Spring term Forest School Update
Due to the unusually cold, wet and windy weather Forest School has been experiencing through the Spring term, we have all been very resourceful in finding ways to stay warm during these chilly months. Children have come equipped with extra layers and been busy playing high-energy nature games to get the blood pumping, ready for more focused activities back at base camp. We have built, lit and cooked over the campfire and learned about fire safety to keep snugly warm during these cold days. It has been a treat at the end of busy Forest School afternoons to snuggle under cosy blankets and savour our ‘wild biscuits’ whilst listening to a story.
Charlie from Zebra class brought in some fat-ball bird feeders from home. This ignited our curiosity about birds and how we can help feed them during the colder months. We learnt that fat is essential for birds as this can provide excellent nutrition and warmth; essential for surviving over winter. The children then made their own natural bird feeders. They mixed fat and a variety of seeds and added them to pine cones. Some were placed in our school woods and others taken home to put in a nearby sheltered space, ready for the birds to discover. We also ensured that the wooden bird feeders-made by previous classes at FS- have been regularly topped up with fat, fruit and seeds, too. We are hoping that by providing food during the winter, this will encourage more bird species to visit our school throughout the year. We discussed the importance of providing safe places for birds to nest, and arranged the nest boxes in appropriate places, ready for them to rear their chicks in the spring.
Finally, did you know Patcham Infants has its very own nature reserve? It is where the most diverse number of flora and fauna can be found in the school. It is also the perfect place for the wildlife to live, mainly undisturbed, apart from the occasional visit from our budding scientists. Teasel grows here, and it is a rich source of nectar for insects in the summer and provides seeds for birds in the winter. With a bit of imagination, we found Teasel is also useful for making rather fabulous hedgehogs, too!
Forest School Autumn Term Update
Firstly, on behalf of everybody at Patcham Infant School, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the amazing parents and carers who gave up their time on a chilly Saturday in October to repurpose the old swimming pool site into our expanded outdoor learning space. Many thanks also to the Brighton & Hove Council tree surgeons who provided a mountain of woodchip for the project. The development of the area has had a huge impact of what the school can offer and deliver to our children.
During the autumn season, we ventured into our sensory gardens, woodland and playgrounds within our school’s outdoor environment. We used our noticing skills to collect seasonal leaves and nature treasures, with the hope of creating some autumnal magic. On our return to our FS base, we made links with our learning by exploring why trees drop their leaves. We developed our perseverance skills by utilising playful games that embraced the natural environment. The children particularly enjoyed pick- up- sticks. This required the children to carefully choose a stick for their magic wand. When they held the stick, and felt the magic tingle, they knew they had found the right wand for them! By adding our nature discoveries to our magic wands and testing them out, the children were astonished and surprised that magic could occur when we all worked together.
Badger and Caterpillar class were visited by Ryan and Bruno from our friends, the Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT). Under their expert supervision, the children planted some of the tree saplings, which had been awarded to us after a successful application with the Woodland Trust’s tree planting initiative. On this special day, we also had the opportunity to expand our tool use repertoire and teamwork skills. We also constructed bird feeders, which we hung in our little woodland, within the school grounds. We were delighted to find the feeders have been visited by the birds and look forward to keeping them well stocked with birdseed over the chilly months ahead.
We have worked collaboratively on a 3-day nature art project, inspired by the artist, Andy Goldsworthy. The week was kick-started by Yr2’s Zebra class who, after learning about the artist’s work, created spectacular nature art by collecting, ordering weaving and threading autumn leaves. The following day, Yr1’s Badger class added to the artwork. This was then completed by YrR’s Dragonfly class. The result was a beautiful outdoor collaborative art exhibition, an achievement the children were clearly proud of. The display looked particularly amazing at the times in the day where the light pierced vibrantly through the colourful autumnal leaves.
Our regular Yr 1 &2 trips to our local SWT’s Deanway Woods offered us more wonderful opportunities for child- led learning. Children put all their Building Learning Power toolkit to the test by exploring the woodland, building dens, making potions and searching for mini-beasts. They also ate around our cosy campfire, which the children had built and lit. Once the campfire was ready, we heated popping corn kernels and waited with belly rumbling anticipation for signs that they were ready eat. The children were more than keen to let me know about the glorious aroma coming for the cooking pot, when they heard the popping and felt the popcorn was ready for eating. We all agreed there is nothing quite like cooking outdoors on a chilly autumn day.
Our autumn term at Forest School has been packed with lots of fun, excitement, investigation and exploration. We look forward to seeing what the Spring Term has in store for us!
FOREST SCHOOL NEWS FLASH: Spotted at our Sussex Wildlife Trust FS site in the Deneway nature reserve woods. Take a look at the nocturnal goings on when we are away! Film recorded by a SWT camera trap. Lots of great wildlife footage of our furry and feathered friends.