Gathering activities – Creative boxes on mats
During the week in school,the class looked at videos and pictures of birds building nests.
On our way up to Base Camp we noted what had changed since we were last here?
There were a lot of new leaves. We stopped under a Beech tree to feel the softness of the new leaves and the children noticed that there were little hairs on the edges of the leaves. I had a taste and the children wanted to know could they also have a taste. It turned into a game of baby birds tweeting for food, as I picked the leaves which were up too high for the children to reach, and fed them. Already the bird theme was emerging.
They decided to make beech leaf tea this week.
Wild cherry blossom made summer snow flakes. Lots of feathers were found and worn in hats and in hair.
A very old bottle, found in the undergrowth, had it’s own miniature garden growing inside.
The high horizontal branch had fallen during our four week break. It was now easier to climb and made a great bench, so the children made a new challenge for themselves by walking it. The base camp has endless possibilities.
At break we had a story.
How Do Birds Know How to Build Nests?
All the birds of the air came to the magpie and asked her to teach them how to build nests. For the magpie is the cleverest bird of all at building nests. So she put all the birds round her and began to show them how to do it. First of all she took some mud and made a sort of round cake with it.
“Oh, that’s how it’s done,” said the thrush; and away it flew, and so that’s how thrushes build their nests.
Then the magpie took some twigs and arranged them round in the mud.
“Now I know all about it,” says the blackbird, and off he flew; and that’s how the blackbirds make their nests to this very day.
Then the magpie put another layer of mud over the twigs.
“Oh that’s quite obvious,” said the wise owl, and away it flew; and owls have never made better nests since.
After this the magpie took some twigs and twined them round the outside.
“The very thing!” said the sparrow, and off he went; so sparrows make nests with twigs around them to this day.
Well, then Magpie took some soft things like feathers and other soft things like (ask the children what other things would she find) and lined the nest very comfortably with it.
“That suits me,” cried the starling, and off it flew; and very comfortable nests have starlings.
So it went on, every bird taking away some knowledge of how to build nests, but, none of them waited to the end.
And that is why different birds build their nests differently.
A child brought in a beautiful old nest for us to examine closely.
After break focus
Nest building –
Create a basic nest that will hold 3-4 pine cones. You can do so individually or as partners.
- Gather natural materials that you think would be good for nest building. Try using a tweezers or only allow one hand to see what it would be like with a beak.
- Explore these materials for a while to consider some of the difficulties of the task ahead.
- Will the nest structure require framework?
- How do you keep the nest from falling apart? How would birds do it? (mud and saliva, spider webs, weaving grasses etc.
- What kinds of materials would work best for the main nest? For example, what length and thickness of twigs and/or grasses might be best? Should items be flexible or sturdy?
- How do you keep the inner shape of the nest relatively round?
- Should you add a lining for the eggs and baby birds? What might birds use? (soft plant fibers, dog fur, downy feathers, leaves, etc.)
- Is there anything unique about the nest that you’d like to build? Would you add a roof of sorts or create more of a cavity style?
Once they had identified questions and thought out some answers, they figured out their basic plan.
What size twigs seem to best, or can they vary? What materials are flexible enough to help weave through back and forth to “lock” other materials in place? At what point should you switch to softer lining materials? How can you keep the open bowl shape for the nest? Some children tried this with tweezers to imagine that they were birds at work!
They put in pine cone ‘eggs’ in their nests to test the strength and space.
Making mud to help stick the nests together.
Jenny’s Senior Infants
Finding gold and silver in a rock, playing with friends, making a slingshot and climbing trees.
During the week second class looked at photographs of the different woodland birds that they came up with during their last session. Each decided on a woodland bird name to take for Forest School.
Before we went up to base camp one of the children pointed across the field to a white flowering tree and suggested that we make Elder flower tea this week. So our first direction was to the tree to check it out. We had a look, feel and smell. Was it Elder? Did the flowers smell like Elder? They decided the they didn’t smell as lovely as Elder. The leaves were serrated. No it was a Rowan/Mountain Ash. We will have to wait a few weeks for the Elder to flower. So the plan for the tea changed to nettle tea. It was amazing to see the some children pick the nettles by hand with confidence. Others watched for a while before taking the plunge. There was a few stings but no panic or worry as they said they just needed some dock leaves. “These are natures bandages.”
Then they began to collect dock leaves to bring up to base camp in case they were needed.
Additional Tools and Materials
The children are so confident in directing the sessions. I have put together a box of materials and tools that I will bring up each week. During break I showed them what we have – string, scissors, clay, magnifying glasses, bug boxes, drawing paper and pencils.
The idea of the dock leaves developed during free play into creating a first-aid area. They gathered more leaves of beech and wood sorrel. One child needed an bowl for some beech leaves so she made it from clay.
Another group of children continued with their shop from the past few weeks.
One child took me on a tour of the rocks to show me the white, and silver in them.
Two children prepared the nettle tea.
A child was attempting to look high in the trees with the magnifying glass. I showed him how it was for looking at things closely and gave him my binoculars to look at distance.
There are so many themes developing during free play. Looking at the minute and distance,(binoculars/magnifying glasses) geology of the base camp, (colours and textures of the rocks) medicinal plants,(first-aid) value and worth(shop), volume,(tea making and pouring).
We continued on our identity necklaces from the last session. The children wrote their names with their woodland bird names on wooden disk. One child counted the rings on her disk and found that they were the same age.
There was a lot of alliteration and rhyming in the bird names they chose.
During our final circle one child remarked how wonderful nature is – that where nettles grow you can find dock leaves growing close to ease a sting.
Jenny’s Second Class