Forest Friday

Session 9

Parents and Children

Senior Infants

We had a lovely final session thanks to the children who planned what they would like to do with their parents last week.

Gathering at the Pine Grove

At our gathering point it was lovely to see children show their parents the variety of materials in the baskets and teach some techniques and skill they have developed.

On our way up to the base camp they children showed their parents special landmarks. There were rocks to be climbed and tunnels to go through. Some adventurous parents climbed through the holly tunnel.

Parents got a chance to relive their childhood in a game of Eagle Eye.

Children showed parents around the camp pointing out favourite places to climb, to hide, and their sit spots. The also collected plants.

Elder as our focus tree again this week, so that the children could share their knowledge. We went out of our camp to find an Elder. The children explained to their parents that they needed to ask Mother Elder’s permission to cut her branches. They showed them the soft pith and told how you could make a wand. Some made wands on the spot.

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This was our activity-

Pendants and Elder Beads

Drilling Holes and Cutting Wood – Set out a tool area for drilling holes in the wooden discs and cutting beads with the secateurs.  Show how to use the tools. Let everyone know how many can work there at a time.

Each adult and child will get a wooden disc. Using markers or pencils write their names and decorate one side.

‘On the other draw something that you love from the forest, it might be a leaf, a bird, animal, flower or insect. You might like to add ogham writing. Have a look at the sheet about ogham writing.’

When there is space in the tool area bore a hole in the disc and cut some Elder beads.

Stringing Elder Beads Cut Elder sticks into 1 cm beads. Hollow out with pointy sticks. Use the pointy sticks to push string through.  String it all together and make a pendant.

They finished off in their favourite sit spot with their parents

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Second Class

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The Children showing parents their favourite places in the camp.

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Sharing the sit up area with a parent.

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Hiding during a game of Eagle Eye

Pendants

I got such a positive response from the parents.

  • The children tell them so much about their day on a Friday.
  • The children ask them to go to Killiney Park at the weekends and they lead them to the base camp.
  • Children have become very responsive to the natural world when out with their parents
  • Children are tired but calm on Friday evenings.
  • Children know so much about plants
  • Parents have noticed how good their child’s observation skills have become.
  • “She is much better at trying new foods at home since tasting wild foods and making wild teas.”
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Forest Friday

Session 8

Focus Tree- Elder

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Meeting at the Pine Grove

This week each group had a mixture of natural materials to play with. I really like the stamp made with a stone rubbed with chalk and then stamped on to the back of peoples hands

Due to the storm during the week the forest floor look like Autumn except all the leaves were green and the seeds were bright and fresh. The children found seeds that they hadn’t seen before as they were usually up high in the trees.

Senior Infants

There is so much to learn during free-play. Today I saw children climbing and balancing in areas that they would have been afraid of a few weeks ago. Their imaginary play had really developed.

We found and Elder tree in full flower. Mother Elder must be asked permission before taking anything from her tree so the children took some leaves to examine having asked her politely. They squeezed them, smelt them and rubbed them on their skin as it is very good as an insect repellent. We had a smell of the flowers. Everyone loved the smell.

For break we tried a cold and hot drinks from Elder cordial.

Elder Story

Once, long ago on a windy and wild afternoon just as the sun was about to set, three brothers and their hunting dogs went out to catch a rabbit for their Mother’s pot for her supper. She called to them, “Now don’t be going on this night near the Wild Woods my boys, and beware of the Elder Witch for it doesn’t take much to anger her if you don’t give her due respect!”

Now just as they came to the edge of that dark wood, a rabbit ran across their path and the dogs made chase — straight into the woods! Without thinking the boys followed the dogs’ tracks, whistling and calling, “Bran! Coll! Meg!” But the dogs, noses down and ears alert, were at the scent and weren’t for calling back. The boys just had to follow. Step by step took them deeper and deeper into the heart of the dark woods and no sight nor sound of the dogs. “Our Mother’s not going to be pleased with us – losing the dogs – and no rabbit to show for it! What shall we do?” said one of the brothers. “We need a whistle to call them, remember how Dad showed us how to hollow an Elder branch to make a whistle” said another, and without a thought he snapped off a branch from an Elder Tree.  But he hadn’t thought to ask the Elder Mother’s permission, and now he was regretting it for there she stood larger than life, green skinned and ancient as the hills on which she stood. By her side she held the boys’ three hounds. “Ah you should have thought to ask before you took one of my boughs. If you bring me three gifts: a magical whistle from the Golden Elder Tree; The Heart of a Boar; and finally a Prince who knows how to make me young again, then maybe I will think of giving your hounds back! And where you will find these gifts? Ha! That’s for me to know and you to find out. Now you have till the sun rises to complete this quest.” And the Old Cailleach disappeared into the trunk of the Elder Tree and was gone from sight.

