Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Category: Forest School (Page 1 of 2)

Last Forest School, and More Goodbyes.

img_9681Everyday now seems to hold some goodbyes for us, to friends that have played very special roles in our lives (but hoping only temporary goodbyes).  Today was a lovely (rainy) walk with my close friend and fellow twin mummy (and her scrummy 13 week old puppy).  She was such a help and support in the early days of having twins, and then became a good friend who we enjoyed many a dog walk with, shared advice on anything to do with anything, and I even taught her how to drink like a Norwegian 😉  After our rainy walk, and a picnic in the rain, she headed home and we headed off back into the woods for forest school, which was to be our last one.  Today was like pre moving days, I had the children outside in nature, regardless of the yukky weather, for around 5 hours, and their mood was much better for it.

img_9691 img_9686 img_9685  There was lots going on again today.  We didn’t have time to do everything,   but all three did quite a bit.  One of the activities was tie dying with natural colours.  So a pan of hot water, blackberries, and vinegar was heated up on the fire. Then you took a square of material, and put elastics round it in whatever formation you fancied.  They stewed in the pan for a while before being fished out, cooled off in a bowl of cold water, and released from theirs bands, to produce a very effective purple tie dyed material – very pretty.  The children also chose to do some weaving.  They tried first on a make shift loom, made on trees with string, using different resources and everyone adding to it, so it looked really nice, and also they tried with sticks.  All three were riveted.  The boys let me do most of theirs, but our little lady was addicted, and made three.  It was a very calming activity, and we all enjoyed sitting there watching the patterns take shape.  The third and final activity my trio did was making a wind sock.  They weaved willow branches into a circle, and then added various colours and lengths of streamers to them to blow in the wind.  We have loved forest school, and I am so please our little lady got to do it as well, after the twins starting the preschool one way back in January.  It has been an eye opener for all of us, and has given me confidence to do things with the children on my own too.  I’d thoroughly recommend it.  It gives children new skills, gives them confidence, boosts their creativity, helps them learn, gets them in touch with and enjoying nature, and gets them outside in the great outdoors.

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After forest school we drove home to visit some more friends.  This was another fellow twin mummy, whose boy/girl twins are only a few months younger than ours, and our elder sibling daughters danced together.  Our twins also went to the same pre school, and mini man no.2 wants to marry her girl twin, and my mini man no.2 is her girl twin’s prince – aaahhhhhh.  So we headed over for lots of fun playing and a yummy suppertime.  All these mummies are just as important friends to me too, as are their little people our to my three, so I am saying goodbye to my friends too.  It’s all very emotional, but highly exciting 🙂

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Peeling his hazel stick for toasting marshmallows on the fire

 

Forest School-Mini Beasts

img_9576Today’s forest school topic ran on nicely from last weeks nature curriculum topic of mini beasts.  There was a lot of different activities set out in the woods which the children could choose to dip in and out of, and do as much or as little of each one as they fancied.  They didn’t have to move on if they didn’t want to, and they didn’t have to do an activity if they didn’t fancy it.  My three chose to saw and drill their mini beasts first (usually there is an instant queue of children for these activities, but remarkably today my three were the first up).

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They happily sawed chunks of branches to make their insects bodies, and then drilled many holes to stick accessories in such as antennae, wings, and legs etc.  Little lady made a butterfly, mini man no.1 made a mutant ladybird, and mini man no.2 made a snail.

img_9575After this, at mini man no.2’s request, we grabbed a bug hunting pot and a mini beast transporter (teaspoon) and headed off for a bug hunt, reading the info sheets dotted around us as we went.  We found quite a lot of wild life in the undergrowth, especially as the conditions were nice and damp today.  Always good conditions for finding forest mini beasts.  Our little lady then wanted to have a go at crafting another butterfly using clay and leaves, whilst the mini practised their balancing on big branches and logs.  There was pebble painting too, but today the painting didn’t grab any of their attention, usually painting is a firm favourite.

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img_9584There was just time for one more activity before the camp fire and toasting of marshmallows.  This was really interesting and very seasonal.  There was an apple press.  You popped the apples into the press, pushed the lever around and squeezed out fresh apple juice (which you had to be quick to drink before others pinched it, it was so delicious!).  The children were intrigued by the apple press, and got as much entertainment out of watching it while others used it, as they did using it themselves.

