Our final session in the woods today focused on the children's interest in mini- beasts and creating items using natural materials.
We looked at a variety of mini- beasts and discussed their different characteristics.
The children were then given the challenge of creating a mini- beast out of natural materials. There were many weird and wonderful creations!
Children then continued their own hunt for real mini-beasts and created bug hotels whilst others devoted their time to making dream catchers and creating puppets for a very special puppet show about 'Sticky Dave'!
The mini-beast explorers (and hoteliers!)
The dream Team
The Puppeteers/ Set design and prop making
The 'Sticky Dave' crew
Well done to the Sticky Dave crew, our after- dinner entertainers! Just what we needed after enjoying our toasted sandwiches.
There was a real sense of purpose in the woods today as the children realised their Forest School sessions would be coming to an end soon. Inspired by last week's creations of puppets and dream catchers, several children decided to get creative in the craft area so they would have a souvenir of their time spent in the woods to take home with them.
It was time for the final group of children to make their dampers. By now, we were hopeful that we had perfected our recipe and cooking technique. However, by the look on some of the children's faces we may still need more practice.
Cordon bleu camp cooking?!
Many of the children decided to explore the woodland habitat in more detail and went off in search of mini-beasts.Using sweep nets, pooters and great observation skills they discovered many interesting bugs and beasties.
We were particularly excited to find a glow-worm-actually a beetle! Glow-worms are relatives of tropical fire flies and take their name from the female which emits a yellowish glow from the underside of her abdomen. During the day the wingless females hide from predators, but at night they crawl on to vegetation to display their light to attract males.
(The light is produced by cells that use oxygen, water and an enzyme to form the light emitting substance. This light is enhanced by a layer of reflector cells. In the early evening the glow is yellowy-green but changes to a brighter yellow after dark.)
The male has excellent sight and unlike the female, is able to fly to reach her. Bracken thinks that this is either a female glow-worm or the larval form of the adult beetle. Thanks to Kirsty Farrington for taking this photo for us.
We finished our morning with smores around the camp fire. Thanks to our whittlers who made the toasting forks this week.
Whittlers at work
Next week will be the final session for Larch Group, until next year, so we are inviting the children to enjoy lunch in the woods with us.
Don't forget your sandwich wrapped in foil if you would like it toasted over the fire!
Beautiful, warm, sunny weather greeted us this week which made everybody smile-even Batty!
The craft area was busy and problem solving and ingenuity were in evidence as some children worked hard to create a string puppet from hollowed out elder stems.
Puppet on a string
Another group of children were able to make dampers this week. They had to read the recipe carefully; ensure they added just the right amount of water (to make a dough that was not too sticky or to dry); whittle a toasting fork; and have lots of patience to ensure their damper was cooked perfectly. They taste better than they look!
Making the dough
Using knives safely to whittle the toasting forks
Dough ready for toasting
Some children practised their fire lighting skills in readiness for next week when they are hoping to toast marshmallows for smores around the camp fire!
Fire lighting practice
Fun in the sun
This week we were joined by Elder group and had great fun exploring the woods together. Larch group introduced our visitors to some great hiding places for games of 1,2, 3 ! Where are you? and Vanish. Together, they worked to build on to our existing camps as well as enjoying craft and cookery activities.
Craft activities with Batty and Bumble Bee
Making very soggy dampers in the rain!
Whittling the toasting fork
Mixing the dough
We finished our morning by celebrating a special birthday in the woods! Batty even gave up her special throne chair for the occasion!
Glorious spring sunshine and a carpet of woodland flowers greeted us today. We set about identifying some of the spring flowers and learnt about the folklore attached to them.
Flowers, fairy tales, folklore and ... science!
Primrose- meaning the first rose or flower. Did you know that primroses will enable you to see fairies? If you touch a fairy rock with the correct number of primroses, you will be shown the way to fairyland. However, beware! If your posy contains the wrong number of primroses you will be led to certain doom!
Pin eyed or thrum?
If you look closely at the centre of the primrose you will see either a greenish disc (pin-eyed), which is the stigma for receiving pollen, or a cluster of anthers (thrum-eyed). When insects visit the primrose in search of nectar, the different layout of the structures inside the flower ensures cross fertilisation.
