Fulham - Tie-dying with Blackberries

Our Week in the Forest... 

Dye, dye, dye…..of the ink variety of course!
Some of you may be aware that one of our forest rules is ‘no picking, no licking’. For the most part, this is an easy rule for our children to stick to and throughout autumn and winter it was made easier as nothing in the forest looks particularly edible or appealing – no one wants to eat a trodden on, brown leaf from the ground that’s covered in mud. However, with a change of seasons, this becomes a bit trickier. Our forest now resembles something more of a sweet shop with it’s amazing variety of colour, shape and smell. This week the blackberry bush was the main attraction. One of our aims is to have children grow up to be adults who know how to look after the world we live it; how to be a bit more self-sustainable, leaving a little bit less of a carbon footprint than those who have gone before. As a result, eating food produced by the world is a good thing…but only when with mum and dad! For a two-year-old, a dark purple, juicy berry looks yummy regardless of the tree it comes from. So, to help combat the urge to eat every berry in the forest, we decided we could pick the blackberries. The rule was, as they aren’t clean we can only use them to make paint or dye and this lead to a number of great activities each day in the forest.
Some of you reading this may remember the days of tie-dye (others may prefer to pretend you don’t) but our children loved tie-dying fabric. First, they had to find the best berries. We talked about how the berries changed over time and how you knew if they were ready to pick. We then filled a bucket and this is where things got messy. In a process not dissimilar to wine making, the children removed their socks and shoes and squelched the berries with their bare feet. It was great to hear some of the different adjectives used to describe the feeling as the mixture oozed between their toes. We then submerged the fabric, took it out, left it to dry and the expression on some of the children’s faces were brilliant as they removed the elastic bands to show the wonderful patterns.

Children also had a go at making their own paint brushes. As an adult, the natural urge can quite often be to take over and show children how to do something. However, with age we all sadly come to realise life isn’t about us, and anyway it’s much more exciting to watch a child try one method, figure out it’s not quite working, try something else and then watch the delight in their face as they discovered they’ve figured it out on their own. This was an expression we saw a number of times as children were required to find a suitable stick and something that would make good bristles. With a bit of trial and error, before a lot more squishing of berries, the children had made their paint brushes, their blackberry paint and then set to work on redecorating the outside of the walled garden.
Children often find sensory activities the most interesting, this being one of the reasons why making dye has been such a hit this week. Our final dye related activity was to make hand prints. Again, we picked the ripest berries from our now rather sparse looking blackberry bush, squished them using our hands, made sure every finger was covered and then printed them onto paper.
We’re in the very fortunate position that “I’m bored” is something we rarely hear and this week has been no different. Next week who knows where the children’s interests will lead them, we can only wait to find out.

Have a lovely weekend!

Little Forest Folk