A day of fairy pillows, fire and forms! I guess with anything we do these days there is always a certain amount of admin and forest schools is no different. A great deal of thought has to be put in to the whole process. This morning we looked at planning and Environmental impact assessments, and then went out to meet a group of home schooled children who use the Forest school as part of their curriculum. A group of children ranging in ages from 4-9. What really impressed me was their understanding of safety in the woods and their mature attitude to being sat around a live camp fire that Dave had shown us how to light with just bark from a silver birch, kindling and a fire stick! The children came in to the fire circle and prepared their marshmallows for their end of session snack.
After lunch it was time to turn our minds to more practical matters, whittling and safe use of sheath knives, and practicing making a camp fire of our own using fairy pillows (cotton wool pads to the rest of us) kindling and a fire stick.
Once the fire was alight we used a Kelly kettle to boil water for a cup of tea. The whole point of this week is not to necessarily get young children to use adult tools in the wood, it is all about starting to build a complex skill set by breaking the learning process down into small achievable tasks. Each small success builds towards a bigger outcome and with each success you can feel the increasing confidence of the group. The same approach we us at Danesmoor.
Tomorrow is going to be about food and cooking safely in the outdoors. A feast of sausage and bean casserole, mushrooms and Stilton with baked apples and chocolate bananas for pudding.
A day of sunshine and activity building dens learning knots and contemplating risk. Arriving at the Little Acorns Forest School today I was met by a group of pre school children playing in the woods. You could hear them before we came into the clearing, where they had been re-enacting the story of the three little pigs with soft toys, straw sticks and lego bricks. Obviously all having the best time ever. What was really lovely to see was a group of children who were clearly used to playing in the woods with adults that were not phased by all the potential hazards that we might imagine lurk in every bush. It answered a lot of the questions that many people might have about Forest schools.
Around the camp we can see evidence of activity from a wide variety of age groups fro large dens like the one above, to trees ready to be roped up for balancing games for pre schoolers like the one below.
There is also evidence of fires and shelters to get out from the worst that the British weather can throw at us.
Dave our instructor is ex army and has had a history of setting up forest schools in Germany after he came out of the forces, he is an excellent instructor who really knows his stuff. Not just how to build a shelter, but also importantly a real understanding of the learning process and how to set up children and big children like me how to succeed through taking small manageable tasks one step at a time. It is an educational process that is closer to the one taken by the nursery than by schools, which values people’s innate differences and preferences in a setting that allows time for reflection as well as periods of concentration team work and most importantly fun.
A big thank you Dave Churchward, our Forest School tutor and general action man. Today has been spent learning about our woodland, from different types of trees, to the structure of the forest A lot of book learning and admin and then out into the forest in the pouring rain where I found one of these frogs!
What today has really been about is the need for clear thinking about minimising risk to children and how we do that in a systematic way so that they can understand and access activities we might shy away from. On top of that there has been an afternoon of practical work with bow saws and loppers as well as time for reflection on how children learn and how we build up their resilience by setting them up to succeed by concentrating on small processes rather than outcomes.
I made a star out of lopped beech and coasters out of sawed birch. Both activities that we can replicate with the children.
What is clear is that the forest schools holistic approach to children’s learning is something we can all benefit from. I have ended the day tired but very pleased to be involved. The process will last until June. There is much reading and work to be done however I have to say that I am really enjoying it.
Tonight’s essential reading is on knots, fire lighting, fire safety and forest management. I just hope my matches didn’t get too soggy in all this rain! The weather will be better tomorrow
We’d like to say a big congratulations to Hannah who has today graduated with a 2:2 in her Childhood Studies Degree! Hannah has been with us since she was a Level 3 student and it has been a pleasure to watch her professional career develop. We’re sure you will agree she is a credit to herself and her team.
This now brings our number of Graduate Practitioners to three with a further member of staff working towards it.
Hannah Beck, Graduate Practitioner
At Danesmoor House Day Nursery we are very lucky to have visits from Coach Shane every Wednesday afternoon.
Research has shown that football develops agility, speed and stamina, and also teaches children the importance of teamwork, so it can play an important part in your child’s physical and social development. It requires children to sprint after the ball and jog up and down the field, which are activities that build endurance and speed. Dribbling and shooting the ball develops agility and coordination. The health benefits of active sports such as football include stronger bones and muscles, decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and decreased chance of becoming overweight.
Furthermore aerobic exercise causes the heart to beat faster. When aerobic exercise occurs regularly, it “strengthens the heart and improves the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.”
All our pre-school children have the option of taking part in football sessions. Furthermore, anyone who has signed up for nursery grant sessions for either January or April 2017 can pop along and participate in the sessions now. The cost is £3.50 per session and starts at 1pm until 1.30pm on Wednesdays.
Don’t forget any children signed up for January or April 2017 Nursery Education Grant sessions are also eligible for 3 hours free childcare per week, beginning as soon as your child turns 3!
At Danesmoor we are extremely fortunate to have an Artist in Residence visit us once a week. Sara is also a Qualified Teacher and the work she has done with our children is out of this world – some of you may remember how excited the children were when the Fairies visited us and created their very own fairy garden!
Up until now, Sara has focused mainly in the pre-school but she will now spend time in every one of our rooms from our smallest babies right up until our after-school children. We can’t wait to see what exciting work she will create next!
You can visit Sara’s own Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/Findthecraftyfox/
She will also be at the Festival of Thrift, Lingfield Point this weekend so do pop over and say hello.
Every child in the UK is currently entitled to 15 hours free Nursery Education Grant from the term after their 3rd birthday. However, at Danesmoor House Day Nursery, all new customers signing up for a January 2017 nursery grant start before October the 31st, will be offered 3 hours a week absolutely free* as soon as your child turns 3!
Danesmoor provides a rich and stimulating experience for your child, a pre school run by a Qualified Early Years Teacher, an Artist in Residence on a Tuesday and a Football coach on a Wednesday. Your child will enjoy stories, friendship, fresh air and lots of fun. The only question is what will you do with your free time?
*Free Care subject to advanced sign up for January 2017, eligibility for NEG in January 2017 and minimum of 6 month attendance or charges for childcare will apply.