We are booked into forest school for the whole half of term (6 sessions).  Next week will be no.3 and then the day before we fly will be no.4 (if we manage to make it!).  I’m glad we kept the booking though, despite the imminent move, as we are all loving the things we are doing there at the moment.  Today’s set up of the child drifting to wherever their interest led worked really well, as the children there are all very self motivated.

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The Apple Press

 

Back to (Forest) School

z213Today was the first session back at forest school, and although we won’t be there for the whole lot we have booked, this is the one thing I have kept going (along with brownies as you can pay weekly for that).  I am hoping it will make us all get out the house and have something to look forward to as the moving chaos gathers speed!! It was a new group for us, as rather than going to the preschool twiglets group, we have now progressed to the home education group as the twins are school age now.  Today was all about foraging for blackberries, and then using them for craft and cooking.

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We pottered off for a bit of a stroll to locate some blackberries, and to try and bring some back with us to the school area, not just fill our tummies is the rather hot autumn sunshine.  When we got back, we popped a few into a pot and started mashing them with a stick to make paint.  The children then used blackberry paint and charcoal to create their works of art.  There was quite a lot of body painting going on too!!!

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As we’d been berry picking that had taken up quite a lot of the time, so it wasn’t so jammed full of activities, but to be honest, the day was so hot, that moving fast wasn’t really on anyone’s agenda!!  After doing the crafts the fire was lit for the cooking creations.  Each child had an apple with the core removed, and they stuffed the apple with remaining blackberries, sugar, and cinnamon…yum yum!!  They were then placed onto the fire to cook.  All three loved these, and as it had started to rain, it was a very cosy snack despite the heat of the day.

Leaving Party at Forest School.

z201After we had updated our National Trust books (plant it, eat it, grow it as,  the cherry tomatoes were sampled), my trio headed over to where they do Forest School for their leaving party, and to say goodbye to their little friends….well mainly our little ladies friends that the boys love being with!!  We had 12 little people, and an afternoon of sunshine 🙂

z200It all kicked off with the team building and ice breaking activity of making dens.  There was a little bit of instruction on the supplies, and types of construction, and then children were left to it.  Once it was built, they heaved some logs inside, and they were able to have their juice and biscuits in there.  They enjoyed hammering the pegs in, and despite being in a wood full of tree roots, didn’t seem to have to much of an issue with getting them into the ground.  After their snack break, there were 2 activities.  Our little lady had chosen the theme of camouflage for the party, so there was face painting with greens and browns, to try and camouflage the children.  They got into pairs and had a blast painting each other.  My mini man no.1 let his big sister loose on him and there wasn’t a bit of face left unpainted!!

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The other activity was leaf bashing to make flags.  My favourite craft activity of laying leaves on material and folding it over, then bashing it with a hammer to get an imprint.

z205z197 z199After every bodies face was suitably camouflaged, it was time for some intricate games of hide and seek.  There were camouflage cloaks to be worn, and with their camouflaged faces they set off to hide in the woods!!  They had a couple of goes doing this, and then it was time for the campfire.  They were taught how to peel the hazel twigs, and the fire safety and then had the opportunity to toast a couple of marshmallows each (or if you are my mini men, gobble them whilst waiting your turn because it was all just too much!!).

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Our little lady and mini men are very lucky in that they have had such a lovely friendship group, and I am very lucky that these friends have come with an equally as lovely bunch of mummies 🙂  We will miss them all as we head off on our adventure, but now we know we have a spare room, we sincerely mean it when we say it, please come and visit us, and let us show you around our little patch of Sweden 🙂

Swedish Recce Day 1.

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Well it’s certainly been very busy!!  However, we have achieved a lot and managed to get our heads around a few key subject areas.  The first job of the morning was to head to a supermarket, to price up a food budget, and get a better idea of the cost of living compared to home, and the good news is, unlike Norway (where our outgoings would double), here the outgoings would be on a par with our spending for items such as food, at home.  After that we had a list of three towns we wanted to explore in further detail, and added a fourth on at the end of the day.  We had also decided that it would be the schools that decided where we ended up as the main criteria.  Having pulled our little lady out of school in the UK, for very specific reasons, we needed to make sure these concerns were truly addressed in the Swedish system.

