Friday, 12 July 2013

Hard Labour at forest School

When we finished building our clay oven last term we had had a heep of clay left over.  This is now being turned into dust with make shift tools as part of one of the games a group are playing.  Even in the heat they pound away working together to what aim I not sure but it probably has something to do with the worship of the all great chuggy pig.  The humble woodlouse has become the focus of a number of the children with the building of houses and roads basically a hugh infrastructure for these creatures to live in.
Another group the den buliders have been on the move this week taking over the space we use when its wet as their new home.  It great to watch as they collect more and more stuff over the period of a term which all has to be moved from one location to another.  The group will sometimes ask an adult to help with the really big logs but most of the time, they quite happily work as a tem to move.
The groups got creative making a sculpture to welcome visitors to the Forest School as it is the school fair tomorrow and we will be up for inspection from the rest of the school.  Along with this art work a number of clay sculptures were made to adorn the Forest School.

Friday, 28 June 2013

The one that got away was THIS BIG!

A wet session did not put a dampner on the crew of HMS Tinderbox as it set sail yesterday in the rain.  We contructed our own tall ship with rigging and sails and the crew went fishing.
We made our fishing rods including hooks from sticks found around the site, by cutting the V joints on branches we were able to fashion hooks.  The group had a go at tying a round turn and two half hitches to conect the rod to the hook and with the addition of some wood cookie sharks we were off to catch the big one.  The wood cookie sharks were just wood cookies with holes drilled in them to allow a piece of wire to pass through.  The piece of wire was then looped over and knoted on the back with a wiggle eye fixed on just above the gapping mouth the sharks were ready.

It wasn't all Jolly Rogers and shark fishing, there was sewing business left over from last week and using blanket stitch a quiver was fashioned.  With the rain coming down harder and harder one of the boys came up with the idea of making himself a cape from the tarp fabric used for the quiver.
Grog and ships biscuits were had in the renamed willow den now known as the Boat House.  One of the boys had been busy sweeping the floor ready for his shipmates and seeing there is only a dense foliage roof we managed to stay quite dry.

Today the sun came out and with a fresh crew we were building boats from junk.
Using a collection of old plastic bottles, those who wanted to build a boat started lashing the
botttles together, no designs were the same.  One of the boats had two masts and with hot chocolate jars adding floatation looked great, another had a wheel added to make it more like a really sailing ship.

At the end of the session we took them off to the school pond to hold a regatta, unfortunately even with yesterday's rain the pond was near to empty.  Although there was enough water for one boy to fill his wellies!!

As well as the boat building we did go fishing as well, no sharks caught today but we did catch a chocolate bisciuts.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Teach me something and I will teach you something

This week I was shown how to make a double headed daisy by one of the girls.  You take two daisy heads one with a stalk and one without.  The one without you make a hole in the centre of it with a thorn or thin sharp stick.  Through the hole you thread the stalk of the other daisy through so the backs of the two heads touch then you break off the extra stalk you don't need.

In exchange for the double headed daisy I had to show how to make and fire a bow and arrow.  This lead to a number of the group wanting to make bows all very Robin hood.  After setting some ground rules about what to shoot at we managed to get everyone home with their arrows in their hands and not through their ears.

We love making swings at Forest school and have found a variation on this instead of tying the rope off on the tree we use it to hoist the rider up in the tree (about 180cm seat to ground)  This has been going down very well unless your the adult doing the pulling up and down.  We will be investing in a couple of pulleys so the children can start to pull each other up and down as well with the addition of a stopper knot no one will come down to earth will a bump.

We made our first movie today as well a couple of the boys were using the chopping blocks in the whittling area as drums and taking it in turns to dance and sing to their crazy beats.
Finally if you you don't live next to the beach don't worry why not try making wood chip castles.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A rope, a bucket, and a couple of pulleys= Fun

Today's session was largely taken up with the challenge of getting wood chip from one point to another without walking it there.  The group were given a rope a set of pulleys a couple of wooden hooks and a lot of buckets.  One of the boys took control of the setting up of a line to hang the hooks from which they could then hang the buckets from once they were filled.  This system worked for a while but they decided to tinker with the design and in the end had one of the hooks attached to a pulley and then attached two ropes to this so the pulley ran a long the static line and was controled by the two ropes from each pile.  There was some to team work and problem solving going on, although the operating of hooking the bucket on did have its moments of conflict as they worked out a rota of whose go it was.

