Forest School

We are very blessed to have a Forest School area onsite where children can learn from nature and engage in practical outdoor skills based learning.

Our fully qualified Forest School Leader takes classes for sessions in this area on a weekly basis, assisted by staff and volunteers. When ever possible she also opens the forest school for a more free flow style experience at lunchtimes.

 

Forest School Staff Handbook

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Forest School Blog

26/2/2017

Emerald Class

Emerald class continued with their bug investigations. We welcomed Hana to our Forest School this week. She demonstrated fantastic enthusiasm for bug hunting!

Ruby Class

Ruby Class took on the challenge of creating another bridge across the sandpit. They were inspired by Diamond class! They continued with their flint and steel lighting and it was great to see brilliant peer support shown by Jason and Shane in explaining to their friends how to use the flint and steel.

Sapphire Class 

Sapphire class continued with their steel and flint testing. They were introduced to a new type of natural tinder that can be used to start a fire with. This is Usnea otherwise known as old man's beard which is a type of Lichen. It is recommended by Ray Mears! Everyone taking the steel and flint use test had a go at lighting it, but it was not as easy as Ray Mears makes it look!

​Carter came up with a great idea of adding some cotton wool with it and was the only person able to get the Usnea lit! The weather was against us, as it was wet and windy! 

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26/2/2017

Diamond Class - Building Bridges!

A group of children in Diamond class demonstrated amazing intuition and teamwork skills by building a bridge across the sandpit. They were led by Ashton and succeeded in securing the bridge so that they could walk across it. Well done to - Ashton, Alfie, Max, Tyler, Jamie and Charlie C. 

15/2/2017

Ruby and Sapphire Class

Clay Faces
The children really enjoyed creating different clay faces based on woodland wildlife. These will be displayed within our Forest School for all to see. Mrs Bliss used her fantastic creativity to inspire the children in producing some amazing art work!

 
Mini Beast Habitats

Ruby and Sapphire class have been learning about Arthropods and their habitats. We have some very keen entomologists within our school and the opportunity to create some  new mini beast habitats was welcomed by a number of children.
This activity was led by Mrs Bliss who very kindly volunteers to help the KS 2 Forest School sessions. 
​Another group of children spent time developing another mini beast habitat out of pallets and old plant pots. Filling the pots with decaying leaves and other dead plants. 

Flint and Steel Use

The children are going to be tested on their flint and steel use this term. Last term they learnt how to create sparks of fire using this equipment and the safety precautions they need to adhere to. A few children took their test and passed! These were Jason, Shane, Thom, Bradley, Poppy, George, Carter, Tommy, Emily D and Tyler. 

Green Tree School Awards

We have registered with the Woodland Trust to participate in the Green Trees School Award.
This is a very exciting project and will involve all the children in demonstrating their understanding on how we can protect trees and our environment. We are currently striving for our Bronze award. The clay faces that the children created will be used as evidence for creativity and a few children have produced work on creating a tree champion. We have also applied for a tree pack and will be receiving a delivery of 30 trees in March. 

The tree champion art work you can see has been created by, Isabella, Patrick, Heidi, Lucy B and Max H. This work is going towards our Bronze award. The awards are based on a points system and participating in the tree champion challenge, we will gain 2 points.

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Green Tree Viewpoints
Ruby and Mali have taken on the Green Tree Viewpoints challenge of taking photographs of a birds eye view, an insect view, a view from below and framing your picture. Below is their first attempt at a bird eye view! It was a big challenge to try and elevate themselves high enough to get the effect of being above ground. They used their initiative in climbing up onto the gate and looking down. The subject is a birds feather on a log. 

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Perseverance!
​Ruby was awarded a perseverance token for her exceptional determination in completing her noughts and crosses game that she has been making since last term. It is amazing and so creative! 

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14/2/2017

Emerald and Diamond Class

Terrific Trees!
The slide show below tells a story of the children acting out how trees grow. They were tasked with the challenge of finding all the elements needed for trees to grow and survive. These were soil, water, sun and air. They worked in groups and when one of the groups failed to find all the elements, the question "what would happen to the tree without water?" was asked. This opened up a big discussion from all the children and encouraged them to think about how each element supports tree life. All the children agreed with each other that without soil,sun,water and air trees would die.
Marcus from Emerald class said, "trees help us, because they give us oxygen!" 

This opened up another discussion with Emerald class, on photosynthesis.

What is Photosynthesis?
The word photosynthesis can be separated to make two smaller words:
“photo” which means light
“synthesis” which means putting together
Plants need food but they do not have to wait on people or animals to provide for them. Most plants are able to make their own food whenever they need it. This is done using light and the process is called photosynthesis.

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To make food plants need:

  1. carbon dioxide
  2. water
  3. sunlight

Let’s take a look at how these are collected by plants.