The boys walked until the dark veil of night was wrapped about them, and in that darkness they heard the most beautiful music, like the birds of the air were singing all together. And so the boys walked towards the sound and saw in front of them a Golden Elder Tree. And in its boughs a red Squirrel played a golden whistle. “We seek the golden whistle for the Elder Witch.” they said.“Well, if you can solve this riddle you may have it! Riddle me ree, riddle me rye, what am I? I am always restless and always free, I bang on doors and sway trees?” “The Wind!” shouted the boys and the whistle was theirs for the taking. On they journeyed until they came to a cave. Thinking that they might sleep safely in here for a spell in they went, deeper and deeper down a long tunnel. And when they reached the end of the tunnel they found a beautiful carved wooden box, and in that box was the heart of the Great Boar of Celyddon. But a great dark spider held it in her web. Knowing they had found their second prize, they blew the golden whistle and the spider was lulled by its sweet music. The boys snatched the box from her grasp and ran as swift as the North wind away from the cave. and on they tramped, their feet sore and their hearts weary, until they came to a deep chasm. Across its waters they spied a great castle. There a Prince was held captive by a Giant and it was that Prince they were searching for and must take back to the old Elder Witch! They blew the golden whistle and the Giant was lulled to sleep and the Prince ran from his prison, crossing the river by a bridge of a single hair!

The Prince was so thankful to the boys that he came along with them as they retraced their tracks to the place where the Elder Tree stood. And one of the brothers blew the golden whistle and the old Cailleach appeared. The Prince bowed, then putting his hand in his pocket drew out a cluster of fragrant white flowers; elder blossoms, and offered them to the Elder Mother. And in the twinkling of an eye she became young and bonnie with white Blossoms adorning her dress and crowning her head.

“You have done well boys. You are free to take your dogs in exchange for these three gifts. But always remember the Elder Tree Mother, for our flowers, berries and bark can cure many human illnesses, and misuse can bring bad luck!” The boys promised to always remember the Elder Mother’s generosity and off they and their hounds went, for they still had to catch a rabbit for their Mother’s pot for her supper! And finally they arrived home, and what a tale they had to share that night!

Magic Wands

Having asked Elder Tree Mother first we cut some of her branches. We looked at the soft pith in the middle. This is what we did-

Tools

  • Secateurs
  • Pointy sticks

Materials

  • Elder sticks
  • Grasses
  • Feathers
  • Flowers

Cut Elder sticks the thickness of an adult finger and approximately 30 cms. long. Use pointy sticks to hollow out about 3 cm. from the top. Find feathers, grasses, dandelion seed heads for the top of the wand and insert into the hollow. The bark can be peeled away in parts to create patterns on the wand handle.

Senior Infants

Sit Spot

Second Class

Inventiveness at base camp.

Using branches to do sit ups.

On our way through the woods coming back with our Elder branches I passed a whisper down the line. “If we stay quiet we might see wildlife”. Yes, as soon as we were quiet we saw so much more. The children were so excited. We watched two grey squirrels jumping from tree to tree and a robin followed us.

The children played with their wands and made lots of magic.

 

Sit Spot

Written response from last weeks sit spot-

“Sit. licen to the birds. I rember how my life is so importint. i am cam i do my mideful brething. I thik of things. i wish that hazely was in my group and i relax!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forest Friday

Session 7

Senior Infants

Our focus tree – Ash.

Story – Hole in a Tree

Ash the tree had grown in the forest all his long life. But there were lots of younger trees there now. They made Ash feel very old indeed.

‘Nobody cares about an old tree like me,’ he said. ‘I’m no use to anyone any more. I’ve got an old, knotty trunk, twisted branches and I have an ache in my fork,’ he sighed.

At the fork in his trunk, where two great branches met, rainwater had collected over the years. It soaked through the bark and made the wood soft and damp.

