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.
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.