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First up for the day was Nättraby.  A coastal town to the west of Karlskrona, where Dadda’s job would be based if he accepted it.  It was a lovely place and the inlet of the fjord was beautiful, however, I didn’t like the location of the school.  It was right on the edge of the town by the main road/motorway…now don’t think motorway in UK terms, Swedish motorways are generally single lane, just with a faster speed limit, so it’s not like having a school next to the M27!  The next trip was over to Rödeby.  Now this is slightly inland, north of Karlskrona, but in a heavily wooded area….not a hard task in Sweden (53% of the country is forest).  We knew before we’d left the UK that all schools had finished already for summer in Sweden (as they do in Norway), but we needed to have as much of a look at them from the outside even if we couldn’t see them in operation.  However, here we struck gold, in that the school library is shared with the public, so it was open for us to wander in and around.  Then once inside we heard chatting in the administration offices, so I stuck my head in, asked if anyone could help us and the deputy head showed us around, answered questions, and gave us some paperwork 🙂  This school, although in a very small place, has an indoor and outdoor swimming pool (bbbrrrrr), backs onto the forest that they use for playtime and other adventures, and has a ski slope out the back for the winter!  We learnt so much.  Our little lady would only have missed one year of Swedish school, since Swedish children start school when they’re 7 years old. They’d welcome her with open arms despite only a few ropey Norwegian words (the language is very similar), and have every confidence she would pick up Swedish quickly. The school day would be finished by 1330hrs, and she’d be outside playing EVERYDAY whatever the weather (no indoor playtime happens)…..oh and she needs slippers for inside to put on when she removes her outdoor shoes 🙂  They do partake in a a few lessons too ;-).  The class size is around 20 pupils.  There is a kindergarten as well which the twins could go into (mainly to learn the language and only a few mornings a week).

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The last town on our list was Jämjö to the east of Karlskrona.  This was again a beautiful place, with a good school, but we had connected nicely to Rödeby as a place where our family could settle.  After all that checking out those places, we had a little drive around some of the smaller islands to the south of Karlskrona.  These were beautiful and scenic.  I actually fell in love with one (Sturkö) and then started considering it as a place to live.  The school was lovely, but only went up to age 13, so our children would have to travel further for the next stage of school, High School (ages 13-16).  I then decided to tag another town onto our list, so back over to the west to look at Ronneby.  This was a much larger place, so we didn’t think we’d like to live there, but they had a beautiful large town park area, and we were fascinated by a waterplay park complete with giant slides, that everyone seemed to be playing in despite the wind and rain!

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So it’s been a crazy day, but we do feel like we’ve achieved a lot, and got our heads around the places and areas etc.  Tomorrow we focus more on the job side and head into town to meet people involved with the employment side of life, before I put my foot down and we head to another island to try and relax for the afternoon and to discover another sandy beach….oh and find the blasted vinmonopolet. For those of you not familiar with Norway and Sweden’s alcohol selling, you can only buy lager in the supermarket.  Everything else is sold in a government monopoly, thus controlling things such as prices and offers, and prevents over consumption and reduces the profit motive for sales of alcohol. Unfortunately as a foreigner this means you have to ask a lot of people where the place is, thus looking very desperate for booze, and pay cash in hand as they don’t seem to trust our debit or credit cards for purchase of alcohol, meaning you also have to locate a cash machine!!!  I’m just looking for it for reference if we did move here, we are being amply sustained with our outbound duty free ;-)!!!!

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Super Teddies Forest School.

IMG_9085This was the final forest school of the school year, and the final session for us in the pre school Twiglets class.  What a blast we have had since January, and how our lives have changed since we started.  It was originally a treat for our twins with their birthday and Christmas money, but we kept it going as we saw the benefits to them straight away.  So much so, it made us rethink the education our daughter was going through, and by Easter we had removed her from formal education, and she also enjoyed the benefits of the Friday forest school sessions.  We have learnt many new crafts, a lot of new skills, the children have learnt without realising but with being allowed to use their natural movement and in the outdoors where they are happiest, and we have toasted many many marshmallows 🙂  We are sad to be moving on from our lovely little group, but are excited to see what the home education group brings in September.

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Today’s theme was making super teddies, using a range of the skills they have learnt.  The children collected leaves to make a headband for their bears (from home, and all three of mine insisted on bringing white ones!!).  Then they hammered leaves onto fabric to make patterned capes.  The children could also saw a cross section of log, drill a hole in it, and decorate it as a medallion for their bear.  Superbear was then able to use a zip wire (complete with carabiner) to travel to his destinations.   After that the kelly kettles were all lit….we love doing this, but our success doesn’t match our enthusiasm.  However, eventually, and after a couple of relights, we did get our hot squashes and hot chocolates.