But some things in the forest liked old, damp wood. Fungus did and it started to grow in Ash’s old, aching fork. It sent little threads, like roots, down into the damp wood. ‘That tickles!’ said Ash. But as the fungus got bigger, the wood began to get softer and weaker.

‘Oh!’ said Ash. ‘I’m not sure I like this!’ It was hard to hold his heavy branch up.

Then, one wild and rainy night, there was a loud crack and the branch snapped right off. ‘Oh dear,’ said Ash. But at least the pain of holding up the heavy branch with soft, old wood was gone. Now there was just a great scar of bare wood and the beginnings of a hole.

The fungus kept growing and, as it grew, the wood became softer and started to rot. ‘No one is going to want a rotten old tree like me,’ sighed Ash.

But the beetles did. Beetles like nice, soft wood. ‘Over here!’ cried a beetle. ‘Is it soft? Is it damp?’ asked another. It was. The crumbling, damp wood was the perfect place to lay their eggs. When the young beetle grubs hatched, they ate the dead, damp wood, and made little tunnels as they burrowed through it.

Some birds saw the damp wood too. They knew that meant beetles. Very soon, the birds were pecking at the wood to get to the lovely, juicy, beetle grubs. ‘Oi!’ said Ash. ‘Stop it!’ But as the beetle grubs tunnelled and the birds pecked, the hole got bigger.

The beetle grubs turned into adults and flew away. Ash was all alone again. Over the years the rain fell. Beetles returned. Grubs tunnelled and birds pecked. The hole grew bigger. Ash got quite used to having a hole. He was never quite sure what would happen to it next.

One year, a female great tit spied the hollow. ‘That’s almost right for a nest,’ she said. She chipped out a few more bits of wood to make it a little bigger. ‘There. Perfect!’ She lined it with grass and moss and sheep’s wool and animal hair. Then she laid her seven eggs.

Ash was as excited as a tree could be waiting for the eggs to hatch. When they did, there were seven cheeping chicks snuggled in his hole. But by the end of the summer, the chicks had grown up and were gone. The hole was empty again and Ash was all alone once more.

Summer turned to autumn and the nights became colder. Ash felt a little fluttering deep inside. It was a little wren and it had found the hole. ‘Ooh,’ said the wren. ‘I must tell the others!’ So it did. That night, five or six wrens all huddled together in the hole. They kept each other dry and warm through the cold, dark night. And they slept there every night for the whole winter.

‘Perhaps I’m not so old and useless after all,’ said Ash happily. It was true. An old tree with a hole was very important in the forest. Think of all the creatures that needed it!

Journey to Base Camp.

On our way up to our base camp we looked at the trees on the forest edge and stopped under an Ash. The children picked the leaves. Some children counted 9 small leaves on the main stem and others counted 11. They had a look at the shadows the leaves made. We could see the ash keys up high in the tree. As we continued up to the base camp the children found 4 more ash trees. IMG_2387 copy

The children decided that we would make a cocktail tea of all the plants we made tea with so far – dandelion, gorse, pine needle and nettle, but as we were walking along we passed a hawthorn tree in full flower. We hadn’t yet tasted hawthorn flower tea. They were happy to change the plan and make tea from it.

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Nettle Picking Challenge.

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The children are teaching each other how to pick a nettle without getting stung. Each week yet another child tries this out. Of course some get stung along the way but they wear their stings as a badge of honor.  When someone does get a sting everyone rushes off to get a dock leaf for them. This would not have happened during the first few weeks.

Sculptures

This was their challenge-

Work in pairs or groups

Tall towers

  • Give a time limit
  • How tall can you make a tower?
  • Sticks must be no longer that your arm. Everyone goes off to collect loads of sticks.
  • Start building.
  • If your tower is toppling you can go back to where it is strong and go again from there, or you can make a prop for it.
  • Make a flag for the top, with flowers, leaves or feathers.
  • Have an exhibition

Leaf Puzzles

The children were given cut up beech and ash leaves to put together.

When some children were finished they they created pictures by adding new plants to their leaf parts.

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We finished with a sit spot in the long meadow grass. It is not easy to see any children in these photographs.

 

Second Class

Exploring the Forest Edge

Challenge

Collect leaves of different shapes and put in the transparent bags, no two leaves should be the same.

Lay out the bags of leaves. Barter with each other. The aim is to collect as many leaves as possible from the same tree.

Drawing – Exploring Leaf Shapes.

