Rock pools: seaweeds & creatures, construction play & balance at the woods

Recent images showing:

  • Using tools and equipment, like this draw knife and shave horse to work on a spatula

  • using a hatchet to take off wood to sculpt the shape you want – excellent use of the hatchet here!

    Making a factory using imagination and bits of wood found all around them, children were immersed in play and  construction.


Tag teams, to identify leaf shapes 

  • constructing an assault course with places to: balance & climb under, over & across, carry items. Learning to give a hand. 

  • Children constructed a rope walk the longest yet!  it stretched from place to place through the woods , by burrows, hillocks,  areas thick with ferns, trees stumps, ditches & pathways. 

making lunch :learning to: grate, chop, fry slice, mix,  wash up.


 A bright day to enjoy our first beach session on the vast expanse of Poppit sands in early May

  We identified: seaweeds: gut weed, sea Lettuce, Cladophora, dabber locks, egg wrack, Bladder wrack. Shells : limpets, barnacle, mussel, winkle, common cockle.

  Beadlet anemone & shrimp

May a good time to nibble fresh hawthorn leaves

May a good time to nibble fresh hawthorn leaves

We have been meeting in the woods throughout the winter and have witnessed the wonderful changes the spring has brought.

Enjoying the new growth directly by eating hawthorn leaves straight from the tree. Experiencing our animal selves, enjoying our senses.

A collection of early spring flowers and leaves: Celandine, Wood anemone, Lords and ladies, Golden saxifrage.  Children remember this collection and go searching themselves.

learning about plants:Nettles

A small group collect fresh nettles which they  stir fry on the fire to have with lunch. Nettles contain vitamin C,  Iron, and thiamine.  They strengthen and support the whole body. May is the time to collect nettles to dry and use through out the year. Can be used for eczema. See David Hoffman The New Holistic herbal.

We play fun games to learn about plants and their uses as well eat for lunch and  administer in wild first aid if needed.

Using tools & making things

Learning to use an axe safely.

All that energy inside us rising like the sap now.  Sometimes we get to express it, use it explore, create, try something new and feel really good.



Learning to saw with ease.


Recently children have been exploring using tools and the effect they make. Some made a plant dibber, a candle holder which involved drilling a large hole using an auger bit, and refining  the  piece of wood to a desired shape using an axe and draw knife.  

Enjoying and exercising our imagination with Snoopy

There is something wonderfully compelling about seeing snoopy standing in a small shack with moss on the ground, leaves and sticks around him as well as a beautiful picture of a tree full of birds, right next to him. Wonderful.

There’s a child here ! we practised really hiding in the wood.

Camouflage & tracks in the mud, smoke & fire, song lines and stories

Everyone has a go at:

Lighting and keeping the fire going, stirring the pot, flipping the pitta, chopping up veg ! yes veg for the stir fry.


Sessions often have a theme that provide a focus for experience and skill development.

Rhythm/ sound & song lines

trying out clapping rhythms and then in a small group device a song line which is a rap/poem with rhythm you  create about a place, you remember it to then sing to others to share the information.

Children had a choice of making an easy xylophone or rattle. They all sounded wonderful.

Blobsters, creatures, places and stories

Recently on a very cold day a child told a spell binding story full of creatures that stopped all the children in their tracks.  We had played games and introduced ideas that supported this to happen.

Time for free play with materials and then see what happens.


Den making &

finding things, listening, taking turns, leading, being silly, noises, movements, expression and connection.

Making nature observation pictures gets us all looking at whats around us and the ever changing environment.

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

We have been so busy  in the woods this last while,  but there is always time to listen to the silence, even for a 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

In 10 acres of coppiced woodland we did lose a bunch of children 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.


Children got a tour of the college, the woods  and the plot we have just coppiced this year. I was keen to show them that through the process of coppicing we can produce wood for many of our needs in a sustainable way which promotes biodiversity .  We coppice by taking care when felling trees (with an axe) over an acre at a time and  this is done during the winter months when the sap is low.   Once spring comes the tree has enough light that it can grow shoots from its base which will become trunks. These trunks grow thicker and longer every year and after 7- 10 years will be ready to cut again.  Some coppice can be as old as 1000 years. Coppicing dates back to 5000 BC.


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.



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 thier 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 sessions, holiday full day activities- includes cooking on the fire lots of games and wood work.


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. 


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.



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.


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.


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.