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The children then foraged for some party food snacks hidden around the forest, finally finishing with a toasted marshmallow, and a little surprise gift hidden in a basket in the trees.  Forest school has been fantastic for all three of my little people, and they have developed so much since starting it back in January.

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Forest School and Butterflies.

IMG_8957Butterflies were the topic of the day today, a favourite of all three.  So that everyone could get  a chance at sawing and drilling, there were a lot of background activities to keep everyone else occupied whilst they weren’t sawing and drilling.  To be honest I didn’t think I would ever retrieve our little lady from the woods again, the amount there was to make today 🙂

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We learnt how to make paint from chalk, which was a new one for all three of my gang.  We crumbled chalk sticks of the colours we wanted into a paint palette, and then mixed them with a little water, and tah da!  They became paints.  Twin 2 has a fascination with the colour orange, and with no orange chalk stick, he was learning to mix colours.  There was also no red, so using pink and yellow he came up with a peachy colour he felt would satisfy his orange needs.  They could then do a few things with the paints (other than paint their entire hands…..).  They folded bracken leaves into a piece of cloth, and then bashed the cloth with a hammer, getting the colour imprinted onto the cloth in the shape of butterfly wings.  They then painted round the leaves to give their butterfly more definition.  This was a huge success for myself to see twin 2 doing all this, as he has never been into drawing shapes much (apart from practising his letters, he prefers squiggles and blobs), and for the first time I have seen, he actually drew/painted some intentional shapes and outlines.  The other activity they could do with the chalk paint, was paint half a butterfly, fold it into half to get the symmetrical wing prints, and then stick a “y” stick into the middle for the body and antennae.

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A butterfly feeder was something else they made.  They decorated a cut out flower head, and glued a bottle top into the middle, filling that with cotton wool (which when soaked with sugary water at home would attract the butterflies to feed).  They also learnt about water filtration.  The children had cut off large water bottles, which they would fill with various bracken leaves and other things lying around the forest floor, before pouring muddy water through the “nature water filter” and seeing how the water came out the other end.  The main event though was the sawing and drilling in order to make a caterpillar.  All three love handling the tools, and it gives them confidence and teaches them respect towards the tools as well.

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They sawed five sectionIMG_8973s off a chunky stick and then drilled holes through the middle of each one.  Then getting small sections of elder twigs, they poked the middle out with a tent peg.  This then enabled them to thread string through a circular section, followed by an Elder section, alternately, so they were then left with a caterpillar…..very effective.  We have come home with a whole host of nature craft that they are all very proud of, and a self esteem boost from the use of tools.  We then finished the busy session with the campfire.  Next week is our last pre-school twiglets forest school session as term ends, and we today signed up for the weekly home education forest school from September (the twins will be old enough to attend that one).  Our little lady has found herself very much at home in the woods and nature during these sessions, and has grown in confidence with the way she handles whatever the outdoor session is throwing at her, and is now very independent around the camp fire too.

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Some of our crafty haul 🙂

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Pirate Forest School.

IMG_8806Today’s session was going with the weather, i.e. very wet underfoot after days of heavy rain, hence we were looking at pirates.  Since my mini men were born pirates, this was an instant hit.  The first task was to group build a pirate boat on the floor with lots of long branches for the outline, then erect a mast and sail in the middle (and of course add two planks to walk!).  My IMG_8805trio started off doing this, but soon drifted off to make more recycled paper with petals in it.  This was an activity last week, but it has really grabbed the interest of all three and they love doing it.

 

 

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We were then set the task of building mini pirate ships to float in a paddling pool.  My three loved using the long handled pruners to chop the flooring for the ships.  We used these pieces of wood, tied with elastics and string, and with various corks added to make the basic structure.  There was then a lot of going backwards and forwards to the paddling pool to make the things float and adapting them as a result.  I was really struggling with why mini man no.1’s wouldn’t float, as he kept coming back (I didn’t go with them as I had my work cut out helping make three of the things!) saying it was rolling over.  Until another mum solved the mystery and he was putting the ship into the water corks uppermost-1st buoyancy lesson of many learnt by them for the day!!  After they successfully floated, all manner of accessories could be added, but it taught them the limitations of the buoyancy of their craft too.  My mini men opted for simple masts (pipe cleaners twisted) and a sail (feathers inserted through the pipe cleaner).  Of course our little lady had a whole ship building enterprise going on…..a full on fabric sail with mast and a princess pirate, complete with hair, hat, earring (sequins) and a head that could decapitate…..i.e. a bit of cork stuck on a stick body!!

