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Silver Birch Group

12th January - Session 6

The rain stayed away this week. The group continued and built on their interest in shelters - one shelter has it's own key card entry system!!

We played Vanish, discovered rotting puffballs and listened to a very territorial robin!

Bee and Catkin made firelighters out of old egg-boxes, tumble dryer lint and candle wax.

A small group worked on their fire-lighting skills and christened our new fire-striker that includes a magnesium block which you 'shave' to create fillings. 'Wow Fireworks!'.  Five of the girls learnt how to use the Kelly Kettle and boiled water for the hot drinks.

And then of course there was Bob.......

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Session 4

What do you do when it rains at Forest School?

This is a question that we are often asked. Here are just some of the answers this week:-

  1. Read poems
  2. Open a hedgehog hospital
  3. Rainproof your own personal shelter-pod with A LOT of leaves
  4. Hug a tree
  5. Look for the 'strangest oak in the UNIVERSE'
  6. Laugh at the grown ups as they try and rainproof the kitchen-area - (we didn't give up though did we!!!)
  7. Put up a tarp and then re-brand it as the Heat Hotel (eco property developers in the making!)
  8. Work together to create a splash - top photography skills Bumblebee!!
  9. and when there's a break in the clouds and sunlight dapples the woods - stop, breathe and enjoy the view!

See you next week

NB If anyone has any left over candlewax stubs from Christmas please bring them in to help with one of our activities/challenges in Session 5.



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Session 3

Christmas Dampers.

As ever, the woods were a hive of activity - or should I say marketplace! The children have opened a range of shops with a Forest currency of sweet chestnut shells for currency.  We reviewed the Fisheee on the Disheeee (aka Clove Hitch) from last week. We then re-told the story of Sidney the Silly Snake who, whilst daft as a brush, is a dab hand at attaching himself to a tree (aka the Timber Hitch)

 Following the wet weather we were thrilled to get a fire going fairly quickly. Fawn helped a group of children create the damper dough which took a fair bit of tweaking and a lot of giggles to create the 'perfect consistency'. There was a lot of talk about the perfect toasting technique and how to improve the virtue of patience!!!

Happy Christmas Silver Birch Group!

Session 1

I am delighted to be back with Silver Birch Group. They were the first group I ever took to the woods and it will be lovely to re-join them for their Forest School journey.

The children entered the woods under their cloaks of silence. They remembered the boundaries for keeping themselves, each other and their environment safe and were able to explain why we had these agreements.

We were also delighted to be joined by 3 parent volunteers. Catkin (Abi & Emily's mummy) was back although she had left her voice behind!! We were also joined in the woods for the first time by Ladybird (Charlie & Ellie's mummy) and Bumblebee (Henry G's mummy).

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Session 9

May 12th

Despite the damp weather we were not disheartened and made the most of our final session in the woods.

Waiting for us on the Message Stump was a heart made from tree cookies together with some willow hoops. We then spotted a beautiful dream catcher hanging from a nearby tree.


Final gifts from our Little Friends

Final gifts from our Little Friends 1
Final gifts from our Little Friends 2
Final gifts from our Little Friends 3
We decided to use these gifts to make some souvenirs of our time in the wood.

Making memories

Making memories 1 What shall we make?
Making memories 2 A bow and arrow!
Making memories 3 A beautiful dream catcher.
Making memories 4 A pendant for a 'Best Friend'.
Making memories 5 A blow pipe!
Making memories 6 A charcoal drawing.
Luckily, some children thought that it would be a good idea to put up a shelter as the weather was a little drizzly. Batty was very pleased that a special shelter was put up for the adults!
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Other children braved the weather and set up a monkey bar that they later transformed into a swing.

Little Monkeys

Little Monkeys 1
Little Monkeys 2

... and Super Swingers

 ... and Super Swingers 1
 ... and Super Swingers 2
 ... and Super Swingers 3
 ... and Super Swingers 4
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After all that activity, we were very grateful to Catkin, our 'Fire Queen', and her helpers, for getting a fire ready to toast our sandwiches on.
Picture 1 Will it light in the rain?
Picture 2 Smoke gets in your eyes!
Picture 3 Perfectly toasted sandwiches?

The proof is in the eating... and smiles!

The proof is in the eating... and smiles! 1
The proof is in the eating... and smiles! 2
The proof is in the eating... and smiles! 3
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On behalf of everyone in Silver Birch group, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to our wonderful parent helpers, Catkin and Frosty.  It has also been a real pleasure to work with Silver Birch group.  I have been very impressed with your listening skills and how you work so well together. I am now looking forward to you being in Class 4 in September! Thanks must also go to Splatty Batty who managed to smile through the rain and survive the 9 sessions with only minor injuries! 

Thank you all for a very special time in the woods.

