Have a look at our latest Forest School News here.......Keep coming back to see regular updates!
Ethos of Forest Schools
“Forest School is based more on the process of learning than it is on the content, more on the 'how' than the 'what'. This means that genuine Forest School practice steps out of the shadow and limitation of 'planned activities' and ventures collaboratively into the realms of the unplanned, unexpected and ultimately unlimited. Learners are given encouragement to direct their own learning - this often requires catalysing on the part of the FS leader either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through 'scaffolding' a child's learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors.”
You will be continuing your Forest School sessions until Christmas.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR FOREST SCHOOL KIT TO SCHOOL EVERY WEDNESDAY MORNING TO CHANGE IN TO AFTER DINNER.
We WILL be going out every week, unless the weather is totally unsuitable, so PLEASE bring OLD CLOTHES, BOOTS (no trainers!) that are appropriate for the weather conditions on the day.
We have lots of exciting activities planned for our second half term in the woods. Please have a look at the "PLANNING" section (blue buttons to the left of this text, or 'Menu / Forest Schools / Planning' if you're reading this on your phone) to see what we will be doing, and to see copies of all relevant FS documents for this coming term.
Over the next half term we will be learning about the history of our woodland and how it has evolved over the last 50 years; we will be building bug and hedgehog hotels, looking at food chains and habitats over the winter months and classification keys. We are also hoping to make some fabulous Christmas woodland crafts during December and we may even have a campfire for our last session!
Year 4 - Session 8 - 6th November
Historical Landmarks in our woodland
We started our session in the classroom this week and had a look at an aerial photograph of the school grounds, which included our Forest School site and Animal Park. The photo was taken around 1977 and we could see that a lot of things had changed since then: There were no trees where our woodland is now, it was just an open field; the Animal Park wasn't there; there were a lot more buildings in the school yard. We went outside to see if we could find where the buildings used to be. We remembered to 'ground' or 'orienteer' our photos, just like we did with our maps.
We also looked at a document that showed pictures of the old swimming bath that the miners built. We went into the woods and found what is left of it. It is very overgrown and some of us suggested that maybe we could try and clear it out so we can see it properly. We talked about the spring that fills our pond and that maybe this is what used to fill the swimming bath.
We spent some time on the Animal Park today too. The goats were very pleased to see us and Horace and Olive were very noisy until we gave them some food out of our school fruit buckets. The chicks are getting very big now and they come out for a run round most afternoons. Some of them ate out of our hands!
We talked about how tall the trees are getting. We looked at a photo taken in 2005 from the metal gate at the top of the woodland, and the trees were so small that you could see all the way over to Morton! The trees were planted about 25 years ago, around 1994. We wondered if any of our grown ups remember them being planted?
It was cold in the woods today so we decided not to get too muddy or wet. We made muddy handprints on the trees and tried not to fall into the pond! (although a couple of us did!) We found a tiny froglet and Miss T asked us to try and get some of the duck weed off the top of the pond, which we did with big sticks. It was fun!
Have a look at our photos below.
Year 4 - Session 7 - 22nd October
More orienteering.... and the Food Chain Challenge!
Orienteering with a difference this week. We worked in groups with the adults - each group was given a map with 10 numbered control points marked on it (different to last week) and each group started on a different number. We had to collect a pictured card from each control point and when we had collected all 10 cards, we returned to the log circle and had to work out what the cards were for. Most of the groups realised that we were making food chains from the pictures and quickly put the cards in order.
"A food chain always starts with a PRODUCER. This is an organism that makes its own food. Most food chains start with a green plant because plants can make their food by photosynthesis. A living thing that eats other plants is called a CONSUMER. A PREDATOR is an animal that eats other animals. The animals that PREDATORS eat are called PREY. PREDATORS are found at the top of a food chain."
You will see from the photos below how good Year 4 are at putting food chains in order.
After we had completed our food chain pictures, we had time for exploring and we found the new Mud Kitchen that the Stonebroom Community Group built for us. We also went on the cargo net. We're getting really good at playing safely on there and we know that only 6 of us are allowed on it at one time.
Super team work again this week Year 4, good map sharing, you can now 'ground' or 'orienteer' your maps correctly by using land marks, like the pond, the brook or the piggy area and well done at completing the Food Chain Challenge!
Year 4 - Session 6 - 16th October
Orienteering in the woodland.
