Have a look at our latest Forest School News here.......Keep coming back to see regular updates!
Please make sure you all bring your Forest School kit into school
We've talked about the clothes you will need, so tell your grown ups
and bring some old trousers, an old coat and good strong boots as well
as hats, scarves and gloves if it's cold!
Year 6 - Session 9 - 15th March
We had a beautifully sunny day for our Forest School session this week. We have had a bit of sad news though. A fox came to visit our chickens last Friday afternoon at about 2 pm. All of our 13 chickens disappeared, although by the next day five of them had made their way back. We were left with three cockerels and two hens. We have felt very sad about this and although we understand that the fox family have to eat, we couldn't understand why he had to take so many, and in broad daylight too! Our morning Forest School learners suggested that we have a minute's silence to remember our lovely fluffy chickens. What a lovely thought Year 6!
On a happier note, we have rescued 13 battery hens this week from a lady in Eckington, through an advert in Pets At Home seen by Laura. We have 7 of them on our Animal Park and the other 6 are on Miss Thompson's garden with her other chickens. They are very sad looking at the moment, with bald patches and very pale combs, but hopefully they will quickly recover with good food, sunshine and a bit more freedom!
Unfortunately, however, we will not be able to let them be totally free range, as the fox could well come back, so Miss Thompson and Lauren have spent the weekend building a huge aviary behind the goat pen, so our new hens and our existing chickens can be as free range as possible. Come down to our Animal Park and have a look!
We had a visitor from Pilsley Primary School this week. Tracey Hills came to see what we do during our FS sessions. She runs a Forest School at Pilsley and Miss Thompson and Laura are hoping to go and see them in action soon. Thank you for coming to see us Tracey. Come back soon, it's good to share ideas!
For the rest of our Forest School session on Friday, we dismantled the big fort on the main FS site. It has been there for two and a half years, and was beginning to fall down. We have piled the wood up around the boundaries so we can use it for other activities in the future. There was some terrific team work during this activity; there were some huge pieces of wood and we needed to work together to move them safely.
We visited our meadow and mended the willow dens. They are beginning to grow, but we added some fresh willow whips to fill in the gaps.
Our afternoon group hung their felt bird pods in the trees around the school yard. Have a look next week during break and lunchtime and see if you can find them!
We walked round to the pond to have a look at the frogspawn. There's a lot more now and the plants are beginning to grow too. It's looking very beautiful, why not come down to the woods and have a look for yourselves?
Have a look at our session photos below.
Year 6 - Session 8 - 8th March
Our first session back in the woods since half term! It was good to be back, but it was very muddy today. The sun shone for the whole session though and we managed to get lots done!
We were joined by three members of staff from Morton School today, Mr Flint, the Head teacher; Mrs. Forrest and Lisa Baines. They are beginning their Forest School programme and came to see what we do during our sessions. It was lovely having them with us and they asked us lots of questions.
The Animal Park was very muddy and we got stuck in Olive's pen which was like mud soup! We did manage to clear her feeding boards and make a pathway to her pen though. We filled the hay baskets in the goat shed and collected a few eggs from the hen coops. The guinea pigs had some lovely green veg, but as usual they were very shy and ran away when we tried to pick them up for a fuss.
We went to the log circle in the main FS area and Miss Thompson gave us the felt bird pods that we made last week. They looked really good and we hung them high in the trees in the hope that some little birds may make their nests in them. We had to find a way to hang them on a high branch, but we worked together and managed to work out how to do it.
After this we sorted out the digging tools and some of us went down to the meadow with Laura and started to clear out the tyre planters. We found all sorts of insects in the soil, but we tried not to disturb them too much! Miss Thompson took a group up to the pig fields and we dug out some well rotted manure into the wheelbarrows and buckets. We had to work together to get the barrows down to the meadow; it was really difficult getting down the steps, the wheelbarrows were really heavy! We tipped the compost into the planters and we will be planting some wild flower seeds next week.
We went round to see our new pond and we could not believe how much frogspawn has been laid in there! Our pond is thriving and the plants are beginning to grow too! There is a good flow of water coming from the Spring, after all the rain we've had and the water flows through the pond and down a little waterfall at the far end. The dam we built at the bottom of the field is holding up well too!
To finish with, some of us had another mud facial (some may call this camouflage, some may call it simply getting muddy....), then we collected all our tools and came back to school.
Another wonderful session, with fabulous behaviour and amazing communication and team work! Well done Year 6 and thank you to our visitors from Morton School, we hope you will come and visit us again soon!
