Our Week in the Forest
School’s out, but not for our forest folk! The time has come yet again to welcome old friends and new into the forest. Having changed our basecamp location since the last holiday camp, along with the addition of a host of child made resources, the campers were excited to charge into the clearing and see what was on offer. As always, our full time attendees lap up any opportunity to show newcomers their favourite aspects of our forest site. It was also wonderful to see the confidence and excitement of holiday campers that have previously joined us at the forest. They waited for us at the gates of Chiswick House each morning as eager to greet their friends and teachers as we were to greet them. It was a reminder that when children are free to play collaboratively outdoors, taking charge of their own learning, magical memories and fantastic friendships form.
Last Friday’s visit to Kew Gardens saw the children captivated by the extensive collection of plants housed in the lofty Palm House Parterre. The children spent the afternoon exploring the various collections of flora gathered from different parts of the world, the whole time discussing why they liked certain flowers, and how and why they thought some plants looked different. They also noticed how the flowers were made to look in photographs, with so many flower based posters, boards and plaques dotted around Kew Gardens. The children had this in mind while visiting their own garden plot this week and asked if they could try their hand at some photography. While some children’s tool of choice was a trowel to turn over the soil, others were given a short tutorial on the camera and were then free to experiment with taking photos. The results were fantastic, offering an insight into the world as seen through the eyes of our children. With such positive feedback from the children, we’ll be bringing cameras into the forest more often so that our children can continue to capture their own experiences as they see them.
One of our regular attendees noticed that their new friend in holiday camp had a temporary tattoo on his arm. Naturally, as the path of inquisition stretched and wound onward, a whole group conversation formed around the children’s artistic interests and self expression. With this in mind we offered to open a forest body-paint parlour for the children. However, to encourage maths skills through roleplay the children were told that different services would cost a different amount of sticks. That was all the encouragement the children needed, and before long the queue for face-paint and tattoos was across the forest clearing! Most children wanted more than one tattoo, and some wanted their face painted as well as a tattoo. It was wonderful to see children working both independently and collaboratively to solve arithmetic problems to make sure they were paying the right amount for their paint. Following the success of the parlour, the children have expressed an interest in opening more shops in the forest, running the shops themselves and charging for their goods and services. We look forward to seeing what enterprises the children want to bring to the forest!