Signs of Spring & a Stingy Surprise
Rowan Group arrived to sunshine and birdsong? Many wondered with wide eyes at the changes that had happened in the woods since they had been before Easter. The seasonal ditch that they had waded through was now a dry trench and everything was greener. The group had expressed their desire to cook the previous week so Catkin had prepared a 'waffle lay' fire & we discussed fire safety, the fire triangle & fuel. After some together time the happy tribe were sent off to investigate the woodland to search for signs that spring had sprung!
When they returned they shared their observations: buds, birdsong, bluebells, bugs. One pair had found two branches that they knew were from the same tree but had worked out through discussion that one must have fallen 'maybe a week' before the other because 'one's just got little brown bumpy buds but this one's bursting with green life' - what wonderful nature detectives. Another group discovered a carpet of woodland flowers - they recognised the primrose- the challenge now is to use the id books to decipher the others. We identified the chiff-chaffs tune and discussed the cuckoos' familiar cals at this time of year. Have you heard one yet?
We talked about all the new growth and images of spring, and then we talked about the key ingredient of the food today....nettles! There were quite a lot of confused faces!!! After a few anecdotes about nettle stinging stories, we discussed the wonder of nettles including food, clothing and medicines for you & also the amazing amount of wildlife that relies on them for a food source and a home for their eggs. Nettles pack a powerful punch! Lots of children were not sure about eating pakoras but almost all decided they were going to give them a try. ' I think I could try it and then decide if I like it or not.'
It was then time for free learning time. Some chose to build dens & forts; others invented a game & negotiated the rules; a pair made a magic potion to help save nature. A trio helped Catkin by harvesting nettles and preparing the pakoras. One child showed incredible resilience by weaving a plate from sedge- the sedge was a little too springy... Foxglove will investigate. Whilst others learnt the art of making cordage (using raffia but the same technique applies to nettle and bramble fibres) those that preserved with this showed incredible tenacity and fine motor dexterity and were rewarded by ' getting the knack'.
We were all so absorbed that time flew like the happy birds above our heads. Catkin fried the pakoras over the fire and the children got to sample them. Everyone who tried them was proud of themselves for giving it a go even if they didn't like them. Some were happily surprised that they 'ACTUALLY liked' them and some love them so much they had seconds and thirds. I have attached the recipes for those of you who would like to try them at home. Remember the foraging etiquette we spoke about.
Photos from the session can be found by clicking here