Last week a team from Learning through Landscapes Scotland visited us on a glorious sunny spring day. LtL are making 24 short films for Scottish Forestry about managing sites for regular use by early years settings and asked if they could come and see what we get up to at Gillies Hill Community Woodland. We were very happy to meet them and show them around. We were also very interested to see their film and sound equipment.
We are thrilled and delighted to learn that the National Lottery Community Fund has awarded us £10000! This money will help fund the next stage of our project to develop our new nursery building in Gillies Hill Community Woodland.
If you haven’t heard about our plans or want to find our more, check out the pages on our website and/or follow our new dedicated Instagram @CVNintheWoods.
We always welcome comments and feedback so you can do that too via our feedback link. If you prefer a less technological method, give us a call on 01786 430497 or, better still, stop by and have a chat. We’re always delighted to discuss our plans. If you spot us when you’re up in the woods we can even show you some of the things we get up to!
You can support our project financially too, see “Support Us”.
What a lovely autumn day we had today in the woods. We put up a hammock and the children enjoyed taking turns swinging in it. We made a fire and, this week for a change, cooked some damper bread over it. The children kneaded the dough before we wound it like a snack around a stick and held it over the fire. The wood was very damp so we all had to work hard to keep the fire going. We collected some wood to store which will hopefully keep a little drier for future occasions.
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.
We had an amazing visit to the woods this morning. The temperature was -7 when we arrived to set up and still only -1 when we packed up to go home so it was a very challenging environment for our children. Rather than spend all our time in the camp we decided to go on an adventure. It was quite dark at our camp but we could see the sunshine hitting the tops of the trees. We decided to walk higher up the woods to see if we could find the sunshine. It was quite a trek but we found lots of really interesting things along the way. There are so many dens in our woods, we had a wee sit down in just about all of them. The cold weather had made amazing patterns in the woods, we spotted tiny icicles that looked fluffy and others that looked spiky.
We found the sunshine at the very top of the hill. There was a fantastic view so we got the binoculars out to see what we could see.
We walked back down the hill and saw so many different footprints – we spotted lots of different boots as well as some bike tracks and then even some doggy prints too.
Back at our camp site we cuddled up in our tent with some cosy stones, blankets, hot chocolate and a (few) biscuits. We have a request for jam pieces next week, not red jam though.