Welcome to the woods Year 3!
What a fabulous start to the Year 3's term at forest school. With just a small group of children, the forest seemed huge. The first week, the children learnt their forest school 'boundaries' to help keep them safe in their new environment. For the rest of the day the children spent most of their time exploring and playing all day long!! The children had a go at using a palm drill to create their own woodland medallions.
The second week, the children knew exactly what to do, they reeled off their boundaries quickly and efficiently then went straight off to play. What fun, some of the children spent most of their time playing in the mud with the kitchen and in the ditch whilst others decided they wanted to build a cabin. A team of children spent time gathering timber and moving it across the woodland floor to create their own cabin. One boy 'H' devised a plan of how to design the cabin whilst 'J' was the construction manager over seeing the beginning construction of the cabin.
Whilst the cabin was under construction i showed a couple of the children how to make charcoal using freshly cut hazel. The children used the charcoal to draw patterns and play noughts and crosses together.
At lunchtime we took the children to the field for a run around in the sunshine... you may have heard this already... whilst looking for wood for the cabin 'J' lifted a board from the grass and spotted a grass snake! 'J' ran away shouting that he had seen a snake, Miss Bowerman and I took a look to see if there was a snake under the board... yes there was! With the class gathered around we watched the snake slither away into the long grass! Amazing.
The rest of the afternoon was spent learning how to saw hazel so that the children could make their own 'spears'. Most of the children if not all had a turn at using a laplander saw a scout knife during the session. :)
Reception and Year 1 Last day in the woods.... for now!
Our last session in the woods was a fantastic one... we tried and succeeded to fit in as much fun as we could and what a jam packed session. The weather was warm and dry, the children were full of beans, we even managed to have a little easter egg hunt!
It’s been an absolute pleasure teaching the YR & 1’s 😊 I have loved every session.
Most if not all of the children are confident in making sparks with a fire striker and some children are able to light a piece of cotton wool very quickly 😊 All of the children have now had a go at using a fixed blade knife with me learning how to whittle carefully, and effectively using the 'safe position' and their 'blood bubbles'.
At the end of our session I asked the children what their favourite part of forest school had been, obviously at the age of 4 & 5 the children were very much in the 'NOW' but... here are the answers that they gave me!
All of the above gives me a buzz to watch but there is also so much unseen growth happening with their confidence, self esteem, resilience, maturity, dexterity development, negotiating with friends and teachers 😊
I look forward to seeing the children again when they next visit the woods!
Enjoy the photos....
Thursday 10th December
Forest school at school!?
Today's session was run from school, the children were even more excited than usual today, could have been the location of forest school could have been the build up to Christmas, could have been all of those things mixed together!
I set up the fire pit in the fire circle in the front garden & talked the children through the loose plan for the day. The children had a Christmas project to finish, that they had begun in the woods and I had offered the children the opportunity to make Christmas bread!
Using the knowledge that the children have to site and light a fire, we set about gathering the correct type of wood for kindling and talked about how to light our group fire. All of the children had a go at lighting their own piece of cotton wool with a fire striker to add to the group fire. Great perseverance was shown by lots of the children well done! Once the fire was lit, the children were split into two team so make their bread: the ingredients.. flour & water, followed by chocolate chips or raisins.
Once the children had made the dough, by mixing, squishing, bashing and smashing, I cooked the bread in a frying pan over the fire. The children were able to eat their own bread at lunchtime!
After we had eaten our lunch, the children were invited into the fire circle to practice their magic.... together using their loudest voices they were able to turn the flames of the fire blue and green! WOWOW!
The year two's enjoyed us on the field for free play and games after lunch, they all had such fun running, climbing, jumping, sliding and playing together! To finish the session we played a team game of 'caterpillars' with Mrs Swaite & Miss Bowerman... Team Miss B won!
I have loved every session, working with your children, I know they have enjoyed it as much as I have. Have a great Christmas & Happy New Year Laura x
Thursday 3rd December
Rain didn't stop play today!!
Wow what a session we had on Thursday, and WOWWWWW! What amazing children you all have. Having worked in my profession for 9 years with varying age children from 3-12 I can hand on heart say that I haven't met a group of more resilient children than the Laddingford Forest Kids.