Year 6 - Session 7 - 1st March
Beverley Moss, a local felt artist came in today. She showed us how wet felt is made out of sheep's wool, and then we had a go at making it for ourselves! We had to separate the wool fibres and lay them in a lattice pattern on some bubble wrap, then we repeated this process until we had about four layers of wool fibre with a piece of bubble wrap in between. We sprinkled the fibres with lots of warm soapy water (that's the 'wet' bit!) and then pressed them between two more pieces of bubble wrap to make the water soak in. We folded the edges over to make a rough circle shape and to seal the edges, then some of us made patterns with different coloured wool over the top. We rolled our flat bird pod up in a tea towel and kept rolling it on the table so the fibres began to shrink and pull together. We kept rolling and rolling until most of the water had been squeezed out.
We cut a small hole in the matted together fibre and pushed a balloon inside. We blew up the balloon and it made our bird pods 3D!. We had made a handle on at the top and once the fibres have completely dried out over the weekend, we will pop the balloon and our bird pods will be ready to hang in the trees. Hopefully some small birds will choose to make a nest in them. We'll have to wait and see whose pod the birds choose first!
We will hang some of our bird pods in the wood and some in the trees around the school grounds.
It was fascinating to learn about the art of wet felt making, a process that has been used for over 5000 years.
Thank you Bev for showing us the basics, we can't wait to have another try so we can learn more!
Have a look at our photos below.
Have a look at our wonderful new pond!
A lot of hard work has gone in to completing our new pond area over half term and the support and positive feedback from our wonderful community has been amazing! From carrying stones, logs and plants to visiting and photographing this beautiful newly refurbished area of our woodland, our Forest School team cannot thank everyone enough for being so supportive this week.
Thank you to everyone who has donated tools and plants too, we've had a very busy and productive week.
Many, many frogs and pond creatures have already moved into this wonderful new habitat and hopefully we will find lots of frogspawn in our pond within the next few weeks. Have a look at how our pond has evolved on the photos below.
A special mention to Year 6 too for the initial digging out and plant removal last term, we couldn't have done this without you!
Year 6 - Session 6 - Friday 15th Feb 2019
The weather was beautiful this week! Such a change from last Friday! We were able to spend quite a bit of time with our animals today, they were very chilled and relaxed in the sunshine. Jelly, our Forest Schools dog, came for our session today, it was lovely to have her with us. She is very good, and stays with us all the time.
We went down to the pond to do a bit more digging out, and we had to work out how to divert the stream that runs out of the pond so it didn't run on to the footpath through the wood. We build a dam with sticks and mud and made the water go the other way! We dug out where the spring enters the pond and there was a lot of water coming out of the ground, so it was quite difficult to dig the pond much deeper because it was very muddy. Some of us nearly lost our wellies in the sticky mud!
We are really learning to work together and there was a lot of good communication today while we discussed the best way to make the stream flow away from the footpath. It was fascinating to watch how the water changed direction!
Have a look at our pictures below to see how muddy we were!
The children took a lot of the photos today, we have some budding photographers in our group!
Year 6 - Session 5 - Friday 8th Feb 2019
Moving logs and stones, tool work, stick dens and getting wet!
We weren't sure if we would get into the woods for our Forest School sessions today, as the weather was very wet and windy, but at 9 am and 1 am, the rain had stopped, and although it was still quite windy, Miss Thompson and Laura made the decision that it would be safe enough for us to be outside. Most of us had proper clothing today, apart from a couple of pairs of wellies, and we got changed in record time too! (We're getting much better at this now...).
The morning group moved four pallets from outside the school office, down to the Animal Park to start with (Miss Thompson told us that they are for a little project after half term....); then we went down to the school field and brought up some big logs. They were very heavy and slippery and we had to work together to get them up the steps and onto the Animal Park (these are for our 'little project' too...). The morning group spent a bit of time with the animals. The goats didn't want to come out of their shed, they don't like the wind and rain, so we filled up their hay baskets and gave them a cuddle in there. The giggly pigs are still very hard to catch and we had to get right into the cage to find them! Olive's pen was very muddy today, and the morning group swept the slippery feeding boards and cleaned the very muddy poo area. We spent some time in the woodland and the morning group met a character called 'Mike Raphone'. If you look through the photos below, you will see him, he interviewed us while we were using our tools and he was wearing a black coat with a hood and he had an American accent. He was very funny. We also met another character called 'Windy Britches'. Oh we had a lot of fun in the woods today! We used loppers and potato peelers and started to make some stick dens.
