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 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.


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.



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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