With everything we find new things to explore. Séamus found a very interesting beetle. Braiden decided to put it in our ‘I notice..’ book so he made a drawing as Séamus described the beetle to him.

 

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Forest Friday

IMG_2373 copy 2Session 6

Senior Infants

Todays plant was the Ribwort Plantain. It is a healing herb so the children tried it on their nettle stings. The learned how to play a game of ‘Soldiers’.

Note book – I notice …

On our way up to our camp one child found a leaf with patterns on it. During free play she asked to draw it in our ‘I notice…..’

The children learned a new game ‘Eagle Eye’. The eagle is on and the mice all have to hide.

Yesterday they were told about today’s theme – Camouflage. They were very excited and wanted to be camouflaged and play eagle eye. This was our focus –

Animal and Bird Watching.

“The best way to see birds and animals is to hide. But you need to see out from your hide so you can see them but they can’t see you. You need to camouflage your head.

Have a look at the colours and shapes around you? How could you camouflage your head to be almost invisible?”

Ivy Crowns

The children were shown how to weave a circle with a long vine of ivy. They weaved other leaves and plants into the crown.

Contact Paper Mask.

The contact paper was cut to go around the children’s face with a ‘letter box’ space for the eyes. They collected plants before taking the paper apart and sticking them to the paper.

When we were all camouflaged we found some ferns, rocks and ivy to hide in while we watched and listened to the birds.IMG_2313 copy

Second Class

Finding ribwort plantain.

The class are very interested in finding plants, some that we have already focused on. They notice the changes over the weeks we have been here.

Today’s tea was nettle tea. The children found ways to gather nettles without getting stung. Anyone who got a sting didn’t mind as they wanted to try our ribwort leaves.

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The sun came out on our way up to the base camp. They had fun making shadow animals.

During free play time I notice that some children have favourite places and keep returning to them. They are very good at close looking and find all sort of hidden animals.

Camouflage

Weaving leaves into ivy crowns

Masks

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The children were so well camouflaged that a tree-creeper landed on two trees near them.

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They stayed in their camouflage for their sit spot.

 

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Forest Friday

Session 5

Senior Infants

Senior Infants use all their senses as they journey up to their base camp.IMG_2126 copy

Their skills of observation are remarkable. Have a look at the hairs on the new beech leaves that they showed me.

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Hawthorn Tree

Our focus plant this week is the Hawthorn.

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Wishing Trees, May Bushes, Fairy Trees, or Rag Trees are hawthorn trees where people tie ribbons to ask blessings from the local saints/deities/wee folk. The hawthorn flowers in May, time of the Bealtaine festival of rebirth. Local people still tie ribbons or strips of colourful cloth to the wishing tree as a symbol of their prayers or wishes. If you visit in May or June, you’ll find wishing trees covered in colourful fabric and rippling in the breeze.

The children found a fairy trail through this hawthorn tree. It was a big challenge to make their way through as there were nettles. They wore their nettle stings with pride. There were no dock leaves but we found plantain ribwort instead.

Wish Rags

The children made their own wish rags. They collected lots of different coloured leaves, grasses, and flowers to print on to their rags using Hapa Zome technique. Hapa Zome is the Japanese art of beating up leaves and flowers with hammers, pounding natural pigment into cloth.

 Materials

  • White fabric
  • Black markers
  • Plants
  • Stones for bashing.

The children placed their plants between the folded fabric. They used a stone or a block of wood to bash it. They could see the colour coming through the fabric. They were given black markers to draw or write their wishes.

 

We hung the wish rags on the hawthorn tree so the fairies could collect the wishes.  We sat quietly watching the rags in the breeze and thought of our more private wishes.

 

Second Class

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Making Hawthorn Leaf Tea.

Wish Rags

A Quiet Time Thinking of Our Wishes.

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On the way back to our base camp the children were more aware of colour than previously. Here Patrick was comparing the different blues in the bluebells.

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They chose to finish with a game that they learned two years ago at Forest Friday – Eagle Eye.

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Forest Friday

Session 4

Senior Infants

More creations at the Meeting Point.

Discoveries of colour and pattern on our way up to base camp.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Our plant theme today was the dandelion. On our way up to our base the children we found lots of dandelions, some in flower and some had seeds. The children made wishes and blew the seeds. We collected lots of dandelion heads and put them in our tea pot. Children took turns pouring hot water into the tea pot, and had a taste of dandelion tea when it was brewed.