Our tree house had its annual changing of the ropes on Sunday and past muster by the group who like to use it.  It is checked for soundness before each session but because we uses a natural fibre rope to construct it which can become weak.  We like to remove it once a year to give the tree a break which stops the rope digging into the tree as it grows.
We were treated to cake as it was one of the boy's birthdays yesterday, we almost missed singing 'happy birthday' as he had shot off to get back to his game before we had chance to start.  He was pulled back and sung to by the group led by his elder brother.
With us all trampling around the site it is amazing the amount of wildlife we keep finding, frogs being a favourite but today we found the world biggest worm.
Its great to see the respect the group show when looking at wildlife and when we need to move it to a safer area.
The best part of Forest School is when the children lead their learning by coming up with their own ideas.  At the end of the Friday session two of the boys built a seesaw from a couple of chopping blocks and an old fence post.  They first checked the post was sound by placing it on a block and walking up it before they started seesawing on it.  The experimentation the boys used as they thought about the risk of just going for it was nice to see.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Ship Ahoy!

With a warm afternoon ahead of us we thought it would be nice to play with some water.  An old storm damaged tarp was put to good us as it was cut up to be used to make the outer skins of some sailing boats.  We started by cutting some willow and forming big bushy rings which were held together with string, these frames were then laid onto the tarp to measure how much fabric would be needed so we could get afloat.  Once the tarp was cut out, we got the needles and thread out and stitched the tarp to the frame with a stick sown across the middle of the boats to attach the masts.  The masts was square lashed to the boats and then a sail or two were stitched to them, then rigging was added to keep the masts upright and the boats were ready to sail.  Most of the crew had a go at the sewing and the making a frame.  One or two needed a little more support to get their boat sea worthy.  It important to remind the children we go at their speed, they set the pace not us. When the boats were ready we went of to the pond to float them unfortunately the pond is quite low at the moment so it was more sitting in harbour than taking to the high seas.

Not all the children wanted to make boats and those that didn't went off to play games of their own making.  One was all about lions living in the long grass at Forest School.  This is the nice thing about Forest School, it's up to you what you do and if you're not interested in the activity the majority are doing you don't have to take part, we will help you find something else to do. 
Sorry I deleted the photo of the boats afloat before adding it to the blog!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Chuggy pigs

We would like to know who stole summer and could we have it back.  It was wet and windy at FS on Thursday so instead of going under the trees we based ourselves in the outdoor classroom and the playing field.  Hot chocolate was made using the pump action flask operated by one of the older boys so no one had to try and get a storm kettle going with damp wood.  We haven't done any knots for a while so this seemed like a good time especially as one of the boys wanted to make a lasso.  We started with stopper knots and figure of eights working on the floor.  With eveyone feel confident we each had a long piece of string which we tied a stopper knot of the bite at one end.  With a loop at one end we threaded the other end through the loop making our lasso and then it was out into the drizzle to try and catch a stick or two.  From this how do we make a lasso we end up with a game of chase named by Emily, Fox and Hounds.  One of the boys caught a stick with his lasso and pulled the stick came out of the ground he started running a coulpe of the others chased him to try and catch the stick.  They started to take it in turn to be the fox who had to get to his den before the hounds got him (a large blue cone left by the football team in the middle of the field). this went on for quite a long time.  
Friday was drier and no wind so it was back into the FS site everyone was feeling creative with a couple of groups making dens now the trees have leaves and the grass is getting longer there is a whole new world to hide in.  One boy made a muscical instrument by handing bits of wood he found and then played it adding more wood to get different sounds.
The another group started to build chuggy world starting with a hotel and then swimming pool, roads and olympic staduim.  Digging holes in the ground and covering then up with sticks leaves and flowers.  In the end we had to ask who lives in Chuggy world and of course its the Chuggy pigs or woodlices.

Firing the clay oven next week we are going to have a go a cooking cookies in it.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Toad and Monsters

It feels like summer this week and it brought out the wildlife, we found a toad in the Forest School site which was moved to a nice pile of leaves which it was less likely to be stood on.  The children handled it with care and kept returning to the pile to see if the leaves were moving.  It was good to see that they recognised that it was another living being and that it might be scared with all the attention.

The work on the clay oven continues with the removal of the sand on Thursday and four large holes were dug on Friday some we could put a roof over it.  At the moment the roof is only a tarp on a frame next term we may have a go at making shingles as we have a source of soft wood.  If everyone makes two we should be able to cover the oven easily.

One of the boys brought a book with him which he was desperate to finish reading.  The book was all about monster and beast so with the book finished he started to make a giant picture of one of the beast on the ground.  He used materials he found around the FS site this then lead to a number of other boys making their own monsters.

 We have had a sand for digging in for along time and it is hardly used but as we needed somewhere to put the sand form the clay oven it was dumped in the sand pit.  This generated a sudden interest in the pit.  The using it had great fun building roads and houses.  It will be interesting to see if they return to it next week or will it be ignored once again.