Forest School

Forest School

Please see our blog for updates on Forest School activities

   

  • Wed 22nd May

    May Morning (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    Spotted at Forest School one sunny morning in May

    Last week was a super time for spotting birds up close, admiring the hawthorn bushes that were in full bloom and finding willow seeds that had been spread far and wide.

    As we walked to the wood a kite soared overhead.

    A pied wagtail nonchalantly hopped about – wagging his tail – looking for food in the grass.

    Inside the wood, willow seed seemed to fill the air. Drifting past us as we sat in our sit-spots, filling hollows in the ground and catching on cobwebs and twigs then sparkling in the sun.

    A big thank you to our photographer for catching these moments for us.

  • Wed 8th May

    Spring (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    Seasonal Change – Observing and Learning the names of plants signalling Spring is coming

    As the season turns from winter to spring plants begin to grow and flower indicating the changing season.

    To help children spot these plants emerging and learn their names actions and dramatic voices are fun to do:-

    Snowdrops – Galanthus

    On sighting these early spring flowers with their dropped heads. Children can be encourage to call snowdrop and then drop their own heads and stretch our their arms to show how the flower drops below the level of the plants leaves.

    Lords and Ladies -Arums Maculatum

    Are also known as Lords and Ladies – so the children can unfurl an imaginary clock to go with the plant’s unfurling leaves and then bow as a lord would to a lady.

     

    Hazel catkins – Corylus

    The hazel catkins resemble lambs tails and the children can ‘bounce and wiggle’ like spring lambs.

    Dogs’ Mercury – Mercurialis perennis

    These green leaves with their non de script white flowers simply have to be barked at.

    Later in the spring as the daffodils (narcissus) open and the cleavers (Galium aparine)climb through the emerging nettles -imaginary trumpets can be blown to represent the daffodils’ corona and the children stick to each other to pretend to be cleavers.

     

  • Sun 10th Mar

    Topic Work and Forest School - The Ancient Egyptians (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    Using Forest School across the curriculum - Ancient Egypt

    The pictures show our current class of mixed Year 3 and 4 children, many of whom have been at Chrishall since their reception year and are experienced forest schoolers. As reception children they attended forest school sessions weekly and in subsequent years have had half term long blocks of weekly sessions.

    Aspects of their topic on Ancient Egypt were covered during their current forest school half term block. The forest school ethos informed everything the children did and in the middle of one session there was a prolonged snow storm and the only "proper" thing to do was play in the snow. That may seem a long way from the desert, but the Egyptians did use sledges on the sand (see our pictures of working together).

    Working Together

    Moving heavy new logs for the circle on tarpaulins. The ancient Egyptians slaves dragged the stones used to build the pyramids on sledges across the sand.

    Playing with Nature

    Using found materials to construct square based triangular prisms making pyramids of various scales – some even fit a ‘mummy’!

    Using the contours of the woodland floor

    Each group worked together to make a river – possibly the Nile. Lots of their geography and science knowledge was put into practice here to make their rivers flow when the rains came (a bucket of water out of the pond).

    Skills

    Knots were learnt and practised over several weeks, then used along with sticks to answer the challenge – Make a shaduf that can lift a bucket filled with water through at least ninety degrees.

    Well being

    All sessions began with time in the sit spots which is as good time to work through ideas. Topic based suggestions that the children could think about in their spots included:- mental lists of what they knew about ancient Egypt, differences between sitting in our wood and next to the Nile!

     

    Woodland Paper Making

    The Egyptians wove papyrus from reeds, but we included native leaves in the paper we made as no papyrus was available.

    Building a fire to cook outside

    The children experienced some of the flavours of modern Egyptian food with falafel qnd humus served in flat breads. A well deserved treat after irrigating the crops with water transported by their shadufs.

     

  • Fri 8th Mar

    The R.S.P.B. Birdwatch (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    The Birds who live in our wood

    The RSPB bird watch, which takes place early each year, makes a great focus for lots of fun, learning and getting close to the inhabitants of our wood.

    Looking out for signs of birds in the wood and listening to their calls is a good place to start.

    Wandering around the wood, piles of bird droppings can be found, particularly under roosting spots and looking up the children may even be able to decide which branch a bird has perched on. Shed feathers can also often be found. Which bird the feather has come from may not be easy to tell but, the difference between a flight and an insulating feather is easy to distinguish.

    Time in the sit spots can be focused on listening out for bird calls – even very young children can learn the difference between birds calling warnings to each other and their straight forward communication calls. Bird song apps for smart phones and ipads, which play the birds’ songs help with learning basic bird calls. Great tits, robins, rooks, magpies, pigeons and pheasants all have distinct calls which children enjoy learning and imitating. Bird song hide and seek is a great way to finish a forest school session.

    Recognising the birds themselves is helped by pictures or soft toy versions, of which many are now available. Basic bird shapes drawn in chalk on the playground can be used for a game that gets the children running from owl to duck to pheasant to songbird. Making birds from found materials can highlight the names of the different features of a bird.

    Encouraging the real thing to perch and be counted means setting up a basic bird hide and regularly feeding the birds to keep them coming back. The children have to fill the feeders with the different foods each week and then think about which bird enjoys which food and how their beak is adapted to eat it.

    Getting a really close up look gives them practice at using binoculars. Some initial goes with cardboard tubes first help them use the real thing more accurately. Using a toy bird, that will hold ‘really still’ is also ‘handy’.

    Then the serious business of counting the individual birds and different species begins. The children can learn to use a tallying system and help prepare the totals ready to be sent to the RSPB. a careful look at these totals will reveal a very ‘unusual species’ that was clearly of interest to the young forest schooler watching the hide on recording day!

    Here are some pictures of the birds we saw.