The afternoon group also brought some logs up from the school field, but in the pouring rain. We got very muddy and the logs were very slippery and heavy; more fantastic team work here too! The rain water was pouring out of the gutter over the chicken coop so we had a wash there and some of us even had a shower! Then we moved some large rockery stones from the top of the field down the very slippery path to the pond; we put the bigger stones in wheelbarrows and carried the smaller stones. Some of us had a ride back up in the wheelbarrows! The rain stopped after about half an hour and eventually the sun came out, which helped us to dry out a bit. We went into the wood to build some new stick dens and we also used loppers and potato peelers.
Miss Thompson and Laura said they were very impressed with us all today, we were motivated and on task with good communication skills, which enabled us to work together to get the jobs done! They were also impressed with how much we had remembered about using tools safely, and we were also able to show the children who weren't with us when we did Forest School in Year 4 how to be safe with tools. Hopefully we'll be able to use bow saws soon!
One child said at the end of today's session that 'he wished he could be in Forest School every day, just like Miss Thompson'!
Thank you Year 6 for a thoroughly enjoyable day today. Have a look at the photos below to see how much fun we had in the rain!
Year 6 - Session 4 - Friday 1st Feb 2019
Tidying up our Forest School site
It was another very cold day today and it even snowed for half an hour this morning! We had to break the ice on the animals water containers - we need to make sure they all have enough water to drink. We swept and tidied up all the paddocks and sheds, and collected 5 eggs from the main chicken coop. We filled the hay racks in the goat pen and made sure the guinea pigs had enough hay to keep them warm too. We tried to clean up Olive's paddock, but the ground was too frozen, so we only managed to scrape her feeding boards in the morning. It was a bit better in the afternoon so some of us dug a path through the frozen ground so Olive didn't hurt her trotters! (That's her feet!)
Miss Thompson and Laura told us that we wouldn't be able to dig the pond out today because the ground was frozen, so instead the morning group went to the main Forest School site and dismantled some of the old stick dens that had started to fall down. We piled the sticks around the boundaries of the site so they can be used for dens and bug hotels or firewood in the future. We made a seesaw out of a very long tree branch - it worked really well until it broke! Some of us started to build a new den and we used loppers to cut some of the sticks down.
The afternoon group dismantled the Geo Dome that was built in September when Mrs Kaye's Dragon class were in Forest School. It had blown down in the wind, but it was quite difficult to take apart and it took us a long time. Some of us made a bug hotel by knocking a big stick into the ground using a large stone as a mallet. We put other sticks around it and held it in place with rocks around the base. We had to problem solve, talk to each other and work as a team to make it stand up, but we were successful and thoroughly enjoyed working out how to do it! We wanted to walk along the balance beam across the leaf pit, but it was quite slippery so we had to help each other across it. Some of us fell off it, but it was a soft landing so we were ok!
In both groups, we found that the longer branches that were on the dens were too heavy to carry, so we had to work together to move them to where we wanted them. They were very heavy, but we did it!
Our wood looks a lot tidier now, and we even had some homemade hot soup to keep us warm while we were working!
Have a look at our photos to see how we got on on Friday.
Year 6 - Session 3 - Friday 25th January 2019
Animal cleaning and pond digging.
The weather was a lot more mild today, about 6 degrees C with a bit of light rain in the afternoon. The rain did not deter our efforts to dig out our pond!
We managed to get changed in record time, which meant we had more time to spend in Forest School. We started by cleaning out our animals; the morning group cleaned out the guinea pigs, swept Olive's feeding boards, and swept the tables in the goat paddock; the afternoon children swept the roof of the goat pen and raked out the chicken coops. We found 6 chicken eggs and had cuddles with several chickens, guinea pigs and of course Olive and the goats.
After this we headed straight down to the pond to start the excavation process. Our pond is only shallow and it dried up for three months last summer, so we have decided to dig it deeper and put and pond liner in it so hopefully it will be a more sustainable habitat for the creatures that have chosen to make it their home. We need to get this done before half term so that the frogs can move back in in time to lay their frogspawn. Our pond has a constant supply of fresh water fed into it from a natural spring.
We carefully removed the plants, and took away the dam that holds the water in the pond. We found about six frogs and lots of dragon fly larvae which we carefully put into the buckets with the plants and some mud. We will put all these back once we have finished. The frogs were gently guided towards the log pile we had made with the sticks and mud from the dam. Hopefully they will wait there until their new home is ready!
It all looks a bit of a mess at the moment, but we are hoping to get it finished within the next couple of weeks.