  • Carbon dioxide from the air passes through small pores (holes) in the leaves. These pores are called stomata.
  • Water is absorbed by the roots and passes through vessels in the stem on its way to the leaves.
  • Sunlight is absorbed by a green chemical in the leaves.

What is a bug?
The children participated in a discussion about how bugs belong to a group called Arthropods. These are animals that have no spine, a hard outer skin, legs with bones joined together and a body divided into different parts.
The children all took part in a bug hunt challenge and were tasked with using their investigative skills (learned last term) in finding and identifying different bugs. 
This is some of the independent work produced during the session by Jack, Evelyn, Ruby, Annabelle, Daisy,Ruthi, Giovanna, Charlie F, Izy, Megan and Taylor. Many of the children found lots of woodlouse and remembered that they have fourteen legs. This opened up a discussion on whether a woodlouse is an insect or not...

Is a woodlouse an insect?
This question got everyone thinking and some of the children said "no, because it has more than 6 legs." This was a great answer and correct. However, the next question got everyone perplexed...
Is a woodlouse related to a crab or Millipede?
The answer is crab as a woodlouse is a crustacean. It is the only crustacean to inhabit inland and not watery habitats. The children learned there are over 3,000 different species of woodlouse around the world.
Is a woodlouse a carnivore or herbivore?
The children learned that it is a herbivore and eats mainly decaying leaves and rotting wood. Many of the children linked this idea to where they found the woodlouse - under rotting wood piles. They had photographed these habitats during the session.
What types of creatures eat woodlouse?
Toads, millipedes, spiders and sometimes wasps. This prompted the children to think about the importance of when collecting different species to ensure that herbivores were not put in the same collecting jar as carnivores. When asked "why?" The children all said, "because they will be eaten or killed...!" 

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18/11/2016

Sapphire Class

Our Tree Of Personal Growth.
Sapphire Class have been focusing on how to develop their personal social skills and problem solving within the natural environment of the Forest School. It was collaboratively agreed that each child would acknowledge (at the start of each session)  a personal growth area that they wanted to develop or demonstrate they could achieve. This has been a very positive activity and it is brilliant to see each child finding the courage to share their personal growth with their peers. At the end of the session paper oak leaves with printed on words reflecting their achievement, are stuck onto a picture of an oak tree. We are hoping to replace the paper oak tree with some fruit trees for each class and hazel discs with key personal attributes written on. These will then be hung on our trees to represent personal growth of confidence, self-esteem and good communication skills. These are all needed for our children to deal with life's challenges.

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Mud Kitchen Challenge!

Last term our Forest School area suffered greatly when the new fencing was put in. Sadly, our mud kitchen was destroyed. This was an area that all the children loved. So, they were tasked with the challenge of rebuilding it. A lesson in overcoming adversity and getting on with solving a problem. 
 

Other Activities

There are always a number of activities to chose from at each session. This term, we have focused on den building, knots (square lashing), weaving, bug hunting, tree/wildlife identification, Mindful Bee-ing and managing our Forest School area by replacing wood chippings on paths and tidying areas.
We would like to day a big THANK YOU to the PTA for purchasing  the waterproofs for all the children. Especially to Mrs Russel, who gave up a lot of her time to order them. It will make such a difference, by reducing the time getting changed and enabling all the children to maximise their time down in Forest School. 
 

Forest School Club

All the children who attend Forest School club always show fantastic enthusiasm and a great sense of community spirit. This term we have practised the skills of flint lighting, knots and weaving. Seb is our master weaver and is always very focused on what it is he is trying to achieve. Alex, is full of fantastic ideas and will be leading the group at the next session. He was given the task to create a challenge for his peers! Roccus, Theo,  Archie and Edward are den making experts and Lucy showed incredible determination when using a flint. It just would not work and after about 20 attempts she lit the wool, punching the air she shouted, "I did it!"  
Jamie, Ethan and Thom always work well together in digging and sorting out areas in the Forest School that need attention.
We all enjoyed toasted marshmallows recently!

16/11/2016

Emerald and Ruby Class

The Harlequin Ladybird has landed in our Forest School!
A new ladybird has arrived in Britain. But not just any ladybird: this is the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, the most invasive ladybird on Earth. 

Emerald and Ruby class have continued to demonstrate their passion for bug hunting. Among these classes are some budding entomologists (scientists who study mini-beasts) who consistently seek and find all sorts of living creatures within our Forest School. They were tasked to carry out a survey on which types of carnivores, herbivores, omnivores and detritivores have made their habitat within the Forest School area. In addition, they have participated within a National survey on the Harlequin Lady bird, which was discovered in our Forest School by Maisy Dare. This discovery is what prompted us to identify the harlequin ladybird and research it's life cycle. A number of the children (Maisy, Chloe, Rosie, Toren, Billy, Amy-Louise and Marcus) found a specimen of each life cycle stage. 