Dandelion Story

Long, long ago, the flowers had a huge argument about which of them was the most beautiful, the most special, the most loved by the humans and by the fairies. The argument lasted for weeks, with each flower claiming to be the most beautiful and the most loved. Finally, all of the flowers agreed to let the Flower Fairies decide.

The Flower Fairies sent they’re gentlest and kindest of spirit fairy to settle the problem and to give one plant her blessing and the title of the “most perfect” flower. The little Fairy decided to test each flower by asking them one question.

The first flower the Fairy talked to was the Rose.
“Where would you most like to live?” she asked it.
“I would like to climb the castle wall.” said the Rose. “And then kings and queens and nobles would pass by everyday and exclaim over my beauty, my scent and my delicate nature.”
The Flower Fairy walked sadly away from the Rose.

Next the Fairy came to a tulip, standing tall and proud. “Where would you most like to live?” she asked the Tulip.
“Oh, I want to live in a public garden” said the Tulip. “Where everyday people would come and admire my wonderful colours and see how straight and tall I stand.” Once again, the Fairy walked a way feeling sad.

She walked until she came to a forest. There she found some Violets. She asked them “Where would you most like to live, little Violets?” “Oh” said the violets quietly “We like it here hidden in the woods where no one can see us and where the trees keep the sun from dulling our beautiful colour.” The fairy thanked the Violets and walked on looking for more flowers to talk to.

She talked to the Tiger Lily who was much too wild and fierce.
She talked to the Sunflower who barely answered her because all she wanted to do was be warmed by the sun.
The little Flower Fairy talked to the Orchids who only wanted to be taken out to dances and she tried to talk to the Narcissus but it was too busy looking at it’s reflection in the water to speak to her.

The little Fairy, with tears in her eyes, was ready to give up and go home when she came to a field with bright fluffy yellow flowers on long thin stalks. The leaves were long and jagged and very close to the ground. But the flowers….oh how happy and cheerful they looked in the field!

“Little one” said the Flower Fairy “What are you called and where would you like to live?”

“I am a dandelion” said the little flower.”I’d like to live where ever there are children. I want to live beside the road, and in the meadows, and push up between the footpaths in the cities, and make everyone feel happier when they see my bright colours.” The Dandelion chattered on happily saying “I want to be the first flower that the children pick in the spring and take to their mothers. And I could tell if a child likes butter by being rubbed under their chins, and if a child makes a wish and blows my seeds, I could carry that wish on the wind.”

The Flower Fairy smiled brightly and said “Little Dandelion, you are the most perfect and special flower of all and you shall have your wish! You will blossom everywhere from spring till Autumn, and be known as the children’s flower.”

And this is why the dandelion comes so early and pushes her head up everywhere with such strength and determination. And why she is so loved by children throughout her long life.

The Woodies felt very tired today so they had a nap taking turns in the hut.

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Climbing.

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“Is that a woodpecker we hear?” someone asks. The children suddenly stop their play and stay very still looking and listening.

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The children continued from their village making two weeks ago. This week they added football pitches, a river and boats.

A Boat with Sail.

The child first tried a wild garlic flower and stalk but it was too wobbly. He was please with the feather.

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A Vase of Flowers

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The Woodies enjoying their play after their nap.

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Second Class

Dandelion Theme.

On our way up to our base the children noticed that there were a lot of yellow flowers but when they went up close not all were dandelions. We compared our flowers and everyone recognised the buttercup and Eve recognised the cowslip.

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Tasting fresh beech leaves and climbing through the tree tunnel on the way up to base camp.

Making dandelion tea. This child is mixing the tea by swinging the pot in a full circle – very clever!

IMG_2044 copyDuring the last session one child requested that he would like to skills to  communicate with animals. We spent some time practicing owl hoots and pigeon coos. I think some children might get good at this with a bit of practice.

During their free play the children set off exploring and finding things. Most requested bug boxes.

This child found a fly that he couldn’t identify from our minibeast books so he decided to put a drawing of it into our ‘I Notice…’ book.

During class time in the morning the teacher showed the children a slide show of Land Art. Eve last week was concerned with materials we were using and how good they are for the environment.  I brought up a book of Andy Goldsworthy. We looked the materials he uses to make his art and looked at the materials in our site. Could we make art from our materials? They children began to discuss ideas and work in groups with ease.

