Last May we made a crown of flowers we had a merry day, -
Beneath the hawthorn on the green they made me Queen of May;
And we danced about the May-pole and in the Hazel copse,
‘Till Charles’s Wain came out above the tall White Chimney-tops.
But I must gather knots of flowers,
And buds of garlands gay,
For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, Mother
I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson
I found this and on the internet and thought it summed up what a marvellous time we all had in the woods today; trying to celebrate the arrival of the May blossom whilst dodging the rain clouds.
Because it was wet and windy we didn’t sit down for long, instead we went exploring and found the Fairy Tree. We managed to squeeze three children inside the gap. We played a new game too. We had some great ninjas in the wood as we played a variation of ‘what’s the time Mr. Wolf?’
You might notice that there are a lot more photos this week than normal. That is because the children took over the responsibility if taking the photos. I hope you like them as I thought they turned out pretty well.
We decorated our area with the sweet smell of the May blossom and even managed to make some crowns for some children. We had to be careful as there are spikes hidden in amongst the blossoms.
There was just about time for May Queen party but we were a bit late back for lunch. What a busy day!
Knots and Badgers 19/05/21
What a glorious Forest School day with late spring sunshine warming everyone and putting smiles on all our faces. I never think of summer as having fully arrived until the May blossom is fully out and while a few blossoms were showing at the top of some bushes that super display of masses of blooms is yet to occur. Fingers crossed for next week as ten we can have our May king and Queen picnic in the woods.
On the way to the forest School site we stopped off by the new badger set. It has just been dug and is being used as the children had a sniff and proclaimed it very smelly. How exciting, we will look out for other signs of badgers over the coming weeks.
When we arrived at the centre we went over the things we had wanted from last week, one was den building so I showed the group how to tie a Timber Hitch. The children then tied one and tested it out to see how strong it was. It was so strong that we were even able to make a swing with it. Unfortunately, there are not any really good trees to hang a swing from so we didn’t do that for long.
We broke into groups and did our own activities. I helped some children who wanted to saw. Miss Luke helped with hammocks and whittling. I think everyone was busy doing things which is always great to see.
Sticky Jack Attack 12/05/21
Walking out of the school I saw the first glimpses of May (Hawthorn) blossom coming out, I hoped there would be more along the path to the dene. Alas there wasn’t any and so we could not crown a May king and queen and herald in the summer in style. Instead, we collected up some Sticky Jack (Cleavers, Galium aparine) and made some fine crowns, beards and other ornaments.
After running down the hill to the Forest School site and taking a short-cut that seems to get longer each time we do it, we arrived at the centre. I introduced some new tools that the children might want to use. It is important that they follow the instructions carefully as we use proper tools for cutting, splitting and shaping. Today we used bow saws and bill-hooks.
The children then went off and chose the activities they wanted to do. We had den making, rope climbing and hammocks as well as the wood working that was being supervised.
The sun eventually came out for the last 15 minutes, just in time to make our reflection extra peaceful. It was a very nice end to our Forest School session.
Cooking and Whittling 05/05/21
This week was a bit different than others as we were at the school site. This meant we had access to the oven for our cooking. This week we were going to make some garlic bread. I had washed the wild garlic so it was all ready to use.
When we got to the camp we went over the safety points, the main one was not to trip on the guy ropes. After that we could crack on with making the bread and preparing the sauce, everyone got involved in mixing, cutting and kneading. It was a very busy session. We also had to check the fire; smoke was bad as it meant that the fire was going out, but too much flame wouldn’t cook the bread through before burning it. After we made the garlic sauce there was enough time to make some biscuits. It was difficult to fit everything in the oven so we slotted them above the bread. This might have been a mistake as the heat near the top of the oven is very hot. Needless to say they blackened very quickly but still tasted yummy. The bread was my favourite. The garlic sauce made a crispy crust on top of the buns, which rose up to fluffy yumminess. I hope you enjoy the ones that were taken home.
With no walking to do there was even time for a rope challenge and some whittling. I felt like I had fitted a whole day into one morning at Forest School.
Rope Adventure 28/04/21
We were so busy last week exploring the dene that we completely forgot to get some wild garlic, so we went off with the intention of finding some. The important thing to remember with wild garlic is to pick leaves well away from the path. That way there is a good chance they won’t have been contaminated. In order to find the best leaves, we would have to cross the stream! We set up a safety line to hold as wet rocks are slippy. We used a timber hitch to secure on end, some of the children had a go at tying the knot. We picked enough wild garlic leaves to make a good sauce but made sure that we left lots and lots behind.
The children so loved the rope adventure that we set the rope up on top of a bank where the children could slide down. This proved so much fun that some children continued to have rope adventures on the slope for the rest of the session. Others wanted to have a go at whittling sticks. We got the stick whittlers out and set about making things.
It is quite easy to lose track of time in the woods but we still managed to fit in a cup of hot chocolate and have quiet time at the end of the session. It was a good Forest School morning.
Back in the Woods 21/04/21
With spring rapidly progressing and the leaves beginning to bud, the Dene provided a beautiful backdrop to the first Forest School of the term.
After we got out of the school grounds we all had practice of some of the safety drills that we use. The children remembered how we behaved around dogs and did some very good ‘dog angels’. The path was very dry so we whizzed up to the Dene. When we got there it smelt very strongly of garlic. The whole Dene is smothered in wild garlic. The plan was to go off the path to pick some for cooking next week, unfortunately we were all so busy that we forgot!
Firstly, we found a ‘wild chair’. If you find a wild chair you have to sit in it and if you sit in a wild chair, then you have to make wild noises so we did. Then we took the hard way across the stream to get to the Forest School site. When there, we made sure that everyone knew where they were allowed to go and so everyone went off to explore. Meanwhile I put up some hammocks in case pupils wanted to chill or have a swing; they did.
Some pupils found some interesting sticks that they wanted to sharpen so we got the gloves out and used the sharpeners to shape the sticks.
After a break and some drinks we finished our session with some quite time. It is so peaceful sitting still and listening while the sun shines through the trees that I think it might have been my favourite part of the whole morning.