Category Archives: nature ranger fun

Bare foot on a school day, stories in the hedgerow & developing ninja awareness

So busy  in the woods this last while,  but there is always time to listen to the silence even for one minute, which is filled with: bird song, insects buzzing, dogs barking, cars and children in the distance . We often practice deer ears at earth play forest schooling.

Ysgol Gynradd Aberteifi 

Children from Ysgol Gynradd Aberteifi years 3, 4 5 & 6 walked to the Coppicewood college for a morning or an afternoon session and then walked back to school again through the wild life park and along the river.  Luckily they all had dry weather, but the time and distance travelled  shows the wonderful commitment of the teachers and pupils over the last couple of weeks.

Fox walking

10 acres did lose a bunch or two as they went looking for unusual objects hidden in the woods. Some of them went bare foot and practised fox walking: which is slow walking with bare feet- really trying to feel the ground beneath you.

Coppicing

They got a tour of the college, the woods  and the plot we have just coppiced this year. I was keen to show them that by taking care when felling trees (with an axe) and doing this at the right time,  means the tree has enough light that once spring comes it grows shoots from its base which will become trunks. These will after 7- 10 years be ready to cut again and  in this way some coppice can be as old as 1000 years. Coppicing dates back to 5000 BC.

Charcoal

Charcoal which is an excellent and useful product of coppicing gets made at the College and was used to smelt iron, long before coal or coke.

Children tried out sawing on a saw horse and a couple tried using a double handed saw.

children also tried using a draw knife  which is used to shape wood on a shave horse.

 

Stories

The other younger groups of children came to tell stories and they used clay dug from the woods, twigs, leaves seeds and the environment around them to make places and figures for their stories .

Some of them used a device to help form a story where, we lay a long piece of string out that goes from one place to another- this is the line of their story. However children being true creatives made doorways into a new universes, swings and ropes with the string too.

We also played games to enable them to tune into their environment a little, as for most of them this was there first visit. They went off and brought back in order of picking: objects, leaves, findings from a short journey into the many directions of the woods. They laid these out and we discussed what they brought back – was it edible? what was its name ? and did it having healing properties ?

Coppicewood College is just outside Cilgerran, near Forest camping site. The college was set up for adult courses in sustainable woodland management, primarily coppicing, green wood working, charcoal making, hedge- laying. See my page on the college or visit their website. We often have volunteer days on a Wednesday, but please check the face book page or website to make sure we are open.

Earth play Forest schooling runs Saturday Nature ranger morning sessions, holiday full day activities- includes cooking on the fire lots of games and wood work.

Plantain 

On the way in to the college there is a path with an abundance of plantain. This incredible plant can be used for stings, bites, drawing out splinters or glass stuck in the skin, to stop bleeding and for bladder and kidney problems.

Holiday -days in the wood,home schooling and Saturday nature ranger fun

We have held holiday sessions over Easter and half term.

Not everyone goes to school and we have decided to try out a short group of sessions for children every other Friday. Preparing food and cooking it on the fire is part of the session which run currently from 10-1.30. last week we made pancakes and salad. Previously soup, scrambled eggs, beans and 22 pieces of toast got turned using tongs made by the group. We have also played games, run about, used our senses and started making things.

Last week  children had a go at sawing wood on the saw horse to make a beat all which they picked from the coppiced plot.  A beat all is a  wooden mallet used for tapping pegs into the ground, hitting chisels, or other tools. They are used a lot at the college for whacking in wedges to split wood.

Below children whittle sticks for making bread over the fire and Kneading the dough. 

Drawing birds they have seen and putting these into their beautifully made nature observation books.

Making elder flower cordial, using organic ingredients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making your very own fire from start to finish. 

Making dens 

loving barefoot fox walking in the woods Cilgerran

May and shoes are off

Slowing us all down, fox walking along sunlit paths through coppiced  sycamore, hazel and ash,  noticing tracks, burrows and poos left by other creatures. A weasel?

Making beautiful nature observation books

Keeping a nature observation scrap book has helped me learn the names of creatures, bees and plants, taking note when I first noticed them. We started this activity early in spring at Nature ranger when I purchased a scrap book and we began recording what we saw and heard each session. We have seen celandine and wood sorrel, come and go, blue bells, greater wood rush  and cleavers grow, early purple orchids bloom and  wood speedwell scatter about the paths.    It opens up the world right in front of us. Children at nature ranger spent time copying images of butterflys and birds to put on their covers.