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I have to say, that despite it being the first of July, the campfire was needed to add a little warmth to the fingers and toes today!  It was another great session and a lot was learnt about buoyancy 🙂

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Day 24-Forest School & Meadow Sweeping.

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We have had another fantastic morning at Forest School, learnt new things, and even squeezed in a couple of sneaky geocache finds!  This morning we started in the meadow, and did some meadow sweeping.  This was fabulously easy for little people, yielding plentiful results, thus keeping their attention and interest, which in turn meant more learning.  It’s as easy as waving a net over or through long grass, and then tapping the residents into a bug pot for a bit of a closer inspection.  We had lots of various willing participants, and the children could use the laminated reference cards to see exactly what they had caught.  Not only in general terms, for example, a cricket, but in more specific terms finding out what type of cricket.  We had a lovely little juvenile cricket that was happy to wander around on our hands for ages, meaning we could get a really good look at him, and he would happily be passed into the children’s hands so the could feel the tiny tickle of his feet and get a real close up look of him.  In fact we had to put him on a plant in the end, as he wouldn’t hop off!

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After some sustenance of hot chocolates and biscuits, it was time to try the craft of making recycled paper with flowers and leaves in.  Shredded waste paper had been soaked in water, some white, some pink, and some green.  Flowers were place onto a grill with the gooey mash on top.  Water was then pressed, squeezed, and rolled out, to eventually reveal some very pretty paper.  It was hung up to dry while we headed off for our campfire.

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IMG_8693On today’s campfire menu it was toast.  The hazel stick ends were peeled, then bread threaded through the end.  This was held in the flames until toasted nicely, at which point children could add various toppings to their feast.

We also took a cheeky look at our new geocache app, and were delighted to see two, 300m each way of the parking place, that we could hunt for.  This was the boys first experience too, and it was a good one with both caches containing swap items.  They were also much easier than yesterdays for the children to spot, and we didn’t look like we’d just been dunked in a river!!  I also let them fill out the geocaching challenge in the National Trust book of 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4, as all three had now done it.  So, for day 24 lots of wild experiences….new mini beast hunting skills were learnt, new nature craft skills were learnt, new outdoor cooking skills were learnt, and our new skills of geocaching were practised and the twins were introduced to it 🙂

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Day 11 & Forest School.

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Hooray!!  After 2 Fridays off, it was the return of forest school for the second half of the summer term.  This was to be day 11 of our 30 days wild challenge, and we decided that forest school would be enough immersion in nature without doing any extra challenges…..learning in nature in our wild classroom.  Today it was all about dinosaurs which tied in very nicely with our trip to the Natural History Museum on Monday.  All three love dinosaurs so were instantly captivated, listening to what they were able to do today.  It was all very free flowing, the child doing whatever their interests led them towards.

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There were large plastic dinosaurs hidden around the forest school area, for the children to find, before then looking for a dinosaur nest full of dinosaur eggs.  My trio had been learning on Monday about dinosaur eggs and them hatching, so they followed it all really well.  The dinosaur eggs were little rubber dinosaurs, frozen into ice blocks, which the children then had to melt using warm water and pipettes, thus hatching the eggs (and at the same time learning about heat melting ice).  Then there were several trays with a heap of sand on them around the forest floor.  These could be used and added to (with soil, water, leaves, cones etc) to make dinosaur worlds and therefore encourage creativity and imaginative play.  My mini men chose to do this, while my little lady dived into the clay bag to craft her own new breed of dinosaur.  I think mini man no.1 had it sussed perfectly, by sitting back and watching another little girl build a fantastic dinosaur world, to then fully take part in using it to play with his dinosaurs 🙂 Mini man no.2 went and found his own ditch, filled it with cones and straw that were on the forest floor, and then placed some wood over it for a roof, and bracken leaves for curtains/door.

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What happened then was fantastic child led, creative, and imaginative play.  They all started to play, really involved in their dinosaurs, and adapting their worlds as the games went on.  Water slides and lakes were added, and a lot of fun was had by the end playing with the water.  They were in their element, and totally forgot us grown ups were even there.  We finished off with the camp fire and toasting our marshmallows.  The session had, as usual been a huge hit, and very much enjoyed.

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