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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