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There were a lot of these flies around. We were all very interested because they stayed still enough to examine them. I looked them up – they are very interesting.

St. Mark’s fly, they emerge around St. Mark’s day on the 25th April are also know as the Hawthorn fly

Identification

Male St. Mark’s flies have clear wings, large eyes and long dangly legs. Interestingly, the male’s eyes are divided by a groove and have separate connections to the brain. This allows the males to use the upper eye part to look out for females and the lower part to monitor their position in relation to the ground, allowing them to hover in the same position. The shiny black male flies are very conspicuous, with long dangling hind legs.You can often see them when they congregate in big swarms flying slowly, up and down, at around head height – trying to attract females.

The St. Mark’s Fly has a very short adult life cycle, being in flight for approximately only one week. The majority of their time is spent as larva in the soil. During autumn and winter, larvae feed on rotting vegetation which they chew with their strong mouthparts. In springtime the males emerge first and the females a few days later. After mating, females lay their eggs in the soil and die soon afterwards.

They are very useful creatures, they feed on nectar, making them important pollinators of fruit trees and crops.

Tree Climbing

 

We finished a busy day with a quiet time.

 

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Forest Friday

Session 3

Senior Infants

Arrival – work from the boxes

….and a hockey stick

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Mapping the way up to base camp.

The children have given names to some landmarks on the way up. I love this – the ‘Stairs  Tree’.1

They are so good at finding interesting things

At base camp we put up our boundary ribbons and the children requested to play the game ‘Amach, Abhaile’.

We went further up the hill to the area where the gorse grows for our morning snack. The sun was shinning and we all noticed the lovely strong coconut smell of gorse. We collected the flowers to make gorse tea. It looked lovely in our tea pot. BUT! When we went to add the hot water from the flask there was none — no water- no flask. I checked my bags loads of times but it wasn’t there. I left it in my kitchen on the counter this morning.

The children were so practical. I had cold water. ‘Lets put in cold water and put it in the sun’. We did this. There was great stirring and sieving. We had a taste. Mmmmmm tasted like water – very nice.

We’re not a group to give up. Joan, SNA and always practical suggested we gather more flowers and she would make tea when they get back to school. I’m sure it tasted gorseier that our tea warmed by the sun.

While the children had their snacks I read the story Gorse Mother.

THE GORSE-MOTHER

The Gorse-Mother lived hidden away in the middle of a big gorse bush on a hill. She was an extremely busy person, for, like the old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she scarcely knew what to do. She had not whipped them all soundly, for she had a tender heart, for all her thorny looks; but she had put them to bed. Wrapped in their little brown blankets, they lay in hundreds all round her. You would have called them buds, but they were little Gorse Babies.

The Gorse-Mother was tired, for the making of all those blankets had been a great work. But she knew there was no rest for her yet. “The sunshine grows hotter every day,” she said. “The children will soon find the blankets too warm. I must make their satin-tents.”

She set to work at the satin-tents. After several weeks of labour she had them ready. How beautiful they were! They were yellow and scented, with fluted sides, and a peaked top, and the daintiest green velvet mats for the floor. The children sprang out of bed and danced with pleasure at finding their tents all ready for them. And the Gorse-Mother’s heart was glad, for now for a while she could rest. The sun shone, the birds sang, the golden satin-tents swayed in the wind, and everybody was happy.

In the afternoon a bee came. “May we ask him in, mother?” asked one of the children.

“Certainly. He is your best friend,” said the Gorse-Mother.

They asked him in, giving him nectar from their little cups, and making him very welcome. As he left the Gorse-Mother said: “Tell the other bees that we invite them to a nectar-feast to-morrow.”

The bee flew off. He told the other bees of the Gorse-Mother’s kind invitation, and next day they came in scores to the nectar-feast.

What a day that was! Nectar cups were filled to the brim, and the bees were feasted royally. They stored the sweet juice in their bags for the hive, and filled their little hair-baskets with pollen. They flew from tent to tent, and became most friendly with the children.

Weeks passed by, and the Gorse-Mother roused herself to work again. “The children are growing fast,” she said. “I must make their elastic-houses.”

She unfastened the walls of the satin-tents and let them fall away. Where each tent had stood she built a green elastic-house. Strong and tightly shut were these little green houses; on each floor stood a row of tiny stools. The children were tired after their weeks of pleasure. They were quite content to do nothing all day but sit on their stools and grow.