Session 8

5th May


The first task for the morning was to gather fuel so that we could get a good fire going for cooking our dampers and marshmallows. 

Picture 1 A waffle fire lay produces good coals for cooking.
Once the fire was established Group 3 got busy preparing their damper dough.

Camp fire cooking - Group 3

Camp fire cooking - Group 3 1 Reading the recipe carefully.
Camp fire cooking - Group 3 2 Mixing the ingredients.
Camp fire cooking - Group 3 3 Adding water. Careful - don't make it too sticky!
Camp fire cooking - Group 3 4 Kneading.
Whilst the dough was 'resting' we harvested some more hazel to make our toasting forks. The bark was stripped so that we could wrap our dough around the toasting forks to form damper twists. 
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Toasting and ... tasting!

Toasting and ... tasting! 1
Toasting and ... tasting! 2
Eventually, Group 4 were able to prepare their damper dough. They showed great patience in waiting for their turn. Well done to all of you.

Camp fire cooking - Group 4

Camp fire cooking - Group 4 1
Camp fire cooking - Group 4 2
Camp fire cooking - Group 4 3

The Smiles say, 'It was worth the wait!'

The Smiles say, 'It was worth the wait!' 1
The Smiles say, 'It was worth the wait!' 2
Meanwhile, other children had: taken up the challenge to construct a different type of shelter using a tarp; made masks out of willow; and enjoyed relaxing in hammocks!

Shelter challenge

Shelter challenge 1
Shelter challenge 2

Mask making

Mask making 1

Just chilling!

Just chilling! 1
Just chilling! 2

Next week will be our final session in the wood until next year.

Remember your packed lunch and sandwich wrapped in foil (if you would like to toast it over the fire).

Session 7

28th April

Look at what's been left on the Message Stump today!

Look at what's been left on the Message Stump today! 1
Whilst most children collected firewood before choosing their activities for the morning, another group were busy preparing their dampers. 

Camp fire cooking - Group 1

Camp fire cooking - Group 1 1
Camp fire cooking - Group 1 2
Camp fire cooking - Group 1 3
Camp fire cooking - Group 1 4
Camp fire cooking - Group 1 5
Camp fire cooking - Group 1 6
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The taste test!

The taste test! 1
The taste test! 2
The taste test! 3
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Woodland fun and exploration

Woodland fun and exploration 1
Woodland fun and exploration 2

Camp fire cooking - Group 2

Camp fire cooking - Group 2 1
Camp fire cooking - Group 2 2
Camp fire cooking - Group 2 3
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Next week, the remaining two groups will be cooking dampers over the fire. In the meantime, some of them were busy harvesting and preparing their toasting forks!
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Session 6

21st March

On entering the woods we noticed that everything looked much greener since our last session. The trees were coming into leaf and pretty woodland flowers carpeted the floor.

Spring flowers

Spring flowers 1 Wood anenome
Spring flowers 2 Bluebell
Spring flowers 3 Primrose

We considered the many different uses of the woodland trees in Degg's Wood. The large multi-stemmed sweet chestnut trees show that in the past this area was managed by coppicing. This wood was used for a variety of different purposes including firewood, charcoal and fencing materials. We will be using sweet chestnut for some of our fire wood needs over the coming weeks. This week we tried using some charcoal to draw pictures with.

Woodland sketches

Woodland sketches 1
Woodland sketches 2
Coppicing extends the tree's life so many of the coppice stools in Degg's wood are very old. With their large size, thick cracked bark and rot holes, they  provide an excellent habitat for many mini beasts.


 minibeasts 1 Searching for mini beasts
 minibeasts 2 Hollowing out elder stems to make another ...
 minibeasts 3 ... home for mini beasts!
 minibeasts 4 Mini beast hotel placed in a coppice stool.
Many other trees, such as ash and hazel, can also be coppiced. We therefore harvested some hazel to use as toasting forks for the dampers that we are planning to make next week. We used loppers to cut the hazel and then stripped the bark off with whittling knives.
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The large oak trees in Degg's Wood have been allowed to grow into mature trees. In the past, these  would have been left for a number of coppice rotations before felling to provide building timber for ships and houses. Felling large oak trees is not possible at Forest School so we had fun making our shelters by tying ropes (and hammocks) between the trees! 

Hanging around!

Hanging around! 1
Hanging around! 2
Hanging around! 3
Hanging around! 4
Hanging around! 5
Hanging around! 6
We are looking forward to next week when we will be cooking dampers and marshmallows over our camp fire. Watch this space to see our culinary delights!

Session 5

31st March

What a busy morning! On arrival at Sweet Chestnut camp we were greeted by a letter from our Little Friends informing us that the Sneezy Dragon had been playing tricks  and hidden all the Easter eggs that had been left for us! However, the good news was that if we completed his Treasure Trail and challenges he would return the eggs to us.

