Mrs Berrell’s Forest School Blog
A warm welcome to all children coming to Forest School for the first time this September and an equally warm welcome back to all who came last year. Please find below copies of the Forest School letters sent via parent mail to parents and carers of children attending Forest School this year, paper copies can be picked up from the school office if you prefer.
Forest School at Long Crendon developed at a pace during the last school year. All children, TAs, adult volunteers and I have worked hard to turn the children’s new site design into reality. Click here to view pictures of the site taken a year ago, and here to see pictures of the site as it is this September. We have planted, built, installed, and created a raft of different features that enrich our Forest School experience. We now have different habitat zones that are designed to attract a wide variety of wildlife to our site, we have climbing logs, a larger digging pit, a new base camp with permanent fire pit, we have planted over 400 saplings (kindly donated by the Woodland Trust) and have re-located the school’s mini orchard from the back of the year 2 classroom to the Forest School area. I would like to thank each and everyone of you who helped with the fence post installation, sapling planting day, or who donated items to forest school to help us achieve all of this.
This year we will further develop the site by building a permanent wattle bird hide, creating a mini wild flower meadow and sensory planting area, making bird boxes, additional bug hotels and hedgehog habitats, and installing micro ponds to attract amphibians.
Apologies for not updating this blog for a while, we’ve been so busy at Forest School I haven’t had the time! The children have enjoyed trying out a diverse range of activities over the last few months, including toasting Marshmallows on the fire pit, learning the science behind and then perfecting water bottle flip techniques, putting on panto’s, lots of digging in the mud, den building and nature spotting. We’ve made bird feeders, planted bulbs and tree seeds, created sculptures, used tools to make Christmas tree decorations, and had a go at semaphore messaging. In the last few weeks Year 1s set up weather experiments, year 2 have been identifying winter twigs, year 3 have been making bird hides, year 4 have made life size replicas of a celtic round house and a Roman villa, year 5 have made a reptile habitat and year 6s have made a bat box!
All of the children have also been working hard to bring our new Forest School site plan to life (see below for details about our big plans). We now have a log climbing area and fabulous new basecamp seating (an enormous thank you to the Long Crendon Bowls club for donating the logs needed for these). The post and rope fencing to create several habitat zones, new hedging, and a coppice area was installed during February half term (an even bigger thank you to Tiny Acorns for the donation that made this possible and to all the volunteers who helped on the day or lent equipment for us to use). The children finished off the fencing during Forest School sessions last week so we are now ready to start planting up our new habitat zones. We have been lucky enough to be awarded 420 wild wood tree saplings by the Woodland Trust and will be holding a planting day (which we hope the whole village will get behind) to get them into the ground before the spring comes.
Exciting Forest School Development for 2016 and beyond
We are very excited to announce that we will be making some changes to our Forest School site this year. The site (tucked away in the top corner of the school playing field) has some lovely mature trees bordering it, but over 70% of the area is currently made up of short playing field grass (click here for a plan of the current site). In June 2016 all children in years 1 through to year 6 designed their own ideal Forest School site, you can see some of the submitted designs on display in our Outdoor Learning Lodge. I listed all ideas from the 180 designs handed in, and asked the School Governors on behalf of the children if we could incorporate some of these into our Forest School area. (Click here for the full wish list of ideas from each class). The Governors said “yes!” (thank you Governors) to all phase 1 ideas, which I have now incorporated into a new Forest School plan which you can see by clicking here.
The children and I are very excited (even though we currently have no budget). We plan to do a lot of the work ourselves as part of our Forest School sessions – Year 3 have already used their maths skills to work out where our new hedge boundary will be, and years 2 and 4 have whittled pegs to secure the boundary of our new digging area which year 5 have started. All years will soon get busy planting berries and seeds that we will gather as soon as we have sourced some temporary wooden fencing (to prevent the grounds team mowing the newly emerging shoots), and then we can start work on creating our new basecamp, wildlife habitats, den building area, etc, etc, phew!
Are you able to help? You may have some items gathering dust in your garden/garage that we could use to help us create the features in our plan. Click here for a list of the things we are currently in need of. If you have anything to donate (thank you!) please leave it in the gap behind the school bike shed (follow the arrows), or contact me to arrange collection. If you (or someone you know) are able to help turn any of the ideas on the children’s wish list into reality please contact me at the school, the children and I would be delighted to hear from you!