Tuesday 22 May 2012

Session 5

Today we were cooking! First we created the fire circle and lit the fire:

We then set about preparing the food. We made Panzanella, which is Tuscan bread, tomato and pepper salad. This didn't require any cooking. We then prepared 'pitta pocket pizzas' and fruit kebabs.

Annabel gives the salad a good toss - hands are best for this!!
The pitta pocket pizzas were wrapped in foil and baked in the embers of the fire. It was important to look after the fire and observe fire safety at all times.

Charlotte and Louise look after the fire while keeping an eye on their pitta pocket pizzas
There should be a maximum of 3 people in zone 2 at any one time. (Zone 2 is the area for lighting, using and maintaining the fire). This is because:
-       there is a small amount of space
-       it prevents overcrowding round the fire and reduces risk

When at the fire in zone 2 you must adopt the ‘respect position’ which is to kneel on one knee. This is so that :
-       you don’t lean over the fire
-       you are less likely to over balance
-       you can stand up more easily if there is a problem than if kneeling on both knees

Fiona adopts the respect position

Here we are tucking into the food. The weather was fantastic!

Some of us have been working hard on our log books and keeping a record of all the activities we have completed over the weeks.

Knots, tool talks, picture frames and dream catchers

When we began Forest School Club back in April we learnt about the importance of reflection. We are taking a break now for a while as there are assignments to complete and exams to revise for so we ended our session today by reflecting on what we had learnt and enjoyed during our time at Forest School. We extinguished the fire each pouring over a cup of water and thinking or saying words of reflection.

Session 4

Our main theme this week was whittling with sheath knives and potato peelers. We compared the two to see which tool was more effective. Whichever one we used we were encouraged to work safely so before we began we carried out tool talks:

Doing a tool talk with the sheath knife

We then set about whittling stick people:

We decorated them with permanently marking, water based, acrylic pens:

Here are a selection of our stick people:

We couldn't all whittle at once so whilst we were waiting we worked in our teams to make a storyboard of a well known story. First we made a row of similar-sized frames out of sticks. Then using natural materials, each team told their story in a series of two- or three-dimensional pictures in the frames.

 The rest of us had to try to guess the stories. Do you recognise them?

The Three Little Pigs

Pedro finds true love! Pedro is the woodland character created in week 1!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

We're all going on a bear hunt
We ended the session with an introduction to the fire circle.

We set out a series of circles to create zones and demonstrated and explained how they work:
  • Zone 1 - the fire itself
  • Circle 1 - around the fire
  • Zone 2 - the area for lighting, using and maintaining the fire
  • Circle 2 - zone 2 boundary
  • Zone 3 - space for legs when sitting, wide enough so that they cannot touch circle 2                     
  • Circle 3 - sitting circle: logs, benches etc for people to sit on
  • Zone 4 - walking zone
  • Circle 4 - outer perimeter: boundary with entrance and exit to walking zone                     
Fire equipment was placed within easy reach and explained to everyone:
  • safety bag / first aid kit (outside the zones)
  • water
  • gloves
  •  fire lighting kit
  • wood
We practised how to use the circles and zones before doing any fire lighting:
  • pointed out the entrance and exits and how to WALK round the walking zone
  • demonstrated how to stand up and step back into the walking zone if moving or leaving and to walk, step over and sit down when entering
  • played games such as ‘swap places with someone who has a birthday in March’ to practice these important ‘rules’
It's important to understand that walking cuts down risk and creates a calm atmosphere which is important around a fire. Next week we are cooking!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Session 3

Our theme today was journeys and shelters. First we learnt two more knots which we would use later in the session to put up tarpaulin shelters. The first was a round turn and two half hitches, which is used to attach one end of the string to the tarpaulin:

Tying a round turn and two half hitches

The other knot was a figure of eight loop. This is tied half way along the string after it has been taken around the tree to which the shelter is going to be attached. The string is pulled through the loop and secured.

Practising the figure of eight loop using large ropes.

Ashley is very proud of her knot tying skills!!

We then went on a journey to the woods:

Before setting off we talked about three phases to our journey:
  1. Questioning - ask questions about the environment we are in such as 'what type of tree is that?' Collect a leaf to find out later...
  2. Research - At the end of our journey return to the classroom to find out the answers to our questions
  3. Sharing - present our journeys in an imaginative way

Exploring and collecting

Using Woodland Trust 'nature detectives' to identify the trees

The items of interest we collected were threaded onto 'journey strings':

We then put up tarpaulin shelters using the knots we learnt earlier. We also had to consider:
  • location e.g. take care not to trample on ground plants or erect them above brambles or nettles, which could cause injury. 
  • height e.g. if building a shelter with children it should be at their height
  • shelter i.e. will it shelter us from the weather?
Here are our first efforts which were excellent!

We ended the session by reflecting on the journey strings we had created. Our task before next week is to find out about two of the items on our strings and to be prepared to share our findings with the rest of the group.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Session 2

We began by reflecting on last week and in our groups we created representations of memorable activities and things we had learnt:

Laura, Amber, Robyn and Amy's representation was of a tool talk, demonstrating how to use the loppers safely.
For each tool there is a tool talk procedure which follows the same pattern each time and so helps us to learn their safe use:
·         This is a …
·         This is the handle
·         This is the cover (e.g. bowsaw, billhook, sheath knife etc)
·         I take the cover off like this
·         This is the blade
·         This is the cutting edge
·         I hold the …. Like this
·         I walk with the …. Like this
·         I pass the …. Like this
·         When I am not using it I put it down with the blade facing inwards(loppers the blade faces behind me) and the handle facing forwards
·         I use the …..to….
·         When I use it I use it 2 arms and a tool away from anyone else like this
·         When I have finished using it I put it back in its cover and place it in the designated place or toolbox.

We all practised the tool talk for the loppers:

Unfortunately the weather was unkind; it was rainy and very windy so we continued our activities indoors.

Our main focus this week was 'creative sticks'. We used our developing skills to make picture frames. First we had to find four interesting sticks. In some cases we had to use the loppers to cut them to size. We then lashed the sticks together with string to create the frame. The knots we used were the clove hitch, which attached the string to the vertical stick. We learnt a new knot called 'square lashing' which was used to bind the sticks together at 90-degree angles to one another. It was important to tighten each turn as it was made to make the lashing as secure as possible. Frapping turns secured the lashing and tightened it further.

We then decorated the frames with natural materials. "Picture frames help us focus on a distant view or on something near by... or to remind us of a special place." (Schofield and Danks, 2012, p.54).

Another activity was to make a 'dream-catcher'. "Native Americans believed that webs of natural fibres trapped bad dreams, only allowing the good dreams past." (Schofield and Danks, 2012, p.63).

We used stripped lengths of brambles which we bent and wove into a small circle. We then attached a long piece of thread to the circle and pulled it to the opposite side, winding it around a couple of times. We repeated the process several times to make a web. Again we attached natural materials to it and hung feathers etc from the bottom.

We took them home to hang near our beds!

We were very proud of our achievements. Some of us commented on how therapeutic the session had been!

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Session 1

We began our first Forest School session by thinking 'Why Forest School?' We wrote our thoughts on leaves and tied them to tree branches.


 Our thoughts were based on learning outside, having the freedom to explore in real contexts. So we set about exploring! We collected natural materials to make woodland characters.

Can you tell what they are?


We began to think about our characters; who are they? Where do they live ... We went to the woods to build dens for them:

 We returned to the friendship circle and reflected on where these activities could lead... creative writing, life cycles, pattern...
We ended our session by learning to tie a clove hitch and how to use loppers. Follow our progress next week to see how we use them.