“Sit still and be good,” said the Gorse-Mother, “and remember to grow big. Your houses will grow with you. As you turn brown they will turn brown, and as you turn black they will turn black. After that you may go out into the world.”

Things happened exactly as the Gorse-Mother said they would. As the children grew, their elastic-houses stretched so that there was always room for them. When the children turned brown the houses turned brown; and when the children turned black the houses turned black.

“Now remember what I tell you,” said the Gorse-Mother. “When your houses pop open, jump as far out into the world as you can, for if you fall close to me you will have no room to grow and spread. When you reach the ground, the first thing to do is to find a soft place, and the next thing is to grow. And don’t forget to grow plenty of thorns. Now good-bye. Make big bushes all round me, and I shall be proud of you.”

One by one, with a noise like tiny pistols, the houses popped open. The children remembered their mother’s advice. They jumped far out into the world, found a soft place, and grew. In a few years they were big bushes all around the Gorse-Mother, and she was proud of them.

We were almost in the story, surrounded by gorse and it’s lovely smell and we could see and hear the bees visiting the gorse babies.

We had a lovely time looking for gorse babies.

We went back to our base camp. There were two very small mats in our circle. Who were they for? Some thought the fairies and then we looked and saw we do have two very small people in our group – the Woodies. The Woodies belong to one of the children and I noticed the last time we were in the woods that this little girl experiences the world through the Woodies. They needed to be full members of our group.IMG_1846 copy

Hut building

Could we make shelters for the woodland creatures we made last time we were in the woods?

I showed how to make a strong structure of using a forked stick and adding two more sticks to it to make a teepee hut. James showed us how he made a circle with bendy wood to put over the top to hold it together. It is so interesting watching how the children work. Three girls formed a close working group. One boy built his hut beside them. It was great to see how the four of them began to share skills and resources.

The girl with the Woodies began to work with her SNA. First they build a hut. Then she said it was their birthday so I helped by bringing mud to make a cake. She added some candles.

Over on the other side there were two boys working well together. Another boy was hanging out and swinging large sticks. It looked to me that he had the energy to build a full size hut. However he began to join the other two and build a fire area. Then he joined it to the others with a leaf path.

 

Second Class.

Journey: To base camp.

Session 3 and the children already have their landmarks. They like to stop at their special place on the way up to our camp. The ‘tunnel’ is a favourite with everyone but not everyone went through it last week. It is a way they have found through several holly trees. You have to be tough to do this as it is very scratchy. But with help and encouragement from the others the children who were a bit nervous did it this week. This group are going great. There is good support for each other.

We tasted fresh young beech leaves.

This week they added a new adventure -a dead wood branch to be walked.

It was such a beautiful day we decided to have a picnic lunch up on the sunny rocks.

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It was just the right place to tell the story ‘The Gorse Mother’

 

Looking for gorse babies.

Minibeasts

Last week our focus changed to observing minibeasts. I was asked by a child if we could have magnifying glasses this week. I also brought some transparent containers so they could view the underside of their mimbeasts.

All but one child chose to work in pairs. We had card to draw what they noticed and also our ‘I notice…’ book to fill.

 

Wondering

There is always something to wonder about. Look what someone found in the leaf litter. We gathered around to wonder together how this came to be here. It made us aware how close we are to the sea. Some thought that a person might have dropped it coming back from the beach. Another suggesting was that maybe a seagull dropped it.

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We finished with a lovely quiet time. Each child found their special ‘sit spot’. They all noticed that there was more bird song this week than last week.

During our final circle the children shared what they loved about the day.

‘I found a spider’ Pascal

‘I liked going to the gorse for our story’ Seamus

‘I caught a buttlefly’ Isabelle

‘We made a bug hotel and lots of people put their bugs in our hotel – we loved that’ Jack and Patrick

‘I liked climbing like a Koala’ Penny

‘I loved naming my woodlouse coco bug’ Pai

‘I liked finding and drawing bugs’ Eve

‘ Next week I’d like to communicate with birds and animals’ Braiden

Eve commented on our plastic containers to view bugs during the bug hunt, ‘It’s not good to use single use plastic’

Next session in two weeks time (they have a week off) I would like to respond to Eve – and plastics and to Braiden who would like to communicate with animals.

 

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