Tracking and revelling in the fine details of nature

Finding letters in the woods

Working in teams, moving through the wooded lanes in the winter sunshine. We are seeking wooden letters that make up birds names. Everything is lit up and glorious,  we find mosses, fungus and the tracks of badger. 

Volunteers

A parent and volunteer at nature ranger (must have a DBS) sharing his interest in lichen and tracking.

Using hatchets and creating sculptural shapes 

The children are making their own unique sculptural pieces: finding materials that interest them and then working to put them together. Below a child safely uses uses a hatchet to take off wood to make a point on her stick.

This Saturday February 18th is the last one with Tracy until she returns from her travels in April. This Saturday, we will continue with sculpture and make pancakes which was the children’s request.

Week off 25th February

 Dates:  Start back:  4th March, 11th, 18th, 1st April, 8th April

Continue reading

Fire & cooking, rain & mud, friendship & noticing tiny spiders in sparkling webs together

Fire & cooking, rain & mud, friendship & noticing tiny spiders in sparkling webs together 

Unbelievably it rained, our first day of rain in the whole of this autumn/winter term, so far.

Bob and Tora Volunteers from Coppicewood College put up the tarpaulin and connected it to the shed. This gave us ample cover for our end of term cooking session, in December.

Below children used a fire strike to successfully light the fire and helped attend to the cooking. Numerous dishes were provided by everyone like: vegetable and chick pea stir fry, sausages toast, beans, our plates were full.

Its wonderful to set up a mini camp and enjoy food, our fire and friendships with the rain gushing down.

    In this photo you can see the green wood workshop behind.

Fortunately the first part of the session remained dry and we  played games and went for a walk observing; tiny spider webs, flying bugs and lichen through  magnifying glasses.  This gives us the opportunity to quieten down and begin to listen and see more acutely.

Children said: they loved everything , being with everybody and making things,doing deer ears and owl eyes, meeting new people, finding and discovering things in the forest making blobsters.

making a healing salve in the woods

salve making

This salve will be good for: mild burns, bangs, minor cuts and skin irritations.

What great fun and empowering to use the resources around us to enable our own healing and well being.  We made our own salve this week, which we will use in our first aid kit. We used comfrey and marigold (Calendula) plants which had previously been dried, which we chopped up and made into a strong infusion or tea. We then placed almond oil in a saucepan on the wood burner (in the shed at Coppicewood College) and heated this up with the tea. Slowly the water evaporated and then, right at the end we added the beeswax. Before it set we poured the liquid dscf7251into small containers so that everyone could have one. The children also made nice labels, for their pots.

We used David Hoffmans excellent book called The New Holistic Herbal.

This was our last but one session this winter term and the weather has become cold. We made sure we did lots of running about to get our internal heat going before playing this game: owls and mice , which involves stealth, quiet and listening.

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Using a compass

We have woven this into a number of sessions and so the children get to practise finding north and then in teams will go on some expedition to find something in one of the directions. The more they practise the more familiar and then easier and they have found it.

We had another go at Kazoos and everyone was successful at making one that made a good sound. This involves taking out just enough wood with a knife so that the reed inside vibrates when you blow. Below splitting a piece of hazel (coppiced this term) using a billhook and beatal.

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Scrambled eggs, beans , sour dough bread, cooked on the fire and ate in the winter sunshine.

Nature ranger, winter sunshine

Scrambled eggs, beans , sour dough bread, cooked on the fire and ate in the winter sunshine. All at Naturewise community  Forest garden which was still bearing raspberries and apples  last week, in mid November.

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What we have been up to is:

Finding and noticing unusual objects in the landscape,  like this bright orange rubber glove helps us to see more intently the colours and shapes around us. dscf7223

Slowing us down we enjoy our being in nature. This makes us happy, like drinking clear water when we are really thirsty.

We went looking for the tiniest thing in the garden – below a pip (amongst other finds) revealed after eating the apple .

