Forest School

Forest School

Please see our blog for updates on Forest School activities

   

  • 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.

  • Sat 9th Feb

    The Log Circle (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    A place where everyone can sit together at forest school is very important.

    It helps with safety as it is a point the children know to return to when asked and makes checking that everyone is safe, simple.

    Sessions can begin and end at the circle. Ideas for the session ahead can be deliberated over and discussed before the children go and pursue their own choices. It is the ideal place to reflect or share a song or story together before we leave for the day.

    During the session it makes a great place to have a snack and the logs make good work benches for many forest school activities. As the logs decay, they become treasure troves of mini-beasts and demonstrate to the children the diversity of life in the woods.

    From time to time the circle may have to be moved to avoid damaging the woodland floor too much, or new logs may need to be brought in as the old ones rot and become unsuitable. This is hard work but, working together, the children and adults can restore or make a new place to sit in record time, whilst also presenting another team building opportunity.

  • Wed 6th Feb

    Forest School in the Snow (Elizabeth Bicknell)

    The snow last week gave us lots of different things to do and learn during our forest school and outdoor learning sessions.

     

    There was lots of fun!

    Learning about forces - pushes, pulls and friction.

    How materials behave.

    Children worked together.

    Building structures - snow forts and snowmen.

    Going tracking - Fox tracks, rabbit tracks, deer and birds hopping, walking and trailing their tails in the snow.

    Admiring how amazing the snow makes the natural world look