I knew that it was due to be wet on Thursday, but hadn't realised that the rain was going to be as relentless. Thank you to all of the parents that have enabled their children to enjoy themselves by providing more than one set of clothing! We ensured that the children were changed as quickly as possible so that they could participate in as much of the day as possible. I love the quote below and feel it is so important to encourage our children to be outside whenever possible, whatever the weather!
As you will see from the photos below, the children enjoyed splashing in the ditch and collecting rain water... 'O' particularly enjoyed watching the drips fall with 'M' this made them chuckle so much. All of the children had a go at creating their own Christmas craft, which they will be bringing home with them on their last week! This craft involved using a sharp scout knife to whittle the face of Father Christmas! Very proud of the children's focus and concentration in this tricky task.
After lunch, some of the children - those that had changed several times - were simply too cold to continue with their session, so they were sent home to warm up.. once the cold sets in it is hard to warm up again - cold hands and feet in particular! Those children that stayed in the woods, we had a go at learning a knot! The 'fishy e on a dishy e' knot - or the clove hitch, the children learnt to tie a knot so that they could make their own Bows and Arrows! This proved to be SUCH an exciting activity and one that the children all wanted to get involved in once one had started! Trying to shoot an arrow from a bow, took time and patience, some achieved it, others didn't, but the children had a fabulous time trying their best!!
Fabulous session! Well done to you all!
Thursday 26th November
Such a busy session!
The children seemed to have a 'purpose' about them today, as a group they all knew what they wanted to do and made themselves busy as soon as our fire circle chat had finished! A group of children wanted to build their own den - instead of the usual 'teepee' format they were cleverly designing a shelter that incorporated different size sticks to fit the gap between the trees.
Whilst exploring the ditch, some of the boys decided it would be good to make a slide... 'W' found and lifted a plank into place to create the slide, it was then up to the rest of the children to slide and slide and slide... the water was chilly, muddy and stinky but the children didn't mind in the slightest!
Elsewhere in the woods, a few children were busy creating their own wood and nail pictures with beads - using hammers & screwdrivers, and a few children had a go at sawing wood for the fire. This is a great activity to warm up little arms & hands when the children get chilly and with the added bonus of sawing wood for our group fire!
Amongst many proud moments during the day, there were a couple of shining moments for the staff today, we saw 'O' climbing a tree for the first time - the joy on his face was immeasurable! And, with great determination and perseverance 'JJ' managed to climb up a very muddy slippery riverbank using a rope. 'E' asked to light the group fire - she selected all the materials needed and prepared herself for the job and had great success. Well done to all!!
What a fabulous session...
Thursday 19th November
What splashy fun we had!
Mud mud mud, from this week until about March its going to be a mud fest at the forest school site. For parents, this can be an unwelcome sight, when they see children waiting to be collected.. But rest assured when you collect your children, and see their faces and clothes covered in mud, they have had a great session. We always talk about mud and dirt in a positive way at Forest School, so that the children can keep an open mind about getting dirty and enjoying themselves. Using positive encouraging language is so important - as parents our voices matter!!
A good tip for collection time is to bring a large bag - like an Ikea bag - stand your child in the bag and strip off the wet/muddy layers, a towel may be a good option too!
Within 10 minutes of being at forest school this week, the ditch with its brown muddy water was far too tempting for lots of the children, I had warned them all that if their feet got cold and wet at the beginning of the session then they would have to change. This proved to be a great challenge for a few of the children and what a great way to foster independence... find your bag, take off your wet muddy clothes and change them! Brilliant! The ditch provides a huge amount of fun for the children as well as providing learning opportunity. The children have built a bridge using different length planks pallets & sticks. The rope swing provides an element of 'risk' and challenge.
Our sessions are always so busy, the children rarely stop moving, today there was an awesome Den being built, number practice, core strength building, running, jumping, balancing, swinging, exploring, investigating... the list goes on!
The great sausage sizzle
The children had been waiting patiently for me to cook sausages for them and today was the day, the sausages didn't disappoint!! YUM!