Each person went and found something that they felt was a bit like them. The children drew on colours from leaves and seeds that were like colours in their hair and eyes and found things that reflected how they were feeling that day.

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We started making up stories using; a line of string helping our story go from one place to another , nature and our imaginations, to wonderful results.

Here we are making an insect togetherdscf7221

each becoming a part of the whole creature.

 

 

wild first aid, kazoos and blobsters

We have been having great fun and learning so much too. In one game we split into two teams: each who had to find and label certain plants and trees in the garden.  After they had run round and made their decisions they got to point out what they found. We were all delighted to find the sweet chestnut has finally produced large enough nuts to eat. As we wondered about we began to talk about what plants are good for and these ideas helped us in our wild first aid.  dscf7206dscf7205

Wild first aid 

We enacted some first aid situation’s and the children decided what they could do and applied wild first aid:  using plants like plantain for cuts, bleeding, stings or  bites or a scarf to make a sling for an injured arm.

Flow learning

We have begun to apply Joseph Cornell ‘s flow learning.  Using games to discharge our energies and wake us up to where we are by moving dscf7167around in the environment and then activities to focus our attention and have a direct experience of being in nature.

In this picture we are playing salmon, otter and mosquito. This encourages team work reacting on the spot and fun.

Splitting wood

In Fridays session we got our hands muddy trying to make blobsters, from the earth, it was a bit unyielding so we added water.

More successfully we have used coppicewood college to our advantage and children have recently sawn through and then split wood carefully using a billhook and beetle and used a knife to carve out a small amount of  wood to make a kazoo.dscf7163ruby

dscf7210Making blobsters and then making a place for them to live. One of the blobsters lives in a tree and has a contraption for getting up and down.

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We have been taking longer walks in the wood and finding new places where we have opened up to the environment and our senses.  Listening as if we have deer ears, touching unknown objects while blindfolded, and playing an amazing version of hide and seek.

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Break times have meant taking on a job to make the snack happen like: collecting apples, washing and chopping carrots, turning toast on the fire, and putting on spreads. Just delightful.

nature ranger fun

Nature Ranger fun

Summer term 2016

Both groups have had a go at making a fire using a fire strike and we successfully boiled a kettle cropped-DSCF7041.jpg& heated up our crumpets . We made dens, used a compass to search our site and bring back evidence of the flora from the North South East and West.

We have played a number of running around games to let off steam and one involved knowing the names of various plants and trees.

Last week we had ago at whittling at the Coppicewood college site making ourselves butter knives to butter our crumpets.

The photo shows Ernest with both his knife and crumpet. 

We have also played with sound, movement and games for concentration. There is a lot to learn and  a lot of fun to be had so we will be continuing in the Autumn term and possibly on a Saturday.

We want to encourage more children to come a long and try it out to really build a hearty group for everyone. Phone Claire and book 01239 621 039 or email cloudtumble28@gmail.com 

The idea is that after a time children will feel comfortable and confident in their surroundings and have been shown numerous games, activities and skills can make choices about what they want to do that suits them and what they need. Forest schooling can also act as a safe place for friendships to develop and sharing, unwinding and rejigging. Nature is a healer, a beautiful home to re find. We can all see that children spend too much time on screens  and not enough wondering about and exploring.

Story telling with Cardigan school

Marie Roberts class came to the forest  garden in winter 2015 with the continual threat of rain and wind. They walked to the forest garden and back and had two hours to try out all kinds of activities, like sawing and getting the fire wood, path making, fire making, bread making over the fire, a bit of whittling, story making, poetry and games to express themselves.

They just DSCF7023revisited for a story making session where they used their imaginations and natures: shapes, leaves, sticks and paths, to contrive a journey , a story line using a piece of string along the ground from one place to another.

There were some great characters, Elara’s  here started with just this head but did develop a body and had to get off an island she was stuck on.

This one below with the square eyes  (developed by Wynne  and Kian)   had been watching screens too much and went for a walk and met a dragon.

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During the summer term children had a go at making tongs which can be used on the fire for turning over bread on the grill.  They had to measure and saw a piece of wood, then split it using a froe. Below Daniel and Ernest are using a saw horse.

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The kettles is on the fire, children wash up enthusiatically and prepare black currants for our feast, which went on for 3 hours on our last session of the summer.