Mrs Kaye has recently introduced Orienteering to Year 4, so we decided to test these newly learned skills in the woodland. We gave the children a map with 10 control points marked on it and after a quick warm up, 10 teams of 3 children disappeared into the woodland to find their first Control Point, using the map to help them. They had to remember to stay on the woodland paths and to work together and upon discovering their designated Control Point, they looked inside the packet attached to it to discover an alphabetical letter. They then returned to Mrs Kaye at the centre point of the woodland to tell her which letter they had found and she recorded this for each team. The teams then went to find the next number and corresponding letter until all 10 Control points had been visited. They then had to unscramble the letters they had found to make the word "Stonebroom"! This took about an hour and tested the resilience, independence and organisational skills of each team. They also needed to 'ground' their maps to make sure they went in the right direction, which is a skill in itself as it sometimes involved turning the map upsidedown! The children also needed to work together, stay together and look out for each other in the woodland. Miss T, Laura and Sam were positioned at various points to ensure the safety of the children and to guide them in the right direction if necessary. Once all teams had completed this task, everyone was congratulated on their stickability, map reading and teamwork skills and we all returned to the main log circle. Each team was asked to go and fetch the Control Point that corresponded to their team number and bring it back to the main log circle. This task was also completed efficiently and enthusiastically!
We finished a very busy Forest School session with the Trust Rope and Animal Alliteration team building games.
Well done Year 4, we'll test your Orienteering skills a bit more next week!
Year 4 - Session 5 - 9th October
Sailing our rafts, visiting the animals and looking at fungus!
A very busy session today, we spent some time with the animals at last, sailed our rafts and Sam taught us about fungus in the woodland.
We went to the river and tried sailing our rafts there. The water was flowing very fast and some of us knew that it was because we have had lots of rain recently. The rafts went really fast and we had a job to catch them before they disappeared down the river, but we worked together and caught any rafts that were getting away!
Then we went to the pond and sailed them there, which was very different because the water wasn't flowing very much at all. We found that if we whisked the water with a stick behind the rafts, this propelled them across the pond. We had to find very long, strong sticks to do this and then we could fish our rafts out when they got to the other side. We used the sticks to poke them across the pond too. We found that we had to work together to do this and we enjoyed working out what to do.
When we were walking down to the river Sam showed us some fungus that is growing in the woods, following on from our interest in what we saw last week. We found a ripe puff ball fungus and when we tapped the top of it, lots of spores came out. Spores are the seeds of the mushroom and they will land on the woodland floor and start the life cycle again for this time next year. Sam told us again that we should never touch any mushrooms unless we are with an adult who knows about them, because many of them could make us quite poorly. Sam told us that it was safe to tap the puff ball and watch the spores fly out. Some of us said it looked like smoke coming out of a chimney. We looked at lots of different species of fungi and we learned that we should always stay on the paths in the woodland and look where we are walking, so that we don't stand on any fungus and damage it.
We also found a Tussock Moth caterpillar, which was bright yellow and fluffy and a very large toad! Laura talked to us about the differences between frogs and toads. We learned that frogs are smooth and a bit slimy and their back legs are usually longer; toads are warty and have rougher skin and are usually a lot more round with shorter back legs; also toads prefer to live in dark damp places, on land and frogs are amphibious which means they can live both in and out of water. Frogs mostly take big jumps to move but toads take smaller jumps and walk more.
It was lovely to spend time on the Animal Park again. We let our chicks out for a run and a scratch, scratch peck and Horace came out to say hello. He wandered around the Animal Park picking up all the bits of food that were left and then he went into the goat shed and had a job to turn round to come back out because he is so big! He weighs around 25 stones but he is very gentle and calm and loves to have his back tickled. Olive was her usual noisy self, so we made sure she had lots of apples out of the playground piggy bucket to eat. The goats enjoyed being fed and fussed by us all and we noticed that their fur is getting much thicker now, ready to keep them warm in the winter. The guinea pigs were very shy as usual, but they did venture out into the run when we put some food down. We had a look at Harold, our hedgehog and were amazed by how much he had grown since we last saw him. He was all curled up in a lovely nest in the chicken coop; he comes out and eats a plate of cat food and pasta each night, has a run round the coop and then goes back to sleep in the morning.
Have a look at the photos below, we had another fabulous session in the woods.
Year 4 - Session 5 - 2nd October
'Using tools for a purpose.'
We have been so lucky with the weather so far this term, we had yet another beautifully sunny day for our Forest School session today, and nearly everyone brought their kit! Fantastic! I would also like to say that behaviour was, yet again, amazing with nearly everyone showing wonderful team work, consideration and the ability to share and work together.
Several children asked last week if we could make stick rafts this week, so, in pairs, the children loppered several sticks to the same length and then lashed them together using jute string. This is quite a difficult thing to do and definitely needed them to work together. Some guidance from the adults was needed but mostly the work was independent and problem solved by the children. They then whittled thinner sticks to a point to make a mast for the raft, with a flag made out of natural materials.
We will be sailing our rafts on the pond and on the river next week! Watch this space for updates!
Have a look at the photos to see the end results of this fabulous collaboration.
Laura discovered a Fly Agaric mushroom in the woodland this morning. This mushroom is the classic fairy tale red topped mushroom, with white spots and although poisonous, is definitely one to have a look at, given the opportunity. There is a lot of fungi in our woodland at present, so we took the opportunity to talk about how important it is as part of a healthy ecosystem, but that it should be left well alone, as much of it could cause illness, nausea or worse if ingested. Fungus has a very important purpose, in that the mycelium, or (vegetative) root system breaks down dead and rotting wood, which in turn feeds the soil and brings added nutrients to everything from bugs to trees. It's a fascinating subject is that of fungus!
