in what one another had discovered, invented or created.

We tried to create a rainbow from colourful resources and reflected upon what colours were trickier to find.

I challenged you all to carry the resources all the way back to school....Did you manage it??



September 16th 2016 - Session 1

We discovered Chestnut Camp our Forest School home for the next NINE weeks.

After weeks of glorious weather, the heavens finally opened and the woods were alive with the sound of a raindrop orchestra. Not a single child complained about the weather. 

Please ensure that your children are properly equipped for Forest School and that their uniform is in a SEPARATE bag to change into once they get back to school.

We spent a considerable amount of time going through the ground rules this week to ensure all the children feel safe in the woods and familiarised ourselves with the environment.

We thought about how we will look after ourselves, each other and the natural environment.

We found the rainbow boundary bows and created a magical rainbow ring in which to play.

We played a game of 1,2,3 Where are you? and enjoyed a snack and a story in the Chestnut Circle. 

We collected sounds of the wood and a small keepsake to remind of us of our first session.

Next week, we will be exploring our environment and the flora & fauna that live there and developing the theme of HOMES.

We are also going to try and remember not to step on the Chestnut Circle's tablecloth by STEPPING OUT & NOT ACROSS IT!



Reception Sessions
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Working together and having lots of fun. Thank you very much to our buddies from Oak group who looked after us so well. We will miss you next year but wish you lots of luck and every success in your new schools.
Picture 1 We are ready...
Picture 2 and can't wait to go to the woods!
Holly group had a fantastic time with their Year 6 buddies.
Picture 1 A boundary bow.
Picture 2 Marking out our boundaries.
Picture 3 See saw fun.
Picture 4 Are we balanced?
Picture 5 Oops!
Picture 6 Can you see me?
Picture 7 They won't spot us here-if we keep still & quiet!
Picture 8 Muddy fun!
Picture 9 Chocolate brownie anyone?
Picture 10 Building a home for our Little Friends.
Picture 11 Necklace making.
Picture 12 Do you like my larch cone necklace?
Picture 13 Snack time.
Picture 14 Forest School is thirsty work.
Picture 15 Yum!
After putting out the 'boundary bows' the children were free to play in the woods before enjoying snack time together. They are now looking forward to spending time in the woods with their Year 6 buddies!
Picture 1 1,2, 3, where are you Foxglove and Bracken?!
Picture 2 Welcome to base camp.
Picture 3 Exploring.
Picture 4 Look!
Picture 5 I wonder who lives here?
Picture 6 Exciting discoveries-a mossy twig.
Picture 7 Colourful fungus.
Picture 8 A larch cone.
Picture 9 A message -what does it mean?
Holly group walked through the 'swishy swashy' grass and eagerly waited at the entrance of the wood for Foxglove and Bracken. After a quick chat around the fire circle we all set off to explore the beautiful woodland. Lots of exciting discoveries were made.