It is such a delight to eventually see the buds growing and the leaves bursting out on the trees. It has been a long awaited change in the season in what feels like a very long winter indeed. But regardless of the weather, bar the actual week of the very heavy snow in March the forest sessions carried on. Yes having the right clothes help, and having a positive attitude helps but it continues to be the high cold winds that are the toughest on the smallies. Before planting season began it was such a great bonus to have a warm poly-tunnel near by, to heat up in, on the more challenging days.
I continue to learn so much through these sessions. The children continue to remind me of the challenges we face in forming positive relationships throughout our lives and I continue to explore when and when not to get involved. I offer games to encourage team work and communication, invite them to take time to be mindful and silent, offer tasks that encourage their own creativity and challenges that showcase their strengths. I feel that they are truly my teachers as much as I can hope to be theirs.
So lets see what we’ve been up to. Hammers and nails. They just love it and bar the odd hammered finger ( only joking!) the kids are surprisingly efficient hammerers. I brought some nails, hammers bits of wood and elastic bands and their imaginations did the rest !
There is nothing I love more than to mix things up a little bit. By that I mean being able to invite other creatives into the space and spend time with the group. In my experience this works best when I can be present to deal with the ongoing needs of the individuals and the guest facilitator can get on with sharing their skills. A great friend of mine Rob a sculptor/artist/performer by day came out and sped the morning with them following their spur of the moment request to build a robot. Happy to use their newly found hammering skills and using what they found Sheila was made!
The remnants of the snow inspired great cooking ideas, as did the new mud kitchen made by one of the parents of the collective.
Ropes and seceters, another great resource. Hours spent making booby traps and tying ropes between trees while cutting back the brambles and dead wood on the paths. One afternoon the group went off on a big seceter mission and managed to cut themselves into a newly favoured hideout!
With the much awaited Spring we had plenty of time to explore the signs of its arrival. We made birds nests, Spring Zingers ( sticks wrapped in wool with little bells on top to ring over the wee buds). Last week I brought in a digital camera and they each had a chance to photograph signs of Spring ( The photos at the top of this blog are some of these)
We have been climbing, dancing, balancing, telling stories,bug-hunting, planting, imagining and having a lot of fun. I’m trying my best to stand back and observe their own interests and imaginations and go with that whenever I can. It is so interesting to observe how the dynamics change day by day and I am kept on my toes exploring the best practice in all of this.
On Monday I divided them into two teams and asked them to build the tallest tower of sticks that they could. Today we had great fun using sticks to make trails towards our hidden Teddie that the other team then had to follow and find.
Our top favourite games of the season:
Hug Tag– Give an instruction to collect plants/herbs/leaves. Call predator- only safe when you hug someone
Story Chase- Storyteller has hands out in front. All children must touch her hand somewhere. The children say a word that when the storyteller says it they must run away and try not and get caught.
Cat and Mouse- Group makes circle, holding hands. Mouse stands inside circle cat stands outside. The circle tries to help the mouse by lifting up their arm to let in and out and brings their arms down towards the ground to try and block the cat.
Written by Niamh Geoghegan Co-ordinator and co-founder at Mucky Boots Forest School