Adventures in Nature
I love Christmas, but as the big day gets nearer I start to wonder if I love the idea of it rather than the reality. Its such a busy time of year, with a month full of concerts, fairs, Christmas shopping and and trying to tie up work so you can take some time off. The joy of the season just seems to be lost when you’re stuck in a crowd at the overheated shopping centre listening to Slade on an endless loop. It would just be nice to spend some peaceful time with your family instead of rushing around ticking off lists. We had this in mind when we proposed a family Christmas craft session in the woods.
Should we be encouraging children to fight? Both forest school programmes I ran this week slipped happily into war games without any injury or incident and all the kids seemed to relish the opportunity to attack, defend, chase and outwit their enemies in the course of a day playing in the woods. I never advocate people physically hurting each other, but it seems to me that the need to play war is as natural to children as den building and climbing trees and to deny them the opportunity is to deny an instinct that goes back to our evolutionary roots. (more…)
Making things from the resources we find in the woods is a big feature of forest schools and coming from an arts background I like to bring a bit of creativity into the sessions. Last week I was at a holiday club in Bradford and enjoyed working with the kids to make natural pictures, willow sculptures and ‘boggarts’, woodland creatures made of clay. But the session we ran today was in a whole new league and a very exciting new development. At our last forest school in June some of the older boys asked us if we could use the tools more and create things from wood. So when I recently bumped into an old friend who told me he was getting into green woodworking, I told him about our St Ives forest school group in Bingley and he kindly agreed to come along. Jonas and Jim make very fine furniture (www.daedalianfurniture.co.uk) but in their spare time are enjoying getting back to the roots of wood working and discovering the pleasures of making pieces from green (recently cut and unseasoned) wood, without the use of powertools and electrical machinery. (more…)
I’m always amazed at how much creative energy children have. You don’t have to tell them to create something, it just happens naturally when you give them the space to be themselves. Wouldn’t it be great to come up with and carry out all these fantastic ideas when you got together with your friends in the park or pub, instead of sitting there chatting? The trouble is, how much time do we let children really be the directors of their own play before they’re told to stop it, put it down and come inside? (more…)
When children are coming back to the woods again and again, you can really start to see how they have grown. We’ve been working with the same children at St Ives woodland every school holiday for nearly a year now and some of that growth is literal -they’re taller every time they come back! But much of the growth is from the inside as they demonstrate increased abilities to co-operate, communicate and problem-solve. Our St Ives group is very mixed in terms of age and ability but they all work together and help each other out. The really rewarding thing is seeing how much their belief their own abilities impacts on their belief in themselves. (more…)