Not only did the pond area look a bit messy, but our Year 6 children did too! They were covered in mud and pond weed when they returned to school ! Some had chosen to paint their faces with mud (for beautification purposes, of course!) and some simply chose to sit (or fall ) in the mud. The water filled many pairs of wellies and we all squelched back into school at the end of the session.
The children all worked really hard today, their communication and problem solving was amazing, and they worked as a team to dig out some of the bigger plants, and the discussion on how to divert the water that ran out of the pond once the dam was removed was fabulous!
Miss T and Laura have been very impressed with the amount of work we have all managed to get done in one session.
Well done Year 6, let's see what we can achieve next week!
Have a look at our photos below...
Year 6 - Session 2 - Friday 18th January 2019
Re-introduction to our woodland.
It was very cold this morning, about -1 degree C, we had to make sure we had plenty of layers of warm clothing on to keep us warm enough! Some of us said we would bring a few more layers next week if it is as cold as it was today!
By the afternoon, it was much less cold, about +2 degrees C, but we still needed plenty of layers of clothing on and the ground was still frozen, some of us said how cold our toes were!
We spent some time with the animals, we noticed how thick the goats fur is and we were determined to give the guinea pigs a cuddle. Olive was as grumpy as ever, but behaved herself once she had been well fed! We managed to catch some of our chickens again too. We think they actually quite like having a cuddle really!
We went into the woodland today and talked about how some of the trees need coppicing (that means trimming, taking off some of the dead branches to open up the tree canopy, to let more light into the wood in the summer). We looked at an area of the woodland that Miss Thompson and Laura have been working on, (with the help of Miss Thompson's grown up children, Sam and Lauren), and we could see the difference this coppicing is making. Hopefully we will be able to do some of this once we are confident with the tools.
We looked at the willow dens that Mrs Kaye's Dragon class made last term and saw that some of the buds on the stems are just beginning to show signs of growing. We'll keep a close eye on those over the next few weeks!
We walked round to the pond and on the way saw a tree with lots of dead branches on it, so Miss Thompson and Laura said we could break a few off. Dead wood breaks very easily with a loud 'snap', and these branches could break off if it's windy. We broke the long branches into smaller bits and left them in the wood, away from the main paths, for bugs and creatures to use as dens over the winter.
We went to the pond. This is going to be our main focus over the next few weeks, until half term. We are going to make it bigger and a bit deeper because we need to make sure the water stays in the pond over the summer so it is a more sustainable habitat for all the pond creatures to live and breed in. We need to carefully take all the plants out and put them into buckets with mud from the bottom of the pond, then we will move the dam and let all the water out so we can dig the pond deeper and decide how we are going to keep the water in it when it fills back up. Our pond fills up naturally from a spring that comes out of the ground.
We are going to get very muddy next week,
so we'll need lots of old clothes and wellies if possible please!
Have a look at photos from today in the gallery below.
Year 6 - Session 1 - Friday 11th Jan 2019
Health and Safety and Meeting our Animals
We had our Health and Safety talk with Miss Thompson and Laura in the classroom, and we learnt how to keep safe during our Forest School sessions, how to behave around the animals and also how important it is to have the correct clothing during the cold winter months.
After this, we went and spent an hour on our Animal Park. We met Norris, Norbert and Ned, our goats; Olive, our very grumpy pig, our 15 very frizzy chickens and most of our 17 guinea pigs. We hand fed, stroked and fussed the goats and Olive cleared up all the food that was on the floor! When we finally managed to catch some of our not-very-tame guinea pigs, we had a cuddle from them too, but they are very shy. Some of us had to squeeze right into the guinea pig hutch to catch them! We had cuddles with Fizz Bomb and Speckles, two of our hens and we put some new signs on the animal pens to tell us what jobs need doing.
We swept Olive's pen, and cleared her toilet area, but we have to leave her bed alone because she gets even more grumpy if we mess with it! We have learnt that we should not feed Olive from our hands, but the goats love to eat their dried food out of our hands, it tickles and they are so gentle! Even some of the chickens came and ate from our hands too!
Have a look at our photos below....
Year 6 said that it was good to be back in Forest School and that they are looking forward to learning lots of new skills over the next 11 weeks.
Year 6 will begin their Forest School sessions THIS FRIDAY, 11th January.
Please bring suitable OLD CLOTHES and wellies / boots.
Please see letter with relevant information below.
PLEASE SEE PLANNING FOR THE FIRST 6 WEEKS BELOW.
We are looking forward to some very exciting activities!