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Mindful Bee-ing
We have also introduced a new activity to Forest School - Mindful Bee-ing. This is run by Mrs Jones a qualified mindfulness teacher and is proving to be very popular with the children.  It was felt that this activity strongly links in with the ethos of Forest School. It gives children the opportunity to take time out in the Forest School tent, to relax and receive teaching on how to calm themselves and overcome barriers to their learning. It is an optional choice, the children do not have to participate if they would rather not. Mrs Jones explains the purpose of it:

Mindful Bee-ing 

This is a programme I developed and successfully deliver to primary schools to help children gain calmness and focus, assisting and embellishing their learning experience. It proves extremely popular with pupils, parents and staff alike.
In September 2014 I was approached by the BBC after having the word spread about my programme. I was filmed in December 2014 during one of my days teaching at Brunswick House Primary School in Kent and the show Inside Out featured us the following spring.

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Other Activities
The children have participated in a number of different activities that can be seen from the adjacent slide show. These include, den making, conker drilling, weaving and exploring their natural environment. Tyler can be seen here experimenting the ripple effect produced from hitting the oil drum. He made some amazing ripple patterns.

16/11/2016

Diamond Class

Diamond Class have all demonstrated fantastic enthusiasm and determination during Forest School sessions this term. It has been very rewarding to see them develop their confidence each week - trying out all the different activities, these have included:

  • Tree identification - Oak Tree and the Horse chestnut Tree
  •  Mud Kitchen
  • Weaving
  • Conker drilling
  • Autumn leaf pictures
  • Story sticks 
  • Spider web catchers
  • Bug hunting
  • Den making
  • Camp fire - toasted marshmallows

12/6/2016

Ruby Class Firest School Rules, Tool Use and Jewellery Making

 FOREST SCHOOL RULES - Ruby class have spent the last few weeks learning a number of new Forest School skills. They have demonstrated fantastic enthusiasm and shown excellent problem solving when met with a dispute over the tyre swing use.
​ They collaboratively chose to use the butterfly blackboard to write up some rules on the fair use of the swing. The rules were discussed and they all set about recording them and then went onto manage a peaceful harmonious turn taking session on the swing - well done to those of you who resolved this problem!
​Emily, Max L, Maisy, Stephen and Thom.

TOOL USE & JEWELLERY MAKING - Ruby class are the second class after Sapphire class to learn about the safe use of tools. The tools they were learning about last week were - the bow saw, saw horse, opinel knives, potato peelers and the short-handled loppers. 
They were under the supervision of a fully qualified Forest School leader and worked in small groups of 5.
They all excelled at this activity and took on board the very strict safety rules that must be followed when using tools. It was fabulous to see their self-esteem and confidence flourishing during this activity.
The whole class were given a choice as to whether they wanted to do this activity or other planned ones or free time (free time is always given to the children). Interestingly 99% of the boys chose this activity! 
As you can see the pictures reflect a lot of deep concentration!
​Well done to Roccus, Ben, Ethan, Daisy, Carter, Alex, Thom and Fraser.
Please take the time to have a look at our Forest School handbook - this sets out all our safety measures. All risk assessments have been carried out for every activity within Forest School. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to come and see me (Mrs Bedford) or Mrs Smith.

BREAK TIME! Break time is a very important part of the Forest School session. It is held around Base Camp (see below). This is the time for everyone to chat about their achievements and to generally communicate with each other. We provide drinks and snacks. The children are encouraged to help themselves using our 10L plastic Jerry can. They love using the tap on it to pour themselves drinks and it is lovely to see their independence flourishing in the Forest School environment.
We also provide a hand washing facility - water table. Children enjoy the responsibility of filling this up and also helping to tidy equipment away at the end of the session.
Well done Ruby Class!

12/6/2016

Diamond & Emerald Classes Learning About Woodland Mini-Beasts

MINI-BEASTS - Diamond and Emerald classes have been investigating the different species of mini-beasts in their Forest School area. Emerald class were very competitive and determined to find as many species as they could! They identified 9 different ones from which an identification list was made for Diamond class to use in their investigations. All the children were taught how to use the various bug hunting equipment. The favourite bug collection device was the Pooter!
All the children have embraced this activity with such enthusiasm and displayed some wonderful teamwork skills. They have also used some great descriptive language during their investigations - see if you can guess what the following descriptions are of:
"It slithers".
"It slimes".
"It tickles your skin!"
Marcus from Emerald class commented on a Ladybird, saying "it has symmetry".
Roccus asked, "Why are earwigs called earwigs?" He then went onto say, "I know why, because it is for effect!"
This was a fabulous answer and encouraged us to look into the etymology (origin of the word and it's meaning).
We did find out that the modern word "earwig" comes from an Old English term, earwicga, a compound of words for an ear and insect of some sort. The wig in earwig is the same as that in wiggle. 
It is a myth that earwigs lay their eggs in human ears! 

Well done Diamond Class and Emerald Class!