Around the wood, we found questions that we had to answer but in addition to this each team had to put up a shelter using the tarps. We quickly split into groups of 4 and learnt how to do a timber hitch and quick release tension knot before setting off in search of the Treasure Trail questions. 

Knotty problems

Knotty problems 1
Knotty problems 2
Knotty problems 3
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Completing the Treasure Trail

Completing the Treasure Trail 1
Completing the Treasure Trail 2

Tarp Challenge

Tarp Challenge 1
Tarp Challenge 2
Tarp Challenge 3
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After working very hard in our teams we all managed to complete the Sneezy Dragon's Treasure Trail and challenge and were eventually rewarded by the return of the Easter Eggs.





Session 4

24th March


We started the morning with, 'The Rope Challenge', in which the children had to move the circle of rope around the whole group without anybody unlinking their hands. Birch group remembered their technique from last year and showed great team work enabling them to complete this challenge in record time.

The rope challenge

The rope challenge 1
The rope challenge 2
The rope challenge 3
The rope challenge 4
The children then put their new knot and fire lighting skills to good use. Some chose to erect a tarp  whilst others had a go at building a natural shelter. We discovered some wildlife making use of our folded up tarp!

Wildlife spotting and tarp erecting

Wildlife spotting and tarp erecting 1
Wildlife spotting and tarp erecting 2
Wildlife spotting and tarp erecting 3
Wildlife spotting and tarp erecting 4
Wildlife spotting and tarp erecting 5
Wildlife spotting and tarp erecting 6

A natural shelter

A natural shelter 1 Square lashing a cross beam
A natural shelter 2 A home fit for Eeyore ...
A natural shelter 3 and Class 3 girls!
A natural shelter 4 A mossy doormat adds the perfect finishing touch.

Fire lighting.

Fire lighting. 1
Fire lighting. 2
Fire lighting. 3
Fire lighting. 4
We finished the session by using the special sticks , left for us by the Little Friends, to toast marshmallows over the fire. They were delicious!

Toasting time!

Toasting time! 1
Toasting time! 2

Session 3

17th March

Knot tying skills proved to be a challenge at the start of the session but the children all showed great perseverance in setting up their individual fire circles, or squares, and lighting 'fairy fires,' inside a clam shell, using the flint and steels.

Getting tied up in knots!

Getting tied up in knots! 1
Getting tied up in knots! 2
Getting tied up in knots! 3

Fairy Fires - Will they light?

Fairy Fires - Will they light? 1
Fairy Fires - Will they light? 2
Fairy Fires - Will they light? 3
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Success! 1
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In addition to practising their fire lighting skills the children also used bow saws and palm drills.

Using tools

Using tools 1
Using tools 2
Den building and the construction of a see-saw completed the day's activities.
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Session 2

10th March

This week started with the children 'Beating the Bounds' of our woodland site to ensure that they were able to recognise the extent of our area. The children learnt that in the past, when maps were rare, the whole community would walk around the boundaries of the parish. This would usually take place during Rogationtide - the fifth week after Easter- when the villagers, led by the rector and other local dignitaries, would walk the parish bounds. The children would carry birch or willow wands to beat the boundary markers with, and in some cases, the children would be whipped with these to help them remember! We spared the children from this part of the tradition! 



The children were keen to have their own Forest School names so quickly came up with some great ideas based on alliteration. We then played Vanish with the rule that you could only get somebody out if you spotted them and called them back to the tree using their Forest School name. The grown ups found this quite challenging! 

Can you see me?

Can you see me? 1
Can you see me? 2
The children spent the rest of the session working on their game ideas before enjoying a delicious mug of hot chocolate.

Session 1

3rd March 2017

Birch Group were excited to return to the woods. This year they are based in Sweet Chestnut Camp with Bracken, Batty Brown, Catkin and Frosty.


The children enjoyed exploring their new woodland environment as they looked out for the boundary bows and searched for the rule cards that were hidden around the woods. 

Acting out the safety rules- Can you guess what they are?

Acting out the safety rules- Can you guess what they are? 1
Acting out the safety rules- Can you guess what they are? 2
Acting out the safety rules- Can you guess what they are? 3
Acting out the safety rules- Can you guess what they are? 4
The children then practised their team work skills by taking part in the ribbon challenge. 
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Following this, the children set about designing some games that could be played in the woodland using natural materials.

Woodland games

Woodland games 1
Woodland games 2
Woodland games 3
Woodland games 4
Woodland games 5
Woodland games 6
Woodland games 7
Woodland games 8

Week 6

Whilst there was a slight undercurrent of sadness that this would be Silver Birch's last Forest School session for this academic year there was also a bubbling excitement of being able to show their achievements to their families...and Hannah the caterpillar!!

The children showed them their creations, made larch pendant mementos of their time here, played "1,2,3 Where are you" and toasted s'mores.

