Our Week in the Forest
We have been graced with the sun’s presence in the forest every day this week and as a result everyone’s spirits have been even higher than normal. It’s amazing what a bit of sun can do for our health and well being. The children have really surprised us this week with how nicely they have been playing in naturally formed small groups. A lot of role play, turn taking, negotiation skills and social skills have been demonstrated in the forest as the children keep play sequences going, engaging verbally with each other as they cook pizzas in the restaurant or turn a tiny den into a very crowded family home. It was lovely to see that no family member was left outside even though the space had been designed for mini beasts!
At the end of last week we seized the opportunity for a nomadic day in Chiswick House and Gardens, taking our resources with us and locating ourselves in a different part of the gardens. It is so nice to see the children adapt so easily to the different opportunities that each part of the gardens provides and it always amazes us how the children find something to do in any space. On this day we settled near the conservatory and fish pond and the children spent time with their ‘fishing rods’ dangling in the pond, making daisy chains and proving that they have the talent to rock climb in the alps as they scaled the massive brick wall separating them from the climbing trees they love.
With a little support from ‘boulder expert’ Ama, even the smallest children were up and over in a matter of minutes. The climbing tree was filled with hi-vis and smiles as the children clambered up branches to find their own little space. Running races in the open grassy space and jumping off tree stumps were also opportunities available in this open space that once again demonstrates just how confident our children are with their physical skills. The children’s understanding about safety for themselves and each other is also becoming apparent as, with only gentle reminders, they are learning to give each other the space they need to climb, jump, balance and run safely. Bumps and scrapes are valuable opportunities for discussions about assessing risk and making their own judgements.
We have continued to challenge and develop the children’s balance and co-ordination on the slack line, providing rope loops for the children to reach for as they balance from one tree to the next. We extended the challenge this week by joining a third tree. This stretched the children’s skills as they had to navigate around the tree to continue on the course. No surprises that our children weren’t phased by this addition at all.
It is particularly lovely to see the children demonstrating all the characteristics of effective learning as they continue to approach the course despite setbacks and difficulties and show real focus and perseverance to make it the whole way across. The pride in their own achievement at the end is well worth their struggles and it is heart-warming to hear their peers cheering them on. Some children show this focus and determination over a few hours until they have mastered the course, while others continue to cautiously approach the challenge over a series of days at their own pace. There were a few comments by the children that Arturo and Kellie had made an ‘impossible’ challenge but it was only a matter of minutes before the first child successfully made it across and it didn’t take long before everyone else wanted to show that they were capable as well. Nothing is impossible for our Little Forest Folk children!
Face painting is always a popular choice in the forest, and we seized the opportunity this week to develop some important turn taking skills. We gave the children numbered leaf tickets to wait in an orderly queue so that there was no dispute over who was next (and creating orderly queues are a fundamental part of British life!). The children were suddenly amazingly confident with recognising numerals and knowing what number came next.
An adventure walk this week delighted the children with more wonders of our lovely gardens as there is always so much to see! We found five terrapins sunning themselves on the river banks, which led to a lot of discussions about turtles, tortoises and the finer details of what a terrapin is. The children pointed out the signs on the lake which tell us not to feed the birds bread as it contains no nutritional value for the birds and leads to algae growth in the lake. Within five minutes they were confidently expressing their disapproval of a family feeding bread to the Canadian geese and their four goslings. They loudly stated that the signs say not to! We are very proud of our environmental ambassadors and the knowledge that they will take away from their experiences at Little Forest Folk.
Further on our walk we came across some dandelion clocks and decided to help nature’s course by making more of these delightful weeds. We talked about how the yellow flower changes to the white dandelion clock and how by blowing the dandelion clock we spread the seeds so that more dandelions will grow. Our new explorations led us to a lovely fenced area of wildflowers and our ‘flora expert’ Karina helped us to identify a range of flowers, including the blue cornflowers which are currently growing in our garden plot. We were amazed by the variety of flowers and the bumble bees buzzing between them. We asked the children why they thought the area had been fenced off and they replied that it was to stop people from trampling on the flowers and that only the gardeners are allowed in. We also shared with them that it allows the bees to do their job in pollinating the flowers. It is lovely to see their understanding of and respect for nature.
The children continue to visit the garden plot to check on the progress of their hard work. The carrots in particular are growing well! The children gave the plants a much needed water after this very hot weather. As we tend to and water the plants, we are learning about growth and changes over time and learning that it takes hard work to achieve results. Some of the children are showing a strong interest in visiting the garden and it is lovely to see them listening to and following the rules of the secret garden, particularly taking care in the way they move around the garden patch to avoid stepping on the growing seedlings. Perhaps a career in horticulture or botany will be inspired by their visits to the plot?
We are crossing our fingers that the weather stays this nice for the next few weeks.
In the warmer weather
The sunshine is predicted to carry on into early next week with the temperatures rising even higher. With that in mind, we would like to remind our parents to apply sun screen before joining us in the forest, to make sure the children have water bottles full of water and for children to come in with sun hats to protect them in the sunshine. We'd also suggest sturdy shoes rather than wellies on warmer days.
Dates for the diary
Our term dates can be found here.
Save the date
Don't forget to save the date for our Summer Picnic on Friday 18th August from 5pm at Wimbledon. More details to follow on this exciting event.
Food in the forest
Our delicious Wednesday dinner:
Beef mince cooked slowly with kidney beans in our delicious homemade tomato sauce with garlic, paprika and a hint of mild chilli.
This is served with rice and some cheddar cheese for the children to sprinkle on the top.
Have a glorious sunny weekend!
Little Forest Folk