And finally ...
Here's a link to a fantastic 'how to dress warm' video on facebook if you have access! If not the office will be sending out a information sheet on the clothes required to ensure that your children are warm and happy at forest school.
Reception & Year 1
It has been an absolute pleasure and a delight to start Laddingford School's full day sessions with the Reception and Year 1 children!
I thought I would share with you a day in the life of a 'Forest Kid' - being a parent myself I know it can be hard to prise information out of a child at the end of a long school day (let alone a long forest school day!) This 'day in the life' is hugely flexible
9am arrival... Our journey begins, the children and I wander down to our magical forest school site where we stow our bags and belongings and gather together around the fire circle to talk about our 'boundaries'. Boundaries are a little like rules, however at Forest school we tend not to enforce rules.. Boundaries are put in place so that the children know how to keep 3 things safe and to be able to manage their own risks through knowledge of these boundaries.
Look after ourselves
Look after each other
Look after the environment
Your child will know all about these boundaries and under each section we use key words, that a child can talk about to keep safe - an example would be - Tree climbing, how to you look after yourself, your friends and the environment when you are thinking about climbing a tree.
As well as verbal boundaries we have physical boundary ribbon, that the children have helped to tie around trees. These ribbons ensure that we can see the children at all times, but the children still have plenty of space to roam.
9.30 the children are free to play - our site has an abundance of things to do - we have a mud kitchen, a den building area, hammocks and slack-line ropes, a ditch with a rope swing and bridge building area a tool area and activity area and huge field to play games.
The children tend to run off and play for an hour or so until tummies start to rumble..
11am we break for a snack and a drink and sometimes a story!
By this point in the day, the children's creativity and imagination has really begun to flow and they are in their deep learning zones, whether that is through self play, playing with others or working with me to create something that they have in mind.
Midday - lunch we gather around the fire circle, eat our lunch together, chat & tell each other stories. Sitting together in this way really helps the children with their social interaction and encourages those children that may be slightly quieter than the rest to participate.. its a really lovely time of day. After we have eaten, we wander through the woodland to the field where the children can run and play freely - sometimes we play a leader led game but more often than not the children find things to do in this space to amuse themselves.
1pm - 3pm
During this time the children may get involved in an activity if they would like to or they can play with their friends and engage with the varied physical activities onsite. The photos below show the children getting involved with making 'woolly acorns' - here I showed the children what an Oak tree is, we identified an oak leaf and an acorn - then made our own to keep. Since this session the children have been fascinated by collecting and sharing acorns with each other!
Just before home time, we sit around the fire circle and talk about our day, what we have learned, what we have enjoyed and what we are grateful for.
Our day together really encompasses so many elements that are unseen, that a photo cannot capture, the moments where children help each other, individually they make decisions and take risks for themselves, (that they may not normally have the chance to make). Your children have the opportunity learn about the woodland environment, mathematical skills, strengthen their muscles and hone their fine and gross motor skills, develop their language, build their resilience, face challenges presented to them by the environment or situation that they find themselves in...
What a fabulous experience!
I hope you enjoy seeing the photos of your child's Forest School journey so far. For more information about the benefits of Forest School for your child please click here: https://www.forestschoolassociation.org/what-is-forest-school/
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me through the school.
Thanks Laura - Wild Wood Kids Forest School
In September 2019 we started our forest school provision.
We are thrilled to be working alongside qualified forest school teacher Laura from Wildwood Kids. Our own Miss Bowerman has also undertaken level one forest school training, as has our volunteer, Mrs Brain.
Laddingford's forest school has been established in an area of private woodland on Darman lane, with the overwhelmingly kind permission of a local family with a long association with the school. This amazing provision would not be possible without their support and generosity and for this with thank them enormously.
From January 2020, we will have forest school running all day on a Thursday, in the morning a year group will be going along for a session, starting with year 3, and in the afternoon nurture group, plus a few invited guests will be heading down for their normal session. Children in nurture group who are also in year 3 will get to spend a whole day in the forest.
Watch this space for more photos and information about forest school as our provision develops.
Unfortunately not the ones with chocolate chips.
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