Thank you Silver Birch Group. I are so immensely proud of you - your creativity,community spirit and playfulness has been a joy to behold. Thank you Karen, Katy & Woodpecker for supporting their journey - your support, input & sense of fun has been invaluable. Thank you parents, Mrs Hacker (Bluebell) and Mrs McKenzie (Moley) for joining us - the look on the children's faces as they shared their experiences with you was really, rather special!



Week 5

Despite the rain Degg's wood was brightened by laughter and camaraderie. An experiment of prodding a large puddle on top of the tarp with a stick resulted in a 'refreshing' shower for one of our group. Nevertheless, it was greeted with good humour and a quick costume change in the tree bog!!

Our Little Larch Friends had left a bag of clay that was suggested made mud face portraits. The children's creativity then led to a who new range of uses: mini pots, beads, a variety of animals including 'Hoppity the Rabbit' and......face paints. They oozed it, squelched it, modelled it and adorned it! 

We discussed what we wanted to share, play and eat with our parents the following week - unsurprisingly, there was a resounding vote for s'mores!

"It's funny Foxglove. I didn't think we'd have as much fun today because of the rain. I was wrong"

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Week 4

What a day to be in the woods! It started with 'The Rope Challenge' - to move the circle of rope around the whole of our group WITHOUT un-linking our hands. It was a slow start as we offered advice, trialed various techniques and then came across a great strategy. We became quicker and quicker by watching, listening, communicating. Team problem solving Silver Birch style!!


Week 3

Silver Birch Group couldn't wait to get back in to the woods to see if our Little Larch friends had left us any messages. We ran straight to the homes we had made.We couldn't believe what we found:

Head prints on pillows, footprints on the staircases, missing food, nibbles in larch cones and a message of gratitude on the tree stump - We couldn't wait to improve on the kingdom we were creating. 

There was a supermarket, a factory, a range of luxury accommodation, underground caverns, hotels, a university complete with cafeteria and then we developed our own special places.

There was a genuine sense of confidence, creativity and camaraderie. 




Picture 1 all creatures great and small
Picture 2 The face says it all
Picture 3 Homemade benches
Picture 4 Solving roofing problems
Picture 5 The mud factory - what WAS the secret ingredient?
Picture 6 A Forest School Supermarket
Picture 7 "This is our chatting spot"
Picture 8 Mud factory make over!
Picture 9 Making beads
Picture 10 Meeting round the campfire
Picture 11 Building bridges
Picture 12 The mud factory opens a new premises!

Week 2

We gave ourselves alliterative animal names and actions. How many can you remember? We discovered that our Little Larch Friends had left us a message....

larch message In the heart was a larch twig because their favourite food is the seeds found inside the larch cones.

In the exclamation marks were a set of fire steels. Our little larch friends know that you must always be careful around fire.

Last but not least there was a question mark with a mysterious twig lying across it...what could be?...

A birch twig!....

We're birch group....they must want to know more about us.

We set our boundary bows and set to work sending them our own messages. 

Our little larch friends had left us some toasting sticks in the fire circle. Foxglove had brought some marshmallows. What we needed now was FIRE!

So we set about collecting wood: the 'snap test' helped us work out if it was nice and dry or not. We collected different thicknesses. Matchsticks, finger sticks and thumb sticks.

We made sure we had a bucket of water and a fire blanket close by then....

We learnt about how to light a fire with a little help from the Sneezy Dragon and his dragon's breath & dragon's drool...Aitchoo!

It was hard work but we persevered and were not down-hearted if we didn't quite manage...after all there's always next time and there's nothing like toasting a marshmallow to bring a smile to your face. 

Finally, we took it in turns to help extinguish the fire and share our best bits from the session.

"My best was toasting the marshmallows"

"My best bit was lighting the fire with the sneezy dragon"

"My best bit was finding a bird's nest"

"My best bit was building a shelter for our little larch friends"

"My best bit was building a shelter with my friends"

"My best bit was watching the group working together and solving problems in order to create a big shelter"

"My best bit was watching everybody have a go with the fire tools, persevering and not being upset if they didn't manage it....this time"

"My best bit was EVERYTHING"

Picture 1 Sneezes at the ready!
Picture 2 Dragon Flames!
Picture 3 Eagerly awaiting our turn
Picture 4 Perfecting our toasting skills
Picture 5 Remembering our Respect Position
Picture 6 Scrumdiddlyumptious!
Picture 7 Everyone took turns to help extinguish our fire
Picture 8 Looking good!

Week 1

We explored Degg's Wood by discovering the boundary bows...and the Tree Bog! We set up our own activity area by working together to put up our own boundary bows. We played "1,2,3 Where are you?" and laughed a lot. We decided on our Fire Circle Agreement and were rewarded with a present from our Little Larch Friends AND a chocolate biscuit. YUM!

Week 1 in pictures