It was lovely to be back in the woods today! We have a new play site and enjoyed exploring it and seeing what different things we could find there. We had several new children with us today and it is amazing to see how much more confident and independent they became after just a few hours in the woods. We are looking forward to seeing how our sessions develop as we become more familiar with the new site.
We each chose a special tree in our site and gave it a name. The names we chose were Nursery, Bramble, Firework, Violet, Tractor, Baby Teddy, Florence and Lanky Larry. We will be keeping an eye on our trees as we move further into autumn and then winter so see how they change.
Today our children were engaged in sorting sticks and matching the different kinds of wood. Some of the sticks were marked with the ancient Celtic Ogham alphabet and some with the English name and so we tried to work out which sticks matched. The bark and markings on some of the wood were quite different.
The beetroot in our garden is ready for harvesting so we picked 2 and took them into the playroom to wash (we brought some ants in too so we had to take them back out) and grate. (We tasted some and decided it tasted really good). We put some into today’s bread dough and it made the dough bright pink. Once it was cooked it wasn’t quite as pink as when we pot it in to the oven but you can still see the evidence of the beetroot there. It had an earthy beetroot taste (strangely enough 🤣) but was still quite pleasant. The children definitely preferred their “normal” bread but we will be experimenting more soon!
We were very busy at Nursery today! We made a new sign for our garden and then went out for a walk to find some autumn treasures. We found apples, elderberries, hawthorn berries and loads and loads of brambles. We picked some and will try making some jam to eat with our bread. We also spotted some conkers on a conker tree and acorns on an oak tree. So many things to see in our countryside 👍🏻
Another beautiful day at Jupiter Artland began with repeating our getting to know you task, this time more light heartedly and, with relationships already more developed, in a more relaxed atmosphere.
We repeated our knot tying and I was pleased to be able to recall the processes from yesterday! The course leaders continually highlighting the teaching methods and skills used to link into how we will, in turn, use these with our learners. I particularly like the way the tasks are set up to support the learning process. I am conscious that, as a learner, I am anxious to get things right and not to fail. It is worthwhile recalling that these feeling of stress and anxiety may be present in those who are learning from me and that one of my tasks is to acknowledge these feelings and support my learners in their learning journey to make it a positive one.
Our first session in the forest was spent in a special spot of our choosing and with time there just to “be”. I chose to sit in an area of sunlight peeking through the trees and to listen to the bird song above. I was intrigued to hear so many different songs yet only to be able to spot one bird.
We made picture frames using knots learned earlier then used them to frame an area of ground and try to see how many mini beasts we could find in it. The number of tiny creatures living beneath the decomposing leaves was amazing, This led to an activity of assessing connectedness, how all aspects of nature impact on each other and how, as humans, we should interact with nature to minimise our impact.
A significant task was to conduct an initial risk assessment of the site. We looked at the individual layers of the woodland area, the ground level, the intermediate level, the shrub level and the canopy level. It is worth remembering that our learners in particular are so much smaller than us and that getting down to their level is important so that we can see risks from their perspective. Risk is subjective and we all have different interpretations of what is acceptable or not but we all agreed that risk is part of the learning experience and should not be removed.
We were asked to choose our 3 main reasons for why we believe in learning in nature. I chose *fun, *developing life-skills and *developing connections and respect for the natural environment. It was so hard to choose just 3!
We finished the day with some creative endeavours, I made a little munchkin man with a string vest and a caterpillar using my knot skills from earlier. It was great to see all of the other creations and admire their inventiveness.
The day finished with more reflections on the learning process and also on the necessity to evidence learning in paperwork. That is the daunting part and we all agreed that, while necessary, it is not the essence of why we are taking part in the experience – that being to develop our skills to improve experiences for our learners.