Our Week in the Forest...
One thing that has become very apparent about our Little Forest Folk is that they are virtually impossible to phase; problems that arise that we adults may find annoying or stressful, tend not to venture onto the radar of the children and they can often end up providing an exciting, unexpected opportunity.
This was the case for us this week as on one particular day in the forest tree surgeons arrived to remove deadwood from some of the trees around the gardens. One of the trees in our base camp was where they began their day, meaning we were not able to be there for the duration. This resulted in an adventure to another part of the gardens, where we set up a temporary camp and explored the setting until we were able to return to our normal site. We had a discussion with the children about why the tree needed some of its branches to be cut down and how this would help the rest of the tree grow, about how the autumnal weather is changing the trees and the different sights and smells that come with it.
It turned out to be an adventure that the children loved; there were new trees to climb, new rocks and logs to look under when hunting for bugs and new mounds to run up and down. This however was not the only unexpected benefit – not only did all the dead wood come down from the tree, but in order to let maximise the light reaching the lower parts of the tree, some of the fuller branches from the top were also cut down. These bushier lightweight branches with lots of leaves turned out to be the perfect thing for decorating a tepee – the children worked together to transport the branches (it proved a challenge to find branches big enough and bushy enough that would work, but not so big they were immovable!) Sure enough, with a little advice along the way, the children had created a suitable pile of branches they thought would work. They then set about positioning them on the tepee, and through lots of trial and error (and a few collapsed tepees) they had created a structure Bear Grylls would have been proud of. It is hard to explain just how much learning happens during a simple activity like this, with communication, physical development, teamwork, mathematical knowledge all being put to the test, and this was an activity that the children returned to on a number of occasions.
When the children had tired of this, most also chose to involve themselves with our bead making activity. Elder branches cut into inch long segments make the perfect beads when the pith has been pushed out. It was great to see the children developing their fine motor skills by using tent pegs to do this, and then thread wool through the hole they had created; developing strength in their hands, co-ordination and fine motor skills is a crucial part in getting children ready for mark-making and writing.
It’s been our first real autumnal feeling week in the forest and the children have been excited to already see some changes in their environment. As lovely as the warm weather is, it’s equally exciting thinking about the warm cinnamon drinks, woolly hats and scarves that are to come.
Have a lovely weekend!
Little Forest Folk