It is suggested that the name of the wood anemone, or ‘windflower’, is derived from the Greek word for wind, which is ‘anemos’ and that this flower was sent by the Greek wind god to announce his spring arrival.
In bad weather and at night, wood anemones close up. It is said that fairies crawl into the flowers pulling the petals over themselves for protection! Will you find a fairy inside?!
The graceful nodding bells of the bluebell are thought to call the fairies when rung. Do not be fooled by these beautiful flowers because they are used by the fairies to trap humans who enter the woods! They are also toxic. In Elizabethan times, the slimy sap and bulbs were used as starch for ruffs and as a glue for bookbinding. The toxins in the glue deterred insects from chomping on the books.
After all those fairy tales, some of the children were inspired to go off and write their own 'flower fairy' stories. Others created beautiful drawings of flowers or learnt how to use a palm drill to make pan pipes from hollowed out elder. Tree cookies were decorated and after a busy morning the adults enjoyed a hot drink courtesy of the children who had developed their Kelly kettle skills.
Well done everybody.
On arrival at the woods today, we found that a treasure hunt had been set for us by the 'Little Friends'. We worked together to search for clues in the hope that we would be rewarded with a special Easter treat!
Searching for clues
Solving the puzzles.
Yummy hot cross buns
Batty enjoying a GF bun on her 'special' seat.
After a morning spent exploring the woods and searching for clues, the children successfully completed the treasure hunt and were rewarded for their efforts.
The Easter Bunny delivers eggs!
Delicious - Happy Easter everyone!
Thank you to the Co-op for providing our special Easter treats this week.
Teamwork was essential for the activities planned for this week so we started the session with the rope circle game.
Would the children be able to give advice and encouragement to one another without shouting orders?
Were the children able to listen to one another and not talk over each another?
The children proved that they were able to work well as a team as they achieved the challenge in record time!
Rope circle game
The next challenge for the team was to learn how to master two knots to enable them to erect a shelter. However, each member of the team was taught just one element of the knot. They then had to return to their group to teach them a particular step before somebody else was sent off to learn the next stage. Good listening and communication skills were essential together with a dash of patience and good humour as some people found it tricky to remember how to complete the knots.
Having revised the timber hitch and quick release tension knot, the children used these knots to have a go at erecting tarp shelters and hammocks.
In preparation for next week's camp fire (when we are hoping to toast hot cross buns) some of the children practised their fire lighting skills. Great determination and resilience was shown by the children as they worked hard to get a spark to light their 'Fairy Fires'. We now have several expert fire lighters so I am confident we will be able to have a roaring fire next week.
Special thanks must go to the children who moved vast quantities of woodchips to help resurface the pathway to Sweet Chestnut camp. Well done everybody and apologies that we didn't manage to snap all of you in action!
This year Larch Group will be working in Sweet Chestnut camp for the first time.
We spent the morning exploring our new woodland home and reminding ourselves about our Forest School rules that are in place to help keep us safe and protect our woodland environment. I was very impressed by how much the children had remembered from their previous sessions.
Remembering the rules.
The children then took it in turns to make some natural bird feeders to help our feathery friends survive the cold winter months and build them up in time for the nesting season.
Softening the lard-a very messy job!
Once the lard had been smeared onto the pine cones they were rolled into bird seed and attached to string. The children then chose their own special places to hang the feeders.
Whilst some of the children were making their bird feeders, others were busy exploring, building shelters and making plans for next week.
The camp was a hive of activity today with busy bees everywhere!
The group were keen to carry on making their games. We introduced the clove hitch, square lashing & frapping to children who were interested and I was very impressed by how quickly they picked up the skills. Others wanted to 'go it alone' and showed ingenuity and persistence in developing their own binding techniques!
Larch group have enjoyed their three taster sessions in the woods.
Highlights have included:
Exploring the woodland.
Discovering wildlife, especially toads and slugs.
Creating homes for Stick Man.
Woodland craft activities.
Fun in the mud kitchen.