We had a good discussion with the children about this today, and it was fabulous to see the Fly Agaric mushroom in our woodland. It is not just the stuff of fairy tales after all!
Thank you again Year 4, you are really settling in to your Forest School sessions now, and you are a pleasure to have in our wonderful woodland!
Year 4 - Session 4 - 25th September
We revisited tools today and the children remembered lots from when they were in Year 2, which was wonderful. They listened to Tool Talks from Miss T and Laura on loppers and peelers and then showed us how sensibly and safely they could use these tools. We loppered sticks and used the peelers to whittle sticks to a point, which is quite a difficult thing to do.
The woodland was very muddy after all the rain, so we had to be very careful when using the equipment too, because everything was very slippery. We didn't spend much time with the animals today because the Animal Park was very muddy and 32 pairs of feet would have made it a lot worse! We just waved at everyone as we passed by, they didn't wave back though!
The high tarp in the wood was full of water so just before we came back to school we pushed a long stick up underneath it and all the water poured out! Some of us were soaking wet - the water was very cold but it was a lot of fun!
Have a look at our photos below. Super behaviour today Year 4 - Wonderful!
Year 4 - Session 3 - 18th September, 2019
Firstly, I would like to say that I am very pleased that nearly all of Mrs Kaye's Dragon Class remembered their Forest School kit today, very impressive! Well done all of you!
We had a very busy session today. We spent some time with our animals and learned that our battery hens used to live in small cages that were lined up in a smelly shed. They never used to go outside until they came to live on our Animal Park. We also talked about how an egg is made inside a hen and that they lay one egg every 25 hours. We had a look inside the egg at the yolk and the albumen, and talked about how the yolk turns into a chick in a fertile egg. We looked at our chicks and fed the goats and Horace and Olive, our pigs. We couldn't catch any guinea pigs this week!
We explored the equipment on the main Forest School site and talked about how to play safely on everything. We are getting more confident on our climbing tree now and we really love playing on the cargo net. We found that we can sit and bounce on the slack line and it's very funny when we fall off! We also put the balance beam back over the pit on the bike ramp area, that took a lot of us working together as it's a very heavy log, but we did it and then we walked over it. Super team work Year 4!
We went down to the meadow to look at the willow dens that Year 4 made last year; they are growing really well, we'll soon be able to hide in them! We looked at the acorns and apples on the trees and found some juicy blackberries to eat and we learned that all these things are the fruits of the trees and bushes and that they are also the seeds.
We did find a lot of rubbish in the wood today, litter that people who visit our woodland leave behind instead of putting it in the bins provided or taking it home. It makes us very sad that people do this, especially as we have to tidy it all up before we can play on the equipment. It is also dangerous to the wildlife that lives in the wood, so we talked about how important it is not to leave litter anywhere. Put it in a bin, or better still, take it home!
Have a look at this weeks photos below!
Year 4 - Session 2 - 11th September, 2019
We had our first session in the woods this week and we found that quite a lot had changed since our last visit when we were in Year 2. We visited our Animal Park with Miss Thompson and Mrs Kaye and were introduced to our new chicks. We have 4 chicks that hatched on 2nd August 2019, 2 that hatched on 31st August and 5 that have been given to us by Pilsley School; they hatched 18 in the middle of July in an incubator, so they asked if we would like some for our Animal Park. Thank you Pilsley! They're wonderful! We also met Horace the pig who moved to our Animal Park over the summer holidays. He's very large and very friendly. Our goats, Norbert, Norris and Ned are still very naughty, but they ate out of our hands and they're very friendly too! We sat with our guinea pigs and even managed to catch a few for a cuddle. We are also looking after a hedgehog that Mrs George found on the school yard, he is living in the chicken coop for a while until he puts some weight on. He eats cat food every night, but he's nocturnal so Miss Thompson had to wake him up so we could see him. Lots of us said that we had never seen a live hedgehog before! You'll see on the photos below what fun we had!
We also spent some time in the woodland with Laura and Sam (Miss Thompson's son who is helping in Forest Schools this term). We had time to explore our main Forest School site and to play on the new equipment. We have a cargo net, which is just like a huge spider web, and we now have some very large tyres to climb on. There is a slack line for us to try to walk on, but it's very hard and we had to help each other to balance. We went for a walk around the woodland and found some juicy blackberries to eat; we also noticed that there are lots of apples on the trees, but they are not quite ripe yet, we'll have to wait a few weeks before we can pick them. We visited Sizzles' Den (he's our woodland dragon, ask us and we'll tell you all about him!) and then went to the pond and some of us got a bit muddy, but it was lots of fun. The pond has changed a lot since we last visited.
We are really looking forward to exploring our woodland and learning lots of new skills over the next 12 weeks. Have a look at our photos below, and there'll be a blog on our class page each week with more info on what we've been doing in Forest Schools!